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Volume - 11

Tribal Hippo Hunt “Below eye level...SHOOT!!”

Saving our ACheetahs tangible experience Underwater art A true life form

Donkeys, Drag & Double Tapers Trout Trekking in Lesotho

Sausage Tree, Green Turtle, Hippo and much more! HUNTING

I FISHING I DIVING I ADVENTURES I DESTINATIONS


Maybe go pro


Contents Regulars Editors Letter

DIVING 4

Photo Competition

6

Events

32

Destinations

62

Pg 35

Pg 24

Featured species: Hippopotamus

13

Green Turtle

31

Ostrich

43

Sausage tree

51

Adventures

Recipe of the month Curried beef-Chinese style

35

Underwater Art - A true life form

41

Become an Ecoteer

46

A Birds-eye view

54

Hunting

Pg 54

Pg 8 Targeting the tiny 10 A P.H. journal from the field

8 16

FISHING

Conservation Driving conservation through

Spin Fishing

22

Donkeys, Drag and Double Tapers

26

tangible experiences Pg 58

Pg 26 2

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Editors Letter

With the days shortening, there is an air of excitement that is evident even to my family. Wakening up and beating the sun to it, is a sign of winter approaching. This means countless hours on a lake on the Highveld trying to fool a trophy trout in taking my fly, and retreating to a warm cottage were I will find myself in front of a fire with a glass Sedgwick’s. Taking this time to reflect back on the first quarter of 2013 that flew past and reassessing my plans on how I will spend my time enjoying all nature has to offer. With Huntex on the horizon, I also realize that it’s time for me to open my man cage and start my preparations for the hunting season. Be sure to visit the expo for great deals and innovative developments is the industry. We’ve been overwhelmed by the entries we received for our photo competition. Some of the submissions are breathtaking to say the least, and picking your 3 finalists seems a daunting task. For your convenience we’ve placed a link on the website to easily submit your entry and stand a change to win great prizes. This is another fantastic edition for you to enjoy and I invite you to visit our website where you can subscribe to your free e-magazine and read many more articles. “Nothing grows faster than a fish from when it bites, until it gets away.”

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Johan Viljoen


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hunting

Targeting the tiny 10 Fritz Rabe

The tiny ten is probably the most difficult of all species to collect with a bow. They comprise of the following animals: common duiker, red duiker, blue duiker, steenbuck, oribi, sharps grysbok, cape grysbok, suni, klipspringer and dik-dik. Many bow hunters shoot a duiker or steenbok as the opportunity arises. Very few are successful when they specifically target these elusive string jumpers. Being so tiny, they offer the smallest of targets and they do not stand still long enough for the time you need to do a proper shot. Their way of life is very fast and jittery. Of the tiny ten, the duikers and klipspringer can be called in on a distress call. This is the job for the PH. He must position the client in such a way that he can see or hear the animal coming in and take the shot. Most animals coming in to a call will be very alert and prone to string-jump more than they already are. In the rainforest of Cameroon we have hunted blue duiker with great success by carefully listening to them running through the heavy cover and waiting for them to come into the shooting lane at full draw.

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hunting The setup for this type of hunting must be so that the client can hold the bow at full draw for quite a while (±) 1 minute and still make a good shot. Calling is best late in the afternoon as dusk approaches. I personally prefer a setup of (±) 55lb or more with an arrow tipped with a cut on impact broad head. This is because you can not wait for the broadside shot and sometimes have to take a shot at an animal facing you or looking away. The cut-on-impact tip will ensure deep penetration through bone and still reach any vitals. In this kind of hunting you will not have enough time to judge the animal to see if it is male or female. Just like gemsbok, the blue- and red duiker females carry horns and they all make for a beautiful full mount. If you can see the horns of a red duiker, you should have shot already as it is a top scorer. The PH must have a good tracking dog or dogs to aid in the follow up at night. This is the time that I hunt grysbok. Very few hunters have been successful with these ultratough little devils in daylight. They come out at night and then frequent the areas next to heavy cover. You will see a lot of them just after dark when they start to forage. The PH has to know his story to be able to judge male from female at night. Only the males have horns and they are positioned in the front of the scull and in line with the ears. Being so short, (± 2 inches) they do not show up clearly with even the strongest light because the animals eyes shine so bright that it makes judging difficult. By walking along the edges of the thickets and shining the light with the client in tow you might even get a shot at porcupine or bushpig. Klipspringer takes a whole lot of luck to get within bowrange. When they come in to a call you must be positioned below them and behind cover where they can not see you. I personally position the client in a spot and do the calling from another, some distance away so that the animal can jump onto a rock and look in my direction. I then let the client know via a two way radio that the klipspringer is

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hunting on the rock and is a male. He then carefully come to full draw and steps out to make the shot. This works well if the PH knows the area well and knows which rocks the animal will jump to when it hears the call. The PH has to do a lot of scouting before the hunt so as to know of a few likely spots. Where suni and dik-dik live it is best to find a well used marking place and wait for them in a good hiding spot some 20 meters away. Do not take a shot while they are busy marking as they will jump the string. Again it is the PH’s job to judge the trophy as these animals are not hunted for meat but for the species or the trophy and it is good to have a knowledgeable PH with you to help you get the best for what you pay for. Steenbok is a walk and stalk hunt. They are common and territorial, so it will not be difficult to spot one. The secret is to be well camouflaged and to take it slow. Most local hunters are familiar with them and do not need a PH to judge a trophy or to find them. Speak to some PH’s in order to find out how they hunt them with clients in order to improve your luck. Oribi is in my opinion one of the most difficult animals to bow hunt. They live in areas where there is hardly any cover and they are extremely alert animals that will bolt in an instant. They often use a vantage point to observe their surroundings just like tsessebe. In the Kafue area in Zambia, the burning season starts in May and that is a good time to hunt the biggest of the tiny-ten. They often follow the flames and feed just a few yards behind. To stalk them in a burnt area, you must be well camouflaged and it will not be long before you are as black as the newly burnt veldt.

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You must move extra slow as any movement will let them depart. What sometimes work is for the PH to position himself behind cover so that he can observe the Oribi without being spotted himself. The client must then proceed alone and with extra care. Oribi like to lie down facing into the wind and become part of their surroundings. The PH must dictate the client’s approach via two way radio as to when to move and when to freeze. This will take a few hours, believe me. The client will be flat on the ground and good knee- and elbow pads is a must if he wants any skin and clothing left after a stalk. The most difficult will be to come to full draw. This has to be done with no cover in place. A low poundage bow is the answer. The client must practice drawing the bow while lying down and then coming to a sitting position for the shot. The arrow must be kept from falling of the rest and it takes a lot of practice and modifications to his grip and shooting style to perfect. For any specialized information, you are welcome to ask and we shall gladly assist where we can. Please direct any questions or queries to info@africanadventures.co.za

Dow

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Featured specie

Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius

www.theanimalfiles.com Main Characteristics

Hippopotamuses are large, semi-aquatic mammals. They have a body length between 2.7 and 3.5 m, a tail length of approximately 56 cms and they weigh between 1.4 and 3.2 tonnes. They are large, heavy bodied animals that have short, stumpy legs with webbed toes. Hippos have a very large head with huge jaws that have a gape of 150 degrees and they contain large, sharp teeth. Their tail is short and has a tuft on the end and their bodies are almost hairless. The nostrils, eyes and ears of hippopotamuses are all situated on the top of their head. This is to enable them to remain almost fully submerged, but still be able to breathe and remain aware of their surroundings. When they dive underwater they are able to close their nostrils and ears to prevent water from entering them. Hippopotamuses are coloured grey/brown, but the underpart of their skin is pinkish in colour. Their skin is made up of a thin outer layer that dries out quickly, and is sensitive to the bites of pests while the inner layer is up to 3.5 cms thick and is made from a dense mat of fibres that are very strong. To prevent their skin from cracking they have to moisten it regularly in water or mud and they also have special mucus producing skin glands. These glands excrete a pink fluid that helps to keep their skin moist and helps prevent against infection and sunburn. They are able to swim and walk underwater, and they are very fast runners on land. Adults can remain underwater for more than five minutes at a time and they are able to sleep under water, rising to the surface to breathe then submerging again without waking up. Hippopotamuses communicate with each other using deep rumbles and grunting sounds.

