Xterra Triathlon 2018

 

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The above photo is accredited to an Xterra photographer who not only captured the greatness of Dan’s great long socks against his brown legs. He also managed to capture the perseverance of Dan’s effort in continuing to complete the triathlon¬† when he thought he could not and was quite frankly over the event itself.

Now for the entertaining story that precedes the above photograph.

So as Murphy’s law would have it, Dan and I got a good dosage of the common cold (it seemed a bit more severe than the average cold) on the Wednesday before Xterra which was scheduled for the upcoming Sunday.

We had done a fair amount of exercise and so called “training” before the time. I never feel as though it is training as it’s always so enjoyable exercising, that I hardly like to classify it as training myself. We were battling with the fact Xterra was soon approaching. We were feeling like zombies with General malaise and blocked noses. We were not feeling great at all and I was fearing that we would have to bail out of this event due to being sick. I was not wanting to cancel do due to the fact we both had been looking forward to this weekend for months. I enjoy the atmosphere, challenge of triathlon and general weekend away filled with good fun and exercise. Besides which, I am not one to cancel something because I am sick.

Yet with our snotty noses and big smiles we soon found ourselves heading to Grabouw for our Xterra Triathlon.

Wow! What an interesting place we stayed in. Certainly an eye opener and I can understand why it had not been booked out by other people doing the triathlon. With dusty tables and gecko excrement on the walls we had a quiet moment in which to come to grips with the state of the room! I would not recommend it unless there is nothing else available in the area!

The true excitement had started to kick in. We had checked out the venue and familiarized ourselves with the transition points and overall layout of the venue.

Dan as usual assembled our bicycles and did a thorough check to make sure our tyre pressure was correct and we were all set to go. We laid our our clothes out and prepped our stuff for the following early morning wake up.

I was scheduled to start 30 minutes ahead of Dan as it was in waves according to age category. Dan was distressed about this fact and even threatened me with the fact he would come speeding up toward me, him breathing down my back and racing past me and passing me. Ultimately leaving me behind in his dust! Yet this was not to be the case as I was in fact the one who was waiting for him at the finish line much to his shock and horror. I was shocked he never passed me on any of the sections. I had it on my mind constantly that he would casually ride past me while I was huffing and puffing but alas this never happened. Whoohoo. I feel as though I have conquered something.

I really and truly enjoyed this triathlon. Every aspect of it was great. I was actually rather sad that it ended all too soon for me as I was just getting into it. Dan said he struggled with the swim in terms of being kicked in the face and having water splashed into his face by people who suddenly decided whilst swimming that they would stop and take a breather, causing Dan to swim right into them. A bit flustered from that in conjunction with his flu, he spent a wonderful 19 minutes in transition debating life’s trivialities and wonders. Eventually getting on his bicycle only to have rear bearings issues as he reached the first incline. This meant that not only did he have a hard and slow ride, at times walking and carrying his bike on the uphills. Down hills meant full speed with little if at any brakes engaged at all!

We never saw each other along the route and I finished with a great smile and a body that was still keen to do more. I waited at the finish line to welcome and cheer Dan in. I was super curious to find out our times purely cause there was a 30 minute starting gap between us and we were not running at 100% optimum!

Sure enough Dan was under the 2 hour mark by 5 minutes and I came in at 2 hours 3 minutes. I am so chuffed with my time as it is a marked improvement from my first triathlon in December and on top of that I was sick. Dan feels he could have shaved off minutes in the transition points and done better on his cycle. However we both enjoyed it and have no doubt we will be entering a full triathlon in time to come and complete it as a team.

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Our Xterra Triathlon experience was certainly one we won’t forget!

Cheers Fiona ūüôā

Love is all around us in different forms …

 

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I took this image early one Winter’s morning in an informal settlement near to where I live. The air was cold and still. Inside the home, the mood was sombre. The family had just been told that their “utatomkhulu” (isiXhosa for grandfather) had just passed away.

I couldn’t help but notice the family’s beloved dog who slept outside beside the shack on a dilapidated yet warm and soft couch with a water bowl placed on the damp sand below him.

It really showed me that even in impoverished areas, where extreme and difficult situations are a part of daily life, there is a huge amount of love for those that are cared for. It doesn’t matter how hard things may be, you should always be able to love and be loved!

Thank you for reading!

Fiona

Blue the Pied Crow

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“Blue” the resident Pied Crow

It is not often you able to go for a run and have your resident Pied Crow circle overhead watching you while you exercise. Well this is what I experienced this afternoon.

