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Archive for the ‘Reference’ Category

Spring botanical art exhibition at the Irma Stern Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of her death

Botanical art exhibition at the Irma Stern Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of her death
Butterflies of East AfricaBaobabs of the WorldPocket Guide: Birds of East AfricaGiant StepsLandy

The UCT Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town will celebrate the arrival of spring with a botanical art exhibition, bringing together artwork from established artists of Cape flora with new artwork that has been commissioned for the exhibition.

The Western Cape floral kingdom, with its unrivalled diversity of plant species, has attracted explorers, artists and botanists for hundreds of years.

An exhibition titled “Flora Old and New” will be held at the Irma Stern Museum in September as part of the special public programme to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the internationally renowned South African artist, Irma Stern.

The exhibition will run from 3 September to 1 October, with opening hours of 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday to Friday, and 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday.

The director of the Irma Stern Museum will be giving a special walkabout on 20 September at 10 AM.

Please RSVP by 15 September.

Enter the lucky draw at the exhibition to win a hamper of Struik Nature books. The winner will be notified at the close of the exhibition.

Special Walkabout Details

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Special offer on all Struik Nature Pocket Guides

Struik Nature

The Struik Nature Club is running a special discount on all Struik Nature Pocket Guides until the end of June!

Save R50 on each book, plus free delivery in South Africa.


See the list of Struik Nature Pocket Guides here:

Pocket Guide: Butterflies of South Africa
Pocket Guide: Butterflies of South Africa by Steve Woodhall
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EAN: 9781920572471
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Pocket Guide: Insects of South Africa
Pocket Guide: Insects of South Africa by Charles Griffiths, Mike Picker
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EAN: 9781775841951
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Mammals of Southern Africa
Mammals of Southern Africa : Pocket Guide by Chris Stuart, Tilde Stuart
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EAN: 9781770078611
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Pocket Guide: Mushrooms of South Africa
Pocket Guide: Mushrooms of South Africa by Marieka Gryzenhout
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EAN: 9781770077560
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Pocket Guide: Rocks and Minerals of Southern Africa
Pocket Guide: Rocks and Minerals of Southern Africa by Bruce Cairncross
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EAN: 9781770074439
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Pocket Guide: Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa
Pocket Guide: Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa by Bill Branch
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EAN: 9781775841647
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Pocket Guide: Trees of Southern Africa
Pocket Guide: Trees of Southern Africa by Piet van Wyk, Braam van Wyk
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EAN: 9781920572020
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Pocket Guide: Birds of Southern Africa
Pocket Guide: Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair
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EAN: 9781770077690
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Pocket Guide: Wild Flowers of South Africa
Pocket Guide: Wild Flowers of South Africa by Braam van Wyk
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EAN: 9781775841661
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‘A bit of bleeding but very little damage’ – Johan Marais shares the story behind recent python photoshoot

python bite
Snakes and Snakebite in Southern AfricaSlange and Slangbyt in Suider-AfrikaA Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa'n Volledige Gids tot die Slange van Suider-Afrika

Johan Marais, internationally renowned herpetologist and author of Snakes and Snakebite in Southern Africa, has shared the story behind a recent photoshoot involving a python and a very bloody arm.

The shoot involved Shawn Hefer of the African Snakebite Institute being bitten “a few times” by a young python, resulting in “a bit of bleeding but very little damage”.

Have a look at the photographs, and check out the African Snakebite Institute on Facebook for more:



There is a great deal of myth about pythons, especially with regards to attacks on people. Pythons in Africa do kill people, but rarely so.

There are as few as 3 proven cases where people were killed by pythons in Africa in the past 100 years+. Attacks by pythons are often reported, especially when one has been killed and appears on the front page of a newspaper. But these attacks are seldom true and there is a likelihood that the snakes are being killed for the muti market.

During a study on python behaviour at Kwalata Reserve, the members of the Alexander Lab at Wits had two or three python bites in the wild but the snakes immediately released after biting, as if they realised their mistake. The wounds were superficial. Pythons do have a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and have the ability to inflict very nasty bites, often resulting in stitches. The reason is that people pull the pythons off and the sharp teeth rip through skin.

I am busy with a program on pythons and we staged some photographs this morning where a young python latched onto Shawn Hefer’s arm a few times, causing quite a bit of bleeding but very little damage. Have a look at the photographs. Incidentally, the Southern African Python (Python natalensis) is projected in most provinces and is on the TOPS list but it is not an endangered species – in the Reptile Atlas it is listed as ‘least concerned’.

