The story of N/a’an ku sê

The story of N/a’an ku sê

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I will never be the same, how can I? How can I carry on with my mediocre life, not really making a noticeable difference in anyone else’s, knowing now that there is such a huge need, having felt the joy of being a part of something so special, and so desperately needed?

As I write this post with tears in my eyes, I can honestly say I wish I didn’t have to come back, that I could stay there forever, that I could be a part of that family for the rest of my days.

I decided to do a two part post about this wonderful place. In this post I will give you guys a little bit of background on how it all started and what their ultimate goal and mission is, I will essentially be sharing the vision that Marlice and Rudi had when they took up this project.

I believe they were inspired to take action and make a real difference after a horrible incident one night involving a very sick little San Bushman girl. They realised that there were no real and reliable medical centre for the San people within 100km radius. And so the life line clinic came to life, but they soon realised that there were so many more pressing issues and decided right there and then that they would devote their lives to bettering the circumstances of these people. But the challenges did not start and end with the San people.

Both Dr. Rudi and Marlice van Vuuren have always had a great love for nature and an even bigger respect for their environment. This integrated well with the work already up and running in the community and soon N/a’an ku sê was born. It allowed them the opportunity to care for the San community by assisting them with work opportunities, caring for the animals, and preserving the very fragile ecosystem they find themselves in. This sanctuary also provided them with a prime opportunity for the research and development of new techniques and methods for predator control in a bid to end the human-animal conflict situation.

Since the 2006 the N/a’an ku sê family has grown into a diverse and committed group of individuals and sponsors that all have one goal in mind, to preserve, protect, and ensure a sustainable future where both man and nature could live together in harmony.

Unlike some of its neighbours, Namibia has very strict laws regarding wildlife and breeding in captivity. It is also very important to the sanctuary to be a beacon of hope for these endangered species, and they strive to run a sustainable and ethical organisation.

An integral part of the sanctuary and its future are the volunteers, not only do they contribute to the much needed financial side of running such an organisation, but more importantly, they volunteer their time, effort, love and care to these animals and the community. They have various comprehensive programs across a number of sites in Namibia, where you will get the chance to take part in food preparation for the animals at the sanctuary, get to spend quality time with the o-so-adorable little baboons, be part of the bigger baboon family, or you might even be able to join in a snake catching expedition with the very capable and experienced resident snake-man Francoise. And if you are more of a people’s person, you can always volunteer at the lifeline clinic or at the pre-school.

They also have research sites were you will get a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of most vital part of the whole operation. They do ground breaking research on cheetahs, leopards, jackal, wild dogs and elephants to name a few.

While I was there I met the most amazing group of people, from the co-ordinators and my fellow volunteers to Marlice and Rudi themselves, all seem to have the same goal and mission in mind, to serve and protect the indigenous wildlife, people and ecosystems of Namibia. During my stay I had the privilege of taking care of one of the little orphaned baboons called Christa, the moment I looked into her twinkly little brown eyes I fell in love. I realised then that this is what I was made to do, and I had to do more of it, at whatever cost.

My goal with these posts aren’t to announce to the world of my missions for me, but rather to spread the word of these wonderful organisations, the more people that know the better, and if I inspire just one other person I will have accomplished my goal. We can make a difference, never assume your part in it all is too small, it starts with one step, one volunteer, one initiative.

 

 

5 ways you could help the bees through this drought

5 ways you could help the bees through this drought

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South Africa is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in 20 years and it has certainly taken its toll on all ecosystems. One hears stories of animals that have to be culled in order to prevent a crisis of starvation and overgrazing. Even our little lemon tree at home is looking pretty bleak. A lot of our plants have not bloomed yet, and the ones that have’s blossoms are much smaller than usual and don’t last as long.

This is affecting all pollinators, and while many people are putting out bird feeders and have bird baths in their gardens, we often forget about the silent heroes, the BEES.  It seems that even amongst beekeepers there are some conflicting opinions on what the best practice might be. I have compiled a very short list of five things you could do that might save a whole colony of bees.

Put out some water for them, we here is South Africa can definitely testify of the rising global temperatures. Seeing as we are supposed to be in spring but is already experiencing temperatures in the 30°C region, I am assuming we will have another record breaking scorching summer. Bees generally have to work very hard during the summer months to regulate the temperature in the hives. When fresh, clean water is not easily available they might wonder off to the neighbour’s swimming pool, which might be catastrophic for them. Providing a close, clean and fresh water supply will help them cool off the core of the hive without having to fly too far for it. They also use the water to dilute the honey for the newBEES. It is important to know that once you’ve started to put out water for them you’ll have to keep it up, they are creatures of habit and will quickly start to depend on your source of water.

Planting drought savvy plants, it’s not too late to start. Bees will need to have nectar sources for much longer seeing as the amount of nectar on the flowers are so much less than usual because of the drought. A lot of succulent species will have flowers until late summer, and are great soldiers in a drought. Certain herb types such as lavender, sage, thyme, and rosemary will all be able to withstand the drought, more than others in any case, plus you get the added bonus of the wonderful aromas filling your garden and fresh herbs on demand. Most wildflowers are naturally drought resistant and makes for a beautiful and colourful garden at the same time.

