5 Ways to save water every day

5 Ways to save water every day

5 Ways to save water every day

  • Shower is key: Rather take a shower than a bath (if possible), also replace your shower head with one that is more efficient, and uses less water (like a faucet aerator). Take shorter showers. If you are not re-using your shower water, you could consider putting a bucket with you in the shower, and use that towards watering the garden.
  • Plant the seed: Make use of both indigenous and drought-tolerant plants in the garden and the house. They will need much less water to flourish. Succulents are a great option, there is wide variety and they need very little water. Also consider doubling up your fruit and veg garden as the feature garden.
  • Use water savvy appliances: Like a dishwasher, using a dishwasher can save you up to 21% on water used to wash the same amount of dishes. Just look for the WaterSense or the ENERGY STAR labels. These appliances are also quite energy efficient.
  • Want to keep cool? If you have a pool, ALWAYS keep it covered. If you don’t rather make friends with the neighbours that do, instead of getting your own. You can work out the total volume of your swimming pool with: length x width x depth = answer in cubic meters, 1 cubic meter is equal to 1000 litres of water. This means that if 1 cubic meter of water evaporates per month it’s a thousand litres of water wasted each month.
  • Re-use: By catching and re-using shower, bath, and any washing water for gardening, you could save on your irrigation costs, you would be surprised at how much water is used daily for those activities. Here it is key to switch to non-toxic, biodegradable soaps and cleaning materials.

What are you doing daily to save water?

Memel: A South Africa Gem

Memel: A South Africa Gem

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Over the Easter weekend I went to a small town called Memel with some friends of mine. Well actually we stayed on a farm, a couple of minute’s drive from the town itself. The weather had already turned towards autumn, and while the days were still nice and sunny, the evenings were quite chilly.

For those of you who don’t know it, Memel is a small farming town on the outskirts of the Free state. It’s rich in its own personality and history, and the people are charming and as friendly as can be. We stayed in a 100 year old farm house in the middle of the farm, surrounded by endless mountains, streams of water rushing through the bends, bass dams, and beautiful herds of cattle. Luckily our awesome photographer friend (Sam Supra at Supra Photography) was there to capture all the mesmerising moments, and as hard as it is to capture all of that beauty in a picture, she managed perfectly.

On the front porch of the sandstone house is an intriguing brass memorial  dedicated to the man who single handily built the house at the age of 75.

huis

With the first step in you could feel the character, and enchanting stories those walls must hold, which, by the way is as thick as my middle. There is no electricity, so you have to make do between the donkey for hot water, candles for lighting and a fireplace for heat (and atmosphere of course).

I can’t remember when last I saw the stars shine so bright, with not an electric light in sight to spoil it. The calmness and peace that washes over you with the dancing flames from the bonfire, the wind rushing through the grass, and the owl that hoo-hoo every now and then while just staring at the beautiful night sky, cannot possibly be described in words.

E N T E R H E R E

We spent the weekend fishing in the nearby bass dam, and I even caught my very first fish, which we had for dinner that night. Not to mention the hike further up the mountain that led us to the most beautiful view of kilometers of raw untouched nature. And even though we could catch some signal at one or two spots, no one really felt the need to even look at their phones, we were all just so glad to be rid of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, even if it was just for a few days.

the mountains are calling, and I must answer- John Muis

After the three very short days we found ourselves sad to leave, and even started planning our return trip. This place must be a little piece of heaven that got lost on earth somehow.

