June 2013 no. 24
Butterflies steal citizen conservation stage
Ghekube Farm sponsors kitchen at Matikinya What do vultures and elephants have in common?
Smartphone apps for conservation
APNR expands its range
Green hearts at CET School ...4 | Mbelembe Ranger Camp completed ...5 | Rhino chipping a humbling experince ...6 | To catch a mocking bird ...11 | Coldblooded myths and legends ...12
photo Pieter Steenkamp Page kindly sponsored by Mike Anderson
2 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
’m often very excited about new CET projects and prospective ideas my colleagues come up with but with this edition of the Chronicle, some of our new contributors really had me thinking. As human beings we always tend to look for the next “big thing”. While on our quest to find this so called “big thing,” whether it is in life or in nature, we tend to miss the very remarkable and beautiful little things in life. How many times do we go on a game drive wishing to see a pack of wild dogs or a pride of lion? This search more than often means we miss the other remarkable things right in front of us. The beautiful butterfly with its kaleidoscope of colours and the committed, strong dung beetle just casually passes by without notice or care. Since this has been brought to my attention I have made a conscious decision to not only adjust my vision when on a game drive but to also take note of the finer things that play a significant role in our everyday lives. I have also adopted this attitude to CET projects and understand that the little things we do have a great impact on many people’s lives and should never be underestimated. Thus, this month at CET we adopted the following saying as our own: “Even a minor event in the life of a child is an event of that child’s world and thus a world event.” May we all create many world events in our own lives and the lives of others. Laugh with enthusiasm, appreciate beauty in every shape and form and give of ourselves, knowing we leave the world a better place.
The Klaserie Chronicle is published quarterly and distributed to KPNR owners, as well as CET donors, partners and Chronicle advertisers. If you would like to send a contribution, please forward to admin@ ecochildren.co.za or fax 086 628 8733
wa t jy k a
n d oe n ...
E n i ge b y h e l p o n d r a e, g r o o t o f kl e i n, s om ‘n ve iemand s e l e w e r s ki l i n te maak Childre . n’s Ec o
013 25 Trainin 3 Tak, T 611, Standa g, Rekening ak rd nr: SBZ A kode 01-15 -4 Bank, Hatfi Z A J J, eld 5, Swif Tjekre jou va t k ode: ken n. betalin Stuur asseb ing, verw ys ing: lie g of faks aan corne@ f bew ys va n ec 0 8 6 62 8 8733 ochildren.c o.za
The Bouwsma Family from the Netherlands, volunteered at the Seganyane Primary School Eco Village. They heard about the school from their friends, the Groens who are long-time friends of the school.
Klaserie Chronicle /Kroniek Team Editor: Corné Havenga Sub-editor: Catharina Robbertze Advertising and articles: Laura Craig Layout and design: Lynette Strauss Contributors Colin Rowles, Mandla Mathonsi, Dr Michelle Henley, Ivan Gillatt, Cassie Carstens, Kate Meares, Ian Sharp, Steve Woodhall, Donald Strydom, Corlia Steyn, Judy Meeser, Caron McDonald, Cornè Havenga, Winky Mokgope, Tanya Zeelie, Carolynne Higgins, Angela Lund, Dr Tali Hoffman, Rob Maclean, Mashudu Mutshaeni, Barbara Crookes Photographs Colin Rowles, Donald Strydom, Esté Gerber, Lynette Strauss, Winky Mokgope, Cassie Carstens, Ivan Gillatt, Ian Sharp, Allison Sharp, Philipp Breuer, Stefan Breuer, Pieter Steenkamp, Prof Mark Roberts, Kevin Wright, Jason Fleischer, Corlia Steyn, Rob Maclean, Steve Woodhall, Justin Bode, Reinier Terblanche, Jeremy Dobson, Carolynne Higgins
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 3
Ghekube Farm sponsors new kitchen at Matikinya By Corné Havenga, Photos Esté Gerber
he owners of Ghekube Farm in Charloscar of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) recently opened their hearts and wallets and helped the Matikinya Primary School to improve their kitchen facilities. Fred Ruest approached CET and requested the organisation to identify a sustainable and noteworthy project at one of their adopted schools to distribute some of their company’s social responsibility funds. After numerous sight inspections and meetings with the school’s principal CET identified the Matikinya kitchen refurbishment as a priority on their project list. Matikinya provides meals for 520 learners every school day. Before the refurbishment, these meals were being prepared in an area enclosed by corrugated iron without any countertops or basins. The roof was leaking and the wooden beams holding up the roof were in dire need of replacement. The foundation of the area also needed to be reinforced. Meals were prepared in big iron cast pots and dished up onto plates on the ground while washing up was done in huge basins on the ground. The upgrade of the kitchen has provided staff with a suitable cooking area that will not only improve their working conditions but also improve the hygiene of learners’ meals. This in turn minimises the spread of diseases and ensure all learners receive a healthy, balanced meal that has been prepared in a clean, safe area. CET would like to thank Ghekube Farm for extending our reach in the local community and enabling us to continue our mission in upgrading local educational institutions and providing children with an environment that is safe and conducive to learning.
4 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
Everlasting love for Cassie and Kate
e m o c l e W
to CET, Esté
sté Gerber, newly appointed office administrator, is the latest addition to the team at Children’s Eco Training (CET). Growing up in Johannesburg, Esté lived in the Hoedspruit area previously but moved back to Johannesburg a few years ago. However, the call to live in the bush was too strong and she recently moved back to Hoedspruit with her family where she found the opportunity at CET waiting for her. She shared some of her thoughts on joining the CET team. “I am really looking forward to working in the field and visiting the CET adopted schools, Matikinya and Seganyane on a regular basis. I love visiting the schools and seeing the kids’ happy, smiling faces. They’re always eager to greet you and so excited to see you. They all have so little and yet they are willing to work hard, are respectful and very grateful for everything we do for them. I’m proud to be a part of the CET team and to be a small part of something that makes a difference in these kids’ lives every day. One of my passions is photography and I am excited about the opportunity to capture many special moments during CET excursions and workshops. There has been a lot to do in the office and out in the field since joining the team. We hosted the March holiday workshop and completed both the admin block project at Seganyane and the kitchen project at Matikinya. It’s been a busy few months and I look forward to continuing the hard work and to building on CET’s legacy.”
ust like the southern ground hornbills she studies, Kate Meares recently pledged everlasting love to her long-time companion, Cassie Carstens. Kate has been a part of the family at the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) since 2011 when she took over as project manager of the APNR Ground Hornbill Project. She met Cassie in 2010 at the Mabula Private Game Reserve close to Bela Bela where she was looking after the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project and Cassie was managing a private lodge. After Kate moved to the Klaserie in 2011 the couple had to make do with a long-distance relationship until Cassie also moved to the Klaserie in 2012. Their wedding took place on 13 April at Mabula – the place where it all started. Getting married under a big, wild fig tree with only 30 select guests it was an intimate event and one that will last in their memories forever.
Green hearts at CET schools By Winky Mokgope
oth Matikinya and Seganyane Primary Schools received green heart certificates at the recent Wessa/WWF Eco Schools Conference and Awards Ceremony. Rhulani Mathonsi and Winky Mokgope from CET travelled to Nelspruit in April for the event with Seganyane headmaster Mr. Eckson Raganya, greening committee member Nakie Maatjie and Matikinya teachers, Themsy Sibiya and Lilly Chauke. Seganyane displayed some photos of the school to display the environmental activities on offer at the school. Speakers who are familiar with the Eco School Programme praised the initiative saying it changes children’s lives as it changes schools from deserts to green places. Both schools received bronze certificates to show they have green heart status. This is the third year Matikinya maintained their green flag status and Seganyane’s second time.
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 5
Conservation area expands its range Story and photos by Colin Rowles
he Greater conservation area, more commonly known as the Association of Private Nature Reserves (APNR), has again extended its range. A number of relatively small conservation areas immediately west of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) recently elected to join the Balule Nature Reserve. This decision has expanded the area of the APNR considerably as it effectively places the areas under the jurisdiction of the APNR management plan. The removal of a portion of the KPNR’s western boundary fence and the northern boundary fence of the incorporated area
allows for the unrestricted movement of game into, and through the area. As the benefits of being part of the larger conservation area are realised, it’s hoped that the area will continue to expand westwards towards the Hoedspruit / Mica tar road and possibly
even across the road in time. This will restore the region to conservation and reinstate game migration routes to the Blyde River and the foothills of the Drakensberg. A dream at this stage, but dreams sometimes become reality.
Mbelembe Ranger Camp completed Story and photos by Colin Rowles
he new field rangers’ accommodation complex, aptly named Mbelembe Ranger Camp which is the Tsonga name for the black rhino, has been completed. The name was
proposed by the rangers themselves as they believe that the black rhino’s alertness and aggression is synonymous with their operational protocol. At the end of April the rangers moved from the original staff village to the new camp which provides new, comfortable
and modern accommodation. The camp design encompasses three accommodation units, each with energy efficient solar water heaters to provide hot water. An automated sewage processing plant has been integrated to provide treated water, which is reticulated back to the lawn area between the buildings. This new facility provides the field ranger force with operational independence, which is critically important in the current war against rhino poachers. Rangers can now be deployed at any time to any destination and for any duration without the knowledge of fellow employees and general public.
