Red-Veined Darter

The Red-Veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) is an insect in the Libelludlidae family of dragonflies. It is also known as the Nomad Darter.

The male Red-Veined Darter has a deep-red abdomen with a red-brown thorax. Its eyes are brown above and blue-green below. Its wings have red veins and the base of its hind-wings (back wings) is yellow. The female is similar, but her abdomen is yellow-brown with two black lines along each side. Her wings have yellow veins. Both the male and female have black legs with some yellow markings.

Continue reading “Red-Veined Darter”

CREATURE FEATURE: Small Common Blue Butterfly

The Small Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) is an insect in the Lycaenidae family of blue butterflies.

The Small Common Blue male has iridescent blue wings above with a thin, black-brown border and white fringe. The female is brown above with blue flecks, like dust, and orange spots. Both the male and the female have a row of red or orange spots along the edge of the hindwing (back wing). 

Continue reading “CREATURE FEATURE: Small Common Blue Butterfly”

Which bird can eat a baby Nile Crocodile whole?

Which bird can eat a baby Nile Crocodile whole? 

The Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is a large freshwater reptile native to Africa. On average, it grows to 300-440 centimetres (10-14 feet) long. The female lays eggs and baby crocodiles hatch after about 90 days. A baby Nile Crocodile measures about 30 centimetres (12 inches) long. 

There is a bird that can eat a baby Nile Crocodile whole, head first.

Continue reading “Which bird can eat a baby Nile Crocodile whole?”

Yellowback Anthias

The Yellowback Anthias (Pseudanthias evansi) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Serranidae family of sea basses and groupers. It is also known as the Goldback Anthias, Goldback Basslet, and Purple Wreckfish. 

The female Yellowback Anthias is mainly violet with a yellow back and yellow caudal fin. The caudal fin is deeply forked with long thin edges. It has a light purple line through its eyes. The male has yellow dots on its upper body.

Continue reading “Yellowback Anthias”

Why is hay in the treetops?

Why is hay in the treetops?

Most of the ‘hay in the treetops’ are found in African countries, south of the Sahara. They are clumps of dry grass hanging from branches. What are they?

The mini clumps and balls of hay are bird nests. 

They are the nests of weaverbirds. Weaverbirds weave grass and leaves, usually dry grass, into small nests on the branches of trees.

Continue reading “Why is hay in the treetops?”

RESEARCH: Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal but cheetah cub survival rates are low

Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal but cheetah cub survival rates are low. Why is this?   

Previous studies of cheetah cub survival rates on the Serengeti Plains of Kenya and Tanzania in Africa in 1994, 2000, and 2004, found that it was exceptionally low because of the lion population attacking them. The survival rate was only 4.8% of cubs – that is 5 cubs out of every 100 cubs born survived beyond 14 months of age.

Researchers from the Zoology Department of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom conducted a similar study on cheetah cub survival rates in 2013 and published the results in the Journal of Zoology. They compared the cheetah cub survival rate in the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park on the border of Botswana and South Africa with the Serengeti study.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal but cheetah cub survival rates are low”

Why doesn’t the Meerkat get stung when eating scorpions?

Why doesn’t the Meerkat get stung when eating scorpions?  

The Slender-Tailed Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is a small mammal in the Herpestidae family of meerkats. The Meerkat is a small Mongoose. It lives in the deserts of southern Africa. 

The Meerkat digs for food, such as lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, eggs, small mammals, centipedes, and millipedes.

Scorpions live in the deserts of southern Africa too. They have a venomous tail. The Meerkat is immune to (not affected by) the venom of the scorpion. Also, Meerkat parents teach their young to hunt and eat scorpions.

Continue reading “Why doesn’t the Meerkat get stung when eating scorpions?”

African Whip Spider

The African Whip Spider (Damon variegatus) is an arachnid in the Phrynichidae family. It is not a true spider because it does not produce silk or venom. It is also known as the Giant Tailless Whipscorpion but it is not a scorpion.

The African Whip Spider has a large, flattened abdomen and cephalothorax, with eight legs. It has six ambulatory (walking) legs and two tactile legs that are longer than the others and act like feelers. It also has two pedipalps which are pincer-like appendages that helps to catch and hold its prey. It is mottled dark-grey to black carapace.