Related stories:

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An invaluable book for twitchers – Pocket Guide: Birds of East Africa by Dave Richards

Pocket Guide: Birds of East AfricaNew from Struik Nature, Pocket Guide: Birds of East Africa by Dave Richards:

This pocket-sized photographic guide to the birds of East Africa features 296 birds likely to be spotted in the region.

  • Colourful photographs illustrate diagnostic features and plumage differences between male and female or breeding and non-breeding birds.
  • Comparative photographs help differentiate between confusing species.
  • Important distinguishing characteristics are highlighted in the text.
  • Distribution maps and Swahili common names for all species are included.
  • Introduction features a labelled bird diagram, habitat map, glossary and useful advice to birdwatchers.
  • An invaluable guide for visitors to national parks and the many areas in East Africa that are rich in birdlife.

About the author

Dave Richards is an author and photographer who has written a number of books on travel and wildlife in Kenya. He regularly contributes articles and photographs to a range of local and international magazines and books. Dave leads photographic and ornithological safaris through Kenya and Tanzania, but also to Botswana, Madagascar, Namibia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

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Have you visited the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site yet? Here’s what to expect

A Guide to Sterkfontein and the Cradle of HumankindField Guide to the Cradle of Human KindThe Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in Gauteng is home to around 40 percent of the world’s human ancestor fossils, making it the world’s richest hominid site.

Last year, the caves became one of the most talked about places in the world when the discovery of a new species of human relative, named Homo naledi, was made there. Lee Berger, co-author of A Guide to Sterkfontein and the Cradle of Humankind, led the extraordinary team of scientists who made this discovery:

Read: The Discovery of Homo Naledi has Opened Up an Entirely New Field of Inquiry – Lee Berger

Have you visited the Maropeng Visitor Centre at this extraordinary site yet? If you are looking for some extra incentive, or are simply curious to know what you can expect, the centre has shared a fun article with facts about their popular visitor’s tour to entice you:

1. It starts with a boat ride
2. It’s trippy
3. It’s interactive
4. You’ll meet your hominin ancestors
5. You’ll get to see real fossils

The Maropeng Visitor Centre and Sterkfontein Caves are open to the public from 9 AM to 5 PM every day. A combination ticket costs R190 for adults, R125 for children and R120 for school groups.

Watch these videos to see what you can expect:

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

Are you curious about the Homo naledi discovery? Watch a short clip from a National Geographic documentary on it, then follow the links below to read more about it:

YouTube Preview Image

Related links:

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New Rules for Kruger National Park: Day Visitors Can Now Book a Time Slot

101 Kruger TalesKruger National Park Questions and AnswersField Guide to the Mammals of the Kruger National ParkMammals of Southern Africa Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of AfricaField Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa
Snakes and Snakebite in Southern AfricaA Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern AfricaSasol 300 Easy-to-see BirdsLatin for BirdwatchersSasol Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa100 Common Bird Calls in East Africa

In an effort to enhance visitor access management and to avoid possible glitches this Festive Season, the Kruger National Park has implemented a new system to streamline day visitor arrivals at the gates during busy periods.

Day visitors can now book a time slot ahead of their arrival at the Kruger Park, ensuring their entry.

Kruger Park management says it expects the busiest days to be 25, 26 and 27 December as well as 1, 2 and 3 January.

Media release from SANParks:

Day Visitors will now be able to choose and book a time slot prior to their arrival from one of the following three time slots:

  • Time slot 1: Arrive 0 to 2 Hours after gate opening time. (Summer months 05:30 to 07:30)
  • Time slot 2: Arrive 2 to 4 Hours after gate opening time. (Summer months 07:30 to 09:30)
  • Time slot 3: Arrive 4+ Hours after gate opening time. (Summer months 09:30 onwards).

The Day Visitor Quota for the park is a management tool to maintain the carrying capacity of the park. Visitors will be able to book up to 80% of Day Visitor Quota per gate, via SANParks Reservations offices.

Pre-booked day visitors guest will get preference over non-booked day visitors at the gate.

For the coming Festive Season, we aim to better manage the volumes that we expect on busy days, and importantly also manage the expectations. These busy days are expected to be Saturday and Sunday and in particular 25, 26 and 27 December as well as 1, 2 and 3 January. By introducing the three different slots, we hope to improve the spread of vehicles and, as far as possible prevent unnecessary waiting periods at gates”, said the KNP Managing Executive, Glenn Phillips.