6 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
Rhino chipping a humbling experience By Corlia Steyn, Senalala Game Lodge photos by Corlia Steyn and Jason Fleischer
he Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) is doing their absolute best in anti-poaching and up to now we have not had any casualties in the reserve. This is due to the hard work of the warden of Klaserie, Colin Rowles and his team who protect our rhinos as best they can. At the time of writing, the total number of rhino poached in our country this year, is already 232! If you take this figure into consideration one realises how well the Klaserie has done in protecting this amazing animal. In their fight against rhino poaching, the Klaserie does rhino horn and hump microchip insertions to deter poaching, as well as ear notching for visual identification purposes. This is a
combined effort between the warden and his team, the local vet, a helicopter pilot as well as a company that specialises in tailored packages for unique wildlife conservation events. Through them, companies and groups have the opportunity to sponsor rhino chipping and witness exactly where their money is going and what good it is doing. At the same time, this offers them the humbling experience of physically taking part in the work required by the various wildlife institutions and researchers. On the morning of 5 April I was fortunate enough to partake in one of these scheduled rhino chippings as an observer. The company brought along a group of family and friends with small children and I couldn’t help but wonder if the rhinos would be extinct by the time that these kids are adults. After watching
the helicopter pilot show off his amazing flying skills in search of a rhino, the first one was spotted. Moments later the vet darted the animal from the air and the rest of the group followed in vehicles to where the helicopter was hovering. As we approached we saw a big rhino bull, unsteady on its feet due to the tranquilizer. The moment it went to the ground the animal’s eyes were closed with a blanket, socks put in its ears and then the quick and efficient work began by everyone involved. After only 10 minutes the blood tests, the microchip insertions and the ear notching were done. A great effort by all involved. A short while later the rhino was awake and he moved off slowly. A job well done! It is amazing to see this huge animal up close in real-life, to feel its skin and to hear its breathing. It definitely was a very humbling experience.
Gecko: 1. Spotted Bush Snake: 0. By Angela Lund, photos by Prof Mark Roberts
Spotted Bush Snake spent the day at our lodge hunting for a good meal before slowing down for winter. It was all over the deck, the dry packed walls, the trees around the deck, in the pots (tasty frogs in those) and trying to climb up the umbrellas (more frogs here). We watched as it half disappeared into a gap between the stones of the wall but didn’t or couldn’t come out. After taking a closer look we found it had grabbed the foot of a large gecko. It
was trying to pull it out of the gap but the gecko had definite plans to remain between the rocks. As the snake managed to a get a little purchase on the rocks, it looked like it was beginning to win the tug-of-war. We noticed that the gecko had not given up the fight and had clamped its very large jaw over the snake’s upper jaw. As the snake pulled the gecko free of the rock, the gecko gave a sharp twist. The snake thought better of holding onto the foot and let go. The snake tried to catch the gecko again, but it was quickly on its way.
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 7
What do vultures and elephants have in common?
By Dr Michelle Henley, photo Lynette Strauss
ou may think that this is a trick question but the answer leaves us with an interesting story. Large tree nesting birds, such as vultures and raptors commonly use knob thorn trees (Acacia nigrescens) as their nesting sites while elephants favour the bark, leaves and small branches of this woody species when they feed. For the past five years we have been trying to establish whether elephant feeding habits are decreasing the nesting sites of vultures and raptors. With the help of Colin Rowles who kindly gave us the GPS coordinates of all the vulture and raptor nests that were spotted during the annual aerial census, we set out on foot to see what effects elephants were having on these trees. In Klaserie, we have labelled and monitored 95 trees with nests in terms of impact type, severity and age of elephant impact to see whether elephant effects caused the birds to leave their nests in relation to the rate at which they were being used by elephants. In addition, we monitored 200 control trees (those without nests) in the four cardinal directions from a sub-sample of trees with nests. We did this to determine whether the birds were selecting specific trees as nesting sites from the surrounding vegetation. Lastly, we counted and measured all the trees species known to be used as nesting sites within a 20m radius from a central tree with a nest in order to understand the age structure and possible replacement rate of the tree species frequently used as nesting sites by vultures and raptors.
Overall elephant Impact We found that the overall elephant impact was low, irrespective of the tree or nest type (i.e. vultures or raptors). There was no difference in elephant impact type and severity between trees with nests and those without nests, although trees with nests were taller and had a lower
probability of insect and fungus present. Hence accumulated elephant impact on older trees could render these trees as unusable in the long run because of increased arthropod and fungus attack over time. Bark-stripping was found to be the most prolific elephant impact type for trees used by either vultures or raptors. There was relatively lower elephant impact on trees used by vultures compared to those used by raptors. Vultures generally nest in the upper crown compared to raptors that prefer nesting lower in the tree canopy; consequently vultures may be more sensitive to die-back on smaller branches than raptors because they depend on the buoyancy of these smaller branches to construct their nests. Large trees were found to die much slower than what nests were disappearing. Hence changes in nest survival cannot be attributed to changes in tree survival alone but indicate that other factors are at play and we need to determine at what scale these other factors are influencing the nesting potential of vultures and raptors, be they climatic changes or changes in the survival rate of breeding pairs. On the bright side of the future nesting sites for these valuable large tree nesting birds, our results show that there is a high regeneration or recruitment of nesting sites on which elephants had an overall negligible influence during the study period.
Thank you We would like to thank the US Fish and Wildlife Services for funding. Colin Rowles is thanked for making Lamson Monarig available during surveys. The following students are thanked for their participation over time: Sieglinde Rode, Susanna Vogel, Gabrielle Simmons and Daniel van der Vyver. Prof. Leslie Brown and Prof. Fred De Boer are thanked for their additional guidance. Kate Meares, Blair Zoghoy, Prince Nakuna, Ronnie Makukule and Sarah Bergs kindly provided assistance where needed.
8 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
Butterflies and moths
becoming big conservation news By Steve Woodhall
utterflies and moths (lepidoptera) are among our most loved insects. They are beautiful creatures with fascinating habits. Because like birds they are conspicuous and charismatic, people notice them. And recently, it’s getting easier and easier for people to get directly involved in appreciating and conserving them.
A bit of history As far back as 1764, the Swedish biologist Carolus Linnaeus described several South African butterflies in his Systema Naturae. Linnaeus was creating scientific names for all living creatures, the Binomial System. He described at least one species found in Limpopo’s montane grasslands – the spectacular Table Mountain Beauty, Aeropetes tulbaghia. Butterfly collecting in Africa never became a craze as it did in England in the 19th century but over the years Africa was home to many lepidopterists, some writing significant books on the subject, men such as Roland Trimen and David Swanepoel (who was a Limpopo
Aeropetes tulbaghia Table Mountain Beauty
man, living in Duiwelskloof for years). It remained however, a fairly select hobby in South Africa. In the 20th century interest grew, due to the efforts of Swanepoel and Ken Pennington, a teacher at Michaelhouse in Natal. Eventually, in 1983 a study group made up of butterfly collectors and the few professional academics working in the field became the Lepidopterists’ Society of Southern Africa (LepSoc), founded by Dr Mark Williams. From the start LepSoc produced a journal, Metamorphosis, and in 1989 co-published the first South African Red Data Book – Butterflies, in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Since then several other works have been published, up to the latest Red Data Book – Butterflies, in partnership with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in 2009. Conservation activism began early, with the fight to save the then only known colony of the Roodepoort Copper, Aloeides dentatis dentatis. This succeeded when the Ruimsig Entomological Reserve, near Johannesburg, was proclaimed to protect this butterfly in 1985. In 1998 LepSoc members were also instrumental in preventing the destruction of the last known colony of the Brenton Blue, Orachrysops niobe, which led to the founding of the Brenton Blue Trust. Three other rare species have since been protected in this way.
The start of data gathering In 1993 LepSoc introduced to its membership a data gathering program, Lepidops. Members started submitting specimen records, and LepSoc began to build a database, called Lepibase. After 1993 with the opening up of South Africa to the world, it began to ‘spread its wings’. In 1999 LepSoc held its first International Conference in Cape Town, and collaboration with the wider conservation community began. Events started to gather pace in 2005 with the founding of the South African Butterfly Conservation Assessment (SABCA). The Norwegian Government, sponsoring biodiversity research in developing countries, made funds available to SANBI for this to be done. The then Avian Demography Unit (ADU) of the University of Cape Town had already, under Professor Les Underhill, pioneered public recording of wildlife records on computer, resulting in the Bird Atlas. SANBI looked to the ADU to assist with the biodiversity research, at a time when LepSoc was contacting Prof Underhill to assist with its own butterfly statistical research. It all came together and SABCA was born. Over four years, under the direction of Dr Silvia Mecenero, the project gathered and analysed approximately 330 000 units of data. Initially these came from digitising old private and museum collections, allowing a spatial gap analysis to be made. LepSoc members were sponsored to explore areas indicated by the gap analysis, from which no data had been gathered. Interest grew and new records started to be made. But the biggest thing SABCA started was the web-based Virtual Museum to which the public
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 9 were invited to submit their digital photographs of butterflies and supply the GPS coordinates of the locality where they were taken. This became very popular. By the end of the project, some 18 000 data units had been submitted out of the 330 000 total. The Virtual Museum has distribution maps for all South Africa’s 670+ butterflies, which anyone can access (access to detailed locality data is restricted).
satisfying public demand for activities such as Birding Big Day, which has been going on here for over 20 years. It is called Butterfly Census Week (BCW) and takes place twice a year during peak butterfly activity periods. The seventh BCW has just taken place, and the eighth is planned for October. To learn more, or to register, go to www.lepsoc.org.za.
