Farm Management 3rd Quarter 2015
• 6 January 2016
The early rains this year consisted of only two recorded rainfalls: one of 26mm in September and the other of 17mm in October. Hopefully the rainfall during the next couple of months will be a lot better.
Game count 2015
Blue Wildebeest: 27
Bush pig: 4
Interestingly, two Giraffe carcasses were spotted during the game count – one old bull has died presumably from old age and our youngest Giraffe has also died from unknown causes, but possibly by the Wild Dogs. This was also the first time that Bush Pigs were seen on Zandspruit.
The bushveld has definitely turned a shade of green but we are going to need a lot more rain to get the growth we need for later in the year.
Zandspruit river & dams
All three dams still have some water. Madada dam has enough water to last us through the next couple of months without rain. This puts us in a very good position if the rains come late again like last year. The Sandspruit river is a lot lower than last year this time. There are still a couple of large deep pools along the river which will also help us later in the season.
Speaking about rainfall; please be mindful of your water usage on the Estate as we are going into a dryer period and need to conserve as much water as we can.
Sadly most of you know about the rabies outbreak that decimated all our wild dogs on the Estate. With the help of Fred from Leopard Conservation Projects we have been able to trap and inoculate some of our other predators and so far have not had another case of rabies reported in the last couple of months.
We also have very good news that EWT are in the process of reintroducing a new pack of wild dogs onto the “Blue Bank Conservatory“. This should happen closer to the end of this year.
This time we decided, that to get an all rounded knowledge of the animals on the Estate, we could learn a bit more about two of our less liked and less known reptiles that most of you will come into contact with at some time or other around the Estate.
Spotted Bush Snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus)
The colour of these snakes vary from a lime green to grey with black spots on the first half of its body. These spots or crossbars sometimes become very faint. The back half of the body is usually plain. The snake’s belly is yellowish to greenish-white and has specially adapted scales on its underbelly which helps the snake to climb trees. Adults can reach lengths of up to 1,3m. A general rule is that diurnal snakes have round pupils and nocturnal snakes have a slit pupil (cat eye). This is a diurnal snake with a circular black pupil and orange iris. Its tongue has a very unusual color: bright blue with a black tip.
Points of interest
This snake is a constrictor and has no venom meaning it is completely harmless to man.
The spotted bush snake is found mainly along river beds and other areas where there is good, thick vegetation to hide and hunt from. They can easily be confused with a Boomslang due to it mainly living in trees and its similar behavior. When threatened it will lift its head and inflate its neck to expose the light blue skin between its scales. The snake’s diet consists mainly of lizards, geckos and frogs. This is the main reason why you will often come across them around your house up in the rafters of the roof.
Common Tiger snake (Telescopus semiannulatus)
This snake can grow up to a maximum of 1m long. Its colour varies from an orange pink to a dull salmon pink with between 20 and 50 black blotches or bands across its back. This snake is nocturnal so has “cats eyes” shaped pupils.
Points of interest
This snake is mildly venomous but the venom has no effect on man at all. This snake has a very aggressive approach to humans when threatened and thus bites are common. Being nocturnal it spends the day hidden under bark, loose rocks or crevices. It is mainly found hunting for prey on the ground but does have the ability to climb very well. Sadly due to them spending most of their time on the ground they are often killed by cars on our roads in and around the Estate. Its diet consists mainly of lizards but small birds and rodents are also caught.
Snakes form a very big part of the natural environment (the control of small rodents etc.) and need to be protected. We do understand that there is a natural fear of them and people believe they are protecting themselves by killing them. With a better knowledge of snakes, most of you will get a better appreciation of them in the future.
Please call Mike at any time of day or night if you come across any snake in or near your house. He will gladly catch it and reintroduce it into our wilderness area.