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Residents of Kloof are truly privileged to live in an environment with exceptional biodiversity. Below are just some of “treasures” that you can find in the gardens and forests of Kloof.
Trumpeter Hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator)
The Trumpeter Hornbill, is a medium-sized hornbill, with length between 58 and 65 cm, characterized by a large grey casque on the bill, which is slightly smaller in females. The large “casque” on top of the beak is what makes it easily distinguishable from the Crowned Hornbill which is also found in Kloof. The eyes are brown or red, with pink surrounding skin. Another distinguishing feature is the all-black back, white belly and white underwing coverts (in flight, wings present white tips), and red facial skin.
The Trumpeter Hornbill is a gregarious bird, usually living in groups of 2 to 5 individuals, although sometimes as many as 50. This hornbill is a locally common resident of the tropical evergreen forests of Burundi, Mozambique, Botswana, Congo, Kenya, the Caprivi strip of Namibia and eastern South Africa, where it feeds on fruits and large insects.
The Trumpeter Hornbill normally uses natural holes in trees as nesting sites. Once a site has been selected the female then seals it with mud and faeces collected by the male, leaving a small slit. It sometimes uses holes in rock faces, although not often.
Very loud braying, laughing, trumpeting, squealing and wailing calls, some drawn out, others rapidly staccato; often calls in groups. Their very distinctive cry has earned them the nick name of Cry-baby Hornbills!
They love the seeds of the Natal Mahogany and they have been spotted eating millipedes.
In 2013 the Kloof Conservancy adopted a stylised version of the Trumpeter Hornbill for its logo.
Rubi-legged Black Millipede (Doratogonus rubipodus)
The Rubi-legged Black Millipede was first collected as recently as 1996 and named in 2000 by Dr Michelle Hamer. The species is visually different from the more common Giant Black Millipede in that it has striking yellowish legs with bright pink feet, hence the name Rubipodus (pink feet).
The species is known to occur in the Kloof, Waterfall and Giba Gorge areas and some have been found in mid-Illovo so the overall area is relatively small and loss of habitat from human developments poses the greatest threat to the survival of this species. . In 2004 D. rubipodus was categorised as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
In 2012, Kloof Conservancy adopted this species as its mascot which was aptly named Rubi-D and which has been very popular at the many events held by the conservancy.
Streptocarpus molweniensis spp molweniensis is named after the Molweni River that flows through the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, and is only found in a small area surrounding Kloof including the Nkutu River and the Umhlatuzana Rivers. Krantzkloof Nature Reserve provides the main safe haven for this species which is now Red Listed as Vulnerable, meaning that it faces high risk of extinction in the wild.
Streptocarpus molweniensis has a single large leaf that may be more than half a metre long. The flowers are very attractive forming clusters and can brighten up the underforest areas when they occur in mass displays.
The name Streptocarpus is from the Greek via Latin for twisted (strepto), fruit (carpus). This is evidenced in the fruit which is a long, thin, cylindrical capsule that twists after pollination and then splits to allow the seeds to escape.
Natal Sandstone Quince (Dahlgrenodendron natalense) National Tree Number: 117.1
A rare tree occurring in isolated forest fragments in KwaZulu-Natal, but more abundant in Pondoland forests. Subpopulations in the northern parts of the range are small and not viable, some consisting of a single individual. These are declining as a result of failed reproduction. Even in healthier subpopulations in the Pondoland region, reproduction occurs mainly through coppicing and seedlings are extremely rare. Pondoland subpopulations contain up to 40-50 mature individuals, and the total population is estimated to be fewer than 1000 mature individuals. Source: SANBI Red List
This species is now classified as ENDANGERED on the IUCN Red List
Krantzkloof Nature Reserve is home to a few specimens of this very rare tree.
African Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus)
Although the African Crowned Eagle is fairly common in many parts of Africa it has a special place in Kloof where there are three nest sites and where the eagles provide spectacular flying displays on a regular basis for those that are fortunate to live in the vicinity of the gorge. The well known nest site at Ronald’s Kloof is relatively unique and very special in that visitors can look down into the nest at a distance of approximately 30m. This site provides fascinating viewing for all visitors to the reserve and is of enormous educational value.
Although the Crowned Eagle is not the largest eagle in Africa it is generally acknowledged to be the strongest and the one with the most powerful talons which are the main killing weapon. They have been know to take bushbuck which can weigh up to 17kg. The most common prey in Kloof are dassies and monkeys
The nest is a very big structure of sticks in a large tree. It is used for many years and is added to every breeding season. It is believed that the nest at Ronald’s Kloof has been there for over 40 years.
