SPECIAL INTEREST #2


 


Ground Hornbill
(Bucorvus leadbeateri)

This very large turkeylike bird forages on the ground using its bill to dig for food. It is entirely carnivorous and will eat insects, reptiles, frogs and even mammals up to the size of hares. These days Ground Hornbills are restricted to large game reserves and is not often seen out of protected areas. We at Mkuze Falls are blessed with sightings of these birds in our southern mountain ranges. On this picture it can be seen preforming its territorial call which can be heard several kilometers away.


Leopard
(Panthera pardus)

This elegant and powerfully built cat is normally solitary with the exception of pairs coming together for mating. Although leopards are notoriously shy and secretive, we have been blessed to see some interaction between this male and one of our females. This interaction lasted for about four days and we had several sightings of them. Their gestation period is approximately 100 days and the litter size can range between 2 and 3 cubs. The picture of this male was taken at the river crossing below the Mkuze Falls Lodge.

 

 


Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Buffalo live in large herds of mixed sexes.Bulls and cows have separate dominance hierarchies, and all bulls dominate cows. In this picture is one of our dominant bulls. The broken horn is a testimony of his fighting ability. One can also see how this buffalo is determining the reproductive status of a female by "tasting" her urine. This is when the upper lip is curled up. This process is known as Flehmen. This is when the animal uses his Jacobsen's organ, which lies between his mouth and nasal passages, to detect sexual chemical signals. 


Kittlitz's Plover
(Charadrius pecuarius)

This little bird is a common resident over most parts of Southern-Africa and favours habitats of wide open shorelines of inland water or even short grass on airfields and dry pans. When nesting it makes use of a deep scrape in the ground or even a hoofprint. This will be filled by bits of soil, small stones and even dry plant fragments. Eggs are covered with the nest material by quick foot movements when the birds leave the nest. This can be seen in the right picture. Note how difficult it is to see the eggs in the nest.

 

 


Heady Maiden
(Amata cerbera)

This is a day-flying moth. They are known to be very sluggish and slow flying.The larvae are short and cylindrical with tufts of long hair and normally found on grass.

 

 

       
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