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Featured specie Habitat

Hippos are found widespread throughout Africa. They spend their days wallowing in rivers, and lakes and during the night they graze on grasslands. During the day the females and their young stay in family groups consisting of between 10 and 20 individuals, but at night they are solitary and graze on their own. They occupy a range of a dominant male, who marks his territory by spinning his tail around scattering dung. The dominant male allows other males into his territory as long as they are submissive and do not try to mate with any of the females.

Diet

The diet of a hippopotamus consists of grass. They will eat approximately 40 Kgs of grass per night. This isn’t a lot for an animal of their size, but its enough for them to lead their energy efficient lifestyle.

Breeding

After a gestation period of 240 days, 1 calf is born. At birth the calf weighs between 25 and 45 Kgs and mothers are very protective of their young. When they reach 6 - 8 months old they are weaned but they will stay with their mother for a further 5 - 8 years. Hippopotamuses breed at any time during the year and they often mate and give birth submerged in water. Adult females will first give birth when they are approximately 10 years of age, then every 2 - 3 years thereafter.

Predators

Humans are the main threat to adult hippos but young hippos can be attacked by lions or crocodiles.

Interesting Facts

• The name hippopotamus comes from the ancient greek meaning “river horse”. Hippopotamus is often abbreviated to hippo. Hippopotami is also accepted as the plural for hippopotamus. • Hippos have been known to attack humans if they feel under threat. • A group of hippos is known as a pod, herd, school or bloat. • An estimate of their running speed on land is between 30 and 50 km/h but they can only maintain this for a few hundred metres. • The hippopotamus is one of only two extant species in the hippopotamidae family, the other being the much smaller pygmy hippopotamus.

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hunting

Jofie Lamprecht

A P.H. journal from the field The Tribal Hippo-Shoot’ Tom, Karl and I together again preparing for yet another adventure. We sat chatting and catching up on the porch of the Lake Lodge as if they had never left, giddy with excitement. This excitement of safari turns fully grown men into playful young boys – making the rest of the world, and its problems disappear in the vast expanse of the African bush. We were setting off on a 21 day hunt in Namibia’s famed Caprivi Strip, a quest for elephant, buffalo and crocodile. As you will read a few daily reports written below, it was the unexpected that would etch memories into our minds to remember for the rest of our existence. Tom & Karl’s Safari, Kwando River, Caprivi, Namibia, August / September 2008 29 August 2008- Day 4 Returning to camp after freshening up the leopard bait, showered and cocktail in hand, I approached the dining area to find a local tribesman waiting for me. “We please need you to shoot us a hippo for the meeting this weekend”, he said. I asked him to please wait for the clients so I could discuss it with them. When Tom and Karl arrived, and gin-and-tonic and white wine served, we started the discussion. Tom wanted to concentrate on elephant with Koos, the owner of the concession and hunting camp. Karl stated, “Are you even asking me?” Tom, Karl and I had been on many adventures, with Karl willing to shoot at anything I pointed out to him. “After our blind session for Mr. Spots in the morning, we go to the river”.

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hunting 30 August 2008- Day 5 Off to the leopard blind at 3 A.M. again, a one and a half hour drive toward the Zambian border. No Mr. Spots. He has not eaten for two days and we were worried that he may not return. At 8 A.M. we took a Ministry of Environment and Tourism (M.E.T.) boat down the Kwando River in search of a hippo for the local tribal meeting and party. The river is beautiful, lethargically making its way down sharp bends and narrowed in places by reeds and papyrus. We see reedbuck, large herds of red lechwe as well as a huge variety of bird life - Malachite kingfishers, carmine bee-eaters, bateleur and many more. It was paradise in one venue. The target being hippo, we cruised slowly down stream in search of what the Germans call a “water-horse”, and they proved very elusive. After a few brief encounters, with the target in sight, they slipped under water and galloped to the safety of the reeds. This happened all underwater, with no chance for a shot. The river was at record high levels, making hunting very difficult. We finally resorted to cutting the engine every time bubbles were spotted ahead, crashed the boat into some reeds for stability, and waited. Our persistence paid off, with a bull coming to the surface to investigate about 30 yards away. He turned to face us, and I told Karl to “shoot quickly, below eye level…. SHOOT!” The shot rang out and the hippo dove and charged the boat under water. Knowing full well our bullets would not penetrate the water; we waited and watched the hippo closing the 30 yards in what felt like slow motion. I shouted for everyone to lie down in the boat to lower the level of gravity, to try and avoid capsizing the boat. As he drew near I could clearly see his open mouth under water, and held my front sight on him as he went under the boat. I told everyone to brace themselves, and be prepared for the impact. Nothing. I jumped to the opposite side of the boat where I could see bubbles once more, and waited for him to surface. Again I could see his huge head under the crystal clear water and waited. As he broke the surface, I fired, and down he went again. After much splashing and more bubbles, this mighty 2.5 ton animal was put down. The hard work had only just started.

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hunting Sand having settled, and the boat drifting, it was time for fast work to secure our quarry before he started rolling with the current of the river. An ingenious tool had been devised by Koos. Three inch steel piping, in three foot lengths, was screwed together until the correct length was achieved to reach the motionless hippo on the river bed. A sharp “gaff” hook was now secured onto our “hippo pole”. I had to see this to believe it, we then “gaffed” the hippo on one of his legs, and four men with full force pulled upward in a jerk. Instead of waiting the 20 – 60 minutes for the hippo to bloat and float to the top, and potentially losing him in the current, the hippo popped to the surface and slowly started sinking again. Incredible! His two hind feet were secured to the boat, and there was time for everyone to take a break for the above mentioned waiting time for the hippo gasses to work their magic. Karl lit a smoke, and we sat back, slowly drifting down the Kwando, enjoying the aftermath of battle with the “most dangerous animal in Africa”. Karl made his shot at 13:30. It took us four hours to get him ashore, battling our way inch by inch with back breaking toil. Dragging the dead weight upstream was slow, but relatively easy. Reaching the narrow channel that led us past the island of our tented camp into a swamp area – polling, rowing and after trial and error, backing the boat down these channels, took it out of all of us. Karl, the client, friend and engineer - 75 years old, with pocket knife in hand to clear the propeller of weeds every few minutes, was a great help. The rest of the hunting team and I strained on the poles and oars – fighting literally inch by inch to reach the shore. With a great team effort, we beached this giant beast to the jubilant shouts of the waiting local community who would party into the night with bellies full of hippo meat, with no activity other than eating and drinking locally brewed beer well into the next week. The trophy was a magnificent old fighter, with thick worn down tusks. Karl, however, could not take it home, because it was for a traditional festival. Parties involved are trying to retrieve the skull and tusks to be displayed at a certain Lake Lodge, so Karl can see it on future trips to Africa.

