Africa

Advanced Rifle Handling (ARH) for Trail Guides

Hikes through natural areas in Southern Africa where dangerous game is present must be conducted with at least one, but usually two, armed trail guides. One is the “Lead Guide” or “1st Rifle,” and the second is called the “Back-up…

Vine snakes of Africa

Vine Snakes (previously called Twig or Bird Snakes) are widespread across Africa and are usually found in warm savannas and forested areas. There are currently four species and one subspecies of Vine Snake in Africa. The status and distinguishing features…

Giant snakes

Seeing movies like Anaconda let many people believe that there are monster snakes in jungles, some even exceeding 10 m in length. However, those stories have been doing the rounds for many years. So much so that the New York…

Holiday time and snakes

As the holiday season starts, many people will be returning to their family homes or are off on vacation. Snake season is in full swing with decent temperatures and sporadic rain. We are currently seeing a number of snake bites…

Raphia sese – a very special Raphia palm

Raphia sese (Arecaceae) Common names: Nsaku (Kongo = knife with a long blade), ba di magangu (Kongo). Description A palm which grows in dense clumps up to 10 m tall. Female flowers are produced at the base and male flowers…

Mambas of Africa

“Muhle wena kona hamba,skati wena bona mamba,noko wena hayi tshetsha,wena ifa lapa stretsha.” African proverb “It’s advisable to hamba (walker),when you stumble on a mamba,for if you do not tshetsha (move),you’ll expire on a stretcher.” Mambas have a bad reputation…

Batwa pygmies traditional fire lighting method

The Batwa people live in the area around Bwindi Mgahinga National Park. This park is significant because it houses half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. The Batwa were the last tribe permitted to hunt in this national park before…

African milkbush causes painful blistering and inflammation

Euphorbia tirucalli (Euphorbiaceae) Common names: Ngego, ngewu, nlembonlembo (nlembo = finger) (Kongo), Euphorbe effilée, tirucalli (Fr), finger tree, finger euphorbia, African milkbush Description A leafless succulent shrub with cylindrical shoots, 2 – 8 m tall. All parts produce copious white…

Some varieties of edible wild mushrooms in DR Congo

Bubwaka bwaka is found on oil palm trunks and other trees in dense shade. These mushrooms can be pink or white. Bufwa ngudi growing on the end of a dead oil palm trunk in the shade. Bulongo (Lentinus squarrosulus) appears…

Some important edible caterpillar species in Kongo Central, Part 2

In former articles on this website, we already discussed two edible caterpillar species from Kongo Central. One species was ‘Bisu’ Nudaurelia petiveri, which was described here. And the other species was ‘Kaba’ Lobobunaea phaedusa, described in this article there. Additionally,…

Snake Teeth and Fangs

Most snakes have quite long, thin, sharp, and recurved teeth for catching and eating prey. These teeth are firmly anchored to the anterior bone on the lower jaw and the upper jawbone. Just like sharks and crocodiles, snakes replace their…

Some important edible caterpillar species in Kongo Central, Part 1

In former articles on this website, two edible caterpillar species from Kongo Central were already discussed. One species was ‘Bisu’ Nudaurelia petiveri, which was described here. And the other species was ‘Kaba’ Lobobunaea phaedusa, described at this article there. In…

About snake home ranges and territories

We are often asked whether snakes have a specific territory. The word territory is perhaps not the correct term as it infers that snakes would protect this area to keep other snakes out of it. Snakes do not live in…

Snake Season in Southern Africa

Spring (Sept/Oct in the Southern Hemisphere) is snake season and as the temperature rises, snakes leave their underground shelters in search of food. It is a slow process and they become more active as the temperature increases. Once the first…

Three-spot swimming crabs on surf-beaten sandy beaches

Description of the crab species Three-spot swimming crabs (Ovalipes trimaculatus) have a rounded triangular carapace with five legs on either side. The tips of the back pair of legs are flattened into paddles for better maneuvering in the water. Adorned…

Bushmeat snaring

Bushmeat snaring is a widespread hunting method in Sub-Saharan Africa. Public landscapes in this part of the world are often devoid of larger wild animals due to bushmeat hunting. Which is so bad in some places, that mammals – even…

