Page 50 - Discover Botswana 23rd Edition 2023
P. 50

    Above: A leopard surveys her territory from
the branch of an ancient Leadwood. Only a leopard can make a tree look this comfortable.
Right: Two young leopard shelter from the heat of the day on a branch of an immense Mashatu tree.
Limpopo region and one of the most iconic sights is the phreatophytic Mashatu tree, or Nyala Berry, that reaches up to 30m high. These trees are colossal monuments that tower over the landscape and play a pivotal role in the grand eco-system of this wondrous area.
Being evergreen, in the scorching summer months the Mashatu trees provide dense shade for a variety of animal life, and it is not unusual to see elephant, giraffe and impala taking refuge under their leafy boughs while enjoying their nourishing berries - a vital food source to many birds and mammals.
Spaced at fairly regular intervals along the ephemeral rivers of the Tuli, the Mashatu trees form linear oases of food and refuge for animals traversing the reserve. These trees can be compared to a bushveld version of high- rise condominiums. In their highest boughs vultures nest and bats roost, along its immense branches kingfishers, barbets and woodpeckers make homes, bushbabies and tree squirrels use convenient holes to rear their young in respectful distance from the resident beehives. Pythons and other snakes can be found slumbering in the termite mounds often found at the base. Vervet monkeys and baboons use these trees as nocturnal motels and look

   48   49   50   51   52