Culinary safari @ Inyati

The American chef and food writer James Beard described food as “our common ground, a universal experience”. Those who have been on an African bush holiday know that food around a campfire, combined with the back-to-nature experience, has the power of a common language.

Inyati dinner

Inyati sundowners
Inyati apple dessert

Status Quo of the Rhino

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

Rhino bought,rhino sold
with promise of cure
to the wealthy and old.
Rhino hunted,poached rhino in kruger
rhino displayed
for trophies on walls,
for tour operators to be paid.
Poisoned, tagged,
stripped of horn
Under surveillance and guard
from the moment they’re born.
To trade, to hunt,
to farm, to breed
Oh the shame of it all
humanity’s greed.
Ranger vs poacher,
politican vs NGO-
fighting in the bush,
fighting the status quo.
Drones and poison,
armies, shoot-to-kill;
Is this enough
to fight a government with no political will?
By: Tisha Wardlow

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Rest, reward and relaxation by Justice Malala

Justice MalalaFOOD FOR THOUGHT: Rest, reward and relaxation

12 Jun 2014 | Justice Malala

After the stresses and strains of the election, a rest cure is just what the doctor ordered, whether in hospital or in a game reserve, writes Justice Malala

NO SOONER do you think the elections are over and the madness will finally subside, than along comes SACP chairman Senzeni Zokwana. Yes, this worker champion, who has now been elevated to agriculture & fisheries minister by President Jacob Zuma, is also the immediate past president of the NUM.

He pays his cattle herder the princely sum of R26 a day. Yes, dear, that’s R26 a day. And the herder is on duty on Saturdays and Sundays, too. Zokwana is the same guy, mind you, who every second day rails against business and its poor wage increases. Watch this space. Before you can say “promotion” this minister will be on the ANC committee that is investigating the introduction of a basic minimum wage across the country. Before you can say “red tape” there will be a law introducing a basic minimum wage in SA. And before you can say “hypocrisy” you will find that our dear Zokwana is still paying his herder R26 a day.

After all, the SACP did come out guns blazing when the story was published, saying that newspapers were being “petty”. No-one said a word about the fact that Zokwana has been enjoying an annual salary of R1m since he became NUM president 14 years ago. I really am not surprised that Zuma arrived at an ANC national executive committee meeting on Friday looking ragged and had to be sent away by party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Then, on Saturday, it was announced that Zuma was admitted to a Pretoria hospital.

I don’t blame the guy for being so stressed. With the Zokwanas of this world in your cabinet you would also need a rest. And the election was exhausting too, according to Mantashe. “I must say these elections were quite punishing. I was told to go and sleep for nine days. I slept for nine days,” says Mantashe. We all need a holiday after that election campaign and the appointment of the Zokwanas of this world. Which is why it was such a pleasure to hop onto a Federal Air flight to Inyati Game Reserve out in the Sabi Sands, Mpumalanga, the other day. Like Mantashe and Zuma, I needed a break from the madding crowd.

Here is the thing about the bush. The minute you enter those small planes, or drive out of the city, the tension just flows out of you. There are no fences between Inyati and the other lodges in the Sabi Sands. The animals roam free. And there are plenty of them: on my first game drive we saw a leopard with two cubs, two herds of elephant and a testosterone of three male lions who were having their afternoon nap.Ask your game ranger not to park downwind from them: they let rip so often we had to either move on or die of asphyxiation.

There are three things you need to remember if you ever go to Inyati. First, the barman, Levi, is phenomenal. Second, the view from the reception area could make an Ernest Hemingway out of a pedestrian writer such as me. There is nothing like sipping a gin and tonic, writing your piece, and seeing animals come down to the river and have a drink. Or a leopard passing through the premises. Third, try to make sure you have a meal out in the bush on one of the days you are there. The staff build a huge fire, a bar is set up and a braai is laid on. The pap is phenomenal, the drinks flow, the stars are fiercely out in the night sky, the meat is delicious and all is good with the world. And I managed to put in a solid nine hours’ sleep, resting just like my hero, Mantashe. Divine.

**** Inyati Private Game Reserve

Sabi Sand Reserve Mpumalanga Tel: (013) 735-5125

*****Thuli Madonsela
****Excellent
***Good
**Poor
*Senzani Zokwana

Justice Malala is a weekly columnist for the Financial Mail.

Ranger Diaries – Khaki Fever

Khaki Fever

Khimbini Hlongwane from Inyati Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand was captivated by animals from an early age.

