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Kruger’s complex geology results in many different habitats . Most of the area comprises flat or gently undulating plains at an altitude of 250–400 m, although there are isolated hills (inselbergs or kopjes) . The Lebombo Mountains create a series of low hills in the eastern half of the park . To the north of Punda Maria, and in the extreme southwest, granite, sandstone and quartzite outcrops form rugged hills . Granitic soils dominate the western half of Kruger and there are basaltic soils in the east; a belt of sandy Karoo sediments lies in between . Adding to this geological diversity, the fact that Kruger stretches through three degrees of latitude gives rise to some 35 different deciduous woodland and savannah micro-habitats in 13 major habitat divisions or biomes (see map on page 14) . The multitude of different habitat types supports almost every savannah bird species of South Africa . In addition, Kruger is drained from west to east by six large rivers, all of which originate along the great South African escarpment to the west of the park . These rivers add a different dynamic, supporting riverine forest that penetrates the drier savannah . Despite the region’s many subtly different habitat types, most birds have general habitat requirements, and are grouped into four broad categories in this book: rivers and wetlands, plains and open woodland, broadleaved woodland, and forest and riverine thicket . These habitat types and the distinctive plant species that characterize them are detailed on pages 10–12 . However, some bird species do not fit neatly into habitat categories because they range widely in flight, or are seen only at night – and are therefore included in three further categories based on behaviour: birds of prey and vultures, birds of the air, and night birds . Each of these three categories is illustrated and explained on page 13 . The habitats 9 Rivers and wetlands Kruger’s wetlands comprise a variety of man-made impoundments and natural waterholes, and the Crocodile, Sabie, Sand, Olifants, Letaba and Levuvu Rivers and their tributaries . The rivers are flanked by reedbeds that are used by weavers and kingfishers, while shorebirds live along their banks . Still water attracts storks, ducks, jacanas and herons, while the shy finfoot can be found only on running rivers . Waterholes offer abundant muddy shorelines and open water that is sometimes frequented by waterfowl . Plains and open woodland Open grassland with scattered trees, such as Knobthorn Senegalia nigrescens, occurs on basaltic and Karoo soils, particularly in the southeastern parts of the park (e .g . Satara, Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge) . The vegetation includes many types of grasses, including Red Grass Themeda triandra, Digit Grass Digitaria eriantha and Buffalo Grass Megathyrsus maximus . Grassland specialist birds, such as bustards and pipits, favour these areas . Where thorn trees such as Umbrella Thorn Vachellia tortilis dominate, locally called thornveld, eremomelas, apalises, batises and other small insectivorous birds occur . 10 Broadleaved woodland Broadleaved woodland covers more than 65% of the park, although it is most extensive in the western half . Dominant plants include Sickle Bush Dichrostachys cinerea, Silver Clusterleaf Terminalia sericea and a variety of bushwillows Combretum species . The central part of the park is dominated by Mopane Colophospermum mopane, an abundant and distinctive tree that can be thinly spread across a grassy shrub savannah, but also occurs with Marula Sclerocarya birrea, bushwillows and fine-leaved thorn trees/shrubs, or in dense, singlespecies woodland . The drier, rugged northern region is typified by the familiar bulbous Baobab Adansonia digitata, which is common in the Limpopo River valley . All of Kruger’s camps contain broadleaved woodland habitat, and due to artificial irrigation this is often a lusher version than in the surrounding area and can be particularly rich in birds . Doves, cuckoos, kingfishers, hornbills, barbets, woodpeckers and bush-shrikes dominate this habitat type . See pages 78–163 for birds that are especially conspicuous and common in the park’s camps . Baobab Adansonia digitata is a giant, broadtrunked tree that is frequent in the northern parts of Kruger. Marula Sclerocarya birrea has distinctive fruits that are rich in vitamin C; it is also used to make the famous cream liqueur Amarula. 11 Forest and riverine thickets Whilst large areas of continuous forest are absent in Kruger, there are stands of riparian thicket and forest-like woodland along the banks of the major rivers . Dominant and distinctive plants include Sycamore Fig Ficus sycomorus, Fever Tree Vachellia xanthophloea, Wild Date Palm Phoenix reclinata, Sausage Tree Kigelia africana and, in the south of the park...


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