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National Parks Week – Visit a Park For Free Tomorrow or Friday
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National Parks Week – Visit a Park For Free Tomorrow or Friday

There are only two days left to take advantage of National Parks Week. This annual celebration of spring allows South Africans FREE access to most of the 21 national parks across the country, from this Monday to Friday, the 18 or Saturday, 19 September 2015, depending on the park. This is the tenth year that SANParks has held this week as a way to encourage locals to connect with their culture and heritage (September is also heritage month). All you have to do to qualify for your free entry is to present your official, green barcoded, or smart SA ID at the entrance to any national...
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Where To See The Cape Parrot – Africa’s Most Endangered Parrot
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Where To See The Cape Parrot – Africa’s Most Endangered Parrot

Cape parrots are disappearing at a rapid rate... Endemic to South Africa, the Cape parrot, or Poicephalus robustus, lives in the Afromontane yellowwood forests found mainly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. Over the last 50-100 years the population has decreased dramatically. They are considered critically endangered. Only 1600 remain in the wild. In other words, you have more chance of sighting a white rhino, in South Africa, than you do a Cape parrot. The Cape parrot is a large bird, roughly 34 cm in height, with an average weight of 260-330g. Their head and neck colours are brig...
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Amazing Facts About South Africa’s Wildlife
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Amazing Facts About South Africa’s Wildlife

South Africa is a land abundant in the weird and wonderful, beautiful and a little strange at times. There are around 300 mammalian species in South Africa alone, as well as hundreds of amphibians, insects, reptiles, and bird species. With this variety and scope, it is no wonder that some of the animals found in South Africa have some peculiar characteristics... South Africa's Wildlife - Did you know? The African elephant can be distinguished by the Asian elephants by its ears, which are in the shape of Africa. (Of course, there are a few other differences too.) Giraffes...
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10 best places to see wild dogs in South Africa
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10 best places to see wild dogs in South Africa

Probably the most distinctive feature of African wild dogs is the big, round ears. They're nothing like a domestic dog's. They're nothing like a wolf's either, yet this beautiful Cape hunting dog, or painted dog as it's also known, is given the Latin name Lycaon pictus, meaning 'painted wolf-like animal', because it is closest in nature to a wolf. Their hide is different from a dog's too - covered with irregular patches of black, brown, red, white and yellow fur. Wild dogs have a black, furrow-like vertical line on the forehead between the eyes that is rather endearing. And they have onl...
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South Africa’s elusive aardvark – 7 places to see it
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South Africa’s elusive aardvark – 7 places to see it

The aardvark. The only surviving member of the prehistoric species Tubulidentata.  It looks like a rabbit crossed with a piglet and a kangaroo, and is sometimes called an African antbear, or a Cape anteater.  Actually, its name comes from the Afrikaans meaning 'earth pig' or 'ground pig', due in no small part to its habit of burrowing under the ground to avoid the heat of the day (they only come out at night). Despite its name, the aardvark is not even vaguely related to the pig, nor the South American anteater, despite looking fairly similar (only smaller). In fact, its closest living ...
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South Africa’s peace parks – top 5 parks that transcend borders
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South Africa’s peace parks – top 5 parks that transcend borders

Peace parks, also known as Transboundary Protected Areas (TBPA), allow animals to migrate freely between neighbouring countries in a return to their natural migration patterns. They promote tourism and goodwill between neighbouring countries. It is also a potential tool to save a deteriorating ecology. Once parties or countries involved realise the importance of biological diversity, they are more likely to co-operate.  Environmental cooperation, in turn, can help resolve political and territorial conflicts. Sharing physical space and management responsibilities sustains peace among countri...
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South Africa’s four small wild cats – where to see them
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South Africa’s four small wild cats – where to see them

The big cats in South Africa receive a lot of attention. In fairness lions, leopards and cheetah deserve the focus; most of these top predators are in danger – we live in their space, we hunt them illegally and kill them when they prey on livestock. But South Africa is also home to four smaller cats – the African wild cat, the black-footed cat (now known as the small spotted cat), the caracal, and the serval. To this list I wanted to add the civet and genet but they are not, in fact, cats at all. Instead they belong to a family known as Viverrids, related to the mongoose and meerkat... The...
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South Africa’s Rare Riverine Rabbit – 7 places to see it
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South Africa’s Rare Riverine Rabbit – 7 places to see it

