Dung Beetle: A true Savannah King

A true Savannah King

A nature tiny wonder, a perfect machine with sun (and stars too) bearing capabilities.

Dung beetles are beetles that feed partly or exclusively on feces. All the species belong to the superfamily Scarabaeoidea; most of them to the subfamilies Scarabaeinae and Aphodiinae of the family Scarabaeidae (scarab beetles). As most species of Scarabaeinae feed exclusively on feces, that subfamily is often dubbed true dung beetles. There are dung-feeding beetles which belong to other families, such as the Geotrupidae (the earth-boring dung beetle). The Scarabaeinae alone comprises more than 5,000 species.

Many dung beetles, known as rollers, roll dung into round balls, which are used as a food source or brooding chambers. Other dung beetles, known as tunnelers, bury the dung wherever they find it. A third group, the dwellers, neither roll nor burrow: they simply live in manure. They are often attracted by the dung burrowing owls collect.

Dung beetles are currently the only insect known to navigate and orient themselves using the Milky Way. (Source:Wikipedia)

Of old magazines and new travels

Just add larvae of Diamphidia and Plyclada…

About the small treasure at My father’s country house, my collection of Astronomy and Nature magazines dating back in the 80’s and 90’s.There is a small treasure at My father’s country house. It is my collection of Astronomy and Nature magazines dating back in the 80’s and 90’s. Today i was at home having a look at my old collection of “Airone” an italian magazine which tried to imitate – but with local interesting peculiar traits – the National Geographic Magazine in the 80’s. I noticed two interesting articles that probably i wouldn’t without having being part of my recent beautiful Botswana experience.

How do you tell a “yummy” snack from a deadly poisonous addictive for bushmen’s arrows?

It’s early in the afternoon near Kasane, Botswana. After several days in the bush our group stops in a small mart to finally buy stuff.  A “Local” offered us a “yummy” snack, a bag full of roasted Mopane Worms (Imbrasia Bellina) which (almost) everyone tried out. Well, having a look at my magazines collection, i found an interesting article about Bushmen in Botswana and their tools-of-the-trade for hunting. There was, though, a picture of these men that uses larvae of Diamphidia and Plyclada, two different genus of beetle. Their poisonous “juice” is used by the Bushmen to make their arrow deadly venomous for hunting. These larvae, though innocue at a first look, have enough poison to kill a man in a few hours. What if we were given a bag of this larvae? Who might have been so smart to tell the difference? Have a look at the photo below…

Snack of the month: larvae of Imbrasia Bellina

Exact! That’s why we took with us two talented biologists (or why they mercifully came with us). Of course, pure chance that three people of our group has been very very very sick that evening… 😉

Water then and now.

One of the sites visited that impressed me much with primeval feelings was the surroundings of the Savuti river. Our guides told us about the Savuti Channel, which stopped flowing between 1980 and 2008 becoming a ribbon of grassland that served as a corridor and feeding ground in the surrounding woodland for a wide variety of herbivores. The channel became a waterway again in 2008, welcoming back hippos, aquatic life and several varieties of waterbirds, and forcing wildlife to adapt to the new source of water impacting the territory.

“Then, one day, the Savuti disappeared”

Imagine how i felt when i read these pages (above) from 1992 about the processes which caused the slow disappearance of the Savuti…

I’m very happy to having been able to take stupid pictures like these today 🙂

Beautiful Savuti

Frogs! Frogs everywhere!

Look, i’ve got a true passion for Amphibia. Rivers, creeks and the Okavango Delta are plenty of these tiny creatures, which are there on behalf of the autentic biodiversity. You may find (mainly) two types of shots related to these subjects, “Ambiented Portraits” and “White Panel Portraits”.

Ambiented Portrait is basically capturing the subject in its own environment with the help of one ore more flashes and a macro lens – typically a 24mm ora a 100 mm. White Panel Portrait resemble the Meet Your Neighboursâ„¢ project, a worldwide photographic initiative created by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt dedicated to reconnecting people with the wildlife on their own doorsteps – and enriching their lives in the process (tech. features here).

A short list of sightings between Botswana and Zimbabwe:

Grey foam-nest tree frog or southern foam-nest tree frog (Chiromantis xerampelina) – Moremi Game Reserve

African Common Toad or Guttural Toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis)

Natal puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus natalensis) – Victoria Falls

Here are shots of the:

Ptychadena mascareniensis 

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class: Amphibia Order: Anura Family: Ptychadenidae Genus: Ptychadena

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Focal Length: 100mm Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec Aperture: f/20 ISO/Film: 125 Taken: April 25th 2013

Marbled Reed Frog (Hyperolius Marmoratus)

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Amphibia Order: Anura Family: Hyperoliidae Genus: Hyperolius Species: H. marmoratus

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Focal Length: 100mm Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec Aperture: f/20 ISO/Film: 125 Taken: April 25th 2013