South Africa is known for its beautiful landscapes, delicious wine, and fascinating history. Primarily, though, it’s known for its animals: the elephants, giraffes, lions, and zebras. As of this week, we have been here for 2 months (!), but thus far, we have not really seen much of the fauna that South Africa is famous for. Aside from a playful monkey and some gentle cheetahs, we have not yet encountered most of the species this country has to offer. There are only four main varieties of wildlife that occupy Joburg. I’ll break them down for you.
1. Fat dogs.
South Africans, like most other people, like their pet dogs. They especially seem to like them an them towards to the ‘obese’ end of the scale. I’m OK with that, because I get to watch them as they as they waddle past our gate every day on their walks.
I was expecting to deal with a lot of bugs when I moved to Africa. But really, it hasn’t been so bad, unless we leave our windows open at night and allow the the biggest moths in the world to find their way into our house. The only insect that I regularly encounter is the common black ant. These guys are totally harmless, but they are EVERYWHERE. They like to take up residence in houses and slowly eat their way through the wood, like tiny wannabe termites. I tried once to lay on a blanket in my yard and read a book, but that was short lived. Now I stick to a chair.
These guys are tiny, harmless and unobtrusive. And very quick. I don’t have a picture of them because the dart away so fast, so here’s a gecko.
4. Annoying Birds.
Joburg does have plenty of birds, but not usually of the pretty, birdsong variety. The three that provide the soundtrack to our lives are the Beat-boxer, the Hadeda and the Kwêvoël. They all have official names (Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, and the Grey Lourie), but we just refer to them by the sounds they make. The Beat boxer has a specific rhythm that is actually quite pleasing, but then he repeats it for hours on end. The Hadeda makes a grating quack sound that punctuates the air in the early morning hours. You can hear the distinct call here.
The Kwêvoël is the worst offender. The first time I woke up to its cries, I was 100% sure I was hearing a crying baby. Listen to it here. The Hadeda is at least interesting to look at, and sort of an emblem of South Africa. The Kwêvoël is basically just a pigeon with a mohawk.
I know the ‘big five’ are out there, and we WILL see them all soon. For now, I’m working on getting acquainted with the soundscape of our new home. I’m thinking of it as good training for some day in the future when I actually have to wake up to the sound of a crying baby every morning.