That's right….termite mounds!
“Today's lesson to the kids was not only about leopards but I spoke to them about termites and the termite mound. We are standing on top of one in the picture. The reason for my discussion about termite mounds is because leopards often use them to rest during the day and as vantage points when hunting”
Here are some interesting facts about termites and their mounds.
The termite mound is like an ice berg one third above the ground and two thirds below the ground.
There are tunnels that go to the water table which help with the humidity within the termite mound.
Inside the centre of the bottom two thirds of the termite mound, there is a chamber that houses the queen termite.
She can be 20 cm long.
She produces eggs continuously all day long.
She will get information from the worker termites about whether to produce soldiers or worker termites.
The queen termite can live for up to 15 to 20 years.
Before she dies she produces a new queen.
For her to spread her genes, she produces kings and queens that have wings that we call flying ants. These fly out The mound and produce new colonies.
The worker termites help to feed the queen termite.
For her to be fed they have to feed her a certain high protein mushroom which they cultivate inside the termite mound.
To produce these mushrooms the temperature inside the termite mound can vary by 1 degree either side of 31 degrees Celsius day and night, Summer and Winter.
This they do by opening and closing the chimneys/vents on the top third of the termite mound.
You often see fruit bearing bushes and trees on top of termite mounds due to the animals like baboons who use it as a vantage point and then deficate on the top of the termite mound.
The termites then take the seeds that are in the dung into the termite mound.
These seeds then germinate in a high moisture ideal environment within the termite mound.
Jackalberry, Weeping Boerbean, Raisin Bushes and Fig Trees are a number of these fruit bearing tree types.
Hornbills are also a supplier of seeds as they eat fruit and they also eat termites. So they also deficate on the mound and the same process occurs.
Termites eat dead vegetation which they take into the termite mound to help with the growth of the mushroom as the mushrooms feed off of the vegetation as well.