The results Citizen science projects The SABCA Virtual Museum has been continued with funding by the ADU and LepSoc. It stands now at over 30 000 records. They are coming in at the rate of dozens a week, growing to hundreds over holiday periods. You need an ADU number to contribute and Bird Atlas and Birding Big Day team members can use their normal ADU number. To get a number, register at www.adu. org.za. All you need are reasonably clear photographs of the butterfly or moth you saw – cell phone photographs are often good enough – and the GPS coordinates, or a good enough idea of where you were, to use Google Earth to find it. A panel of experts monitors the site (soon to be renamed ButterflyMAP and MothMAP) and logs identification for
Using information provided by SABCA, LepSoc initiated the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Lepidoptera (COREL). COREL’s aim is to secure the safety of all threatened butterflies in SA, priority being given to the globally endangered ones. Each custodian is responsible for drafting action plans, schedules and budgets aimed at studying the population, searching for new populations, describing the factors that have led to their plight, and working to correct them. Seven of these species are Limpopo endemics, and two were thought to be possibly extinct.
four of Limpopo’s endangered butterflies. Three were found by LepSoc members; another was discovered by interested members of the public acting on information given by COREL. This, and the next three articles in the series, will tell you more about these butterflies. To start with, the incredible rediscovery by Professor Mark Williams, of the Waterberg Copper, Erikssonia edgei. In December 1980, Dave and Esmé Edge discovered this butterfly at Tilodi Farm at the northern base of Perdekop in the Waterberg. It created a lot of interest since the closest known locality for Erikssonias were in Angola and Zambia, and it was thought to be the Angolan and Zambian Eriksson’s Erikssonia edgei male on Strigia elegans
Endangered • • • •
Lotana Blue (Lepidochrysops lotana) Stevenson’s Copper (Aloeides stevensoni) Wolkberg Widow (Dingana clara) Soutpansberg Acraea (Telchinia induna salmontana)
Critically Endangered •
Wolkberg Zulu (Alaena margaritacea)
Critically Endangered, Possibly Extinct •
• your photograph, if possible. Your observation goes into the database, helping keep the distribution maps up to date. Towards the latter half of SABCA, the ADU and LepSoc initiated another citizen science project aimed at further
Juanita’s Hairtail (Anthene crawshayi juanitae) Waterberg Copper (Erikssonia edgei)
And now for the big story The big news is that COREL’s custodians have rediscovered, or found new populations of
Erikssonia edgei female on Gnidia microcephala, photo Justin Bode
10 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
Copper, Erikssonia acraeina. In the 1980’s the locality was being grazed by cattle and the farmer regularly burned the veld to improve grazing. But in the early 1990’s the land use changed at a time when conservation authorities were in a state of change; somehow the presence of this butterfly was overlooked. Grazing and burning, which were vital to ensure fresh growth of the food plant Gifbossie, Gnidia kraussiana, ceased. The site became overgrown and the food plants moribund. By 2012 the then Eriksson’s Copper had not been seen for over 15 years and it was thought to have become extinct. To make matters worse, in 2010 intensive research into the Erikssonia genus by local resident Alan Gardiner with Reinier Terblanche concluded that the Waterberg Copper was a distinct species.
They gave it the name Erikssonia edgei in honour of its discoverers. So this was a unique species endemic to Limpopo – was it to be the first local butterfly to be described to science only after extinction? LepSoc swung into action. Jeremy Dobson, Owen Garvie and the COREL team intensively searched Tilodi farm and neighbouring properties such as Buffelspoort and the Marakele National Park. They found much suitable habitat but no butterfly. These searches continued for years during the observed flight period of December to February. Eventually,
Bateleur Eriksonia edgei spot
butterfly. I took great pleasure in getting Jeremy resorted to financial inducements. my first digital photos, after 20 years of He kindly sponsored a R10 000 reward waiting since taking shots on film, and and LepSoc plastered every farm, pub and relief at no longer being the only person to café in the Waterberg with ‘Wanted Alive’ have photographed it live. Mark watched a posters. female lay eggs next to a fine-leafed plant By the end of 2012 LepSoc was that is probably Gnidia microcephala (see beginning to fear the worst, but an picture). On 14 April Reinier Terblanche amazing surprise was in store. By found a larva on a plant resembling Gnidia February 2013 the usual searches of the kraussiana, attended by Lepisiota ants. Waterberg had turned up blank. And This butterfly colony is going to be then Mark Williams, who has made intensively studied. There are so many it something of a habit to rediscover questions that need to be answered. But vanished butterflies, stepped in. He uses at least now it is safe. The manager of the Google Earth to look for likely butterfly privately owned Bateleur reserve, Wouter sites, and was doing so at about 12km Schreuders, is excited about the discovery altitude when his “attention was caught of the butterfly and is aware of the ecoby an isolated plateau about 3km long tourism potential. He will assist with any and 2km wide, some 25 km northwest of management program that may be of the town of Bela Bela. Closer inspection benefit to the butterfly. In the meantime showed that much of this plateau was at the Custodians have suggested that he an altitude similar to that of the Perdekop simply maintains what he has been doing colony. Even more interesting was the up to now. fact that the whole plateau was a nature If you want to know more about LepSoc, reserve (Bateleur NR), which implied that visit the website www.lepsoc.org.za. the habitat was probably fairly pristine. Please join us; we need your support! Maybe, just maybe…” Read about our other exciting discoveries So Mark and his wife Tildie travelled in the next issue... there on 1 March this year, and early the next morning set off along the marked escarpment trail which is mostly around 1500m – the right altitude. Larva Eriksonia edgei Only a kilometer away from camp he saw ‘a small orange-winged insect’ fly up off the path. Mark describes the way the underside colouring and pattern left no doubt and the world of South African butterflying was set upon its ear. Over the next few weeks many of us went up there to ‘twitch’ this
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 |11
To Catch a Mocking Bird By Kate Meares, photos by Cassie Carstens
he time was coming when I would eventually have to learn how to capture ground hornbills and this year was the year. The technique isn’t at all straightforward and trying to get this clever species into a trap requires, above all, a lot of patience followed by a good ability to read their behaviour. In March we were attempting to capture Copenhagen group and everything was set. We had heard the birds earlier that morning and had placed the trap in an open area. Our two vehicles were parked far enough away so as not to disturb them. Everyone was ready and focussed. All we needed was the birds to fly in and be interested in the rather exposed plastic dummy birds inside the trap. But in this world when does anything ever go exactly as planned? We start call-ups then sit and wait. Minutes tick by and we go through a few
repeats of call-ups followed by silence to try hear if they respond. Nothing. Lions call long into the morning near to where we are, so do a few spotted hyena. My radio crackles to life, it’s the others in the second vehicle. A white rhino is metres away from the back of their vehicle. Perhaps it was curious by all the calls? Nonethless, with the rhino there it certainly rules them out for helping make a dash for the trap should the birds come in. With our team now down to two runners we wait and hope the rhino moves off. Lions call again. I hope the deep ground hornbill ‘booms’ aren’t calling them in. This has happened a few times before in Kruger. I scribble notes in my field book. While I do that some movement near the bakkie catches my eye. A pesky hyena! Not ideal. Are the birds having a laugh
somewhere and sending in their scouts to assess? We imagine the report back from the rhino and hyena as sounding a bit like this: “Two in the trap and a few in the bakkie. The ones in the bakkie seem to be making more movement than the ones in the trap. Avoid.” We begin call-ups from the vehicle again. The rhino gets a fright and trots off. The hyena moves off. The birds fly in. All clear! They spend a lot of time doing laps of the trap and after a few hours two enter deep enough into the trap. The curtain gets pulled and the one we want escapes. Rats! The other individual gets measured and released and we go back to the drawing board.
12 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
Coldblooded myths and legends
Story and photos by Donald Strydom
yths and legends all seem to have some or other original foundation of truth to them, often derived from a sighting or incident witnessed by an onlooker who retells the story with more splendour. Often these narratives are told by trusting family members to children who grow up with a super fear of reptiles. Imagine living with the fear that snakes can kill or hurt you or having to deal with ghost stories of a supernatural nature. The Khamai Reptile Centre often gives talks to the local rural communities in an attempt to help demystify reptile myths and legends. We take the time to listen in order to understand where the stories originated from. This helps us teach and explain so that people can relate to real live situations. To give an example, many local
residents in and around the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve believe that a black mamba moves in the form of a whirlpool of wind. This makes it impossible to kill the snake and stop it from biting or destroying homes. Of course no such snake exists and the twisting wind that people see is nothing more than a dust devil caused by temperature inversions. Another belief is that the blue headed tree agama attracts lightning and that one needs to kill them for fear of your home being destroyed in bad weather. Once again this phenomenon has nothing to do with the animal but rather the large tree that the lizard is on that is acting as a lightning conductor.