One of the most endangered mammals on Earth, the riverine rabbit is found only in the Karoo... There are thought to be less than 250 of these rare creatures left. And few people can claim the privilege of having seen one. Found mostly in dry riverbeds in the arid, central Karoo in an area that has been almost completely converted to agriculture, the riverine rabbit is under pressure to survive. None of its traditional habitat has, up until now, been protected within a national or provincial nature reserve. The rabbits are found only on private farmland, private reserves or in isolated pock...
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10 Top Places to see Leopard in South Africa
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10 Top Places to see Leopard in South Africa

The leopard: a solitary creature that because of its preference for living in dense bush, and its nocturnal habits, remains well hidden and seldom, if ever, seen earning it the labels: secretive and elusive. They are strong, comfortable in trees, and adept climbers who think nothing of hauling their kill up into branches. Closely related to lions, tigers and jaguars they are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Outside of Africa, many of them are endangered. There is a long history in South Africa of conflict between farmers with live stock and leopards. There is also little i...
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Where to see the Big Cats in South Africa
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Where to see the Big Cats in South Africa

South Africa's big cats – the lion, leopard and cheetah - are the reason so many people visit South Africa. However spotting them is not always as simple as visiting a game reserve, particularly if you want to see the leopard, who is by nature elusive. Game reserves are for those for whom the excitement of seeing the cats in their own territory, whether you spot them or not, is all important. Whilst for those who want to see cats up close and personal, the sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres are a good idea. Where to see the Big Cats in South Africa... Photograph: Lioness and cub a...
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Five Safari Breaks Near To You
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Five Safari Breaks Near To You

All my life I had read Wilbur Smith novels, watched programmes like 50/50 and National Geographic (filmed right in my backyard) and craved the experience of the “bush.” I was a city boy though. So though I craved the experienced I never made the effort to get out there - thinking I could just satisfy my thirst with another chapter / episode or magazine. The truth of the matter is that the real wonder of a South African safari can hardly be done justice through pictures or the written word. It has to be experienced first hand. Last year I gave in and headed out to the Kruger National Park, t...
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Top 5 wildlife parks in South Africa (other than Kruger)
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Top 5 wildlife parks in South Africa (other than Kruger)

South Africa has 700 publically owned reserves. The list includes 19 national parks. Over and above that are at least another 200 private reserves. Making a choice as to which ones to visit can be rather difficult. As a consequence most visitors simply head to the Kruger National Park – it's an obvious choice. South Africa is hugely diverse. It's habitats range from the intense heat and red sand dunes of the Kalahari to the subtropical wetlands of the Elephant Coast. It has great swathes of mountain belts like the Drakensberg and the Cape Fold Mountains, densely forested kloofs, heaving ...
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The elusive Knysna elephants – do they exist?
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The elusive Knysna elephants – do they exist?

It is a bit like tracking down the Yeti, or Big Foot – trying to find out about the Knysna elephants. Information about them is inadequate, tends to lapse into lengthy descriptions about their history, or is shrouded in mystery. There are those who say they are so elusive that, if indeed they are there, they have yet to make their presence known. Very little is conclusive about them. As a result, they have become figures of myth and legend; a mystery. Some people believe they do not exist at all... The ancient Knysna Forest brings to mind Daleen Mathee's Circles in a Forest. It covers...
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10 Best Places To See Cheetahs In South Africa
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10 Best Places To See Cheetahs In South Africa

The Cheetah: fastest land animal on earth over short distances; can reach a speed of 120 kilometres an hour; measures two metres from the snout to the end of its tail; weighs between 40 – 60kgs; is the only cat with semi-retractable claws, and has a spotted coat. Cheetah are listed as Vulnerable, and Critically Endangered in North Africa and Asia. Cheetahs prefer open plains where they run down their prey, but they can function as well in savanna woodland. They no longer occur in almost 80 percent of their historic range in Africa, although they have been reintroduced in about 38 reserves i...
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10 Best Places to See Elephants in South Africa
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10 Best Places to See Elephants in South Africa

The African elephant, the world's largest terrestrial animal, is under threat... Scientists revealed in 2013 that we have overestimated the number of elephants that remain in the wild; that we lost 62 percent of African forest elephants between 2002 and 2011, and that the forest elephant population is now less than 10 percent of its potential size. Admittedly the elephants of South Africa are not forest elephants. These are found mainly in equatorial forests in central and western Africa. South Africa is, instead, home to the savanna elephant - found on grassy plains and in bushveld. Acc...
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