Help!

So Cape Nature is at it again, threatening the life of a leopard. They are planning to remove a leopard for catching penguins in Betty’s Bay, Western Cape!

Please click on this link if you are not sure what or who CapeNature is…. http://www.capenature.co.za/about-us/

This is again a disgraceful action by this conservation agency! What is a leopard suppose to do?

I urge you to please send in your objections to romar@capenature.co.za
You don’t even need to be a South African citizen to make a difference. Just simply the numbers are needed to illustrate to CapeNature what they are doing is not ethical.

We have been agitating since last week to prevent the demise or removal of a leopard in Betty’s Bay. A flurry of press releases by CapeNature have been aimed at damage control and to deny them wanting to remove the leopard. We had three people connected to CapeNature and 2 academics confirm that discussion are advanced to have the leopard removed and that their monitoring is merely trying to justify this seeming eventuality. Anticipating negative media, the organization has applied spin about how they are “monitoring” the situation. This has centered around demonizing the leopard (habitual penguin killer/ a juvenile dispersal cat/an incomer) and getting bird enthusiasts to agitate for the support of the protection of the penguins in preference to the leopard.

We must mobilize an outcry before CapeNature again threatens a leopard in the region. Please contact their CEO to object to the leopard being removed.

We have offered assistance to have the leopard GPS collared to enable mitigation of threats to the colony (which is imminently possible), but yet again we have been arrogantly dismissed.

1. It is not unusual to have leopard populate habited places likes Betty’s Bay. In fact we have demonstrated this through our leopard project where we have GPS 32 collared leopards, and hundreds of thousands of hours of camera trap surveyed coverage in the Western, Eastern and Northern Capes. Leopards live happily and undetected in these areas and in towns like Betty’s Bay, Hermanus, Greyton, McGregor, Riversdale, George, Wilderness, Knysna and PE where we have often seen them operating close to houses. The Bettys Bay area (Cape Hangklip, Rooiels, Pringle Bay, Gordon’s Bay, Somerset West) and all along the Boland chain this is common. They pose no threat to people in these settings. Only dense urbanization, habitat destruction and human wildlife conflict restrict their mobility.

2. We have just submitted for publication a paper where we analyzed the leopard densities in the Eastern and Western Cape having collected data from the 32 collared leopards and extensive camera trap surveys between PE and Cape Town and inland areas. It is shown that we reliably estimate the adult leopard population between 500 -750 in these two provinces. The problem being that this total is further isolated into smaller meta-populations that have (also through a peer reviewed study) demonstrated genetic bottle necking of these isolated populations. The isolation is caused by habitat destruction and human wildlife conflict. Based on this, the leopard populations are critically endangered in these provinces and continue to be hammered by human wildlife conflict. Only 2 weeks ago a leopard died in a gin trap in the Koo valley, at the hands of CapeNature!

3. Leopards are ultimate opportunists and if vulnerability and availability coincide they will take any food source. Thus they are known to take birds of all sorts, and though there are few land-based penguin colonies it is not inconceivable that they would prey on them when available. (Jackass penguins mostly nest on offshore islands.) The only unusual thing here is that we have a partially fenced colony which in itself is unnatural and thus we are not surprised that the leopard took some of these birds. It is bizarre beyond belief that this is now considered unusual behavior and termed a habitual penguin killer. We have now had 3 people connected with CapeNature whistle blowing to us that they want to remove the leopard for this natural behavior and that they are currently constructing the case to justify this. That is outrageous and completely unacceptable. This is completely natural behavior of the leopard and the fact that CapeNature is trying to remove this leopard from its natural habitat should cause public outrage. We will definitely, and have mounted a concerted effort to stop this crazy logic. In fact, it is lunacy, but not surprising from an organization that is known to be the most prolific killer of leopards in the province. We have repeatedly offered to assist them in trying to protect leopards in general and this one in particular, and advised them to rather protect the colony through fencing, guarding and deterrents. If they want unnatural penguin colonies (in effect a zoo) they need to protect them by building fences and deterring the cat, and not removing naturally occurring predators that are only doing what they are designed to do. This kind of attitude reflects the ingrained antithesis to carnivores by conservation entities such as CapeNature, that are completely unaccountable to their mandated actions.

4. Penguins evolved to nest on islands precisely due to the fact that they are not adapted to withstand land-based predators. Penguins landed at Betty’s Bay and Boulders in Simonstown in the 1980s and survived due to the effect of the human barrier protection offered by fences and development, and have made these colonies effectively zoo-like settings. It is inconceivable that CapeNature is resorting to retributive actions on this leopard who, in its natural environment, is doing what it has evolved to do.

