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SARCA Field Survey No. 13
trip report

Date: Date: 3-12 October 2006
Locality: Northern Cape Province, in the Loeriesfontein region.

SARCA traps in a variety of habitats

SARCA Team 13:

Marius Burger - SARCA Project Herpetologist
Sakwa Makokho - Sakwa recently completed her MSc degree (University of Stellenbosch) on the evolution of sand lizards, and has moved back to her home in Kenya. She was also on the first SARCA fieldtrip -
Devon Massyn - Devon is a sound engineer and reptile enthusiast from Durban, and he's also the legendary Captain Pitfall of SARCA 6 -

Devon and Sakwa at the exact same locality where the first live reptile was collected during SARCA 1, celebrating the moment with very cheap wine (R10 for 2 l!) bought at Loeriesfontein Sakwa and Devon again

Marius's comments:

And then they came back for more… SARCA 13 heralded the start of the second of three field seasons. Both volunteers were on previous SARCA trips, and thus they pretty well knew what was in store for them. We managed to record 33 reptile species during this survey, comprising nine snakes, 20 lizards and four chelonians (see checklist below). Of most interest to me were the two sandveld lizards that we found. One of these I'm tentatively calling the Elegant Sandveld Lizard, but you won't find this species in any of the available reptile field guides. In the scientific literature it is treated as a colour morph of the Western Sandveld Lizard, i.e. Nucras tessellate var elegance. We will shortly be analyzing the genetic differences between typical tessellate and the elegance morphs to determine whether or not they are indeed two distinct species.

Two morphs of the Western Sandveld Lizard, or two species? The genetics will hopefully soon reveal the truth

A new competition, under the management of the Cape Reptile Club, was launched on the start of the second SARCA field season (see details at The idea wass that people would sponsor each pitfall and funnel trap to the amount of R10.00 each. Two book prizes would be awarded to the sponsors with:

  • The most species per trap, with the specimen numbers serving as a secondary factor.
  • The most specimens per trap, regardless of the species richness.

For SARCA 13, a total of 92 specimens were captured in the eight trap arrays (= 80 traps). These comprised 14 different species, six of which were unique to the traps, i.e. they were not found by means of active searching. Species highlights include x2 Coral Shield Cobras, x4 Horned Adders, x1 Beetz's Tiger Snake and x1 Elegant Sandveld Lizard. The top species richness score (3) was achieved by six traps, and the highest specimen numbers (6 & 5) were achieved by two of these. Secondary factors taken into consideration, the two best performing traps were thus 13-3F6 and 13-2B4, and their sponsors were: Bjorn Unger for the trap with the most species, and Pierre Joubert for the trap with most specimens. These persons respectively won a copy of A complete guide to the snakes of southern Africa by Johan Marais, and Bill Branch's Field guide to snakes and other reptiles of southern Africa. Congratulations to the two of you, and thank you for supporting SARCA!

Devon's comments:

Well this was trip number 2 for me! Maybe I'm becoming an addict. I think SARCA should offer rehab after three trips. Well it started off with making a few funnel traps - just a few - umm I think there were FIFTY! Then we headed off to our virtually unknown destination - even on Google Earth there was nothing - just nothing! There was not even a name for the place we were going to - just grid cell 3019AD. Well after a lot of talking to locals and exploring we finally found a place to call home. No electricity, fresh water, tar roads or cell phone reception. After traps were set, SARCA 13 began. Being in the front seat the whole trip meant I was going to be opening a whole lot of farm gates - we counted over 300 - but Marius did help out with one gate! There was one bonus of being in front - I was near the CD player. Ha-ha-ha, Metal for 10 days - poor ol Sakwa!

Even though the weather was very cold for herps, we had some good finds - some more to add to my life list. Fisk's House Snake and Namaqua Chameleon still evaded us though - well maybe one day I'll see em. My favorite finds for the trip were the Nucras (sandveld lizards), both species. What beauties. The corals and horns were also a real highlight. We also found a few grasshoppers - I mean a few million! These were a novelty in the beginning, but it was was after they put a few trap lines out of action - ARGH! Being the first ever herper to photograph the Nucras elegans alive was also something I will never forget. Ok, so would I do another trip? Sign me up!

