Compiled by Bertus Potgieter
Winter is on its way with early morning temperatures dropping down to the low teens. With the low temperatures now almost in full swing we can expect to see a few significant changes in vegetation type and appearance as well as in the behaviour of the fauna (both the mega and smaller fauna). Animals have to adapt to these changes and make the best of what Mother Nature throws their way.
A clear example of how evolution has helped animals adapt to and even overcome the cold winter months can be seen in reptiles such as snakes and lizards. These slippery and scaly creatures are ectothermic which means they rely on external sources of body heat. They slow their heart rate and metabolic rate down and in the process lose less heat. They will also spend considerably more time taking shelter under rocks or in crevices and only pop up once the sun (usually the midday sun) is out when they can absorb as much heat as possible for the cooler evenings. Some reptiles have even been known to go into this almost dormant state for up to two years.
The larger browsers and grazers have adapted a much less complicated and intricate approach than the reptiles or even amphibians. Animals like most of the different antelope species will simply grow a much thicker coat of fur (the thicker the coat the warmer you feel!) They will also spend a lot less time moving around and will huddle together so that they can gain as much heat as possible from each other and not lose it by wandering off on their own.
The herbivores obtain vast amounts of moisture from the plants, leaves and roots they eat, and will then only go for a drink if they are in the nearby vicinity of an adequate water source.
So with winter now almost large and in charge, expect to start seeing game moving around more in the afternoons when the sun is out in full force (the exact opposite to summer when early mornings and late afternoons are prime for game spotting) and just before sunset as they hustle to catch the last few precious rays of the day. Also expect to see brown and tawny coloured vegetation, but know that despite the appearance there is still a lot of life going on, just slightly slower and lazier than usual.
Until next time
Greetings from a slightly colder and slower moving bush