As you walk onto Black Rock Beach in Maputaland, you’ll know immediately that you’ve just walked onto South Africa’s best beach. With Strelitzia’s populating the primary dune behind the beach, and the warm Indian Ocean wrapping against the shores. In short, you’ve just found paradise. The awe only deepens when you learn about the chance to discover a rare skink that is found exclusively on the protruding rock after which Black Rock is named. The Bouton’s Snake Eyed skink is a unique reptile species found in Mauritius and Mozambique. You read that right – it doesn’t occur in South Africa – however, for some reason it is found on a specific rock at this beach.
Paradise Found: Exploring Black Rock Beach’s Idyllic Hideaway
Black rock is about 9 Kilometers and beautiful drive away from our beautiful eco-lodges, Gugs and Little Gugs. The bay is perhaps the most protected along the Maputaland Coast, making the waves lap at the shore like the Mediterranean. We’ll pitch your beach shelter for the day and set up drinks and a picnic lunch from camp while you explore in search of the mysterious skink!
Meet the Shape-Shifter: The Enchanting Bouton’s Snake-Eyed Skink
The Snake-eyed Skink is a unique and fascinating reptile species. One of the most striking features of this species’ is its’ large eyes, which are covered in a transparent scale, giving it a distinct appearance. Its eyesight is essential to its survival as it lives in a rocky intertidal zone, where it must avoid predators, find food, and navigate its way around the terrain.
Another unique feature of the Snake-eyed Skink is its ability to change colour. Its skin can range from light brown to almost black, and it can change colour quickly to blend into its surroundings, making it difficult for predators to spot.
Variable Population at Black Rock Beach
A study by Haake, (2002) on the population size of the Bouton’s snake-eyed skink found that the numbers varied significantly over the years. The highest population size of 1200 individuals was recorded in 1998, while the lowest of 200 individuals was recorded in 2001. The authors suggest that weather patterns and predator activity could be the reason for the variation. Favourable weather conditions may have led to increased reproduction rates in 1998, while unfavourable conditions may have led to lower rates in 1999.
The study also found significant differences in population size between different areas of Black Rock. The central part of the rock had the highest population size. The northern and southern parts have lower population sizes. These differences could be due to differences in habitat quality and predator activity. The central part of the rock having higher-quality habitat and the northern and southern parts having higher predator activity.
Protecting Black Rock’s Rare Reptilian Treasure
The Snake-eyed Skink inhabits a unique and fascinating environment that exists only at Black Rock Beach in South Africa. This skink species has several amazing features that have evolved to help it survive in its harsh intertidal environment. To ensure its survival, it is crucial to conserve the area as the skink’s habitat. The habitat is under threat from various human activities, including coastal development, recreational activities, and pollution.
Haacke, W. D. (2002). Variation in population size of Bouton’s snake-eyed skink (Reptilia: Scincidae) at Black Rock in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Koedoe – African Protected Area Conservation and Science, 45(1). https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v45i1.14