Friday, March 5, 2010

Diverse Species

This will be my last "posting" for a while because I'm going on tour again tomorrow.

Since tourists to our diverse country are mostly interested in what our nature "has on offer", I'm sure the next group will not be disappointed - & experience scenes like this: of elephants leisurely moving on after a refreshing drink & bath at a river.

Other than concentrating on "recording" as many bird species as possible [SEE: previous blog-entry] I do "aim my lens" at whatever is on display - like this small bat, which was lying on the ground - had it accidentally fallen down? I'm not able to identify bats - but I do know that amongst a large number of bat-species in South Africa, some are insect-eating whilst others are fruit-eaters.

Although I can't identify the previous species of bats, I'm very familiar with this fruit-eating bat also known as "flying foxes" - because a quite large colony hang down from grass-roofs in the Skukuza Camp (Kruger National Park).

Also in Skukuza, a large variety of lizards are "at home" - like this colourful terrestrial skink with its typically smooth & shiny scales, as well as well-developed eyes & ears (not the case with burrowing skinks).

Skinks can shed their tails in an "emergency" = to distract a predator, which can regrow like a gecko's can (in contrast to agamas, whose tails don't regrow). This skink didn't shed its tail and only hastily scuttled away when it detected me, so I guess it doesn't depict humans as predators. Then it reappeared & inquisitively "eyed" the intruder (me).

Chameleons are arboreal lizards (= living in or connected to trees) & have the ability to change colour in response to their environment. Some chameleon species lay eggs (which they bury to incubate), whilst others (especially the various dwarf species) produce live young. We came across this small chameleon whilst hiking in the Drakensberg & I assume it's one of the Dwarf species!?

By now you know that in contrast to birds & wild animals, I'm no good at identifying smaller creatures - as is the case with this spider. It became my "target" mainly because I was fascinated by the intricate colour patterns on its back [Click on photo to enlarge].

Its a similar case with this "creature" - until recently I would have called it a grasshopper but in the mean have learned that it actually is a locust. Again it was its colouring & patterning that caught my attention.

What a relief! Finally an animal I can identify. Although I always tell the visitors I guide through our country that the dassie (= hyrax) is an elephant's closest relative, I still find that fact amazing.

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