‘The sharks I dodged, the tigers I slew,
what ate me up was the bedbugs.’
Copyright 2009, Hamilton-Fynch. All unauthorized reproduction strictly prohibited.
Any unauthorized re-distribution will be considered a copyright infringement and grounds for a
This book and the opinions and advice contained within it, is not a substitute for informed
medical or other opinion and advice.
Introduction: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 7
Chapter 1: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 10
Your Immune System ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 10
Boosting Your Resistance –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 11
Chapter 2: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 13
Large Mammals ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 13
Elephant ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 16
Hippo –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 18
Chapter 3: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 19
Reptiles –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-––––––––––––––––––– 19
Snakes ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 19
Types of Venom and Symptoms –––––––––––––––––––––––––– 20
Treatment of Snakebite –––––––––––––––––––––––––– 21
Avoiding Snakebite –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 22
First Aid for Snakebite ––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 22
Snakebite First Aid Summary ––––––––––––––––––––––– 24
Crocodiles ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 25
What To Do and What Not To Do ––----------------------------– 27
Chapter 4: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 29
Down by the Seaside ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 29
Sharks ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 29
What To Do and What Not To Do ––––––––––––––––––––––– 32
Bluebottles/Portuguese Man o’War ––––––––––––––––––––––––– 34
Stingrays ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 34
Mussels –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 34
Cone Shells ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 35
Moray Eels –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 35
Stone Fish –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 36
Electric Rays ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 37
Sea Urchins ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 37
Chapter 5: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 38
Insects and other Creepy Crawlies –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 38
Mosquitoes –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 39
Malaria ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 40
Malaria Symptoms –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 40
Anti-Malarial Drugs –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 41
Avoiding Mosquito Bites –––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 42
Mosquitoes and HIV ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 42
Flies ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 43
Chapter 11: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 71
Plants ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 71
Chapter 12: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 73
Sunburn / Sunstroke and Keeping Cool ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 73
Eye Irritations and Infections –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 75
Chapter 13: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 76
Important Vaccinations –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 76
Controversey ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 76
Tetanus –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77
Hepatitis ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77
Diphtheria ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77
Measles, Mumps, German Measles, –––––––––––––––––––––––– 77
Influenza –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77
Pneumococcal ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77
Chickenpox –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77
Chapter 14: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 78
Drinking Eating –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 78
Drinking ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 78
Eating ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 79
Chapter 15: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 80
Malaria Prophylactics–––––––––––––––––––––------––––––––––––––––– 80
Chapter 16: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 82
Personal Hygiene ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 82
Chapter 17: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 84
Storms and Lightning ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 84
Chapter 18: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 86
Personal Security –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 86
On the Street and on the Road –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 86
Mugging ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 88
Document Back-ups ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 89
Chapter 19: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 90
Travel First Aid –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 90
Hardware –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 92
Other Stuff ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 92
Chapter 20: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 93
Emergency / Survival Kits ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 93
A Basic Survival Kit ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 94
Luxury Survival Kit –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 95
In about 1175, Prester John wrote of the Afro-Indian region:-
‘. . . in our domains live elephants, dromedaries, camels,
hippopotami, crocodiles, metagallinari, cametenus, tinsirete,
panthers, onagers, red and white lions, white bears and black-
birds, mute cicadas, gryphos, tigers, jackals, hyenas, wild oxen,
centaurs, wild men, horned men, fauns and women of the same
species, pygmies, men with dog’s heads, giants forty cubits tall,
monocles, cyclops, a bird called the phoenix, and almost every
kind of animal that lives beneath the heavens.’
No wonder some people are a little Nile crocodile––well you were on
apprehensive about a holiday to the same river––and if you know the
Africa, and Prester John didn’t even crocodile performance specs. no
touch on all the interesting parasites one will doubt your story. An Ameri-
and diseases. can friend of mine, took this licence
a little too far (in my opinion) when
This book is about everything––well he claimed he’d almost been blown
lots of things––you don’t know up because he’d been here in the
about health risks you might face on Lowveld of South Africa at the same
a trip to Africa, and to equip you to time as a bomb blast in Cape Town
deal with them without paranoia. A 1,800 kilometres to the south.
list of things to look out for, cloaked
in a package that we hope you will Since so many of these health
find interesting and even entertaining; problems concern parasites, flesh
as Rossini boasted, eating microbes, and result in liquid
gut content spillage and copious
‘Give me a laundry list and I’ll amounts of blood following removal
of some portion of the anatomy,
set it to music.’
after dining story time is obligatory.
Actually many of these risks are glo-
Having said that, we have lived in
bally common throughout the tropics
Southern Africa for 40 years, largely
and sub-tropics––Mexico, Costa
outdoors in various natural habi-
Rica, Belize, Thailand, Malaysia,
tats in the region, from the ocean
India and the rest. Africa at least
to sand forests, savannahs and
doesn’t have that loathsome little
swamps, and apart from bilharzia,
Amazon fish the candiru, that is
two or three spider bites, a couple of
alleged to swim up your urine
scorpion stings, a single squirt from
stream, although scientific opinion
some sort of acid spraying beetle in
suggests that is an urban myth.
a suburban bed, another squirt from
a spitting cobra, and thousands of
Those problems that you are most
mosquito and sand fly bites, we
likely to experience are given the
have escaped unscathed. I did once
most space, but you ought to know
get bitten by a not very poisonous
about some of the others, because
snake, but I had provoked it just to
they provide good material for post-
see what it was like to be bitten. In
prandial stories and make you seem
fact my only serious injuries inflicted
more intrepid. You could dine out for
by an animal were administered
years on how you narrowly escaped
by a neighbour's rotweiler and a
becoming breakfast for a six metre
runaway horse. What follows is a ‘If I don’t know I know, I think Although there is much of impor-
guide only. It’s not intended to be a I don’t know’. tance to anyone on a tour bus or
substitute for informed professional even living in Africa in the book, a
medical advice––which means your good deal of it is for those of you
Although if you are sensible, you
G.P. may not be the best advisor who are off on your own adventure
are unlikely to suffer any severe
either. You need to distinguish and out from under the protective
illness or unfortunate encounter
between a doctor with 25 years’ wing of a guide.
