Including Cape Town
SOUTH AFRICAPort ElizabethCape Town
Rocktail Beach Camp
Little KulalaKulala Desert Lodge
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INTRODUCTIONThe idea of this booklet is to enable you, as a Wilderness Safaris guest, to keep a detailed record of the mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that that you observe during your travels. It also serves as a compact record and diary of your South African journey for future reference and enjoyment that hopefully sparks interest in other wildlife spheres, whether in your home country or abroad.
Although always exciting to see, especially for the first-time Africa visitor, once you move beyond the clich of the Big Five you will soon realise that our wilderness areas offer much more. Africas large mammals are certainly a big attraction that one never tires of, but its often the smaller mammals, diverse birdlife and incredible reptiles that draw one back again and again for another unparalleled visit.
As a globally discerning traveller, look beyond the obvious, and challenge yourself to learn as much about the wildlife and ecosystems through which you will travel on your safari.
SOUTH AFRICA BIODIVERSITY OVERVIEWSouth Africa is the third most biologically diverse country on Earth, due to great variations in climate, geology and landscape. Many game reserves and national parks dot the country, showcasing its 243 mammal, over 800 bird, 370 reptile and 220 fish species and its more than 20 000 species of flowering plants. Approximately 8% of the land is formally conserved, with roughly 15% of the countrys 3 000km coastline also under protection.
The south-west Cape is home to the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the worlds six Plant Kingdoms. Its heath-like vegetation, called fynbos, is endemic to this area some 9 000 plant species grow only here, making this one of the most significant concentrations of plants on the planet. Along the coast eastwards is the dramatic, rocky shoreline known as the Garden Route, where forests grow down steep cliffs to meet spectacular, rough seas crashing on jagged rocks.
Moving north-east, the straight lines of the arid Karoo with its semi-desert and desert biomes give way to the endless, flat grasslands of the plateau. This is the countrys economic centre both in terms of grain produce and mineral wealth.
The escarpments mountain ranges break the flatness and the land falls towards the coast. These land forms are not just beautiful but are of great importance in the generation of precious water in an arid country; all major rivers have their origins amongst the peaks and precipitous cliffs.
The countrys eastern edges bordered by the Lebombo Mountains (and Mozambique and Swaziland) in the north-east and the Indian Ocean in the east generally receive more rainfall and are covered with savannah bushveld and woodland. This is the site of some of Africas great conservation areas, such as the world-famous Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve and iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
South Africa is rightly one of the worlds top wildlife destinations.
OUR SOUTH AFRICA AREAS
Kruger National Park Makuleke ConcessionAt two million hectares (4.9 million acres) and over 300km (186 miles) long from north to south, the Kruger National Park is a savannah landscape with 147 mammal species, over 400 bird species and numerous reptiles, amphibians and insects. In the extreme northernmost sector between the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers lies the Makuleke Concession, with Mozambique and Zimbabwe to the east and north. Although this 24 000ha (59 000-acre) area comprises only fractionally more than 1% of the total area of the Kruger, 75% of all species in this region occur here, making it one of the Parks biodiversity hotspots and a true contrast to the rest of Kruger. Scenically, the area is stunning, with mountains, gorges, forests of fever trees, squat baobabs, mopane woodland, and open savannah. This range of habitat is home to large herds of elephant and buffalo, predators such as leopard and lion, the highest density of nyala in Kruger, and species difficult to find further south, such as eland and Sharpes grysbok. The area is known as a birding Mecca, with some species found nowhere else in South Africa, such as Bhms spinetail, racket-tailed roller and three-banded courser. The biological significance of the Concession was recognised in its declaration as a Ramsar Site a wetland of international importance.CAMPS: PAFURI CAMP, PAFURI WAlKINg TRAIlS
