The termites are phenomenal creatures

Sabi Sand | August 2017

It was one of those beautiful mornings, where I woke up as usual and went to meet my guests on the deck of the lodge overlooking the Sand River, to greet and offer them a nice hot cup of tea, coffee and some muffins. After that we set off for our daily game drive with my love for the majestic Mother Nature, which fascinates me with all her details. On our way out I asked my guests what they were hoping to see, and they all mentioned the Big Five and most of the large, high profile beasts.

During our game drive I came in contact with an intriguing feature which changed my perspective of Nature, which subsequently changed that of my guests too. Though many people love the Big Five, my interest fell upon a member of the class of animals called insects: the termites. These microscopic animals, that I love to refer to as Nature’s architects, are phenomenal.

I’m fascinated by how they use their saliva to mould together the soils, constructing their termite mounds which are very difficult to wreck. What is even more fascinating is the genius behind its construction. From various sides of the termite mound there are a number of ventilation holes which are vital in regulating the temperature within the mound, so important for the eggs, hatchlings and the queen in the core of the mound.

Termites eat dead and decaying organic material, they are an ecological force to be reckoned
with and vital in the wilderness for the services they provide, as they break down wastes and recycle material, returning nutrients to soil.

This got me to conclude that it is not only the Big Five, or all famous animals we should look forward to see, but also the small creatures. For the creatures such as these (termites) are inspirations to us as human beings, for such small creatures to construct these massive structures. Just imagine the work rate required to accomplish such a task. These truly are phenomenal!