Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Read 14 Bizarre facts on Africa's fascinating Little 5

You read the information on the fascinating and unique animals that make up Africa’s Little 5. Now read the bizarre, the interesting, and the unbelievable about these little animals…

Elephant shrew yawning.

Elephant Shrew


All of the 18 species are found exclusively in the hot and wild continent of Africa. They are related to sea cows, aardvarks, hyraxes and even elephants!

The species known as the Checkered Elephant shrew can leap up to 3 feet in the air and is a speedy runner. The Golden-Rumped Elephant shrew has skin 3 times thicker on its bum than anywhere else on its body. This is because it acts as shield against the bites of butt-flies.



White headed buffalo weaver.

Buffalo Weaver


These birds unlike most animals have benefited from the disturbance of human settlements in the savannah. If the people leave the area, the colony of the birds will often leave too.

When building their nests in South Africa they often face in the direction of North or North East.

They are also one of the very few birds to have an ummm…phalliod organ. Both of the sexes have them but the males are much longer. A successful mating session takes 10 – 20 minutes long.




  
Leopard Tortoise swimming.

Leopard Tortoise


These tortoises live up to 100 years and are the largest species of tortoises found in South Africa.

They are the only tortoise without a protective scute above the neck, which allows them to raise their neck and to be able to swim in water.

The sex of the baby tortoise is determined due the temperature the egg is kept at when being incubated. Eggs are incubated between 26 and 34 degrees.

-         26 to 31 degrees will be male

-         31 to 34 degrees will turn out to be female


An adult Ant lion.

Ant Lion


The ant lion larvae prefer to face their pits in the southerly direction.

They will fake death when held in your hand.


The larvae won’t poop and keep their waste in their body which gets turned into silk when they are in their cocoon, the rest is pooped out when they become adults.


2 male rhino beetles in battle.

Rhino Beetle


They are famously known for their largeness in size and for being super strong with the ability to pick up something 850 times their own weight, that would be like you carrying over 50 mini vans on your back!

The female beetle lays hundreds of little oval shaped eggs usually on a leaf or rotten word. When the eggs hatch they go into the larvae stage. During the larvae stage they will eat an enormous amount of food and grow. These beetle will pass through 3 – 5 different stages during the larval period. It enters into the pupal stage which can take up to 9 months and it commonly occurs during the winter months. The adult will then emerge from the cocoon.

The males are the only ones to have horns and the size of their horn is related to the nutrition they gained while growing up. The males will use their horns to fight each other.



                                                         These little animals are Epic!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Steves' Epic Safari adventure

Steve together with his wife Marilyn set out to celebrate their Ruby Wedding. They joined Epic Enabled on an 8 day safari trip back in 2012 and this is their story of their wild adventure.

In 1996 Steve was seriously injured in a horrific accident that left him with two smashed legs, a broken collar bone, ribs and even a b broken big toe. He was treated for three years but in the end due to infection he asked for his left leg to be amputated above the knee. He now spends most of his time cruising on his set of wheels.

The trip

They arrived in Johannesburg to begin the expedition of a lifetime where they were met by Alfie. A restaurant dinner was arranged for the travellers to meet and for Alfie to share the plan for the great adventure ahead. A couple from London, and a Spanish photographer were to join them for the bush.

The following day they left Johannesburg and hit the open road, where they enjoyed the South African scenery. Upon entering the famous Kruger National Park they immediately started to spot wildlife such as bucks, giraffe, zebras, buffaloes and warthogs. Steve described how ''the variety of wildlife especially birds were astounding as well as the amount of foliage and vegetation.''

The first stop off was at the camp known as Skukuza which Steve explained, ‘’the accommodation was excellent, and although outside it was hot, inside it was pleasant and easy to sleep.'' They moved on to the camp Satara which they truly enjoyed.

After four days in the Kruger National Park they headed off to a private game reserve, where they could stroke lions and cheetahs in the breeding programme. They also fed an adorable caracal cub with a bottle of milk. A baby crocodile was introduced into the wild by the people who run the reserve, Steve and the group were lucky enough to be able to be a part of the release. Finally they were taken to feed Jessica the Hippo some delicious rooibos tea.

Steve described Alfie as, ''a marvellous chef and the meals were plentiful, varied and delicious.'' They were out in the bush early mornings, returning to relax before lunch time and would go out afterwards again for another adventurous three hours. 

''Alfie's knowledge was invaluable, not only in identification of the animals and birds but also his knowledge of where they might be found,'' Steve told me.

Highlights

All the Big 5 were spotted in one day- the rhino, lion, elephant, leopard and the buffalo.

Two male lions were seen by Steve, Marilyn and the group, who strolled past the truck and drank from a puddle before moving off behind them. Shortly afterwards driving a little further on, they came across a pride of around 20 lions, lionesses and cubs, relaxing after most likely having devoured a meal.

''All in all we had a fantastic time and would love to do it all again. You couldn’t ask for a better organiser and guide than Alfie – his experience in firstly the country, wildlife and the safari’s but also his experience in handling wheelchairs and the needs of those in wheelchairs. It is ideal for all not just wheelchair users but if you are in a wheelchair and want to go on a proper safari, then this is it,,'' according to Steve.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Part 5 of Africa's Little 5 - The Rhinoceros Beetle

The male Rhino Beetle
Rhinoceros Beetles snatch their name from the endangered animals of the rhino because the male beetles have horns, very much like a rhino does.

These beetles come from the family of the scarab beetles and are one of the biggest beetles in the world. They can reach a size of 60 millimetres in length and are the strongest animals on the planet proportional to their size. They can lift a whopping 850 times their own weight!

Rhino beetles have two horns with each one being slightly forked at the end. These two horns almost meet at the centre, and can be moved when the beetle moves it head causing them to pinch together.

They come equipped with two sets of wings and are able to fly. The outer set of wings is for protection of the real wings which enable them to fly.

Habitat


These beetles are found on every continent in the world except for the very cold Antarctica. They live among the plants on the ground, leaf litter and fallen down logs. The rhinoceros beetle finds a safe haven within the forage.

They make for easy to look after pets and do well in captivity.

Life cycle of the Rhino Beetle

Behaviour


The male rhino beetle are the only of the genders to have horns which they use during battles against other males in the fight for mating.

These beetles are nocturnal, eating at night and hiding out during the day.

They make loud hissing squeak like sounds when disturbed.


Diet


Larvae eat lots of rotting wood or compost while the adult beetles enjoy munching on nectar, plant sap and fruit.

Reproduction


Each female lays up to 50 eggs at a time. These eggs then hatch into larvae after three weeks. The larvae remain at that stage for between three to five years.


They then develop into pupae which become the world’s biggest beetle!

The rhinoceros beetle can’t bite, sting or hurt you with their horns unlike the mighty rhino. They have to watch out for birds and snakes who hunt them. These beetles are strong flyers and attracted to the beauty of light at night time.


Now we close off to the last of Africa’s Little 5! Be on the look-out for an article featuring some interesting facts about all the interesting animals you have been reading about in the past few weeks.