ISIMANgAlISO WETlAND PARK Rocktail BayRocktail Bay is situated in Maputaland on KwaZulu-Natals north-eastern seaboard, a diverse region of forested dunes, wetlands, sandy beaches, woodlands and warm seas. It lies within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site that spans a range of ecological zones. Situated offshore is the Maputaland Marine Reserve, an additional sanctuary offering extraordinary diving and snorkelling encounters with prolific marine life, spectacular coral landscape, and dolphins and whales. Few sections of the South African coastline are as unspoilt and secluded, and the area is known for its superb, pristine dive spots as well as the loggerhead and leatherback turtles that come to lay their eggs on the beaches. The land is a low-lying coastal plain, lined with ancient coastal dunes that are considered to be amongst the tallest vegetated dunes in the world, swathed in lush green forest with a variety of animals, birds and plant life. Common reedbuck frequent the marshes and grasslands, red duiker live in the forest areas, hippo are found in freshwater lakes and whales and dolphins are often seen offshore. Birding is outstanding, with a number of typical coastal forest species green twinspot, green malkoha, grey waxbill, Livingstones turaco and brown scrub-robin.CAMPS: ROCKTAIl BEACH CAMP
WESTERN CAPE Cape Town, Cape Peninsula, West Coast National Park and the WinelandsWestern South Africa offers the highest rate of endemism in Africa, with the winter-rainfall Cape Floral Kingdom being one of the richest biodiversity hotspots in the world: it holds close on 9 000 plant species, including South Africas national flower, the king protea. Habitats include pristine areas of low-lying and mountain fynbos found nowhere else in the world, strandveld and renosterveld, the semi-desert areas of the nearby Karoo, and isolated pockets of forests. This region adjoins the richly productive Atlantic Ocean, offering visitors a marine component together with inland wetlands, sensitive salt marshes and lagoons. Unique mammals in this region include bontebok, Cape grysbok, Cape mountain zebra, coastal troops of Chacma baboon, rock-loving klipspringer and hyrax, grey rhebok, caracal, eland, the annual spectacle of migrating southern right whales, endemic Heavisides dolphin and Cape fur seal colonies. 89 endemic or near-endemic birds (about half of South Africas endemic birds) are restricted to this south-western part and include the exciting Cape sugarbird, the surreal orange-breasted sunbird, skulking Knysna and Victorins warblers, Knysna woodpecker, the enigmatic Cape rock-jumper, Cape Long-billed Lark, Cape siskin and protea seedeater.PRESENCE: WIlDERNESS TOURINg
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OTHER KEY WIlDERNESS AREAS
EASTERN CAPE greater Addo (Addo, Kwandwe, Shamwari and Kariega)Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest national park in South Africa covering about 180 000 hectares (444 700 acres). Kwandwe (22 000 hectares/54 000 acres), Shamwari (25 000 hectares/ 61 000 acres) and Kariega Game Reserves (9 000 hectares/ 22 000 acres) are other protected areas in this region. These offer sanctuary to elephant, lion, Cape buffalo, white and black rhino, Burchells zebra, spotted hyaena, leopard, cheetah, and a variety of antelope greater kudu, eland, red hartebeest, bushbuck, and springbok. Black wildebeest, black-footed cat, Cape grysbok, and oribi are unique species of the area.
KWAZUlU-NATAl (Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, Mkhuze, Tembe, Phinda)A number of famous reserves lie in the hills and on the coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve is 100 000 hectares (247 000 acres) of wilderness, probably best known for its black and white rhinoceros conservation efforts. Tembe Elephant Reserve is unique in that it protects large tracts of sensitive sand forest and the last wild elephant herds in KwaZulu-Natal. Lastly, the impressive 23 000ha (56 000-acre) Phinda Game Reserve has all the archetypal African mammal fauna and, thanks its seven distinct habitats, 415 bird species. Unique mammals are Livingstones suni, nyala, cheetah and black rhino.
KAlAHARI (Tswalu)Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is South Africas largest private game reserve, covering an area of over 100 000 hectares (247 000 acres). It supports a huge diversity of life: about 80 mammal species and approximately 240 bird species. Many species differ to those found in reserves in eastern South Africa such as gemsbok, springbok, eland, red hartebeest, Hartmanns mountain zebra and desert-adapted black rhino. Large predators are well represented too and meerkat (suricate) viewing is amazing, with two habituated wild colonies.
NORTH WEST (Madikwe, Pilanesberg, Marakele)Three game reserves are present in the North West Province: The 75 000ha (185 000-acre) Madikwe Game Reserve is on the Botswana border, Pilanesberg Game Reserve, situated on an ancient volcano, covers an area of 55 000 hectares (135 000 acres), while 100 000ha Welgevonden Game Reserve and the adjoining Marakele National Park fall within the transition zone between the arid western regions and the moister eastern regions of the country. Generally, these areas are home to most of the large mammals synonymous with Africa. Predators such as cheetah, wild dog, spotted and brown hyaena, leopard and lion occur.