“Growing up in a village in the eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga) got me exposed to wildlife from a young age and I was fascinated by the behaviours of various animals,” he says. “I loved being out there with brothers herding cattle and goats while interacting with wildlife. It was really fun, yet challenging, because every day we had to try to find food with without becoming food!”

Hlongwane says he battled when he grew older and had to divide his days between going to school and spending time having fun outdoors.

When his community was separated from wildlife, he knew he had to find a way back to live closer to and learn more about animals. However, guiding wasn’t his first choice. “I was terrified of being responsible for entertaining people of different cultures, coming from all corners of the globe,” he says. “You have to understand why that was a challenge for me – I was raised by people who couldn’t read and write, never left the Transvaal and hardly had any exposure to the outside world.”

Initially, Hlongwane had his sights set on becoming a wildlife veterinarian but says after graduating from high school, it was clear this wasn’t going to happen. He moved on to plan B and started as a tracker at Inyati Game Lodge in 1994.

“The training went smoothly because the man training me happened to the same man who taught me the ins and outs of surviving in the bush as a herd boy, Simon George Hlongwane, an older brother, a friend, a mentor, a custodian and a role model to many of us in the community.”Khimbini

Changing t(r)ack

“One of the first things Simon told me was: ‘Remember, we used to see lion tracks and we would herd the livestock in the opposite direction to protect them? Now when we see lion tracks, we follow until we find the lions, so be more vigilant!’”

Hlongwane spent five years as a tracker before becoming a ranger. “I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment I got when seeing the astonishment and excitement on my guests’ faces after successfully tracking a leopard where it seemed impossible.”

He didn’t think he would like guiding as much as he did tracking but Hlongwane says, 15 years later he’s still loving it and has found a new passion in the form of wildlife photography.

Khimbini photography

Khimbini ‘s picture of the leopard stalking was featured in the National Geographic top 25 wilderness photographs.

Close call

While he has had a few close calls with wild animals, the incident that stands out involves guests. “One of the biggest fears as guide is losing a guest,” he says.

One afternoon, after tracking for about half an hour, Hlongwane found a pride of four lionesses and 10 cubs. Because the lions were still resting, he continued the drive and returned to the pride at dusk.

“As we arrived, the lions started yawning, indicating that they would soon start moving. We followed the lions and, as we negotiated our way through the bushes, it became difficult to keep up. I was focused on keeping an eye on the movement of the lions while warning guests to mind the branches coming their way.

“All of a sudden there were loud screams behind me in the vehicle. I turned around to find that, of the party of six Germans, only four were left in the vehicle. Two were standing on the seats, two were on the bars we used to embark the vehicle and the other two had jumped out of the vehicle.”

Hlongwane stopped the engine, picked up his rifle and hopped out the vehicle.

“Trying to figure out what was going on was difficult. Even though we had all been speaking English earlier, suddenly the guests were only speaking German. In the midst of the shouting I heard the word ‘schlange’ which sounded like the Afrikaans word ‘slang’, meaning snake.

“With the tracker watching the lions I decided to open the tailgate of the vehicle. Sure enough there was a harmless variegated bush snake underneath the seats.”

Tree-scaling impala

Hlongwane reckons he could fill a book with the strange questions some guests ask. One of his favourites was at a leopard sighting.

“We followed drag marks and found a leopard in jackalberry tree. Beside the leopard was a half-eaten impala carcass. It was the guests’ first leopard sighting so I waited for the excitement to die down a bit before talking more about leopards.”

“The guest sitting at the back asked: ‘What was the impala doing up there in the first place?’ I turned to look at my tracker and before I could answer she hit me with another: ‘Is the impala dead?’.”

Hlongwane politely explained that impala don’t climb trees and it had been dragged up the tree by the leopard.

Khim photoDon’t stop learning

The most valuable lesson Hlongwane has learnt is to never allow yourself to think you know everything, because that will be the day you stop learning. “Especially in wildlife there is so much to learn. Animals continue to prove to us that they don’t live by the theories we write about them.”

http://tourismupdate.co.za/Contents/Editions/2014/June2014/Ranger_Diaries.html

 

When the Buying Stops…

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

The Killing Will Too!!!

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Reading, Writing and Anti-Poaching

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

According to studies, children’s academic performance in science, math, English and social sciences increase when they have experience with nature and the outdoors—not to mention their sense of ownership and responsibility to their surroundings.(Wildlife Federation)

kenyan school childrenSo it only makes sense to include conservation as part of their education. Afterall, who better to entrust our future generations of rhinos and elephants to than the children?

