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DIGGING DEEPER-Looking for the details

I’m about to spend the next two weeks conducting my favourite safari itinerary in the Kruger National Park. A great North to South adventure and a stunning experience of the diversity and wealth of one of the world’s most endangered spaces.

To understand just a small bit of the passion I have for the nature of things in the Kruger National Park, I thought I’d write a quick a note called; DIGGING DEEPER – Looking for the details.

I started out this morning by scanning the visa I woke up looking at. I was on high ground looking down over the Sandveld below me. Sandy and well-drained soils and lots of unique trees and shrubs. I’m looking forward to seeing some amazing plants this trip.

My focus turned to a nearby Cassia abbreviata – which I remember calling a Shambok pod as a child, but now known as a long-tail Cassia. Both names come from the long seed/fruit-pod seen in one of my photos. The sub species beareana is because one Dr. O’Sullivan Beare apparently marketed an extract of the roots as a cure for blackwater fever (noted in a Jacana publication I have called ’Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and the Kruger National Park.’

Digging Deeper starts me looking at the flowers, the new buds and the life on the tree. Any tree starting to bud and flower without the leaves, which come later, present great opportunities for nectar-feeding flies, their predators, mimics and midges looking for opportunities.

What a great diversity of life. A hover fly mimics a wasp while sipping on pollen and nectar.

Other flies too, resting, laying eggs or feeding. Even a tiny biting midge is present on one of the flowers. What intrigues me the most about flies – the order of insects called DIPTERA – is that they are one of the largest and most diverse of the insect orders. They are so important to the ecology of our planet – not only as adult pollinators, but also from a veterinary medicine, and human medical point of view. They have taught us so much about parasitic larva, tropical diseases and the way this little world of insects goes about their business is unbelievable. There are so many families of flies; some of them prey on other flies, some on animals, some use animals to further their own lifecycles, etc.

Yes, some are just irritating and pesky but life simply wouldn’t be the same without them.

Digging Deeper is what consumes me these days, digging deeper to find the little hidden gems all around us in the bush all the time.

Neil Heron

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