The Green Mamba

The Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) was described by Sir Andrew Smith in 1849 from animals collected from Natal. Taxonomy The Latin name angusticeps comes from “angustus” meaning narrow and “ceps” an abbreviation for head – narrow head. Surprisingly, many years…

Elephant diggings in dry riverbeds

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) require approximately 40 to 60 gallons (150 to 220 liters) of water daily to maintain their health. They obtain this water from various sources, including open water bodies and wells dug in sandy riverbeds. Additionally, elephants…

Use of Tsamma melons in Namibia

Tsamma melons are the original progenitors of watermelons. Historical records indicate that these melons were already under cultivation in the Nile valley as far back as 2000 BC. In contemporary times, Tsamma melons continue to be utilized for their oil…

Preventing Snakebite in Southern Africa

Snakebite was recently recognized as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization with about 20,000 snakebite fatalities reported every year in Africa. Subsequent morbidity affects far more people than that. In South Africa we have around 4 000…

Seekoraal plants in Southern Africa

Seekoraal is the Afrikaans term for the Salicornia natalensis plant, which used to belong to the Sacocornia taxonomic genus before being reclassified under the Salicornia genus in 2017. Salicornia plants are succulent, halophytic (salt-tolerant) flowering plants that are part of…

Shore fishing for Bronze Whaler Shark

Bronze Whaler Sharks (Carcharhinus brachyurus), also known as Copper Sharks, are a sought-after game fish for recreational anglers in many parts of the world. They are known for their impressive strength and fighting abilities, which pose a challenge for anglers….

Catching Tigerfish at the Zambezi

Tigerfish hold a similar significance for Africans as the bass does for Americans or carp do for Europeans. These three fish species effectively represent the human populations on their respective continents. Personally, tigers are my favorite among them, as they…

Making bow strings from plant fibers

The manufacture of bow strings from plant materials is a skill that has been practiced by Bushmen for a relatively short period. Around the year 1900, they learned from neighboring Bantu-speaking tribes how to use Sansevieria fibers to create bow…

Sweet ‘White Berry Bush’ fruits

Synonyms White Berry bush, Snowball bush (Eng.); Witbessiesbos (Afrikaans); Chinese waterberry (China), Goowal (Yawuru Australia); Flueggea virosa (Lat.) – Flügge was a German botanist, and virosa means poisonous or having a bad odor. Distribution Figure on the right: © National…

Composition of Bushman Arrows

The topic of the composition of Bushman arrows for hunting is vast and intricate. Numerous anthropological studies have documented the unique designs utilized by nearly every family group of Bushmen in Southern Africa. These designs are often a result of…

Making bushmen bows for hunting

The Bushmen, generally speaking, employ bows and poisoned arrows for “tracking and stalking” during hunting in Northern Namibia and North-Western Botswana. The various Bushmen tribes utilize different materials and techniques for crafting these weapons. However, in this article, we will…

Bushmen hunting techniques in Namibia

In earlier times, the Ju/:hoansi bushmen of North-East Namibia employed four distinct traditional techniques for hunting animals. These techniques have remained unchanged over time, as even in the present day (in 2023), the Ju/:hoansi continue to eschew the use of…

Sourplum fruits for food and oil

Sourplums, which belong to the Olacacea family, comprise two species: the Blue Sourplum (Ximenia americana) and the Great Sourplum (Ximenia caffra). Blue Sourplum The Blue Sourplum is naturally distributed in semi-tropical and tropical countries around the world, as shown on…

How to find freshwater on sandy beaches?

Freshwater seepages occur along drainage lines on beaches, where the water table meets the sea. These seepages are fed by freshwater supplies from inland, and the land beyond the sea is naturally higher than sea level, causing freshwater to flow…

Limpets on rocky shorelines

Limpets (Scutellastra sp. and others) have conical, oval-shaped shells that range from 1-10cm in diameter depending on the type of limpet. Their shell is ribbed or smooth depending on the limpet species. The shells are normally brown, grey, or black…

Weaver ants got interesting traits

Weaver ants of the genus Oecophylla consist of two different species. One species is Oecophylla longinoda, which occurs in equatorial, tropical African regions. The other species is Oecophylla smaragdina, which is distributed in tropical Asia and Australia. Both of them…

