Sometimes …

… on a very hot day mammals are just not available for sightings on game drives. They hide in the shade of thick bush and are not visible at all.

At such times smaller creatures like spiders can provide beautiful material for wildlife photography.

On Sunday afternoon I took some guests on a drive down ‘spider alley’ and we observed these fascinating creatures waiting patiently for prey or devouring it.

Here are some of the pictures taken of Golden Orb Spiders, Garden Orb Spiders and Bark Spiders.

My guests enjoyed this special arachnid drive very much!

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography #pakamisagamereserve @pakamisagamereserve

Strong silk!

I do not know the name of this small (yellow/orange) spider, but it certainly must have potent venom and very strong silk.

As we arrived back at the Thanda Safari Lodge after a very productive morning game drive one of our guests pointed at a small spider and a honey bee seemingly floating in the air. When we looked closer it became clear that the spider was holding the dead bee firmly with its pedipalps while slowly pulling itself and its prey up to a branch by a silk strand.

Sometimes the ‘small sightings’ are even more fascinating than the big ones!

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography #thandasafari @thandasafari

The Green Mamba and the Spider

Occasionally a Bark Spider decides to span its web across a road. If I see it in time (before driving through it) I always stop and show this fascinating creature and its ‘hunting tool’ to my guests. Once we had a good look I ‘cut’ the anchor line and the base line of the web.

The spider, now hanging with his web material from one tree only, eats up the remaining silk to preserve the protein for its next night’s web-building.

Nature is amazing!

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography #thandasafari @thandasafari


Golden Orb Spiders sometimes create caches of food for storage to be consumed later. I took this picture of a female spider cocooning a Blister Beetle.

She worked on this storage project while she had two other smaller ‘kills’ in her web, waiting to be eaten.

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography #pakamisagamereserve @pakamisagamereserve

Two orbs and an eye!

Today’s images are a bit more “artsy” than my usual wildlife images.

The first is of an Golden Orb Spider on a branch.

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The second is of an Golden Orb Spider at sunrise.

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The third is of an Zebra’s eye just before sunset. (This image is part of my EYES series)

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Enjoy the images!

All three images are part of my “Without the Five” series (images 12-14).

Summer Time – Spider Time

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When the weather gets hot and humid many different species of Golden Orb Spiders build their webs along and across the roads on Thanda. Part of Bheki’s job at this time of the year is to take down the webs across the roads before they reach our guests.

It is good to know that spiders do not like large warm-blooded mammals and therefore avoid any contact with humans. Even in the rare case that one touches Bheki’s fingers it immediately descends and gets away from him. That also means that one can walk or drive safely beneath their webs – they do not drop on people 🙂

These beautiful creature occur in many color variations.

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More about Golden Orb Spiders:

The Golden Orb Spiders (genus Nephila) are a genus of spiders noted for the impressive webs they weave. Nephila consists of numerous individual species found around the world. They are also commonly called Golden Silk Orb-weavers, Giant Wood Spiders, or Banana Spiders.

Golden Orb Spiders usually reach sizes up to 5.1 cm (2 in) in females, not including leg span, with males being usually 2/3 smaller (less than 2.5 cm, 1 in).

They are the oldest surviving genus of spiders, with a fossilized specimen known from 165 million years ago.

These spiders do not seem to form either beneficial or harmful relationships with humans. An (unlikely) bite causes local pain, redness, and blisters that normally disappear within 24-hours.

Without the Five (4) – Sun Spider

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This sun spider sat in the middle of the road when I left the lodge. I took an eye level shot of this small predator – lying on my belly as usual 🙂

About Sun Spiders:

Solifugae are known variously as Camel Spiders, Wind Scorpions or Sun Spiders. The order includes more than 1,000 described species. Sun Spiders are a different order from the true Spiders and the Scorpions. Much like a spider, the body of a Sun Spider has two tagmata (body segments).

Unlike Scorpions, Sun Spiders do not have a third body segment that forms a “tail”. Most species of Solifugae live in deserts and feed opportunistically on small ground-dwelling animals. A number of urban legends exaggerate the size and speed of Sun Spiders, and their potential danger to humans, which is practically nil.

This image is part of my “Without the Five” series:

Each image features a species, which is usually not in the safari limelight. So they will be no images of Lions, Leopard, Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalo, Cheetahs …

Enjoy the “without the Five” series

Love and Bark

Today I got some images of a gorgeous sunset over Thanda. The word Thanda means love in the Zulu language. A very fitting name for a beautiful place.

And while I was driving through some over-grown areas I heard a slight impact on the seat next to me. When I looked I saw, what I first thought was, a small piece of bark of a tree. But when I looked more closely it was a small spider (approx. 2cm or 3/4″) in size. This species is called Darwin’s Bark Spider. It looks exactly like a piece of bark when it pulls its legs in. I took a small stick, let it climb onto the stick and put it back into a tree. The picture below is of a second bark spider I saw later in the day hanging in its web.

More about the Bark Spider:

Darwin’s Bark Spider (Caerostris darwini) is an orb-weaver spider. The species was named in honor of the naturalist Charles Darwin, with the description being prepared precisely 150 years after the publication of The Origin of Species.

Darwin’s Bark spider occurs in Madagascar and some parts of South Africa. It is the architect of the largest web in the world. Webs are woven across entire rivers and span up to 30 square feet.

Its silk is the toughest biological material ever studied, over ten times tougher than a similarly-sized piece of Kevlar.