Fire in the Park

In early April of this year, a controlled burn fire got out of control for a few days in the northern part of the park. When we visited with Mom in mid-April we saw the burnt area but I didn't realize at that time how recent it was. In trying to find the date of the fire, I also came across this AGU abstract which dealt with the gaseous mercury emissions during another fynbos fire at Cape Point in 2000. Fascinating how much we don't know about chemical cycling during punctuated processes in this understudied landscape.

The Bontebok, aka Blesbok - seem to be grazing the few green shoots in the wildfire area. Bontebok and Blesbok aren't exactly the same thing, but both subspecies of Damaliscus pygargus so I'll leave that to the biologists to argue about. Either way they were hunted to extinction and then reintroduced to the Cape Peninsula. While we sat watching this little group, the largest one did a strange kind of dance toward one of the other individuals, not sure of sexual dimorphism so I don't want to over interpret who is who. Anyway the big one put his head and shoulders low down, pointing his chin toward the other bok and sort of shuffled forward toward it - then the two did a strange, dog-like turnabout rump sniffing thing for a couple of turns. Strange to watch.

So sad to see, we found five of these along the road within a few hundred meters of where we happened to park. Angulate tortoises, all pointed toward the open road and relative safety - I wonder how many of these little beasts perished in the fire. They are pretty fast for tortoises but that is still not very fast. Their stubby thick leg bones and vertebrae were laid out around the burnt shells and in some cases, such as this individual, the body was sort of dried in place so that he still stretches his head toward the road.

Life is creeping back into the white sand already - see the tiny pink blossoms in this photo


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