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hunting

31 August 2008- Day 6 With stiff backs and weary bones we had a 5 A.M. wake up call to go look for buffalo. No good sign, but we did see reedbuck, zebra and giraffe. Karl and I returned the M.E.T. boat, and had a relaxing cruise for almost two hours to the ranger station. Karl took the rest of the day off, and I went to check our leopard bait one and a half hours away. Good news, our Tom leopard is back, with a female! We made a plan to monitor the situation and get them nice and comfortable for the next few days before we made our next move. Post journal entry Shot on the hippo: When we skinned the hippo, we had a look at the effect that Karl’s .375 Wesley Richards H&H 300 grain solid had on the head shot on the hippo. The bullet entered the skull off center, penetrated the inch thick skin of the hippo. The projectile knocked a three inch diameter dent into the skull, before bouncing up and exiting the head of the hippo. The leopard on bait: Karl never got a shot at that leopard, he outsmarted us. Koos shot that same leopard a few miles from the Zambian border the next season, in the same bait tree. Curiously, the leopard was missing his entire tail! No leopard for Karl on this trip, but he did go home with a 75 pound elephant, good buffalo and the above mentioned hippo. What wonders might tomorrow bring? Follow Jofie on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JofieLamprecht Contact Jofie Lamprecht for all your hunting and photographic safari needs: All images and text supplied by Jofie Lamprecht Photography Š 2013

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fishing

Spin Fishing

Barry Wareham

Spinning, or spin fishing, has grown enormously in popularity over the last 2 years. The reasons are numerous but there is no doubt, that discerning anglers find it appealing because it is quick, clean and stimulating. The other major factor is the quality and quantity of lures that are available on the market today. These days, time is a big factor when it comes to personal recreational activities, especially when they do not involve the rest of the family directly. With spinning one can put in an hour or two early in the morning or late in the afternoon on a regular basis without affecting family time as bait fishing would. There is very little pre-preparation and very little cleaning afterwards. Long days spent on the beach, rocks, boat or river bank and bait fishing invariably mean lots of sand, salt, mud or bait needing to be cleaned or washed off equipment. Strong bait smells are very bearable for ardent anglers, but it’s amazing how much more pleasant it is not having to cope with these niggles. No tackle box full of sand or covered in mud, no bits of sardine dried onto the side of the cooler box etc. The challenge of fooling fish into eating the lure is something that has forever excited mankind ever since we first moved into the caves. There is an inherent passion for the hunt in particular with the lure that is so much easier to fulfil these days than ever before. Along with this has come the stark realisation that we need to look after what is dear to us. You won’t often find a spin fisherman who is not very aware of the need to catch and release a lot more than he actually

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fishing keeps. The privilege of still being able to eat wild fish can stay with us forever, if we ensure we lead by example. There are many fisheries all over the world that are stronger now than they have been in the last 50 and in some cases 100 years. This is the result of a strong conservation ethic. Today’s equipment is truly incredible and although high-tech, it’s amazing in its simplicity. Everything has gotten smaller, stronger, lighter and, believe it or not, cheaper from a value for money point of view. Depending on the area or sort of fishing you intend doing, the equipment can be divided into three categories – light, medium and heavy spinning. Light spinning would cover estuary, river, dam, surf and gully type fishing and would normally comprise of a 6’ or 7’ medium to slow action rod with a 2000 or 3000 size reel and 10lb to 20lb braid. This outfit can also be used for drop-shot fishing. It will throw lures of up to 1oz max, but generally ½ oz to ¾ oz. A medium outfit is undoubtedly the most popular by far in the sea. Here a 5000 size reel with 20lb to 30lb braid and a 10’ or 11’ slow-action rod is used for beach and rock work, but if being used off a boat, the rod should be around 7’ to 8’. It will throw from 1oz to 2oz with 1 ½ oz being the optimum. The more one intends drop-shotting with this kind of outfit, the more one should be considering a faster action rod. A heavy spinning outfit is normally associated with a minimum of 50lb braid and ideally a 10000 size reel, but anything from 8000 through to 18000 will do the trick. Again, 11’ is probably the best length for the surf and rock fishing and although one can use longer rods, they tend to start tiring one out a lot quicker than the shorter rod. Whilst the action can be a fair amount faster, it still needs to be a slow rod under load. The rod should throw from 2oz to 4oz with 3oz being the optimum weight.

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fishing It is great to be as mobile as possible for the land-based stuff so a nice comfortable back-pack that will carry your leaders, lures, tools, water, etc, is very necessary. Spare spools for reels are always a very good option as often when the fish start biting, it is not for long and one can’t afford to be fiddling about retying leaders etc, whilst the fish are biting. A good selection of lures should always include a long casting surface plug, some stick baits and some Max-Rap type long-casting slim minnows. On the spoon side, a long-casting fast-action spoon is very important and it is also a good idea to have some slower S-type spoons. At least one or two in the glow-in-the-dark colour is very important. Depending on the area, a couple of buck-tail jigs, some jig-heads and plastic jerkshad and paddle-tails will complete the selection.

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fishing

Donkeys, Drag, and Double Tapers Trout Trekking in Lesotho

Keith Clover

You could be mistaken for thinking that this article’s title was stolen from one of Amsterdam’s infamous red light district “theatre productions”, but you would be sorely mistaken. There is, however, one similarity when trekking the remote wilderness of Lesotho and the streets of Amsterdam, and that is the local’s choice in tobacco products. This, however, is where the similarities end. If the altitude in Lesotho was not enough to get you “high” so to speak, then the world class sight fishing would definitely push you over the edge. It most certainly did for me. My most recent foray into Lesotho was part of a three phased DVD production, The Kingdom, in conjunction with Safari and Film Africa. The productions aim was to highlight the remote wildernesses of Lesotho, and hopefully the boutique sight fishing it offered fly fisherman prepared to go the extra mile, or twenty. My good friend, and fellow Tourette Fishing guide Lionel Song returned from the first week of filming with reports of excellent fishing and wild open spaces this in spite of heavy rains playing havoc with water conditions in the particular river they were fishing. Ever the optimist, and hoping for improved water conditions, visions of trekking remote valleys and searching crystal waters for virgin fish were at the forefront of my mind during the build up. It was with this mindset, that Rayno Egner and myself, with our respective other halves Kerry and Caz, headed up and over Sani Pass to meet fellow angler Ed Truter, before making our way to a far-flung tributary of the Senqu River. Modus Operandi: The plan was simple. After parking the vehicles, we were to meet two local Basotho guides and three ponies. These ponies would carry out hiking equipment, while we carried tackle and filming equipment. With the aid of Google Images, Ed had split the river into 6 beats, with 6 overnight stops evenly spread along the river’s course. Each day after breaking camp, the ponies would be sent ahead to the predetermined overnight stop, while we fished our way through the day arriving at sunset in time to set up tents and get a small fire going. At the end of the 7 days, we 26

