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Bloukop vir 'n Kaaskop (126)
loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Southern Tree Agama - Acanthocercus atricollis

This one is dedicated to the birthday boy, Aaltjie van Zevenster. Now you might ask what this "Bloukop vir 'n Kaaskop" means? However, before I continue I must just say that I sincerely hope I don't offend anyone as it is meant to be "tongue in cheek". This is an Afrikaans title where "Bloukop" means "Blue-head" and refers to the "Blue-headed Agama" and "Kaaskop" means "Cheese head" which refers to the Netherlands or more specifically a Dutchman because they are so well known for making tasty cheese. So, if the title were directly translated it would read something like "A Blue-head for a Cheese-head".

My dear friend Aaltjie used to be a "cheese maker" and I hope he will pardon me for quoting some of the words he once wrote to me about his occupation before his retirement. I quote: "I was a cheese maker. So you see, once a Kaaskop always a Kaaskop. You cannot get rid of the cheese. It was a very interesting and educational job, which I enjoyed very much". If you have a look at the photo on Aaltjie's "Intro" page you will see that he seems to be very "proud" at being a "kaaskop" and I for one (and I am sure millions of others as well) appreciate people like him who makes all those wonderful and tasty cheeses that we can enjoy everyday.

Thanks so much for your wonderful and unselfish contribution you pour upon me and so many other TrekNature members. I hope you enjoy your birthday and that your friends and family spoil you rotten today. May there still be many more to follow.

**Note: In tender memory of my dear friend Aaltjie, who passed away on 19 October 2009, I have posted (as a workshop) the only photo I have of him and his girlfriend Hettie. I received this photo from Aaltjie, for Christmas 2008, after he moved back to Holland.

Something about the Agama photo
.
This was a little gift one morning when we entered the gate at the Lower Sabie camp. We quickly wanted to stock up on some cold drinks and other refreshments before taking a distant drive that would move us far away from any shops etc. and as we approached the gate I saw this dead tree trunk lying next to the road. The next moment I noticed a spot of brilliant blue standing out above the trunk.

This brave little guy was boldly showing his intentions and he was not going to be intimidated by this camera yielding photographer or sacrifice his little spot in the sun. He fearlessly sat there and watched my every move as I clicked away. Eventually he even got on top of the trunk defiantly lying there and watching me. Eventually we left and went to purchase our refreshments and when we exited the camp this guy was still lying on his tree which made me realise that he has lost all fear of vehicles. This was his little kingdom and he was not going to be disturbed or concerned by anything unless it was something that wants to eat him.

Taxonomic Classification

KINGDOM: Animalia (animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (vertebrates, tunicates, & lancelets)
CLASS: Reptilia (crocodilia, lizards, snakes, and turtles)
ORDER: Squamata (scaled reptiles lizards and snakes)
SUBORDER : Lacertilia (true lizards; including chameleons and geckos)
FAMILY: Agamidae (lizards characterised by predominantly acrodont dentition)

Description
A large sized, long tailed lizard, reaching a maximum length of 38cm (15 inches). The cordiform head is relatively large and triangular. The head and body are distinctly separate. Tail is relatively long and slender, extremities are strong and long. Agamas have strong limbs. Their bodies are compact and spiny. The scales on the body are small and keeled, with those along the back larger and mixed with scattered, enlarged, spiny scales.

Coloration: distinct sexual colour dimorphism, high ability to change colours. General colouration in both sexes brownish to greyish. Females (mainly if gravid) possess two series of orange to yellowish dorsal spots, males usually darker

Breeding males have a dull blue to bluish back, with bright blue to straw-yellow spines. The head is a coppery-green to brilliant ultramarine on top, blue-green on the sides and peacock-blue on the throat. There is a large black spot on each side above the shoulder, and a broad, blue-green to yellowish vertebral stripe. The tail is dull green to olive-brown.

Females and non-breeding males are olive to green-brown, marbled with black above, with a black shoulder spot. Juveniles have a similar ground colour, with dark X-shapes surrounded by white blotches along the sides. The tail is banded with dark brown-black.

Distribution
Widely distributed in Eastern and Central Africa i.e. Angola, Botswana, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa as far down south to Zululand.

Habitat
These agamas are found in the open savanna, and along the edges of forests. Often found in close vicinity of human settlements. Although principally terrestrial, climbs rocks, trees and buildings. Males strictly territorial, observing their home range from protruding points.

Behaviour
These beautiful lizards are frequently seen nodding their heads in display while clinging to a tree trunk. Most Agamas are terrestrial, but this species is arboreal. They come to the ground only to cross to another tree, and occasionally to eat.

When threatened, they retreat around the tree trunk, always keeping the trunk between themselves and danger. They will gape the mouth widely, showing the bright orange mouth lining, and will deliver a painful bite if caught. Contrary to popular belief, they are not poisonous.

They sleep at night in a hollow branch or under peeling bark.

Food
Feeds on wide spectrum of invertebrates, especially on insects (ants, flying ants, termites, grasshoppers, beetles, millipedes and other arthropods), occasionally on small vertebrates.

Reproduction
The female lays 8-14 oval, soft-shelled eggs in a hole dug in moist soil. They hatch after about 90 days. Hatchlings measure 70-80mm (about 3 inches). They triple in size in their first year, but growth slows thereafter. They become sexually mature in their second year. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Altered Image #1

loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
In Memory to Aaltjie van Zevenster
Edited by:loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)

This photo I received from Aaltjie, for Christmas 2008, after he moved back to Holland. He was so head over heels after meeting Hettie, with whom he travelled around the world in the last couple of months before he passed away on 19 October 2009. How appropriate this photo now suddenly seems, with Aaltjie and Hettie standing amongst the roses.

Rest in peace dear friend.