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Nature provides plenty of tangible evidence that there is a change in seasons. However, an endearing olfactory clue for me that there is a shift in season is the early evening scent of the potato bush, Phyllanthus reticulatus.
The larvae phase of Processionary Moths that appear in caterpillar type form are currently active and are best seen when crossing roads.
Processionary Moths are from the family Thaumetopoeidae, sub family Notodontidae and a genera occurring in our region is Anaphe. Six species are recorded.
Processions take place when migrations occur between feeding stations. In the Lowveld tree species such as Dombeya (wild pear), Sideroxylon (milkwood) and Diplorhynchus (horn-pod) are the sought after host plants.
Rabies is a fatal disease in humans and other mammals that is caused by a virus transmitted by animal bites. The virus responsible is a lyssavirus of which there are 7 genotypes. Only 3 of these genotypes have been isolated in South Africa. It is the oldest infectious disease known to man and has been present for more than 3000 years.
April was marked by the early changes of autumn. The abundant Red Bushwillows (Combretum apiculatum) are deciduous by nature and usually amongst the first to forewarn us of a change in seasons as their leaves turn from a brilliant summer green to a cosy golden yellow.
The Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a well known terrestrial raptor, easily identified by its unusually long bare legs, long tail and unique gait that it has. It is thought to derive its common name from the long quill-like feathers on its head crest, giving the impression of (in days gone by) an office secretary sporting quill pens stowed behind one’s ear, which is another distinguishing characteristic.
The Shepherd’s tree (Boscia albitrunca) is an easy tree to identify on your travels around the Reserve, especially in the northern reaches of Buffelsbed and Sibon. In Afrikaans it is known as Witgat and in Venda as Muvhombwe.
The Sjambok pod (Cassia abbreviata) is a deciduous tree that is easily identified through its exceptionally long tail like seedpods. An alternate common name is the Long-tail Cassia. In Afrikaans it is known as the Sambokpeul and in Tsonga as Numanyama.