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fishing would make the big trek up and out to the main road and thumb a lift back to the vehicles. As you know, rural Africa does not always respect such well laid plans – but in this instance all went off without a hitch. The Fishing: It is impossible to fish a new venue without any preconceived expectations, and having spent months of my life fishing on Drakensberg trout streams, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what we were in for. On arriving at the rivers edge, the clarity of the water immediately got my spirits up. It was clearer than anything I had witnessed before. And although a slight tint would have been better for the fishing, for filming and sight fishing purposes we could not have asked for better conditions. Our days were spent wading and walking the river taking turns fishing to sighted or rising fish. As is normally the case, the bigger fish were cruising, or holding in the deep pools and slow runs. Over the course of the 6 days we a released a number of trophy fish between 18 and 23 inches. Each fish sighted and observed before the plan of attack was discussed and the lucky angler sent off to take care of the business. This type of “buddy” fishing, with the angler sent down to water level to make the cast, and the crew above giving guidance is for me one of the most enjoyable aspect of fly fishing. With two camera’s and two spotters all giving advise and directions, the pressure on the angler in these situations was tangible. Similarly, the relief and euphoria experienced by all involved was amplified in the laughs and shouts of joy that echoed off the basalt cliffs when the plans came together. On a particularly memorable day, we spotted two 20 inch plus fish cruising a large shallow pool. Both rising occasionally as they made their way round the pools perimeter, following a course they must have done hundreds, if not thousands of times before. Trophy fish, when found in clear shallow water are invariably smart. Not Phd smart, but street smart; the type of smart that keeps you safe when walking a back ally in a tough neighbourhood. These fish knew something

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fishing was up way before any of us got close to putting in the first cast. After numerous attempts to get the fish to take our dry fly offerings, and one missed opportunity on a large hopper pattern, we had given up on the two fish. Both were badly spooked, to the point of looking irritated with us. However, while we were discussing how poorly we had approached the fish, Ed proceeded to take both fish in quick succession on a lifted nymph technique that I am now sold on. Although not everyone’s cup of tea, it is deadly. In brief summation a heavily weighted nymph – in this case a size 10 tungsten beaded ZAK, is cast out and left to sink to the bottom. The fly must settle in close vicinity to the fishes cruising path, where you can see it, and the fish when it next passes the spot. As the fish approaches the spot where the fly is lying, it is lifted off the bottom and away from the fish with a sweeping motion of the rod. The aggressive nature of rainbow trout takes over, they throw caution to the wind, and attack the fly with gusto. Although not fool proof, and best used as a last resort, this technique works! Apart from the sighted fish, good sport was had fishing the turbulent and shallow pocket water with large buoyant dry flies, fished on their own, or in conjunction with a small beaded mayfly droppers. Bryce Perrett’s foam hopper, which was initially tied on as strike indicator, proved deadly. Although a productive river as was evident from the fishing – the river sustained surprisingly little insect life, and it soon became evident that the fish in this particular system were not treated to an over abundance of aquatic invertebrates. Thus, over the course of the week, we changed dry fly tactics from small caddis and mayfly patterns to larger terrestrials. The standard double fly rig with combinations of weighted and un-weighted PTN’s, Zaks and other non descript mayfly nymphs fished under an indictor also accounted for fish in the fast turbulent waters where sight fishing was not possible. Big Sky Country: I live for wild places. Not a weekend at the syndicate lake kind of wild, the kind of wild that reminds us that there are still forgotten corners of the planet to be fished. The kind of wild that makes you slightly nervous when you consider how far removed you are form everyday life. And although Lesotho is a pretty desolate and remote area, I was not expecting to be blown away on the wilderness front. How wrong I was. As our trek took us deeper into the valleys, the extent

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fishing fishing

of our complete isolation began to settle on me like welcome blanket in the cold. We moved with the rhythms of the sun, up at dawn and asleep soon after sundown. The days passed by in a kaleidoscope of turquoise pools, mottled rocks and dotted trout. Apart from the sounds of sloshing feet and swishing fly lines, the mountain silence was only occasionally broken by the melodic ringing of sheep bells, and the far off calls of nomadic herdsmen. Our short evenings were spent chatting around the fire or gas stove. Meals of soya mince and smash were washed down with half cups of warm whisky and slabs of chocolate. Down sleeping bags on a mattress of pony blankets welcomed our weary bodies as we drifted off to sleep each evening, eager for the following day’s adventures. Fly fishing is my first passion (read obsession), and will remain a constant distraction until the day I die. Another of my somewhat obsessive life distractions is off road distance running. In the build up to a recent ultra-marathon I received a motivational quote written by Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub 4 minute mile. Although it was aimed at runners, the fundamental message it outlined immediately struck me as the primary driving force in all we do as fly fisherman. With a couple of changes here and there, I have adapted it, and can honestly say it now has a permanent place in my list of fly fishing quotes. It embodies the mindset and spirit in which I view the sport of fly fishing, and has particular relevance for men and women who go the extra mile to quench their fly fishing thirst. It may also make a good ending to this piece….. We fish with fly, not because it makes us better than the next, but because we enjoy it, it sets us free and we cannot help ourselves. The more restricted our work and society become, the more necessary it is to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, “that River is too wild, or that Flat too remote”. A fly fisherman’s spirit is indomitable. Images and text supplied by: Cell: +27 84 622 2272 | Tel: +27 33 343 2182 | Fax: +27 (0) 86 719 3621 Email: keith@tourettefishing.com | Website: www.tourettefishing.com Skype: tourettefishing

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Featured specie

Green Turtle Chelonia mydas

www.theanimalfiles.com

Green Turtles are one of the largest and most wide spread marine turtles. They can reach lengths between 1 and 1.2 m and their average weight is in the region of 200 Kgs. In the wild they can live for up to 80 years. The carapace (shell) of a Green Turtle has smooth, non-overlapping scutes and these are coloured various shades of brown and have patterns that change over time. The plastron (underside) is lighter coloured. They have a small head that is covered in brown scales that have a light coloured edging and they have paddle-like limbs which enables them to be graceful, streamline swimmers.

Green Turtles are found in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate waters worldwide. There are two major subpopulations of Green Turtle, the atlantic population and the pacific population.

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events

Not to be missed GAUTENG Classic Car Show 6 April Johannesburg Delta Dash Mountain Bike Race 13 April Blairgowrie Huntex 18-21 April Gallagher Convention Centre

Junior Nationals 2013 Deep Sea Angling 2-6 April Durban Let it Swim TFT 18-20 April Jozini Africa Bike Week 26- 30 April Margate Freedom Day Regatta 27 - 31 April Durban

Sasol Bird Fair 25-26 May Jhb Zoo

NORTH WEST Lichtenburg Litchi Festival 25-27 April

Mpumalanga Sasol Rally 19-20 April White river

Lichtenburg Local is Lekker fees 25 May

Blue Swallow Festival 27-28 April Graskop

Lichtenburg

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events

Freestate

Rare Plant Fair 13 April

Syngenta Wildfees Marathon

Stellenbosch

14 April Ventersburg

Eastern Cape

Philippolis Witblits Festival

Bathurst Agricultural Show

20-21 April

5-8 April

Philippolis

Bathurst

Limpopo

Dolosfees 25-27 April

Jamboree 4x4

Port Elizabeth

26- 29 April Rust de Winter

EP Bonsai Association EXPO 9-10 April

Spirit of Africa Trophy 2013

Sherwood

25 April

Northen Cape

Tzaneen

Tankwa Arid Birding Bonanza

WESTERN CAPE

12-15 April

KKNK 29 Maart - 6 April Outdshoorn

Tankwa Karoo National Park Oorlogskloof Mountain and Gorge

Simonsvlei Family Adventure Day 6 April Paarl Stanford Oesfees 7 April Stanford

Run 27 April Nieuwoudtville

If you would like to publish your event here, please send details of event to: info@africanadventures.co.za

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Featured specie Green Turtles are herbivores and they mainly feed upon seaweed and sea grasses. When they are young they will also eat marine invertebrates but as they get older their intake of plant matter increases until they become completely herbivorous.

