Beautiful beastie: Mantis shrimp

Mantis shrimps, or stomatopods, are among the most important predators in many shallow marine habitats. These typically solitary sea creatures spend most of their time hiding in rock formations or passageways in the sea bed. They rarely exit their homes except to feed and relocate, and can be diurnal or nocturnal, depending on the species. Unlike…

Scorpionfish of Indonesia

The Scorpaeniformes are a diverse order of ray-finned fish. It is one of the five largest orders of bony fishes by number of species with over 1,320. Scorpaeniform fishes are carnivorous, mostly feeding on crustaceans and on smaller fish. Most species live on the sea bottom in relatively shallow waters, although species are known from deep water, from the midwater,…

Kruger national park 2016 drought

The year of 2016 brought one of the strongest droughts to Kruger National park. During the dry months vegetation has shrunk to greyish-yellow sticks. There used to be additional man-made waterholes for the animals: large barrels with water for elephants and smaller artificial ponds for other animals, but the current position of the Kruger park…

The Big five game

The big five animals are the African bush elephant, African lion, Cape buffalo, African leopard and rhinoceros. The term “big five game” originally refers to five animals that we the most dangerous to hunt on foot. Currently the term is used for marketing purposes. Why are these animals the most difficult to hunt? The African…

Cape buffalo

The African buffalo or Cape buffalo is a large African bovine. A characteristic feature of the horns of adult male African buffalo is fusion of their bases, forming a continuous bone shield referred to as a “boss”. From the base, the horns diverge downwards, then smoothly curve upwards and outwards. In large bulls, the distance…

African lion

Lions are the second largest living cats after tigers. Lions are the most socially inclined of all wild felids, most of which remain quite solitary in nature. The lion is a predatory carnivore with two types of social organization. Some lions are residents, living in prides – groups of related lionesses, their mates, and offspring….

Burchell’s zebra

The plains zebra, also known as the common zebra or Burchell’s zebra, is the most common and geographically widespread species of zebra. Like all zebras, they are boldly striped in black and white, and no two individuals look exactly alike. Individual zebras can apparently recognise each other by their striping patterns. The stripes may also…

African bush elephant

The African bush elephant is the largest and heaviest land animal on earth, being up to 4 metres tall at the shoulder and 10 tonnes in weight.   The African bush elephant is herbivorous. Over time, these molars are worn away, and new ones are grown to replace them as the elephant ages. Around the…

Post in white: blossom tree

“Hanami” is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming sakura.  The cherry blossom front moves northward up the archipelago with the approach of warmer weather. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April. It proceeds into areas at the higher altitudes and northward, arriving in Hokkaidō a…

Fieldfare

A fieldfare is the most colourful and widespread of thrush birds species in Russia. Fieldfare ©Marina Kudrya Fieldfares are social birds; they travel in large flocks and often nest on the same trees. Although they are migratory birds, males sometimes stay during the winter if there’s enough food (fieldfares feed on rowan during the cold months). During warmer months…

Mesoamerican reef diaries. Large reef animals

Coral reefs are not only about aquarium-like colourful fish, but also about larger dwellers: predators and good-natured guys. If the most of the coral reef fish are either well camouflaged or aggressively coloured, the big animals are usually not because they have much less natural enemies. Here are most of the large animals that inhabit…

Cavern diving in cenotes

  Cenotes are the natural sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone and filled with fresh water. Cenotes have played a significant role in the lives of the Mayan Indians of the Yucatan area and continue to do so today. Because this particular region of Mexico is fairly dry, with relatively no rivers or streams on…