Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Accounts and photos of non-captive reptiles in their natural habitat outside of South Africa. Try to record with your account details such as time of day/night, temperature, weather conditions, lunar cycle, sex, rough age of reptile, and so on.

View Gallery

Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Sico » Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:55 pm

It’s that time again…

I am presently in South Western Botswana, close to the border of Northwest Province and the Northern Cape, roughly 100km north of Pomfret and 300km west and a little south of Gaborone, very close to the eastern edge of the Kgalakgadi Transfrontier Park, near to a village called Kokotsha.
I got onto site late yesterday afternoon after a 7 hour drive from Gaborone. I shall be in this spot for roughly 2 weeks, then move about 80km almost directly north from here for another week and a half before I return to SA.
I haven’t had much time yet to get out, but the habitat looks promising and just having a quick morning walk around the inside of the little camp I saw plenty of birds that I’ve not seen before so keen to get out with the camera. The place is VERY dry, and hot, with a lot of sand, but still plenty of acacia scrub and small grasses and other flowering plants. All the pans are dry around here and cattle as well as indigenous game antelope have already started dying on the fringes of the park, from lack of grazing and browsing. The rains were incredibly poor this past season, and they will now have to wait until next year for the next rains to come.
Image

Habitat
Image
Image
Image

What I have found so far…
Botswana's National Animal
Image

Herps (please ID)
Image
Image

Parabuthus sp (either P raudus or P granulatus) was a decent sized specimen, tail roughly 5mm in diameter. This was alking around in the camp.
Image
Image

Koringkriek that exuded some yellow liquid from its parotid glands when I got too close. Fairly large sized one as well.
Image

Some small flowering ground covers
Image
Image
Image
Image
Mark
Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.
User avatar
Sico
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1092
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:15 pm
Location: Randburg and the rest of the continent

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Westley Price » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:29 pm

Nice stuff Sico.

I look forward to your future finds, looks like some good habitat for herps!

Regarding the IDs, I think yous skinks are T. punctatissima and T. occidentalis.

the scorpion looks like P. granulatus; they typically have a much smaller telson compare to other species.
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
User avatar
Westley Price
Forum gatekeeper
 
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:25 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Sico » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:16 pm

Thanks Westley

I found some more of the first Trachylepis, comparing them to the not very good field guide I have with me (short notice, grabbed for size rather than content...) it looks more like Trachylepis spilogaster - Kalahari tree skink?
Image

Also found a couple of decent sized Opisthothalmus sp, I think either O carinatus or O wahlbergii under a large tent that was being moved.
Image
Image

So far turning into a pleasant experience, if it carries on this way it will be a good four weeks this stint. Was hoping might get some precipitation this afternoon but it appears to be burning off. I do hope to find some snakes, there should be some interesting ones round here. The guys have seen Naja nivea, D polylepis, and P natalensis (one large one), and several B arietans, I'm also interested to see what amphibs may pop out of the sand if we have a good rain and some puddles.
Mark
Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.
User avatar
Sico
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1092
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:15 pm
Location: Randburg and the rest of the continent

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Westley Price » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:18 pm

Yeah, I think you may be right with the skink ID. Looks more like T. spilogaster.

Fingers crossed for some good weather and epic finds!
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
User avatar
Westley Price
Forum gatekeeper
 
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:25 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Ruan Stander » Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:44 pm

Looks promising indeed. Looking forward to see the herps you find !
The way to success has no shortcuts.
Ruan Stander
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1008
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:25 pm
Location: Mookgopong/Modimolle(Naboomspruit/Nylstroom)

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Sico » Sat Mar 07, 2015 7:01 pm

I found a lot of Heliobolus lugubris juveniles today in various stages of growth
Image
Image
Image

as well as this juvenile something... couldn't get a better pic as it disappeared into some thick shrubs
Image

Antlion adult (nice large one)
Image

Brunsvigia sp with old inflorescence
Image
Image
some others
Image
Image
Mark
Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.
User avatar
Sico
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1092
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:15 pm
Location: Randburg and the rest of the continent

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Sico » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:26 pm

We had a little bit of rain here the other night, so I am hoping in the next few days that more inverts and so on will come out. I've been hunting around the spotlights during the night time, and there is a lot of insect activity, but it's mostly lots of the same types of insect.
a couple of nice ones

Palpares sobrinus - Dotted Veld Antlion (same sp as the one I posted before)
Image