Green Turtles mate in shallow water approximately 1 Km from the nesting site. After copulation, and when the female is ready to lay her eggs, she will crawl ashore after dark. She will dig a large pit above the high tide line and in it she will lay 100 - 200 eggs. This group of eggs is called a clutch and she will cover them over with sand to protect them from the sun and any predators. After 6 - 8 weeks the young turtles will hatch and they will move their flippers to make their way to the surface. Once at the surface they will cross the beach to the sea. When they reach the sea they will float away and spend the next couple of years eating plankton until they are mature enough to feed on sea grasses. The first few years of life is the most hazardous for Green Turtles as that is when the are most vulnerable to predation. Green Turtles reach sexual maturity between 10 and 24 years of age and nesting occurs every 3 - 6 years.

The main predators of adult Green Turtles are sharks, specifically tiger sharks, and humans. Young Green Turtles are prey to sea birds, crabs, and fish.

There are two subspecies of Green Sea Turtle: Atlantic Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas mydas), Pacific Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii). This subspecies is also known as the black sea turtle, eastern pacific green sea turtle and agassizii green sea turtle.

Green Turtles are also known as: Green Sea Turtle.

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diving

Underwater Art - a true life form

www.jasondecairestaylor.com Jason deCaires Taylor is an internationally acclaimed eco-sculptor who creates underwater living sculptures, offering viewers mysterious, ephemeral encounters and fleeting glimmers of another world where art and life develop from the effects of nature on the efforts of man. His site-specific, permanent installations are designed to act as artificial reefs, attracting corals, increasing marine biomass and aggregating fish species, while crucially diverting tourists away from fragile natural reefs and thus providing space for natural rejuvenation. Subject to the abstract metamorphosis of the underwater environment, his works symbolize a striking symbiosis between man and nature, balancing messages of hope and loss. Since 2006 he has created and founded two large scale underwater Museums, one on the island of Grenada in the West Indies, which has subsequently been documented as a “Wonder of the World” by National Geographic and a monumental collection of over 412 pieces in Mexico called MUSA (Museo Subaquático de Arte), now listed by Forbes as one of the world’s most unique travel destinations.

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diving The Silent Evolution Another 50 figurative pieces have been added to The Silent Evolution installation on the Manchones reef system between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. The entire artwork now stands at 450 sculptures which have been installed incrementally to inform visitors on the various stages of reef evolution. The new portraits cast from local members of the community aim to depict the integral symbiosis and dependency of humans on nature. The Bankers MUSA Collection. Cancun, depth 4m. The Bankers, housed four metres underwater in the Museum of Sub-aquatic Art in Cancun (MUSA), are a series of suited male figures with their heads immersed in the sand surrounded by a scattered array of brief cases and calculators. The installation symbolizes a resistance and denial to acknowledge our looming environmental crisis and the shortsighted actions and poor accountability of banking and government institutions. The identical positioning of the figures in a pray like pose also aims to depict a shifting in values and misplaced emphasis towards monetary remuneration. The design also supports an internal living space between the legs of bankers for crustaceans and juvenile fish to breed and inhabit. Urban Reef MUSA Collection. Cancun, depth 8m. A new series of sculptures have now been added to the MUSA collection entitled Urban Reef, they depict a series of suburban dwellings specifically designed to house individual marine species. Working with local marine biologists the units are designed with a variety of rooms, spaces, hideaways and textures all tailored for different reef inhabitants, for example large flat terraced areas provide shelter for lobsters and crabs. Certain rooms are meshed to allow juvenile species to seek protection, whilst the roof texture allow corals and tunicates to colonise. The houses which in the future aim to portray a street scene are located on an open stretch of terrain and also offer a place of shelter and refuge from reef predators such as Barracudas and Lion Fish.

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diving Reclamation MUSA Collection. Cancun, depth 4m. Constructed from high strength pH-neutral cement and incorporating tensile stainless steel anchoring points, Reclamation is first kinetic sculpture in the MUSA collection. Based on a angelic female form with wings that are propagated with living purple gorgonian fan coral (Gorgonia ventalina) which continuously moves back and forth underwater filtering nutrients from the sea water. The fan coral which is often naturally uprooted and dislodged from strong storms and waves was rescued and replanted from fragments found on nearby sand areas. The sculpture is orientated into the prevailing current and the wings of the angel appear to beat with the natural cycle of the waves. The Listener MUSA Collection. Cancun, depth 4m. Working with Ms. Heather Spence, marine biologist, Dr. Patricia Gray, Director of the BioMusic International Research at the University of North CarolinaGreensboro and Colegio Ecab A.C, The Listener portrays a lone figure that is assembled entirely from casts of human ears molded during a workshop of local Cancun students aged 8-12. The sculpture is fitted with a revolutionary NOAA-designed hydrophone, which is continually recording sounds from the reef environment and storing the data to an internal water resistant hard drive. Although the marine environment is often referred to as the silent world it is actually reverberating with a myriad of noises from crustaceans clicking, fish feeding, waves breaking to boats passing overhead. Sound also travels approximately four times faster in water than in air. This bioacoustic research method of non-invasive Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) will monitor some of complex sound activities taking place underwater and will advance our understanding of acoustic relationships while informing the science of conservation management. The form symbolizes a passive relationship between humans and nature whilst aiming to engage local students in reef conservation and draw focus to the much needed ability to listen. Sponsoring Partnering Organizations: University of North CarolinaGreensboro, CONAMP. The Last Supper MUSA Collection. Cancun, depth 4m. The Last Supper depicts a dining table carved from a rock outcropping. It is laid with plates and cutlery and features a large bowl filled with fruit and hand grenades as its centre piece. A half eaten fish supper rests on both of its plates. Following on from the Time Bomb series, the work aims to illustrate the serious problem the world’s oceans are facing

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diving

due to overfishing. The UN has claimed that three quarters of the worlds fisheries are severely over stressed and if nothing is done to reverse the trend we could see a worldwide collapse in 50 years with several species facing extinction. The Last Supper hopes to draw attention to this critical yet often overlooked issue. Over the past few decades we have lost over 40% of our natural coral reefs and scientists predict a demise of 80% by 2050. Only about 10 – 15% of the seabed has a solid enough substratum to allow reefs to form naturally. In order to increase the number of reefs in these areas, artificial reefs have recently been created from materials that are durable, secure and environmentally sensitive. These artificial reefs attract corals, sponges, hydroids, increase overall reef biomass and aggregate fish species, which in turn can support an entire marine ecosystem. However one of the greatest benefits of artificial reefs is that they have relieved the pressure on natural reefs which have been over fished, over visited and damaged by natural events. By diverting attention to artificial reefs, natural reefs have a greater chance to repair and regenerate. Taylor works also aims to usher in a new era for tourism, one of culture and environmental awareness, in hope that the millions of tourists may begin to reconceptualise the beaches they haunt as more than sunny slices of heaven but living and 38

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diving breathing ecosystems. Some of his sculptures are propagated with live coral cuttings rescued from areas of the reef system damaged by storms and human activity. This technique, a well-established procedure in reef conservation, rescues damaged coral fragments by providing a suitable new substrate. All sculpture are made from inert pH neutral environmentally friendly marine cement. All of Taylor’s work sites are located in clear shallow waters to afford easy viewing by divers, snorkelers and those in glass-bottomed boats. “Taking art off of the white walls of a gallery offers the viewer a sense of discovery, a sense of participation and the opportunity to detach your imagination from the confines of the terrestrial world.” The experience of being underwater is vastly different from that of being on land. There are physical and optical considerations that must be taken into account. Objects appear twenty five percent larger underwater, and as a consequence they also appear closer. Colours alter as light is absorbed and reflected at different rates, with the depth of the water affecting this further. The light source in water is from the surface, this produces kaleidoscopic effects governed by water movement, currents and turbulence. Water is a malleable medium in which to travel, enabling the viewer to become active in their engagement with the work. The large number of angles and perspectives from which the sculptures can be viewed increase dramatically the unique experience of encountering the works.