LOVE(ly) South Africa, 21 reason we love South Africa

LOVE(ly) South Africa, 21 reason we love South Africa

LOVEly South Africa 21 reason we love South Africa

  1. We have more floral species on Table Mountain than the whole of the United Kingdom.
  2. We have the longest wine rout in the world.
  3. SABMiller is the largest brewing company in the world (ranked by volume).
  4. SABMiller also produces 50% of China’s beer.
  5. We have eight World Heritage Sites:
    • The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
    • Robben Island
    • The Cape Floristic Region
    • The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
    • Vredefort Dome (the oldest meteor scar in the world)
    • The Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and environs fossil hominid sites (AKA the cradle of humankind).
    • The iSimangaliso Wetland Park
    • The Ukhahlamba / Drakensberg Park
  6. The Kruger National Park has more wild life species than the whole of America.
  7. We have about 20% of the world’s Gold, and about 90% of its Platinum.
  8. The largest diamond in the world also came from a South African mine (Cullinan mine).
  9. We have one of the best Constitutional laws in the world.
  10. South Africa has the world’s largest telescope (SALT).
  11. The ‘Big hole’ in Kimberly is the world’s largest hand dug hole.
  12. South Africa has yielded some of the world’s oldest and most complete Archaeological and Paleontological artefacts and remains.
  13. The ‘Kreepy Krawly’, the ‘CT Scan’ and breakwater dolosse were invented in South Africa.
  14. The first heart transplant was done in South Africa (in 1967 by Dr Chris Barnard).
  15. We are the only country in the world to have hosted the Rugby, Cricket, and Soccer World Cups.
  16. Even though we are a democracy, we still have a hierarchical family in South Africa within the Zulu Nation. King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBekuzulu has 27 children and six wives.
  17. South Africa is also historically a leader in agriculture, and is the second largest producer of fruits in the world.
  18. After the Second World War, South Africa had difficulty acquiring oil, which lead to the research to turn coal into oil (by SASOL).
  19. Miriam Makeba was the first South African to  win a Grammy award.
  20. South Africa has three capital cities: Pretoria (Executive Capital), Cape Town (Legislative Capital) and Bloemfontein (judicial Capital).
  21. South Africa is the only African country that is a member of the G20.

 

What’s some of your favourite things about South Africa?

 

Five ways to save electricity this winter

Five ways to save electricity this winter

Takingbettertravelphotos

If you are like me and need to prepare yourself mentally and physically for winter, you definitely want to read this post.

Grab a blanket

I almost always have a blanket close by, I even used to keep one in my car when I was a student. Instead of switching on the heater, rather snuggle underneath a blanket when watching TV, its much friendlier to the environment, not to mention the romance factor. I even have a blanket at work, and if your work permits it, you should too. Not only do heaters use unnecessary electricity, but it’s also actually bad for you, it dries up the air, which is not good for your repertory system btw.

Do you remember the hot water bottle?

I never used to have one as a kid because my mom was scared it would burn me, but the ones you get today are much safer to use now. So as soon as I could, I bought my own and it is literally my best friend in winter. Plus you can recycle the water, so to speak, if you do not want to pour it back into the kettle to boil it. When the water gets cold you could use it to help water your garden, or even throw it in the toilet tank. So instead of switching on the electric blanket, rather fill up a hot water bottle, mine usually stays warm enough all through the night if I put it underneath the blankets with me.

Regulate the geyser

Lots of people are making the switch to a solar or even gas geysers but if you do not want to make that kind of financial commitment there are a couple of things you could do that will actually save you a few pennies. First off, you should insulate your geyser, this is a sleeve like ‘blanket’ for your geyser, and it helps the geyser keep its heat, so if the water stays warmer for longer, the geyser will work less to keep it warm. You can also coordinate everybody’s bath and shower times, and then only switch the geyser on for a couple of hours before the bath time every day. Since geysers are usually installed in the roof, it is much more exposed to the cold, and the water in the geyser will cool down faster, especially during the cold winter nights.

Gear up

This might seem obvious, but a bright pair of stockings and a cute knitted dress, might not necessarily be the best choice. If you dress warmer you will need fewer extras, like heaters, to keep you warm. And you do not even have to compromise on your sic style. A simple vest or a pair of skins, underneath your cloths will go a long way in keeping you warm. I also like to layer up at night time.

Also just replacing your normal sheets on the bed with winter sheets (which are much thicker) will help prevent the cold, from underneath the bed, to sneak in. I take it one step further though, I place an old blanket underneath the bed sheet.

Insulate

By insulating your house, you can keep a lot more of the heat inside and the cold outside in the long winter months, and the opposite for those hot summer days, so it’s a win-win situation. This might incur some initial costs, but once it’s done you can just sit back and reap the fruit. There are a few options to insulate your roof, most of them consist of a roll-able sheet of some sort (ie ‘think pink’), if you are a handy person you can actually attempt this one yourself, saving a few bucks.

Here in SA we do not really have the freezing temperatures to justify double walls, but there is a new trend doing the rounds of installing double layered glass windows, which actually makes a big difference, since windows are one of the big culprits in letting in the cold.