Some common myths and legends •
It is believed that a gecko sitting on the wall in your bedroom is a
bad idea as it will steal your soul while you are asleep. This will cause the victim not to wake up and to remain in a zombie state for the rest of their life. Pythons are killed for a number of traditional medical reasons, one of which is that the snake’s body fat can be used to treat ear ache. A flat rock spider on your bedroom wall will cause bad dreams. If a gecko lands on your skin it sticks so tightly that you will have to remove it with hot porridge. The dried, crushed tail of a gecko put in a husband’s food will make him love his wife forever and keep him from cheating. The brain of a crocodile is believed to be poisonous and is used to kill one’s enemies. If anyone kills a crocodile near
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 |13
• • •
your home, everyone in the immediate area will get the flu. To find a tiger snake in your home means that your ancestors came to visit and brought you good luck, while a blind snake in your home means bad luck. A child with a bed wetting problem has to urinate into a baboon spider hole to cure him. The only way to release a chameleon’s tongue stuck to your skin is to burn it off with a red hot cinder. A common scary belief is that a python will quietly lie on your chest while you are asleep, stick its forked tongue up your nose and suck out you brains.
Did you know? •
The black mamba is the second longest venomous snake in the world, reaching a maximum length of 4,5m. The king cobra from South East Asia is the longest venomous snake. • Black mamba may live in a home range and are not territorial; they do not mark off an area with scent and fend of rivals. • The green mamba is confined to the tropical eastern coastal regions of South Africa and is not found in the KPNR or surrounding areas. The only green snakes in this area are the boomslang, green water snake and the spotted bush snake. • We do not find mole snakes or rinkhals in the Lowveld. These snakes are confined to the cooler winter regions of South Africa. • A semi-venomous snake such as the red-lipped snake has prey-specific venom totally harmless to humans, designed to kill frogs and toads. The venom does not cause a headache, but the shock of being bitten by a snake may. • Snakes will never attack humans; they will always firstly try and escape. If this is not possible, they will try and warn us off using one of their many warning mechanisms. A snake will only bite as a last attempt to protect itself in an extreme situation. • Because a reptile is a coldblooded animal, it takes a long time for them to die. A decapitated snake can still bite and envenomate you up to half an hour later. The nerves stay viable for long enough to allow for a spontaneous muscular contraction that can result in a lethal bite. The body of a dead snake may twitch and move for up to four or five hours. This spectacle has led to the belief that a snake will only die when the sun sets. These are a few of the many colourful yet scary stories being told daily by South Africans to each other. Fallacies modified to sound spectacular and impress the listener. It is no wonder so many of us have a super fear of snakes. Nature is well balanced and logical in its design. If reptiles were really as dangerous as made out to be, how come we can live and work in the bush without every second snake hurting us? Next Edition Venomous snakes of the Lowveld
14 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
Big of a different kind By Ian Sharp, photos by Ian and Allison Sharp
e are all aware of the Big 5 when it refers to the mammals of the area as it is the biggest marketing strategy driving our tourism. Some may also have heard of the Small 5 or even the Big 5 of our bird species. But what about something totally different that we generally never take notice of unless it splats against our vehicle windscreens or clogs the radiator grille? For those of us willing to drag our eyes away from the dreary four-legged beasts and focus on the six-legged creatures of so much more variety, there awaits a journey of many awe inspiring surprises! According to field guides, approximately 125 different butterfly species may be found in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) area. This piece of information brought about the idea of creating a Butterfly Big 5 (BBF) for this area and could probably also be representative for the whole central Lowveld. How would one decide on which species to consider for the honoured title? This was slightly complicated as no butterfly could be considered dangerous unless you were driving on the back of a game drive Charaxes candiope
vehicle and one happened to fly into your open mouth unleashing a fatal choking spasm! The criteria for the mammalian Big 5 initially were associated with the dangers of hunting the animals. Tourism climbed on the bandwagon (or was it a game drive vehicle?) so to speak and used it as an effective marketing tool to attract potential clients. However, for butterflies different criteria had to be used and therefore aspects such as impressive colouring, diverse forms and unique features were applied. To create more diversity in the selection of the BBF an attempt was made to select only one representative from a specific group (family or sub-family). A size minimum was also applied using the wingspan width as the guideline. Only butterflies with a wingspan width of more than 50mm qualified for selection as one of the Butterfly Big 5. The successful candidates for the honoured title as one of the Butterfly Big 5 for the KPNR, in no particular order, are:
Green Veined Charaxes (Charaxes candiope) The Charaxes family includes many exquisite species making it difficult to select a Big 5 representative. The choice
of the Green Veined Charaxes is due to the spectacular colouration of the main forewing veins and the proboscis. The sparkling green colour is truly amazing and attracts attention immediately when the butterfly is viewed from up close. Such is the green colouring that one would expect to find a leprechaun perched on the thorax. Typical of the Charaxes family, the Green Veined Charaxes is a rapid and aggressive flyer defending a food source or territory from any other butterfly or flying insect.
Mocker Swallowtail (Papillio cenera) In the Swallowtail group many species are of particular interest but unfortunately do not occur in the area of the KPNR. One such species is the Emperor Swallowtail that has the largest butterfly in South Africa title included in its curriculum vitae. The Mocker Swallowtail has been awarded a spot in the Big 5 list as it is an extremely diverse species. A variety of forms can be seen and the females of this species also mimic other butterflies, hence the name. Identifying this dainty butterfly is sure to keep you on your toes as a result. The form of mimicry is known as Batesian mimicry where the model is unpalatable and the mimic palatable.
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 |15
Autumn Vagrant (Eronia leda)
Representing the family of ‘white’ butterflies is the Autumn Vagrant. Often seen flying past rapidly in search of nectar bearing flowers, the Autumn Vagrant male is almost dominantly canary yellow in colour with epaulettes of bright orange at the tips of the forewings. The brown mottled under wings contradict the brightness of the upper wings but contribute to the survival of the butterfly by enhancing its ability to be suitably camouflaged when sitting with wings in the folded
Precis octavia sesames
position. The female is drab by comparison and may be confused with other representatives of this family.
Acara Acraea (Acraea acara acara) Representing the group of long wing butterflies is the brightly coloured Acara Acraea. Beautifully adorned in salmon pink, edged with a band of orange on the forewing, this butterfly has prominent black markings. Often found lazily gliding in riparian bush along waterways, it may perch on leaves of trees in the sun slowly opening and closing its wings. The larval food plants e.g. Adenia glauca, make it unpalatable creating an ideal model for the similarly coloured, more palatable Trimen’s False Acraea.
Gaudy Commodore (Precis octavia sesames)
Precis octavia sesames Eronia leda
Acraea acara acara
Acraea acara acara
As the name indicates, this butterfly can be astonishingly gaudy. Representing the group of brush footed butterflies the Gaudy Commodore has the distinction of having two entirely different forms for the wet season (WSF) and the dry season (DSF). During the wet summer months the Gaudy Commodore wears a cloak of rich red-orange colour that contrasts dramatically against the green hue of summer. As the seasons move into the dry winter months, emerging Gaudy Commodores are suddenly adorned in sky-blue to mauve colour with a semi-circle of red-orange dots reminiscent of the WSF colour palette. If you are fortunate you may spot an intermediate colour phase where colours of both the WSF and DSF adorn the butterfly. The members of the Butterfly Big 5 have emerged. Next time we will have a look at the Butterfly Small 5 as there are many spectacular smaller species occurring in this area that are often overlooked.