Pre-booked day visitors must ensure that they arrive within the time slots, as per their reservation. Arriving outside the booked time slot, will be regarded as non-booked and therefore not preferential. Visitors who made reservations prior to this new system have been allocated to Time slot 1. These bookings can be changed through SANParks Reservations offices

Visitors should also take note of the following important information:

  • Day Visitor bookings are subject to a non-refundable booking fee of R36 per adult and R18 per child.
  • Day Visitors who have booked will still be required to pay Conservation Fees or use a valid Wild Card to enter the Park.
  • In order to expedite the admission process, on busy days in particular, Day Visitors are requested to pay for Conservation Fees in advance or ensure that they have valid Wild Card membership.
  • Guests planning to use Wild Cards are requested to ensure membership is valid before arrival and this can best be done online at
  • The number and profile of persons (adults and children) on the reservation and actual persons arriving should correspond.
  • All guests may be required to identify themselves upon admission (SA driver’s license, identity document or passport).
  • Due to existing contractual arrangements with Open Safari Vehicles (OSVs), they are regarded as booked for all Day Visitor admissions. OSVs entering Phabeni Gate will be allowed entry 30 minutes before external gate opening time during the summer.
  • Gate Quotas will be applied and un-booked guests could be refused admission.
  • In order to make the wait in the queue at gates a bit more pleasurable, SANParks will be providing serviced toilets at strategic points on the side of the road during peak times. Further to this a community initiative has been set up that will see hot and cold beverages being available for sale to visitors who will be waiting for entry.
  • Guests are kindly requested to be patient and understanding of this new change. SANParks will be learning from this so please feel free to provide feedback through the customer feedback system.


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For a Healthy iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Just Add Adders

Snakes and Snakebite in Southern AfricaSlange and Slangbyt in Suider-AfrikaA Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa'n Volledige Gids tot die Slange van Suider-Afrika

26 gaboon adders have been successfully released into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park on the coast about 300 kilometres north of Durban. The snakes were reared at the nearby St Lucia Crocodile and Education Centre, and are important to the health of the whole ecosystem.

Johan Marais, herpetologist and author of a number of books about snakes, told Tony Carnie a bit more about the species for an article featured in The Mercury.

Marais explained that although the venom of a gaboon adder is potentially deadly, bites are next to “unheard of, except among snake handlers”:

“The bite is not unlike that of a puff adder – potently cytotoxic causing massive swelling, pain and blistering that may result in necrosis and severe tissue damage.

“But even the puff adder accounts for few deaths, as victims usually have enough time to get to a hospital and treatment. Gaboon adders are not often encountered, very well camouflaged and fortunately reluctant to bite. They will hiss loudly to scare you off.”

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News from the African Snakebite Institute: Johan Marais Explains How to Identify Mildly-venomous Snakes

Johan Marais is an internationally respected herpetologist and author of several books on snakes in southern Africa, including Snakes and Snakebite in Southern Africa and A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa.

Snakes and Snakebite in Southern AfricaSlange and Slangbyt in Suider-AfrikaA Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa'n Volledige Gids tot die Slange van Suider-Afrika

Marais also runs the African Snakebite Institute (ASI), through which he offers training courses, corporate talks and demonstrations, environmental impact assessments and reptile safaris. In the latest ASI newsletter Marais focusses on mildly-venomous snakes:

“Of the 173-odd different types of snakes in Southern Africa the vast majority of species are either harmless or mildly venomous. Only nineteen snake species are considered deadly,” the snake expert writes. Examples include the Common Night Adder, the Stiletto Snake, the Berg Adder, the Many-horned Adder and the Horned Adder.

Read the ASI newsletter to find out more about these snakes, including photos to help you identify them and tips on what to do when you come across one:

While the venom of most mildly-venomous snakes like the Herald snake, Eastern Tiger snake, the various Sand and Grass snakes and the Skaapsteker has virtually no effect on humans, twenty nine snakes that are not considered deadly have rather potent venom that could cause a great deal of discomfort or even hospitalisation. Sadly many of these snakes are listed as ‘mildly venomous’ on various internet sites. This is certainly not always the case.

The Common or Rhombic Night Adder is a good example. It is abundant where it occurs in the wetter eastern parts of the country and is a frog specialist, feeding largely on toads. Gardens with water features lure frogs and the Night Adder follows. Its venom is often described as mildly cytotoxic that will cause some pain and a bit of swelling. This may be the case in some bites but not always. We see some particularly bad bites, especially on children and dogs. Night Adder venom is potent enough to kill small dogs and I recently saw a case where a Maltese Poodle was bitten on a paw and its front leg had to be amputated the following day.

