Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 13- Mohlebetsi

This morning, instead of our usual drive through the bush, we went walking instead. Walking felt like being in a whole new place! We were able to see things up close as well as get a new perspective of what it feels like to be an animal in the bush. Lucky, our tracker, showed us different plants and things that can be used for survival. He also identified various tracks of different animals. We were able to get a close look at many bones, plants, and bugs that had previously gone unnoticed.

Morning Walking Field Notes:

1. Egyptian Goose—flying down to land in water

2. Impala

3. Female giraffe feeding
·      Giraffes are the first animal to spot danger because they are so high up.

* Dead giraffe carcass of an older male giraffe in trench
·      Hyenas have been chewing on leg bones. As the only animal with the ability to crunch bones, they open up animals bones and as a result, other animals can get inside.
·      Dung from vultures is on the outside of the trench.
o   White back vultures and hooded vultures were the main species that feasted on the carcass.
·      Vultures are in decline because farmers have been putting poison on carcasses in an attempt to kill preditors; however, this also affects the vultures who feast on the carcass.

4. Wilderbeast—snorted when it spotted us to alert females to predators; moved away from us.

* Kudu tracks—long and sharp

5. Giraffe—did not see us as a threat and continued eating.
·      When threatened they will move straight towards the predator.

*  Tennen—When trees communicate with each other by releasing chemicals. The Acacia tree produces a bitter taste when eaten and by spreading the chemicals to neighboring trees initiates others to do the same. To beat this, the giraffe eats the trees upwind.

9. Impala male
·      Male is making grunting noises to either challenge another male or herd females

* Ostephacia—calcium in bone is lacking so they suppliment this by chewing on bones. Some animals that do this include giraffes, kudu, and tortoises.

*Annaseed—type of herb

*Marulla fruit—grows only in February

10. Herd of wilderbeast—all stop and stared when we approached (all female)
·      Females have brown in between their eyes; males have a black face
·      To increase the wilderbeast population there must be a decrease in the lion population.
·      They have a sloping back for long distance running
·      Young are very well developed

*Servite tracks
·      Similar looking to badgers

11. Baboons running
·      In a group, one big male will be in charge
·      People shoot them because they cause damage to their homes
·      One can weigh up to 90 lbs
·      They have an oligarchy structure where all males are ranked and above all females.

*Giraffe dung
·      Females: one side is flat and the other pointed
·      Males: Both sides are flat
·      It is very fine on the inside because they ruminate.

*Jackal track—have an X inside the print

*Elephant dung
·      Elephants only digest 40% of what it eats; therefore it’s dung has seeds, fruits, and grass that pass through undigested.

*Dung Beetle ball
·      Male and female mate then the male will roll his dung ball to a safe place as she lays her eggs in it. Larva hatches from within the ball.

12. Grey Heron/ Red bulled buffalo weaver nest: at lake

*Matebele ants—named after an African tribe that used to raid other tribes. These ants raid termite mounds.

13. 6 Zebra—snorted at us then determined we were not a threat.

*Buffalo thorn bush
·      Buffalo stand with their back against this bush to fight lions.

*Small wasps burrow into acacia tree thorns and lay eggs

*Weeping water—can be used for toilet paper
·      used by witch doctors to chase bad spirits away

* hyena dung—very white because of digested bones

*Millipede shell
·      A servile is the only animals that can eat it; poison in their body prevents most animals from being able to.

*Russet bush wheeler— orange pods makes tea

*Magic water bush—can make a toothbrush

*Silver Cluster Leaf—peel apart and then can be braided into rope

*Impala all go to the bathroom in one spot
·      Reason is unknown but theories are that the male can receive info about various females through it or that it helps the herd to regroup.

14. Giraffes: 3 babies and 3 mothers; One baby laying down

15. Bachelors her of impala that took off running

* Red spike thorn—helps with stomach aches and was used when speaking to royalty. It dries out the mouth so one does not spit while talking.

* Dwarf mongoose hole

Afternoon field notes:

1. Warthog male
·      Pilo erection—Black hair stands up on their back when they are nervous (fear response)

2. 6 zebra—males, females, and babies

3. 2 male cheetahs
·      panting (hot)
·      Build for speed, not strength
·      There are only about 200 in the Kruger Park compared to 2000 lions. Cheetah often fall prey to lions
·      Cheetahs are more active during the day whereas lions and leopards are more active at night; they don’t compete with each other
·      Resting and conserving energy

4. Warthogs (3 adults and 1 baby)
·      Ran away quickly

5. Hyena— laying down
·      Sleep in shallow water when hot

6. Buffalo (small herd)

5. Leopard (same one we saw last night)
·      spraying urine on trees to mark territory
·      Looking for a female that was in the area a couple weeks ago
·      Got in a fight with a territorial male and as a result injured his eye and paw

6. Chameleon in tree

7. Dikei

8. Impala

9. Hyenas

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