South Africa’s Ecology/Climate

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The last time I was in South Africa, I was on a study abroad focused on South Africa’s biology and sociology.  South Africa boasts the widest array of biomes, or “regions of the world with similar climate (weather, temperature) animals and plants.” (source)   During my study abroad, we learned that South Africa is the only country in the world that contains all seven biomes: water, rainforest, tundra, desert, coniferous forest, deciduous forest and grassland.  The number and types of biomes have been further broken down in recent years, but South Africa is still considered to be a very ecologically diverse country.  The largest biome in South Africa is the savannah, pictured above.

Since South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, its seasons mirror the northern hemisphere’s.  Currently, South Africa is heading into summer as we are moving into winter.  The temperature in KwaZulu-Natal, a southeastern province, will reach 90 degrees F today, while Atlanta will only reach 72 degrees F.  Summer in South Africa is typically very rainy.  Winters are drier and colder, though lows are still typically in the 40s.  There are a few mountains in South Africa that reach much lower temperatures, but the country tends to have very temperate weather overall.

And that’s your daily tidbit!  If I missed anything, let me know in the comments!

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Elands

Can you tell I’m super excited about PC by the fact that I’ve posted 4 times now, and I still have over two months left in the U.S.?  😀

I had the good fortune to do a study abroad in South Africa in December 2009, studying the country’s sociology and biology.  We went to some of the big tourist destinations like Jo’burg and Cape Town, as well as doing a land and river safari, but we also journeyed to the shanty towns on the edge of these cities and up to a village in the small country of Lesotho.  To help refresh my memory and share some of this information, I wanted to do some “daily tidbit” posts about interesting things I learned during my SA trip.

Naturally, I thought the best first post should be about elands!  We heard a lot about elands on my trip; apparently they’re pretty common, at least on the eastern coast.  My group hiked the beautiful Giant’s Cup Trail in Drakensberg, and our guide showed us some incredible, very old cave drawings.  One drawing depicted an trance ritual (see below).  Our guide told us that in the San religion, the tribe would sit in a circle, passing a pipe or a drink, and men would go into a trance.  Some men would even shape-shift into elands, as shown in the drawing, which is considered a powerful animal.

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Cave drawing of a man shape-shifting into an eland during a traditional trance ritual

The eland is considered a form of antelope and are mostly found in southern Africa.  They can grow quite large (up to 2,000 lbs and 11 ft long) and have beautiful, twisted horns.  Many of my classmates saw elands on the trip, but I sadly did not (despite my best efforts).  I’m really hoping to see some during my service!

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Eland!

And that’s my daily tidbit.  Happy Halloween!