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If you come to a wilderness area such as the Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, you would immediately notice the myriads of different land animal forms of all different shapes and sizes, such as mammals, reptiles, birds and even the small invertebrates and insects.
Falling in the Class Reptilia, tortoises are from the Order Chelonia and are parallel to other Orders Crocodilia and Squamata, these being crocodiles and snakes and lizards respectively. It is thought that tortoises lived long before the dinosaurs.
Most mornings in camp, at precious dawn, if you listen very carefully and are able to shut out the rhythmic sound of your partner’s sleepy breathing, you can hear the distinct call of Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, formerly known as the Giant Eagle-Owl (Bubo lacteus).
Although it is generally acknowledged that the creation of permanent artificial water has played a major role in the transformation of the Central Lowveld with regard to both habitat as well as species distribution changes, it is still a hotly debated subject.
The White-headed Vulture (Aegypius occipitalis) is one of five species of vultures that can be seen at Ingwelala. Of huge concern is the steady decline of population numbers for the White-headed Vulture.
Special mention is made of the two sausage trees (Kigelia africana) at the office that have flowered twice this summer, a phenomenon not often seen. The sausage tree is a relatively well known tree, easy to identify, especially when in flower and bearing fruit. Its alternate common name is cucumber tree and in Afrikaans it is called a Worsboom. In Africa it occurs from Chad to the northern parts of South Africa and occurs in the west from Namibia to Senegal.
Every now and again one hears a sound at night which although is entirely believable, still seems out of kilter, in an endearing way. One such sound occurred the other night when a herd of zebras chose to be very vocal. It seemed strange because in the five and a half years we have lived at Ingwelala I have never heard a zebra call at night.