The name “Zoo Ridge” has always struck me as a bit of marketing hyperbole. It is a name given to an area between the Swartruggens and Skurweberg mountains in the south-eastern Cederberg. But when you get to wander through its mazes and arches and wonder at the fantastical shapes and gargoyles carved out of the red sandstone over millennia, you quickly realise that the name is quite apt. Suspend your adult mind and adopt a child’s gaze and a menagerie of animals reveals itself in the sandstone, the diversity only limited by your imagination.
The curious spoor in the next photo is actually the burrow of the buck spoor spider, Seothyra. It is endemic to the arid, sandy flats of part of southern Africa. The hoof-like imprints are actually silky flaps that act as traps for unwary insects. The female waits under the flaps for its prey to become entangled before striking. Pretty gruesome.
Once Leonie had pointed these “spoor” out to me, I became very aware of where I stepped, because destruction of the burrow and the flaps usually proves to be fatal for the spider.
And then once you become aware of these burrows in the sandy patches, you start noticing the thousands of ant lion traps as well, the scuttling beetles and the rest of the small lifeforms underfoot. And realisation dawns that “treading lightly” in nature has a whole new meaning.