If you have mostly tiles or wooden floors in the house it could also be a major contributor to the chilly atmosphere. Investing in a few good carpets that you can always remove when summer comes might be well worth your while, even if it’s just for the living areas and bedrooms.

Keeping certain doors in the house closed can actually also make a huge difference, for example, a bathroom is generally colder than other rooms due to the fact that everything in it is a combination of glass, porcelain, and metal. Keeping the door of the bathroom closed at all times during the winter will prevent that cold air from spreading to the rest of the house.

On the door topic, another simple way to keep the frost from entering your bedroom during the night is to seal off the gap at the bottom between the door and the floor. I you do not want to go buy one of those very adorable teddies you could always just put an old towel in front of the door.

What’s some of your favorite ways to keep warm in winter?

10 things to do with your lemons when your tree is being an overachiever

10 things to do with your lemons when your tree is being an overachiever

Salzstein Province

Ever since we moved into our current home the tiny lemon tree in from of the house have been producing lemons non-stop for almost eight years now. After a while we even started giving them away to family and friends because we just could not keep up with the amount of lemons this little guy was producing. And so with time we started experimenting with the lemons, trying less conventional uses for them, and it turns out that there are a gazillion and one uses for lemons! I thought that I would share my ten favourites with you guys.

Health

  • For a sore throat; combine half a cup of hot water, a few squirts lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey. This will help fight the bacteria in the throat that’s causing the discomfort, since both honey and lemon juice contains antibacterial properties.
  • For minor cuts and bruises; applying a dab of lemon juice to minor cuts and bruises, it not only disinfects the wound, but should also stop the bleeding. You can also apply it to bleeding gums to stop them from bleeding, but always remember to rinse your mouth afterwards as the acidic levels in lemon juice can be harmful to your teeth’s enamel with prolonged exposure.
  • Removing warts; the acids in lemon juice will eventually dissolve the warts with regular application.

Beauty

  • Great for skin care; you can either use it as an exfoliating scrub/rub (rubbing half a lemon in a circular movement on your skin for about 5 mins before rinsing it with warm water) , a nourishing mask (to remove blackheads), or as a treatment for dark marks or scars on your skin. Citrus is full of anti-oxidants and packed with tonnes of vitamins and minerals, which is great for all skin types.
  • It’s also really great for yellow and/or dull nails; combining a 3:1 olive oil and lemon juice mixture to your nails helps remove build up that acetone or other chemicals just cannot get off. Plus the oil nourishes your nails for a freshly manicured look, and super healthy nails.

Food

  • Next time you have no idea what to do with the chicken breasts you bought for dinner, try combing four table spoons olive oil, a teaspoon of mixed herbs, two table spoons lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic to taste, for the most delicious lemon and herb marinade. Leave the chicken in this for roughly two hours before cooking, to ensure it soaks up all the flavour. The lemon juice also helps break down the proteins in the chicken leaving it super tender and juicy when cooked.
  • Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer …DELICIOUS

At home

  • Clean and disinfect wooden chopping boards; rub half a lemon on to the board until it comes clean, and rinse off.
  • To remove stains or to whiten your delicates; soak your clothes with a mixture of equal parts baking soda and lemon juice in water for half an hour before machine washing it, or for those tough stains make a paste of the baking soda and lemon juice and rub it on the stain before machine wash.
  • Rejuvenate brass, Polish chrome or cutlery; simply make a paste from lemon juice and creme of tarter and apply to the item, leave it on for five minutes before washing it off and polishing it.
DIY: At home composting

DIY: At home composting

DIY Compost

Composting!

What you will need

A box or container to put it in

When selecting or building your box, bin, barrel, or tumbler for your compost, there are a few things to keep in mind;

crate

  • If the box is going to be in place where it can be seen by guests, you might want to opt for a neater version
  • If not, you can go for a cheaper, but just as effective option, that you can even assemble yourself, within a matter of minutes
  • How much waste will you be generating for your compost bin, this will determine the size of the bin you will need
  • How quickly do you want to start using the compost, if you want a bi-weekly, or even a monthly supply, you would want to buy a compost tumbler, that has a lid and an aerator built in, these produce garden ready compost in almost half the time

mesh

Although, if you pile is big enough, you don’t really need a bin, we just pile all our waste onto one pile and move it to another pile once it’s ready to use.

Something to turn or aerate the compost (if your bin or tumbler doesn’t include one)

We just use a garden fork at home, but there is a very fancy tool, called a turning tool or an aerator tool, that you could use as well.

