|Wolkberg Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion transvaalense), Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|
|A sooty Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) found in burned grassland a few weeks after a fire.|
The Soutpansberg Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation has had an interesting winter. We spent the majority of our time at Lajuma Research Centre on top of the Soutpansberg. There we experienced a very cold winter in the damp Afromontane forest. Most days were spent working on our data, writing, supervising our students and of course we made time to get out there and do our winter sampling and continuing fieldwork on the endemic Lygodactylus geckos of the region.
|A juvenile Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) from Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|
|Black-headed Centipede Eater (Aparallactus capensis) Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|
|Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) Luvhondo Nature Reserve. This particular animal was caught in a Sherman trap.|
We found some new species for our Luvhondo Nature Reserve list. These were the Wolkberg Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion transvaalense) which we have been searching for for some time; Peter’s Ground Agama (Agama armata); and the high altitude Horned Adder (Bitis caudalis) of which we had anecdotal evidence of their occurrence. The biggest surprise of the winter was two Dwarf Sand Snakes (Psammophis angoloensis). Showing that there are still a few more reptiles to be found on the Luvhondo Nature Reserve.
|Peter's Ground Agama (Agama armata), Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|
|Horned Adder (Bitis caudalis), Luvhondo Nature Resereve.|
|Dwarf Sand Snake (Psammophis angolensis), Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|
In terms of our scorpion sampling, we finally encountered the high altitude Uroplectes cf. vitattus, potentially another Soutpansberg endemic.
|Uroplectes cf. vittatus from the top of the Soutpansberg.|
|Uroplectes triangulifer, from the top of the Soutpansberg.|
Another exciting development is that we have finally come to grips with the 'Variable Skinks' in the area. These common lizards were recently split into three Southern African species and two of them have so far been identified on the Soutpansberg. One, Trachylepis varia favours high altitude grassland; while the other Trachylepis damarana favours more woody areas. Big thanks to Darren Pieterson for your help with these difficult reptiles.
|Variable Skink (Trachylepis damarana) Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|
|Variable Skink (Trachylepis varia), Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|
This winter we also visited a few sites off the mountain where we aim to do more work, increasing our sample sizes and our locations. We visited sites north of the mountain in the deep sands of the Limpopo Valley, Blouberg Nature Reserve and also our old sampling sites at Hanglip.
|Arnold's Velvet Gecko (Homopholis arnoldi), Blouberg Nature Reserve.|
|Makgabeng Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus montiscaeruli) Blouberg Nature Reserve.|
|Turner's Gecko (Chondrodactylus turneri), Blouberg Nature Reserve.|
|Sundevall's Writhing Skink (Mochlus sundevalli), Blouberg Nature Reserve.|
|Kalahari Dwarf Worm Lizard (Zygaspis quadrifrons) Blouberg Nature Reserve.|
This coming summer will see some changes for the Soutpansberg Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation. The most exciting development will be moving back to our old base, Medike. After spending a year at Lajuma Research Centre, we are leaving Luvhondo Nature Reserve for the pull of the Sand River Valley. Medike is now managed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust and we will be assisting the EWT with biodiversity monitoring in the Sand River.
|Sunny Medike during the rainy season.|
|A Common Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus capensis) making use of an arboreal cover board.|
Another exciting development is that the SCBC will be experimenting with a new method of sampling for reptiles. This new method uses arboreal cover boards. So far our piloting has given us good results and we expect to find some interesting and elusive species this way. Watch this space!
|Whalberg's Velvet Gecko (Homopholis wahlbergii), Soutpansberg, Limpopo.|
|Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica), Luvhondo Nature Reserve|
|Southern African Rock Python (Python natalensis), Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|
|Montane Sand Snake (Psammophis crucifer) from Hanglip.|
The SCBC will be placing researchers at remote sites to increase our sample size and give greater insights into the reptile assemblages of the Limpopo Valley. From October we will start with this and have a researcher Katherine Monaghan placed at an under-sampled field site at Alldays. Looking forward to building up our species assemblage list for that region.
|Stripe-bellied Sand Snake (Psammophis subtaeniatus) Alldays.|
|Juvenile Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) Alldays.|
|Brown House Snake (Boaedon capensis) Alldays.|
We have a few other exciting collaborations and developments lined up for the coming months. Our future is open and we are facing new challenges with optimism and tenacity. To keep up to date please follow our Facebook page (soutpansbergcbc).
|Small Wolkberg Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion transvaalense), Luvhondo Nature Reserve.|