Saturday, November 2, 2013


Termites are important to Serengeti because they break down dead plant material and for what they do to the soil.
Termite mounts stand tall throughout the Serengeti plains and woodlands. Built of mud from deep underground, and held together by termite saliva, the mounts change the soil texture and provide homes and observation points for animals.
Termites are small, clear or cream-colored insects that live predominantly underground, building channels and tunnels that lead them to their woody food. They consume dead wood, grass roots, and a variety of above-ground vegetation during the night. The food is then digested by either protozoans or anaerobic bacteria in their stomachs, and then absorbed by the animal; much like a ruminant herbivore

Termite mounds are built with large vertical shafts that can run several meters into the earth, and provide ventilation for the colony. These shafts also provide homes for a variety of animals, including snakes, mongoose and mice. Smart people do not put their hands down termite holes ..
If you visit Serengeti, you may see wildebeest, topi or predators such as cheetah or lions using termite mounds as look-outs. 

The Aardvark is a termite specialist, able to dig into mounds with its powerful claws, while the Aardwolf feasts mostly on harvester termites foraging above ground - both can consume tens of thousands of termites in a single night. Almost all kinds of birds will eat termites, particularly the winged alates, which leave the colonies after the heavy rains of spring and summer have softened the soil.

Once a colony is abandoned - usually only after the fertile queen dies or is killed - it is often taken over by much larger burrowing animals which favour these raised sites, at least in part because they reduce the chance of flooding. Warthog, Porcupine, Spotted Hyena, Dwarf Mongoose, Pygmy Kingfisher, Rock Monitor, Black Mamba and Banded Rubber Frog are just a few of the animals which frequently occupy termite mounds.

ü  >A topi using a termite mound as a vantage point to gain abetter view across
ü >Cheetah are commonly found atop termite mounds, a vantage point used for spotting prey and other predators that may threaten these fast cats. Cheetahs favor termite mounds and elevated points from which to locate prey, relying more on sight than smell
ü >Disused termite mounds are often frequented by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose, and pairs of red-and-yellow barbet, which draw attention to themselves by their loud, clockwork-like duetting.

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