Firstly here is a brief background about this Pied Crow. He was found with an injured leg by our neighbour roughly a year ago. Having some bird rehabilitation knowledge the bird was taken in and cared for by our neighbour who managed to rehabilitated this crow and fondly named him Blue. A few months later, his foster guardian decided that Blu was ready to be released. But alas Blue didn’t want to leave! Now, Blue happily lives in Simonstown on the balcony of our neighbour. He is free to fly the streets and mountains of Simonstown throughout the day and always returns at around 17h00 to roost for the night. Blue has made some human friends in particular with our home and a few other homes within the neighborhood. He can often be heard squawking for your attention in the morning in the hopes of receiving a piece of fruit or biscuit as a treat, he politely waits at the sliding door and never enters your home without your permission! Calling for your attention and continuing to do so until you acknowledge him. He is not reliant on food from humans, as I have often seen Blue with a mouse or a small bird captured his claws, a feast he was not able to catch when he was injured.

I have learnt a lot of Pied Crows since Blue has moved in and realise they are incredibly intelligent indeed! Who would have thought a crow could become your companion as he has done in our neighbours case and certainly has impacted the lives of others in our neighbourhood.

Blue followed overhead while I was running this evening for a good 1km. It was a strange feeling not only for me but I am sure for the many people who passed me, finding it peculiar that not only did I have a crow following and swooping down on me, I was in fact answering him back every time he squawked!

Crows and ravens have had a long history of ominous associations, dating at least as far back as ancient Rome. They often have been used in literature as omens of death or foreboding. Perhaps this is because of their black feathers, or because they are known to sometimes feed on dead carcasses. While it’s true that sometimes a circling crow is scoping out carrion, and they have been known historically to circle battlefields and other places where people have died, yet there are other reasons a crow might be circling.

Blue stopped for a second on a sign post after picking up some carrion. Thankfully I had my phone and managed to snap this beautiful yet ominous picture of Blue! The evening’s air felt quite electric yet strangely was rather comforting having Blue accompany me and definitely didn’t feel like he was a messenger of death tonight.

Thank you for reading!
Fiona

10 Days and 2480 km’s

Dan and I recently completed our longest road trip to date!

We departed early on Saturday morning & headed for Baviaanskloof approximately 630km from home. I made a deal with Dan that en route to Baviaanskloof I would not stop at farmstall’s apart from taking a leg stretch, toilet break or snack stop. I am proud to say that I managed to do just that. The trip was long & almost never ending, but think it was due to the excitement we had for the Leopard Trail that lay ahead, as well as the unknown as to where exactly we were going to be staying that night as the GPS was not picking up the exact location & there was no cellphone signal within the Baviaanskloof region.

After many memorizing long quite roads, passing through major industrial cities of South Africa (George & Mossel Bay), we turned right onto a dirt road which would take us down Base Camp known as Hikers Hut in Baviaanskloof where the next day we would begin our hike.

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Road going through Baviaanskloof

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Leopard Trail – Landscape blackened by the raging fires that swept through in December 2016

10 of us completed the Leopard Trail, some of us had met each other on Arangieskop in October 2016, others  were new but very quickly we all made friends. Days were extremely hot, reaching 40 plus degrees by midday & a warm 23 degrees in the evening. There was never a breath of wind, a luxury for us having come from windy Cape Town. We experienced a partial solar eclipse late one afternoon which was a very special event. I think what added to this memory is that we were literally in the middle of nowhere experiencing the true beauty and remoteness of nature. Simply the best!

There were many scorpions around each camp site and on the last evening we even managed to come across a Solifugae also commonly known as a Sun Spider, totally fascinating & wanting to constantly be in everyone’s shadow whilst making its way across the ‘braai’ area, eventually heading back into the bush.

4 days of tenting in absolute wilderness was something quite incredible for me.As I had never done this sort of thing before. Yet always dreamed about doing it. Always starting our day before the sun was up and ending our day & tucked into our sleeping bag’s by 20h00! The sights, the sounds & the fresh air really does something wonderful for the soul. I know it contributed to me being absolutely content in going to bed so early listening to all the nocturnal creatures whilst staring at the stars! Dan not so much as he is normally only winding down around midnight!

Leopard Trail was a great & as usual an unforgettable experience. The landscape was blackened from fires that had raged through in December 2016. Therefore there was minimal shade & flora, yet it was a good visual of the landscape & type of rock found within the area. February was an extremely hot month to do Leopard Trail, but I didn’t know when next we would be able to do it hence took the opportunity regardless, as a result there were minimal watering points, waterfalls & rivers. I think it would be a stunning hike in Autumn or Spring.