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diving

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Recipe

www.cookbook.co.za Beef curries are really fantastic but take a fair amount of time and when I read this curried beef in a Chinese recipe book, I just had to try it. The very essence of Chinese cooking is good fresh ingredients that are cooked swiftly on a high heat in just minutes so the thought of a great curry in just a few minutes really appealed to me. The sate sauce makes a huge difference to the flavor so if you don’t have any add a little peanut butter that has been watered down. Well I was so impressed that I will certainly be making this curry recipe often. (4 people) What you need

Sauce

500g fillet steak finely sliced

2 tablespoons sate sauce

3 medium potatoes in small cubes (2cm)

1 tablespoon chili sauce

2 medium onions roughly chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons curry powder (mild, med, hot – your choice)

80ml water (1/3 cup)

Oil for frying

1 chicken stock cube crumbled

1 Crushed Garlic

3 teaspoons maizena (cornflour) 1 tablespoon rice wine or sherry

The process In a wok or pan on a medium heat add the oil and cook the potatoes until they are nicely browned and cooked through. They tend to want to stick together so toss them around a bit. Add the onions and 2 teaspoons of curry powder and garlic, toss to combine and cook for about another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Clean the wok, add a little more oil, turn up the heat and stirfry the beef on high, tossing frequently until browned. Add back the potato mixture and all of the sauce ingredients. Stir to combine and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce heat and cook for 3 minutes. Thats it, a really fantastic curry in minutes. The fillet steak is soft, tender and because its so thin the sauce permeates right through it. www.africanadventures.co.za

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Featured specie

Ostrich

Struthio camelus

www.theanimalfiles.com

Main Characteristics

Ostriches are large, flightless birds. They are between 2.1 and 2.8 m in height, they have a wingspan of approximately 2 m and they weigh between 100 and 160 kgs. They have a long, bare neck, a small head, a huge body and long, muscular legs. Their feathers are loosely packed and males are coloured black with a white tail and wing tips and females are brown/grey and white in colour. They have the longest legs of any bird and they have two toes on each foot. The large inner toe has a nail that resembles a hoof while the smaller outer toe lacks a nail. This adaptation aids them while they are running and they can reach speeds up to 70 km/h. Ostriches are the fastest animal over long distances and they can sustain speeds of 50 km/h for as long as 30 minutes. Ostriches have the largest eyes of any land living animal and they measure 50 mm in diameter. Their beak is flat and broad and it has a rounded tip. They do not have any teeth so to aid digestion they will eat small stones to help grind down their food in their stomach. They have a 14m long intestine which enables the Ostrich to get as many nutrients out of their diet as possible. They live in a climate that can have temperature differences as much as 40째C between day and night time, therefore Ostriches can withstand a variety of temperatures. To help control their temperature they utilize the bare skin on their upper legs and flanks, covering it with their wing feathers or exposing it depending on if they want to retain heat or cool down. Another adaptation to this climate is that they are able to raise their body temperature by 4째C during hot periods to minimize their water loss through perspiration.

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Featured specie Habitat

Ostriches are found in the open, semi-arid savannahs of Africa. They tend to live in mixed groups of 5 - 50 individuals but sometimes they live alone.

Diet

Ostriches mainly feed on grasses, roots, seeds, leaves and flowers. They also occasionally eat invertebrates and small lizards. They are able to go for long periods without water as they get the moisture they need from the vegetation that they eat.

Breeding

During the breeding season males make loud, booming calls and produce elaborate displays. A dominant male will defend a territory between 2 and 15 kms² and he will mate with the major hen and other females within the area. A nest is constructed by scraping a hollow in the soil and it is approximately 3 m in diameter. The major hen lays 5 - 11 eggs in the nest and the minor hens lay 2 - 6 eggs in the same nest, but the minor hens play no part in the incubation of the eggs. As many as 40 - 60 eggs can accumulate in the nest but only 20 will be incubated. The major hen is able to distinguish the eggs that she laid and will ensure that they are covered at all times. Ostrich eggs are glossy cream in colour and they are on average 15 cm in length, 13 cms wide and 1.4 kgs in weight. They are incubated for 35 - 45 days and upon hatching the young ostriches are well cared for and defended by the dominant male and the major hen. Occasionally if two family groups encounter each other a fight may break out and the victorious pair may make off with the young of the other Ostriches. Ostriches reach sexual maturity at 2 - 4 years of age with females maturing about 6 months before males.

Predators

The main predators to Ostriches are cheetahs, but lions, african wild dogs, leopards and spotted hyena are also a threat. An adult male Ostrich is a formidable opponent and will strike out at a predator, however in most cases Ostriches are able to out run their pursuer. Ostrich chicks are vulnerable to a range of predators including large eagles and eggs are taken by banded mongoose and egyptian vultures.

Subspecies

There are five recognized subspecies of Ostrich but only four are still in existence today: Southern Ostrich (Struthio camelus australis), North African Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus), Masai Ostrich (Struthio camelus massaicus), Somali Ostrich (Struthio camelus molybdophanes), Arabian Ostrich (Struthio camelus syriacus).

Interesting Facts

Ostriches are the largest, tallest and heaviest species of bird. The name “Strothio camelus� means camel-like. Ostrich eggs are the largest of all birds eggs, but they are the smallest relative to their size.

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tOYZ 4 BOYS

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adventures

Become an Ecoteer Neil McIver There are many different kinds of travellers – some people enjoy exotic island holidays while others get a kick out of shopping malls, glitz and glamour. The outdoor and 4x4 communities of South Africa, however, have a different set of thrills that they seek when they go on a self-drive tour. In my experience, avid 4x4 adventurers want their holidays to be full of enlightening cultural experiences, fresh air and new discoveries. In the world of outdoor adventures, safaris and 4x4 routes, people want to spend time with people whose company they enjoy and learn about the untapped beauty of Africa, its people, its wildlife and its cultures. Over the past few years, these groups of people have become particularly aware of how their holidays impact the areas they visit. These areas – and the people that live there, often don’t have flashy websites, PR representatives and tourism departments who promote their rights and sustainability. There are various different aspects of responsible tourism, ranging from calculating your carbon footprint and supporting local projects to simple things like making sure your camp grounds are clean after you have left. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind with regards to responsible tourism:

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Paying the cheapest rate I’m not saying that you should book the most expensive tour or accommodation, but make sure you know what you’re paying for. Unfortunately, a common trend among tour and accommodation operators is to undercut local staff. Find out what the travel agent or tour operator stands for; whether they’re supporting local projects, using local guides and contributing to the community. Ideally, you want the money you pay to benefit the areas you visit, not get funnelled to an overseas travel company. Responsible tourism is an obligation (and a reward) Africa is synonymous with magnificent fauna and flora, diverse cultures and rough, unmatched beauty. If you’re going on a 4x4 holiday somewhere in Africa, you should see it as your obligation to leave your place, whether it’s after a short picnic or a week-long stay, exactly as you found it. While this seems like a fair commitment to make, it’s not always easy thanks to a lack of infrastructure in rural areas. With many self-drive tours, 4x4-ers are used to taking everything from bottled water and food to utensils, plastic bags and paper towels with them – because there’s no surety that you’re going to be able to buy the supplies you need along the way. Even if you’re aware of the rubbish you leave behind and make a point of discarding it in plastic bags or bins, you can’t always know when, or even whether, the rubbish is going to be removed by local staff or people.

