The summer months in the lowveld have delivered wonderful rains and the bush has transformed into an amazing lush green wonderland. During recent summer evenings, the darkness has been transformed into dazzling displays of light emitted by an unusual number of fireflies.
The lush grassland areas of the concession are lit up in the evenings by these wonderful insects as they fly and glow trying to attract mates.
Fireflies or lightning bugs are small insect belonging to the family of insects Lampyridae in the order of Coleoptera. They are soft-bodied beetles that are known for their conspicuous use of bioluminescence during twilight to attract mates.
The bioluminescence is caused by enzymes in their bodies known as luciferin that creates a glow when exposed to oxygen. This process is referred to as luciferase, which is the only known way of producing light without heat.
Fireflies are males and the females are known as glow worms. Females will try and attract males by emitting a certain frequency of light. To eliminate crossbreeding of species each species will emit a very specific frequency of light. There are certain predatory species that will mimic frequencies to attract males and eat them!
The next time you are out on safari in the evening, turn off the lights and enjoy the spectacular firefly lightshow!
Image by Mike Kirby, ‘A perfect sunset with a pride.’
The mere mention of the word “spider”, and many people will have a shiver running down their spine, and most likely, the majority of guests coming on safari would not add seeing spiders on their wish list of top ten things to encounter and get close to when in the African wilderness. With that being said however, many people are actually pleasantly surprised and intrigued when they do see one of the most elegant of arachnids: the orb web spiders.
Bushveld rain frogs are a species of uniquely southern African frogs, and these little frogs are a firm favourite amongst many guides. Reason being is that when confronted by a potential predator, they inflate themselves, giving the appearance of being puffed-up marshmallows. They are cryptically coloured and slow moving frogs that spend most of their time underground, and when they emerge on the surface, they comically walk or run rather than hop as most other frogs do.
One mornings we were planning our drive and decided to use our western boundary road to get up north. While driving we managed to spot fresh lion tracks crossing the boundary road towards our concession. We decided to track them and after following the tracks for about ten minutes we located five nomadic sub-adult lions, which we recognised to be a portion of the Shishangaan Pride. One of these five sub-adult male lions was the famous white lion. After believing that they might have left our concession forever we were so happy to see them again!
Often seen for only a brief moment on the road, the slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea) is by far one of the most ferocious predators on the planet! Weighing no more than 700 g and 60 cm in length, it has a knack for hunting insects, small birds and a variety of mammals, reptiles and amphibians with pinpoint accuracy and efficiency. As the name suggests, the long slender body is accompanied with short, lightning-fast legs and a super long tail with a one-of-a-kind black tuft at the tip. There is great delight in driving around and seeing this species cross the road.