Intrepid SARCA-lites intent on an agitated Coral Shield Cobra Field of...nightmares? Hoppers galore

Species recorded during SARCA 13:

*1 = records obtained by means of interviews with farmers.
*2 = species found along the way to the surveying site, i.e. not within the priority region.
*3 = species that do not occur naturally in this region, i.e. introduced by farmers.



Pulchell's Sand Lizard
Agama a. aculeata - Common Ground Agama
Chamaeleo namaquensis - Namaqua Chameleon *1
Chondrodactylus angulifer - Giant Ground Gecko
Chondrodactylus bibronii - Bibron's Gecko
Cordylus polyzonus - Karoo Girdled Lizard
Goggia lineata - Striped Dwarf Leaf-toed Gecko
Meroles suborbitalis - Spotted Desert Lizard
Microacontias l. lineatus - Striped Dwarf Legless Skink
Nucras elegans - Elegant Sandveld Lizard
Nucras tessellata - Western Sandveld Lizard
Pachydactlus labialis - Western Cape Thick-toed Gecko
Pachydactlus mariquensis latirostris - Quartz Thick-toed Gecko
Pedioplanis laticeps - Cape Sand Lizard
Pedioplanis lineoocellata - Spotted Sand Lizard
Pedioplanis namaquensis - Namaqua Sand Lizard
Pedioplanis pulchella - Pulchell's Sand Lizard
Ptenopus garrulous maculatus - Common Barking Gecko
Trachylepis occidentalis - Western Three-striped Skink
Trachylepis s. sulcata - Western Rock Skink
Trachylepis v. variegata - Variegated Skink


Rhombic Egg-eater

Aspidelaps l. lubricus - Coral Shield Cobra
Bitis a. arietans - Puff Adder
Bitis caudalis - Horned Adder
Dasypeltis scabra - Rhombic Egg-eater
Lamprophis capensis - Brown House Snake
Naja nivea - Cape Cobra *2
Psammophis notostictus - Karoo Sand Snake
Rhinotyphlops lalandei - Delalande's Beaked Blind Snake
Telescopus beetzii - Beetz's Tiger Snake


Chersina angulata - Angulate Tortoise *2
Pelomedusa subrufa - Marsh Terrapin *2
Psammobates tentorius subsp. - Tent Tortoise
Stigmochelys pardalis - Leopard Tortoise *3



Vandijkophrynus robinsoni - ParadiseToad


Sunay in dismay, with a
funnel full of hoppers

We are grateful to the 4x4 Eco Challenge for the sponsored Toyota bakkie. Sunay Mol of Loeriesfontein kindly made accommodation available on the farm Narosies, and she introduced us to Oom and Tannie Kokkie who explained the layout of this region. A huge thanks to all the friendly landowners who allowed us on their properties.

Thank you also to all the participants of trap competition. These were Lynn Parker (Cape Reptile Club), Pierre Joubert (Reptile Wonders), Bjorn Unger (Reptilia Traders cc), Marcel Witberg (Cape Reptile Club) and Mike Metelerkamp (B&M Systems/VetSoft). And a special thanks to Marcel Witberg, the Secretary of the CRC, for managing this competition on behalf of SARCA. Johan Marais of Fascination Books kindly donated ten copies of his snake field guide book as prizes for the trap competition.

Northern Cape Nature Conservation Service is thanked for providing a permit (166/2006 0029/06 1/10/2/730) to collect reptiles during the SARCA surveys.

Photos by Marius Burger

Compiled by Marius Burger & Marienne de Villiers
SARCA Project Herpetologist & Project Coordinator


South African National Biodiversity Institute Herpetological Association of Africa Avian Demography Unit

SARCA is a joint project of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Herpetological Association of Africa (HAA), and the Avian Demography Unit (ADU), Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town.




[ Document posted: 3 October 2007 ]

    December 1, 2023, 2:24 pm