There are organizations throughout Africa who give the opportunity of conservation education to children. But Kenya has taken it a step further,  getting with the times by introducing anti-poaching and conservation curriculum to secondary schools in the Masai Mara and Serengeti areas.

We decided to introduce lessons on wildlife conservation to these schools to sensitise communities that neighbour the Mara and Serengeti parks on the need to end poaching. The students will visit villages to educate locals on the dangers posed by the menace,”
 said Nick Murero, the Mara-Serengeti…

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Candle in the Dark: Hope in China

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

China – the mere mention of the country sets animal lovers on edge. It’s no secret they bear a huge responsibility for the demand of horn and ivory, paving the destruction of rhinos and elephants, among other animals.

But there is reason to hope. The animal welfare movement is alive and well in China. The younger generation is aware, and becoming less tolerant of cruelty toward animals. With increasing attention from social media, animal protection issues are pushing to the public forefront.

chinese activists

Activists protest dog and cat meat industry.

The past couple of years, Chinese animal welfare advocates have

* banned the U.S. rodeo from entering Beijing
*demonstrated against the import of seal parts from Canada *
*ended barbaric live animal feeding in zoos
*prevented the construction of a foie gras factory
*rescued thousands of dogs and cats from the meat trade
*made stricter terms on harming endangered species(anyone who eats endangered species…

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25 Things You Might Not Know About Rhinos