4. The killing of 33 penguins is a known behavior by leopards (and Caracals) that we call “surplus killings”. It is exceedingly rare and the fact that it did so once does not mean, and has never been proven to, that it will do it again. It happens in unnatural settings when prey species are confined, defenseless and cause over stimulation of the cat. Jackass penguins do not naturally colonize mainland areas.

5. This is not a clash of threatened species priorities. This is a clash between people and their worldviews, it is largely a demonstration of a conservation organization rather at odds with its mandate.

Leopards are critically endangered in the region. The penguins are artificially being kept on a partially fenced areas due to their fish sources being over-fished. Manage the latter, and manage the zoo you have created! Don’t threaten completely natural behaving carnivores operating normally in its own natural habitat.

If CapeNature are so concerned, they should get guards and fence your area, and not just jump at removing leopards behaving normally.

Have we all gone mad?

Please send your objections to CapeNature CEO:
Dr Razeena Omar
CEO | CapeNature
tel +27 21 483 0001 | fax 086 532 8013 | cell +27 82 7707079
email romar@capenature.co.za | postal Private Bag x29 Gatesville 7766
physical PGWC Shared Services Centre cnr Bosduif & Volstruis Streets Bridgetown 7764
www.capenature.co.za

Photo credit: Van As van Graan: Pictures of the leopard being targeted.

I urge you to please send in your objections to romar@capenature.co.za
You don’t even need to be a South African citizen to make a difference. Just simply the numbers are needed to illustrate to CapeNature what they are doing is not ethical.

Fiona

The Anatomy of Friendship

F Ranger

A little while ago, I was faced with tough choice. I had to decide on and if I should part with some cash.

This is a strange one so if you can bear with me a bit I will try explain.

I was recently offered R 55 000 cash for my Bakkie (Truck in American). This came at an unexpected time as my tires were getting to the stage where all 5 needed replacement (4 + 1 spare). I was hoping to get a few more months out of them, but they were becoming a liability. First I looked at it from a financial point of view, working out if it was better just to take the cash from the sale and move on or to keep the vehicle, as I know what problems there are. The devil you know scenario. I have no real brand alliance nor do I believe that any one manufacturer can only produce great products or visa versa. But this is not about a brand so lets move on.

This offer to purchase forced me to look at the hard facts and try make the clever choice. (Not forgetting a short list of modifications that include, upgraded stronger suspension, upgraded inter cooler, boost pressure as well as fueling mods and for a short time, water injection.) Due to the fact that its no longer needed and that the miles are adding up, I have wound back the performance and tune as I need.

Looking at this purely from a financial standpoint is all good and dandy, but there is a different more complicated way of doings this that must also be factored in. The human factor. This got me thinking. Is it at all possible to become attached to a inanimate object? This led me to think of some of the things that we have seen or done together.

Over 500 000Km traveled on everything from dirt, grass, mud, mountain passes and city roads. Witnessed countless sunrises and sunsets together. At least 250 meals eaten in the drivers seat, towed and jump started more cars than I care to mention. Waded through a river with water flowing over my floor pans. Been stuck sump deep in mud and sand. Been crucial part of numerous kayak and diving adventures. Carried a multitude of tools and spare parts as a call-out vehicle . I have also run her using all different types of fuel ranging from pump diesel, farm diesel, paraffin and home made diesel (chip fat and palm oil). Once in a pinch I even managed to make it home on a blend of petrol, engine and two-stroke outboard oil.

Together we have delivered 33 diesel engines and gearboxes for the marine fishing industry. Towed 2 x 11 ton 800kw generator sets into position in a basement parking lot, towed a few trailer mounted gen sets to sites, my brothers boat from place to place as well as helped pull out 3 boats and trailers stuck on the local slip way. Helped 9 people move house and towed my dads old camper/cars 7 times (even to a camp site and back once). Carried approximately 17 tons of fire wood, 11 tons of cement, stone, sand and building rubble.

We have also been through three proper prangs. I rear ended a small car. I fell asleep behind the wheel one night then hit a overpass bridge base. In the last incident I was hit by a 18 wheeler container truck whilst I was stationary at a intersection. All with miner damage and no injuries. All the listed above does not include all the miscellaneous items like stranded or broken down bikes, scooter, various pot plants,wood, engine parts, friends, holidays and assorted items loaded and moved from time to time.