Sansevieria leaves and their uses 

Sansevieria and its leaves used to be a genus of flowering plants that originated in Africa and southern Asia. This former genus has about 70 species with common English names such as mother-in-law’s tongue, bow string hemp, snake plant, and…

Chacma Baboons – a dangerous nuisance

Baboons are one of the largest-sized monkeys worldwide. Due to hybridization, their taxonomy is contested and overlapping. In Africa there are six species of baboons, and in Southern Africa lives one species, which is Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Chacma baboons…

Nara melons: Bread of the Namib desert

Nara melons were in former times the only food Topnaar people had available for 4 months (Jan – April) a year. The rest of the year they used conserved fruit pulp and seeds for supplementing other food sources. They were…

Camelthorn as firewood

Camelthorn is a great firewood in Southern Africa. It has an outer layer of light-colored sapwood and dark, hard, and heavy heartwood inside. This hardwood produces long-lasting coals and high heat. Camelthorn occurs from the Northern Cape province of South…

Grey Foam-nest Tree Frogs

Grey foam-nest Tree Frogs (Chiromantis xerampelina) are also called ‘Southern Foam-nest Tree Frogs’ or just ‘Foam-nest Frogs’. Their native distribution range is Southern- and Eastern Africa, in a variety of habitats. Minimum habitat requirements are temporary pools of water having…

Ghost Mantises are impressive insects

Ghost praying mantises (Phyllocrania paradoxa) fit perfectly into our new homepage section called ‘Wonders of Nature’, due to their unique appearance and behavior. They are a species of praying mantis and four characteristics make them special. These are an impressive…

Himba smoke shower

The Himba women continue to practice traditional methods of personal hygiene. This includes using a smoke shower and a mixture of red ochre and butter-fat paste. These indigenous people are properly referred to as the ‘OvaHimba’ when plural and are…

Zulu knobkerries at a museum in Hluhluwe

Zulu knobkerries are wooden clubs with a knob on one end. Together with assegais (throwing spears), they are the symbols of the Zulu nation in South Africa. These two weapons are even part of the South African Coat of Arms,…

Koppie Foam Grasshoppers

Koppie Foam Grasshoppers (Dictyophorus spumans) are indigenous to South Africa and prefer sparse and low vegetation on rocky outcrops. They are flightless and have some aposematic coloring, which are yellow or orange stripes on the warty thorax shield and stripes…

Determining cardinal points by trees

Determining cardinal points by trees in Southern African savannas (Southern Hemisphere) is a common method. It is useful in case of being lost and the sun cannot be seen. So, at least it can be determined where the cardinal points…

Mopane worms – high protein food in Africa

Mopane worms (Instars of Gonimbrasia (Imbrasia) belina) are mainly found on Mopane trees (Colophosperma mopane), but also on Wild Syringa (Burkea africana), on Zebrawood (Microberlinia Brazzavillensis) and others. However Mopane trees are a highly dominant species in climates and areas…

Milkplum (Stamvrug) fruits grow directly out of the tree trunk

Milkplum (Englerophytum magalismontanum (Sond.) T.D.Penn). Common names: (Afr) Stamvrug. (Eng) Milkplum, Wild plum. (isiZulu) Amanumbela. (Northern Sotho) Mohlatswa. (siSwati) UmNumbela. (Tshivenda) Munombelo. (Xitsonga) Nombhela. Old name: Bequaertiodendron magalismontanum Distribution Milkplum is widely distributed from Central Africa to Botswana and Eastern…

Termite soil as building material

Termite mounds are primarily made of soil, which is excavated below the mound and carried to the surface by these insects. They use the soil to construct the mound, forming it into a variety of shapes depending on the termite…

Determining wind direction in savannas

Determining wind direction is an absolutely necessity when on a hunt or trail in Southern African wilderness areas. Besides being constantly aware of the wind direction, also the own relation to the sun has to be checked all the time….