with wildlife during your trip, if
experience and a doctor with one
you do, the consequences could
year’s experience repeated 25 If you do get off the beaten track,
be serious. Take care, but don’t
times and who needs to read the a little common sense and knowl-
be paranoid, measure the risks,
package insert when prescribing edge might save you spending your
take precautions and follow up on
your tropical disease prophylaxis or holiday hunched over a toilet bowl.
anything you feel is an uncertainty–
treatment. Although a good part of Africa 'ain’t
–above all enjoy yourself.
for sissies'––it’s not Europe or the
Specific travel health advice is USA––whatever you might think
The fact is that the economy of
important on an individual basis, after visiting Johannesburg or
much of Africa is increasingly de-
to take into account the personal Cape Town. Your consciousness of
pendent on tourism. Africa is home
health of the traveller, medical and possible threats is likely to be no
to around 1,100 species of
immunisation history, intended more than liminal except if you are
mammals, Southern Africa alone
activities, itinerary, style of travel, in real trouble. You'll have a great
has about 300 species of land
type of accommodation, time of time and you'll never forget Africa.
mammals, 37 species of marine
year, altitude and length of stay.
mammals and over 900 species
Whether to have some vaccines or
of birds. There is spectacularly
not, such as rabies and tuberculo-
diverse scenery, from savannahs
sis, may be very much influenced
and forests to the ±4,000 metre
by specific destinations, risk and
Drakensberg, the volcanoes of East
length of stay. In the context of
Africa, the incomparably dry Namib,
malaria, locality specific and up-
coastal mangroves and wetlands.
to-date advice is essential. British
As result, Africa is a premier
Airways travel clinics are an excel-
destination for eco-tourists.
Tour operators, hotels and lodges
You should not underestimate the
have made huge investments in
potential for ‘health challenges’ (or
their operations and just can’t
in plain English, to get very sick,
afford to have guests falling prey to
injured or worse) to ruin your day.
wild animals or contracting diseases
from their kitchens.
Take the perspective of philosopher
R. D. Laing seriously;
Your Immune System
What you need to remember is that you do have an immune
system, which has evolved, according to some opinions, from a
viral infection of one of our remote animal ancestors and which
now resides in your system. As for which ancestor, well not
everyone is comfortable with even their recent evolutionary
origins but we’re not talking Neanderthals, Australopithicines or
even apes here, we’re talking about an ancestor that will make
you much more uncomfortable, a lamprey, some 450 million
years ago; it’s a parasite itself.
You also have a well-developed There are three main defence It’s actually your own
and instinctive sense of repulsion systems, the anatomic response; immune system that provides
at the thought of close contact the inflammatory response; and the
the protection, not your
with many things that are poten- immune response. The anatomic
tially dangerous, from flies, oozing defence is the simplest and taken doctor or the immunisation
wounds and stinking drains to for granted. It includes protection fluid itself, so have faith in
crocodiles. Independent of age, by the skin, nostrils, mucous your immune system.
culture and gender it’s a good membranes that line our lungs, and
instinct to follow. stomach acids, all of which either
kill or isolate most potential infec- Boosting your resistance
tions. The second line of defence is There are some things you can do
About six billion people,
the inflammatory response, which to enhance your natural resistance.
actually the world’s entire
causes increased inflammation and
population, are exposed to If you’re coming from a temperate
an allergic response at the site of
innumerable bacteria, viruses an invasion and finally, there is the climate and have a skin unused to
and fungi every day. immune response, your system’s sun, you can raise your skin’s
ultimate weapon against infections. protective capacity and reduce
Many of these are potentially lethal, potential cancerous damage by
but 450 million years of evolution Occasionally, when viruses, bacteria boosting your anti-oxidant intake
has given us an immune system and other organisms mutate, or two months or so before you leave
that protects us––under most when you move to a new environ- home.
circumstances. ment with a new suite of diseases
unfamiliar to your immune system, During this period and during your
Our immune system is a sophisti- or if you suffer a heavy invasion by visit, many health practitioners
cated, interactive masterpiece com- viruses and bacteria, it can’t cope recommend a supplement of 1,000
prised of an array of cells, tissues and that’s when you’ll need help. mg per day of Vitamin C, 500-550
and enzymes, each with specific Remember that there are people mg of Vitamin E and a carotene
tasks, and all working together to with immune systems so efficient cocktail.
provide defence. It works so well that they are able to carry hepatitis
that the great majority of a vast and typhoid without suffering ill Cider vinegar and olive oil
airborne mist and waterborne soup effects themselves––and just look taken together, and a glass
of infections, from viruses to blood at what your dog can eat without
of red wine (or two or three)
parasites are easily eliminated. even throwing up.
As a whole, it’s one of the most
is said to be a good way
complex biological systems known, Immunisation simulates natural to get a shot of vitamins,
and your best defence against infections and allows your body to including Vitamins E and C
health problems whilst travelling is prepare immune responses ahead and a belt of antioxidants
to maintain it. of time. Trust your doctor if he
Some naturopaths recommend information, is even more ily, provided they are addressed
cutting down sugar intake, paying enthusiastic about red wine than quickly, although sometimes
special attention to a high intake I, so in this instance I invariably treatment spans a longish time
of dark green leafy vegetables choose his advice since it usually frame.
and citrus, and taking pro-biotic involves red wine consumption to
supplements which boost the level support the immune system. Don’t count on cures for encounters
of protective bacteria in your gut. with large crocodiles or large
Echinacea is also said to boost If your immune system does let you mammals, they are much faster
your immune system. I’m inclined down, pretty much all the and far stronger than you imagine
towards homeopathy but consequences of suffering an at- and after a close encounter you
unfortunately, most naturopaths are tack by any of the creatures (apart may have no need for medical
less enthusiastic about red wine from the heavy duty ones with assistance at all. Your immune
than I am. My doctor, actually a teeth) and diseases which follow system won’t be of much help either.
pathologist so he has inside are curable, more or less eas-
The best advice with regard to wildlife encounters is to ignore the
TV programmes that stage encounters suggesting you can take
liberties with wild animals and walk away from the experience.