Continue reading “African Whip Spider”

CREATURE FEATURE: Dama Mhorr Gazelle

The Dama Mhorr Gazelle (Nanger dama mhorr) is a mammal in the Bovidae family of bovines, including gazelles and antelopes. It is also known as the Mhorr Gazelle, the Mohor Gazelle, and the Addra Gazelle. It is a sub-species of the Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama). It is extinct in the wild and was last seen in the wild in 1968, therefore it is a critically endangered species. It exists in breeding programs in zoos and reserves.  

The Dama Mhorr Gazelle is white below with a reddish-brown head and neck. It has a small head with a narrow muzzle (nose). It has large eyes. The male and the female have medium-length curved horns in the shape of an S. It has longer legs and a longer neck than other gazelles. It is an artiodactyl because it has cloven (split) hooves.

Continue reading “CREATURE FEATURE: Dama Mhorr Gazelle”

East African Dwarf Spider

The East African Dwarf Spider (Microlinyphia aethiopia) is an arachnid in the Linyphiidae family of dwarf spiders. 

The East African Dwarf Spider has a dark-brown abdomen with a light-brown carapace (shell). The male has a more pointed abdomen than the female. It has eight brown legs covered with hairs. It has tooth-like pedipalps near its mouth. It has two rows of four eyes to total eight eyes. The back row of eyes is straight and the front row of eyes is slightly curved.

Continue reading “East African Dwarf Spider”

What is Hippo Honking?

What is Hippo honking?

The Common Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious) is a large African even-toed ungulate (hoofed) mammal.

The Common Hippo lives half in the water and half out – this is called semi-aquatic. It lives in a group of about 30 individuals, which is called a pod, herd, or bloat.

The Common Hippo makes loud vocal noises, such as grunts, honks, bellows, and squeals. 

Continue reading “What is Hippo Honking?”

CREATURE FEATURE: Velvet Ground Beetle

The Velvet Ground Beetle (Graphipterus sp.; possibly Graphipterus ancora or Graphipterus cordiger) is a common insect in the Carabidae family of beetles. It is a carabid.

The Velvet Ground Beetle has velvety brown elytra (wing casings). It has a light-brown body with dark-brown markings. It has long, segmented antennae. It has a head, thorax, and abdomen. It is flightless, even though it has wings. It runs along the ground.

Continue reading “CREATURE FEATURE: Velvet Ground Beetle”

Common Bluestripe Snapper

The Common Bluestripe Snapper (Lutjanus kasmira) is a fish in the Lutjanidae family of snappers. It is also known as the Bluebanded Snapper, Fourline Snapper, Blue-Line Snapper, and Moonlighter.

The Common Bluestripe Snapper has an oval-shaped body with a steeply sloped head. The back and sides are bright-yellow, with the lower sides and underside of its head fading to white. It has four bright-blue longitudinal stripes. Its fins are yellow.

Continue reading “Common Bluestripe Snapper”

RESEARCH: Older male elephants keep younger males calm

Older male elephants keep younger males calm and help prevent conflict with humans, says a new study reported in Science News in December 2021.

Researchers at the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter in England conducted research with a British-based charity organization called Elephants for Africa that is also a registered non-government organization (NGO) in Botswana, Africa.

The researchers studied 281 male elephants in an all-male area in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in Botswana for three years. They divided the elephants into four groups, by age: two groups of adolescents and two groups of adults. In one group of adolescents, the elephants were 10-15 years old, and in the other group of adolescents, the elephants were 16-20 years old. In one group of adults, the elephants were 21-25 years old, and in the other group of adults, the elephants were older than 26 years of age.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Older male elephants keep younger males calm”

Kirk’s Dik-Dik – young male antelopes

The Kirk’s Dik-Dik (Madoqua kirkii) is a small mammal in the Bovidae family of antelopes. It is native to eastern Africa.

The Kirk’s Dik-Dik is one of the smallest antelopes in the world. It grows to 35-46 centimetres (14-18 inches) tall. 

The Kirk’s Dik-Dik’s photographed are both males. Only the male has horns. The horns are backward slanting and short at 8 centimetres (3 inches) long. 

Continue reading “Kirk’s Dik-Dik – young male antelopes”