Safari toilet at Timbavati tented bush camp

A safari toilet is an essential facility for any temporary tented camp in the wild. For a Trails Guide course at Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in South Africa, we had eight students, two mentors and one cook a total of…

Salt intake at seashore survival activities

The salt intake of a human in case of either a real survival situation or when living from the provisions of a shoreline by purpose, is of utmost importance to its health. In case too much salt is consumed, there…

Parabuthus scorpions at Erongo province

Parabuthus scorpions are commonplace in Erongo province in Namibia. The area itself is characterized by a rugged and arid landscape with rocky outcroppings, mountains, and canyons. Erongo is known for its unique geology, including red sandstone formations and granite mountains….

Brief historical overview of man’s use of fire

Mankind’s use of fire goes back an extraordinary length of time. From humble collecting and guarding natural fires to producing fire by sparks or friction took about 1,5 million years. For more than 500,000 years, mankind has been producing fires…

Monkey orange, an eagerly sought-after fruit

Monkey orange is the collective common name for the fruit of at least five different Strychnos tree species, which occur from Durban/South Africa up to Western Tigray in Ethiopia. These fruits are highly delicious, and all parts of the trees…

Game trails towards water in African savannas

Larger herbivores in African savannas formed game trails by regular use over eons of years and many, many generations. These trails connect water sources, plus feeding- and bedding areas within their home range. And for a few of them, they…

Chewing sticks for dental care in Southern Africa

Chewing sticks, or toothbrush sticks, were widely used in former times from Ethiopia down to the southern tip of Africa. Nowadays, plastic toothbrushes are commonly used and only in very rural parts of this area, chewing sticks are still commonplace….

Purple Laver – cherished food in many cultures

Purple Laver (Porphyra capensis) belongs to a genus of cold-water seaweeds that grow in cold, shallow seawater. More specifically, it belongs to the red algae phylum of laver species (from which comes laverbread), comprising approximately 70 species. It grows in…

Field dressing and cooking a puff adder

Puff adders (Bitis arietans) are widely distributed over the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa, except dense rainforest areas and Madagascar. A puff adder has a tell-tale flat head with a straight line between the eyes, a thick body with chevron markings,…

Bluebottle jellyfish – a stingy creature

The bluebottle jellyfish, also known as Physalia utriculus, is commonly found along the coasts of non-tropical regions bordering the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. These creatures are not jellyfish but rather siphonophores, which are composed of multiple organisms known as…

Finding direction with Buffalo weaver nests

The Red-billed buffalo weaver (Bubalornis niger) is a common bird in parts of Southern Africa. These birds have the largest body size of all weavers and are common in dry woodland and savannas. Buffalo weavers have a peculiar trait when…

African termite alates for food

In Southern Africa, both Harvester termite alates (Hodotermes spp.) and Mound-building termite alates (Macrotermes spp.) swarm within a certain area usually once a year. These alates are winged termites, which are kept by termite workers within certain chambers in the…

Black mussels at the Namibian coastline

Black mussels in Namibia include the following species: Ribbed mussel (Aulacomya atra), Black mussel (Choromytilus meridionalis), Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), Brown mussel (Perna perna) and Bisexual mussel (Semimytilus algosus). Description Black mussels are black or brown with a tinge of…

Wax extraction from honeycombs

For wax extraction, the empty combs are first put in water which is heated until the wax melts. The liquid is then poured through a piece of coarse cloth and while still hot this is twisted or squeezed until as…

Improvised protective equipment for beekeepers

Locally made-up smokers and overalls are used for inspection or harvesting the hives as improvised equipment. These have also become expensive and are often shared by a group of beekeepers. Improvised protective overalls The coveralls are made from old flour…

Alternative beehives in D.R. Congo

In recent years the shortage and expense of timber and corrugated iron sheet have encouraged people to use alternative materials for beehives. The range of substitutes includes old 200-liter fuel drums cut in half. Their ends removed, and their sides…

Beekeeping in Congo, Central province

Beekeeping has only been done since the 1980s Honey hunting has been a traditional activity in Bas-Congo, as in much of Africa. But beekeeping in Congo has only been practiced in the area since the early 1980’s. The beehive in…

Manketti wood for friction fire lighting

In the northeastern parts of Namibia, Ju/’hoansi bushmen exclusively use Manketti wood (Schinziophyton rautanenii) for friction fire lighting. At least in areas, where Manketti trees are growing. Such areas are on a slightly higher elevation compared to savanna bushveld vegetation….