The perfect spot

Again this depends on how quickly you want to turn your waste into compost, the more sun it gets, the hotter the pile is, the quicker the good microbes  can do their job, and the quicker you will start to produce compost. Ours are in direct sunlight for about 75% of the day.

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Balanced ingredients

This is one of the most important tips you should take from this post. Your waste input should be a balance between brown and green, or carbon and nitrogen parts, to be more accurate. In the brown category there will typically be things like dried branches and twigs, shredded newspapers and brown paper bags, wood chips and dried leaves. In the green category would be grass clippings and kitchen waste. If you have more of the one than the other, you could always try to keep the one in a pile next to your compost bin, and add it whenever you get more of the other.

Lastly, you would also need to water your compost pile. This might need some practice to get right. Just try to keep in mind that it should not be too wet, where it gets to the point of being soggy and mushy. But on the other hand, too little water will actually slow down the decomposition process.

Best practice

  • The box or bin should be bottomless, so that the compost is placed directly on the ground. This way not only does that patch of earth get super infused with all the nutrients that soaks into it, but the good microbes from the soil also moves up into your compost, which helps the decomposition along.
  • Your very first layer should be made up of dried branches and twigs, stacked in such a way that it will allow air from the bottom into the rest of your pile.
  • You can now layer your brown and green materials; it is also advised that you add a layer of soil when first starting, to help the process along.
  • It is important that you regularly add new materials, always trying to keep a balance between green and brown materials.
  • Turning your pile once a week will help get air in, and also to mix all the materials together, that might be at different stages of decomposition
  • Also remember to check the moisture content, I prefer checking it by hand, after a while you will realise what the right consistency is supposed to be like, and it will get easier and easier to maintain that same consistency.
  • For quicker results, you can break up, or cut up, the materials before adding it to your pile, and then push it in between spots of half decomposed materials.
  • If it’s possible, try to place your bin as far as possible from your entertainment areas or from the house at least. They tend to give off a little bit of an odour sometimes, but no need to be alarmed.

Common problems

  • Too wet or mushy?

You can try to put the pile in direct sunlight, or add dryer materials, like wood chips, which will soak up some of the moisture. You should also water your pile less.

  • To cover, or not to cover?

I feel that this should be up to you. We do not cover our piles, but that is mostly because we just have too much to try and put it in a bin. Covering it up will contain most of the heat and moisture, which, again, will accelerate the whole process. Covering it up will also greatly help to keep away any unwanted guests, like rats.

  • What to put in?

I once found the most complete list  of things to compost, ever. And even though we do not put everything on this list in, this again, is up to you. We for instance do not put in pet hair, or any bones, or cooked food.

Benefits of composting

First of all by composting kitchen and garden waste you are significantly reducing the amount of unnecessary waste on land fill sites. You are also ‘recycling’ energy and nutrients back into your own garden and lawn.

Using your own compost in your garden also has quit a few benefits, like the amount of money you will be saving by not having to buy it from a store.

Other benefits, of course include nourishing you plants, grass, and veggies (if you have), thereby reducing the amount of water required to keep these happy and healthy. It also helps to control pests and plant diseases.

And maybe the most important of all, when you use it on your veggie garden you know the food that your family is eating is truly organic and 100% healthy.

Sustainable living: Vegetable gardening

Sustainable living: Vegetable gardening

Sustainable living

Saving water in your vegetable garden

Growing your own vegetables has multiple benefits, not only for yourself but for the environment too. With the rate of price hikes, especially on fresh fruit and vegetables, now is definitely a good time to start your very own vegetable garden, if you do not already have one. This way, you are also sure that the food that you and your family are consuming is as organic as you want them to be. And if that is not enough motivation, by growing your own vegetables you are also decreasing your carbon footprint. YAY!

Having said all that, growing your own vegetables isn’t always all that simple. There are a  few key points that should be considered, for example, where to start it to ensure enough sunlight, to make sure you will have enough time to care for them, and lastly to know what to plant and when.

Even before the drought, South Africa was classified as a water scarce country, and now even more than ever we need to do our best to save water. This is not impossible when taking care of your vegetable garden. There are a few simple things you could do to save water, and costs, and still have a beautiful and ‘fruitful’ vegetable garden.

