Wednesday, October 15, 2014

September 10 - October 10

Baobab Trees (Adansonia kilima) in a dry Soutpansberg valley
This was the first month of SCBC operations in the area and it was a productive month. The weather was hot and dry, often with a warm desiccating wind, interspersed with cool overcast days. The dry veld exposed the landscape making the beauty of the underlying rocks and contours of the mountain visible.

Colours at sunset
 During the month, in anticipation of the wet season, many plants began to flower. Most notable were the Albizia trees, Cassia trees and Combretum creepers. The Ficus ingens trees also put on an impressive display of red leaves.

Cassia abreviata
Combretum mossambicense
Albizia anthelmintica in bloom
New red leaves of Ficus ingens
The activities during the month were varied. Biodiversity hikes took up the majority of the time, these were done in the day as well as a few night hikes. There was alien invasive clearing and some horticulture. Another successful activity was snare removal, many of these nasty contraptions were picked up. The idea with the removal of snares is to try and stay ahead of the poachers until they give up putting them up on the property.

A good days hunting - seven snares picked up in thick bush.
 During the month contact was made with Lajuba and Ian Gaigher and we spoke about the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve, conservation in the area now and the future and also different projects and needs in the surrounding area. It is my hope that the SCBC can be an energetic force in the area.

The Dassie, also known as Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), a heavily targeted animal for bush meat.
 The month provided some excellent animal sightings, the highlights were a nocturnal observation of a Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis) and an amphisbaenian (worm lizard).  Looking forward to getting camera traps to begin monitoring the larger mammals in the area.

Soutpansberg Wormlizard (Chirindia langi subsp. occidentalis)
Walking in the drying out river I saw high concentrations of fish. At the moment the fish are being fished out by people coming on to the property. As long as they fish using rods it is fine, but we will not tolerate fish traps and nets because they are indiscriminate.

Tilapia one of the native fish species that occurs on the property
Soutpansberg Flat Lizard (Platysaurus relictus), a Soutpansberg endemic, abundant on the property


Natal Spurfowl; Crested Francolin; Crested Guinea fowl;  African Black Duck; Golden-tailed Woodpecker; Cardinal Woodpecker; Bearded Woodpecker; Black-collared Barbet; Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird; Acacia Pied Barbet; Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill; African Grey Hornbill; African Hoopoe; Green Wood-hoopoe; Malachite Kingfisher; Brown-hooded Kingfisher; Giant Kingfisher; Pied Kingfisher; Little Bee-eater; European Bee-eater; Narina Trogon; Red-faced Mousebird; Speckled Mousebird; Red-chested Cuckoo; Klaas's Cuckoo; Burchell's Coucal; Alpine Swift; African Black Swift; Little Swift; Purple-crested Turaco; Barn Owl; Spotted Eagle Owl; Fiery-necked Nightjar; Freckled Nightjar; Speckled Pigeon; Laughing Dove; Red-eyed Dove; Emerald-spotted Wood-dove; Tambourine Dove; Three-banded Plover; African Fish Eagle; Cape Vulture; African Goshawk; Verreaux's Eagle; African Hawk Eagle; Green-backed Heron; Hammerkop; Hadeda Ibis; Black Stork; Black-headed Oriole; African Paradise Flycatcher; Fork-tailed Drongo; Brown-crowned Tchagra; Black-back Puffback; Southern Boubou; Orange-breasted Bushshrike; Gorgeous Bushshrike; Grey-headed Bushshrike; Retz's Helmet-shrike; Cape Batis; Chinspot Batis; Pied Crow; Black Cuckooshrike; Southern Black Tit; Lesser-striped Swallow; Rock Martin; Dark-capped Bulbul; Terrestrial Brownbul; Sombre Greenbul; Yellow-bellied Greenbul; Long-billed Crombec; Cape White-eye; Rattling Cisticola; Tawny-flanked Prinia; Bar-throated Apalis; Yellow-throated Apalis; Grey-backed Cameroptera; Kurrichane Thrush; Ashy Flycatcher; White-throated Robin-chat; Red-capped Robin-chat; White-browed Robin-chat; Bearded Scrub-robin; White-browed Scrub-robin; Familiar Chat; Mocking Cliff-chat; Red-winged Starling; Red-billed Oxpecker; Amethyst Sunbird; Collared Sunbird; White-bellied Sunbird; Red-headed Weaver; Lesser-masked Weaver; Spectacled Weaver; Swee Waxbill; Blue Waxbill; Jameson's Firefinch; Bronze Mannikin; SouthernGrey-headed Sparrow; African Pied Wagtail; Cape Wagtail; Yellow-fronted Canary; Golden-breasted Bunting.

Swee Waxbill (Coccopygia melanotis subsp. melanotis)


Rock Hyrax; Sharpe's Grysbok; Klipspringer; Kudu; Bush Buck; African Civet; Cape Clawless Otter; Slender Mongoose; Dwarf Mongoose; Water Mongoose; Large-spotted Genet; Leopard; Baboon; Vervet Monkey; Thick-tailed Bushbaby; Tree Squirrel; Porcupine; Jameson's Red Rock Rabbit; Spiny Mouse; Pouched Mouse; Senghi.
(Note on list - list was compiled using visual observations of the animal itself or track and sign. Many animals (rodents and bats) were left out due to unsatisfactory identification.)

Saccostomus campestris, Pouched Mouse.


Agama atra - Peter's Ground Agama
Chirindia langi occidentalis - Soutpansberg Worm Lizard
Aparallactus capensis - Cape Centipede Eater
Philothamnus semivariegatus - Spotted Bush Snake
Psammophis subtaeniatus - Western Yellow-bellied Sand Snake
Platysaurus relictus - Soutpansberg Flat Lizard
Smaug warreni depressus - Flat Dragon Lizard
Dendroaspis polylepis - Black Mamba
Homopholis wahlbergii - Wahlberg's Velvet Gecko
Afroedura - Flat Gecko (Taxonomy unresolved)
Chondrodactylus turneri - Turner's Gecko
Hemidactylus mabouia - Common Tropical House Gecko
Lygodactylus capensis - Common Dwarf Gecko
Broadleysaurus major - Rough-scaled Plated Lizard
Gerrhosaurus flavigularis - Yellow-throated Plated Lizard
Matobosaurus validus - Giant Plated Lizard
Afroablepharus maculicollis - Spotted-neck Snake-eyed Skink
Scelotes limpopoensis limpopoensis - Limpopo Dwarf Burrowing Skink
Trachylepis varia - Variable Skink
Trachylepis margaritifer - Rainbow Skink
Varanus nilotica - Nile Monitor
Pelusios sinuatus - Serrated Hinged Terrapin
Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus), a massive reptile.
 Keywords for the month: Horticulture, Carnivore, Snare, Baobab, Night Animal.