Perhaps you might survive––but probably not. Treat wildlife with
great respect. Most people will instinctively avoid the obvious ‘red
in tooth and claw’ threats, like lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo, but
beware the apparently laid-back elephant and hippo.
So there we were, a warm after- but it can also happen in the short deaths caused by hippopotamus.
noon in the bush, driving along in grass. And if you do survive the The seventh victim was killed by a
our pick-up, obeying the speed initial biting, clawing, goring and bull elephant with toothache.
limit, not drinking beer (I have trampling, then make sure you get
friends who might dispute this, and expert medical treatment. Wounds During the same period there were
I did once hear the BBC’s Jeremy rapidly turn septic, you may 14 non-fatal attacks on tourists,
Clarkson claim it was obligatory contract tetanus, and/or a severe including five by hippo, three by
to be drunk whilst driving a pick- and resistant staphylococcal buffalo, two by rhino, and one each
up truck), ticking birds off our subsidiary infection, and most by a lion, leopard, zebra and a
list, when we came across a car threatening of all, rabies. musth elephant (a bull elephant
stopped in the middle of the road. looking for a party). All except the
A short, stout, balding man, pale Any bite from a wild animal, incident involving the elephant in
as a gecko’s belly, wearing pink musth took place when tourists were
or even domestic if you don't
pastel shirt and pale blue shorts, on foot. Without a guide you are
know the owner, should be
white socks and sandals––German likely to make mistakes and to mis-
for sure––was wandering from the treated as if the animal had interpret animals' behaviour––and
road into the long grass waving a rabies. if you try to approach them they will
video camera in the direction of almost certainly misinterpret yours.
a giraffe. His wife was spreading The treatment is no longer the un-
a picnic on the bonnet of the car. pleasant series of large injections Don’t take risks, and make
Thing is, this was the Kruger Park into your abdomen that it used to sure your guide, if you are on
and apart from it being illegal to be. Untreated, the consequences of
foot, knows exactly what he
wander about on foot, it’s not what rabies are as fatal as ever.
informed adventurers do. Giraffes or she is doing.
routinely kick lions to death and this In the 10 years from 1988 to 1997
guy didn’t even have a rough beard South Africa requires that field
seven tourists, were killed by wild
or a copper bracelet. guides pass a stringent training
mammals in South Africa. Three of
programme to make your wildlife
the four deaths from lions were a
experience both memorable and
Almost all mammals from result of sheer stupidity when tour-
squirrels to lions and ists on foot tried to take close-ups
of lion prides without the benefit of
elephants will bite, gore, rip,
a telephoto lens. In general, when in wildlife
kick or trample you if they areas, stay in your car, raise
feel threatened or provoked. An inquiry found that the fourth the windows when there are
death was caused by negligence
baboons close by and give
Peter Hathaway Capstick, who on the part of management of a
way to game on the road.
earned full colours for hunting in game reserve. Ignorance of animal
Africa, once wrote about it––it’s behaviour and a flagrant disregard
called ‘Death in the Long Grass’–– of rules were the cause of two
Incidentally if you are thinking of feeding
baboons you might like to know that a large
male baboon has larger canines than a lion,
so if you do embark on a feeding
relationship that turns sour when he
decides he wants everything you have to
eat in the vehicle, you can expect trouble.
Would you offer a Hell’s Angel a
beer and then tell him you were
saving the rest for later? I don’t think
There are two mammals perceived as
essentially non-threatening but with which
tourists habitually take liberties, and both of these
are extremely dangerous––elephant and
Be especially wary of elephants, don’t try to
thread your car through a herd on the road
and particularly don’t get between a cow
and her calf. Adults in herds are always
mostly females and they always have
calves of various ages in the herd.
Protective mothers with young calves
are much more dangerous than the big
old bulls. Adolescent and full grown
males tend to be alone or in small
groups of two or three and
unless they have a hangover, a
wound or are hell-bent on some
recreational time with a female,
they are not usually a problem.
The lone males with the dark wet
patches running down their faces
from the glands between their
ears and eyes are
elephants to avoid, these are
the ones in musth. For that
you can read extreme sexual
tension. When these males
encounter you, they feel as
you did when you had just
passed your driving test and
finally are in a car at a drive-
in movie with your dream girl,
the windows steamed up,
movie forgotten, necks already
bruising––and then a popcorn
vendor knocks on your window.
To the elephant you are the
If one of these bulls approaches
you, reverse calmly until you can
get out of his way (this works for
popcorn vendors too). You may fill it with fruit (or popcorn) and then Keep your engine running if you’re
have to reverse a long way –– we spend an idyllic two weeks in the watching a herd with young at close
once had to do this for a kilometre. pit eating fruit and making love. quarters. At picnic sites, especially
If you are somehow stuck in your if you are the only people there,
car between an elephant and a keep your eyes peeled. Elephants
Do not drive too close to
hard place, keep cool, and if a move almost silently and before
elephant and pay attention to
charge looks serious i.e. his/her you know it, several can be
trunk down or rolled up and ears their behaviour, they will let sharing your picnic (they are very
back against the sides of the head, you know when you are fond of oranges).
try revving your engine, s/he may getting too close. If you think
change its mind––or not. Remember picnic sites are
they are uneasy, they
probably are. Keep an exit just another piece of real
Incidentally, talking of drive-in
movie theatres, it’s not true that route open––avoid ‘rock and
when elephants pair they dig a pit, a hard place’ scenarios.
