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It’s been all over the news in recent weeks: One of the strongest El Niños in history has been brewing in the Pacific. After the big El Niño of 1997–98 killed as many as 2,100 people and caused more than US$ 33 billion in property damage worldwide, many people are now starting to worry about what the coming “Godzilla El Niño” may leave in its wake.
Members of Ingwelala, Drs. Michelle & Steve Henley from the STE Transboundary Elephant Research Programme, have been running one of the longest research projects on Elephants in South Africa. Their methodology is so successful that the Kruger National Park is looking at implementing something similar.
The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest and heaviest terrestrial mammal in Africa and has an extensive range from south of the Sahara Desert to South Africa. Elephants are adaptable and can survive in different habitats such as savannas, forests, deserts, riverine and wetlands.
The fever tree (Acacia xanthophloea) is one of the easiest thorn trees to identify. A distinctive identifying characteristic is the green to yellow bark. It tends to be a greener yellow in its early years, turning more yellow as it ages. The bark appears smooth, but at close inspection, can be found to be quite flaky. These flaky patches also increase as the tree ages. There is a powdery feel to the bark.
Veld is the single most important asset in any conservation area. Evaluation of veld conditions is undertaken after the growing season, and plans are put forward for preferred burns that will take place during spring. This practice is undertaken by Conservationists country-wide.
In some of the “know your places” the summer evenings produce a stunning spectacle in the form of fireflies as they go flashing about, advertising their whereabouts. At least 2000 species of fireflies have been identified, from the family Lampyrida. Fireflies are actually beetles; they have wings which tell them apart from glowworms that belong to the same family.
It is a very special moment each morning to be woken by the call of the African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), especially given the fact that at this time of the year the Ingwelala water courses are usually bone dry. The residual pools in the Nhlaralumi have much to offer the resident wildlife.
It is sometimes mistaken for a parasitic plant, advertising itself with a majestic display of red to crimson colour. However, it is no parasite, belonging to the Combretum genus from the Combretaceae family. I am sure you will identify with this genus when you read that the bushwillows and leadwoods are also from the genus Combretum.
The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an animal that has always fascinated me, its shape and size unmistakable in the African savanna with its intriguing physiological adaptations.