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Struik Nature

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Archive for the ‘Afrikaans’ Category

For a Healthy iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Just Add Adders

Snakes and Snakebite in Southern AfricaSlange and Slangbyt in Suider-AfrikaA Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa'n Volledige Gids tot die Slange van Suider-Afrika

26 gaboon adders have been successfully released into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park on the coast about 300 kilometres north of Durban. The snakes were reared at the nearby St Lucia Crocodile and Education Centre, and are important to the health of the whole ecosystem.

Johan Marais, herpetologist and author of a number of books about snakes, told Tony Carnie a bit more about the species for an article featured in The Mercury.

Marais explained that although the venom of a gaboon adder is potentially deadly, bites are next to “unheard of, except among snake handlers”:

“The bite is not unlike that of a puff adder – potently cytotoxic causing massive swelling, pain and blistering that may result in necrosis and severe tissue damage.

“But even the puff adder accounts for few deaths, as victims usually have enough time to get to a hospital and treatment. Gaboon adders are not often encountered, very well camouflaged and fortunately reluctant to bite. They will hiss loudly to scare you off.”

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News from the African Snakebite Institute: Johan Marais Explains How to Identify Mildly-venomous Snakes

Johan Marais is an internationally respected herpetologist and author of several books on snakes in southern Africa, including Snakes and Snakebite in Southern Africa and A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa.

Snakes and Snakebite in Southern AfricaSlange and Slangbyt in Suider-AfrikaA Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa'n Volledige Gids tot die Slange van Suider-Afrika

Marais also runs the African Snakebite Institute (ASI), through which he offers training courses, corporate talks and demonstrations, environmental impact assessments and reptile safaris. In the latest ASI newsletter Marais focusses on mildly-venomous snakes:

“Of the 173-odd different types of snakes in Southern Africa the vast majority of species are either harmless or mildly venomous. Only nineteen snake species are considered deadly,” the snake expert writes. Examples include the Common Night Adder, the Stiletto Snake, the Berg Adder, the Many-horned Adder and the Horned Adder.

Read the ASI newsletter to find out more about these snakes, including photos to help you identify them and tips on what to do when you come across one:

While the venom of most mildly-venomous snakes like the Herald snake, Eastern Tiger snake, the various Sand and Grass snakes and the Skaapsteker has virtually no effect on humans, twenty nine snakes that are not considered deadly have rather potent venom that could cause a great deal of discomfort or even hospitalisation. Sadly many of these snakes are listed as ‘mildly venomous’ on various internet sites. This is certainly not always the case.

The Common or Rhombic Night Adder is a good example. It is abundant where it occurs in the wetter eastern parts of the country and is a frog specialist, feeding largely on toads. Gardens with water features lure frogs and the Night Adder follows. Its venom is often described as mildly cytotoxic that will cause some pain and a bit of swelling. This may be the case in some bites but not always. We see some particularly bad bites, especially on children and dogs. Night Adder venom is potent enough to kill small dogs and I recently saw a case where a Maltese Poodle was bitten on a paw and its front leg had to be amputated the following day.

ASI offers many helpful tools on their website, including downloadable posters and links to resources on snakes. Have a look:

Dangerous Snakes of Southern Africa



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Big Cats in the City: Laurel Seriey Discusses the Urban Caracal Project (Podcast)

Stuarts' Field Guide to Mammals of Southern AfricaStuarts se Veldgids tot Soogdiere van Suider-AfrikaA Photographic Guide to Mammals of Southern, Central and East AfricaBehaviour Briefs

Nature lovers confined to the city will be interested in the Urban Caracal Project, an investigation into the effect of urbanisation on these important predators.

Laurel Seriey, founder and coordinator of the project, recently spoke to Mike Wills on CapeTalk about her work. She revealed more about the aims of her research, and how ordinary people can help.

Caracals, Seriey says, are solitary animals and play a “key role in the health of the ecosystem of the Cape Peninsula”. But they are under threat because of human activities.

Listen to the podcast:


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Tuluver: The Hoax Bird Invented to Save the Vulture (Podcast and Video)

Sasol 300 Easy-to-see BirdsSasol 300 maklik sigbare voëls van Suider-Afrika100 Common Bird Calls in East Africa

In order to raise awareness about the importance of vultures, and the threat of extinction that they face, BirdLife South Africa recently launched a hoax campaign about a “newly discovered” species: the Tuluver.

The stunt included a video of the fictitious bird, as a way of getting people to pay attention to the “beautiful birds” we are already privileged to have.

BirdLife SA CEO Mark Anderson spoke to Karien Jordaan about the video. He said that although the organisation apologises for causing trouble, the campaign got a huge amount of attention.