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adventures A solution is to invest in a 4x4 trailer that’s been designed for self-drive holidays where people will be far from the hustle and bustle of the cities and garbage removal services. These trailers have enough space and ergonomical compartments to let you gather your rubbish (without it being in the way) until you get to a place where you can dispose of it in a sustainable way. Next level eco tourism: become an “Ecoteer” A new trend in the world of responsible tourism is to become an “ecoteer”, where the main goal of your trip is to volunteer in the communities you’re visiting. This is usually done through an organised group. Some of the projects I’ve heard of help to build sustainable schools – that have energy efficient lighting and heating & cooling systems, for example. Other projects could be cleaning up the areas or installing an organic vegetable garden and teaching the people of the area to grow their own healthy food. The point of responsible tourism is to ensure you don’t damage (or have a negative impact) on the places that you visit. It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep our forests, deserts, deltas, rivers and mountains safe and beautiful. As an avid 4x4-er, I look forward to seeing more people invest the time, equipment and effort it takes to keep our continent and country as pristine as it’s always been. Neil McIver African Outdoor Rentals Tel: +27 11 849 9342 Fax: +27 86 686 8670 E-mail: service@africanoutdoorrentals.co.za Website: www.africanoutdoorrentals.co.za

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Razor back

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PTA caravane

ANS

PRE-OWNED CARAVANS

www.pretoriacaravans.co.za

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Featured specie

Sausage tree Kigelia africana

www.kew.org

The sausage tree is an African tree, easily recognised due to the large sausage-shaped fruits hanging from its branches. The generic name Kigelia comes from the Mozambican name for sausage tree, “kigeli-keia�. Sausage trees are sacred to many communities and are often protected when other forest trees are cut down. In Kenya, the Luo and Luhya people bury a fruit to symbolise the body of a lost person believed to be dead. The flowers only open at night and are pollinated by bats and hawk-moths. They are dark red, which is unusual for a bat-pollinated species (bats are normally attracted to white flowers), but the strong unpleasant smell of the flowers is thought to attract the bats instead. Geography & Distribution The sausage tree is found across sub-Saharan tropical Africa and as far south as South Africa. It is cultivated in other tropical countries and is used as an ornamental tree in Australia, the USA and parts of Southeast Asia. Kigelia africana is a tree, 2.5-18 m tall, or sometimes a shrub 2-3 m tall. The bark is smooth and grey-brown

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Featured specie in colour. The leaves are in groups of three at the ends of the branches and are 10-20 cm long with 3-8 leaflets. The inflorescence is a panicle, 30-80 cm long. The tubular flowers are dark red with yellow veins, and have an unpleasant smell. The fruits are sausage-shaped, 30-90 cm long and 7.5-10 cm in diameter. Uses Kigelia africana is an important tree for many people and has a wide range of uses. Both ripe and unripe fruits are poisonous to humans but the fruits can be dried and fermented, and used along with the bark to enhance the flavour of traditional beers. The seeds are sometimes roasted and eaten in times of food shortage. Every part of the tree is used in herbal medicines (e.g. for digestive and respiratory disorders, and to treat infections and wounds). The sausage tree is used in a variety of commercial applications to treat skin complaints. Research into its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-tumour activity is ongoing. The wood makes good quality timber for fences, planking, boxes and canoes. Kigelia africana is a suitable tree for planting to stabilise riverbanks, while its broad canopy makes it a good shade tree in the open savanna. It is, however, not advisable to park a vehicle or to sit beneath a fruiting tree - the ‘sausages’ (fruits) can weigh up to 12 kg and can cause considerable damage when they fall! As part of a global conservation program, the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place in the UK holds seeds of the Sausage Tree. More info can be found at http://www.kew.org

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Kakiebos

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adventures

A Birds-eye view

Leon Croukamp

Similar to us humans, birds live in a dangerous world and need to develop and organise their own “security”. The question is to what extent are they able to protect themselves and how do they go about doing this? By exploring this subject I was surprised and impressed by how different bird species adapted to hostile environments and succeeded in implementing numerous and diversive defence measures with the sole intention to protect themselves and their off-spring. The most common behaviour amongst the avian species is emergency escapes. Most birds take immediate flight and take cover at the least sign of possible danger. They know that survival depends on perpetual vigilance and readiness to flee. While on the ground feeding, they constantly and nervously look up realising they are exposed and run the risk of not noticing a predator approaching. Some birds eat as fast as possible, store the food in their crops and quickly retire to a safer place where it can be digested. Also when drinking, birds are very exposed. Water holes in drier areas attract large numbers of birds, including birds of prey. Safety in numbers, the use of sentries and alarm calls help these vulnerable birds to minimize the threat. Birds know they are the most vulnerable when breeding and while raising their chicks. They know that predators are constantly hunting for nests where eggs and young birds are easy prey. Therefore it is most important that nests should be safe and concealed. Different bird species succeed in concealing their nests in places where predators will struggle to find it. They cover nests with camouflaging material and only visit it when ensured it is safe and no attention is drawn to it. You will also find bird nests in absolutely inaccessible places. Though these nests are in the open, birds “know” that predators are unable to reach it. Smaller birds “know” that predators

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adventures will avoid bees and wasps and therefore build their nests in their proximity. You will also find bird nests in thick thorn trees which are avoided by predators because of it’s risk of injuries. Nests are also built near harmless bigger bird species like herons that have a deterrent effect on predators. Even the design of nests can contribute to protection. Some weavers protect their nest by adding an entrance tunnel hanging down from the mouth. It is there to be a trap for predators because it will come away under the weight of any animal that tries to climb down it to the entrance. Probably the most important line of defence against predators is different forms of camouflage. It is difficult to see well camouflaged bitterns and rails hiding among reeds. Owls and nightjars have evolved to blend in with trees or open ground while sleeping during the day. Even brightly coloured birds, such as trogons, can be remarkably difficult to see in their natural habitat where they seem to disappear against a background of sun-dappled leaves. An important aspect of camouflage involves the elimination of shadows. Check out the undersides of certain bird species. It is often more palely marked than the upper side. This is known as “counter shading”which serves to remove, or at least reduce, the darker colour that would result from the bird’s own shadow on its underside. Birds also crouch down on the ground when danger threatens. That is to eliminate the shadow presented by standing above the ground on thin legs. Since large eyes can also compromise their position, you will find that certain species close their eyes and watch the approach of a predator through very narrow slits. Also - birds are very careful in choosing their nest sites. The sand grouse ensure that the colour of fallen leaves match the colour of their eggs ensuring that eggs would be inconspicuous. Female birds play an important role in the safety of the young during incubation. It would not help if the nest is nicely hidden but the female, who spend lots of time on the nest, is easily visible. To camouflage females and contribute to nest concealment, their plumage evolved over years

A soft chipchip-cheezeecheeze is the distictive call of the Yellow Warbler

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adventures to more inconspicuous colours of grey and brown matching the environment. They also work hard to distract predators and lure them away from their nests and young. Plovers for instance display aggressive behaviour during the breeding season and will do almost anything to lure predators away from their nests. Sometimes they fake injury of a wing to draw attention to them and so lure an intruder away. They also do not hesitate to, while making a hysterical noise, dive down on intruders to chase them away. Incidents where plovers succeeded in changing the route of an elephant herd with this aggressive behaviour, has been reported. Some birds will go as far as to inflict serious injury on their enemies. Terns for instance are known to take off and dive-bomb any intruder (including humans), making contact with their sharply pointed bill. But - if it looks like a hopeless cause, most birds would abandon eggs or young rather than risk their lives. It’s better to raise another brood than to die for a hopeless cause. Although young birds have more or less no chance when found by predators, they are taught a number of defence measures from a very young age. They quickly learn to recognize many of their enemies from the reactions of there parents. They also learn to give distress calls in an emergency. Small birds, still in the nest, will crouch and remain silent when they hear their parents warning of approaching predators. This they learn before they are a week old. Then, probably as a last resort to chase away intruders, certain species release a foul smell, others vomit a foul-smelling orange liquid, others throw up the repugnant fluid when frightened in their nests. The Hoop-hoo chicks release a strong yellow brown liquid mixture which is very painful when squirted into the eyes of predators.

