Saturday, 27 September 2014

MANUHA: Part One!


When we arrived at Manuha, there were lots of dogs running around for the first night, until the owners left the next day. My favourite was a Beagle. He was adorable, playful and a little soppy.

Meercat Colony

On our first walk, we saw a meercat colony. There's only one meercat colony on the reserve, however there are three burrow systems. Meercats are very clean and very territorial and so when ground squirrels move in their burrow (bringing external parasites with them), the meercats move off to another burrow. The squirrels will eventually follow. When they do, the meercats will then move on to another burrow system.


We couldn't believe our luck when we stumbled upon 6 giraffes almost straight away into our first walk. We were extremely close to them, the trick is to move around them  slowly getting closer and not moving directly towards them. An easy way to distinguish between males and females is that bulls (males), normally have very little/no hair between their horns on their head. This is usually worn away from fighting.

Above: A Juvenile Giraffe checking us out.

Small-Spotted Genet Tracks

These tracks were made by a small-spotted genet. The track is very circular and small, usually being easy to ID because you can usually cover the track with a single finger.

Gemsbok, Kudu and Sable Antelope

Below is a gemsbok.

An antelope that I loved seeing was Greater Kudu. Kudu are brilliant antelopes. we usually saw small herds or bachelor herds. I love the way the males horns spiral round above their big ears.

Sable are a lot of peoples favourites. The males are black, whereas the females are more brown. They have beautiful  curved horns and they move very gracefully. 

These photos were taken of bachelor herds.  Males will often travel together away from a breeding herd of females and they're young which will usually be driven by an alpha male.  When the males of the breeding herd reach a certain age they will leave that herd and form new bachelor herds until they're older and begin to establish and defend a territory of their own.

Mist netting

We put up more mist nets and caught a lot more birds than we did in the Karoo.

This is a Red-Eyed Bulbul. We caught A LOT of these!  They would often drink from a tap that was dripping in front of where we set up a mist net and so was common for them to fly into it.

Another bird we caught was a Speckled Mouse Bird (below). We saw probably, hundreds of these birds, however this was the only one we caught. Many of the flew into the net, but managed just simply fly out of it. This bird is grey and has a crest and although the name may suggest that it may have speckled, it has none at all.

When the next bird flew into the net, the person getting it out wasnt best pleased and let out a few bad words. This is an Acaia Pied Barbet and can b nasty if it wants to nibble you. 

As the picture below shows nicely, its beak is sharp and can easily draw blood (and it did).

Below was another that I liked; a Cape Robin-Chat.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Today, 22nd September, is World Rhino Day! 

Rhinos are in serious danger of vanishing from the wild. 1004 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone last year. This number is increasing each year and soon the population numbers are going to go down and quickly.

Rhinos are one of my favourite animals and I cant understand why anyone would want to hurt these beautiful creatures. They're horns are worth more their weight in gold and it comes at a much greater cost. There is no Scientific evidence that their horns have any medicinal value what so ever. After all, their horns are mostly Keratin; the same thing that our fingernails are made out of!

Started by WWF South Africa in 2010, World Rhino Day is celebrated every 22nd September.

World Rhino Day 2014 marks the launch of Team Rhino. This is launched by the International Rhino Foundation,  Save The Rhino and Asian Rhino Project.  The picture to the left shows Dr. Jane Goodall supporting Team Rhino. Support #TEAMRHINO !

To celebrate World Rhino Day 2014, Save The Rhino are also launching a ‘Nail it for Rhinos’ campaign.Rhinos are being poached for their horns, which are made from keratin; the same material found in human hair and nails. So this year they are asking you to join in and make a stand for rhinos. Paint your nails on World Rhino Day to raise awareness and show the world that rhino horn is made the same substance as nails!

How to Nail it for Rhinos in 5 simple steps:

  1. Paint your nails for rhinos - get creative!
  2. Upload your nail selfie to social media - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest and include the hashtag #nailit4rhinos, or send it to us
  3. If you're in the UK donate £3 to help save rhinos by texting NAIL14 £3 to 70070.Or donate online from the rest of the world
  4. Share your photo with friends
  5. Visit to learn more and see if your nail selfie has been featured on our website as one of the best

To find out what else is happening around the world this World Rhino Day  and to show your own support; head over to: to find out more! 