The eagle normally lays two eggs, but the first chick to hatch will always kill the second one – this is know as the Cain and Abel Syndrome and does occur in some raptor species. The nestling period is very long, almost 114 days. After that the chick remains with the parents until the next breeding season, which may be for a period of up to two years.
The female Crowned Eagle is considerably bigger than the male.
The Crowned Eagles are well known for an interesting co-operative hunting technique whereby the female flies over the trees causing vervet monkeys to scamper up the trees and then in a move that surprises the monkeys, the male approaches from below the canopy and grabs one in its talons.
This plant is unable to survive without turbulent water and thrives on the white waters which give such a thrill to rafters. It is a perennial herb that is securely attached to the rocks in waterfalls or rapids by numerous stiff, thread-like roots radiating
from a round, discoid, compacted woody stem. It is found in a number of Southern African countries but in South Africa it is restricted to the KZN Midlands and its most eastern distribution appears to be a waterfall on the Molweni River in the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. It is classified as vulnerable and as so little is known about this unusual plant, the threats it faces still need to be established. Source: Plantzafrica.com
Red Sunbird Bush (Metarungia pubinervia)
In 2000 David Styles and Rod Edwards discovered a plant known as Metarungia pubinervia in the gorge. Prior to this the species was known only to occur in Central Africa and more recently North Africa. The plants in Krantzkloof are the only known ones in the wild in South Africa! Since the discovery the plants have been cultivated and are available for garden planting.
Green Medusa Lily (Drimia flagellaris)
Krantzkloof Nature Reserve is famous for its spectacular scenery with vertical sandstone cliff faces dropping into magnificent river gorges.
These cliffs also provide very special environments for some of the Reserves very special plants.
One such environment occurs where ground water seeps out of the cliff face creating a vertical water garden full of many highly specialist plants which cling tenaciously to the wet rock surface. For those brave enough to venture along the narrow paths at the base of the cliff you can be rewarded by a sight of a whole section of seep being in spectacular multi-coloured flower.
A very rare and unusual plant found in these localities is Drimia flagellaris, the Green Medusa Lily, which was discovered in Krantzkloof about 10 years ago and now known to occur only in one other location.
This is a bulbous evergreen plant which grows in colonies. The roots penetrate cracks in the stone and anchor it firmly in place, while the cylindrical leaves, up to 1.5m in length, hang vertically down.
For such a cliff-dwelling specialist, the plant has proven very easy to cultivate, but must be planted in very well drained soil. Under favourable conditions it will propagate rapidly and provide a good show of flowers from early Spring into Summer.
The Narina Trogon (Apaloderma narina) is arguably South Africa’s most beautiful bird and whilst it is very widespread in Southern Africa it is very seldom seen. They are often missed because they have the habit of literally turning their green backs to any observer thus concealing the very bright red front and making themselves less visible . They can also perch motionless for long periods. In Kloof we are extremely privileged and anyone living near the gorge is likely to have spotted it. During the mating season (October to February) they can be very “friendly” and will often perch close to houses as the photo’s above show (these were all taken near Kloof Gorge)
Narina Trogons are essentially large forest leaf-gleaners that feed mainly on invertebrates and to a lesser extent on small vertebrates. A high percentage of prey brought to nests are smooth-skinned caterpillars from the moth, and not butterfly family. In southern African forests, it seems therefore that they are most dependant on moth fauna for prey. Source: www.birdinfo.co.za
Bushbabies are small nocturnal primates found in forests and woodlands in Africa south of the Sahara. They have large eyes that give them good night vision, strong hind limbs, acute hearing, and long tails that help them balance. Their ears are batlike and allow them to track insects in the dark. They catch insects on the ground or snatch them out of the air. They are fast, agile creatures. As they bound through the thick bushes, they fold their delicate ears back to protect them. They also fold them during rest. They have nails on most of their digits, except for the second toe of the hind foot, which bears a ‘toilet’ claw for grooming. Their diet is a mixture of insects and other small animals, fruit, and tree gums. They have pectinate (comb-like) incisors called toothcombs.
Two species occur in South Africa but in Kloof we only have one species and that is the Thick-tailed Buhsbaby (Otolemur crassicaudatus subsp. Crassicaudatus).
Habitat destruction from housing developments is a big threat to these animals and Kloof is one of the very few places left in the Durban Metro that you are likely to see them or more likely hear!