25 Things You Might Not Know About Rhinos

diceros-bicornis-pittsburgh-zoo-042913-wrk-009a-l1. The word rhinoceros is a combination of two Greek words – rhino (nose) and ceros (horn).
There are five living species of rhinoceros – white, black, greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran.  In addition, a number of other animals have rhinoceros as part of their names, including the rhinoceros auklet, rhinoceros beetle, rhinoceros chameleon, rhinoceros cockroach, rhinoceros fish, rhinoceros hornbill, rhinoceros iguana, rhinoceros rat snake, rhino shrimp, and rhinoceros viper.  All of them have horn-like appendages on their noses.
2. Rhinos have also been referred to as pachyderms.
The name pachyderm also comes from two Greek words – pachys (thick) and derma (skin). Many years ago, zoologists grouped a number of thick-skinned species together as pachyderms, including rhinos, tapirs, horses, elephants, hippos, pigs, peccaries, and hyraxes. This classification is no longer considered useful, but the name is still used every now and then.
3. Rhino is sometimes used as a nickname.
A number of people have been given the nickname Rhino. They include American professional wrestler and actor Terry Gerin (Rhyno), Mark Smith from the British show Gladiators, guitarist Larry Reinhardt (El Rhino) from the band Iron Butterfly, and David Unsworth, a former British soccer star. The national rugby teams of South Africa and Indonesia are also known as the Rhinos.
4. Rhino horns are not made of bone, but of keratin, the same material found in your hair and fingernails.
A rhino’s horn is not attached to its skull. It is actually a compacted mass of hairs that continues to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime, just like our own hair and nails. The longest horn on record belonged to a white rhino and measured just under 60 inches (five feet). By comparison, a woman from Las Vegas, Nevada is believed to have the world’s longest fingernails – about 10 feet worth on each hand – while a woman from China apparently holds the record for the world’s longest hair – over 18 feet in length! Regrettably, neither human hair nor fingernails are believed to possess the healing properties that some people believe are found in rhino horn. If people believed they did, they could chew their own nails and cut their own hair in order to feel well, and halt the needless slaughter of rhinos.
800px-klagenfurtlindwurmundherkules19072006015. A fossil skull first thought to be that of a dragon, turned out to be from an extinct woolly rhinoceros.
In the city of Klagenfurt, located in southern Austria, stands the statue of a legendary dragon or Lindwurm, sporting a crocodile-like body and bat-like wings. The statue was erected around the year 1500, about thirty years after a large skull had been unearthed somewhere nearby. Sculptures used the skull as a model for the dragon’s head, but it was only centuries later that scientists identified it as belonging to the extinct woolly rhinoceros of the last Ice Age. 
equus-burchelli-030805-tanzania-low-res-01166. The closest living rhino relatives are tapirs, horses and zebras.
These animals are known as perissodactyls or odd-toed ungulates. Even toed-ungulates are called artiodactyls and include cattle, deer, antelopes, goats, sheep, pigs, camels and llamas. Rhinos have three toes on each foot so, in a way, their tracks resemble the Ace of Clubs.
7. A group of rhinos is called a crash.
A group of deer is called a herd, a group of fish a school, a group of bats a colony, a group of turkeys a flock, a group of bees a swarm, a group of alligators a congregation, a group of clams a bed, a group of frogs an army, a group of penguins a rookery, a group of hyenas a clan, a group of lions a pride, a group of wolves a pack, a group of coyotes a band, and a group of crows a murder. Who thinks of these names?
8. Some rhinos use their teeth – not their horns – for defense.
When an Indian rhino defends itself against a predator or another rhino, it doesn’t use its horn to gore its opponent. Instead, it slashes and gouges viciously with the long, sharp incisors and canine teeth on its lower jaw. Neither the black nor the white rhino has incisors. Only the Indian and Sumatran rhinos have canines, but all five species have three premolars and three molars on each side of their upper and lower jaws. Commit this to memory … there will be a quiz tomorrow!
9.  An adult white rhino can produce as much as 50 pounds of dung per day!
That’s a lotta poo! And it’s the result of rhinos having to consume large amounts of plant material to obtain proper nutrition. Nuances in the smell of dung can tell a rhino a lot about others in the area. Each rhino’s smell is unique and identifies its owner. The dung of a young rhino smells different than that of an adult. A male’s dung smells different than a female’s, and the dung of a female in oestrus gives off a different odour than that of a non-reproductive female. Multiple or communal deposits of dung are known as middens, essentially serving as local “websites” or ”Facebook pages”, allowing rhinos to keep up with their neighbours. 
ceratotherium-simum-051205-0019-low-res10. White rhinos aren’t white and black rhinos aren’t black. 
The white rhino’s name is taken from the Afrikaans word “wyd,” which means “wide” and describes its mouth. Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the “wyd” for “white“. Black rhinos probably got their name from the dark wet mud in their wallows that made them appear black in color. Both species are essentially grey in colour. By comparison, the famous Blue Rhino, corporate logo for the well-known propane tank company, is entirely a figment of its founder’s imagination.
11. Rhino pregnancies last 15 – 16 months! 
The only animals with longer gestation periods are elephants, which carry a foetus for close to 2 years! Camels and giraffes have pregnancies lasting 13 to 14 months, while female horses, sea lions and dolphins can require up to a year to give birth. A bear’s gestation period is about seven or eight months, a lion’s less than four, and domestic dogs and cats about two. The record for the shortest mammalian pregnancy is 12 to 13 days, held jointly by the Virginia opossum, the water opossum or yapok of Central and South America, and the native cat of Australia.
12. Rhinos and elephants are not mortal enemies.
The myth of hatred between these two species dates back to ancient times. In fact, in 1515, King Manuel I of Portugal decided to see if it were true. He had been given a female Indian rhino by the name of Ganda, who was given a home in his royal menagerie, away from the elephants. One day, however, the King arranged for a battle between the beasts, held in a courtyard and attended by the royal family and their guests. The youngest elephant in the King’s menagerie was led into the arena from its stable. The tapestries hiding the rhinoceros were drawn open.  An official observer wrote that the rhinoceros appeared furious and immediately charged her foe, so violently that the young elephant broke free of her chain, uttered a tremendous cry and bolted to safety through a thick set of iron bars. This incident most certainly helped sustain the myth.
13. The white rhino is the largest rhino species and the largest land mammal after the elephant.  
White rhinos can grow to weigh more than 5,000 pounds, which is almost as much as a Land Rover rolling along on the Serengeti. Next in size is the Indian or greater one-horned rhino, which may actually stand taller than a white rhino, but is just a bit less massive. Then come the Javan rhino and the black rhino. The Sumatran rhino is the smallest of its kind, with the largest individuals barely reaching a ton in weight. A large male hippopotamus can actually exceed the largest rhino in size – perhaps by as much as half a ton – but because it spends most of its time in rivers and lakes, biologists consider it an aquatic, not a land mammal.