‘Bush potatoes’ from Cow pea plants in Namibia

Cow peas (Vigna vexillate subsp. lobatifolia) are strong climbers, which resemble Mung beans. The stem of this vine is up to 6 m long and develops trifoliate leaves. Its flowers resemble purplish pea-flowers, and the pods are about. 7 –…

Safari footwear for hiking in African savannas

Proper safari footwear is essential for hiking in Southern African savannas. These savannas are defined by a lush grassy layer and a notable woody layer consisting of trees and shrubs, but neither of these dominates the biome. Depending on particular…

White mussels at the Namibian coastline

Description of White mussels White mussels (Donax serra) are wedge-shaped bivalves with coarse ridges across the posterior. The inner surface is smooth and has a purple tinge. It has a short, stubby inhalant and a long, thin exhalant siphon. It…

Manketti (or: Mongongo) nuts

Manketti nuts are a staple food for a variety of people within its distribution range. And there is a strict division of naming them. Khoi-san people (Bushmen) call them ‘Manketti’, whereas Kavango people (Bantus) call them ‘Mongongo’. Both names denominate…

Wild Syringa (Burkea africana) edible tree resin

Many African trees extrude edible gums and resin. Notable Vachellia ssp. and Senegalia ssp. (old name: Acacias) are known for their edible gums. Ju/’hoansi people are collecting and eating whatever edible gums and resins they find on the go. In…

Leaf huts as temporary shelters for shade

Members of the Khoi San (Bushmen) tribe named Ju/’hoansi are also called !Kung. Both, /’ and ! denote click sounds. It is a society of about 30,000 people spread over Namibia, Botswana, and southern Angola, with a central area at…

Beer can hut near Spitzkoppe in Namibia

Empty aluminum beer- and/or pop cans will serve additional purposes after guzzling the content. Besides of toys and various repair applications, these cans can even build huts and houses! As can be seen in Texas, the US here, or Australia…

Throw sticks as weapons in the African bush

Kerries are a combination of throw sticks and wooden clubs, used as everyday tools for hunting, defense, and/or digging in Southern Africa. Australian aboriginals used a refined form of throw sticks, which was flattened over its whole length and was…

Breadfruits (Artocarpus altilis) in Central Africa

Synonyms A. communis, A. incises; Common names Kikwa ki santu Petelo (Kongo), arbre à pain (Fr.), breadfruit Description A tree up to 35m tall produces a wide crown. All parts of the tree produce a white, bitter latex. Fruits are…

Green caterpillars, called ‘Kaba’ in D.R. Congo

The name Kaba is used for several large green caterpillars. Lobobunaea phaedusa can be up to 10 cm long and is usually found singly between October and May. When disturbed the caterpillar contracts in defence. They are sometimes very difficult…

Bush Yams in Western- and Central Africa

Synonym: D. cayenensis var. praehensilis; Common names: Kisadi, sadi, Bisadi (Kongo), Igname de brousse (Fr.), bush yams, forest yam Description A sturdy climbing plant, up to 15 m long, growing from a large tuber that often protrudes from the ground….

Edible caterpillars Nudaurelia petiveri

This species (Nudaurelia petiveri) is widespread throughout western, central, and southeastern Africa. It appears in Kongo Central in December and January. Up to 200 eggs are laid in clusters on the undersides of young leaves. They hatch after about two…

‘Leopard claw’ grass for catching rats and mice

Common names Nkansu ngo (= claw of the leopard), Leopard claw grass, Nzefo za ngo, Kansingo (Kongo) Description A perennial grass with culms 30 – 150 cm high, growing from scaly rhizomes. Leaf blades are spear-shaped, 10 – 40 cm…

Collection of edible caterpillars in D.R. Congo

Children are the main caterpillar collectors, though most people while walking in the bush, keep a constant watch for them. Frequently people will bring back young caterpillars and place them on trees near their homes where they can keep an…

Traditional processing of cassava in Congo

Image sequence of cassava’s long way from root to market and shows the processing of cassava in its various steps Source This article is an excerpt of Paul Latham’s and Augustin Konda ku Mbuta’s books ‘Useful plants of Kongo Central…