After the Leopard Trail we then made our way to a farm in Joubertina where we stayed the night. A soft bed & hot shower was well received after many days tenting! We left early the next morning & made our way to Storms River Mouth Rest Camp. With permission from the owner, we could not resist the urge to pick some fresh fruit to take home. So some fresh pears of varying types as well as some green figs & fresh nectarines. Directly from farm to table! Mom was thrilled!

After exploring every possible shop en route we arrived at the campsite where we were now able to set up our tent in record time. After all, we are getting quite good at it now. Thanks to Leopard Trail.

From Storms River Mouth it was on to Diepwalle in Knysna for 2 days, which was beautiful and very tranquil set high on the mountain in amongst the indigenous forest. We then went to Barrydale for the night before returning home.

Our days were filled with much sight seeing, beach walks, hiking along the coastline through forestry, walking 50m into a guano cave, finding a bushman’s cave/ resting spot, spending time with calving cows, drinking unpasteurized milk, plenty of good food, chats, no cellphone signal (a big plus for me as I always enjoy escaping technology) and many other memories in between.

Below is a video that Dan put together of our trip. I managed to have my hand on the camera for a bit so please excuse the shaking as I was more focused on hiking & concentrating when boulder hopping!

Taking leave & road tripping is simply the best recipe my soul could have asked for. I certainly did not want to return to work, but one thing is always certain. Whenever we come back from a holiday we always have more adventures & ideas lined up for future trips. It definitely gives me motivation and determination whenever I return home to do the absolute best I can wherever I can so that I am able to go away & enjoy these amazing getaways.

If you would like more information on the camp sites that we stayed at, cost etc please don’t hesitate to comment & I will provide you with the information.

Hope you enjoy!
Fiona

Unexpected Surprises

(This will be of special interest to anyone who has taken a picture, or anyone who is interested in the mechanics of photography.)

 Sometimes a random string of events, that are perfectly timed, can lead to something totally unexpected. Fiona & I were lucky enough to slip away for the weekend up the West coast. I  could not help putting up a post about this little moment that had us both bewildered. So simple in its form and yet so enchanting.

We had been driving around for some time in a remote area on our coastline, When the inevitable happened. Fiona needed to use a bathroom! So did I, but I was not going to admit to it at that stage.  We drove for approximately 27km to an old VOC Farm House. ( It used to supply salted fish to the Dutch East India Company Ships passing Cape Town). This farm house was built in approximately 1744, so its safe to say that it is quite old. It has not changed much in its design but now has a small eatery with bathroom. Just what we needed. Fiona was first in the door with me following in hot pursuit. I was stumped, pipped to the post because of  an old swollen, wormhole riddled door that does not really close properly. Out of respect for the door, I was not going to force it but politely held it while Fiona did the necessary (To the victor go the spoils). 

It was at this moment, just pushing the door gently enough to get it to latch that I noticed it.

Everything was just right for a very brief moment. Amongst the myriad of tiny worm holes there was just one that was all the way through the frame, at just the correct angle. Along with the perfect time of day and the ideal amount of sun. This created the perfect focal length for what was going to be the subject of our discussion for the next few hours. 

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A perfect image of the farm house projected on the door frame wall. Fiona did not know what I was going on about at first, but we both landed up staring at the image in disbelief.

No one was going to believe us on this one. It was changing fast but Fiona quickly said we should grab the camera to try take a picture. With childlike excitement I went back to the car, got the camera and tried to re create the chain of events that created the image. In this short time the sun had moved and the quality had been lost. So I went outside to see if I could get into the frame of view. The above picture is what Fiona managed to get. Mere moments had past. The farmhouse picture was blurred and stretched but we had this picture to remember the moment.

I have seen the theory of pin hole cameras before and I understand the principle, but I have never actually seen it like this. Totally natural in its origin with a celestial shutter. We both debated the randomness of the events as well as the perfect timing to witness it.

Road trips and exploring can be fascinating and exhilarating if you take the time to notice it, or in this case race to the nearest 18th century farmhouse toilet complete with worm hole projector door fame.

Great Picture Fiona. Well done I think its the best one you have taken of me to date.

Dan

 

Lets Ride

Well the silly season is in full swing. This means a few noticeable changes, ( I will leave that post for another time). One change that any casual observer will notice is the huge influx of traffic and congested roads. Therefore making it a great excuse to utilize the recently repaired bike for a little sight-seeing (any plausible excuse to take the bike out at this stage works for me). We set off nice and early to a market on the other side of our peninsular. Lets see how the other half live.

