For interesting information on flowers, trees and plants please click on this link:

For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.
Videos: YouTube

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cradle of Humankind SA - Part 4

We humans are relatively recent arrivals on Earth. But our ancestors have been here for millions of years.

Our ancestors are called “hominids”. The oldest hominid discovered so far is Sahelanthropus tchadensis, from Chad, which is about 7-million years old. This fossil has been nicknamed “Toumai” in the local Goran language. There are also several very old species that have been discovered in Kenya and Ethiopia.
While the exact shape of the human family tree is something scientists are still debating, the one thing that they mostly agree on is that humankind was born here in Africa.

In the Cradle of Humankind, about 1,000 hominid fossils have been discovered, spanning several million years.
The oldest hominid fossils from the Cradle are more than 3-million years old and belong to the genus Australopithecus. There were many species or types of Australopithecus, which lived in Eastern and Southern Africa.
“Mrs Ples”, the famous fossil of a skull of an Australopithecus africanus, was discovered at the Sterkfontein Caves by palaeontologists Dr Robert Broom and John Robinson in 1947. “Mrs Ples” is about 2.1-million years old. In 1997, palaeontologist Professor Ron Clarke and his assistants Stephen Motsumi and Nkwane Molefe, discovered the full skeleton of an Australopithecus inside the Sterkfontein Caves, encased in breccia, a type of rock. This skeleton, called “Little Foot”, is still being excavated.
Note: There is a big controversy going on concerning Mrs. Ples. They now believe that it should actually be Mr. Ples as the hip and eyebrow structure give indications of this.
After Australopithecus came the genus Homo, to which we humans, Homo sapiens, belong. The earliest named Homo species is Homo habilis or “handy man”, which researchers believe made the first stone tools. Homo habilis emerged about 2-million years ago. After Homo habilis came, among others, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo floresiensis and Homo Sapiens – us.
These species lived in different parts of the world. Not all Homo species were direct ancestors of humans.
The human family tree has many branches, several of which broke off as species became extinct.
Modern humans, Homo sapiens, emerged only about 200,000 years ago. While older species of Homo, such as Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis, lived in Asia and Europe mostly, scientists believe that modern humans, like our most distant ancestors such as Toumai and the australopithecines, evolved here in Africa.
The oldest fossil evidence for modern humans discovered so far comes from Ethiopia and South Africa.
I do apologize for the quality of these photographs again as everything is behind glass and extremely difficult to photograph.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

SA Diversity Tour (18-21/03/2014) Day 62-65

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
We were very excited about going to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and left Upington very early to make the 3 hour drive there. I had not been there for about 20 years and remembered it as a terrific place to be. At the time of making the booking, we could only get camping at Twee Rivieren but when we arrived, we were told there is place at Mata Mata and we gladly changed some of our first days for it. 
What a huge disappointment!! According to their website, most of the roads are said to be accessible to vehicles like mine but they were so bad that we had to drive not more than 20km/ph and so bumpy, it took us hours to get there. About the only thing we saw along the way was a lion laying hidden by some bushes, a few Gemsbok and some Wildebeest.
 Mata Mata itself is totally run down although it looks like they are building a new ablution block. They had some rain there a week before we arrived and when we went to ask, were told their grader was not working and they did not know when they would fix the roads again. Typical darn government owned place!!
We once again changed our bookings for Twee Rivieren as the roads there had not been as bad as further north. SO the next morning, back down we went!! After three very bad days where we were basically restricted to going only to the first watering hole about 5kms away, we went to ask them if they could change our booking to some other camp such as Augrabies, Addo or Mountain Zebra as it did not us much good not being able to go anywhere. We were not very politely told that they could not and that if we wanted to leave, we would lose the money we had paid for the other 4 days we were going to stay!! When I questioned the conditions of the roads and mentioned that it said vehicles like mine could go on them, I was told that their website now said 4x4 vehicles only!! Even the people there WITH 4x4’s were complaining!! So my advice is: DO NOT GO TO KGALAGADI!!
The only thing worth seeing at Mata Mata was the Yellow Mongoose digging for food in the camping area. The rest of the area was a total waste of time!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SA Diversity Tour (16-17/03/2014) Day 60-61

 Prieska - Uppington
Leaving Mountain Zebra and going to Upington on our way to Khalagadi Transfrontier Park, we passed through the small town of Prieska and found this beautiful miniature prickly pear along the road. As beautiful as it looks, it is unfortunately and invasive species.
We stayed for two days at the caravan park in Upington trying to catch up on our computer work and the first night had a very dramatic sunset.
It was nice to just laze around for a while and got to do the shopping for food we needed to take with us to Kgalagadi where there are no nearby shops.