Hippos (although you may see bubbles or Unlikely as it may sound, hippos
Thinking of a kayak trip and you a vague v-shaped wake marking are sometimes also found in the
think crocodiles are dangerous? their track). sea, close to estuary mouths.
Well so they are, but:
They are especially In many areas, numbers of
Hippos kill more people in aggressive when courting wild mammals are greater
Africa than any other females or busy with than they have been for a
large animal. territorial disputes. hundred years. Leopards are
now common in many places,
Take this quote in a Lowveld Hippos tend to stay in the same
including some suburban
newspaper by a fisherman who pools with deep water and
had shared a pool with a hippo
areas. At night, in the camps
sandbanks for long periods, so
and been bitten when he tried to guides generally know where to in reserves, stay tuned in to
retrieve his nets. ‘I was surprised expect them. If you’re on foot, take what is happening around
to see my intestines hanging out.’ care in and near shady places on you. Although you will feel
–– well you would be wouldn’t you? river banks in the afternoon where
very secure, all the big five
He was lucky. they might hang out, especially if a
and many other mammals
nearby known favourite pool looks
Wildlife photographers Des and uncharacteristically quiet. including hippo have been
Jen Bartlett have a brilliant found inside fence lines, and
underwater hippo sequence during If you get between them and the many camps do not have a
which they are almost bitten in two water you are likely to be ground
fence at all. Use a torch and
(well into four I suppose, there are bait for crocodiles.
two of them) by a hippo. Des got a
don’t creep about. If there is
tusk through his calf and Jen a tusk In particular, hippo might make their anything around, you ought
through her face mask. way from rivers and waterholes to ensure it knows you’re
Give them a wide berth when onto the lawns of camps to graze coming before you’re forced
you’re in a boat (hippos, not Des ––‘Death in the Short Grass’––and
to meet without the benefit of
and Jen Bartlett), take care if they it has happened more than once.
seem aggressive and submerge
with their business end pointed in
your direction because they cover
a lot of ground along the bottom
where you can’t see them
Most people are unreasonably frightened of snakes, most
snakes, over 80% in Africa, are harmless. But that means 20%
are venomous (not ‘poisonous’, a little technical perspective
that game guides like to use to intimidate you), and you need to
avoid a confrontation with them. There are an estimated 20,000
snakebite deaths per year in Africa (WHO).
If you do see a snake, you will be it ruined the weekend. Never, ever If you find a snake in your
extremely lucky, most people never confess if you lose a large snake in hut, call someone to take it
see a snake, much less one of the your home.
more exciting ones; dangerous and
both chilling and beautiful, like a In all probability, by the time Keep your eye on it all the time
you see it, the snake will and try not to frighten it into moving
already be on its way to as somewhere that will make it hard
The best thing to do is to to catch. All snakes are extremely
far from you as possible. If
freeze until it leaves, or if you good at disappearing into the back
not, then give it room. Don’t
just can’t stand the tension, of fridges, into stoves, bedsprings,
try to catch or kill it. and apparently the thin air of
make a very slow retreat.
Spitting cobras and rinkhals can
A 300 mile round trip, hitch
spray venom two or three metres
hiking both ways to bring a Types of venom symptoms
so be cautious. Snakebite (except
girlfriend teaching in a distant It greatly assists decisions on treat-
in a bottle) is extremely unusual in
school back to my place for the ment if you know what snake has
tourist environments. Don’t even
weekend. It’s dark and late, but the bitten you. If you don't, the symp-
think about it––but if it does
candles have been lit, the wine cork toms, if there are any, will fairly
happen, follow the drill.
popped, a casserole bubbling on quickly give a reliable indication of
the wood stove. The salad is pre- which major group has inflicted the
Very small, newly hatched
pared; extra virgin olive oil, balsamic bite.
vinegar. A crisp baguette laced with snakes are as venomous
garlic and butter is warming in the as adults, so be cautious. The neurotoxic venoms of most
oven filling the house with a rich Some species such as cobras and mambas which affect
and savoury fragrance. the entire nervous system are indi-
rinkhals and some cobras,
cated by slurred speech, drooping
sham death very
‘Time for a quick shower?’ she eyelids and difficulty both swallow-
asked––’Yes, just let me catch my convincingly, so don’t pick
ing and breathing.
python in the bathroom first’. I had one up because it looks dead
been given a three metre python and you’d like a snakeskin Cytotoxic venoms destroy tissue
as I was leaving home, and locking and are standard issue to adders
it in the bathroom seemed a good and spitting cobras. They cause
idea at the time, now it’s missing. pain and swelling at the bite and
Thread a snake shamming death
Losing a three metre python and in the affected limb, and swollen
through your belt loops and subse-
worse, admitting it and trying to lymph glands. The tissue damage
quent necrosis may determine the
get your date to help you hunt for and necrosis (tissue death) can
extent of your family line.
it is a mistake. I never found it and result in gangrene in the affected
although a non-venomous snake, limb and even parts of the torso
well removed from the site of the Most of the stories of dying in especially in the field, because
punctures, weeks after the initial minutes are fantasy and there are of the risk of anaphylactic shock.
bite. Most bites in Africa are much better fantasies to indulge in Asthmatics or people who have
inflicted by puff adders. if you’re headed to hospital––like been treated previously, are
Juliette Binoche, the nurse in the especially vulnerable. In hospital,
movie “The English Patient”–– antivenin, drips, antihistamines,
Slow acting cytotoxic venoms
although I think you’ll find the small blood transfusions and respiratory
may take days to kill you. print in your insurance policy support are routinely administered.
indemnifies your insurer against
Boomslangs and vine snakes have
failing to supply a similar nurse. Even without treatment, most
haemotoxic venoms which destroy
Unless a fang penetrates a blood
your blood vessels, but they are people survive the bites of
vessel, you probably have at least
rarely seen, are back-fanged and most venomous snakes.