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Not a bad place to park the bike and start our day

 

Fiona and I both were thinking that we should have brought our swimming stuff with us as¬† the water looked so inviting (bit odd to be driving a racy 1000cc motorbike in full jackets¬†, gloves and backpack¬†spilling over with mask, snorkel and fins (one thing at a time Dan….One thing at a time.)

We strolled around taking in the sights and sounds, drank great coffee, then made our way to the harbour waterfront as I have a thing for boats. (I came to the startling realization last year, I am actually interested in most things).

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If I am not mistaken we counted six boats like this one pictured above, in various stages of decay. I remember this boat not that long ago being a working vessel. Quite sad indeed. The vessel owners are not getting permits to continue fishing. So they sit neglected, until the inevitable happens. Our country’s fishing permits have had a serious shuffling, in an effort to make everything more “politically¬† correct”. Thus all the permits were re-allocated. I even heard of an inland woman’s knitting club getting a permit. To remain¬†PC we must have fisher woman. Even if they don’t actually fish or even know what blue water looks like. It looks good on paper and that gets votes. I wont even start talking about the permits sold off to a foreign country where all the toys come from as I don’t want to get negative about it all.¬† Governments really¬†do strange things for the short-term while their people struggle.

The good thing is the local kids have the best marine jungle gym and play area, If you don’t mind rusty¬†steel and broken glass. Ok, lets be honest,¬†I am a bit jealous of these kids.

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We took a few min to watch how (lets call them salvers) remove¬†the more valuable components of the vessel with nothing more than a hack saw blade and elbow grease. One thing Fiona noticed, as the kids were climbing all over the remains of this boat is they were repeatedly saying O BAMA. Yes that’s correct South African¬†kids between the ages of 10 and 16 were calling out O BAMA! Whilst swinging on the ropes like agile spider monkeys.¬† We could not work that one out. Anyone have any ideas on that ? One kid in particular approximately 10 years old (pictured above) managed to hand over hand from the jetty to the boat and back¬†faster than¬†I could tie my shoe laces.( yup, that’s me getting jealous again). He would have a bright future in rope access rescue.

The day turned out far better than expected. We had wonderful weather. My bike runs really well and I even managed to get convince Fiona for a much-needed ice cream stop. A win win on all fronts.

This day out has inspired me to visit my local pier. The last time¬†I dived there¬†I managed to obtain a great fishing rod and a full set of lures. However most of my time was spent wrestling a particularly ornery octopus for a water logged cell phone.( It was a bit ridiculous on the part of the octopi as¬†it wasn’t even a particularly good phone)¬†Seems everybody is getting tech savvy these days.

Thanks for reading

Dan

Hitchhiker Blues

Everyone has been told at some stage never to speak to strangers and never to pick up a hitchhiker. Fiona and I tend to avoid this type of thing but a few days ago it could not be helped.

Driving slowly looking for a place to swim we noticed a thud in the back of the truck. Typical.. No thumb out.. No please would you mind , just jumped in expecting a free ride. Your kidding me . I must say this is not the first time this has happened but I was not going to get out and argue.

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How dare he. The arrogance of it all. How does he know we are going the same way !

I  laughed and said to Fi, I should ask him if he would like a coffee and the New York Times. Prince charming did not seem impressed with the ride quality nor was he interested in small talk with us.

It seemed like he had other things planned. He invited a special friend along for the ride. Even though I have tinted windows, he knew we could see the shenanigans in the back.

He was not bothered in the least. I was starting to understand what late shift taxi drivers may have to deal with. Things were starting to get  festive.

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I know , ¬†in the back of my car at the beach! ¬†Who would believe that story. Needless to say once he had… ummm¬†done his thing¬†, I was given the signal to stop and the two¬†secretive ¬†lovers pulled themselves together then ¬†politely disembarked. You guessed it, I did not get a tip, not even a Thank You. How rude!

Fiona and I did eventually get to our lunch and swim, Even though I cant stand the pictures of food thing. I thought I would just add a snap shot of our lunch in to clean this post up a bit.

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This place never ceases to amaze me. Just another simple day at the beach.

Thank you for reading

Dan

 

 

 

 

Back Yard Adventures

I am writing this post with two facets.

One:  A story with a short video

Two:  To ask the readers some much needed advice.

