One of the perks of living in the African bush is that every day holds a new surprise, and one never really knows what one might bump into. Whether it’s a large herd of elephants blocking a runway, a spider-eating wasp or a terrapin trying to make it to the other side of the road, life in the bush can be truly exciting.

After some recent summer rains in Zinave National Park, Peace Parks Foundation’s Chief Pilot and Aviation Manager, Hannes van Wyk comes across a terrapin in the middle of the road while taking an afternoon stroll. Stopping to admire what can be a rather feisty reptile, our local bush encyclopaedia enlightens us about what this little guy might be getting up to.

In Search Of Water

Being a small turtle species, it only makes sense that this terrapin was on his way to finding a new waterhole to call home. Terrapins live in clean or brackish water, so after the recent rains when plenty of new pools might have formed after a long dry season, Hannes explains that this little guy was more than likely searching for a larger, cleaner body of water.

Terrapins prefer to live near each other, and during the day, groups of them can often be found basking together on rocks, so this curious creature might also be out looking for a friend to hang out with.

The Importance Of Terrapins

Just like every other species in nature, terrapins play an important part in the ecosystem. Being omnivores, their diet predominantly consists of algae, fungi and a buffet of live prey such as fish, worms, snails, small birds and any other small critter they can get their webbed feet onto.

With their origins dating back 215 million years, turtles are amongst the oldest living creatures on Earth. Besides being prey to those higher up in the food chain, terrapins also help to keep aquatic species.

Alongside Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas, Peace Parks Foundation continues to protect animals, both big and small, in Zinave National Park. This has enabled Zinave to blossom into the biodiverse haven that a wide array of fauna and flora now call home.