12 hours before death, even with-
so find it difficult to sink their fangs
out supportive first aid. However
into you, except on fingers and
a black mamba can deliver up
toes and perhaps wrists, but they
to 400 mg of venom; 10-15
are not aggressive. However if you
mg will kill an adult. Without
are bitten by one of these, medical
treatment is essential.
from mamba bites might be
in anything from 15
Untreated severe bites from minutes to three hours.
these snakes will almost
certainly be fatal; antivenin is Treatment of snakebite
Treatment today is largely
not readily available but since
supportive, with a reluctance
the venom acts slowly there by doctors to use anti
is time to find venin,
There are powerful little suction There may be long-term effects around barefoot at night. Oops!
kits which may help suck out some and life support systems may be You’ve been bitten!
of the venom, but they have to be necessary.
used immediately. Sucking the bite
Firstly don’t panic, get out of
with your mouth probably won’t If you keep a cool head, the way and try to get a look
help and could be dangerous; and
ultimately you are almost
besides, if you’re on your own at the snake.
certain to make a full recovery
you’re likely to experience extreme
difficulty sucking the back of your even if bitten by a black Admittedly this is not easy in the
knee joint. mamba. dark, but it is important because
you may not have been bitten by a
Non-venomous snakes such as venomous snake at all.
Your time would be better
pythons can sometimes cause
spent applying a compres-
problems since many of them eat Don’t take chances––two
sion bandage and making rats and so may have a whole suite bites are much, much worse
a phone call. Venom in the of infective agents living on their
than one. The symptoms will
eyes is extremely painful but teeth. Pythons in particular can
indicate which venom has
it can be washed out with inflict very nasty tearing bites
susceptible to infection and leave been administered.
water, cold tea or even urine.
teeth embedded in the wound.
Just be sure the irrigation of the If a snake bites and hangs on
eye is thorough and get medical Avoiding snakebite to you, don’t let it chew. Pull it
advice. A vet told me to wipe my To avoid bites, take reasonable off and throw it away in a nice
dog’s cornea lightly with cotton care––step onto and not over logs smooth motion, but be quick
wool whilst irrigating it with and rocks, wear shoes and baggy
or it will bite your hand.
water after the dog had received trousers, especially at night, look
a serious spray of cobra venom. It where you put your feet, where
brought off a mucous film stuck to you put your hand when you grab If someone is bitten by a
the cotton wool; and in answer to branches in trees, keep your tent snake, assume it's venomous
your question, urine in a healthy zipped up and shake out your if you are not sure. Phone
person is sterile. sleeping bag, clothes and shoes for help and keep the victim
before you get into them.
still and reassured in order to
A snakebite is going to hurt
slow down fluid transport in
quite a lot and be very First aid for snakebite the body. The most important
unpleasant for the victim. Of course you may have been
thing is to get the patient to a
watching too much television, know
better and try to catch your snake, doctor, preferably in a
or you may have been walking hospital.
It’s a great help if you can alert let the victim lie down and wait If they bite, they may strike repeat-
the hospital in advance so that the for help to arrive. It may not be edly with the sharp end well off the
proper treatment can be planned possible to do this so the next ground. Many victims of mambas
before you get there. option is to carry the victim and have been bitten on the head and
the last, have the victim walk slowly torso which makes first aid much
More than 95% of snake to transport or help. more difficult.
bites are on a limb. Keep the
Do not use ice or a I understand that in Oz, a
bitten limb immobilised, use a popular outback pastime is to
tourniquet, these can both
splint. grab a snake by the tail, swing it
make matters worse, and around your head and then crack
Use of a compression bandage is especially don’t start slashing it like a whip, which tears off the
controversial, but CSL, the company about the bite with a blade. head, bonzer blokes or what? An
that manufactures antivenins in Ozzie friend thinks so but says she
Australia where snake bite treat- Cutting the bite doesn’t help at wouldn’t like to marry one of them.
ment is perhaps the most advanced all and unless you happen to be
in the world, recommends wrapping a surgeon you may sever major The possibility of snakebite has
the limb in a firm (about as tight blood vessels, tendons and nerves. been greatly exaggerated by films,
as a blood pressure cuff) but not In any case venom is transported and folklore.
strangulation tight bandage for the primarily through lymph vessels.
whole length of the limb if you can
organise it. Several crepe band- Black mambas are often large and
ages may be necessary. If possible aggressive and always fast.
Puff adder Julius Rückert http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Crocodiles they are mostly found in game actually hunting you down I can’t
Although messing with crocodiles is reserves especially Kruger Park, say––although I can guess. Under-
apparently another Ozzie pastime, and in KwaZulu-Natal. In Botswana water, their eyeballs are protected
I would recommend you don’t take there are good numbers in the by a nictitating membrane so they
any chances with these animals. Okavango and in Namibia and don’t see well, although they are
They are ancestors of birds and Angola, in the Cunene system. In very sensitive to vibrations.
have excellent eyesight. I don’t Zimbabwe and Zambia they are still
know of any extensive work on widely distributed, especially in the Above water, crocs see very
their visual acuity but since they Zambezi and Luangwa rivers, and
well, which is why they keep
are predators and ancestors of in Lake Kariba.
surfacing to check out where
birds their vision might be as good
as that of birds of prey. They have Nile crocs can reach six metres you are sitting on the bank
been refining their hunting tech- and weigh 1,000 kilogrammes but enjoying your sundowner.
