Sunday, April 6, 2008

South African National Symbols

Hi – I’m a new “kid on the blog”!!

Other than promoting my website (click here) I want to share my experiences and knowledge as a South-African registered tourist guide. At the same time I will regularly post photos from my vast collection – as I’ve promised many a guest, who I was privileged to guide through our fascinatingly diverse and multi-cultural country. My photos will be like a guide-line for what I wish to share in writing. Please feel free to share your thoughts, correct any of my perceptions, or add information.

For “starters”, I would like to introduce 3 of our South African national “symbols” – our national animal, bird and flower. I’m also providing some links to the internet for those, who want more information.

The springbok – our national animal:

View Kruger National Park site




1) Although I’ve chosen the KNP-link for additional information – did you know that the springbok CAN’T be found in the Kruger Park? Why? Because its habitat is on the Highveld and the Kruger Park is in the Lowveld.

2) Both sexes have horns, but those of the male (ram) are thicker and rougher.

3) Their “jumping” is called “pronking” (a kind of “stotting” – unique to the springbok), which they seem to love doing as if they were bouncing balls – stretching all four legs simultaneously whilst bending their heads down.

4) The springbok is known as a gazelle, not as an antelope!!?? Just to confuse you even more, a gazelle is an antelope (to a degree) but a gazelle is smaller and thinner in size than most antelopes. Compare with the Thomson’s gazelle – not found in South Africa – which looks similar to the springbok, but has much longer horns.




The Blue Crane – our national bird:

View SA Birds Link

1) Our national bird is endemic to South Africa (except for a small population around the Etosha Pan in Namibia).

2) It’s also a symbol of the Zulu royal house – its members sometimes wear Blue Crane feathers in their headdress.

3) Traditionally, the Blue Crane is also seen as symbolic of peace, happiness and longevity.

4) During my travels, I’ve sighted most Blue Cranes on the harvested grain fields in the Overberg region [Overberg = “on the other side of the mountain” as viewed from Cape Town. The Overberg includes Swellendam, Arniston, Caledon, Hermanus and Cape Agulhas – the most southerly region in our country, surrounded by mountains and the ocean].

5) CRANES IN CRISIS – other than the Blue Crane, the Wattled Crane is critically endangered, and the Crowned Crane is listed as vulnerable in SA. That is why many a conservation program is in place to promote the long-term survival of cranes OUTSIDE nature reserves.

View Conservation Site



The (King) Protea – our national flower:


View National Symbols


1) The Protea was named after the Greek God, Proteus, who could change his form and shape at will – because proteas are found in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours.

2) The Protea was the first plant to be recorded and illustrated in a book on exotic plants published 1605 in Antwerp (Belgium), BUT was only named almost a century later by a Swedish taxonomist, Linnaeus.

3) The King Protea has approx. a diameter of 25cm, flowers in June, and is pollinated by the Cape Sugarbird.

4) The Protea genus dates back 120 million years, when this family existed on the super-continent Godwanaland. Accordingly, some Proteas grow in Australia, BUT by far not as extensively as in South Africa [Since I’m a big sports fan, it’s GREAT to know that we definitely are the “winner/king” in this regard, because Australia (also New Zealand) is the “enemy” when it comes to playing cricket or rugby].

5) Talking about sport – our national cricket team’s emblem is the Protea, whilst our national rugby players are known as “springbokke”.

6) Apparently, the Protea genus comprises 114 species, of which 69 are endemic to the Cape (or “fynbos” region) – BUT there are many more sub-species. [I say ‘apparently’, because I’ve found NO agreement on this subject].


Hope you enjoyed this “session”. By the way, I photographed the 2 “springbokke” in the Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock and the herd in Etosha (Namibia). The flocks of Blue Cranes I’ve seen in the Overberg region are “difficult” to photograph from a moving bus (always) filled with tourists on our way to Cape Town, so I had to “make do” with 2 Cranes in the World of Birds near Plettenberg Bay. I “stole” a picture when I found the beautiful King Protea growing in a garden in Franschhoek. So like my husband, who comes home after a round of golf and then can give a hole-by-hole “account” of how he played (which always amazed me), I've realised I can do something similar. I can actually “pin-point” virtually every photo I took even if I’ve photographed close to 40 000 images since I used my first digital camera 5 years ago.


Would you be interested in my photos with higher resolution (the original photos)? Please comment (click on comments below).
I'm busy researching if it's viable to create another blog, from which my high resolution photos can be downloaded.


1 comment:

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