Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 8- Mohlabetsi

This morning was the same routine: the early wake-up call, tea and rusks, and chilly morning air. Once on our way, we had some great sightings.

Morning Field Notes:

1. Waterbucks: 4 (1 male, 3 female)

2. White Rhino: 3 (one adult male and 2 younger males)
·      Black rhinos eat trees and are smaller; white rhinos eat grass and are larger
·      Black rhinos are more aggressive
·      2nd largest land mammal in the world
·      Kicked its dung, marking territory

3. Dwarf Mongoose
·      Looks out for snakes

4. Tree squirrel

5. Baby giraffe and mother

After driving around a bit, we got out of the truck and walked around in the bush. While walking we saw the shell of a Giant African Land Snail. These snails have become endangered since they have become a delicacy on the menu. Being exported out of South Africa has drastically decreased their numbers. We also learned how to differentiate different species’ animal tracks and dung. Some animals (such as a wilderbeast) have 4 stomachs that finely process anything that goes through their system, resulting in no grass pieces remaining in their dung. Others like the elephant or zebra, have a simple digestive system, causing pieces of undigested grass to remain in their dung. This seems like a waste, but it is important for other animals to survive; they use excess seeds and nutrients from it. Another interesting thing on the walking tour was the “ringing” caused by elephants to various trees. They eat the nutritious bark around trees after scraping it off with their tusks. They particularly go for Marulla trees; but unfortunately, if too much is scraped off, it cuts the nutrients off from reaching its leaves and causes it to die. Elephants also destroy trees by pushing them down. We saw a couple trees that had this happen to. Although this seems like a bad thing, it actually allows other small animals to feed on the leaves and creates habitats for other small animals.

Before returning for lunch, we joined up at a beautiful dried up watering hole and sat in a circle of chairs. The owner of the lodge, Tony, then gave us a packet about the area and explained some background on the area, South Africa, and their job.

Once back at the lodge, we ate a giant breakfast complete with a yogurt bar, omelets, freshly squeezed fruit juice, and many other delicious options. It was nice to have a break afterwards until 2:00 and I took advantage of the time by exercising and even taking an accidental nap! Lunch came and consisted of pizza, salad, bread, and ice cream on a pancake. Afterwards, we were out on our safari again to spot more animals.

Afternoon Field Notes: 

1. Warthog/ Wilderbeast/ Impala/ Giraffes:
·      Herbivores congregate together for more protection

2. Ginny fowl:
·      Roosts in trees

3. Terrapin Turtles/  3 female kudu: in lake
·      Kudu are brown with white stripes

4. Steinbok: ran across road
·      monogamous mammals
·      Pair for life as long as nothing happens to partner
·      Covers droppings; however the reason for this is unknown. It could possible be an anti-predatory behavior?

5. Duiker
·      small antelope

6. Lilac Breasted Roller
·      State bird of Batswana

7. Buffalo Weaver’s Nest

8. Impala/giraff/wilderbeast
·      Stripes help to break up color and appear like shadows
·      Wilderbeasts’ gland secretes pharamones that tell other wilderbeast information such as it’s age, dominance, gender, territory, etc.

9. Community Spider Nest
·      Using leaves pulled together by web, these spiders create a nest by working together.

As we completed our tour, we met for sun downers. Chairs were set up spaced apart around the lake and we were told that tonight we would be sitting alone for 30 minutes and really getting a chance to see and contemplate our surroundings as the sun set. At first I thought that would be an impossible mission for me, but soon I became wrapped up in listening to the birds call to one another, the bats flapping above us, the monkey calling in the trees, and the incredible sunset that laid before me. Thirty minutes managed to pass in no time.

Dinner was delicious and they served us beef satae as well as a flaming pineapple dessert made over the fire we surrounded. This place is continuously surprising me. 

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