SABI SAND PRIVATE gAME RESERVESabi Sand Game Reserve (65 000 hectares / 160 000 acres) is a well-known wildlife destination that adjoins the western boundary of the Kruger National Park. Some of the best private game lodges in South Africa are found in this reserve, which offers the chance of seeing the somewhat clichd Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) and myriad other exciting mammal, bird and smaller life.
TIPS FOR WIlDlIFE VIEWINg
Binoculars are essential particularly for observing birds and smaller mammal species. When larger animals are spotted at a distance, binoculars will enhance the enjoyment of those particular sightings.
Patience is a good virtue for wildlife viewing. Spend a little more time at each sighting in quiet observation, and fascinating behavioural traits come to light.
Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to be out looking for wildlife. This is the golden hour for photography and animal activity peaks, with nocturnal species (e.g., leopard) often still active.
During the heat of the day many animals will drink at waterholes (e.g., elephant, zebra), making this a good time to be there.
Night drives (where available) can also be rewarding for nocturnal mammals such as genets, bushbabies, white-tailed mongoose and brown hyaena.
Best months for birdwatching are December to April when resident birds are most active and intra-African and Palaearctic migratory species are in the subregion.
RECOMMENDED FIElD gUIDES
SMITHERS MAMMAlS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA: A FIElD gUIDEPeter Apps. Struik Publishers. ISBN: 9781868725502Concise, informative guide on the mammal species found in southern Africa.
THE KINgDON POCKET gUIDE TO AFRICAN MAMMAlSJonathan Kingdon. Princeton University Press. ISBN: 9780713669817Compact and beautifully illustrated, it is ideal for use in the field, while its coverage is the most comprehensive for any book of its size.
SASOl BIRDS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA 4th EDITIONIan Sinclair; Phil Hockey; Warwick Tarboton. Struik Publishers. ISBN: 978 1 77007 925 0The all-in-one guide to the birds of southern Africa.
FROgS AND FROggINg IN SOUTH AFRICAVincent Carruthers and Louis Du Preez. 2nd Edition 2011. ISBN: 978-1-77007-914-4Handy, recently updated guide to the frogs of South Africa.
A gUIDE TO THE REPTIlES OF SOUTHERN AFRICAJohan Marais and Graham Alexander. Struik Publishers. ISBN: 9781770073869This well-illustrated guide introduces the 517 species currently described in the region, arranged into three main groups: snakes and lizards, crocodiles, and shelled reptiles.
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HOW TO USE THIS CHECKlIST
The checklist presented does not cover the entire country, but rather is a comprehensive list for most prime areas that safari-goers visit when in South Africa.
The oval circle indicates that the species is present for a given locality.
The detailed species lists have been grouped taxonomically by family and then by key areas or provinces.
A number of species are migratory (e.g., birds) or may hibernate (e.g., snakes and frogs) during the southern African winter, so they may not be seen during your visit.
Endemic species and subspecies are highlighted with an asterisk.
The botanical diversity of South Africa is enormous and beyond the practical realms of this checklist, and has thus been omitted. The guides on your trip are knowledgeable in the local flora, will have the necessary field guides, and will certainly point out any trees, shrubs and flowers that may be of interest or in bloom on your visit.
WC Cape Town and Environs (Peninsula, West Coast, Cederberg, Overberg, Pelagic) Garden Route (Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Knysna)
EC Greater Addo (Addo, Kwandwe, Shamwari and Kariega)
KZN KwaZulu-Natal (incl. Rocktail Concession, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Mkhuze, Ndumo, Tembe, Phinda, Drakensberg)
KAl Tswalu, Kgalagadi
NW, lIM Madikwe, Pilanesberg, Waterberg
KNP Kruger National Park (incl. Makuleke Concession, Sabi Sands, Timbavati) * Endemic to South Africa** Near-Endemic to South Africa
South Africa hosts abundant mammal life, thanks to a varied network of private conservation areas and national
parks through different biomes, with well over 200 species. The savannah areas harbour excellent numbers of
large mammals quintessentially associated with Africa, such as southern giraffe, African elephant, hippo, plains
zebra and blue wildebeest. These co-exist with predatory species such as lion, leopard, African wild dog, spotted
hyaena and cheetah. Antelope species from greater kudu down to steenbok are also found in abundance, as are
primates from Chacma baboon to lesser bushbaby.
The arid Karoo and Kalahari is home to reclusive species such as aardvark, black-footed cat, springbok, brown