1.    Build boxes for the garden

By planting and growing your vegetables in these boxes it will not only contains the water to the desired area, but it also prevents the soils, and nutrients, from washing away with the water. You could either build a bunch of smaller boxes or you could build a bigger box and then just divide the space in the box between the vegetables you’re going to plant. A decent size for a smaller box is about 1m x 1m. This size is ideal if you are planting smaller vegetables, because you will be able to fit enough in the box for your household. If you plan on planting vegetables that will take up a bit more space, it might be wise to build the bigger boxes that can always be used for the vegetables that take up less space as well.

2.    Best time to water your plants

In summer it is always nice to water you vegetable garden just before night fall, as it is not at all cold at night, the flowers will flourish. But in autumn/winter time (yes you could have fresh and juicy vegetables during winter too) it is generally best to water the plants in the morning, so as to ensure that they do not freeze during the icy winter nights. It is also advised that you thoroughly soak the plants well at least once a week.

3.    Know what is in season

By planning beforehand, and making sure you plant at the right time, you could save yourself a lot of effort to keep a plant alive that is not meant to be alive right now. It is true that commercial farmers use all kinds of modified seeds, and synthetic fertilisers to grow fruit and vegetables out of season due to demand, but for our own vegetable gardens, I think the aim should be to keep it as natural, sustainable and organic as possible. Later on I will be sharing a table that indicates which vegetables can be planted during April and May for each of the provinces.

4.    Make your own compost

For a lot of people this sounds like way too much effort, or they feel that it is not attainable when you only have a small garden, like when living in a complex. It is really not that much effort, and if you are diligent, pretty soon you will not be able to imagine a time when you would throw the peels and freshly cut grass clippings in the dustbin. For everybody who do not already have a compost box at home, I will be doing a DIY post about just that early next week :D. By making your own compost you are not only helping to minimise the waste at waste dumps, but you are effectively recycling energy and nutrients back into new energy and nutrients in the form of your own home-grown vegetables. It will also save you a bunch of money by not having to buy it.

5.    Keep it clean

Weeds steal your gardens water and nutrients. It is important to try and pull them out before they sprout seeds, this way you can try to get rid of them before they get a chance to spread. Also watch what you are throwing into your compost box, if you throw weeds that have already formed seeds, you are probably planting them back into your garden. To save water and help keep weeds away, as well as assist in keeping you plant’s roots cool, you can also put down some mulch.

Planting in April/May

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Busy Busy Bees

Busy Busy Bees

Busy Busy Bees

Part 1: Honey Bees

Dwindling Bee populations

Natural enemies like bears, yup apparently it’s not just Winnie the Pooh. “Although bears do like honey, they prefer to eat the bee larvae” (Ontario Beekeeper’s Association, 2016). Other natural threats include mites, but this can be controlled by the beekeeper.

Foul brood and Nosema have had devastating effects on bee colonies, and the worst part is not all broods react positively on available medication. Sadly, in some cases it is best to burn the whole hive and sterilises any and all equipment used. American Foul brood has wreaked havoc in the Western Cape bee populations.

It may not be much of a surprise to you, but we humans are posing a bigger threat to the Bees of the world than we might realise. Some of the contributing factors include Urbanisation, with ever increasing numbers and sizes of cities; it is making foraging for nectar, pollen and propolis harder and harder for the worker bees. Not only is the number of foraging fields decreasing, but the distance they have to travel from one field to the next is increasing.

An increase in population numbers also demands more aggressive agricultural practices. On the one hand, they require more ground for farms to grow food for the masses, which, again, decreases natural fields that bees used once upon a time for their collections. On the other hand, more aggressive farming, unfortunately include the increased use of pesticides. And unfortunately, the biggest, baddest of them all seems to be all the rage. It is fairly new, so there is limited confirmation, but “a recent study by the insect research charity Buglife and the Soil Association (in Europe) has claimed that the decline in the bee population has in part been caused by NEONICOTINOIDS” (Ontario Beekeeper’s Association, 2016). It is a coating on the seedlings, and as the plant grows, it spreads throughout the plant, but bees do not die from coming into contact with plants that was grown from these seeds, it spreads into the nectar and pollen that bees eat, so it could kill an entire colony at once!

appy

What to do/ who to call when a colony un-expectedly moves in with you

  • Bee safe, get yourself and any other people and animals away from the swarm
  • Do not attempt to remove them yourself if you have no experience with beekeeping and/or swarm removal
  • DO NOT KILL THEM
  • Your best bet would be to try and locate the nearest possible beekeeper, this way, all three parties can benefit from the removal of the bees
  • Just remember, bees are not aggressive by nature, and will only attack when they feel their queen or colony is being threatened

 

DID YOU KNOW-

At home bee keeping

Although bees gather and use honey for their own consumption, every hive is also able to produce ‘surplice honey’, which is the honey that beekeepers harvest, and that end up in our households.

