Limpopo Ridge Bushveld in the foreground. Note the brown finger of the Mutale river stretch towards the east on the right hand side of the image.
Baboon spider, Augacephalus junodi, which was a resident in the more clayish soils of the Mutale floodplains.
Arachnids in and around Pafuri River Camp
The Camp is situated on the juncture of three vegetation types, Maluleke Sandy Bushveld, Musina Mopane Bushveld and Limpopo Ridge Bushveld. This provides ample opportunity to discover the different arachnids associated with each. Many of the arachnids found here are widely distributed in South Africa but it is the unique combination of species that occur in the region that makes it so special. This is probably the result of several elements that impact on the area, the most important of which include Kalahari, Tropical, Mozambique coastal and Lowveld elements. This observation is particularly evident when we look at representatives of a little known spider genus, Hersilia or long-spinnered bark spiders. These spiders are often found on the bark of tree trunks where they catch prey by rapidly encircling them, courtesy of their long legs, and enswathe their prey with very long spinnerets. There are three species in this genus that are widely distributed throughout South Africa. Very few places harbour all three, the Pafuri Camp surrounds is one of them. Two other species, that are found nowhere else in South Africa, but are more widely distributed throughout Africa to the north of the Limpopo, have also been recorded in the vicinity of the camp, and nowhere else in South Africa. Each of the five species can be traced to one of the elements that influence the unique assemblages of the region.
Two very familiar scorpion species are also residents, Parabuthrus transvaalicus and Hadogenes troglodytes. H. troglodytes prefer the rocky outcrops whereas P. transvaalicus will burrow in open ground and under rocks and stone. They also contrast in the potency of their venom, a Hadogenes sting is no more than a pin prick and Parabuthus species can administer life-threatening injections, so watch out for them. A rather peculiar arachnid, the whip spider hides in rock crevices, fissures and spaces between bark during the day and can be seen actively hunting during the night. Large portions of arachnid diversity still remains to be discovered and a recent intensive survey, where the survey team used Pafuri Camp as a base, yielded five new jumping spider species. All images of arachnids were taken at Pafuri Camp.
A Long-spinnered bark spider on a wall.
This whip spider Damon variegatus was collected on the rock face of a cliff downstream of the camp.
Parabuthus transvaalicus specimens were fairly common.
For more information contact:
Dr Stefan Foord
Department of Zoology
University of Venda
Private Bag X5050
Tel (w): 0159628592
Tel (h): 0155165776