. . . . . . . . . . . . An old timer remembers
Mariep’s Kop View Site
Crossing The Klaserie River Tea on top of Marieps Kop
Story and photos by Ivan Gillatt
am taking you back to Sunday, July 18, 1954. The Gillatts were in camp at Northampton and Mr Ernest Whittingstall, that doyen of Klaserie, had suggested to my father Freddie that he would like to arrange a braai at the view site up on Mariep’s Kop. We were keen to go up there, so on this Sunday morning we packed our contribution to the braai and set off. We were in two cars, the Gillatts in our car and our friends, the Barnes family in theirs. We were to meet the Whittingstalls at the Klaserie store. It so happened that we timed our arrival
well as we arrived at the same time. Ernest was driving his jeep pickup with Ivy his wife, her brother and a number of friends. The road led us through their farm, Fleur de Lys and around the back of the mountain towards the top. Our first stop was where the road crosses the Klaserie river where it came meandering down from behind the mountain. We then wound our way round the back of the mountain, climbing all the way to the top, approaching the view site from the back. We parked the cars and walked to see the view. What a stupendous view of the entire Lowveld below. This piece of ground had belonged to the historic figure, Deneys Reitz and it is here that his ashes and those of one of his sons were strewn and an inscribed plaque set into a rock in remembrance of him. At the time all I remembered of that great South African, was that years ago he had owned the farm Sandringham near to what is now the Orpen Gate of the Kruger National Park. It was well known that Reitz and Whittingstall were friends and had often gone hunting together. I am sure that Ernest would have related all this to Freddie as I believe that one of the objectives of the outing that day was to see where the ashes of Deneys Reitz had been strewn, and of course to see the glorious view of the Lowveld that stretched out below us. Morning tea was enjoyed at this site as one of the pictures shows. From there we drove back a short distance to a picnic site which had a table, shelter and a braai area and here we made ourselves
Photo by Simon Roberts
16 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
comfortable and enjoyed our lunch time braai. After lunch we walked about enjoying the incredible views the mountain affords one. To the west the views of the Klaserie gorge are astounding, with sheer cliffs dropping down into the depths far below with streams cascading down to form the streams below. I remember crawling very carefully on hands and knees to the edge. There are no gradual slopes to the edge so one had to be mindful of the old Zulu saying: “Don’t stand at the edge of a precipice as a fly could push you over.” Looking down was well worth the effort, quite remarkable. Words cannot really do justice to the magnificent views all around and it needs to be seen to be appreciated, so I will leave you with that to contemplate. It was now time to pack up and start our slow journey down the mountain and leave Deneys Reitz’s forest glade. We had a spectacular drive down round the mountain and stopped in for a visit at Whittingstall’s farm, Fleur de Lys which we drove through with Ernest pointing out work in progress and items of interest. A most memorable day was had by all and we were appreciative of Whittingstall guiding us up to that incredible and historic view site. So with grateful thanks we returned to camp and the others home to Acornhoek.
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 |17
MammalMAP By Dr Tali Hoffman, MammalMAP project manager
o effectively manage and conserve wildlife we need to know where they are and understand why they’re there. But the reality is that across Africa, our knowledge of the whereabouts of many mammal species is at best outdated, and at worst based on unverified anecdotes. This is true for so many mammal species that the last Red Data Book of the Mammals of South Africa – published in 2004 – recommended that surveys of the current distribution of mammals be carried out with urgency. Nearly a decade later the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town and Mammal Research Institute (MRI) at the University of Pretoria have teamed up to take on this challenge with an initiative named MammalMAP: the African Mammal Atlas Project. The overall goal of MammalMAP is to map the current distribution (occurrence) of all mammals ranging on the African continent and in Africa’s territorial waters (up to 200 nautical miles offshore). Where possible, MammalMAP will also determine the relative abundance of mammal species. We are gathering the data needed to produce these maps in three ways. The primary way is by collaborating with scientists and field rangers working across Africa, and consolidating all of their identifiable and reliable mammal records (e.g. photographs, sound files) into one centralised database. The second way is through the data collection projects that we initiate across the continent (initially focused in southern Africa) during which we collect new mammal distribution records and test new techniques and technologies for gathering information. The third and final way that we are amassing mammal occurrence data
An Africa-wide mammal conservation project
into MammalMAP is through citizen science. Absolutely anyone anywhere can get involved in this initiative. People can add their mammal sightings to the MammalMAP database in one of three ways. First, you can upload photographs from your computer directly into our database (this option works particularly well if you are submitting only a few photographs at one time). For larger submissions (more than 10 photographs) an online file transfer system is used. Finally, MammalMAP is teaming up with many organisations that are developing innovative and creative web and cell phone platforms for the mapping of African mammals. Visit our website for more information about these different submission options. All mammal records that are submitted to MammalMAP are processed in the same way. First they all go into an online, open-access database called the Virtual Mammal Museum. Once there, a team of experts identifies the records to species level. Then the database software uses the GPS coordinates that accompany each record to delineate the current geographic range of each species.
The conservation benefits of this research are multiple • Comparisons of MammalMAP’s current distribution records with both historical
and future records, and analyses of identified mammal distributions shifts (range expansions, contractions, and fragmentations) in relation to changes in habitat and climate variables, will yield both explanatory and predictive results that will inform specieslevel (rather than population-level) management and conservation policies. • In conjunction with these analyses, and by identifying and documenting the threats facing the most vulnerable of African mammal species, MammalMAP data will provide crucial guidance to the IUCN Red Data Lists. • MammalMAP data can be used to guide landscape conservation regulations, to identify which tracts of land need be purchased for maximum biodiversity protection, and to indicate how scarce conservation resources can be best spent. • The research will promote and facilitate interdisciplinary and international collaboration amongst scientists and conservation practitioners, with potential benefits to the advancement of conservation science. • By actively involving people of all ages, cultures and geographies, MammalMAP provides a crosscontinental platform to increase awareness and understanding of Africa’s biodiversity. To find out more about MammalMAP please visit our website, watch our promotional videos, send us an e-mail, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Remember that anyone can contribute to MammalMAP, and every contribution is valuable. So please do get involved. Website: http://mammalmap.adu.org.za Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook and Twitter: ‘MammalMAP’ Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ mammalmap/videos
18 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
Why was I made this Story and photos by Colin Rowles
lay curled up in the warm comfort of my mom’s womb for 16 long months. Then one glorious spring day I fell to the ground. When the dizziness cleared and through squinting, murky eyes, I saw mother earth for the first time. After resting for a while, I wriggled free of the warm embryonic sack and stumbled and fell as I staggered on wobbly legs towards the dark shape of my mom beside me. Emitting funny little squeaks I started searching with my large, flat, wide, lawnmower like mouth for her swollen teats that were hidden somewhere in a dark corner under her belly. I found one and sucked hard, the warm nourishment filled my empty little tummy. Soon I was content, curled up in the warm sun and went to sleep. Suddenly, I woke as I felt little claws running up my back and onto my shoulder. Through the corner of my tiny murky eye, I saw a little bird dressed in brown. He had a bright red beak and yellow legs, you must be an oxpecker I thought; my instinct tells me you’re a trusted friend and ally. The little bird jumped onto the edge of my ear and, to my dismay, disappeared into my large floppy ear. The tickle made me shake my head and the little bird flew off protesting. As I stumbled to my feet, I looked down. Oh no! I’ve only got three toes.
Why only three? I I I thought. And they look so funny. My footprints look like little flowers in the sand. I looked around. Gracious, my eyesight is poor, but my large floppy ears pivot like radars on top of my head, picking up each and every sound emitted by my new home, the African bush. That little brown bird rattled an alarm call, and I heard what sounded like thunder all around me as my mom, dad, and two aunts rumbled to their feet, kicking up much dust. The smell of danger filled my big round nostrils and triggered a flight reaction within my confused brain. Why am I running in front of mom? I don’t know where I’m going, I haven’t been around here long and could easily get us all lost. I was comforted by the sound of my family crashing along behind me. I could feel mom’s warm breath on my back as she, dad and aunts, trundled along close behind me. My little legs carrying me as fast as they could, my tiny little tail curled up over my back as I ran. Soon all was quiet and I found myself alone. I stopped and caught my breath, and looked around, my tummy heaving
each breath I took. I felt afraid. Where are they? I turned around and quickly plodded back down the path. There they are, standing with their tails together in a tight circle looking outwards. I trotted up to mom and crept in under her tummy, also looking outwards. I’m not sure why or what for, but I guess I’ll be told one day? As the days and months went by the top of my nose became itchy and soon a little bump appeared. The bump slowly got bigger and soon a second bump appeared. Why are these odd looking things growing on my nose? It’s a ridiculous place to grow horns, they’re in the way and I can’t see past them! As I grew older, I watched my dad as he scraped his feet next to the path and reversed over little bushes, weeing on them, backwards, with sprays of urine. This I found very funny, until I found out that he also uses the same toilet every day. One day I saw him dropping loads of dung beetle food and then spreading it with his back feet for the hornbill and spur fowl to investigate. This I found very odd and it had me in stitches of laughter as I wondered if he was ok. Now that I’m all grown up, I often ponder the thought. Why do my family and I look this way, and behave the way we do? Why are we so different from all the other animals that we share the Klaserie with? I guess it’s just because we’re rhino, we’re unique, and God made us this way?
