All posts filed under: African Reptiles

Nile Crocodile iSimangaliso Wetland Park KwaZulu Natal South Africa

Crocodile – Economy of Scales

South Africa’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park is one of our favourite destinations. This unique estuarine park consists of over 300,000 hectares of lakes, swamp forests, giant sand dunes and one of the most beautiful coastlines in Southern Africa. And of course there is an abundance of wildlife, an ever important asset for the local tourism industry with its headquarters based in the pleasant and laid back town of St. Lucia. In fact, (eco)tourism has become such an important economic driver that the park has seen major changes over the past 15 years with new sections created, the rehabilitation of former agricultural land and the reintroduction of thousands of animals including elephants, rhinos and lions – notably in the uMkhuze part of iSimangaliso. Not less spectacular are the hippos and crocodiles that live in the park’s waterways – with around 1,200 crocodiles iSimangaliso holds one of South Africa’s most important wild crocodiles populations. Apart from being important predators in a complex ecosystem crocodiles are also of vital importance for the local economy – boat cruises on the …

Southern Tree Agama Mpila Hluhluwe-Imfolozi

Southern Tree Agama – Chasing Dragons

The past week showed some rather erratic spring weather – glorious sunny days with temperatures in the high thirties immediately followed by unusually cool days. Especially the cloudy ones didn’t help me much in the search of my next wildlife-fix: the Ornate Dragon (Ctenophorus ornatus). This colourful lizard lives in and around the numerous granite outcrops near our tree hut, and with their extremely flattened body it shelters in ridiculously narrow crevices. On about every sunny day I expect them to be out there basking on some boulder, but for almost one year now I have been looking in vain. It’s frustrating although I know that patience and perseverance are the key words here. However, sometimes nature provides us with wildlife effortlessly – just by being at the right place at the right time we are able to witness the most memorable spectacles. This made me think of an encounter with a Southern Tree Agama (Acanthocercus atricollis). This arboreal African dragon was sitting unhurriedly in a tree right next to our bungalow in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi’s Mpila camp …

Black Mamba Khamai Hoedspruit Reptile Centre South Africa

Black Mamba

We are moving back to Australia. So a question frequently asked is about our chances of survival in the presence of dangerous animals, venomous snakes in particular. During our first residence I have witnessed only one unfortunate individual – through my rear view mirror after I ran over it. It doesn’t mean those beautiful creatures are not around, in contrary, some illustrious specimens like Tiger snakes and Dugites show themselves even in the Perth Metropolitan area where they prey on rats and mice, but mostly head away from humans rather than attack. While my experience with snakes is minimal, my wife has definitely seen more. During her work at the Albert Schweizer hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon, there were regular sightings of Black Mamba’s that took shelter in the tall grass and trees on the hospitals grounds. Although this snake certainly makes its casualties among the rural population, the real killers still are malaria carrying mosquitos. Nevertheless, the Black Mamba definitely is high on my list of animals I’d love to see from a save distance …

Flap-necked Chameleon dilepis KwaZulu Natal South Africa

Flap-necked Chameleon – A natural curiosity

I watched David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities on the BBC last week and thought about our inspiring encounter with this flap-necked chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis). Although they are often regarded as primitive reptiles, their fast tongue, 360-degrees rotating eyes and spectacular colour make them really sophisticated creatures. We have seen quite a few of these fascinating animals on the occasional night-drive, always wondering how well they blend into their surroundings. In fact, we nearly missed this one sitting on a branch ready to pose for iAMsafari!