Its scary to think she has Used 43 oil filters 51 fuel filters and around 265lt of oil with a estimate of around 42 000Lt of fuel consumed.

Looking back at that day when I ordered her in 2007 it seems so long ago, its hard to believe we have come so far and shared so many experiences together. It also seems strange that one can develop a relationship with a chunk of engineered steel and plastic. Its just the amount of time and great moments in and around that car.

Ranger Sea View

Am I being a bit silly about this all?  But its just a car right! Or is there more too it? She may not be the best looking, the latest model or the fastest around, but who really cares as I do know one thing that she has been there from the offset. She is dependable and has delivered more than I could possibly ask for, even when pushed way passed design. What if I could bend the rules a bit and with a little stretch of the imagination, I then could without reservation call this car, MY FRIEND.

Actually thinking about it like this I cant see myself selling her any time soon. Decision made!  So I replaced my worn out 4×4 tires with smoother tread road tires.

F Ranger Road Tire

Who knows what the future holds, I just hope I have made the correct decision. I feel that striking a balance between pure numbers and sentiment was the right call. How could I turn my back on something that has worked so well for me in the past.

 

If you have any item whether it be a simple knife or any tool that is just very familiar to you or something that you may even call “lucky” please share with me in the comments.

Thank you for taking the time to read this strange story.

Dan

 

Graduation Day 2016

Parents with me on Graduation Day

Graduation Day 15 June 2016, I received my Bsc Environmental Management & Zoology degree through correspondence studying at the  University of South Africa (UNISA).

I didn’t think the day would ever arrive.

5 years later studying part time, 30 subjects passed, 93 assignments submitted and many exams written. I was presented a single piece of paper in my hands  with a conferring ceremony symbolizing I had completed the degree. What an amazing & yet unreal feeling it was … in fact still doesn’t feel real.

Through all my years of studying for it I battled and conquered my nemesis (Chemistry)  and have shown commitment to work independently and all round dedication to complete this degree.

I am grateful for the massive support I had from my parents, my mother in particular who edited and checked numerous assignments before submitting, making sure everything was corrected and best as could be. Her endless support, motivation and forgiveness  as well as understanding of times I couldn’t attend something with her because I had to study was always noticed and appreciated.

Lastly not forgetting Dan who continued to support and encourage me, when I thought I had nothing left within me to carry on. Always seeing a solution with every obstacle I faced and motivating me to see the wood through the trees. His comforting words always re centering me and giving me a new head to face my subjects with. Never forgotten.

Mom, Dad & Dan you have earned an equal share in this degree with me as you all have traveled the long road along side me. I couldn’t have achieved what I have without all of you behind me, cheering me on when the crowds had left! I can’t thank and express my appreciation enough but know I am eternally every grateful.

Fiona

McGregor Meander …

I love exploring the small towns within South Africa. I am making it my mission to travel and explore them as much as I can, now that I get a long weekend every 3 weeks.

With this in mind, Mom & I recently visited McGregor (with our two ‘yorkies’ in tow).  It was our first time to the town of which I have heard so much about and it certainly lives up to its name, such a peaceful & fabulous get away so close to Cape Town.

On the Friday morning when we left Cape Town we took a casual drive through stopping at all the local farm stalls, wineries  & sights en route (as I always seem to do on any road trip)! I had a terrible cold developing but certainly didn’t let that stop me from having a wonderful getaway! We stayed at a fabulous self catering house called Willow Tree Cottage located within the small town (http://www.tourismmcgregor.co.za/PearTreeandWillow). The dogs were able to explore the garden while Mom & I soaked up the Winter sun relaxing. Not many restaurants are open on a Friday evening & those that are generally require a booking in advance as they tend to get booked up on weekends. So after a bit of improvising we had scrambled egg with salad & vegetables! Perfect for a stress weekend that followed suit.

Saturday morning we awoke with cows that were grazing on the boundary of our garden, what a great alarm clock as oppose to waking up in the city with cars, hooters & in my case naval base going’s on. In the morning browsed the town with all its shops including the Saturday morning market. It has a wonderful charming atmosphere to it that I cannot put down on paper. We  then ventured out the town & had lunch in Robertson a much bigger town nearby with various facilities & amenities. There was quite a buzz & hustle among the streets, which created a wonderful atmosphere when walking around the town on a busy Saturday morning.