Listen to the podcast:

Watch the video about the fictitious Tuluver bird:

YouTube Preview Image

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New Guide for Beginner Birders: Sasol 300 Easy-to-see Birds by Chevonne Reynolds and Nicholas Tye

Sasol 300 Easy-to-see BirdsSasol 300 maklik sigbare voëls van Suider-AfrikaPresenting Sasol 300 Easy-to-see Birds by Chevonne Reynolds and Nicholas Tye, perfect for beginner birders:

This practical, straightforward guide to some of the most commonly seen birds in southern Africa is aimed at beginner birders, or even juniors. Less daunting than a full-blown field guide, it’s handy and accessible, combining simple text with clear artwork and photographs to introduce 300 of the region’s easy-to-see birds.

For each bird the book offers:

  • Simple text, including how to “find it”, “identify it” and “understand it”
  • Colour images, both illustrations and photographs
  • A distribution map
  • Common English names, plus scientific, Afrikaans and other African names
  • Average size, details of the nest and the number of eggs laid on average
  • Interest boxes for some birds, providing extra information.

Colourful, to-the-point and offering quick ID pointers, this book should find a ready market among southern African birders and outdoor enthusiasts.

Sasol 300 Easy-to-see Birds is also available in Afrikaans as Sasol 300 maklik sigbare voëls van Suider-Afrika.

About the authors

Chevonne Reynolds obtained an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of the Witwatersrand, focusing on grassland birds. She is currently a PhD student at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, where she works on waterbirds.

Nicholas Tye obtained an MSc in Ecology from the University of the Witwatersrand, his thesis focusing on bird communities within the KNP. He has worked as an ornithologist for the North West provincial government, and currently works as a climate change consultant in Cape Town.

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10 Critically Endangered Birds Species in South Africa

There are currently 10 endangered bird species in South Africa. Among others, the list includes the Wattled Crane, the Blue swallow and the Bearded vulture.

Wild Card Blog has posted an article in which they investigate which 10 species are under threat and why they are endangered.

All information was made available by the 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, published by BirdLife South Africa.

For more on South Africa’s diverse bird population, have a look at the books below:

Sasol Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern AfricaSasol Birds of Southern Africa IVChamberlain Birds of the Indian Ocean IslandsLatin for BirdwatchersNewman's Birds of Southern Africa
Sasol Merklys van Voëls in Suider-AfrikaSasol Voëls van Suider-Afrika IVSasol Voëls van Suider AfrikaNewman se voëls van Suider-Afrika


Read the article:

1. Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) – globally critically endangered
Global numbers: 4 700 mature individuals
Where are they found in SA? Occasionally spotted off the west coast of South Africa.
Threats include: South African fisheries, longline fishing vessels mainly off South America, plastic, predation by introduced house mice on Gough Island.
Did you know? Their plumage gradually whitens over a period of 20 years.

2. Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) – regionally critically endangered
Regional numbers: Less than 250 mature individuals
Where are they found in SA? Eastern grasslands of the country with the core population located in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. A few pairs are also found in the grasslands of northern Eastern Cape around Ugie and Maclear and the Highveld grasslands of Mpumalanga and eastern Free State.
Threats include: Loss and degradation of wetlands due to agriculture, forestry and mining.
Did you know? They are monogamous and will pair for life.

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Image of the Wattled Crane courtesy of the Kruger National Park

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New Beetle Discovered in Noordhoek Named After Stellenbosch University Entomologist

Sasol First Field Guide to Insects of Southern AfricaSasol Eerste Veldgids tot Insekte van Suider AfrikaAfrican Insects

James Pryke was recently afforded the honour of having the extremely rare and highly distinctive species of beetle that he discovered in Noordhoek, near Cape Town, named after him.

The Capelatus prykei is a beetle with feet, wing cases, genitalia and size so significantly different to other beetles that it was put into a new genus.

Wild recently featured an article on the beetle:

The newly-named species Capelatus prykei was discovered in 2006 in wetlands in Noordhoek near Cape Town. Dr James Pryke of Stellenbosch University (SU) came across the unique beetle during his PhD research.

“I certainly didn’t expect to have it named after me. I am very happy about that. It is quite an honour,’’ said Pryke who is attached to the department of conservation ecology and entomology.

SABC News covered the development:

YouTube Preview Image
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Read: Is Henrietta Rose-Innes’ Nineveh Coming True? Scientists Discover A New Beetle in Noordhoek

Read: Henrietta Rose-Innes: “I have a History of Making Disturbingly Accurate Predictions”

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Van Kamieskroon tot Soebatsfontein: Moenie die blommeseisoen in Namakwaland misloop nie!

Wild Flowers of NamaqualandDis heerlike lente, die winter is (amper) verby. Blommekykers kan solank aanstaltes maak Namakwaland toe, want vanjaar gaan die blomme nie op hulle laat wag nie.

