You know, any time left I need to come back to the TR. Almost an addiction. So, time for another posting.
Returning to the Tshokwane-Satara Road, we saw 1 European Roller, a troop of Chacma Baboons (Papio ursinos
), 1 Grey Go-Away Bird (Lourie) (Corythaixoides concolor
), 12 Burchell’s Zebras, 4 Giraffes, 2 Swainson’s Spurfowls (Francolins) (Francolinus swainsonii
), a mixed group of 10 Blue Wildebeests (Connochaetes taurinus
) and 11 Burchell’s Zebras, several Wattled Starlings (Creatophora cinerea
), and a tree with large group of Cape Turtle-Doves (Streptopelia capicola
) and Wattled Starlings.
The Chacma Baboons had small infants, who were playing along the road, as you can see in these two pictures.
The adults, in turn, seemed to be resting from a long day, in the side of the road.
This species is classified in the IUCN Red List as Least concern, showing stable populations. Its large distribution is entirely within southern Africa, as shown here: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=16022
This baboon occupies all types of woodland, savanna, steppes and subdesert, montane regions, Cape Fynbos and Succulent Karoo. They retreat at night to cliffs, hills or large trees. In some habitats, such as the Namib Desert, habitat choice is influenced by predation risk. As this species is dependent on drinking water daily, water availability limits its overall range. This species is an opportunistic omnivore, eating bulbs, shoots, roots, seeds, fruits, invertebrates, small vertebrates, seashore life, fungi, and lichen. They may even occasionally capture and eat small antelopes or Impala youngs. They can also eat crops, lambs and small stock, leading to predictable conflict with humans.
Troops average between 20 and 50 animals, but may even reach 130 individuals. We saw many big troops in KNP.
We found Burchell’s Zebras once again besides the road. Among them, a wonderful animal was this one in the front of the picture below, with considerably black stripes.
And we were also able to take a fantastic picture for the butt calendar.
They moved along the road and at a given point entered the road and looked in our direction, as an impressive group.
This was not a perfect picture, far from it, but it got an interesting moment: the zebra looking at our direction, the Wattled Starling flying and the car coming behind.
And finally we could even take such a close-up
Giraffes are always impressive, and it was great to find four of them in the road to Satara, eating like the one in the picture below.
Or even taking time to stare at us.
Swainson’s Spurfowls or Francolins are common birds in the KNP, but always nice to find, usually in pairs.
In the IUCN Red List, these birds are classified as Least Concern, with stable populations. Its distribution covers part of Southern Africa, as you can see here: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=100600179
Swainson’s Spurfowls generally prefer grasslands or open savannas and adapts easily to cultivated, disturbed areas, what explains why the current environmental crisis is not destabilizing their populations.
Here are some recorded calls of these noisy birds, whose calls remind me of the guineafowls: http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Pternistis-swainsonii
Calls are also found here: http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/bir ... nsonii.htm
They are easily identified due to the combination of red face, red throat, black upper bill and black legs. Even though male and female have similar plumage, the male can be distinguished by having long leg spurs.
Under the rain, that had come back, the Blue Wildebeest and the Burchell’s Zebras did not seem much satisfied. See how much rain was pouring over this Blue Wildebeest.
This mixed herd was followed by Wattled Starlings, who were evidently eating the insects they displaced from the grass while eating and ectoparasites from their skins.
The Blue or Common Wildebeest is also not threatened by extinction (Least Concern with stable populations in the IUCN Red List). This is its current distribution: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=5229
However, the survival of the species depends on conservation efforts.
Most of the territory in Southern Africa is still connected, while there are also populations not connected with those from Southern Africa in Kenya and Tanzania. The populations are, however, large in East Africa, as the famous migration in the Masai Mara and Serengeti clearly shows. They are gregarious animals with herds usually averaging about 30 members. However, they form larger concentrations numbering thousands of animals during migrations to new-feeding grounds. Another example of such mass migrations takes place in Botswana. But notice that the smaller herds maintain their identity within the larger mass.
The mass migrations of herds are threatened both in Botswana and in Masai Mara/Serengeti. In Botswana, they have been curtailed by the veterinary cordon fences which have disturbed the traditional routes. Animals are unable to follow grazing and water and become trapped against the fences unable to move through and unable to retreat. For this reason, mortalities are much higher than they should be. In Tanzania, there are plans to build a road that will disrupt the migration routes. It is amazing how governments cannot figure out how an impressive phenomenon like this has to be conserved, not only for environmental reasons, also for economical ones.
This is a large antelope, with a long black horse-like tail and a beautiful dark mane. Bulls have more robust horns than the females. The horns are beautiful morphological traits.
They are predominantly grazers of short green grass. This explains why they are so often found with Zebras, which eat the taller grasses making it easier to the wildebeest to reach their favorite food.
In captivity, the life span reaches 20 years.
The Wattled Starlings are also classified as Least Concern with stable populations in the IUCN Red List. You can see their distribution here: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106006803
They are common across much of Southern Africa, generally preferring sparse woodland and other open habitats, such as grassland and cultivated areas. Nomadic, they move in response to insect abundance. Besides insects, they also eat fruits, seeds and nectar. Most of the foraging is done on the ground, plucking prey from the surface or proving the ground to catch burrowing arthropods. They often follow game and livestock, removing ectoparasites from their skin.