Thursday, August 20, 2009

Springbok - Part 3

I promised animals. There were no lions, tigers, wildebeest, elephants, hippos or crocodiles available to us on this trip. However, we did encounter herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. You can explain those words to your offspring – or they can explain them to you.

Since the trip was to Springbok, it is only appropriate that I show a picture of a herd of Springbok. They differ from Impala (the fast food of choice for predators in
Kruger) in that they are smaller and more strikingly marked. They also taste good.

While inside Namaqua National Park we saw termite mounds and dassies, but you’ve already seen pictures of those so these are just reminders.

On the way out of the park we encountered a plant that those familiar with the genus Hosta might find familiar. Of the many varied interactions between plants and animals, one of the most unexpected is pollination of flowers by rodents. Flowers of Massonia depressa (Hyacinthaceae) are visited at night by at least four rodent species, including two gerbil species.

I found the plants quite interesting, but then, I have a collection of Hostas. These are large plants with a single leaf as large as a foot across. It’s difficult to believe they can survive in the blazing-hot summers in this area, but they do and they thrive.

An additional spotting as we left the park was a streak across the road. At least it appeared as a streak until I stopped the car and got out the camera. Many times a Meerkat will appear in a group but this one must have been out hunting. It was nice of him/her to pose for me. (This is the carnivore.)

A bit further down the road we found our omnivores. Goats will eat anything but this baby was doing what nature designed him/her for.

Back in Springbok, in the Geogap Nature Reserve, we were extremely lucky to see this magnificent animal. There is a small herd of Oryx in the park but they are a bit camera-shy. No, I don’t know how they taste.

What happens when the visitors leave at 4pm and the park closes? Do the animals come out to graze in peace and quiet?

I’m really stretching for material here by showing this cluster of caterpillars munching on foliage. Life goes on in large and small scales.

Only one more critter sighting on this trip. We stopped to fill up with petrol and noticed a small pond with some trees and a lot of activity. A colony of Weaverbirds had set up their nests and were busy with whatever it is they do.

Next journal – DeBeers


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