Fiona and¬†I really try make a concerted effort to utilise the free time we have available.¬†We try plan an outing whenever time and finances allow. This normally involves a few hours driving to the chosen location. When we can’t get away we try to make the most of our area (Our Backyard). I was looking through a few of our video clips the other night and it really dawned on me how lucky we are that we live in an area with so many interesting possibilities in terms of adventure.

One such occasion was not that long ago when Fiona had been working a particularly tough 24 hour shift. I got a call that evening telling me that the following day was going to be a brilliant weather day and that she had to fill in an overtime shift that evening so could we possible do something during the day to get a change of scenery. As we had only a few hours we had to make the most of it. A few min into the call a rough plan was formulated.

The next morning we met at the start of a trail not far from my house,still in her uniform and sleepy she quickly got changed in the car and we set off on the walk. As Fiona had worked the whole night and was bit grumpy. I decided in the interest of consideration and fairplay that she should carry the backpack . This was in fact very clever on my part as it gave her something to moan about and kept my little sticky fingers away from the “Treats” hidden within. A win-win on all fronts. Well even though the first hour was slow going resembling two 10 year old¬†¬†kids kicking stones on a dirt road whilst on their way home from school, we however pushed on.

After way to many ”¬†I can see my house from here jokes” as well as the usual lunch time location negotiations (not dissimilar¬†to¬†the UN discussing hostile troop movements) we finally made the summit and had well deserved rest then lunch.

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What started as a very slow gelatinous day turned into more than we could imagine. Wow what a view indeed.

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Swartkop peak looking towards Cape Town

Recharged and bellies full we followed the mountain ridge all the way down to Cape Point. We bush wacked the last bit and met up with the tar road that took us home. We made it home with two hours to spare before Fiona’s next shift. Legendary timing and a wonderful day.

Below is a short video of the walk and the view that will be of interest with regards to the remainder of this blog.

Whilst I was sitting on the summit overlooking the bay I was reminded of a trip that I have been wanting to do for some time. We have been itching to do some more adventurous kayaking. A few people have suggested that I should attempt to cross the bay. This would involve stopping past Seal Island and to be honest I don’t feel like becoming¬†the latest¬†statistic on the next installment of shark week. I have done this voyage a few times on various boats, once even alone on a small inflatable! Not fun at all as it’s just one huge vista of water with nothing much to look at other than the odd seagull and the finishing point far¬†away on¬†a bent¬†horizon.

What I am very excited to do is paddle from Cape Town or at least Hout Bay around Cape Point to Simons Town.

Map of the proposed trip.blog-map-2

Cape Town and the Cape Point area are beautiful in their own right but from the water, this area can be something to behold. Every year around 800 people climb mount Everest and 25 000 climb Kilimanjaro but how many people have paddled around The Cape Of Storms. Not a race for time or macho challenge just a two or three day adventure taking in the sights and sounds that this special place has to offer. Paddle for the day then camp on a pre determined beach for the night, eat ,sleep, repeat.

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Thank you “Person in helicopter” and Google

 

I know that some of the readers are experienced avid paddlers so I would like to ask them following:

I know that I can hike around 20km a day and still be fresh enough to take in the view and surrounds, what would you recommend in Miles or Kilometres is a fair distance to paddle without pushing the limits (I would like to plan a few safe stopping points to stretch legs and hide if and when the weather changes).

I intend on using a Mission 440, this will allow me to carry the normal safety equipment, as well as a sleeping bag, tent etc. Is there anything else that you would recommend for a trip like this? ( I have my food already planned)

Has anyone done a trip like this and if so any advice and  or comments would be very appreciated. I hope that you enjoyed the video, with all the options available to us rite on our doorstep and with a bit of luck you will be seeing much more from us in the future.

Dan

 

Quality Time

As some of you may know Fiona and I decided some time ago that we would make more of a concerted effort to enjoy our time together. One of the steps we put in place, is to get out and explore our country every three weeks. Let me try explain. The nature of Fiona’s employment is that every three weeks she gets a long weekend. So instead of letting that time slip by with half baked ideas or plans, we made a deal that we would stick to. We would use that time to get out and unwind, a short holiday. Nothing fancy or expensive, more of a get out and do something on a set budget. Each and every time visiting a new place on the map. Pick a town or a place as a base camp and explore everything we can in the surrounding area. Walk, climb, crawl or what ever it takes but we would endeavor to know our home not on reports from friends or the internet but from memories and personal experience.

This rotation we decided to do something close to home with my family. We managed to convince them to spend two days and two nights with us in a nature reserve not far from where we all live. This was definitely going to be interesting for us as we are all very different people.

