Category: Karoo Ecology

  • Riddle Of The Lily And The Beetle

    An ancient poem telling of a beautiful lily and a noisy beetle, called the sonbesie in the Karoo, puzzled Greek scholars for centuries. Then in the 1930s, a South African solved the riddle.  The great Greek poet Homer mentioned “the lily-like sound of the cicada” in one of his poems and dumfounded his followers. Eventually, […]

  • The Strange Ways Of The Karoo Sunbird

    Bird watchers in the Karoo have been  amazed to see malachite sunbirds foraging at ground level.  Ecologists Richard Dean and Sue Milton once explained (in the William Quinton Wild Bird Society Newsletter), that this is not an unusual phenomenon.  “Bird-pollinated plants in this arid zone  grow at such a low level that birds often have…

  • Midas of the Mountains

    There is a rare golden creature that flutters about only in the Nuweveld Mountains above Beaufort West in the Great Karoo.   This seldom seen butterfly is the Poecilmitis midas, a handsome creature with brilliant metallic golden-orange coloured wings.   It was seen during summer flying flies under high precipices at altitudes of over 1 500 m above…

  • The Eternal Duel Of The Plains

    A daily duel takes place out there in the wilds on the limitless plains of the Great Karoo and few are even aware of it.  The adversaries have honed their timing.  This daily duel is fought with the split-second timing now associated with high-speed sports such as motor racing, yet this deadly duel was already…

  • Drought always lurks in the shadows

    The plight of Beaufort West has touched the nation.  The town is in the grips of the worst drought in 130 years and has no water.  Most travellers of the busy N1 highway are answering pleas made by journalists like David Biggs (Tavern of the Seas, Cape Argus) and Amoré Bekker of Radio RSC who…

  • An unforgettable land

    The Khoisan called it the Great Dry Thirstland and now it is living up to its name.  Beaufort West, which was my home for 13 years, has no water.  Things there are so bad that people I have never heard of here in the Free State are sending me e.mail messages entreating me to call…