We all want to see the big and popular species Zululand has to offer, the amazing elephant, with his prehensile trunk, the stealthy lion with eyes that seem to stare straight through you, the fast and agile cheetah with those amazing tear drop markings. But some days, even some weeks, these animals elude Wildlife ACT monitors and conservation volunteers. However, nature is not just about the bold and the beautiful, the little things are just as fascinating and amazing to see in their natural habitat.
Small things are just as fascinating!
The Little Things of Zululand, South Africa
The Zululand Rhino Reserve (ZRR) Wildlife ACT team have had the pleasure of witnessing some of these small wonders. A leopard tortoise crossing the road is an amazing treat. Leopard tortoise adults can weigh on average 18kg and have an average length of 45cm. In the wild leopard tortoises can live up to 100 years! These animals play an important role in nature by dispersing seeds by foraging on plants close to the ground, eating seeds and redistributing these seeds through defecation.
Chameleons are incredible little reptiles that can change colour and look in both directions before crossing the road. Chameleons are born with special cells that have a colour or pigment in them. These cells are in layers, each with a special pigment when the pigment cells change, the colours mix, just like paint. Chameleons not only change colour to blend into their surroundings, but also to represent their mood and even to communicate with other chameleons.
The gorgeous dung beetles rolling their balls of dung beetle gold (aka herbivore faeces) are just as extraordinary. Watching a male, with his female clinging to the dung ball, try to roll them both up the embankment on the side of the road, you cant help but stop and route for the little guy.
Post and photos: Zoë Luhdo (Wildlife ACT monitor on ZRR)