page kindly sponsored by an anonymous donor
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 |19
Klaserie impressions from my January jaunt
Story and photos by Carolynne Higgins
n the world of pop culture, there’s a certain hype and mass hysteria that surrounds the more recent Justin Bieber phenomenon. Visualise the screaming, screeching and overwhelming excitement coming from adolescents. Now that’s akin to how I was feeling when I found out I had to spend six days on safari in the Klaserie. In the wildlife world, being told you’re heading to a private reserve in the Kruger is worthy of hysteria. Having been to Sabi Sands and the Kruger National Park, I was curious to find out just how the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve differs. I’d heard rumours about high concentrations of lion and about the boys - The Good and the Bad - a coalition of two males who divide their time between the resident prides, the Ross pride and the Giraffe pride. Mid-January I arrived in the Klaserie. Despite it being the wet, rainy season I wasn’t short of predator sightings. Upon arrival I was greeted with grassy thickets of vegetation and a brazen orange sky. Sunset in the Klaserie was upon us. I stayed at the Africa on Foot camp which offers an affordable, authentic Kruger experience. My first night on safari was a bit eerie. My life is tainted by the sounds of the city and the Klaserie’s deathly
quiet hush punctuated by wildlife sounds took some getting used to. The bat in my room that insisted on becoming a clumsy kamikaze pilot was my first wildlife interaction. Let’s just say I was grateful for the mosquito nets! On the second day of my visit I experienced my first ever walking safari. At Africa on Foot the procedure is to wake guests up at the rather pleasant time of 5:00 and take them out on a two to three hour walk in the hopes of discovering the big five. There’s no need to bring an alarm clock, one of the rangers’ delightfully booming voice will ensure you’re up and ready. One bit of advice, when you’re walking in the bush, do not wear bright colours; save your neon for that 80’s revival party. Wear green, khaki and avoid white. You need to blend into the bush. The walk was nothing short of adventurous. We had a close encounter with a baby puff adder which left me feeling a bit paranoid - I wasn’t so keen on having cytotoxic venom coursing through my veins. A highlight for me was the alarming number of both poisonous and medicinal plants within the reserve. Who knew the Klaserie was so rife with such vindictive plant species? There’s the poison apple and the Japanese umbrella mushroom, both of which can cause severe stomach pains. There is also a great little plant (I think it’s called the wandering Jew) that contains a sack with sterile liquid which can be used as eye drops. The Klaserie boasts a fascinating array of flora and will delight the keenest of botanists! As the humid day crept on and 16:00 approached we headed out on a game drive where we saw hyena, buffalo wallowing in mud, elephants and another rare sighting, a Boomslang. It was stalking a frog in a puddle of water on the road. Unfortunately, the
frog disappeared but the deadly snake remained vigilant, waiting for its next source of food. The rains came down quite heavily later on during the day and we heard that the Sabi region became flooded. There didn’t appear to be many complications in the Klaserie apart from roads becoming muddy and caving in at certain areas. Having temperamental weather didn’t stop me from uncovering all that the Klaserie had to offer. The following day, we all clambered into our Land Cruiser and heard the roar of one of the lion prides. They seemed close but a lion’s roar can be heard up to 5km away. It felt like we were in their domain. No more than a few minutes later we spotted the boys - The Good and The Bad. They were relaxing under a tree, lying on their back with their legs spread wide open. They must have just annihilated a defenceless mammal and eaten to their hearts’ content. The next day we stumbled across The Good, mating with a female and they seemed to be making the most of their honeymoon. Despite the obvious thick vegetation and rainy conditions, the Klaserie produced in terms of lion sightings. During that evening’s game drive we spotted a group of dwarf mongooses which are fascinating little creatures. The females have a “groom-off” and the most well-groomed female gets the guy. Hyena made an appearance and so did a rather anxious warthog. In comparison to other reserves, Klaserie seemed to be the most prolific with wildlife. The birdlife is incredible and will delight any ornithologist. There are plenty of lions and numerous small mammals. Tonight I will fall asleep to the sounds of sirens and highways, when all I want to hear is the melodic croaking of bubbling kassinas, the beat of lions roaring and the cackle of hyenas.
CET says thank you for ongoing support to ... • Rynfield Primary School – donated stationery packs • Tanya Zeelie – Assistance at HWS and development of new work books. • Parma Nursery – Donation of seedlings to schools’ Eco Villages • Volunteers – who gave up holiday time to
work at the KPNR Holiday Workshops • DHL – Educational toys that were used as prizes for our winners • Appelblaar Padstal - discount on seedlings • Pick & Pay donated food and cleaning products • Savanha Construction - Assistance with
project management • Honeysuckle Nursery - discount on compost • Bouwsma family – Volunteer work at Eco village • Richard and Simone Braun - donated a television and microwave
20 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
generates data for conservation
new smartphone app is starting to generate some really interesting data that conservation scientists can use to support their research into animal population patterns. The free Android and iPhone / iPad app is called Africa: Live and was launched in November 2012, initially as Kruger: Live. It proved so popular (it was the mostdownloaded travel app in Africa over Christmas) that it was recently re-launched
includes photos. Moreover the sightings, geo-data can be analysed, so a volume of information is generated in a way that scientists with limited resources never could. The sightings data is shared with conservation bodies such as the MammalMAP project (see page 20) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust. Researchers can slice and dice the data that include species, location, time, activity and photos (for animal identification if possible) to analyse distribution or
downloaded more than 20 000 times and almost 9 000 separate sightings have been recorded from eight countries across the region. Rob Maclean, the managing director of www.wildafricalive.com said: “We’ve been blown away by its success. I think it’s because the app makes it possible for members of the public and rangers to instantly become citizen scientists by contributing to knowledge on animal distribution. And, like most social media, it is also a way for people, reserves and game lodges to show off the amazing
to cover the whole of Africa including, of course, the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR). App users can add animal sightings, including photos and other information useful for research, in just a few seconds because the app uses the phone’s GPS to pinpoint the user’s exact location. The sighting information is then instantly shared on the map to all other app users or visitors to www.wildafricalive.com. The only exceptions are rhino or pangolin sightings, which are never shared to prevent abuse by poachers. It’s a bit like an updated version of the sightings boards you see in Kruger Park camps but it works on a phone, is updated immediately and
population density patterns over time. Dr Tali Hoffman, who is running the MammalMAP project, says: “It might sound overly simplistic, but the reality is that we can’t effectively conserve wildlife if we don’t know where they are. Basic information about which species occur where in the 21st Century is vital for designing effective species conservation plans and policies. Thanks to apps like Africa: Live anyone, anywhere can now easily play a crucial role in conserving Africa’s wildlife simply by using the app to record which animals they see and where they see them – both inside and outside of protected areas.” The Africa: Live map has been
things they see every day to people stuck in offices around the world.” The map has been viewed almost half a million times from over 100 countries around the world since it launched just six months ago. To make it even easier to contribute sightings, a new feature has just been launched. If anyone simply tweets a sighting description to @wildafricalive with their location services switched on, it’ll be added automatically. They don’t even need the app, which means BlackBerry users can contribute as well. Hopefully this little piece of technology can play a big part in forming a better understanding and protecting our natural heritage for the next generation.
By Rob Maclean and Dr Tali Hoffman
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 21
Seganyane administration building
Another successful CET project By Corné Havenga, photos Esté Gerber
t was with great excitement and anticipation that the staff members and learners of Seganyane primary watched their brand new administration building reach completion. While the staff members were excited because they knew they would soon have a specifically allocated area to do all their administrational tasks, the learners were equally happy to know another classroom will soon be available where more CET initiatives and educational activities could take place. The administration building was completed within two months and was funded by the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR). When the KPNR approached CET to identify a community project that needed funding, the completion of the admin building was a natural choice. This is a much-needed addition
to the smooth running of Seganyane and the school had already raised money, laid foundations and erected walls for the building on their own. However, they had struggled to raise enough funds to complete the project. The administration building will provide staff members with an adequate area to plan, strategise and promote positive interactions amongst the patrons in the school’s community. It will contribute to the continued growth and success of the school’s management
team and will take Seganyane Primary from strength to strength. The classroom that was used as an administration office is now free and there are exciting plans on how this space will be utilised to further improve education opportunities for Seganyane learners. CET was extremely privileged to have a local Hoedspruit contractor donate their project management expertise and assist with the initial planning and implementation of the project. Savanha Construction manager, Carl Jansen was exceptionally dedicated to the project and not only assisted with the initial planning, but also did regular site visits and helped to manage sub-contractors effectively and efficiently. CET would like to thank Savanha Construction for their invaluable contribution to the success and completion of the project and KPNR for their generous donation to fund the project.
22 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 Pieter Steenkamp
sightings Pieter Steenkamp
a Goggmaak vir boetie Bang Pieter Steenkamp
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 23
Philipp Breuer Stefan Breuer
Stefan Breuer Pieter Steenkamp
My heart is in the bush ...
24 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
By Tanya Zeelie, photos Esté Gerber
lmost 300 children attended the CET holiday workshop during the March holidays. This was the first workshop for 2013 and things kicked off with a bang as the trainers had just completed their training to teach the newly designed lesson plans. Everyone was positive and determined to bring home the correct message to the children. During the workshop the concept of plants and everything they entail – from their definition to their function and how photosynthesis works – was taught to the children. The session started with a lesson on structures and functions of a plant. Learners then had to design a poster in groups indicating the structures of a plant, where after a ball and hoop game was incorporated into the identification of different plants. Photosynthesis was explained in a fun way by using puzzles and art projects which was followed by teaching the children simple keys to identify different plants and trees. Finally, a game of musical blocks tested the content learnt during the day. The biggest challenge for every holiday workshop is to maintain children’s attention for the duration of the entire day. This was done by playing lots of relevant games in order to keep both their minds and bodies active. The musical blocks game in particular was very popular. Through this game the children were challenged to apply everything they were taught during the workshop. The laughs and interaction from everyone proved that the hard work was worth every second and that the children had learnt many new lessons. After lots of running around the children received an Easter treat and the annual CET winners were announced. At every workshop the learners are assessed and receive points based on their attendance, responsibility shown, behaviour, participation, respect and content knowledge. At the end of four workshops CET announces the top 20 learners in the 8-13 and 14-16 year age groups. The younger age group received educational goodie packs as a reward for their achievement and the older learners were treated to a two day excursion. The annual CET prize giving not only motivates children to attend CET workshops regularly but also increases enthusiastic participation and gives them a sense of achievement. All in all, the workshop was a great success and bodes well for the rest of 2013’s workshops.