Shade, this might be more relevant to beekeepers than laymen looking out for wild bees. By providing shade for the hive you will help to keep it cooler and they won’t have to work so hard, foragers can focus more of their energy and time on collecting nectar and less on collecting water to cool the hive. On the other hand I would also suggest that you put the water source in shade, thereby decreasing the amount of water that is evaporated by the scorching sun.

Harvest less honey, if you are a beekeeper it would be wise to harvest less honey than usual. It might seem that there is enough, or maybe even more than enough, but seeing as we do not know when the drought will end and how much nectar they will be able to collect before winter comes, it might be a good idea to let them store more of the honey. If you have more than one hive you could also keep a brood box frame, to transfer honey between the hives if  you see that one might not be producing enough.

This last point is somewhat of a controversial one, artificially feeding the bees. Many experts have conflicting opinions on this matter. Personally I have come to realise that in the long run it has more disadvantages than what it’s worth. Having said that, I also feel that in extreme circumstances, where it is a case of the bees literally starving or you feeding them, I would be in favour of it.  It is however, a very delicate thing and there are a number of factors to take into account. Firstly, it is imperative that you only use white refined sugar for your mixture, you can make a mixture of water and sugar, a ratio of 1:1 or 1 sugar: 2 water. Remember to put this mixture in a shallow plate or bowl and to put some pebbles or rocks that will stick out above the mixture, to allow the bees to gather the mixture without getting some of it onto their bodies or wings, which will subsequently lead to drowning. I have also read about people putting out a pollen supplement for the bees.

Just remember that whether you are putting out water or some form of a feeding station you might attract some unwanted predators in the process. Always keep an eye out for any signs that your bees are being robbed or killed, chances are something is luring the predators.

How to be more sustainable

How to be more sustainable

What does it being sustainable really mean- (1)

Now that it is a little clearer on what it takes to live a sustainable life. I will share some of my tips and tricks on exactly how you can decrease your carbon footprint, conserve energy, water and other resources, and be more self-sustaining.

Conserve energy

There are many ways in which to achieve this, and it can be applied in all aspects of your life. Inside the house you can use energy efficient appliances, switch off lights that are not in use, make use of energy saver light bulbs, insulate your house and limit air conditioning (heating or cooling). For more tips on how to save energy in the house read: Five ways to save electricity this winter

Reduce your carbon footprint

This entails much more than just carpooling to work, or buying an electric car; if the electricity that you use to charge your car comes from coal based energy then it isn’t reducing your carbon footprint at all. In order to reduce your carbon footprint you need to make informed choices. You need to know the process that is required to produce a certain product; there are some solar panels that will not be able to recover the amount of energy that was used to produce them in their lifetime.

Be more self-sustaining

This is something more personal, and it will change from one person to the next, but I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that your contribution should consist of something that you enjoy and might see yourself doing for the rest of your life, something that could very easily become a habit or even a hobby for you.

Making your own compost, and using it in your own vegetable garden is a great way to be more sustainable, but if you do not have sufficient space it will not be practical, nor when it is not something that you could see yourself doing.

Re-use

Re-using is often much better than recycling because recycling actually uses a lot of energy. Re-using and re-applying something that you would normally throw out saves the time and energy that it requires to take that item to the landfill when it’s thrown out, as well as the time and energy to sort and recycle the recyclables.

There are, however, certain things that should be recycled, even if it is for the simple fact that the more of it gets recycled the less will hopefully be newly produced, like plastics, and aluminium products.

Certain glass product  are good examples of things that can be re-used, for example, a used glass bottle to keep water in the fridge, or re-using glass jars if you make your own jams, jellies and chutneys, or rather re-using a glass container in the kitchen instead of buying and using plastic containers.

Be water wise

Water can actually also be re-used, we re-use our shower, sink and washing water (from the dishwasher and washing machine) in the garden, you would be surprised at how much water is generated by the above mentioned activities, if you are interested in saving water in and around the house, you could read: 5 Ways to save water every day.

You could actually also design your garden itself to be more water efficient, by planting your flowers, fruits, and veggies in boxes or pots the amount of soil that needs to be watered is less and the area to where the water could possibly spread to is smaller, so it is applied to a more concentrated area, using only what the plant needs. You can read more on how to save water in your veggie garden here: Sustainable living: vegetable gardening.

Get with the BUZZ

It can be argued that bees form part of the backbone of the finely balanced equilibrium of all ecosystems, by pollinating millions of flowers each year they provide food and substance for the masses. They also have lots of other by-products that we humans use in our everyday life.

If you are not able or willing to have your own beehive, there are other options, like the ‘adopt-a-hive’ initiative. Read all about the Busy Busy Bees from this link.

Spread the word

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth, people tend to listen more to their friends and family than they do a stranger in an article. There are still too many people that think conservation and environmental issues are just hot air. What we need is as many people as possible to do their small part and the results could be huge.