If beekeeping is something you would be interested in, there are a few things you will need to acquire before you start; First off, you will need to do a little background research, you need a basic understanding of the dynamics of a bee colony.

Secondly, you could either build a beehive for your soon to BEE neighbours, or you could buy one from a number of places on the internet, either new or second-hand (PS, keep reading, I’ll be sharing some very helpful websites during the post).

Thirdly, it is important that you choose a sensible spot for your beehive. This is more important than you might think, there are a few important points to be considered. First and foremost you should find out if beekeeping is allowed in you municipal area, if so, great! After that you can check off the following important criteria:

  • Shaded areas
  • Away from:
    • Lawnmowers
    • Inquisitive children
    • Animals, especially horses an chicken (bees do not like their smell)

Next, you will probably need some bees for that brand new hive… The best time to start according to the experts is in the beginning of summer (from September if you are in a summer rainfall region). There are a few different ways in which you could acquire your colony.

And lastly, believe it or not, but the bees won’t be doing all the work. There is some crucial equipment that you will need to ‘work’ your hive. Basic tools include;

  • Protective clothing
  • A hive tool
  • A smoker
  • A brush

If you would like to know more about beekeeping and for beekeeping courses and equipment you should totally visit the BeequipmentSA and the Honeybadger websites.

Did YOU KNOW 2-

Benefits and products of bees

Maybe you thought I was being dramatic when I said your life depends on reading this post, but the fact is that bees are the only insects that produce food for us humans. In fact, bees are responsible for the pollination of flowering plants, without which they will not produce fruits and vegetables. Thus, without the bees coming in to work every day, the available food would decrease by close to two-thirds of current production, many plants will eventually die out as well.

Bees also produce a ‘lil something called HONEY. Honey bees have two stomachs, one for eating and the other for storing nectar, collected from flowers or water. They process the nectar in their stomachs. Once they get to the hive they regurgitate it into the honeycomb cells, and fan off any excess moisture with their wings… then TADA! HONEY is made, (Ontario Beekeeper’s Association, 2016).  Ok, so maybe it’s not that easy, the bees actually add enzymes to preserve the nectar as honey in the hive.

Beeswax are one of those ‘by-products’ that secretly probably gets used more than the main product. It is used in things like crayons, candles, envelope seal, wax thread, treatments for wood, steel, and shoes, cheese wax, and the list goes on and on.

Propolis, also known as the ancient healer. Remember a hundred years ago a certain toothpaste brand had and advert with a talking beaver telling us that there is propolis in our toothpaste? Well it turns out that is just one of the many medical benefits of propolis. Other health benefits include; a natural antibiotic, fights infections, can assist in treatment of minor burns, support the immune system, to name a few.

How can you help save the bees?

  • You could ensure that you have a flowering garden for the bees when they come to visit you
  • Support the Beekind project; check them out at http://beekind.co.za/
  • You could adopt a hive on their site.
  • Other countries like Australia, Canada and UK also have adopt a hive projects which you could support.
  • If you are a grower of flowering plants or a farmer (i.e. fruit and veg farmers) you should find out as much as possible about better alternatives for pesticides.
  • As a farmer you could also “hire” bees from a commercial beekeeper to pollinate your flowering trees and plants.
  • Beekeepers should inform neighbours about their bees

Resources

Ontario Beekeeper’s Association. All About Honey. 2016. http://www.ontariohoney.ca/kids-zone/bee-facts/ Accessed 03 April 2016

Global Healing Centre. What is Bee Propolis? 10 Great Uses. 2016. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-is-bee-propolis-10-great-uses/ Accessed 03 April 2016

Hoedspruit – A South African Gem

Hoedspruit – A South African Gem

Cheetah_v2

Hoedspruit – A South African Gem

In the South African Gem series of my blog, I will discuss an area of our beautiful country that I’ve visited before. Our country has so much to offer and many people do not even know of half the places you could go to, or things you could do. I truly believe in South Africa we are greatly blessed with one of a kind scenery and abundant wildlife and untouched raw beauty.