Family First @ CET Holiday Workshops By Corné Havenga, photos Esté Gerber
t CET our main focus during holiday workshops is providing children with quality environmental education while having fun. However, reuniting families for short periods of time has become a greatly rewarding part of these workshops. Many of the children whose parents work in the KPNR will only see their father or mother every fortnight for a weekend visit depending on their work schedule, thus providing the family very limited time together. CET holiday workshops provide these children with an extra opportunity to form part of their parents’ lives in the reserve, giving them not only a glimpse
into their parents’ working lives but also allowing them the chance to embrace the pristine wilderness that surrounds them. At CET we feel strongly about strengthening and supporting the family structure. There are few things more beautiful than seeing a proud parent embracing their happy child and we get to see this sight during every holiday workshop. The look of joy and fulfilment on a child’s face creates an everlasting memory between parent and child and it is a privilege to enable families in the KPNR to spend more time together and contribute to important family bonding and long term memories. This is one of the reasons we love what we do and will continue doing it.
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 25
Rynfield Primary donates stationery packs to CET adopted schools By Corné Havenga, photo Esté Gerber As the first term of the 2013 school year was coming to an end and teachers countrywide were getting ready for the Easter holiday CET received a very unexpected, yet pleasant phone call from Carol Tucker, a teacher at Rynfield Primary School in Gauteng. At first I thought it was just a social call to see how I am coping in the bush and keeping me up to speed with the city news. However, Carol wanted to know when I would be coming back to Johannesburg, not for a visit but to pick up 150 stationery packs that Rynfield Primary School’s Early Act Club collected and put together for the children at the CET adopted schools. I was absolutely overwhelmed by Rynfield Primary’s spirit of giving and continued support of CET projects and initiatives. The recipients of the stationery packs were truly grateful and it was evident by all the smiling faces at Matikinya and Seganyane Primary schools when we distributed the packs. Rynfield Primary, you truly epitomise the Early Act Club motto because “the highest form of living is most definitely giving”.
26 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
The Elephant Song â€“ Kamahl
Sent in by Barbara Crookes Tell me said the elephant, tell me brothers if you can. Why the world is full of creatures, yet we grow in fear of man? Tell me said the elephant, tell me why this has to be. We have to run from man the hunter, never safe and never free. People kill without regret, although they fly by jumbo-jet Let the word all may remember, let the children not forget! Gentle is the elephant, pulling loads and everything We love to hear the children laughing, when weâ€™re in the circus ring, Happy was the elephant. Happy was his jungle life, and then they came, the cruel hunters. With their rifles and their knives, People kill without regret, although they fly by jumbo-jet! Let the word all may remember, let the children not forget! Listen, please listen, said the elephant, if we want the world we know to stay alive. Then man and beast, we must work together and together we will survive! Listen said the elephant, it is conservation time. So take the warning when we trumpet for the future of mankind.
Forging an existence against all odds Story and photos by Judy Meeser
he scattering of iconic rock fig trees throughout the reserve certainly adds to the appeal of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. Rock figs are obvious from a distance, with twisted trunks attaining weird shapes and wrapped in a smooth bark of palest yellow jutting out of a sheer rock face or clinging to a boulder with a finger like grip. The twig ends are thickened and clustered with large heart shaped dark green leaves presenting an eye catching spectacle. The rocks on which the figs grow protect the soft tree trunk from fire to a large extent. The latex is milky, often indicating poison â€“ not so in this case as the figs are flavoursome and juicy but seldom available without having been spoilt by damage from insects and birds. The fruit is initially green with white flecks but turns blood red if ever allowed to mature. The flowers seem noticeably inconspicuous, if not absent. Actually the flowers of figs are borne inside the fruit. This phenomenon is called a synconium (meaning with cone) referring to the hollow inflorescence axis of the fig. Confused? I
try to think of a flowering head of a grass also called the inflorescence. Imagine if that inflorescence were to bend over and seal itself against the stem, then the flowers would be on the inside and the fleshy stem on the outside. In the case of the fig, the fleshy bit is the hollow fig fruit and the flowers occur on the inside walls of the fruit. This configuration presents a problem for the pollination of the flowers. Figs have a symbiotic relationship with wasps where both the fig tree and the wasp benefit from a unique arrangement. A specific wasp can enter the fig through a tiny hole that only she can negotiate. She pollinates the flowers inside the fig and lays her eggs in certain of the flowers that are modified to receive the eggs. The other flowers are left untouched other than the benefit of being pollinated. The egg bearing flowers are stimulated and react by forming galls, an abnormal growth that then serves to provide food for the wasp larva. The eggs hatch and the larva live in the safety of the fig fruit; feed and later pupate to emerge as adult wasps. Without either party - the fig and the wasp - both would cease to exist.
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 27
The Wasp Witch By Judy Meeser, photos by Allison Sharp
n hot summer days out in the bush one often hears a loud rattling sound and reverberating beat of a noisy insect that doesn’t seem to move off. When you identify the source of the sound you will find a large metallic blueblack wasp flying low along the ground dangling a set of long black legs behind it. This is a female spider hunting wasp and a foe to be reckoned with, especially if you are a spider. The female wasp is out hunting and thankfully we humans are not on her menu. She is on the hunt for a fresh source of protein and other nutritional compounds for her young to feed off during their metamorphosis. She will hunt on foot too, running noisily along the ground at great speed while vibrating her wings and antennae. Wasps are holometabolous meaning, that they go through all the stages of an insect’s metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The female wasp seeks the ideal spider in which to lay her single egg. She specialises in large hairy baboon spiders or ground spiders of the Palystes species. A large prey is necessary for the larva to flourish, for while the spider lives on in a paralysed state the egg will hatch and the larva eat the paralysed spider alive. The wasp huntress finds her victim by low flying and running along the ground tirelessly, looking under leaf litter, stones and logs where a spider may hide. These spiders are not the web building types that lay waiting in their webs for hapless insects to become entrapped, but rather ground based hunters in their own right – the Mygalomorphs, and equipped to bring down their own sizable prey. It is believed that the wasp unarms the spider by stinging it first in the front of the head thereby paralysing the fangs and
rendering it harmless. She then wrestles with the large spider until she is able to get into position to sting it on the underside of the body where the nerve centre that controls the spider’s movement is located. The wasp will then fly off leaving the immobilised spider and go in search of a dry sheltered hole big enough to bury the bulky spider. She may excavate the hole further and prepare the entrance for her delivery. She then flies back to the paralysed spider and in doing so demonstrates remarkable sense of direction and memory. The wasp then drags the spider to the prepared hole. She may fly back and forth periodically to refresh her memory and will arrive at the hole to drag the spider down into it. She then lays a single, large oval white egg into the abdomen of the spider. There is evidence that the size of the host will influence whether the egg will develop into a male or a female – females requiring a bigger host. The adult wasp then fills the hole by scraping soil into it with her front legs that are equipped with spines and act like a comb. She will level out the surface carefully and drag twigs and leaf litter over to make her nest invisible from the surface. Finally she flies off to repeat the process with another unfortunate spider.
Often nests are raided by other wasps who replace the egg with their own. The egg hatches after about 10 days and the larva then feeds on the paralysed spider, consuming everything but the legs and skin. The fully grown larva then spins itself into a cocoon of dense brown silk where it stays through the winter months until the arrival of warm weather triggers pupation. This stage takes two to three weeks after which an adult wasp will emerge. Now we all have newfound respect for mummy wasps I am sure. It reads like a science fiction or horror movie I know, but it is a frightening fact for spiders!
28 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
Mandla aiming high this time around By Mandla Mathonsi, photo Pieter Steenkamp
fter completing a certificate course in 2007 and obtaining a first class pass I thought I was done with studying, but it was only the beginning. I would like to thank the warden Mr Colin Rowles and everybody who contributed to make things happen for me. It is a privilege to me to be appointed to attend a higher certificate in conservation course that is taking place at the Southern African Wildlife College. The course includes modules such as computer skills, personnel management, communication skills, basic ecology, vegetation management, conservation administration management as well as cultural heritage site management. These courses are only for the first semester, the whole course will last for a year. The course is showering me with a wonderful experience which I strongly believe will be shared and be applicable in the Reserve. The competition is very high in the class with the likes of students from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Swaziland as well as my fellow South African students. Among all the modules done so far, I managed to pass them all and to me that is a sign of competency and a sure way to victory. After three months of hard work at the college, we are given time to return back to our workplaces where every student is busy compiling a workplace assignment which is no less than 45 pages. The course and the lecturers are amazing, especially during the practical side of it. Deep down in my heart, I strongly believe I will have a good understanding and be better skilled to be a good manager after the course. Though competition is high, I am aiming to bring back the best South African student award or to graduate with a distinction and nothing less than that. I once again want to thank Mr Rowles for believing in me and presenting this wonderful opportunity to me and also thank my family and colleagues for their humble support during my studies.
ew N Signage at CET Eco Village By CornĂŠ Havenga, photos EstĂŠ Gerber
he CET Eco Village sponsored by the MAD foundation recently adopted a new look. Signage boards have been placed at the entrance of both eco villages introducing the relevant partners and sponsors of the project. The striking new boards epitomise the ethos of the project. Set on a brilliant green, leafy background with dripping drops of water, one immediately gets the feel for this great greening project. The eco kids were also very excited to finally have their group names displayed at their various keyholes. Eco kids are divided into groups and are responsible for different sections of the eco village. The signage has proved to be a great tool to reinforce responsibility and give the learners a sense of ownership. Signage is also utilised as an educational tool to identify different vegetables in the eco villages. I am delighted to report that the eco villages are looking amazing. The first cycle of seedlings was planted in March and some crops are now ready to be harvested. This project is growing from strength to strength and the children and teachers involved in the project take great pride in the eco village concept. I am extremely proud of what they have achieved and it is always a great pleasure to take visitors and volunteers from all over the world to visit our CET eco villages.