niques for 200 million years or so animals over three metres have
and have got so good at it, that become uncommon. They take their prey in the water or
whilst we are all working on self- from right on the water’s edge and
improvement, they don’t need to In spite of their relative rarity can cover the last few metres faster
bother and have hardly changed for than you can react if you’ve been
crocs can turn up in almost
100 million years. Tune in to that, surprised, especially if you’re on
any warm water body, so
100 million years ago your ances- your third or fourth GT.
tor was just a rat-sized mammal
assume that all lakes,
struggling to avoid becoming a dams and rivers are home to Some traditional magico-medicinal
cocktail snack for a crocodile––and crocodiles, unless your guide plants such as white thorn (Acacia
crocodiles had already achieved polyacantha) are believed to keep
can give you good reasons
perfection, and that with a brain of crocodiles away from bathing and
only the size and shape of a good watering points but I would suggest
Havana cigar. that you don’t place too much faith
In particular, after floods they can
turn up in places where they have
Over the last century or so they
not previously been recorded––
have taken a hammering from Although crocs are designed to
such as lodge swimming pools.
hunters shooting them for the belly take their prey in the water and not
leather and taking revenge for the on land, a good guideline might be
If you’re fishing or enjoying an
fate of their canapé ancestors. A to keep out of the water and three
evening gin and tonic on a river
long time to hold a grudge. In metres from the water’s edge. In a
bank, you will sometimes see one
recent years crocodiles have canoe, don’t take chances. There
slither off a bank opposite and
become rare over much of Africa. is at least one incidence of some-
submerge, reappearing a little
one being taken from a canoe by a
while later headed in your direction.
There are very few in Swaziland crocodile––unusual to be sure but it
Whether it’s just curiosity or if it’s
and Mozambique. In South Africa has happened.
Most attacks on people take Your friends could help However we are talking about small
place during high summer so though. They can poke crocs here, let’s say up to 80 or 90
kilos and two metres long.
that’s when you need to be pointed sticks into the croc.
especially vigilant. particularly its eyes; or beat
A six metre croc. can pull a
its nose––better still empty a
The winter months are too cold in fully grown buffalo into the
handgun into it.
general for crocs to be very active water.
and so if you’re planning a canoe
Handguns, especially .357
trip on the Zambezi you might want If you think a pointed stick is going
Magnums and bigger are much
to consider that time of the year. to help you in that scenario –– well
more effective than pointed sticks.
Crocs are plentiful in estuaries such dream on. Still, according to Pliny
We know several people who have
as the St. Lucia estuary in South the Elder, crocodiles always weep
survived as a result; and inciden-
Africa, where from time to time they after eating someone, so you know
tally all of them were taken whilst
eat anglers. After floods you may they will feel bad about having
wading, not from the bank.
even see them in the surf, which eaten you.
should suggest to you that you do
your swimming and surfing far from
the estuary mouth.
If you do get grabbed, try to poke
your fingers in its eyes (although to
be honest you’re likely to be too
shocked and fighting for breath
to know what’s
C O N S E R V AT I O N P L A N H A N D B O O K
Tony A. Ferrar and Mervyn C. Lötter
C H A P T E R 6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
M P U M A L A N G A’ S E C O S Y S T E M S
An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living
environment, interacting as a functional unit (NEMA). Ecosystems operate at various scales; from a
single wetland to an entire region such as a range of mountains. Groups of ecosystems with common
characteristics at a landscape scale are called biomes. This chapter briefly describes Mpumalanga’s main
ecosystems, with some notes on their functioning, diversity and ecological status.
6.1 TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS
Mpumalanga is a warm summer-rainfall province, containing three of South Africa’s nine biomes: grassland
(highveld and escarpment hills), savanna (escarpment foothills and lowveld) and forest (south and east
facing escarpment valleys). Descriptions of these biomes are useful in understanding the biodiversity and
ecological characteristics of the Province (Table 6.1). A map of the biomes is included in Figure 6.1.
MPUMALANGA BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
TABLE 6.1 Extent of Mpumalanga’s three biomes.
BIOME TOTAL SIZE (km2) % OF REMAINING %TRANSFORMED
Grassland 531 61% 298 44%
Savanna 338 39% 255 25%
Greenshank Forest 40 0.5% 39 1%
Total 874 100% 558 36%
Most species are TRANSFORMATION
completely dependent on
Transformation refers to the removal or radical disturbance of natural vegetation, for
a narrow range of example by crop agriculture, plantation forestry, mining or urban development.
Transformation mostly results in: a serious and permanent loss of biodiversity, fragmentation
environmental of ecosystems, and leads to the failure of ecological processes. Remnants of biodiversity
may survive in transformed landscapes.
conditions and the food
and shelter offered by The MBCP transformation layer was created by merging the 1995 and 2000 National Land
Cover maps. These maps were created from satellite images that had been classified (by the
those conditions. Even CSIR and ARC) into various land-use types, using remote sensing techniques. The MBCP
small changes can have transformation layer is the best available representation of lost natural habitat based on
composite, six-year-old data. The composite layer was cross-checked against a false-colour
lasting and devastating satellite image taken in 2000, allowing mis-classified areas to be corrected.
effects on whole
populations. Birds like Grassland defines itself: landscapes dominated by grass. Although grasses are the most visible
plants, grasslands have a higher diversity of other herbaceous species, especially those with
the migrant greenshank
below-ground storage organs such as bulbs or tubers. These plants produce many of our
are not rare but they are spectacular wild flowers and contribute to biodiversity that is second only to the Cape Fynbos
in species richness. Grassland species are particularly well adapted to being defoliated,
restricted to feeding in whether by grazing, fire or frost. Repeated defoliation, within reason, does no real harm to
such plants nor does it reduce productivity.
water between about
40mm and 120mm deep. African grasslands are particularly old, stable and resilient ecosystems. Most plants are
perennials and surprisingly long lived, with very few annual species, which are the pioneer
plants needed to repair disturbance. This makes our grasslands vulnerable to destruction by
cultivation; once ploughed they are invaded by weedy pioneer plants that are mostly alien.
