After a relaxing and needed off-week the new semester started off with a bang. From learning about the creepy crawlers off the bush, to practical observations on everything we had learnt about track and sign, mammal calls, tree identification and so much more, to learning about all the tips and tricks of wildlife photography. Solo drives have been going strong with sightings ranging from a bearded woodpecker entering his hole nest to spotting a brown hyena near its den. We tend to focus on the big animals and what we can see, but often the things of most importance to the environment is happening right under our noses. ‘The magic is in the details’.
Insects are such an important part of the world and are often underestimated. They are the most successful organisms on earth, making up 75% of all species in the world. In South Africa alone, there are 26 Orders and about 80 000 species which have been recorded. The roles of these little guys in the environment are of such ecological importance to maintain balance within ecosystems, and here are some cool examples you will find in the bush:
• Termites break down organic material, such as dead wood and plants, replenishing the soils with nutrients. Thus ‘feeding’ plants and trees, which in turn provide us with oxygen.
• Dung beetles get rid of animal dung, acting like a clean-up crew.
• Bee’s, wasp’s and most other insects are vital for the pollination of plants and trees.
• Some insects transmit diseases to regulate animal and plant populations.
• Insects that live underground aerate the soil, which makes it easier for plants to absorb minerals and anchor themselves.
• Insects are also a huge food source for smaller predators.
There are so many more ways in which these little critters keep our world going. So next time, don’t just look up, look down.
Blog by Tasha van den Aardweg.