We really are spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring the natural world. In all corners of the globe there are endless opportunities to investigate and consider different elements of nature and the wonderful ways in which they are all connected.
At a place like Londolozi, where the environment is well protected and encouraged to thrive, the guiding team have to continue to broaden our interests and expand our knowledge in order to deliver a well-rounded experience for our guests. While our training syllabus is incredibly thorough, there is always more for us to learn. During this period of lockdown, I managed to find a new area of exploration in the world of butterflies.
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to host a guest that had a keen interest in butterflies.
At the time, I was able to identify and explain a some of the more common species in the area but my knowledge on these insects was not of any astounding depth. It was late-summer, a superb time of the year for butterflies, and during his short stay I was able to learn a few more species and interesting facts about them. I slowly started to pay a bit more attention to these creatures as they fluttered about during the following days until I went on leave – an extended leave as it turned out, due to the current pandemic. However, upon returning home I quickly realised that my garden was also filled with butterflies. With a fair amount of time on my hands, I started walking through the garden each day identifying and observing these fascinating creatures.
‘Butterflying’ can be rather challenging at times for a couple of reasons. They don’t tend to stay still for long. They fly around in an erratic manner making it difficult to keep an eye on them, especially if they are at a distance through binoculars, and even harder to get an idea of what they actually look like, apart from their general colour scheme which isn’t always enough to get a correct I.D. My camera has been handy in this regard as I tried my best to capture a photo in the brief time they spend perched on a flower or leaf. In addition to this, different species of butterflies can look incredibly similar and can also appear different depending on the area you find yourself in and the current season – similar to birds but I can assure you, a lot harder!
So far, since midway through March I have been able to identify just over 40 species of butterfly in the region of my home in KwaZulu-Natal which I have come to learn is quite a hotspot for butterflies in the country. There is plenty still learn about these interesting insects but I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a few more species and they have definitely helped me stay connected to nature during this time away from Londolozi.