Spekboom Portulacaria afra, also known as elephant bush, dwarf jade plant and pork bush, is a small-leaved indigenous succulent plant found in Southern Africa. It is a soft-wooded, semi-evergreen upright shrub or small tree, usually 2.5–4.5 metres. The spekboom is widespread in the Southern Africa. In this moist climate, it is relatively rare, and tends to favour dryer rocky outcrops and slopes. It is also found in much denser numbers in the dryer Southern Cape.
Can you eat this plant? Yes, it is commonly eaten in Southern Africa, usually as one component of a salad or a soup but the most amazing quality this plant has is its ability for carbon sequestration. It is capable of either C3 or CAM carbon fixation, depending on factors such as the season and the age of the leaves. In layman’s terms it absorbs large quantities of carbon dioxide, almost four tons per hectare. It is also water wise and drought resistant and can survive on just 250 -350mm of water a year. Make sure you add this to your garden it can definitely improve the quality of air you breath.
Caracals are medium-sized wild cats native to Africa; it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and threatened by habitat loss due to human habitation and farming of natural habitat. Its habitat includes semi-deserts, open savannas, and scrublands. Typically nocturnal, we say typically because out in Nature you’re not allowed to use two words , ALWAYS & NEVER, because nature can surprise you most of the time as we were surprised by the Cat in picture! Caracals are highly secretive and difficult to observe. They are nocturnal but can be active during the day in protected areas. Caracals are carnivores and feed mostly on hares, rodents, rabbits, hyraxes, antelopes and birds.
African Wildcat- Rare and endangered,however, there is currently thought to be at least five different subspecies: the European wildcat, the African wildcat , the Southern African wildcat the Asian wildcat and the Chinese alpine steppecat. These cats are hardly ever seen and to get a picture with the cat and its prey is very rare too. We are very fortunate to have got pictures of these cats walking around during the day on our Reserve and hope to share many more.
Its a new year and a new team and we are very happy to welcome Jonty and Rebecca to the guiding department. They both have their own skill set with Jonty a keen mountain biker and birder and Rebecca a trails guide who loves everything creep crawly and of course cuddly!
They will be sharing their stories with you weekly and we hope that you will be able to learn more about our fascinating Reserve and the Flora and Fauna found here.We do hope that you will get to meet them when you next visit us in the future.
Meet Andrew our new Merino Stud Ram bought at a recent auction and originally from Craddock and named after his breeder Andrew Jordaan.Andrew spent a month in Bloemfoentein at a facility who store and collect samples from animals and are a specialist semen centre where breeders can have samples frozen of their animals in case something happens to them and if another breeders would like to purchase a specific Rams DNA for their stock.Andrew was brought back to the farm to help start the stud programme with our merinos ewes.He had a new haircut after is arrival with over 10kg of wool sheared .After a few weeks of rest from his travels,Andrew will start his new job and Abraham,our sheep Manager and the sheep team are very excited to have him here on Elandsberg- watch this space..!
With all the flowers around the bees are having a tough time pollinating them all. Luckily they have a helping hand in the form of Monkey beetles and various fly species. The down side is that the monkey beetles eat the pollen. In the end nature has a way of working things out.
Some of the pollen gets stuck to the body of these little creatures which is transported to several different flowers as they move around them, thus pollinating them. Be sure to watch them go about their business next time you are in die field as they provide great amusement while fulfilling a vital role in nature.
It is that time of the year where every day is warming up little by little. That means Spring is on the way. If you ask anyone living in the southern hemisphere they will tell you the 1st of September is the start of Spring. The reserve is starting to come alive with colour as the flowers start to gather in numbers awaiting this day. If the number of flowers that are already out is anything to go by, this might turn out to be a very good flower season. Be sure not to miss it!
The past 2 months saw a remarkable amount of rain fall on the reserve. The dam has gone from almost completely empty to just about 100%. The pictures show a steady increase in the dam level thanks to 250mm of rain funnelled in from the mountain side.
With the dam so full it is the perfect time to take a canoe and enjoy a relaxing row while taking in the scenery. Plenty of aquatic birdlife has also come back to spend a sunny day on the dam.
July is the month almost every sheep on the farm gets a haircut. This has to be a well-orchestrated event when there are close to 2600 sheep to sheer. Early morning signals the start of the sheering marathon which carries on until late afternoon. Once they received their trendy 2016 hairstyle they are returned to the flock to show off to their friends.
