The Bushveld choir

April 2020

In the bushveld, there is a choir made up of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. This choir only plays on special occasions when everything is just right when good rains have fallen in the bushveld with pans and vlei’s filled to the brim that’s when the orchestral manoeuvres start in the dark! 

 

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The sound quality is always perfect with not a single note missed, these talented and diverse amphibian musicians come in all shapes sizes and colours. Painted reed frogs, bubbling cassina’s, banded rubber frogs, guttural toads and bronze cacaos are but a few of the star-studded line-up.

 

Some dress very eccentrically, others are reserved and some hide in the mud while they sing! You would easily be fooled into thinking that this sounds like a Hollywood a listing ceremony, proper Billy Eilish stuff!

 

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As a lot of people know by now Amakhosi Safari Lodge has always had a special relationship with its frog neighbours. The sounds of watery places in the bushveld are for me as iconic as the call of a lion and we need to remind visitors and the public of the importance of these amazing creatures.

 

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For anyone that has sat next to a pond/wetland on a summer night, I am sure can attest to the tremendous sound generated by these little creatures. Frogs males of all species need to advertise their virility to the available females in order to reproduce, rain in the drier bushveld regions are quite unpredictable and the frog species living there have a greater urgency to get courtship done.

 

The amazing thing about this vocal explosion is that up to 10 or more species can vocalise at once and the female of each species will still be able to locate the most dominant male! Every species will then have their own pitch and frequency to attract each other.

 

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Competition between males is fierce and the louder the call the more attractive it will be for a female, males will also return to the same location every night and defend/compete for good vantage points from which to launch their serenade offerings. 

 

The males of reed frogs also do spacing calls to proclaim a certain portion of vegetation and when that fails competitors will revert to kicking, biting and wrestling until a competitor is driven off. Sounds a little like love Island reversed, doesn’t it? Mating and fertilisation occur externally.

 

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In all seriousness, though frogs are critical components of our wetland systems and help to maintain a fragile balance that is under increasing threat. We encourage everyone that loves nature to celebrate the frogs in our gardens, parks and game reserves.

 

Alwyn Wentzel