Macronemeres tinctus - White tip antlion (upper), Distoleon pulverulentus - Grassland antlion (lower)
Image

Argiope australis
Image

Nephila senegalensis
Image

Terpinistria sp (poss. T. zebrata) - Acacia Katydid
Image

Megalotheca sp - Wingless meadow katydid
Image

Under the mess tent when the guys packed it up I found two large Opisthothalmus again, as well as another large gravid P. granulatus, what I think may possibly be a juvenile P. granulatus, a large P. transvaalicus and one of the Uroplectes sp. I only had one container to put the scorpions in, the two Opisthothalmus were picked up first, and as soon as I dropped the transvaalicus into the container the larger of the two burrowing scorpions grabbed it and crushed it and began eating it. I 'd have thought that a transvaalicus would be a formidable opponent with that sting and the venom it carries, this one did not even have a chance to lift its tail over its head, it was dead so fast. The two burrowers then started a wrestling/stinging match over who would take the spoils of war... I managed to get it away from them so I could get some pictures of it though it was not easy. They didn't even twitch at the two smaller scorpions, and I dumped all the other larger ones before I picked up the granulatus which actually acted very inoffensively compared to what most people state.
P. transvaalicus
Image

poss Uroplectes sp.?
Image

I took some more pics last night, found a gecko, a frog/toad and some other insects, just need to get them off the camera at some point.
Mark
Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.
User avatar
Sico
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1092
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:15 pm
Location: Randburg and the rest of the continent

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Westley Price » Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:54 pm

Oh wow, that katydid is stunning!

I think your light coloured and dark coloured scorpions are both P. granulatus judging by the size of the telson.

I'm not 100% sure but just guessing.
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
User avatar
Westley Price
Forum gatekeeper
 
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:25 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Ruan Stander » Fri Mar 13, 2015 9:24 pm

Fascinating !
The way to success has no shortcuts.
Ruan Stander
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1008
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:25 pm
Location: Mookgopong/Modimolle(Naboomspruit/Nylstroom)

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Sico » Sat Mar 14, 2015 11:48 am

Pachydactylus capensis?
Image

Tomopterna sp?
Image

Some Coleoptera of which there is quite a variety during the venings around the flood lights.
burrowing ground beetle Passalidius fortipes
Image
Ceroplesis poggei malepicta
Image
unknown
Image

Nice centipede, around 80mm in length (one of the very few things I have found under all the old wood here, other than 2 scorpions, some ants and a couple of fishmoths, I have not found anything of major interest under any of these dead trees I've rolled over)
Image

Various birds. There is a huge variety here, but they are very skittish and being active only in the really early morning before the heat sets in, makes them a bit difficult to photograph nicely. Some of the better pics here, plenty of other species that I haven't bothered posting as it would just waste space.

Lesser grey shrike - Lanius minor
Image
Red-backed shrike - Lanius collurio
Image
Marico sunbird - Cinnyris mariquensis
Image
Purple Roller - Coracias naevius
Image
Pririt Batis - Batis pririt
Image
Red-eyed bulbul - Pycnonotus nigricans
Image
Southern Pied Babbler - Turdoides bicolor
Image
Red-faced Mousebird - Urocolius indicus
Image
Cape Starling - Lamprotornis nitens
Image
Groundscraper Thrush - Psophocichla litsitsirupa
Image
Acacia Pied Barbet - Tricholaema leucomelas
Image
and something I really would never have expected where we are literally tens of km from the nearest open water source of any kind, a pair of African Jacana - Actophilornis africanus that circled the camp a few times just after sunrise, landed, walked around for about an hour picking up insects under the flood lights before flying off.
Image

The majority of these birds are lifers for me, which is quite nice. I also have some unidentified larks, flycatchers and other bits n bobs which I have also not seen before. Tonight is my last night in Kokotsha, I am moving north 80km tomorrow, hopefully there will be different exciting things to find up there.
Mark
Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.
User avatar
Sico
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1092
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:15 pm
Location: Randburg and the rest of the continent

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Sico » Sat Mar 14, 2015 12:50 pm

I just went for a quick stroll after lunch, found this Agama, possibly Agama aculeata? It appears to be the only one in this region...
Image
Image
Mark
Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.
User avatar
Sico
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1092
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:15 pm
Location: Randburg and the rest of the continent

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Ruan Stander » Sun Mar 15, 2015 11:04 pm

I love agamas, that's a real cute one. And yes it is aculeata.
The way to success has no shortcuts.
Ruan Stander
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1008
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:25 pm
Location: Mookgopong/Modimolle(Naboomspruit/Nylstroom)

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby reptile » Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:40 pm

Nice finds!
85% of all snakes are harmless!!!!
0:1 Super Hypo Leopard Gecko
God made everything... It's all to perfect for it to be able to just appear
User avatar
reptile
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 409
Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 1:08 pm
Location: Kandern, Germany

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Sico » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:46 am

Time to catch up a bit, this’ll be a long post, I haven’t had internet for just over a week, but I have found plenty of critters.

