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Flora and Fauna of Libya

People had said to me that we would not see much wildlife in the desert but there was life everywhere. Every morning there were fresh tracks around the camp sites. Desert mice, desert rats (we saw both of these) Desert foxes, birds, insects and reptiles all came to investigate us each night. There were ants everywhere, and beetles. Flies seemed to find us no problem.We saw dragonflies crossing the desert miles from water. Swallows and House Martins migrating across the desert. There were tough plants surviving from the rainy season, December to January (it's not really a rainy season in the Asian sense of the word merely it rains a bit!) Click on a thumbnail to download a larger version of the image.

Pines
Coastal areas of Libya have much more vegetation because that is where most people live. Many introduced species, such as these pines, have been planted to try and stop the encroachment of the desert.
Photo: Dave Seales
poppiespalms
Poppies, palms and pylons. A strange mix of red field poppies and date palms.
Photo: Brian Seales
Mars
We expected to see very little in the way of wildlife and plants in the desert. Whereas nothing leaps out at you there is still plenty to see. These tough grasses survive in depressions between the sand dunes.
Photo: Brian Seales
acacia
Acacia tortilis raddiana.
The only large tree you will see in the desert.
Photo: Dave Seales
armour
Up close you can see how this Acacia protects itself when young. Viscious spines which also help collect whatever moisture is the morning air .
Photo: Brian Seales
wadiplants
The wadi's, dried riverbeds, were the best places to look for plants and wildlife.
Photo: Brian Seales
sunset
Pergularia tomentosa in a wadi.
A strange plant which left a sticky sap on hands and clothes.
Photo: Brian Seales
oasisreflection
Lotus arabicus.
A pretty low growing plant in the same family as the famous Irish shamrock.
Photo: Brian Seales
desertpetrol
Morettia canescens.
A prostrate plant with tiny white flowers
Photo: Brian Seales
manmadedust
Zilla spinosa.
A small shrub which is past its best looking in this photo.
Photo: Brian Seales.
cropcircles
Aerva javanica.
Small grey hairy shrub, a member of the Amaranthus family.
Photo by Brian Seales.
manmadepatterns
Cassia italica.
A pretty little shrub in the desert which has much larger relations in the tropics
Photo by Brian Seales.
windscreenview
Atractylis aristata.
A member of the Aster family. I suppose it is a desert thistle really.
Photo: Brian Seales
can
Asteriscus graveolens.
Another species closely related to this plant is Astericus maritimus which is grown as a summer bedding plant in Europe.
Photo: Brian Seales
volcaniclake
Fagonia tenuifolia.
A very pretty small plant found growing in a wadi.
Photo: Brian Seales.
tyretracks
Chrysanthemum macrocarpum.
Every country has its daisy and this is Libya's.
Photo: Chris O'Byrne
serenity
Fagonia arabica.
Another member of this family which has adapted to desert life.
Photo: Brian Seales
eclipsesite
Trichodesma africanum.
I think this is what this plant is. Any ideas anyone?
Photo: Brian Seales
lakewawnamus
Erodium glaucophyllum.
A member of the geranium/pelargonium family. A very nice plant for a hot dry spot in the garden perhaps.
Photo: Brian Seales
convoydust
Calotropis procera.
Now this was a surprise. A large shrub with fleshy leaves. Photographed in the Acacus it was one of the largest plants we saw there. Also seen in some of the wadi's.
Photo Jim Lynch
mirage
Citrullus colocynthis.
The flower should give this plant away. It's a member of the cucumber family. We called them desert melons.
Photo: Jim Lynch
peaceandquiet
Citrullus colocynthis.
You can see why we called them desert melons.
Photo: Chris O'Byrne
shade
Citrullus colocynthis.
We cut one open to see what it was like inside. Someone took a bite from one and said it was very bitter. Goats eat them apparently, but then what do goats not eat!
Photo: Brian Seales
nightview
Citrullus colocynthis.
There was a sea of desert melons at one point.
Photo: Jim Lynch
desert melon
Citrullus colocynthis.
This was the very first desert melon we saw and caused great excitement after seeing no vegetation for days.
Photo: Brian Seales
old and new
A nice contrast. Ancient carved flowers with new ones complementing them.
Photo: Sinead Cawley
wall plant
Growing in a crevice this plant is perfectly adapted. Photo taken at Leptis Magna.
Photo: Sinead Cawley
lizard
Agama impalearis
A lizard in the Acacus.
Photo: Chris O'Byrne
moretraffic
Agama agama.
Again taken in the Acacus this lizard had a magnificent orange coloured head which does not show too well in this photo
Photo: Brian Seales
tracks
The desert records everthing that happens. Here you can see where a lizard caught his prey
Photo: Brian Seales
desert wheatear
A female Desert Wheatear. Photo taken during one of our lunch stops.
Photo: Dave Seales
desert sparrow
The tough little Desert Sparrow.
Closely related to our own House Sparrow
Photo: Dave Seales
mula mula
Locally called the moula-moula bird, these friendly White Cowned Wheatears appear at every camp site within minutes of setting up. What do they do before we arrive?
Photo: Dave Seales
night heron
A Night Heron photographed at Leptis Magna.
Photo: Dave Seales
Turtle Dove
This little Turtle Dove rested beside our camp site in the Acacus. They are very common along the coast.
Photo: Brian Seales
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier.
This wonderful bird of prey was hunting over the "crop circles".
Photo: Jim Lynch
Locust
Feeding on a Calotropis this locust has fantastic colours.
Photo: Brian Seales
beetle
Probably the largest beetle any of us saw in the desert. Unusual to see him out in the open during the heat of the day.
Photo: Jim Lynch
footprints
An adult and young camel had just passed by leaving these extraordinary prints behind. Totally adapted to life in the desert their feet spread out to form a flat platform which gives better stability in the sand.
Photo: Brian Seales
acacus camels
We met these in the Acacus. The tourists walk and the camels carry all the gear. They are the faster "white" camels which the Tuareg prefer to use.
Photo: Chris O'Byrne
saddles
A great view of the wooden saddles commonly used.
Photo: Chris O'Byrne
young camel
The young camel on the right had been born very recently. They can walk within a few hours of birth and are very graceful for such beginners.
Photo: Chris O'Byrne
teenagers
These guys wouldnot drink any water from the well but instead patiently waited for mum to finish topping up before going after her milk.
Photo: Brian Seales
goats
Goats in the Acacus.
Apart from using their skins to store drinking water we also had goat stew on a few occasions.
Photo: Jim Lynch
cat
This is a Tripolitanian cat.
You know what I mean.
Photo: Sinead Cawley
Jims camels
The marking on the face of this camel is an owners brand.
Photo: Jim Lynch
Jims other camel
Each camel had quite a distinctive face.
Photo: Jim Lynch
another of jims camels
What an expression!
Photo: Jim Lynch

Jim
What can I say?
Photo: Jim Lynch

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