September 23

What Are Termites Good for Anyway? Silvan Safari Blog


By Elias Msaya on
September 23, 2022

When we hear of termites, most of us immediately think of them as obnoxious pests that will eat away our wood, sometimes even causing substantial damage to our furniture. However, there's more to termites than meets the eye, and we cannot overlook their importance in the wild. Here's why they're more important than you might think...

Mongeese on termite mound at Silvan

Moongeese climbing on top of a termite mound, Image Credit: Brad Mitchell

Stars at Silvan Safari

Are you planning your next holiday, and thinking of coming to South Africa? Perhaps contemplating what activities are available for you to do? Well, then safari should definitely be at the top of your list.

When we hear about safari trips in Africa, one thing that comes to mind is the iconic Big 5 animals you could encounter. But which places should you visit to view wildlife in their natural environment?

They're so many places in South Africa where you can do safaris. However, the tricky question becomes which place you should choose as it's impractical to visit them all in one trip. Well, look no further than the World's Leading Luxury Lodge, Silvan Safari

Open 4x4 game drive vehicle driving deeper into Kruger

Experience a holistic safari, Image Credit: Silvan Safari

Mother Nature's Circle of Life 

Not only will you get a chance to view the legendary iconic African animals in their natural environment, but Silvan Safari will also immerse you in the bush, giving you a holistic safari experience.

Our experienced guides believe that the experience should not only be about finding the Big 5 animals but should also focus on the smaller animals and how everything plays its role in the circle of life.

The reality is that no living organism can survive solely on its own. And all species, big or small, rely on each other to continuously flourish in their natural environment. There are countless species you could find on your safari trips here at Silvan Safari. Some with elaborate and intricate behaviours and systems you cannot even imagine, such as a simple termite.

So, What Are Termites Good for Anyway?

Termites fulfil various roles in nature that no other animal can ever do. Therefore, they play a key part in maintaining the ecological balance of the natural system which sustains life on this planet.

In fact, did you know that termites are indicators of the natural ecosystem's status, and their presence or absence indicates the ecological system's health of an area? 

Here are some of the top roles termites fulfil in nature and why they're way more important in the bigger scheme of things than you might think.

Makwamsava looking at prey on a termite mound at Silvan Safari

Makwamsava leopard looking at prey on a termite mound, Image Credit: Elias Msaya

Termites as Soil Engineers 

Termites are master gardeners and extraordinary architects. As a result, they play a crucial role in the functioning of ecosystems as their activities improve and maintain soil fertility, thereby enabling plant growth in an area. 

The termites at Silvan Safari live in colonies and have a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with fungi. The termite provides the fungi with food, water, and a hospitable place to live. And in return, the fungi saprophytically digest dead plant material simplifying plant cellulose to a state that termites can easily digest.

Termites as Air Conditioning Systems

Their mounds' shape enables acceptable temperature, moisture, and respiratory gas levels to be maintained for optimum productivity. So, to achieve a constant temperature, the mound had to be designed in such a way that it acts as an elaborate air conditioning system.

To ensure optimal growth and survival, they must maintain a temperature of around 31 degrees Celsius, which is why termites build such big houses shaped in a dome or conical structure. However, not all termite species build mounds, as some species exist entirely underground.

Nkuhuma lionesses and cubs resting on a termite mound at Silvan Safari

Nkuhuma lionesses and cubs resting on a termite mound at Silvan Safari, Image Credit: Elias Msaya

Marvel at Mother Nature at Silvan Safari in South Africa

Termite mounds have long been a curiosity of humans…. So, do you want to know or learn more about how African species interact with one another in their natural ecosystems?

Come visit us at Silvan Safari so that our expert guides and trackers can keep you captivated throughout your stay.
Contact Rhino Africa's Travel Experts to start planning your dream African holiday today!

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About the author 

Elias Msaya

Elias was born in Norton a small town south of Harare in Zimbabwe. Growing up next to Lake Chivero and Manyame, has led nature to be imprinted in his DNA. His love and passion of wildlife has made him pursue more challenges and adventures in nature. He moved to South Africa in 2007 and started training to be a Nature Guide. Elias holds an Advanced Diploma in Nature Conservation and a BSc Honors Degree in Environmental Management. He worked as a Nature Guide in Addo Elephant National Park before moving to ThornyBush Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park. He then later joined Silvan Safari Lodge where he is enjoying wildlife safaris in the Sabi Sands which has long been his life time dream.

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