Vegetation Survey

Our first survey was a vegetation survey in a quartz field. This area is an area of Scientific Interest. many plants can only grow here because the quartz can lower the temperature by about 10°C.  As the area is semi-arid, it gets rather hot during the summer months. Spingboks are known to come lie in quartz fields to cool down during the hottest parts of the day.

We had a 10x10m square grid area. During our survey we recorded the abundance of species in the area we were looking at as well as mapping out where each individual plant was within the grid. The height, width and length of each individual was also recorded. the idea of mapping out the plants on a grid is so that it can be compared to previous years and years to come and see differences between and to get a bigger picture of this particular area of the reserve.

Above: Easily distracted on breaks; especially when your lecturer is into ants and termites. This an entrance to a termite mound.

Aardvark Burrow

We ran out of water and beside from needing it for washing, we were starving and needed dinner! on the way back from sorting out the pump at the dam, we stumbled upon an aardvark burrow. This is a feeding burrow as it below a termite mound. The termite mounds are underground and the easiest way to distinguish where a mound is, is to see the ash bush that grows on the fertile soil of the mound. The aardvark (that feeds on termites), will burrow below a mound, use this mound for feeding for a while and then move on to another. 

Mist Netting

We learnt how to put up mist nets. These nets have to be set up properly, otherwise you wont get anything flying into it, making it pointless. Mist nets have to be set up in shaded areas with a backdrop behind it (eg. lots of trees/bushes), not in an open area and set up where flight paths are. if you dont do these things then the birds will see it and avoid the net. 

After getting it out of the net safely (this has to be done by somebody trained, or will risk injury to the bird). Its wings were checked for feather mites. If there was any, the number of mites and which feathers they were on were recorded and a small sample taken of one feather.

This particular bird is a Karoo Chat (Cercomela schlegelii).

Starry Nights

As with the views, pictures just cannot capture how beautiful  the night sky was.  The moon was glowing!

Babys Bottom

This plant is called;  , however its nickname is Babies Bottom, I think its pretty obvious why...
This is one of the plants that is found in the quartz fields.

Bush Rats

I saw many Bush rat nests, one of which was right outside camp. We could often see them scurrying about whilst sitting for lunch or doing work outside. 


Springboks (Antidorcas marsupialis); are medium -sized antelopes. They are South Africa's national animal. They are easily distinguishable and we saw rather a lot of them, though not to complain as they are very graceful.

Starting off our 16 hour journey

In the UK you drive along a motorway and you will more than likely be able to stop and get a coffee, go to the toilet and get some fast food not 20 minutes tops when you feel the urge. however in South Africa, if you need a wee, you could be waiting a long while until any sort of shop or toilets (which I had to wait for A LOT!). One place we stopped was a waterfall. It was extremely pretty and was hidden in some valleys which were beautiful and made the 16 hour drive a lot more bearable.

The pool below the waterfall was open to swim in, If it wasn't so chilly and we weren't on a time limit I'm sure we'd all be straight in there! It was so beautiful picturesque.

On the walk back down, there were a couple of malachite sunbirds. These metallic looking sunbirds have ling tails and beaks. They have long beaks as they feed off of nectar of flowers, so they need to be able to get their beaks in.

Being Immature

We stopped in a small town to get petrol opposite a butchers, and the sign on the building gave us a giggle. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Finally put photos of South Africa on Flickr!

So unfortunately I've had some technical difficulties and so I have only just been able to put all of my South Africa photos onto Flickr.

I know I've shown you guys a few of them on here, but I took many, many more!

So if you want to have a look then just go to my Flickr!

This should Take you onto the album of South Africa, where they
 will be in order. If you look on my Flickr photostream they'll be in reverse order!

I do warn you, there are A LOT of photos.... but its easy to skip through them pretty quickly if you need.