Forest Wildlife : Creatures of the forest


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Booklet by Trees for Tourism with pictures and descriptions of forest wildlife and biodiversity. 25 different animal species.
Most pictures (some by cameratrap) are taken in Platbos Forest in the Uilkraal Valley on the Agulhas Plains.

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Forest Wildlife : Creatures of the forest

  1. 1. Creatures of the forest
  2. 2. Creating future forest eco-systems through the reforestation program of Trees for Tourism, is not only about trees. Forest eco-systems provide essential shelter and food for a plethora of creatures of all kinds. Many animals depend on forest as their only habitat. The further the reforestation-sites of TfT mature and develop, the more animals it will shelter, as is shown by the abundance of life in the climax indigenous forest of Platbos. This booklet shows 25 different species, a fraction of the total number of mammal, bird, reptile and insect species living in the forests of the Western Cape of South Africa. For more information about the Trees for Tourism Project, contact Helen Turnbull (see below for contact details) +27 (0) 84 571 5900
  3. 3. Habitat layers From inside the forest floor to the highest branch of the canopy, each layer represent a habitat for different species of animals. On the forest floor, snails feast on organic matter and porcupines dig for bulbs. Bushbuck nibble on fresh new shoots of the undergrowth in the middle of a large concentration of insects. In the understorey, habitat of the genet, bees nest in tree-hollows. In the canopy, birds of all sorts feast on the berries of trees, preyed upon by snakes. Each and every species has an essential role to fulfill. The loss of even one species can ruin the entire forest eco-system.Pictures : Platbos Forest
  4. 4. Bushbuck | Tragelaphus scriptus |Bosbok Imbabala The Bushbuck is a woodland antelope of up to 80 kg. Its range is from Senegal/Ethiopia to the Southern Cape of South Africa. Uilkraal Valley, home to the TfT reforestation- sites in Platbos Forest and farm 215, is the Southwestern- most fringe of the distribution of the Bushbuck. For the Bushbuck, the Uilkraal Valley is where the world ends. It is assumed that the local population is isolated, with the next population more than 100 km away in Grootvadersbosch near Swellendam. Reforestation in the Uilkraal Valley will enhance the Bushbuck’s habitat and protect it against a shrinkingPictures : cameratrap in Platbos Forest distribution range.
  5. 5. L: Knysna woodpecker | Campethera notata | Knysnaspeg |Isinqolamthi R: Olive woodpecker |Dendropicos griseocephalus | Gryskopspeg The Knysna woodpecker is endemic to South Africa. As is the case with the Bushbuck, Platbos Forest is the Southwestern- most fringe of its distribution. The Platbos population is isolated with the next one more than 100 km away in what is furthermore a connected distribution range. The distribution of the Olive woodpecker, favouring the upper canopy of evergreen forest, carries on to the Cape peninsula. There are two subspecies of the Olive woodpecker of whichPictures : Platbos Forest the one is endemic to South Africa.
  6. 6. L: Large spotted genet | Genetta tigrina Grootkolmuskeljatkat | Inyhwagi R: Caracal | Caracal caracal | Rooikat | Ingqawa Both these predators are nocturnal. The Large spotted genet has excellent eyesight and jumps from branch to branch in the canopy with astonishing ease. When on the hunt, this genet can get into a frenzy. When he would make it into a chicken-coup, it will kill much more than it can eat. The Caracal has a vast distribution through Africa and India and has a wide range of prey; from rodents to Bushbuck. The Caracal is often considered as vermin by small lifestockPicture left : Platbos Forest | Picture right : cameratrap in Platbos Forest farmers and is regularly trapped.
  7. 7. Cape robin (-chat) | Cossypha caffra | Gewone Jan Frederik | Ugaga Boomslang | Dispholidus typus | Boomslang iNyushu An adult Cape robin in a White stinklwood (Celtis africana) fends of a large male boomslang (the female is brown), which is preying on the baby Cape robins in their nest in a tree hollow. The Cape robin prefers dense undergrowth, eats insects and forages in leaf litter. The Boomslang can easily be recognized by its eye (the largest of any snake in Africa). The Boomslang sticks to the trees and hardly ever can be found on the ground.Pictures : Platbos Forest It has a lethal venom but it is not an aggressive snake.
  8. 8. Chacma baboon | Papio Ursinus Kaapse bobbejaan | Imfene There are large troops of Baboons in and around the Uilkraal Valley which are still very wild and little exposed to interaction with humans. This and the fact that they are still hunted (see next page) is probably the reason that Baboons in this area will keep a safe distance from humans. They can however regularly be seen, especially on the road from Walker Bay past Grootbos to the Uilkraal Valley. Clearly the Milkwood forest on Grootbos and Platbos Forest are favourite hang-outs of the Baboons. Baboons rest at Platbos Forest and -especially- the juveniles can create quite a bit of damage.Picture left : cameratrap Platbos Forest | Picture right: the road to Platbos
  9. 9. The Baboon once more During the day Baboons forage in a range of habitats : pasture, fynbos, coast and forest. At sunset they will however always retire to specific spots in forest or woodland. One of such spots is a fern covered streambank in a forest-remnant in a gorge in farm 215. The absence of (young) trees might very well be an indicator of the spot being in use as a regular and long-time baboon-bedroom. In any case, old guys in the area tell of nightly baboon raids decades ago to exactly this fern-covered spot. Baboon hunting went out of vogue somewhat, but is lately practiced again, mainly by vineyard farmers. Baboons love the grapes. The Lomond Vineyards in the Uilkraal ValleyPicture left: forest remnant in farm 215 | right: on the edge of this forest does not hunt them and simply accepts a certain loss of harvest.