Edible Caterpillars for food in Congo

Rural families in Kongo Central find it very difficult to get sufficient protein to eat. Hunting has cleared out most of the larger animals and even many of the smaller animals, such as the cane rat, are now difficult to…

Rattan vine in Africa – Calamus deerratus

Synonym C. laurentii; Common names Nkau (Kongo), Rotin (Fr.), Rattan vine Description A slender to moderately robust rattan palm, climbing up to 20 m high and often forming dense clumps. The stems and leaves are armed with spines. Stems have…

Cassava, a staple food in Central Africa

Synonym: M. utilissima; Common names: Dyoko, Saka Saka (Kongo), Manioc (Fr.), Cassava roots Description A perennial shrub, up to 3 m high, with enlarged tuberous roots and a well-developed root system. There are many varieties, some of which are bitter…

Tetracera alnifolia – a vine for water shortages

Tetracera alnifolia (Dilleniaceae); Synonym T. alnifolia subsp. alnifolia; Common names Kiziazi, Nziazi, Nziazia (Kongo), Liane à eau (Fr.), Water tree Description A woody creeper up to 20 m long and up to 10 cm. in diameter. Leaves are 4 -…

Edible caterpillars in D.R. Congo – an introduction

My first experience with edible caterpillars took place in 1985 when my wife and I lived at Kavwaya near Kisantu in what was then the Bas-Congo province of D.R. Congo. On one occasion I was shown how to hunt for…

Okra plants in D.R. Congo

Okra plants (Abelmoschus esculentus): Synonym: Hibiscus esculentus Common names Dongo, Lonto (Kongo), Dongo dongo, Molenda (Lingala), Gombo (Fr.) Description An erect annual herb usually 1 – 2 m. high. Leaves are 3 to 5 lobed, spirally arranged and may be…

Spotted hyenas are successful hunters

Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) occur throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Exceptions are Central- and West African rainforests and Southern grassland biomes and further beyond the south. The density of a hyena population in a suitable habitat depends significantly on the density of…

Spotted beauties: Leopards in Southern Africa

Leopards (Panthera pardus) have a wide distribution range in Sub-Saharan Africa, which however gets more and more fragmented due to human activities and habitation. In the Southern African region, within the Republic of South Africa, only about 20% of the…

Why are hippos dangerous on land?

Hippopotami of the species Hippopotamus amphibius (‘Hippos’), are widely distributed over Sub-Saharan African savannah biomes. They were declared a ‘vulnerable’ species, as over the last 10 years the population declined between 7 – 20%. In total, there are about 130,000…

Termite mounds indicating direction North

In Southern Africa, fungus-growing termites, which build enclosed mounds without visible ventilation holes belong to the genera macrotermes. These macrotermes mounds can be up to 6 meters high above ground. The tip nearly always leans slightly over and the termite…

Danger posed by Nile crocodiles

Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) are colloquially called just crocodiles or ‘crocs’ in the following. They occur in Southern- and Eastern African regions and along the Atlantic coastline in Central Africa. They eat any animal they can get a hold of…

First shelter of Henno Martin at Kuiseb Canyon

Two German geologists, Dr. Henno Martin, and Dr. Herman Korn, went at the beginning of WW2 in 1940 for 2,5 years into hiding around the Kuiseb Canyon area, Namibia, to avoid internment by the South-African Union government. During that time,…

Trunk it – it’s Marula beer!

Marula season in Southern Africa is normally in February each year. When Marulas (Sclerocarya birrea) are getting ripe, they turn from green to yellow and fall from the female Marula trees. On the ground, they are ripening up fully and…

Natal Mahogany seed milk and its preparation

Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica) trees have got a dense canopy of dark green, glossy leaves, and a round outer shape of the tree silhouette. They preferably grow in moist places and riparian forests along drainage lines. Natal Mahogany is easy…

Buffalo thorn tree – an icon in Southern Africa

The Buffalo thorn tree (Ziziphus mucronata) is called in Afrikaans “Blinkblaar-wag-‘n-bietjie” for its shiny leaves and two thorns, which hold people back when getting caught by them. The shrub or tree has got distinctive zigzag branchlets with pairs of two…

Rumen fluid as an emergency drinking liquid

Rumen fluid is a greenish-colored liquid substance with an aromatic and slightly sour smell. This fluid is uniformly distributed in the rumen of antelopes and is mixed with grazing or browsing roughage as well as fermentation gases and bioactive organisms….

