Mokhotlong is the largest and perhaps best-known mountain administrative district in Lesotho. It means ‘ the place of the Bald Ibis’. It is endemic to the mountainous regions of the Drakensberg, Lesotho and extending into the hills of Swaziland. They roost and nest on small ledges on cliff faces. Semonkong is a good place to see droves of them coming in at dusk to settle themselves for the night on small ledges on high cliff faces. During the day they disperse, often in large flocks, far and wide in search of food such as insects, snails, worms frogs and carrion. They fly in large flocks and during the winter months flocks of up to 40 birds could be seen feeding on the golf course in Clarens. Bald Ibis are of medium size with dark glossy feathers. They are easily identified from other Ibis by conspicuous bald red head and bill and whitish neck.

Mokhotlo or Bald Ibis possess exceptional and wonderful charms, according to informants at Malealea Lodge in Lesotho. To obtain these charms a snare is laid in the nest of the bird to catch its young ones. When caught it should not be killed or removed from the snare, but left securely tied to the snare. The mother bird returning to the nest and finding her young one ensnared in this manner places a drug on the snare, and this will cause the snare to open and so release the captive. This famous drug found on the snare is collected and used as a medicinal charm. However, should one find in the morning the drug still on the snare and the captured bird still ensnared, he must take the drug away, leaving the little bird ensnared, and continue to do this every morning until he finds the bird gone and fresh drug on the snare. This particular drug is the true one to be preserved.

Author: Craig Walters

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