  10. 10. L: Honey badger | Mellivora capensis | Ratel | Insele R: Cape Cobra | Naja nivea | Geelslang | umDlezinje Snakes, such as the Cape cobra, make up a large part of the badger’s menu and the badger seems to be immune against the snake’s venom. It also feeds on honey and bee-larvae. For this purpose the badger co-operates with a small bird, the Honey guide. The Honey guide finds the beehive and attracts the badger with a specific song. The badger opens the hive and the Honey guide eats the spillage. In spite of its size, the Honey badger is a ferocious and aggressive animal. It is howeverPicture left : cameratrap in Platbos Forest | picture right : in farm 215 elusive and seldom seen.
  11. 11. L: Bar throated apalis |Apalis thoracica | Bandkeelkleinjantje | Ugxakweni R: Rameron pigeon | Columba arquatrix | Geelbekbosduif | Izubantonga This apalis, pictured sitting in a yellowwood tree (Podocarpus), lives in indigenous forests and woodland and mainly eats invertebrates such as caterpillars and beetles. The eye catching Rameron pigeon (also called African olive pigeon), sitting on a branch of White pear (Apodytes dimidiata), has different eating habits: it forages almost exclusively on fruit of indigenous trees in the canopy. This pigeon is found mainly in South Africa.Pictures : Platbos Forest
  12. 12. Porcupine | Hystrix africaeaustralis | Ystervark | Inunga The Porcupine is Southern Africa’s largest rodent and they live -as family groups- in burrows or caves. Apart from roots and bulbs, they eat the bark of trees and as such can hinder reforestation efforts. Quills of the porcupine can be bought in souvenir-shops and on airports as a typical African souvenir. It is claimed that these quills are picked up from the forest floor and from fields. These quils can indeed be spotted lying around here and there, but never in such numbers to be sufficient to satisfy the trade. Most quills are obtained through hunting. It is best not to buyPictures : cameratrap in Platbos Forest ornaments made of Porcupine quills.
  13. 13. Moths and butterfliesThe distinction between moths and butterflies (other than thatmoths are mostly nocturnal and butterflies diurnal) is best leftto experts (it’s complicated). Species of both the moths andthe butterflies often have a dependant relation with specifichostplants. The catterpillars of the Acraea horta butterfly(small picture left) for example can strip the Wild peach(Kigelaria africana) clean of all its foliage. In that time, birdssuch as the Klaas’s cuckoo (see further on in this booklet)feast on the caterpillars. The Wild peach easily recovers andrenews its leaves in the process.
  14. 14. L: Speckled mousebird | Colis striatus | Gevlekte muisvoel | Indlazi R: Paradise flycatcher | Tersiphone viridis Paradysvlieevanger | Ujejane The Speckled mousebird feeds mainly on fruit. Though adaptable, this bird prefers the forest edge. It raids fruiting trees as a group in a fighter-jet-like fashion. The Paradise flycatcher has different feeding requirements. It mainly eats moths, beetles and flies and only berries now and then. The flycatcher in this picture is a fledgling. The Paradise flycatcher is a migrant bird, arriving in spring in thePicture left : farm 215 | picture right : Platbos Forest Western Cape to breed. It prefers woodland and forest.
  15. 15. L: Western leopard toad |Amietophrynus pantherinus (=Bufo pantherinus) R: Raucous toad | Amietophrynus rangeri (=Bufo rangeri) There are various toad and frog species (there is no difference really, they are all part of the same family) in the Uilkraal Valley. Some (mostly smaller) species are restricted to forest, others are adaptable, such as these two cousins. The Western leopard toad is an endangered species and can only be found in the Cape peninsula and the Agulhas Plain (the latter is the wider region around the Uilkraal Vallei, home to the reforestation project of Trees for Tourism.) The Raucous toad is very common.Picture left : farm 215 | picture right : Platbos Forest This picture shows a raucous toad in a tree hollow.
  16. 16. Malachite sunbird | Nectarinia famosa | Jan groentje Klaas’s cuckoo | Chrysococcyx klaas | Meitje This (female) Malachite sunbird feeds insects to a much larger Klaas’s cuckoo, a brood parasite.The Malachite sunbird is a regular host of this Cuckoo. Sunbirds mainly live on nectar, but feed their chicks with insects, the staple diet of this Cuckoo. The habitat of sunbirds is fynbos, where the Cuckoo prefers woodland. Nests of sunbirds are however often made at the edge of forests.Pictures : edge of reforestation site on farm 215
  17. 17. Malachite sunbird family Just to show how it normally works Left picture : female; right picture : male.Pictures : courtyard of lodge farm 215
  18. 18. Man | Homo sapiens Forests provide essential services to mankind. Forests create oxygen, prevent erosion, desertification and floods, create soil, help maintain earth’s biodiversity, help regulate the temperature of the earth, create rain and process carbon dioxide. We are losing our forests in a very rapid pace and the consequences are dire. As the World Resources Institute concludes : “ Over the past 150 years deforestation has contributed an estimated 30 percent of the atmospheric build- up of Co2. Deforestation is also a significant driving forcePictures : Platbos Forest behind the loss of genes, species and critical eco-systems.”
  19. 19. Much of the information in this booklet was found on ,an excellent website with thorough information on South Africa’s wildlife.
  20. 20. is an initiative of