Dit is ook nou die perfekte tyd om ‘n eksemplaar van Wild Flowers of Namaqualand deur Annelise le Roux aan te skaf. Hierdie gids het in Junie vanjaar by Struik Nature verskyn en bevat inligting oor 600 plantspesies wat in Namakwaland te vinde is.

Pak nou dadelik ‘n rugsak met water en ‘n kopie van Wild Flowers of Namaqualand en gaan kyk hoeveel van die 600 spesies jy kan opspoor.

Eben Human het al in die middel van die winter besoek afgelê aan Namakwaland in die Noord-Kaap en die Weskus, en skryf oor sy ervarings vir Netwerk24.

Lees die artikel:

Van die groot verskeidenheid vygies sal jy nou al heelwat aan die Weskus en in Namakwaland vind. Die reënblommetjies begin nou by Kamieskroon verskyn, en die afgelope naweek is mooi blomme gesien in die rigting van Soebatsfontein.

David Engelbrecht voorspel dat 2015 ‘n mooi blommeseisoen gaan oplewer. Hy stel voor dat reisigers by al die klein dorpies stop, en gee raad (en kontakbesonderhede) oor waar die mooiste blomme is en waar om te bly.

Lees die artikel:

’n Dorp soos Hopefield spog met pragtige fynbosspesies wat saam met die veldblomme hul komberse oopvou.

Die Weskus Nasionale Park is ’n gesig wat jy nie gou sal vergeet nie. Ook Nieuwoudtville is elke jaar vol blomme (en besoekers).Die meeste van die padwerke waaroor voorheen berig is, sal dalk voltooi wees teen die tyd dat jy jou reis begin.

Beplan jy ‘n besoek aan Namakwaland? Deel jou stories en foto’s met ons in die kommentaarspasie hier onder, of op Facebook en Twitter.


Foto met dank aan Wild Card

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Which is Africa’s Most Dangerous Snake? Johan Marais Explains

Snakes and Snakebite in Southern AfricaSlange and Slangbyt in Suider-AfrikaIn an article for Africa Geographic, internationally renowned herpetologist Johan Marais answers one of the most frequently asked questions about snakes: Which one is the most dangerous?

Marais explains the important difference between venomous and the word people often mistakenly use: poisonous.

“Most snakes are not poisonous but venomous,” he says. “Some plants, like certain mushrooms, are poisonous if eaten, while snake venom has to be envenomated [through biting] for the venom to take effect.”

Marais goes on to debunk the myth of the two-step snake – “a snake that bites and you die after two steps”, but adds that a bite from a black mamba, if left untreated, can kill a human in four to 16 hours – and in severe cases within an hour – making that snake the most dangerous in Africa – or even in the world – in his eyes.

A new edition of Marais’ seminal book Snakes and Snakebite in Southern Africa was launched at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Society Bookshop in December.

The black mamba is by far the largest venomous snake in Africa, historically reaching 4.5 m, although specimens over 3.8 m are unheard of nowadays. Due to its size it has a lot of venom, it bites readily (often more than once), the venom absorbs rapidly and may have a severe effects on breathing 20 minutes after a serious bite. Although often labelled an aggressive snake the black mamba is very shy and nervous and quick to escape when it has the choice but if cornered or hurt it will not hesitate to strike. Another problem is that because of its length it may bite quite high up in the chest region and such a bite would be far more severe than a bite on an extremity.

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Wat gaan aan in die Klein Karoo? Meer as wat jy kan droom

The Garden Route and Little KarooTimeless KarooVan asemrowende uitsigte tot portwyn uit die boonste rakke – die Klein Karoo bied iets vir almal, en dan selfs nog meer!

Sophia van Taak het een van die mooiste streke in ons land gaan verken, en terug gerapporteer oor al die sien-, smaak- en doendinge wat sy ervaar het. In ‘n artikel vir Weg beveel die skrywer ses plekke aan wat die leser beslis moet besoek.

Loer gerus na The Garden Route and Little Karoo deur Leon Nell en Timeless Karoo: Discover the sunlit interior deur Jonathan Deal vir meer oor die Klein Karoo en die Tuinroete.

Lees die artikel oor Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp en Meiringspoort, en al die hoekies en kronkelpaaie tussen in:

3. Doen die meerkatloop

​In Uganda kan jy saam met berggorillas stap, in Namibië saam met jagluiperds, en op Oudtshoorn… is dit meerkatte! Op Meerkat Adventures se toer kry jy ’n intieme kykie na die wêreld van hierdie kostelike diertjies. Devey Glinister of een van sy medegidse vertel jou interessante dinge oor meerkatte. Dié groepie meerkatte (sowat 10 tot 15 sterk) is wild, maar is lankal gewoond aan mense. Sodra hulle pens warm is, begin hulle kos soek – en dan moet jy soms draf om by te bly…


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