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Fascinating is that certain species worked out the value of working together. They cooperatively attack or harass predators who threaten offspring with a tactic called “mobbing”. During this mobbing they worked out a specific call to summon nearby individuals to cooperate in the attack. Songbirds and gulls also rely on this strength in numbers to harass predatory birds such as hawks and owls by swooping around them in a gang until they eventually leave the area. There are also a number of predator birds, such as hawks and falcons, who hunt birds on the wing. It is incredible, in the wake of such a threat, how small birds instantly disappear for cover and in the process alerting fellow nearby birds. They remain completely still and silent until the predator has moved on. It is also documented that in the open air, flocking birds such as waders and common starlings, “bunch together if a bird of prey appears, twisting and turning in a teeth aerial formation - an amazing display of timing and coordination”. This behaviour makes it much more difficult for the predators to select a target bird from the confusing mass or moving bodies in the group. Sadly, the human species poses probably the biggest threat to birds. They have little or no protection against the continued destruction of bird habitat, specifically the loss of plains and other natural systems. Pollution has led to serious declines in some species. Other human-related bird deaths are caused by cars, trucks, electric power lines, pesticides and hunting. But on the other side we can be thankful to those millions of bird lovers, individuals and organisations who dedicate time and effort in the protection of the bird species. Birding greetings from Leon Croukamp who is a retired enthusiastic bird watcher. He enjoys the bird life in his garden as well as in the Zwartkop Golf Estate where he lives. leoncrou@gmail.com

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Conservation

Driving conservation through tangible experiences Sabrina Dean Have you ever heard the sound a cheetah makes when it’s content – the deep, resonant rumble that sounds so much like a normal cat’s purr? Or perhaps you’ve watched a pack of wild dogs stalking something through the bush, listened to their eerie wails as their camouflaged shapes flit sinuously in and out of sight? If not, then you’ve obviously never been to the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre in De Wildt. Although these experiences may not sound like something the everyday man on the street can anticipate, this breeding and rehabilitation Centre outside Pretoria promises just such an experience. It’s been more than three decades since a pioneering lady from De Wildt cemented her place in world history. The lady in question is Ann van Dyk and the historic occasion was the first ever captive birth of a litter of cheetah cubs in South Africa. Since it was founded in 1971, the Centre has bred more than 800 cheetah cubs. Van Dyk says, ”I never dreamed that from our humble beginnings we would have achieved so much. I have given my life to this charismatic cat and the rewards have been priceless.” The Centre is also responsible for the re-emergence of the mythical king cheetah, long thought to be an extinct sub-species. The birth of a striking “striped” cub at De Wildt cleared up the ancient mystery – proving conclusively that the king’s colour aberration is due to a recessive gene.

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Conservation The wild dog breeding initiative has also been particularly successful, with over 500 puppies born at De Wildt. The ground-breaking reintroduction programme has shown that captive born dogs can be successfully released into the protected wild areas, making strides towards the survival of this often misunderstood carnivore. Despite these successes, however, Van Dyk and the Centre have realised that breeding alone is not enough to preserve the future of our natural heritage. In light of this, the operation stationed in De Wildt has shifted it focus to include important aspects such as outreach and education, ongoing research and assisting farmers with so called “problem animals” whenever possible. The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is ensuring the future survival of threatened species through a holistic conservation approach aimed at raising public awareness. Part of this process involves sharing the Centre’s work with visitors by taking them on guided tours. This is nothing like a safari through your average nature reserve, where you’re lucky to spot an elusive predator as a tiny speck on the horizon. Here you will come close enough to count the cheetah’s spots and hear it hiss; so near that you can even see the tatty raggedness of a wild dog’s ear. The open safari vehicle rumbles down Lovers Lane, where breeding females lie lasciviously, waiting for their prospective partners to come strolling past. Now the tour heads past the Monastery where the poor boys who aren’t allowed to breed this season idle away their time beneath the shady spread of massive Acacias. A definite highlight is entering the den of the dog, where you travel through a camp with wild dogs pacing and wailing alongside the safari vehicle. Any thoughts of hopping down to pet the dogs are soon banished as you witness the voracious feeders devouring their meal in seconds. You’ll also visit the Vulture Unit, home to the vulnerable cape griffon, lappet-faced and whitebacked vultures. These birds are at the Centre because of injury or poisoning. Those that can, are rehabilitated back into the wild, but long term residents become the core of the unit’s research pool, as well as providing visitors a glimpse of some of the vulture’s remarkable characteristics. In addition to the standard tour, you can also meet the cheetah ambassadors - the cadre of handreared cheetahs that are taken into schools to spread the conservation message. By having your photo taken with Byron or one of his team, you help to fund outreach education work at rural schools.

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Conservation The ambassadors are also participants in the regular cheetah run. This ties in with ongoing research, caters to the general well-being of the ambassadors, and affords visitors the opportunity to witness the cheetah’s renowned burst of lightning speed. It really is breathtaking. Out of town visitors have the option of booking in at the friendly and comfortable De Wildt Cheetah Lodge. Alternatively, you can enjoy virtually everything on offer at the Centre as a full bush experience by visiting its sister facility, De Wildt/Shingwedzi Wildlife Ranch – a 900 hectare conservancy in the beautiful malaria free Waterberg region. Visit www.dewildt.co.za for further information about tours or accommodation options, or call 012-504-9906/7/8 or 083 892 0515 for bookings.

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Destinations

Bsorah

For more information: Tel: 039 973 2542 | Fax: 086 603 6819

e-mail: umkomaas@netactive.co.za www.aliwalshoalscubadiving.co.za

Talbot Farm Country Get away

3 self catering lodges A bow hunters paradise in North West Limpopo

Game viewing & scenic walks Johan: 082 893 2433 | 013 456 9147 talbot@tiscali.co.za

Contact details: Alida 083 441 2754 Email: alida@arisda.co.za www.arisdariof.co.za

Happy hunting for the “grey ghost of the African bush “. E-mail: willem@matlabas.co.za Web: www.matlabas.co.za/ hunting

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Destinations

Tessa Roux 032 458 4093 info@driftw s.co www.driftwoodchalets.co.za

Carol Grobler 082 378 9870 carol@lugardomar.com www.lugardomar.com

Ifi fififi Hfififijfifi vfifi Mfififififififigfi fifi fififififigfififififi

012 254 4794

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Tel: (013) 254 0136 | Sel: 082 922 6835

www.elandskloof.co.za www.sableranch.co.za

Bowhunting destination situated in the Waterberg region Abraham | 073 176 4898 Abraham@sikilelesafari.co.za

Has been in the Roos family for five generations

Affordable accommodation Hiking trails, mountain bike trails, horse riding trails Helena: 083 744 4245 Christo: 083 628 5055 www.bokpoort.co.za

To advertise in

Contact : Lizel 073 777 9524

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Smith optics

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FRONT RUNNER

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Volume 11  

African Adventures Volume 11

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