Finding True South in the Southern Hemisphere

The Southern Cross, or the Constellation of Crux, – as the name implies – is just visible in the Southern Hemisphere. It consists of the Cross itself and the two pointers, which are Alpha-(Rigil Kent) and Beta-Centauri (Hadar). Finding direction…

Constellation Scorpius at the Southern sky

The Constellation of Scorpius (‘Scorpio’) is a very large constellation, which is visible from May to November in the evening sky of the Southern Hemisphere. It is located directly opposite the Constellation of Orion – and therefore being visible when…

Firewood from Red Bushwillows is excellent

In Southern Africa, there are fourteen species of Bushwillows, which belong to the Combretum family. Other trees of the same Combretum family are Clusterleaf species, but also Leadwood and some others. Interestingly enough, not all Combretum species are suitable for…

Greenthorn tree and its uses

The Greenthorn tree (Balanites maughamii) is easily recognizable in Southern Africa due to its triangular, fluted, or buttressed trunk. Its spines are green like its twigs and often forked. It is very spiny and hard to climb. It mainly grows…

Double-banded Sandgrouse as water indicator

The Double-banded Sandgrouse (Pterocles bicinctus) is commonly and colloquially called by its abbreviation ‘DBSG’ in Southern Africa. Its main distribution area is the savanna biome, especially Mopani Bushveld. There are three more species of sandgrouses in Southern Africa, all of…

Finding direction with the Constellation of Orion

The Constellation of Orion, or ‘The Hunter’ can be best viewed in the evening skies from November to February. During that time, it holds for both the Northern- and Southern hemispheres. Although Orion is still visible in the night sky…

African buffaloes are dangerous

Danger of buffaloes is overrated The ‘Cape buffalo’ (Syncerus caffer caffer) as a subspecies of the ‘African buffalo’ (Syncerus caffer) is the typical buffaloes species of the Southern African savannah biome. The denomination of ‘African Black Death’ was coined by…

Lion behavior – so different by day and night

The general behavior of lions African Lions (Panthera leo) are sometimes overrated in their danger for people hiking in Big-5 game areas. Lion behavior is such that they normally sleep and rest for 20 hours a day just to replenish…

Recipe for disaster – elephant bulls in musth

Musth is a condition of elevated testosterone levels in the blood of elephants. African elephant (Loxodonta africana) bulls come into their first musth when they are between 15 – 17 years old. The length of the musth depends on the…

Purslane leaves as a vegetable in South Africa

Purslane (Portulacaria Afra), or ‘spekboom’ in the Afrikaans language, is a succulent plant, endemic to South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. It has light-green soft leaves and red-colored stems. The leaves can be eaten raw, as pickles, chutney, or jam, or…

Poisonous beauty: The ‘Elegant Grasshopper’

Aposematic coloration The ‘Elegant Grasshopper’ (Zonocerus elegans) occurs commonly throughout Southern Africa and is mentioned due to its aposematic coloration, which is typical for animals that want to announce that they are poisonous. And he is a poisonous grasshopper. In…

Water from elephant dung

Elephants are a kind of dung-producing machines African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the wild are foraging about 150 – 180 kg of plant material per day. And they also drink about 350 liters of water. Consequently, they excrete every day…

Snares for poaching are a real problem

Many National Parks, Private Game Reserves, and Game Farms in Southern Africa are under heavy pressure of snares for poaching. Not only poaching for rhino horn, but also indiscriminate poaching for meat. Rhino horn poaching is mainly organized by internationally…

Digging for water by wells in sandy riverbeds

Where to dig One of the most important techniques for finding drinkable water in Southern African natural environments is digging for water in areas that are holding water underground. These water-holding structures can be situated next to an open water…

Creating fire by hand drill in Namibia

The type of wood for fire hand drills changed over time Fire starting by friction hand drill was traditionally common by Khoi-san (Ju/’hoansi) people in their area of distribution, which was once over the whole of Southern Africa and got…