On my last night at the old camp I came across a juvenile Lamprophis fuliginosus, very light khaki-brown colour.
Image
Image

Long horn Beetle - Ceroplesis poggei malepicta
Image
Stick mantis - Hoplocoryphella grandis – eating an antlion
Image
Stone Katydid – Lamarckiana sp
Image

The new camp is roughly 90 km north east of the previous one. The terrain is mostly Kalahari thornveld (very sandy grasslands with thickets of Acacia, Mopani and other species of low growing trees) and is fairly heavily grazed by cattle and sheep.
Image
Next to the camp I have a small granite ridge (with very few rocks to turn over sadly).
Image

Herps
Common rough-scaled lizard - Ichnotropis Squamulosa
Image
This one may be a juvenile?
Image

What I think is Bradfields dwarf gecko – Lygodactylus bradfieldii (although this would be out of it's known range)
Image
Image

Kalahari ground gecko – Colopus wahlbergi wahlbergi
Image
Image

Kalahari tree skink – Trachylepis spilogaster showing distinctive leg spots.
Image

Bushveld lizard - Heliobolus lugubris adult
Image

This juvenile Boomslang – Dispholidus typus popped out of a tree stump I was sitting in front of having a cigarette, it was quite calm while I snapped a few shots, and didn’t struggle at all on the hook when I moved it out of the camp. It had recently eaten, and since it was on the same small stump I found the Lygodactylus, I presume that was dinner.
Image
Image
Image

Flap-necked Chameleon – Chameleo dilepis that was found sleeping on a dead branch, very exposed, and was there again the next morning allowing me to get some more pictures
Image

The same evening that I found the chameleon, and the Colopus (within 15m of each other) a few metres further on I came across the first of three Bibron’s burrowing asp, Atractaspis bibronii. It was fairly average sized, very clear contrast between the dorsal and ventral colours and immediately I shone my light on it, it started thrashing around in that strange dystonic jerky movement they have. I was only able to get very poor pictures of it as it wouldn’t lie still at all. The second one I found about 50m from the first one, was slightly larger and slightly more co-operative, although it kept wanting to go under my boots.
Image
The third one was really large, and rather more placid, and I was able to get some decent shots. I have included one with my pocket hook stick for size reference, the stick measured later has a 740mm handle length.
Image
Image

The bird life around here is slightly different, with a lot more savannah birds than where I previously was
Burchell’s Sand grouse – Pterocles burchellii – large flocks of these noisy birds fly around every morning coming to the local cattle watering post (200m from the camp).
Image
Violet-eared waxbill – Uraegrinthus granatinus
Image
I also have several raptors which I need to first ID.

The same night I found the Bibron’s, I saw this pair of huge Giant Mantis’s – Sphodromantis gastrica, in a tree, the clearly gravid female is enjoying feasting on the male.
Image
Returning to my tent the same evening I was quite horrified to find this huge (100mm) Jerusalem/Sand cricket walking backwards and forwards in front of my door. These things just freak me out for some reason.
Image

There are a lot of Community nest spiders – Stegodyphus sp – in the bushes and trees here. The webs are very shabby with all the dust in the air.
Image
Batozonellus sp wasp on the hunt for spiders. Really large and noisy flyers they seem to be quite common here along with several other spider-hunting wasps. These are known to snatch Nephila sp out of their webs.
Image
There are a lot of Monarch butterflies around here for some reason, and pretty much nothing else as far as they go, except for one other little Copper that I’ve seen.
Image
We had a small thunderstorm here the one afternoon after which the temperature dropped quite a bit (which was fantastic as the average daily temps are around 38-41C and we’re in dark green canvas military tents with NO ventilation or aircon…). I was hoping that the rain would bring out some more critters and went for a long walk that evening. I found two Tomopterna, turning over a rock next to the dirt road I found what I think is a Spotted sand lizard – Pedioplanis lineoocellatus lineocellatus (may be P. namaquensis but I doubt it)
Image
Image
I also came across this Brown Hyena, Hyaena brunnea, carcass not far from the camp. I knew Hyenas were around as one chewed through our water pipe from the borehole the one evening. There was no obvious cause of death, and I suspect it died fairly recently, as there was still a fairly large amount of soft tissue, although it was very much desiccated with the heat we have been having here. Oddly enough very little appears to have been scavenged by anything other than insects.
Image