For any budding artist or anyone who has an appreciation of pottery & the work that is in involved with it, a must see in McGregor is Mill Stone Pottery (http://www.millstonepottery.co.za/millstone/index.php). Paul is a fascinating potter (together with his wife – make a great team) with many years of experience. He is willing to share his ideas, inspirations and works of art with you whilst you browse the calm creative space around you.  I learnt so much about the intricacies of pottery & before we knew it we had spent 2 hours here just absorbing the wonderful surrounds. Mom & I needless to say walked out with a clear mind & hands full of pottered items!

We had a fabulous dinner at Tabaldis (http://www.temenos.org.za/#!restaurant/c5lv), which is the centre of the town and is open throughout the week with menu that change according to what is in season & availability. Temenos is on the same property as Tebaldis & they have beautiful gardens,which make you feel like you are lost in an enchanted garden. It is a retreat where you can escape the race of life and make you feel as though you are a million miles away from the rest of the world. Our weekends days were filled with warm Winter sun whilst the evenings we quite chilly, so made getting into bed with a book after dinner all that much easier!

IMG_2405

Donkey sanctuary outside of McGregor

The Eseltjierus Donkey Sanctuary (http://www.donkeysanctuary.co.za/)is a great place to let your children or in our case our dogs out to play or walk around the farm, whilst the donkeys are kept in the paddock. Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys. They are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment. Was a great stop and experience in conjunction with a fabulous lunch out on the deck in the sun.

Holidays are always too short & before we knew it we were packed & in the car en route home. We couldn’t resist a final stop at this fabulous farm stall which its great selection of pumpkin! Mom thought it was a simple procedure of choosing a pumpkin however before she knew it the shop lady was out to give her advice on just how to choose the right eating pumpkin as oppose to pumpkins which are dried out & kept as ornaments/decorations.

Finally we were on our way home with 2 humans, 2 dogs, a pumpkin & many great memories all round.

Cheers Fiona 🙂

Left Turn

Smits Isuzu

Sundays are a time that most people either visit their families or simply go for a drive. This Sunday I am waiting for the go- ahead to help retrieve this car. I am not a tow truck operator, however I enjoy rigging and climbing so as I live in the area I sometimes get a call to lend a hand (I suspect it may be because I don’t mind carrying cable and chains up a hill).

Part Point

Its the second car to in two weeks!

 

The first car managed to somehow fly from the top right of the picture (where the truck is) all the way to the water at the bottom Left .(Next to the n in my name)

Par Piont 2

It took nearly two days just to get the first car out the water. I am happy to say both drivers are ok.

Drive Safe. Dan

 

Survival

survival

Most of us have seen the survivor type programs on TV. If not let me explain. Its a show that has a host (normally ex military) with a supporting crew of around 15 videographer’s, sound, safety and catering crew that embark on a “single handed” struggle for survival in some remote location, that is normally just off some easy access dirt road. In this Show we will see how the host fights the effects of various environmental challenge’s between takes. Forging dangerous ravines and canyons  (that you would normally walk around) and for viewer entertainment the unnecessary eating of a myriad of creepy crawlies, rambling on about the essential fats and protein from each animal.

All these types of programs are steeped in the “what should you do type scenario”. With around 70% of the worlds population living in urban areas and the balance very seldom finding themselves shipwrecked on some desert island. I don’t see how these types of programs are still relevant.(Honestly I am getting a bit tired of seeing a guy whittle two sticks thus miraculously making a boat to find rescue). I would be hard pressed to leave a island with shelter and fresh water to spend my last days drifting around sun burnt, sea sick and sleep deprived. Then again, that’s just me.

I have always thought that the toughest survival challenges we face today are in fact more urban based. With this in mind, how long would a guy last if he was dropped in some foreign city with nothing but his wits? No passport, ID book or qualifications, nothing to his name. Homeless, alone and without employment how long would it be before you walked passed him curled up in a gutter, hopeless and desperate.

Somewhere in our vast history of evolution we made a wrong turn. At some stage we decided not to judge a man on character or virtue but rather by the coin in his pocket. Survival challenges are no longer finding food and shelter in the typical sense, more about making sure you manage to make enough money to retire. Poverty as well as lack of broad based education are the leading threats to our environment and in turn humanity. Historically we would roam in small groups, each and every person fulfilling their role in the tribe. Each member a key component to the survival of the group as a whole. Now we have thousands of over qualified people applying to the same menial position. As population densities rage ever higher each day I am surprised that the statistics for crime , domestic violence as well as substance abuse are not much higher. Then again would the harsh reality and truth of this be to much to watch in the name of entertainment.

All being said this is just my humble opinion.

Dan