Africa’s Birds of Paradise

Africa’s Birds of Paradise

The Strelitzia, also known as the Bird of Paradise, Crane Flower or Isigude, has its roots firmly in African soil.

The Bird of Paradise occurs in the Maputoland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot in the Limpopo River Basin. The Limpopo Basin, shared by Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, has a total catchment area of approximately 408 250 km2.

We will cross the mighty Limpopo River on Thursday 25 July 2024 on our way north during the 2024 WhyAfrica Road Trip through the Limpopo Province of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania.

The Limpopo River travels more than 1,750 km from the confluence of the Marico and Crocodile Rivers in South Africa to the Indian Ocean at Xai Xai in Mozambique.

Along its route, the river forms the border between Botswana and South Africa, then the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, before passing into Mozambique at Pafuri.

During our 45 days on the road, we’ll keep an eye out not only for mining, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure projects, but also for the Bird of Paradise, and for the sunbirds and blue-faced honeyeaters, important pollinators of the Strelitzias.

Sunbirds and honeyeaters perch on and drink from the spathe of the Strelitzia flowers. The spathe protects the flower’s inflorescence.

When standing on the spathe, the weight of these tiny birds opens it to release pollen onto their feet, which is then deposited on the next spathe the birds visit. Strelitzia species lack natural insect pollinators and are absent in areas where these birds do not occur.

Strelitzias, African sunbirds, and honeyeaters are 100% African, and part of an ever-evolving African story.

 

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