In March 2016 I travelled Namibia basically for holiday and also to find as many arachnids as possible. In March it is rainy season in Namibia before winter comes and it is a good time to find mature male tarantulas which are walking around at night after rain showers looking for females .
So far only two Theraphosid spider species are described from Namibia and like whole Africa there is a lot more to discover. Besides the known Ceratogyrus sanderi which is widely spread in central Namibia also Harpactira namaquensis could accur in southern Namibia. Anyways also Pterinochilus lugardi has been spotted in Namibia as well as other Theraphosid species which are yet unknown to science.
At the end of my trip I had the possibility to join the team around the Baboon Spider Atlas ( www.baboonspideratlas.co.za ) and Tarantupedia.com and Ian Engelbrecht of the University of Pretoria for a couple of days and I had a fantastic time to see and join them working in the field.
Dimitri Kambas and Hendrik Steenberg having a look into a baboon spider burrow
My travel started in Windhuk where I immediately started to look for arachnids. Searching tarantulas in Africa means a lot of walking and rock turning or a lot of luck. The area around Windhuk is home to Ceratogyrus sanderi but I was not able to find it there. Anyways there are plenty of other animals and a great landscape.
Also at night the view is stunning due to almost no light pollution
Black faced Springbok
Baby of Stigmochelys pardalis
Besides mammals and reptiles almost in every part of Nambia it is easy to find this quite large and colourful centipede below rocks
Another interesting species in dry areas which hides below rocks are the Solifugae which form a completely distinct order from the Araneae.
Concerning arachnids I was happy to find a large Gandanameno species in central Namibia which belong to the family of Eresidae. These spiders build cribellate nets below rocks and logs.
The rock- dwelling Olios sp. produce a flattish sac retreat and egg sac attached to the underside of a rock or a stone. These spiders are very fast runners.
unknown Sparassidae sp. from a desert area
Rainy season in Namibia also means that there are plenty of Araneae sp. which build their nets within the now high and green vegetation
Large Argiope sp.
Especially in central Namibia Nephila senegalensis is very adundant. Here you see a mature female and two males waiting for the right time to mate.
Namibia is also a place with a very large diversity of Scorpion species. Thanks to Ian Engelbrecht I was able to learn a lot about their biology and how to find them in the wild.
Here a Video how to properly dig them out in the field:
The most common and also one of the largest species I found was Opistophtalmus carinatus which has different colour forms
Opistophtalmus scabrifrons with offspring
One of the more venomous is Uroplectes planimanus which I only found in central and northern Namibia
A habitat like this is good to find Tarantulas or Baboon Spiders as they are called in southern Africa.
A place like this means a lot of rock flipping to find baboon spider burrows
Burrow of Ceratogyrus sanderi below a rock. The burrow entrance is not visible from the outside. A tunnel lead to a chamber which was about 50 cm deep.
The same habitat was also home of another species. As it was spring and rainig the whole night I discovered a mature male baboon spider covered by a flat rock.
This might be a mature male of Pterinochilus lugardi
Close up of the front
This was the habitat of another yet undescribed baboon spider
This species builds burrows and doesn`t hide below rocks like Ceratogyrus sanderi
Spider at burrow entrance at night
Habitat of a Harpactirella sp.
The burrow entrances were quite small and difficult to locate.
Taki Tsonis giving all to get out the spider
After carefully digging out the Spider. The burrows were quite deep for a tiny species like Harpactirella
Also a landscape which rather Looks like a place without life can be perfect for baboon spiders. This habitat was home to two different species
Burrow of a Harpactirella sp.
This Harpactira sp. built retreats below stones within the same habitat
After work Party with drinks from sample glasses.