May 26, 2016

Breathtaking nature: have you ever...


"Have you ever had the sheer pleasure of just laying down under a big, old, shady tree with some grass as your mattress and your trails backpack as your pillow, closing your eyes and dozing off to the sounds of the African bush?

Have you ever felt the soothing coolness of the gentle current of a river as you step into it after a day's good walking along ancient, dusty pathways winding their way through pure wilderness?

Have you ever slowly walked across a floodplain at sunrise and run your hand through the drop-seed grass as it glows gold in the rising light and the promise of a new day?

Have you ever woken up to the eerie whoop of a hyena in the creeping darkness and just lay still in your sleeping bag as the mystery of the African night embraced you?

Have you ever been so close to a wild african elephant on foot that you can't help but stare into its wise and beautiful hazelnut colored eyes as time seems to stand still and life takes on a more natural, authentic and wild meaning?

If not, then my friends, you have not lived..."

Inspiring words by our very own Vaughn du Plooy.

April 22, 2016

'Tree'mendous fun facts: Earth Day 2016 - The importance of trees

The entire theme of Earth day 2016 revolves around the importance of trees. Most of the time we take trees for granted, and never quite realize the importance of trees in our lives.

Here are some valuable and important facts about trees:
  1. Trees Produce Oxygen – we can simply not live if there were no trees
  2. Trees play an essential role in environmental sustainability.
  3. It helps with the fight of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air.
  4. They prevent erosion and clean the water.
  5. Trees provide home to surrounding habitat, not to mention the nutritional value their fruits have to offer.

Some more facts...a little bit more on a lighter note.

6. It can be used as cover when being chased by a lion or elephant – usually lions do not climb trees. When out walking in big five game areas, the chances are good that you might run into one of the big 5. If you are surrounded by trees, then the best option would be to look for the closest tree and seek hiding. You might have some trouble when encountering a leopard.

7. When sleeping in the wilderness, there is no better roof for the night, than to sleep under a tree.

8. It serves as camouflage when faced with an elephant on foot – situational awareness is key during on foot guiding. Trees can become an important cover when faced with dangerous game.

9. An elephant keeps busy by pushing over some trees. According to the EcoLibrary “many ecologists believe that by frequently pushing over trees, elephants help keep savannas as open habitats, so that they do not grow up into more dense woodlands
10. It creates shade for the lazy cat specie, the shade of a tree becomes a relieve during hot summer days
11. Trees make for beautiful photos
We must take it upon ourselves to look after our planet. Preserve the earth and we all will secure a green future for ourselves and our children. Let’s all celebrate Earth Day. Not only on 22 April, but every single day of our lives


Happy Earth day 2016!

March 31, 2016

Fascinating facts: Matabele ants

Matabele or hissing ants are the main predators of termites. They get their name from the Matabele tribe who are an offshoot of the Zulus. Much like the Matabele people of old, the Matabele ants attack in raiding parties and then carry off the spoils of the subdued tribe. In the video we can see an army of matabele ants raiding a termite colony. If you watch closely, the seemingly chaotic frenzy is actually a well planned and expertly carried out attack!

video

What usually happens is that a single scout will locate a potential food source and then lay a pheromone trail which the raiding party, often marching 2 to 10 abreast in a column that can extend in excess of 2 meter long, follows.  When the attack takes place it appears that some of the Matabele ants rush in and drag out the larva of the termites, or the termites themselves, while others sting them (which paralyzes them) and then carry them off to their own colonies as food. Incredible!

Blogger: Vaughn du Plooy


February 22, 2016

FINALLY SOME RAIN


Makuleke got its first taste of some decent rain last week and almost instantly the bush transformed into a completely different place. It is incredible how just a small injection of nature's life giving nectar can have such a profound affect on not only nature's physical appearance but it's mood as well!

It is almost as if every animal is walking with a bit more of a spring in their step, every bird singing with a bit more enthusiasm, every bug scurrying around with a bit more intent and all the plants have just simply come alive! 

The immediate impact that rain has on an ecosystem is of course incredible, but have you ever thought about what is IN a drop of rain? We know that rain is water and water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, but, in order for a rain drop to form it needs a nuclei. A small partical right in the middle around which the water can cling to in order to form a rain drop. This nuclei can be a small spec of dust or even pollen.

A rain drop, however, contains much more than just a few molecules of water and a nuclei. It contains hope, potential and promise. Water is the universal solvent in which all the processes of life take place. Contained within the perfectly spherical ball of a glistening rain drop is the power to give life, restore strength and wash away the dust of past worries and stress. Isn't nature incredible!?

Blog and photo by Vaughn du Plooy

January 22, 2016

MAKULEKE AS I SEE IT...

In this blog Vaughn will take you on a journey to the bush and make you want to leave everything behind to get that same down to earth experience he is describing. This is what he had to say:

"Tucked away in the far North of Kruger National Park, hugged by two rivers and littered with baobabs, lies a truly remarkable piece of land. 26000ha of pristine wilderness, as rich in ecological biodiversity as it is is in cultural history.

I first set foot in the Makuleke concession, also known as the Pafuri triangle, one unusually balmy day in July a few years ago. I had just embarked on a life changing adventure, a transition from overworked and underpaid diesel mechanic on South Africa's platinum mines to intrepid trails guide and all round quality South African safari guide. Well, at least that is what I thought at the time anyway. I had no idea of the roller coaster ride of self discovery, laughter, tears, love and friendship that lay ahead of me.

Looking back on an unbelievable couple of years, there is without a doubt, one element that stands out. The starting point and solid bedrock of my personal journey. A constant in a continually changing and evolving set of memories, decisions and chances. Makuleke.

Sure, I understand, how can I possibly expect you to believe that a piece of land can have such a profound affect on a person's life. I mean, when you break it down and strip it bare, it is merely a bunch of biotic and abiotic components reacting and inter-reacting, creating relationships and inter relationships and forming a canvas on which a picture of life can be painted... But Makuleke is not just another piece of land. It is an expertly woven tapestry with a beauty and complexity very rarely seen. It is a small piece of wild heaven, a big step back into Old Africa. It is a place where magic not only exists, but where you can see it every single day. Join me on a walk through the heart of one of South Africa's last true remaining wilderness areas as Alan mcSmith an I, try to shine a gentle light of understanding on some of the secrets of the ebb and flow of life and history in the unique and truely memorizing Makuleke concession." - Vaughn Du Plooy