ASI offers many helpful tools on their website, including downloadable posters and links to resources on snakes. Have a look:

Dangerous Snakes of Southern Africa



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10 Critically Endangered Birds Species in South Africa

There are currently 10 endangered bird species in South Africa. Among others, the list includes the Wattled Crane, the Blue swallow and the Bearded vulture.

Wild Card Blog has posted an article in which they investigate which 10 species are under threat and why they are endangered.

All information was made available by the 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, published by BirdLife South Africa.

For more on South Africa’s diverse bird population, have a look at the books below:

Sasol Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern AfricaSasol Birds of Southern Africa IVChamberlain Birds of the Indian Ocean IslandsLatin for BirdwatchersNewman's Birds of Southern Africa
Sasol Merklys van Voëls in Suider-AfrikaSasol Voëls van Suider-Afrika IVSasol Voëls van Suider AfrikaNewman se voëls van Suider-Afrika


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1. Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) – globally critically endangered
Global numbers: 4 700 mature individuals
Where are they found in SA? Occasionally spotted off the west coast of South Africa.
Threats include: South African fisheries, longline fishing vessels mainly off South America, plastic, predation by introduced house mice on Gough Island.
Did you know? Their plumage gradually whitens over a period of 20 years.

2. Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) – regionally critically endangered
Regional numbers: Less than 250 mature individuals
Where are they found in SA? Eastern grasslands of the country with the core population located in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. A few pairs are also found in the grasslands of northern Eastern Cape around Ugie and Maclear and the Highveld grasslands of Mpumalanga and eastern Free State.
Threats include: Loss and degradation of wetlands due to agriculture, forestry and mining.
Did you know? They are monogamous and will pair for life.

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Image of the Wattled Crane courtesy of the Kruger National Park

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Snake Experts Expecting a Busy Summer in Nelson Mandela Bay as Reptiles Come out to Play

A Photographic Guide to Snakes, Other Reptiles and Amphibians of East AfricaSnakes and Snakebite in Southern AfricaA Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern AfricaSnake experts are expecting a busy summer as several venomous reptiles have already been caught across Nelson Mandela Bay.

Mark Marshall‚ owner of Sandula Conservation and a snake expert‚ has caught six snakes on different properties in the past two weeks.

In one of the most recent incidents‚ a two-year-old Staffordshire terrier died after being bitten by a puff adder during a fight in the garden of a Kunene Park home last Wednesday afternoon.

Marshall‚ who was called to the scene to catch the 1.2m puff adder‚ said the dog was rushed to Lorraine Veterinary Clinic in Circular Drive after being bitten.

He was called when neighbours ran over to the Blyth Street house after hearing the dogs barking wildly.

“They thought someone was breaking into the house but looking into the garden they saw the dog fighting with the snake and alerted the owners who called me.”

Vet Dr Kelly Flanegan said Monster the dog was bitten on the left shoulder.

“Within an hour of his arrival the dog began swelling and we tried everything to save him.”

Flanegan said if any animal is bitten the best method is to restrict their movement. “This is the start of a busy season. Every summer we receive many animals with snake bites‚” she said.

In March‚ a labrador-cross-alsation and a pit bull survived puff adder bites in separate incidents in the Bay.

On Sunday‚ Marshall said snakes had been more active due to the heavy rains about two weeks ago.

“This is the start of a busy summer season for all of us. Snakes are going to become far more active as the weather heats up‚” he said.

“Usually the snakes come out around the end of September and so this is basically a month early.

“The reason could be the heavy rains which flood the valleys and force the snakes to relocate to higher ground and which also increase rodent activity.”

Marshall said frog-eating snakes such as rinkhals‚ red-lipped heralds and night adders were coming out due to the increase in frogs from the rains.

Marshall explained that as the weather heats up‚ snakes also generally become more active‚ moving around in search of food‚ and with the start of breeding season‚ venturing into residential areas.

“Suburbs mostly affected are those bordering dense bush and grassy areas‚ particularly near the Baakens Valley such as Mill Park‚ Linkside‚ Walmer and Sherwood.

“Summerstrand‚ Mount Pleasant and Sardinia Bay will also probably see an increase due to the dense surrounding bush on the outskirts of the suburbs.”

Source: RDM News Wire

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