First on my radar is the majestic farming town at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg in the Limpopo province, Hoedspruit. So, obviously the scenery is unbelievably beautiful, and can be admired by the many viewing points along the winding road, AKA the Panorama route. The town focuses a lot on eco-tourism, and has numerous wildlife sanctuaries, breeding, and rehabilitation centres, which totally scores them a ton of brownie points.

In the immediate vicinity of Hoedspruit there is a long list of places to see, and things to do. Amongst these is the Blyde River Canyon, which can be viewed from any of the stops on the Panorama route, they include, the Three Rondawels God’s window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, and the Pinnacle.

There is also the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, which was originally started to care for cheetahs, which is being threatened in their natural habitats not only by bigger cats like lions and leopards, but also by humans; Mostly farmers trying to protect their own live stock, which is helpless against wild predators like the cheetah, lion, and leopard.

Cheetah_v3

The centre focuses mainly on the conservation of rare, vulnerable or endangered animals. Cheetah Conservation is one of their core disciplines. The centre has grown since First opening their doors in early 90’s and is now looking after a number of other endangered wildlife species, like Vultures, wild dogs, Ground Hornbill, and Rhino, to name a few.

Vultures_v2

Here you can see the Vultures landing at the “Vulture Restaurant”. Some of these Vultures fly from as far as Pilansberg. The main threat to vultures are poison, the alarming thing is that in most of the cases the poison was used for other animals, indirectly also poisoning the vultures when they feast on these carcasses.

The five common vulture species found in the Limpopo area are:

~ White-backed vulture
~ Cape vulture
~ Lappet-faced vulture
~ White-headed vulture
~ Hooded vulture

Out of the eleven vulture species found in Africa, ten of them are on the threatened or near-threatened list, of which four are classified as critically endangered. They are; the Hooded Vulture, the White-backed Vulture, the White-headed Vulture, and the Rüppell’s Vulture. You can see that two of these are found in the Limpopo area.

The centre also has a pair of Southern Ground Hornbill. They are currently considered ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN, but sadly they are classified as ‘Endangered’ in South Africa. In many ways these massive carnivores are making it very difficult for conservationists to protect, and maybe even try to increase their numbers. The problem is three-fold; Hornbills mate for life, and in many cases even after one of the partners have died off the other will not accept another partner for the rest of their lives, on the other hand, the female gives birth to two eggs, one hatching a few days before the other, the mother, or feeder will only bring enough food for one of them, in the end the older and naturally bigger bird will always win the fight for food, leaving his or her sibling to starve to death. And lastly, the fledgling period can sometimes take up to two years, and if the timing is wrong (ie, at the end of mating season) the period from one hatchling to the next can sometimes be as much as three years.

Southern ground hornbill

The centre also looks after two ex-circus lions rescued from an abandoned zoo in South America. The male was neutered at an unnaturally young age, confusing his growth hormones, leaving him without a main and almost twice the size of a normal male lion. They also pulled both of the lion’s claws. When the circus went bankrupt the owners literally just left all the animals for dead. People who came to know of this, contacted the centre and not only helped them get the lions here, but also built the enclosure they are kept at the centre.

X Circus lions

The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is a non-profit organisation and generates most of its income from donations and sponsorships. It is one of the leading conservation centres, and is also contributing valuable research to the field of conservation and breeding of endangered species. You can visit their website: http://www.hesc.co.za, or phone for an appointment on 015 793 1633. There are many more heart-warming and inspiring stories at the centre.

Other activities in the Hoedspruit area that you might enjoy;

Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre; moholoholo.co.za; 015 795 5236

Blyde dam Boat Cruise; 072 260 4212

Khamai Reptile Park

Baloon Safaris Hoedspruit; goddingandgodding.com; 072 467 3310

African Summer Spa; africasummerspa.co.za; 015 793 1895

Elephant Back Safaris

Eco Caves

Mac Mac falls

References:

Birdlife international. 2016. African vulture pilot study aims to reduce poisoning deaths. http://www.birdlife.org/africa/news/african-vulture-pilot-study-aims-reduce-poisoning-deaths. Accessed 01April 2016.