Aardvark - Orycteropus afer

The Aardvark, Orycteropus afer is a large myrmecophagous mammal (40–60 kg) that is distributed locally throughout sub-Saharan Africa. It is the only member of the order Tubulidentata (Orycteropodidae) and, as a solitary and nocturnal animal, has been little studied.

Aardvarks are notable for their long nose, which is wider at the distal end. The body is massive and they have very muscular limbs ending in thick-nailed digits. They have 4 toes on the forefeet and 5 toes on the hind feet, each ending in a spade-like claw that helps them to dig with great speed and force. Digging is used both to acquire food and as a means of escape. In southern Africa aardvarks feed primarily on ants, but termites also constitute an important part of their diet.

Aardvarks have poor vision because their retinas contain only rods, which allow them to see at night, but leave them colorblind. They have a very acute sense of hearing and long ears that can be moved independently, as well as folded back and closed while tunneling. They also have an exceptional sense of smell due to structures in the nose that increase turbinal surface area, improving the detection of olfactory signals. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Thomas Retterath | Locality: Khwai River Lodge Airport, North-West, Botswana (2012)

Top Shot: Eye of the Leopard

Top Shot features the photo with the most votes from the previous day’s Daily Dozen. The Daily Dozen is 12 photos chosen by the Your Shot editors each day from thousands of recent uploads. Our community has the chance to vote for their favorite from the selection.

A leopard with a unique eye lifts her head after a hunt in Botswana. Photograph by Wayne Wetherbee.

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Botswana Metalheads

"Metal is a music about power, independence and freedom. That’s what I believe in (…)" Giuseppe Sbrana of Skinflint.

They are Dead Demon Rider, Bound By The Moon, Ishmael Phantom Lord… Botswana Metalheads express collective identity through individuality. Using leather strips and Perfectos, they strive for perfection.

In a sparsely populated region, Botswana seek solidarity. It is found here, in Western spaghetti hats and head to toe cow hide layered on a cross-cultural 1970s hue. Once of the poorest countries in the world, Botswana is now of the fastest growing. In 2012, photographer Frank Marshall portrayed them in Visions of Renegade, exhibited in Johannesburg.

Where did it stem? Well, the scene grew from Nosey Road - local pioneering classic rock band of the 70s - to darker, intensified sounds. Today, heavy sound is mirrored in yet heavier style. (x)

"We try to portray a good figure. We’re trying to be role models. I know rock used to be a hardcore thing but actually it’s something in our heart too. Kids follow us around. Parents approach us. We’re there for a good cause actually. We help people on the streets at night." Gunsmoke. (x)

Thanks to local bands such as Wrust and Skinflint who’s lyrics carry traditional stories, African folkllore may have further international impact. Let us now hope for a future holding a larger female presence within the scene. As their philosophy and music grow, so will their outreach.

Unity defines the scene. As we all say, there is strength in numbers. Through Metal, Botswana find Unity. And, through Unity, Botswana find Power.

Further information: "March of the Gods" a documentary on Botswana Metalheads.

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andBeyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge - Botswana

Nestled in Botswana’s spectacular Okavango Delta, andBeyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge combines brilliant cutting-edge architecture, high-end facilities, and magnificent wildlife viewing into a one-of-a-kind African safari experience. Complete with breathtaking views, wood-burning fireplaces, private plunge pools, and gentle furnishings, the light-flooded, elevated suites resemble giant weaver birds’ nests. Other guest areas include a sprawling dining room, a lovely bar, and a couple of glorious terraces overlooking the stunning surroundings packed with wildlife and natural beauty.

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Black-necked Agama - Acanthocercus atricollis

This handsome guy is a Black-necked Agama, displaying its bright blue head to impress some females. This lizard is scientifically named Acanthocercus atricollis (Agamidae), and is also referred to as Blue-throated Agama, Blue-headed Tree Agama, and Southern Tree Agama.

This agamid is predominantly arboreal, and comes to the ground only to cross to another tree or to feed. It is distributed in eastern and southern Africa.

Males and females did not differ significantly in snout–vent length or tail length; however, mature males had larger heads than females of the same body size.

References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]

Photo credit: ©Ian N. White (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) | Locality: Gaborone, South-East, Botswana (2014)

Judgment Day Looms for Botswana LGBT Group

It’s not illegal to be gay in Botswana, but sometimes it must feel like it. Just ask Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), a non-profit group that’s been fighting for a decade to get official standing in the country, a battle that will come to a head over the next couple of weeks.

I started working for LEGABIBO in 2004. We needed funds, but I hit a wall every time we approached donors, because the organization was not registered with the Botswana Registrar of Societies – a necessary step to open a bank account and receive funds. From 2005 to 2012, LEGABIBO made a series of unsuccessful applications to register the organization. In October 2012 the Registrar of Societies denied LEGABIBO on the basis that the country’s constitution ‘does not recognize homosexuals’.

While same-sex sexual conduct is prohibited by Botswana’s penal code, it’s not illegal to be gay, lesbian or bisexual. Under Botswana’s constitution, every person is entitled to fundamental rights and freedoms including the right to associate. And since the constitution does not explicitly mention men, women, males, females, heterosexuals or homosexuals anywhere in the constitution it’s incorrect to claim that the constitution does not recognize homosexuals any more than it does not recognize men and women.

Photo: © 2014 LEGABIBO