14. Perhaps the most famous rhino in the world was one named Clara.
Clara was a female Indian rhinoceros who toured Europe for 17 years during the 1700s. Clara’s mother was killed by hunters in Assam, India in 1738, after which she was adopted by Jay Albert Sichterman and became a household pet. Clara was then sold to a Dutch sea captain, Douwemunt Van der Meer, who somehow got her safely to Rotterdam, rubbing down her skin with fish oil and providing dietary supplements of beer and tobacco. Clara’s European travels are documented in a book called Clara’s Grand Tour by Glynis Ridley, and included stops in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, France, Italy, Denmark, and England. 
diceros-bicornis-tanzania-030805-wrk-0152-low-res15.  African rhinos have a symbiotic relationship with oxpeckers, also called “tick birds”.
In Swahili, the oxpecker is called askari wa kifaru, which means “the rhino’s guard”. The oxpecker eats ticks and other insects that it finds on the rhino, and creates a commotion when it senses danger. This helps alert the rhino. Indian or greater one-horned rhinos have similar symbiotic relationships with other bird species, including the well-known myna.
16. Throughout their history, rhinos have been a very diverse group. 
Paleontologists believe that at least 30 genera and 60 different species of rhino ancestors once inhabited North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The extinct species Paraceratherium, commonly referred to as the “giraffe-rhinoceros”, was the largest land mammal that ever lived. Its head reached a height of nearly 28 feet – as tall as a three-story building – and paleontologists estimate that it may have weighed as much as 20 tons! The smallest rhino ancestors were the Hyracodontidae, which were only the size of dogs. There was also a group of aquatic, hippopotamus-like rhinos, the Amynodontidae, that lived in North America and Asia. 
african-lion-maasai-mara-kenya-111206-wrk-0021a17.  Humans are the major threat to rhinos, but several other species are also rhino predators.
The two species most often reported to prey upon rhinos – usually young ones – are lions in Africa and tigers in Asia. However, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs and Nile crocodiles are also known to kill African rhino calves on occasion. By far, though, people are rhinos’ #1 enemy.
18.  Most wild rhino calves never meet their fathers.
After mating, adult male and female rhinos typically go their separate ways. After the calf is born, it will probably spend a couple of years or more in the company of its mother, and perhaps associate with other females and their calves, but the father rhino is not part of the standard social group.
19. Three of the five surviving rhino species – the black, Javan and Sumatran – are Critically Endangered.
This means there is at least a 50% chance that these species could become extinct sometime this century. Just over 5,000 black rhinos now survive in nine African countries, essentially double the number that existed only 20 years ago, so that species is actually increasing slowly.  Sumatran rhinos used to be found from the foothills of the Himalayas to the island of Sumatra. Today, however, only about 100 individuals are believed to survive as scattered populations in Indonesia and Sabah, Malaysia. The historic range of the Javan rhino was similar to that of the Sumatran, but the species currently numbers no more than 50 individuals, all restricted to Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Java.
20.  The black rhino has a prehensile upper lip that allows it to feed on trees and shrubs. 
The black rhino also has no front incisor teeth, so it relies heavily on its lips to bring food to its mouth. By contrast, the white rhino, the other African species, has a long, flat upper lip that is designed more for grazing on grasses. The black rhino can be compared to a tree pruner and the white rhino to a lawn mower. The upper lips of the three Asian rhino species are also prehensile to some degree, and other mammals with prehensile lips include bears, giraffes, horses, llamas, moose and manatees.
21.  Black, white and Sumatran rhinos have two horns; Javan and greater one-horned rhinos have one horn. 
The Sumatran rhino, although it has two horns, is not at all closely related to Africa’s black or white rhinos. It is the oldest of the living rhinos, having appeared nearly 15 million years ago, and its closest relative is actually the extinct woolly rhinoceros. Black and white rhinos appear to have evolved from a common 6 million-year-old ancestor and remain very closely related. The evolutionary paths of the greater one-horned rhino and the Javan rhino separated a bit more recently, their common ancestor dating back perhaps two to four million years. Curiously enough, most female Javan rhinos don’t appear to have any horn at all!  Is a hornless rhino an oxymoron? 
22. Rhino horn has been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine, but has not been proven to cure any illness.
Powdered rhino horn has been prescribed by Asian doctors for centuries as a cure for a wide range of diseases or conditions including aging, arthritis, asthma, black magic, boils and carbuncles, chest cold, chicken pox, convulsions, coughs, demonic possession, diphtheria, dog bites, dysentery, epilepsy, fainting, fever, fits, food poisoning, hallucinations, headache, hemorrhoids, impotence, insanity, laryngitis, lumbago, malaria, measles, melancholy, memory loss, myopia, night blindness, nightmares, nose bleed, plague, polio, prescription overdoses, rectal bleeding, scorpion stings, smallpox, snake bite, toothache, typhoid, vomiting and worms. There is no evidence from western scientific studies that it has any curative powers but at least one Chinese study disputes those data.  And, of course, its use is illegal.
andatu23. Andatu was the first rhino ever born in captivity in Indonesia.
On June 23, 2012, the female Sumatran rhino known as Ratu gave birth to a 60-pound male at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, located in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park. Approximately 16 months earlier, Ratu had mated with the male rhino, Andalas, who was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 – the first Sumatan rhino born in captivity in over a century. Andalas’ and Ratu’s baby was named Andatu, a combination of his parents’ names, but also an expression that means “A Gift from God”, in the Indonesian language.
24. The most famous piece of rhino artwork is Albrecht Durer’s woodcut, The Rhinoceros, printed in 1515.
The fact that Durer’s rhinoceros is not entirely accurate is not surprising. Durer never laid eyes on a living rhino, but made his famous drawing based on the sketch of an unknown artist who had. The animal was originally sent as a gift from Sultan Muzafar II of India to Alfonso d’Albuquerque, the governor of Portuguese India at the time, who subsequently “re-gifted” it to Dom Manuel I I, the King of Portugal. Dom Manuelwho then “re-gifted” it again to Pope Leo X in Rome. Unfortunately, the boat carrying the unfortunate rhino sank before it reaching its final destination, but the animal’s image has been reprinted countless times over the centuries. 
25. World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22
Each year in September, people who want to help save rhinos from extinction can do so by participating in World Rhino Day.  To learn how you can help, just go to: http://www.rhinos.org/stay-informed/world-rhino-day.