Once we had unpacked and settled in, one of the first activities we planed for ourselves was to go for a swim. Well…this place is on the rougher side of the Cape Of Storms so to be honest I was not shocked when you could hear a pin drop when I asked who else wanted to join us. Not fazed by the lack of response, we set off. All excited and ready to kick the weekend off we both stood at the waters edge. This is how the conversation went…

Fiona/ Hmmmm this water looks a bit rough and sharky….what you think?                     

Dan/ Ok.. Well. Its Not Not sharky.                                                                                           

Fiona/ Please rather don’t be honest..I actually don’t want to know. Lets just go for it. We will be fine.

 Dan/ Sure… why not, lets just try not go to far off the sand bank, I don’t want the current to suck us away into the deep….Because of the hmm.. rocks.

The water was rough and cold but it was really great. We managed to catch a few body surf waves and just generally had a bit of fun. Making my way out, back to where Fiona was swimming, I saw the inevitable. A dark grey fin cutting like a knife through the surf, just in her blind spot only a few meters away, closing in fast. Not anything to fuss over but still not anything you would want to be surprised with (now at this point I would like to make it clear). Fiona  expressly told me not to tell her or be honest! So in the interest of doing what I am told, I just said: maybe we should call “last wave” and make our way in. I knew what it was and what was going to happen so I just waited. I waited like a school kid who passed wind in an elevator, grinning with anticipation as to who would smell it first.

Needless to say moments later a scream erupted. Fiona had been bumped, then stood on and some how kicked this shark in one swift move. They both shot off in different directions in a explosion of steel cable like taught muscle and sea foam. She looked at me with a face filled with horror only to see me laughing, laughing hard she must have then realised it was not serious and cracked up herself (I felt no shame as it was not long ago Fiona nearly collapsed with laughter at me when I barked my shin with a chunk of wood!!).

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A picture of the offending shark species I took a while ago.

 

Well it must have been quite a loud pitch scream as she seemed to have attracted to attention of a more terrestrial animal, who seemed quite keen to investigate the goings on. As my dad called it…A striped donkey.

 

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I am always amazed how animals like this can evade large predators like Lions with knees like that. Its like a cartoon zebra

 

This chap seemed to like Fiona but was not so keen on me. We quickly got changed and grabbed the camera. Its not often you see these guys on the beach.

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As I said he seemed to be very curious about Fiona, however as soon as I pointed a camera at him he would walk away. Oh Well, I think we all have days like this sometimes.

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As this is a place that we come to often and the fact that we were with my family we had a bit more of a relaxed attitude towards exploring the surrounds and taking pictures. Making the most of the solitude and lack of cell phone reception.

I had taken loads of wood along, so we had the indoor fire flashed up most the time keeping the house just the way my parents like it. A steady 30-35Deg C with all the windows and doors shut!

Even though one of my sisters was suffering with the flu she still managed to suck it up, get out and even pick up litter that had washed up on our beach.Well done Nicky!

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My Dad also managed to tear himself away from the heated comfort of the house to enjoy a great walk as well and do his bit in assisting with the beach clean up.

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I could tell he enjoyed himself and relaxed to the point that he even tried some of our Kudu and Springbok  we had made for supper!

After supper time Fiona and I did some animal tracking in search of the elusive  Cape Clawless Otter. We got frustratingly close but never managed to actually get a picture. Its like a game. I am convinced they are aware of when I have a camera and just toy with me. I have been lucky enough to have had a few really special encounters, even swimming with them but never getting a decent picture. I did not give up instead I just went to plan B

I have never been into or have I ever bothered taking sunset pictures but I decided to try.

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 Fiona is helping me find my focus point and my resolve the way she does.

 

I think I finally got it.

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I really believe that a great life is made up of a series of moments that we remember not the day to day grind and or the self inflicted  drama. Perception as well as flexibility has played a huge roll in some of the best times in my life. Even if you are on a train to nowhere, you may as well make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

As for our family getaway. All in all I think we all really enjoyed it in the end. The house we stayed in was not exactly awesome, having a few small issues, never the less it was great to try something different. We all laughed from our bellies, slept like the dead, relaxed in the day, ate way to much, spoke openly and enjoyed each others company around a big orange flickering fire. Six people went in and Six people came out. A special thank you to everyone who tried and did their bit to add to our memories. I really appreciated it all. Thank you to everyone.

Dan.

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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúmonitoring‚ÄĚ 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