Vervet monkeys, the big 7 and the small 5 at Addo
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Driving across the Karoo in March 2010, we are heading for Addo. The aloes have huge spikes of buds, where we see red begin to glow. Animal in the road? We get closer - it’s a little kangaroo hopping across the road? A troop of vervet monkeys! They disappear into the straggle of thorn trees along the dry river bed.
At Matyholweni - Xhosa for ‘in the bush’ (near the Sundays River mouth) the vervets visit. One very young monkey, watched us carefully, one eye visible between the leaves. Feathered grey fur surrounds a black mask on an intelligent and lively face. No question - the lights are on and someone’s home!
From Paul Rose’s The Wildlife of South Africa
Cercopithecus aethiops (again not ‘Ethiopia’) is widely distributed throughout the country wherever there is dense bush or thick forests (but the desolation of the Karoo?) They eat fruit, insects, birds, and their eggs, roots and bulbs, and whatever crops they can raid. Male weighs about 4,5 kg. 120 cm long, more than half of that is tail. Their enemies are leopards, large birds of prey, and snakes. And for each, they have a particular, separate, warning cry.
thereby hangs a tail
The Big Seven includes the Great White Shark and the Southern Right Whale (sadly he was the right one to hunt. Unsinkable). Addo reaches from the Zuurberg mountains to Bird Island with Cape Gannets and St Croix Island with penguins.
The Big Five? Elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo. Males have large horns, which meet at the centre. This central boss is bulletproof.
Paul Rose - The wildlife of South Africa
When aware of being chased, a buffalo will circle back on its tracks and await its pursuer. A charging buffalo puts its nose forward, nostrils flaring, and its horns back over its shoulders. With open eyes and bellows of rage, it will charge straight at its enemy, lowering its horns when at close range. It will viciously gore and knead its victim into the earth until little is left of him.
Hoping in the soft, hazy morning light to see, something, before they disappear into the shade and shelter of the Addo bush. Striped body is hidden by the dappled shade.
|Kudu in the morning light
A male kudu weighs almost 300kg. They can jump over 2m fences. Bulls will fight each other to death, if their horns interlock, they may BOTH die. Their defence against enemies, is to run like hell. Behold these stately horns, delicately marked face, with a kind expression. Then he turns. Gone.
The Small Five? Elephant shrew. Ant lion. Red-billed buffalo weaver. Leopard tortoise. Rhino beetle.
|In Addo give way to the dung beetle
Flightless Dung Beetles have right of way in Addo. In fact, even the DUNG has right of way. Don't drive over potential eggs or beetles. They carve off their bit of buffalo dung, form a ball, and roll it away to lay their eggs in, then bury it. Scarab family. Built in trowels on his large front legs. Found amongst the spekboom, with a Vulnerable conservation status.
We walked down to the waterhole at the bird-hide (think elephant fence, with an elevated platform to climb up to) Long, bad drought, and there are not many birds. But we did see a jackal.
|Jackal at the water
Pictures by Jurg and Diana Studer
of Elephant's Eye on False Bay
(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
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