The wool on the other hand is first inspected. After any dirty bits of wool are removed it is sorted according to quality and length. Each of these piles is then compacted into bags to be sent to Pretoria where tests are done on it to determine the grade. The different grades are sold on auction and turned into the latest winter fashion for you to enjoy.
There was great excitement on the farm yesterday as some of the Geometric tortoise females were scanned to see if they are carrying any eggs. This is done with an ultra sound machine either by the back or the front legs. Once they have been scanned and recorded they are put back into the veld where they can safely lay their eggs. They will be monitored on a regular basis to see if we can expect any new additions to the Bartholomeus Klip family.
The past week has seen a bit of rain falling on the reserve filling a lot of the dams and streams. The first picture shows a view almost 180 degrees from Ronde dam. The rain also brings cold weather in the mornings with mist collecting on some of the bushes.When the sun comes out to warm everything it creates beautiful reflections on the drops.
Recent aerial photos by Lee Krawczyk-Brown show how the current absence of rainfall is affecting the dam at Bartholomeus Klip.
Its been a long wait for our new buffalo bull but Virgil has arrived and is settling in very nicely with his new herd.The cows have been very accomodating and Virgil is relaxed and adjusting to his new home.
At last we have captured an image of a leopard in our Reserve. Our Reserve manager believes it to be a new male not recorded before on Elandsberg Nature Reserve. The images will be sent through to the Cape Leopard Trust who can hopefully identify him.There were other images of the leopard spraying the bushes around the camera, hence our assumption that he is a male.We will keep you updated.
Here are the latest camera trap photographs, no leopard yet but some great images of all sorts of antelope,birds and mammals using the watering hole.
We are always looking for great photographs of the animals,scenery and plants in our Reserve to share. We have started off 2016 with some new camera traps placed around the Reserve to monitor the activity of the animals and to capture images of some of the more elusive night animals. For the past few weeks we have been able to capture the Aardwolf, Aardvark and Carcal on camera. We will be adding more regular posts and hope we will be able to share some images of the elusive leopard soon.
With the dry months ahead, the Reserve manager and the team undertook a capture, to control the population numbers and to protect the veld from overgrazing and maintain healthy populations of animals in our Reserve during the dry months. The Karoo Game team was on hand to assist with Black Wildebeest, Eland and Bontebok being moved. A few of the eland calves were donated to the Gantouw project in Cape Town and the Bontebok family groups have been relocated to various farms around the Cape.
With the chill in the air the winter is fast approaching.The veld is dry from the long summer and we are still waiting for a good pouring of rain. Our dam is the lowest in 15 years but the springs are still flowing and life continues on the farm.We have seen a few great sightings of the Geometric Tortoises in the Reserve and a glimpse of the Nerine humilis, a beautiful pink flower which grows upto 400mm tall.Its has a relatively wide distribution and is not a threathened species. These plants undergo a dormant summer period, so are able to survive long, hot and dry spells. Flying insects such as bees and butterflies easily pollinate the striking flowers that raise the stamens above the flower. The seeds are dispersed by wind along the ground.
It is the time of year on the farm when the tractors with their planters can be seen on the fields from early morning till after dusk. Wheat, barley and oats are planted aswell as canola which brightens the area with its yellow flower in August and September when it blooms.
Armed with their new camera the BK field guides have been able to photograph more of the wonderful sightings of animals, plants and birds seen on the nature drives.It has been a busy season and we are pleased to say the sightings of the Geometric Tortoises has increased this season and the game have been moving around the Reserve with more sightings of Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra closer the the dam.
Its been a great end to the week with the discovery of four newly hatched Geometric Tortoises in our Reserve. Jackie our tortoise keeper who was surveying the Reserve,came across the nest with the newly hatched tortoises. They were in good health and will be monitored very closely.
Heading off on the nature drives, you are never quite certian what you will see. Our guests were in for a treat yesterday with Daniel spotting a very large female Geometric Tortoise in the Road. A huge thanks to Mr Gamble for the lovley pictures.These critically endangered tortoises are solitary and are confined to a small corner of the Western Cape in lowland fynbos. Their lifespan is estimated to be around 20-35 years.Elandsberg Private Nature Reserve has the largest known population of the Geometric Tortoises.