A new era of conservation 

It’s been 10 months since we left our urban lives and I’ve been researching a lot these last weeks to work out how to use my skill sets and do work that is ethical or sustainable and helping create a better world.

I’ve been looking at career advice websites, self-help youtube videos and reading articles on technology, engineering, sustainability, conservation and wildlife. It’s been difficult to find something that excited me or looked like it fit. I even went hunting through think tanks which looks like a lot of research academics and politics, which are important parts to achieve the goals I want to achieve, but I’m realistic… working on that really isn’t my forte nor will I last long.
My next steps have been on doing those online free courses to see what strikes my fancy. I tried to download one on psychology but it ended up in Chinese or fully online and as much as I love the Internet,  I really despise programmes that mean I have to have a reliable internet connection. It’s so presumptuous!

So I found a few on mobile apps, digital marketing and bbusiness analysis which are exciting new aspects for me to learn and complement my business development understanding as it is.

Just now I have found a great article and it’s exactly along the lines of what I’ve been thinking and inspired me in the right way!

What the conservation industry needs right now is innovation and Gautam Shah’s article hits the nail on the head.

Stay tuned and I’m going to ponder this one a little longer!

Bat-eared foxes

Easy to identify compared to most foxes, this mammal has conspicuously large ears used to listen for insects underground.  Its staple food is the harvester termite yet they also have been known to eat small rodents and fruit. The bat-eared fox also has the most teeth of Southern African mammals that I studied, which are shaped optimally for eating those tasty termites.

We were lucky enough at Marataba Game Reserve, South Africa to see the bat-eared foxes, like the ones on the featured image, on a regular basis. They are known for being very rare to spot on safari.

This photo above and below are from Central Kalahari Reserve, Botswana.

They are predominantly monogamous and we often saw them only in pairs, or as a family with young.

My favourite observation of these cute animals was watching them forage.  They crouch and put their ears low to the ground to listen for sounds underground.  When they know their food is arriving to the surface, they have this very accurate pounce and digging action.

African Penguin 

Recently, I went to show some family the beautiful city of Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Of the many beautiful and insightful things to do there, a visit to Boulders Beach is a must in order to see the endangered African Penguins which have a safe haven in the form of this cordoned off nature reserve.

There is a restricted breeding area where we were fortunate enough to watch a mother warm and care for its young, and a group of young ones obviously trying to learn to swim in the busy surf crashing on some large boulders by the waters edge.  It was great to see these animals in action.

Some stay close to the fence line with the boardwalk and it’s a bit disturbing to see how unaffected by humans they are.

They say their vulnerability as a species has been due to habitat destruction, fisheries reducing food supplies, guano collection (which increase their breeding vulnerability) and oil spills as they are flightless birds so have difficulty avoiding them. In June 1994, approx. 10000 penguins were oiled and 50% died.

African penguins with black oystercatchers

Human activity again is essentially the cause for the drop in population of these little guys!

Vegetarian Recipe – Harissa Falafel Salad

Over 6 months ago I became a vegetarian to align more of my lifestyle to the sustainable ideals I believe are better for the world at large.

Here is my first post of one of my tasty and colourful vegetarian recipes.

Harissa Falafel Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients

FALAFEL

  • 200g of butternut pumpkin, chopped into 1cm cubes
  •  olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 200g of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of harissa
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, separating stalks & leaves (aka cilantro or dhania)

SALAD

  • 200g of mixed leaves (e.g. rocket, baby spinach, beetroot leaves, lettuce)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 baby beetroot, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, halved and quartered
  • half a lebanese cucumber, sliced
  • 1 yellow capsicum, sliced

SALAD DRESSING

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. In a bowl toss the chopped butternut pieces with a tablespoon of olive oil and the paprika.
  3. Lay out on a baking tray and put in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft and slightly golden.
  4. With a dash of olive oil on a fry pan, lightly fry the chopped mushrooms till soft.
  5. Drain the chickpeas and put in a large bowl.
  6. Add the butternut and mushrooms.
  7. Mash with a fork or potato masher.
  8. Finely grate in the lemon zest, add a pinch of salt and pepper, the harissa, allspice, flour and coriander stalks.
  9. Mix together and use clean, wet hands to divide and shape the mixture into 8 patties.
  10. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a fry pan, and when hot, add the falafels, turning when golden and crisp.
  11. To make the salad dressing, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  12. To serve, arrange the leaves on each serving plate, add the salad vegetables, top with the falafels and pour the dressing to taste.

Voila!

 

 

 

Buffalo

The African buffalo is one of the Big Five, a term that signifies what hunters classed as the most difficult animals to hunt on foot. The buffalo is known for being cantankerous animals, easily spooked into a stampede or worse, to nose up with their eyes straight at the threat and run, buck their heads down just before and attempt to hook their horns into the intended victim.

There was a period of time back in the late 1800’s when the African buffalo was nearly wiped out due to disease. Rinderpest was one of the most devastating of animal diseases killing millions of buffalo affecting about 90% of the buffalo population.

These days African buffalo still suffer, during drought seasons when water sources dry up. Several parks around Africa include as part of their conservation management practices a game count of African buffalo especially in dry season, in order to monitor and maintain the species.

Giraffa camelopardalis

Being such a unique looking animal, the giraffe has a special place in many people’s hearts. Its name “giraffa” is derived from an Arabic word meaning fast-walker. When it was first observed by English-speaking people, it was thought to look like a camel with leopard-like colouring, hence the second part of its species name “camelopardalis”.

It has evolved over time with such unique characteristics in order to survive in the wilderness of Africa.  As the tallest animal in the world, it’s long neck enables it to reach food at the tops of the acacia trees, minimising it’s competition from other herbivores.  A very long tongue and flexible upper lip enable the giraffe to reach the crowns of small trees and nimbly pull leaves from amongst the thorns.  It even has horny papillae on its lips and tongue to further protect it from thorns!

Giraffe eating leaves

Like many even-hooved animals, the giraffe is a ruminant with 4 stomach chambers much like the cow.  Below you can see the giraffe chewing the cud it has regurgitated to further extract nutrients from the food it has digested.

Big ball of cud
Chewing the cud

Wild changes for life. Life for the wild. Conservation in action.