A safari & Estuary walk - iSimangaliso Wetland Park

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March 8th 2021
Published: March 8th 2021
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http://www.heygo.com 8th March - A safari & Estuary walk - iSimangaliso Wetland Park - South Africa

iSimangaliso Wetland Park (previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) is situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, It is South Africa's third-largest protected area with no fewer than 328 000 hectares of pristine natural ecosystems.

A considerable part of the park centres on the huge estuary, Lake St Lucia – part of the largest estuarine system in Africa that runs parallel to the coast line with the world’s highest forested sand dunes sandwiched between the estuary and the sea.

Today we took a walk with our virtual guide Ash, it was his first tour with Virtualtrips and I’m sure it won’t be the last he gave so much information on what we were seeing,

This was a walking tour so we knew we would not be seeing lions today but what we did see roaming freely were Impalas, medium-sized antelopes that look like a mix between a goat and a deer. Impala are diurnal, which means they are most active in the early morning and right before sunset. During the
rainy season, impalas gather in groups of hundreds. In dry season the herds roam together to look for food. During the rainy season males can be territorial and will herd females around a territorial area.

There are three species of Zebram Plains, Mountain and Grévy's. Plains zebra was what we were seeing today and are the most common species of zebra, unfortunately Grévy's zebra is the most imperiled, with only an estimated 3,000 members left in the wild.

I learnt something today a group of zebras is called a Dazzle!

It's an age old question: are zebras white animals with black stripes? Or black animals with white stripes? For many years, scientists believed it to be the former (since many zebras have white underbellies), but cutting-edge genetic research has finally put the argument to rest: zebras are black animals with white stripes.

Warthogs are the only pigs able to live in areas without water for several months of the year. By tolerating a higher-than-normal body temperature, the warthog is perhaps able to conserve moisture inside its body that might otherwise be used for cooling.

Dung Beetles - There are
approximately 780 species of Dung Beetle in South Africa. These beetles vary in size from minuscule beetles at 5mm to large species at 50mm. The lifespan of Dung Beetles is roughly 2 years.

Ash our guide put his hand close so that we could see the size here today.

These beetles rely on animal dung for food for both itself and their larvae. They are capable of discovering and removing most of the dung in just one day, they are ecologically important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem as they not only remove the majority of dung through the summer seasons, but also destroy the eggs of internal parasites thus reducing pest populations. Dung Beetles also play a role in returning nutrients to the soil as well as inadvertently germinating seeds.

At the start of the tour we spotted an ant’s nest wrapped in a leaf along with some other creepy crawlers.

We may not have seen the Big 5 on this safari but it was a walking tour so if you include the Dung Beetles & Ants we did see 5 species !!

Next was a visit to the Estuary mouth,
beautiful beaches where often crocodiles can be seen, no luck today but what a treat to see hundreds of baby crabs emerging.

Additional photos below
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