Rhino Dog Deployed in Sabi Sand Reserve

Sponsored by The Dis-Chem Foundation via Jacaranda’s Purple Rhino Project, Bobby Rhino Dog – a Springer Spaniel – has been successfully deployed in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin.

Rhino Dog Deployed

Rhino Dog Deployed

Bobby was trained by the MECHEM Dog Unit and is a detection dog, able to sniff out both rhino horn as well as ammunitions. This combination of scent imprinting is new –  traditionally dogs are trained as either ammunitions dogs or endangered species dogs. Bobby has bonded very closely with his new handler-dad and will play an active role in the fight against rhino poaching in this reserve.

South Africa’s Kruger Park Loses its First Elephant; Kenya Loses an Icon

South Africa’s Kruger Park Loses its First Elephant; Kenya Loses an Icon.

The Writing on the Wall

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

“There is another menacing storm heading south through Africa and the first ominous drops of blood fell on SA soil this week. ” -Will Fowlds

With poaching taking its toll  on 383 rhinos so far this year, South Africa is not new to the epidemic. But with rhino horn worth twenty times more than ivory, elephants haven’t been poached in the country for a decade… until now.
elephant with sun

In 2012 there were 16,700 elephants in Kruger National Park.

On Thursday, rangers found the dead bull elephant with missing tusks. They noted four sets of footprints leaving the park headed toward Mozambique.
Unfortunately this would be just “one more elephant” if it were Zimbabwe or Mozambique. But with the start of it in SA, this is devastating news. Proof of things to come.
“We have been alarmed about the elephant poaching happening in Central Africa and its more recent spread and escalation into East…

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Bird Migration by Matthew Brennan

Book of Job (39:26) – Doth the hawk fly by Thy wisdom and stretch her wings toward the south?”

Early ornithologists noted changes in the birds based on the different seasons, references to migration date back to 3000 years ago when Aristotle postulated the phenomenon of birds disappearing and reappearing every year at the same time. He noted cranes travelled from the steppes of Scythia to the marshes at the headwaters of the Nile, and pelicans, geese, swans, rails, doves, and many other birds likewise passed to warmer regions to spend the winter. Aristotle can also lay claim to many of the superstitions that surround bird migration, as he concluded that birds hibernate during the cold months as well as what he termed transmutation, the theory of transmutation is the seasonal change of one species into another. Frequently one species would arrive from the north just as another species departed for more southerly latitudes. From this he reasoned the two different species were actually one and assumed different plumages to correspond to the summer and winter seasons.
We have come a long way from the days of Aristotle and research these days mainly focus on the way birds navigate their way around, they are able to fly in a particular constant direction, regardless of the position of the release point with respect to the bird’s home area. It has also been shown that birds are capable of relating the release point to their home area and of determining which direction to take, then maintaining that direction in flight. The navigational ability of birds has long been understood in terms of a presumed sensitivity to both the intensity and the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. It has also been suggested that birds are sensitive to forces produced by the rotation of the Earth (Coriolis Effect); however, no sense organ or physiological process sensitive to such forces has yet been demonstrated to support this hypothesis.
African Stonechat - Altitudinal migrant