Although many grassland plants do produce seed, very little germinates, most being used as
vital food for their rich rodent and insect fauna.
Mpumalanga’s grasslands are mainly found in the highveld above 1000m. These are cool,
dry open landscapes, with rainfall of over 500mm/yr. Frost, hail storms and lightning strikes
M P U M A L A N G A
are common. It is the natural occurrence of fire and these other defoliating events that favour
grassland plants over woody species and help maintain the open treeless character of grass-
lands. Grasslands have shallow rooted vegetation with a growing season limited to about six
months of the year. The non-growing seasons are characterised by cool and dry conditions,
during which time most foliage is removed or killed by frost, and dies back to ground level.
10 CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
CHAPTER 6 - MPUMALANGA’S ECOSYSTEMS
Large parts of our grasslands occur on deep fertile soils of will not pick them up and special skills are required to locate
high agricultural value. Much of this landscape has already and identify them reliably. Highest biodiversity is found in
been converted to crops, timber or intensive animal produc- rocky grassland habitats and on sandy soils. Clay soils generally
tion. The unproductive winter and spring seasons in have the lowest biodiversity in grasslands.
grassland require agricultural strategies for livestock and culti- SAVANNA
vation that bridge this gap in economic productivity. Crop Savanna is the name for the typically African mixture of
rotation, cultivated pastures and fallow intervals as well as trees, shrubs and grass, also referred to as the bushveld, and
supplementary feeding of livestock, including the use of crop at lower altitudes, the lowveld. It varies from tall dense
residues, are all part of good farming practice in these woodland in the warmest, wettest areas, through open
regions. woodland to dense thicket. It includes wooded, shrubby hill
slopes, and grassy plains with scattered trees or bush-clumps.
Grasslands originally covered 61% of Mpumalanga, but 44% Diversity in savanna is provided by variation in soil-type and
of this has been transformed by agriculture and other topography; koppies, river lines and anthills (termitaria)
development. This substantial and irreversible reduction of provide localised changes in soil moisture and nutrients
the biome is due mainly to cultivation, especially industrial- which create different habitats for plants and animals.
scale agriculture and timber growing. These land uses
destroy biodiversity but extensive livestock grazing can be Savanna used to cover 39% of Mpumalanga, but 25% of the
reasonably biodiversity-friendly, provided good management original area of savanna has been transformed. Savannas are
and safe stocking rates are applied. important for livestock, especially cattle and more recently
the wildlife and tourism industry. Broad-leaved and woody
The palatability of grass, its value as food for livestock, plants provide a valuable food source for browsers like kudu
increases with decreasing rainfall, which is also correlated and giraffe. Grazing quality varies with rainfall: as rainfall
with altitude. In grazing terms, this corresponds to sourveld increases, the nutritional value of grass decreases although
in the moist highveld and sweet-veld in the dryer lowveld. there’s more growth; in low rainfall areas there is less grass
This grass palatability gradient extends from grassland into but it is more nutritious.
savannas. Although sweetveld grasses produce less biomass
than sourveld grasses, they have higher food value and lower Rain is frequently delivered in thunder-storm events with a
fibre. This means the plant nutrients are more available in high proportion of surface runoff. This creates flash flooding
lower rainfall areas due to less leaching of the soil by high and vulnerability to soil erosion. The amount of rain that
rainfall. The 650mm rainfall isoline approximately separates remains available to plants is reduced by the long hot dry-
these two livestock zones. seasons, creating a strong water-deficit where evaporation far
exceeds rainfall. This is an important limitation for production
Fire is a characteristic feature of grassland (and savannas) and land uses for agriculture and livestock. Only the most fertile
is a necessary component of good land management. deeper soils are used for cultivation. Bush encroachment or
Grassland plants depend on fire, they re-sprout annually ‘induced thicket’ can result from over-grazing by livestock.
from their root-stocks. Without frequent fire, grasslands Bush encroachment reduces carrying capacity and is difficult
eventually become invaded with woody species and some to reverse, reducing the value of the land for livestock.
herbaceous plants die. Regular burning to complement good
grazing management helps to prevent the increase of species Savannas are hotter than grasslands and are deciduous, i.e.
unpalatable to livestock, including woody species that form most plants loose their leaves or die back in the dry season
bush encroachment. Timber growing is mainly restricted to to conserve water. The woody plants are deep rooted,
grasslands but its impact is not limited to the plantation accessing moisture not available to grasses and herbs. The
“footprint”. It significantly reduces surface and underground winter and spring seasons (May – October) are dry and have
water and causes the spread of some of the most damaging high water-stress for plants. This increases the likelihood of
alien species. These effects, along with flammability of its bushfires. Savannas are adapted to bushfires; grass and
tree species and the fire protection measures required, also woody plants survive them well, so long as they are not too
M P U M A L A N G A
substantially changes the fire regime in grasslands. frequent or too fierce. A good wet season means lots of grass
which in turn provides more fuel to burn and raises the risk
The large number of rare and endangered species in of damaging wildfires late in the dry season.
grasslands, are a particular problem for environmental impact
assessment. They are mostly small, very localised and visible for
only a few weeks in the year when they flower. Most surveys
CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK 11
MPUMALANGA BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
The term ‘forest’ is used only for indigenous natural forests. In this sense commercial timber
plantations are not forests. Indigenous evergreen trees that form a closed canopy are defined
as forests. This year-round cover provides so much shade and moisture-conserving leaf litter,
it limits the growth of ground-layer plants like grass. Forests have little to offer to livestock
and are located mostly on steep slopes with sensitive soils not suited to cultivation.