One evening the guys called me out for a Puff adder – Bitis arietans – that was making its way across the camp. I hooked it into a bucket, a nice healthy male about 90cm in length, during the night it regurgitated a fairly large rodent.
Image
The guys also brought me this Kalahari round headed worm lizard – Zygaspis quadrifrons – apparently they have found quite a lot amongst the roots of the bushes they are digging out (reportedly something like a Typhlops sp as well that I did not see). I was hoping to find more of the fossorial species out here, so this one was quite a nice find.
Image
Image
Interestingly, yesterday I dug out two under the same Mopani tree roots, one wholly pink, the other wholly purple. I am not sure if this is some kind of sexual dimorphism, it isn’t mentioned in the text I have with me.
Image

On Tuesday whilst digging out some tree stumps I found this Delalande’s beaked blind snake – Rhonotyphlops lelandi. It was rather difficult to get shots of it on a natural background as it just wouldn’t lie still, eventually I got it to curl around my thumb and got a couple of close-ups. I am not sure if this is common to all blind snakes, certainly none that I have ever previously caught, but my gosh this one emitted something really foul that made my hands stink. I am sure Bernice would be familiar with the smell with her skeletonising experiments but it really smelled like rotten fish.
Image

We still have a large amount of stumps that need removing in the camp, so hopefully I will find some more burrowers!
We have had quite a bit of rain here since Monday, I don’t have a gauge but I would estimate close on 80-100mm if not more, which is lovely for this place as they have been hit hard by the drought. Tuesday night the amphibians were out in force, with
Toads (x6)
sp 1
Image
sp 2
Image
Image
Rain frogs I think Breviceps adspersus (x5 incl one VERY large female)
Image
This little breviceps was determined to try and stuff at least one of these driver ants into his mouth, but he couldn’t “walk and bite” it the same time, so every time that he stopped to try and grab one, they moved away and the *chase* was on all over again. It was quite entertaining to see the amount of effort he put into getting a meal, especially considering all the smaller bugs that he just walked right over with his eyes on the prize. I did find one small toad with half a driver ant sticking out its mouth, it was only slightly bigger than the breviceps and you could see it was struggling to finish swallowing, I have no doubt that it managed though.
Image
Sand frogs - Tomopterna sp (not sure if they are different species, they certainly had different markings. None were calling though...)
1
Image
2
Image
This one looks more like Pyxiecephalus sp but they were the same size as the Tomopterna
Image
I do not have any amphib texts with me so if anyone can confirm the ID's I'd appreciate it.

I was hoping with all the amphib activity that there would be some appropriate snakes out on the hunt but I couldn’t find anything other than the frogs hopping about.
Removing more Mopani stumps (where all the fossorial sp have been found) We turned up two Striped blind legless skinks – Typhlosaurus lineatus lineatus one was unfortunately mortally wounded so I’ve taken that as a wet specimen, the other much larger of the two was very healthy and active.
Image
Image
We also turned up another 5 Z quadrifrons, as well as another two R lelandi
Mark
Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.
User avatar
Sico
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 1092
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:15 pm
Location: Randburg and the rest of the continent

Re: Kokotsha - South Western Botswana

Postby Westley Price » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:57 am

What an awesome week you have had!!!

The geckos and the Zygaspis are super cool. I have always been fond of Colopus. Why arent they included in the Pachydactylus group? To me they have always resembled a cross between the Dune Geckos complex and Marico gecko complex.

Regarding the Lygodactylus, for a long time L. capensis and L. bradfieldi were considered to be the same species and the differences between the are very difficult to spot (for the record, I dont even know the differences), so possibly your gecko is L. capensis.
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
User avatar
Westley Price
Forum gatekeeper
 
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:25 am
Location: South Africa

Next

Return to Exotic reptile observation records

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron