|Images of Africa|
|by John Walker|
You'd expect the Webmaster of Fourmilab to have a thing about ants, but I also rejoiced to encounter the next best thing--termites--upon arriving in Botswana. These are serious termites, not the tiddlers that munch on the lumber of your house! This termite mound is almost three metres in height. Termites build them with an intricate ventilation system which maintains a close to constant temperature inside--human architects have recently applied this insect-developed technology to office buildings.
Termite mounds are often found adjacent to trees (there was a huge one next to the tree which shaded our tent at Vumbura Camp). They are often the first step in the local ecosystem succession; the termite mound raises soil from the low-lying and frequently flooded river delta, which is then colonised by small plants and eventually trees. This is a relatively new mound, adjacent to a largely flooded area. Termites stay within the mound during the winter season; they are active only during the hot summer months.