Experiments have shown that the orientation of birds is based on celestial bearings. The Sun is the point of orientation during the day, and birds are able to compensate for the movement of the Sun throughout the day. A so-called internal clock mechanism in birds involves the ability to gauge the angle of the Sun above the horizon. Similar mechanisms are known in many animals and are closely related to the rhythm of daylight, or photoperiodism. When the internal rhythm of birds is disturbed by subjecting them first to several days of irregular light/dark sequences, then to an artificial rhythm that is delayed or advanced in relation to the normal rhythm, corresponding anomalies occur in the homing behaviour. Two theories have been formulated to explain how birds use the Sun for orientation. Neither, however, has so far been substantiated with proof. One theory holds that birds find the right direction by determining the horizontal angle measured on the horizon from the Sun’s projection. They correct for the Sun’s movement by compensating for the changing angle and thus are able to maintain the same direction. According to this theory, the Sun is a compass that enables the birds to find and maintain their direction. This theory does not explain, however, the manner in which a bird, transported and released in an experimental situation, determines the relationship between the point at which it is released and its goal.
The second theory, proposed by British ornithologist G.V.T. Matthews, is based on other aspects of the Sun’s position, the most important of which is the arc of the Sun, for example the angle made by the plane through which the Sun is moving in relation to the horizontal. Each day in the Northern Hemisphere, the highest point reached by the Sun lies in the south, thus indicating direction; the highest point is reached at noon, thus indicating time. In its native area a bird is familiar with the characteristics of the Sun’s movement. Placed in different surroundings, the bird can project the curve of the Sun’s movement after watching only a small segment of its course. By measuring maximum altitude (the Sun’s angle in relation to the horizontal) and comparing it with circumstances in the usual habitat, the bird obtains a sense of latitude. Details of longitude are provided by the Sun’s position in relation to both the highest point and position it will reach as revealed by a precise internal clock.
Migrant birds that travel at night are also capable of directional orientation. Studies have shown that these birds use the stars to determine their bearings. In clear weather, captive migrants head immediately in the right direction using only the stars. They are even able to orient themselves correctly to the arrangement of night skies projected on the dome of a planetarium; true celestial navigation is involved because the birds determine their latitude and longitude by the position of the stars. In a planetarium in Germany, blackcaps and garden warblers, under an artificial autumn sky, headed southwest toward their normal direction; lesser whitethroats headed southeast, their normal direction of migration in that season.
It is known, then, that birds are able to navigate by two types of orientation. One, simple and directional, is compass orientation; the second, complex and directed to a point, is true navigation, or goal orientation. Both types apparently are based on celestial bearings, which provide a navigational grid.

Carmine bee-eater Afro tropical migrant

Carmine bee-eater Afro tropical migrant

The types of migrants here in South Africa are known as;
Palearctic migrants (species that migrate between Europe/Asia and southern Africa)
Intra ‐ African migrants (species that migrate within Africa)
Altitudinal migrants- Species that tend to follow rainfall patterns up the varying altitudes.

An example of one of our migratory species is the European Roller (Coracias garrulus) is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East and Central Asia and Morocco.The European Roller (Coracias garrulus)

There are two subspecies: the nominate garrulus, which breeds from north Africa from Morocco east to Tunisia, southwest and south-central Europe and Asia Minor east through northwest Iran to southwest Siberia; and semenowi, which breeds in Iraq and Iran (except northwest) east to Kashmir and north to Turkmenistan, south Kazakhstan and northwest China (west Xinjiang). The European Roller is a long-distance migrant, wintering in southern Africa in two distinct regions, from Senegal east to Cameroon and from Ethiopia west to Congo and south to South Africa.

It is a bird of warm, dry, open country with scattered trees, preferring lowland open countryside with patches of oak Quercus forest, mature pine Pinus woodland with heathery clearings, orchards, mixed farmland, river valleys, and plains with scattered thorny or leafy trees. It winters primarily in dry wooded savanna and bushy plains, where it typically nests in tree holes.
The European Roller is a stocky bird, the size of a Jackdaw at 29–32 cm in length with a 52–58 cm wingspan; it is mainly blue with an orange-brown back. Rollers often perch prominently on trees, posts or overhead wires, like giant shrikes, whilst watching for the large insects, small reptiles, rodents and frogs that they eat.

The European Roller (Coracias garrulus)This species is striking in its strong direct flight, with the brilliant blue contrasting with black flight feathers. Sexes are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult.

The display of this bird is a lapwing-like display, with the twists and turns that give this species its English name. It nests in an unlined tree or cliff hole, and lays up to six eggs.
The European Roller (Coracias garrulus) is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East and Central Asia and Morocco.

The call is a harsh crow-like sound. It gives a raucous series of calls when nervous.

To be continued………..

Red winged pratincole

The word migration comes from the Latin migratus that means “to change” and refers to how birds change their geographic locations seasonally.

