Back in Zambia, and down to earth

There are still sundry delights that I haven’t shown you from my Zambian trip many months ago. Looking downwards is sometimes as rewarding as looking up.

The Vlei Ink Flower was everywhere :

Vlei Ink Flower

The copious heaps of elephant dung (composed of poorly digested plant materials) provide minerals for butterflies:


and nutrients for fungi:


The dung is also food for baboons,  vervet monkeys, and civets. Civets are mainly nocturnal, and I have only seen one once, in Zambia in 2005. It didn’t hang about:

Still looking down, there is the occasional reptile, like this Variable (or perhaps Side-striped) Skink:

Ground-feeding birds abound, like this Southern Ground Hornbill, Bucorvus leadbeateri (hard to  miss, it is four feet long):

and this Rednecked Francolin:

Red necked Francolin

Even ground-dwellers sometimes get tired of looking up at the world, and find a vantage point instead:

Red-necked Frrancolin

Some mammals are not spectacular. This modest Smith’s Bush Squirrel, Paraxerus cepapi, is quite small, at 14″ long (half of that is tail) and 7oz (1/2 to 1/3 the weight of an adult grey squirrel).

It is also called the Yellow-footed Squirrel, though its feet aren’t especially yellow in my photo!

It is eating the fruit of the Pawnbroker Tree (or Pepper-seed), Excoecaria bussei, and there is a second fruit on the ground in front of it.

And at night there is, if you are lucky, an elephant shrew:

Elephant shrew

PS The tiny 1.5oz Elephant Shrew, so-called because of its long nose, is actually quite closely related to its namesake! Their closest relatives are things like tenrecs and aardvarks, but after that it is hyraxes, dugongs, manatees, and elephants!!!. Who knew? The Elephant Shrew is marketed as one of the so-called Little Five: Elephant Shrew, Buffalo Weaver, Ant Lion, Leopard Tortoise, and Rhino Beetle! I have seen all their Big Five counterparts, but not yet a Rhino Beetle.

PPS Here’s a better civet picture, from Wikipedia, taken in captivity by the look of it. If I ever see one properly, I’ll tell you all about it!

One thought on “Back in Zambia, and down to earth”

  1. Vlei Ink Flower is so delicate…vlei comes from the Dutch word ‘vallei’ meaning valley. Good that all the elephant dung is recycled and put to good use. Skink is so colorful. What a huge bird! Civet is amazing! Ears & face similar to a raccoon, spots like a leopard, ridge on it’s back looks like a zebra mane & a striped tail. So much to see!


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