Greetings and Salutations,
For those of you that might be struggling to fall asleep, here is something that may help, wondering what the A to Z of animals in The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park actually consists of. Well, I thought I should make a little effort and compile a list for all of you out there, who suffer from this nocturnal malady.
The first one is easy, as there was a fairly well known incident about the "End of A", circulating a good couple of months ago. "A" referring to the demise of an Aardvark, and the cause of its death was never revealed. "Z" is for Zebra, and they are still alive and well. And here follows my attempt at this daunting task. Yes, the purpose of this exercise is also to let you know that there are regular Shakabarker Tours available to check these animals out...
A - Ant Bear. The more traditional and affectionate name is Aardvark - a very useful bilingual translation, maintaining a double A.
B - Buck, and I will opt for Bushbuck- a double B here.
C - Caracal, not your average household cat. A few on the Eastern Shore but more prevalent on the Western Shore . Yes, you guessed it right, Caracals are cats - CC!
D - Have to take Duiker on this one. This species is well represented here, with grey, blue and red duiker. Couple more colours and we could make up our national flag colour combinations.
E - Elephant, not too liked on the Western shores, but they are there, and recently in the general news - the moratorium on Ivory ban has been extended for another nine years, although existing ivory can be sold off the stock piled up to 2007
F - Fruit Bat. Yes, and there are plenty, go take a hike to Bats Cave, a estimated 4000 will greet you on entering this "On- the- beach- Cave".
G - Genet, a cunning little creature, cat-like, but in fact related to mongoose. Presently easy to see on Night Drives, with the grass having been burnt in the southern area of the GSLWP, close to the Croc Educational Centre.
H - No guesses now, the representative here are the backbone of the St. Lucia Tourism industry. OKAY, I hear the anglers and birders voicing their complaints, therefore I shoul;d have written major attraction into this area, as there are many attractions. Bingo - Hippopotamus!
I - There is not much of a choice here, either Impala or Ice rat. Since there is little chance of ice forming on a permanent basis, I go with the Impala. Although there are not many, and all located in the area of the Iphiva hiking trail.
J - Jackal, well the Side-striped or Silver Jackal will get 'all and sundry' paging through their checklists to ensure they have marked this one off. The other species, commonly referred to as the Black-backed Jackal, never seen it here ("here" being the Eastern shores area).
K - Kudu, apparently nearly the new name for our Springbok rugby team, after they had a close one with the Wallabies this weekend. Ja, they - "Could du" better if they tried harder!
L - Okay I heard that, and anyway you should all be getting sleepy by now. "Leopard, Leopard!" was the shouted vote. Yes, and we saw one two nights ago, if I ever decide to draw up a list of the most elusive and highly sought after animals. In fact, I would go as far as to say, should Animal Planet do a program on this beast, or Highly Sought After Beasts, leopard would be at the top of the list, followed by the Ivorybill wood-pecker (USA), Yeti, Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster.
M - Well, there is a bit of a toss-up here, between monkeys and mongooses. But at this time of the year the mongooses are more popular than the monkeys, so I give the mongoose the thumbs-up! The main species- or the most visible species- would be the Banded mongoose. More than one = polygeese - just kidding, it is actually mongooses.
N - Nyala, an easy one, although they are no longer found on the Eastern Shores . During the afforestation of the Eastern Shore with pine trees , the Nyala where removed. But there are plenty on the Western Shores , for example: False Bay and Charters Creek.
O - Oribi - There was a small population introduced fairly recently on the Eastern Shores . Status - uncertain. However, they where monitored for a number of years to see how they were settling in this area.
P - Pangolin - never seen any, Pole Cat- seen only one a number of years back at Leven Point, so the obvious is the Porcupine. This is a "Rodent of unusual Size", check the movie Princess Bride for this appropriate acronym, so suited to this steroid junky rat. Heavily protected by pointed javelin hairs, and not a cuddly pet, but a night drive favourite.
Q - Reaching the end of my "A to Z" of animals in the GSLWP was a bit of a daunting task, for I realised there were going to be a few alphabetical snags. THIS IS ONE! "Q". So off to my reference books, only to find that there is nothing, nothing in the right form, like a mammal. Queen Prawn comes to mind, something we are all familiar with, but there was not even something like Quinton's Shrew or Quill Mouse. I even checked a couple of Afrikaans names and only came up with some hectic non-"Q" names were: dwergnordkaper, suidelikenordkaper, roeskleurklimmuis and finally Kommetjiegatmuishond. So we will just have to stick with Queen prawn/s with extra garlic, for now.
R - Rhino, white. Easy Big Five choice and since these large non-household animals would have been in the Park for almost four years, the right choice here.
S - I was going to say Seekoei, however "been there done that". Therefore Serval it shall be, Afrikaans name is Tierboskat. Smaller than the leopard, very agile and active. Hunts small mammals and birds, and is a reasonable household pet, not too aggressive and has the ability to hold its own against any household dog.
T - Tsessebe, a good one and apparently, when the lake level was rather low, some sneaked across the lake and settled on the Eastern Shores . This high-speed antelope is difficult to catch, and I have heard no further news about containing this T - animal.
U - "U" seems to be presenting the same problem as "Q", although there is a baboon-like ape called the Uilapie (eng - Owl Baboon); this ape only occurs in Central Africa . Closer to home is the generic -or genus name- for the Fiddler crab (once again helped out by the crustaceans - no garlic butter here!): Uca. And simple as that - you are also getting sleepy by now...
V - Vervet monkeys get this slot, not because they are a favorite, nah, but by default, as there is nothing else available.
W - Wild Dogs, Waterbuck or Whales - all good and I have decided to leave it as is WWW.
X - Here I will need to investigate something from San or Khoi. Nothing available in South Africa , Africa or Russia . Even did a web search! Ouch, just as I thought there was no hope, I found a listing of one mammal with the scientific name of Xeris inauris - which is the ground squirrel, something the San or Khoisan would know more about, as those inhabit their tribal area.
Y - Yellow House Bat, just scraped in on this one. But since you should be almost asleep by now, I suppose too much excitement would not be advisable.
"Z" - Zed? Yep - now you should be asleep, after plowing through and counting all these animal names in alphabetical order. And yes, once again a convenient translation in both languages - Zebra = Zebra and in Zulu = Idube - How kiff is that! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Hasta la sleepa,
The Knait Wryda