Experience fantastic close-up’s with Africa’s wildlife by Matt Brennan

Walking is my favourite activity on offer in the bush, I feel that you get a much more personal experience and that the special moments come thick and fast. I recently took a walk that holds out for me as one of the most exciting walks I’ve ever been on in a long while. I think I need to give you a bit of background first. Walks tend to be less big animals and more an opportunity to walk in the bush and get a feeling for the environment on a very personal level. So most guided walks tend to be in slightly more open areas and they concentrate on the smaller aspects of the bush that would escape you in a game viewer, like the tracks, tree’s and flowers. On this particular morning I had quite a large group on the walk with me and I had decided to walk from hippo dam, which is to the west of the lodge and south of the Sand River. Inyati’s position on the river means that pretty much anywhere we walk is very thick. So as a trails guide we use other mechanisms to identify that there are animals around us on the walks. Things we like to identify are tracks and signs, Red-Billed Oxpeckers and any noise that might give away an animal.

On this particular morning I was slowly navigating my way through the drainage line and the confluence of the sand river close to the lodge, when I noticed a single set of buffalo tracks. I then got the guests around me and got them down on their knees as we were going through the steps of trying to identify what it was. While I was pointing out its features I realised just how fresh the track was, aging can be a tricky process but let me assure you when I say that if the track is still crisp on a blustering day then it is fresh. I then rapidly concluded what I was telling the guests and added that the track was very fresh, I pointed out that in the area we were in the buffalo would have the upper hand and so I turned 90 degrees away from the track and was preparing to loop around it. The buffalo had other ideas though and had cut back on itself right into our pathway. So as I was moving down into the Madje Mbhirri drainage line, I noticed about a hundred meters in front of the group, the distinct shape and curve of the dagga boy’s horns whose tracks we had moments before been inspecting. The situation could not have been more perfect for us. There was a giant termite hill that would give us the best view and safest options and so I moved the group onto the mound and got them all seated. The buffalo was exhibiting beautiful behaviour that gives them their reputation for being dangerous; He was lying up on the bank of the river in the shade of a tree. He had no idea we were there watching him. While he gently ruminated in the cool of the shade I explained as much as I could remember on buffalo as the moment had got me excited which tends to cause me to babble a lot. After half an hour we slowly got up and snuck out of the area and around him and continued back towards the lodge.

The excitement wasn’t over though because the pan just west of the lodge always attracts animals and as we came to the edge of the treeline we noticed a big bull elephant wallowing in the mud and spraying himself. He was there for at least 20 minutes and we enjoyed his antics. He made it clear that, that was to be his morning activity and so when I started to hear the guest’s stomach grumbling for a well-earned brunch I got the group moving and we moved down onto the river and walked past the hippos lazing in the water and finally crossed onto the lawns of the lodge.

The reason why I loved this walk so much is that we engaged with these animals and they were unaware of our presence, we viewed them in exactly the manner they would be acting if we weren’t there and so got to see a truth, a perfect moment in those animals behaviour. It is why walking has become my firm favourite thing to do in the bush with guests.
Matthew bush walk
Keith Jenkinson

Inyati Game Lodge completes its renovations.

Inyati Game Lodge in the Sabi Sand Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park has completed renovations to the standard chalets and guest areas.

INY Chillax

The lodge refurbished the existing chalet structures by remodelling the guest bath-rooms with new sandstone showers, double vanities and corner bath’s. The old cottage pane windows have been replaced by large sliding wooden doors to allow more natural light. Interiors have been refreshed with new beds, furniture and mosquito nets.

“We are thrilled with the outcome of the renovations.” said Leighanne Dawkins, Marketing Manager.

50 million years on Earth….Disappearing in 6?!

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

If the current rate of poaching continues, rhinos in the wild will be extinct by 2020. That is just 6 years away!

black and white rhinos by ryan hillier

There are only 5,000 black rhinos (L) and 20,000 white rhinos (R) remaining in the wild. (photo by Ryan Hillier)

According to Will Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation,

“There will probably be no free-living rhinos as the remaining numbers will be fenced off in military-style compounds which are alarmed and heavily guarded by armed patrols.”

Are we prepared to let this happen? How will the world look without them?

The Savanna 

Rhinos are an umbrella species. This means their survival or demise directly impacts the survival or demise of other species of rhino in tall grass by chiu pangmammals, birds, insects, fish and plants. They play a big role in their ecosystem.

When they browse, they keep the areas trimmed, making paths and more accessible areas for smaller mammals. They also enrich…

View original 333 more words

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