A LONG-TERM VIEW OF A TERMITE MOUND

There is a lookout point on the Kranskop Loop which I have circled on the map of the Mountain Zebra National Park.

One is allowed to leave one’s vehicle to enjoy both a leg stretch and the beautiful views. For some reason I photographed a large termite mound there during our visit in 2014:

Perhaps it was because it is the only one on the edge of the parking area; or it might have been because there is clear evidence of fairly recent repairs to the mound, which you can see in the foreground; it may also have been simply because I find such mounds fascinating. The white spots on the top in this photograph are bird droppings. I thought no more of this picture until our return to the same place in 2016 and I photographed it again:

The small rock on the left is still there; there are leaves on the tiny shrub next to it; and the mound looks in a state of good repair – the community within must be functioning well. Naturally, I photographed it again in 2018:

The small rock and the tiny shrub are still there; the larger shrub on the left has grown larger, actually covering part of the mound – which still looks in a state of good repair. There is no sign of the thorns in the background that are visible in the previous photograph. In 2019, the mound looked like this:

Of course I had never thought of standing at the same place each time I photographed the mound! From this perspective though, you can still see the small rock and the tiny shrub – the other plants that had been growing around the base of the mound have disappeared; the shrub on the left has grown and the thorns are visible – they probably were there before but were hidden from where I was standing. The mound shows some signs of repair, although there are several holes visible on the dome. I photographed it again in 2020:

The little rock remains in place, although the tiny shrub now almost hides it; the thorns are more visible as the shrub on the left appears to have died off; and the actual shape of the termite mound has altered a little. There are signs of repair on the left and the holes on the dome are no longer as obvious. I simply had to photograph this termite mound again on our most recent visit. So, in 2021 it looks like this:

Again, the perspective is different, yet the mound struck me at the time as having ‘shrunk’ a little. The little rock remains firmly in place; the tiny shrub has grown, while the one on the left has dried out so that the thorns behind are clearly visible. There is a bulge on the left where more repair work has been carried out and bird droppings adorn the dome once more.

23 thoughts on “A LONG-TERM VIEW OF A TERMITE MOUND

  1. Interesting. It is fun to make note of how something you see fairly regularly changes over the years. I find this fascinating. I would love to see a termite mound in person one day. This is something one would not see in my country.

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    • The changes are not dramatic, yet they are there. There are so many termite mounds around here that I surprise myself having photographed this particular one so regularly 🙂

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  2. How awesome that you kept photographing the mound. Now you have me wanting to go and find it next time I visit MZNP! I will also be taking a fresh interest in termite mounds LoL

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    • You might like to read Eugene Marais’ fascinating book, Die Siel van die Mier. He studied them for ten years and the blurb for his book reads: In his fascinating investigation into the psyche of the ants, their strangely rich inherited memory of instinct, Marais makes challenging assertions about the group soul of the termite colony – the cause and result of the termites’ ceaseless, automatic activity for their community. His extraordinary theory is that the termite colony is, in fact, a separate composite animal at a certain stage of its development. The queen, emanating from her secret chamber the mystical motivating and unifying power for the community, is the brain, while the soldiers, workers and flying termites perform the vital functions of the body, and the remarkable fungoid gardens provide the digestive system. An absorbing and exciting study of an astonishing insect capable of building, grain by grain, an earth structure weighing 11 750 tons.

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  3. Termites work hard all of the time. I have recommended to Bondelsgedagtes above that, having studied these ants for ten years, Eugene Marais wrote a fascinating book entitled ‘The Soul of the White Ant’ – first published in 1937 and republished in 2006. I copied some of the blurb about it in the response above.

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