Forests are normally frost-free. Their dense vegetation and shade allow higher humidity and
lower temperatures than surrounding areas. This means forest patches do not normally burn
in bush-fires except around the perimeter. Very hot fires can shrink forests by continually
Crocodylus niloticus eroding their edges. The vulnerability of the forest edge to fire is considerably increased by
the presence of alien plants such as wattle, which increases the penetration of fire into
Crocodiles were once
found in almost all warm In Mpumalanga, forests occur in small scattered patches, mostly in river valleys in the escarp-
ment region. They require high rainfall (over 725mm/yr) boosted through the dry season by
waters in Africa. These groundwater from associated streams and added precipitation in the form of mist. Their
ancient reptiles extend scattered distribution and small patch size means they have rich biodiversity. This is
dependent on the connectedness of patches, achieved through riverine linkages and access
back in time even before by specialised forest fauna such as birds and monkeys. Forest patches are vulnerable to
many impacts due to their high edge-to-area ratio.
the last of the dinosaurs
and have hardly changed Forests have significant cultural values as sources of traditional medicines and spiritual
inspiration. Commercial harvesting of valuable plants and medicinal species, and the
in their bodily form over need for structural timber, are the main pressures on forest biodiversity. From a scenic and
wilderness point of view forests are very popular with visitors. Their location and interplay
the last 100 million years.
with rivers and mountains provides the backdrop to much of Mpumalanga’s most popular
Persecution, hunting for scenic attractions. Hiking trails are strung with forest patches like beads on a necklace,
running through the escarpment region. Indigenous forests protect water sources rather than
their hides and a dry them out, as is the case with timber plantations of pine and gum trees.
dwindling habitat as a
Within biomes there are many ecosystems that can be defined at different scales. A useful
result of drainage and way of classifying biodiversity within biomes is to use vegetation types as surrogates for
ecosystems. Vegetation types work well for terrestrial ecosystems but do not effectively cover
other human intervention the important aquatic or freshwater systems.
has led to a great decline
in their numbers. In
South Africa they are now
virtually restricted to the
larger protected areas.
M P U M A L A N G A
12 CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
CHAPTER 6 - MPUMALANGA’S ECOSYSTEMS
FIGURE 6.1: Distribution of three biomes and 68 vegetation types in Mpumalanga.
Space precludes the inclusion of a key for the main map, see the MBCP CD Rom for details.
MPUMALANGA BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
6.2 VEGETATION TYPES
Vegetation types provide a good representation of terrestrial biodiversity because most
animals, birds, insects and other organisms are associated with particular vegetation types
(Rouget et al. 2004). In 2005 SANBI produced an extensively revised vegetation map for
South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (Mucina et al. 2005), with 441 vegetation types. Each
vegetation type in the South African vegetation map has a biodiversity target set by the
National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment. This vegetation map, with minor refinements, was
used to define 68 vegetation types for Mpumalanga, shown in Figure 6.1.
Bufo carens With vegetation types defined and mapped, it is possible to assess their ecosystem status.
Ecosystem status reflects the ecosystem’s ability to function naturally, at a landscape scale
and in the long term. The single biggest cause of loss of biodiversity in South Africa is the
Amphibians––frogs and loss and degradation of natural habitat. As the natural habitat in an ecosystem is reduced
and degraded, its ability to persist is compromised. The degradation process is characterised
by: loss of ability to deliver ecosystem services; loss of biodiversity, including local species
130 species in South extinctions; and irreversible damage to ecological processes. All these combine, eventually
leading to ecological collapse (Rouget et al. 2004).
Africa. Many of them
LISTING OF THREATENED
play a crucial role in the
ECOSYSTEMS IN TERMS OF THE BIODIVERSITY ACT
control of a variety of
The Biodiversity Act provides for listing threatened and protected ecosystems as follows:
52 (1) (a) The Minister may . . . publish a national list of threatened ecosystems in need
mosquitoes. of protection.
(b) An MEC for environmental affairs may . . . similarly publish a provincial list of
In recent years numbers threatened ecosystems.
52 (2) The following categories of threatened ecosystems may be listed in terms of
of amphibians are
believed to have ‘critically endangered’ ecosystems - that have undergone severe ecological
degradation and are at an extremely high risk of irreversible transformation;
decreased drastically. ‘endangered -’, or ‘vulnerable -’ ecosystems - being categories of reduced
The reason for the degradation and risk, each less than the previous category above;
‘protected’ ecosystems – being ecosystems that are not threatened but
decline is uncertain but it nevertheless are worthy of special protection.
is believed to be largely a
NOTE: DEAT and SANBI are in the process of developing criteria for identifying and listing
result of climate change threatened and protected ecosystems. Systematic biodiversity plans such as the MBCP will
provide an important basis for identifying these ecosystems.
exposure to ultra violet The purpose of defining vegetation types in terms of their ecosystem status is to identify
ecosystems at risk. The ecosystem status categories are similar to those used by the IUCN for
species: Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), and Vulnerable (VU). These categories
are also used in the National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment (Driver et al. 2005). A vegeta-
tion type is allocated an ecosystem status based on the proportion of its original natural
M P U M A L A N G A
habitat that remains. The classification system and categories used here are illustrated in
Figure 6.2. In the MBCP analysis the endangered category is split in two in order to identify
those ecosystems closer to critically endangered status.
14 CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
CHAPTER 6 - MPUMALANGA’S ECOSYSTEMS
100% 100% of ecosystem intact
LEAST THREATENED LT
80% If habitat loss continues, ecosystem functioning will be compromised
% untransformed land
ENDANGERED: LOW EN:L Threshold for conserving ecosystem functioning
ENDANGERED: HIGH EN:H A higher degree of ecosystem functioning lost - nearing CR status
Point beyond which many species may be lost
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED CR
0% No natural habitat remaining; ecosystems cease to exist
FIGURE 6.2: Classification of vegetation types into five ecosystem status categories based on % of natural habitat remaining.
* Biodiversity target (see Appendix 2)
FIGURE 6.3: The status of terrestrial ecosystems in Mpumalanga