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 29
expand Dutch support for CET
By Corné Havenga, photos Esté Gerber
n 2011 the Groen family from the Netherlands visited Seganyane Primary School and helped with the initial layout of the CET Eco Village project. Two years later and the Groen family are still involved with CET and continually support and fund CET projects. It therefore came as no surprise when Jos Groen contacted me and asked if some of his friends who were visiting South Africa could spend a day with CET at Seganyane primary school and volunteer at the eco village. The Bouwsma family arrived with high spirits and was eager to get stuck into the activities Winky Mokgope, CET Support-a-School manager, had planned for them. The family was given different tasks like laying bricks, mixing cement, painting and planting. Even though they were working extremely hard in the scorching sun, they always maintained a smile and approached each and every task with great enthusiasm. As you can imagine this is quite difficult when you are not used to the African sun beating down on you. The highlight of the day was seeing the principal of Seganyane arriving back from a meeting in his formal attire. This however, did not stop him from getting involved in the building process. Mr Raganya rolled up his sleeves and immediately started helping his team with the task at hand. It is this type of commitment and involvement that has made the CET Eco Village project such a huge success. CET would like to thank the Bouwsma family in assisting us with the continuous expansion and growth of this very worthwhile project.
Your R250 can change a life! A uniform consists of a shirt, shorts or a dress, a jersey, shoes and socks.
Contact Corné @ 082 713 8778 or corne@ ecochildren.co.za
KIT -A- KID TODAY!
Thank you to all our donors!
30 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
CET Holiday workshop winners’ excursion
The Strikers vs the Marulas! By Caron McDonald, photos by Esté Gerber
n Friday 12 April, 25 excited children and trainers made their way to Sabie, for the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) holiday workshop winner’s excursion. On arrival at Sybrand van Niekerk Hoërskool we were allocated to our respective dormitories and then it was straight off to supper. We were expecting standard “boarding house food” but were pleasantly surprised by the tasy chicken, rice and vegetables we were served. After supper we watched the movie, Big Momma’s House which was hilarious and then it was off to bed. On Saturday morning the girls were up long before breakfast and made sure that the trainers did not oversleep. After porridge, eggs and sausages for breakfast we made our way to Induna Adventure Centre for the day. Upon arrival we were divided into two groups who would compete against each other during the course of the morning. The Strikers and the (mighty) Marulas – I may be just a little biased here. Some of the tasks we completed included using bits of pipe to navigate around a course without dropping a tennis ball that was to be passed from person to person along the pipe. Teamwork and communication was essential for this game. Next came the canoe steering. From the banks of the dam this looked pretty simple but I am assured it was a lot more complex than it appeared. Corné was an instant champion but there was so much shouting and laughter that people were unable to hear and make use of her expertise. We also had to complete a few brain teaser type puzzles which required thinking out of the box and refined communication skills. The morning programme was followed by a delicious lunch at Sabie Valley Coffee just across the road. After lunch we took on bow shooting which required paying careful attention to the instructions, accuracy and lots of luck. The morning ended off with a round of paintball. I am sure there are more than a few people who came away sporting bruises! After our activities at Induna we headed back to our accommodation for a well-earned shower and to prepare the fires for our evening braai. We all cooked our own meat which was accompanied by pap, sauce and a delicious potato salad. We had planned on watching another movie but everyone was totally worn out so it was straight to bed for all. Sunday morning arrived far too quickly and after another scrumptious breakfast we headed off to Bridal Veil waterfall. Although it was quite a steep climb the view from the top was definitely worth it! The water is so clear that many people ended up filling their water bottles from the stream. After this we drove to MacMac Pools where we relaxed and ate our packed lunch before heading on home. All the children were extremely well behaved and a definite credit to the CET Programme. We would like to thank all our donors and sponsors for making this kind of trip possible ever year.
Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24 | 31
Be the difference
MAD CHARITY leadership scholar camp 2013 By Mashudu Mutshaeni
ince grade 8 I have always looked forward to the March school holidays with much anticipation and excitement because this is when we have our annual MAD camp. This year was no different. We made the journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town and arrived early on Thursday 4 April. As soon as we landed we started with our first camp activity which was community service at the Lucky Lucy foundation. Lucky Lucy is a foundation that aims to rehabilitate animals with no hope left. Unfortunately for me, most of the nohope animals were dogs! I have never been a dog fan and have never actually even owned a pet but after being at Lucky Lucy my fear for dogs almost vanished… note almost. I had never seen so many dogs in my life. Our camp theme was: “Be the difference”. This theme was evident in
most of the camp activities that were planned for us. Instead of the normal activities we usually participate in such as hiking, abseiling and rock climbing this year we took part in more art and beach activities. The art activities consisted of drama, dance and singing. Having done dancing at school I chose to participate in dancing. This involved being taught a choreographed dance in two hours that we later had to perform in front of everyone. Some of the fun camp activities we participated in were the longest fingers challenge, cartwheel challenge and many more. I won the longest fingers and who can blow the biggest bubble challenges which meant I had to spend a full 10 minutes removing bubble gum from my face, hands and even my hair. The beach activities were the most memorable. We were divided into teams and I am proud to announce that my team won most of the activities. One day
we couldn’t participate in some of our outdoor activities due to bad weather and instead went to see penguins. I had never seen penguins in real life before and found it interesting to observe these magnificent creatures. During our last night in Cape Town, as the northern region MAD stars, we were treated to a movie and dinner at the Waterfront mall. This was lovely because it was the last opportunity we had to bond and spend time with other MAD students before we made our separate journeys home. Part of the reason we went on camp was to develop our leadership skills in order to become successful MAD ambassadors. Through presentations and activities we were taught that a good leader does not have to change their personality but has to alter their leadership style to match their personality. MAD camp 2013 was my favourite by far!
w a t jy
32 | Klaserie Chronicle/Kroniek no. 24
ka n d o
e n ...
E n i ge b h e l p o yd r a e, gr oo n s om t of kl ieman e ‘n d s e l e ve r s ki l i n i n, w e t e m a a k. Child ren’s E 0
co Tr 13 25 a Tak, 3 611, Sta ining, Re Takk k nda r o d Ba ening nr: de SBZ A nk , H Z AJJ 01-15-4 atfield 5, Sw jou v , Tjek an if r betali . Stuur a ekening, t kode: ver w s se b ng a a lie ys of f a k n s 086 corne@e f bew ys v ing: a coch 628 8 ildren n 733 .co.z a
d the n’s Eco Training (CET) attende Corné Havenga CEO of Childre ates the rdin coo CET in Johannesburg. latest Santa Shoebox conference nce fere con The . area ruit the Hoedsp Santa Shoebox (SSB) project in gain and ork netw to ntry cou the ss allowed coordinators from acro get s of SSB . If you are interested to a better insight on the working za .co. box hoe ntas w.sa site @ ww involved, please visit the SSB web
We are on Facebook Search for ‘Children’s Eco Training’ and like us!
Or visit us at www.ecochildren.co.za
We need books! And we hope YOU can help.
The Seganyane Primary School Library needs age appropriate books and we are extending their appeal to you. If you would like to donate any books, magazines or games suitable for children aged 5 to 13 please contact Corné at 082 713 8778 or email@example.com Thank you!
Dates to remember •
We update Facebook regularly with news and photos about your generosity and our activities. Like our page and become part of the online community.
June HWS: Teachers’ training dates: 20 and 21 June/ Training dates 24-27 June Theme: GRASSES, TREES and SHRUBS (Identifying a few examples of each, making a key for identification, the differences between grasses, trees and shrubs.) September HWS: Teachers’ training dates 19 and 20 September/ Workshop dates 23 - 26 September Theme: WILD FLOWERS and SUCCULENTS (The role flowers play in an ecosystem, pollination, the definition of succulents, how succulents differ from nonsucculents, their main characteristics etc.) December HWS: Teachers’ training dates 5 and 6 December/ workshop dates 9 - 12 December Theme: FRUITS and VEG generated from plants (Why do plants have fruits or veg, the differences between fruits and veg, organic fruit and veg, domestic land use for the fruit and veg etc.) Klaserie Private Nature Reserve AGM: 13 July
Page kindly sponsored by the Connan Family Trust
Published on Oct 18, 2013