As you are aware of, we have quite a lot of different invasive plants and trees on the reserve. Our mission is to make sure they don’t spread, and in the long run to make sure we don’t have any aliens on our property anymore. We thought we knew all the alien trees we have on our reserve, until the other day. We found one we haven’t noticed before; the Brazilian Glory Pea or Red Sesbania (Sesbania punicea).
As the name states it is a tree originally from Brazil and is brought in as a garden escapee. You will find him in disturbed soils in low-lying areas across South Africa. It is a poisonous tree, so it won’t be eaten a lot, or at all.
This is when we decided to take this task upon us to clear the area of this invader and to make sure another part of our reserve is alien free!
A while ago we showed you the research project on brown hyena dens, where we gather a lot of information on their behaviour and what den sites they use.
Brown hyena’s live in clans up to 10 members in their dens, where they make use of a matriarch system. To prevent inbreeding, this dominant female will not mate with her own clan members, but with nomadic males roaming around their home ranges.
At this specific den site, we found images of pups, how amazing is that!? When not out to feed or to play they will stay in the narrowest tunnels of the den to hide from other carnivores. All members of the clan will help to raise the pups, and unlike the spotted hyena, all the members help collecting food and bring this back to the den. Sometimes even regurgitating it for the pups. Brown hyenas can cover over 30km (18.5 miles) a night to gather as much food as possible.
These little guys are being lucky to be born in such a loving environment as this one, where they are being looked after until they are big enough.
Welcome to Shamwari little ones!
The common Eland is the largest antelope in Africa and the first paintings about them date back all the way to the bushman. Elands are herbivores that browse during dry winters and graze during rainy seasons, eating mostly in the early morning or evenings.
Being one of the largest antelope in the world, also means they are one of the slowest antelopes with a maximum speed of 40 km/h. But what they lack in speed, they make up in jumping. They can jump up to 3 meters from a standing position.
The San people believed that the Eland possessed special powers that helped them reaching the spirit world. While in this trance they would change form into an Eland for their spiritual journey. They also used Eland blood, hide and flesh for rituals and ceremonies.
Care Alicedale is a government funded centre in Alicedale but is receiving none or little help and funds. This means that all the lovely ladies working here are basically volunteering, so we are trying to help them set up a small store, so they can make some money.
We have been working on the Care Alicedale Beading project for a couple of weeks now. We have turned one of their rooms into a shop where they will sell their homemade bracelets, necklaces and earrings. They also make toys and stuffed animals to sell in their little shop. If this starts to sell, we are even looking into selling their curios at other local stores and the Shamwari Conservation shops.
All of this is made possible by our good friends from WeShamwari, who raised donations to give them all the beads, strings, clothes, and more to help them start all this. Thank you so much for doing this and supporting our local communities with your kindness.
Even after 8 years of being out on the reserve our coordinator Cindy saw this small antelope for the very first time. Long was thought this little girl didn’t occur on Shamwari, until this week.
This antelope, when fully grown, will only reach a shoulder height of about 45-60 cm (16”-24”). The straight, parallel horns of the male can grow up to 19cm (7.5”)
You can find them in a variety of habitats from semi-desert to thickets. They are typically browsers, but they are not to shy to dig for roots and bulbs if needed.
Do you know what this special little antelope is by this description and looking at her picture?
Most animals we encounter during the week are animals we see quite often. But sometimes we come across some that we almost never see. This happened the other day when we came across this Serval (Leptailurus serval). The serval is unique, and the only one in his Genus.
This small carnivore preys on rodents, small birds, small reptiles and amphibians which it will hunt by using his hearing and can leap up to 2 meters to catch his prey. He will deliver a blow to the animal and then kill it by biting either the head or the neck. After this the prey is immediately swallowed.
They are solitary cats that will only meet up during mating season, after which they will go their own ways again.
In South Africa we have a big variety of biomes, all bringing their characteristic trees, bushes, flowers, etc. This variety will sustain a big diversity of animal life all over South Africa. Even on a small reserve like Shamwari we have a lot of different natural area’s complete with their wildlife.
But sadly, there are a lot of invasive species as well, that are competing with our natural occurring plants and in quite a few cases even over-powering them. In South Africa there are about 700 invasive species and Shamwari must deal with some of them.
This means that we do a lot of alien plant management on the reserve in a few different ways. This week our volunteers helped our Conservation Manager Anja and her team to control a big Eucalyptus forest. The Eucalyptus tree originates from Australia and is taking over our indigenous plants. That is why we helped to cut them down and poison them, so they will stop spreading onto different parts of the reserve.