Saturday, 26 November 2016

Enough Lions for now...

The Dilemma:

Lions in captivity breed like rabbits.
Wildlife tourists, true to form, want to see lions - the cubs are cute and cuddly, and the adults are huge, magnificent creatures, awesome to behold.





















Uncontrolled breeding presents a serious problem  -  this little cutie-pie is going to grow up and would one day like to start a family of his own. My friend Paul Loubser, owner of the Buffelsfontein Game and Nature Reserve on the Cape West Coast does not condone the concept of canned hunting. He would only sell cubs to individuals and reserves where the cubs are guaranteed to live full, dignified lives without the possibility of being hunted.
This prerequisite, however, narrows down the market considerably. Paul tries to keep conditions as natural as possible for his lions, and is therefore reluctant to keep males and females in separate camps. Nature being nature, this co-habitation would invariably result in the population getting out of hand.

Initially the females were put on implanted birth control pills, but this required frequent darting of the animals, and somehow there were still a couple of surprise litters now and again. Sterilising the animals in the usual way invariably results in hormonal and a variety of behavioural as well as physical changes.

So, Quo Vadis? Something had to be done to limit the population increase.

Balzac, the alpha male, did not take kindly to the idea of being castrated - yes, he was growing rather fed-up with a new batch of youngsters pestering him every now and again, but the thought of his mighty roar changing to a timid squeak and losing his manly appeal did not sit well with him.




In fact, it seemed to bring him close to tears.



















But then we gave him the good news which immediately lifted his spirit. Although it would still entail a visit by the vet and some minute surgery, nothing would change - he would still remain the formidable Balzac with everything intact, including his virility. The tiny operation known as a vasectomy entails the removal of a short piece of the vas deferens, or spermatic cord. This is a thin tube transporting sperm from the testes to the rest of the plumbing, where it is mixed with various other fluids to produce the ejaculate. Only difference is there are no sperm in the semen, something you can only spot with a microscope. So the happy family life continues normally, the only difference being that the female does not fall pregnant.

This elegant solution to the dilemma appealed to Balzac, although he was still not all that enthusiastic about the vet.

Due to the general anaesthetic he was spared the indignity of "the shave"...
















prelude to "the knife".


From "the first cut"....










...to the "final cut".











Within hours Balzac and his buddy were staggering about with their hang-overs, but converted to full sport(s) models without the usual loss of serious body parts. The big boy can even retain his name with pride.

This is not a permanent solution to the problem, but rather a reprieve. In the most recent litter there is (fortunately) only a single male cub, but it will take him a couple of years to reach sexual maturity.




















Friday, 5 February 2016

Meet Frikkie III

























THE NEW BOSS.

About two and a half years ago, a pair of wagtails started frequenting my garden. So I got hold of some freeze-dried meal worms, which I put out for them.
A couple of months later they disappeared. Then, last spring, there was a new wagtail. This one became quite tame, coming indoors and feeding at the table in my barbecue room. A month later he started bringing his mate along. Towards the end of winter, they would eat their fill, and then carry off some worms, two or three at a time. Freeze-dried worms are not easy to come by if you live on the remote West Coast, so I started breeding my own meal worms (not as easy as it sounds, either). Somewhere in the bush their eggs had hatched, and those little chicks had huge appetites.

Then, about a month ago, they showed up with their three young offspring. I was as happy as they were, except for the fact that my worm farm was not yet in production. Cape Town is a long way away, but I had no choice - step up the freeze-dried worms.

Initially the five of them would spend their days hanging around on the driveway and, of course, tucking into the freebies. It got to a point where I considered scraping guano off my driveway.

Then the parents decided enough was enough, and they started driving their offspring out of their territory. Two of the youngsters left promptly. Not so Frikkie III - he decided he liked it here, and fought back, feathers literally flying. Some mornings he would pitch up for breakfast looking as if he had been in a bar fight the previous night. He still looks a bit scruffy at times.

Then he discovered the worm farm had started producing fresh, live worms, and there was no stopping him. This went on for about a week before the parents conceded and took off. He is still considerably smaller than his parents, but he's got the heart of a lion and the persistence of a honey badger.

Once king of the roost, he started taking over big-time. When I'm in the veggie garden he would appear out of nowhere and land on my head or shoulder as if we'd been life long buddies. I am having a hard time convincing him to limit his indoor visits to the barbecue room and my office. Monica takes a dim view of him taking over the rest of the house, proclaiming furniture and sofas as part of his territory. How the hell do you house train a wild bird?

We have now settled for a fairly acceptable compromise. When I start working in the early hours, I make sure all the doors and windows in 'my' territory are open. Just after first light he would come zooming in, ready for breakfast.

Having eaten his fill he would perch on my arm and preen himself thoroughly. Then to work: I'm sure this little bugger can read. He seems to check if I have made sufficient progress and if the story line is still to his liking.


After wasting about an hour of my time he seems to get bored and takes off for the wide outdoors.

But he's back every hour or two, even if just for a quick snack or a chat. I simply love the little bugger.




Thursday, 7 January 2016

Pizzabraai - easy, inexpensive and simply delicious.

Hands-down the best pizza ever - on a hinged grid (toeklaprooster) over open coals.


First, buy two of those cheapy thin-crust frozen pizzas from your local shop. They usually have hardly anything on them, but the less the better. You are going to build your own anyway.

Next, spray your hinged grid well with Spray & Cook or a similar product to ensure your pizza will not stick to the grid.

In a pan, fry some bacon and pineapple bits. Drain the pineapple well beforehand.

Place the first pizza face-up on the grid, and sprinkle liberally with grated cheese. Add the bacon/pineapple from the pan.


Next, add a layer of sliced banana...


...and top it off with another layer of cheese.

Place your second pizza face-down on this lot, and close the grid.

It is important that you give the coals ample time to cool down - so pour another one and wait.

Then, over very low heat, start baaing gently, turning frequently.


Do not leave unattended while you pour another one - it burns very easily.

You will know you have done it slowly enough if, by the time it looks like this, melted cheeze starts oozing out onto the coals, giving it that extra flavour.

This is basic, and it is the best tasting pizza imaginable. Feel free to experiment by adding your personal favourites, like salami, garlic etc.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Zuma qualifies for Wild Stuff in Africa.

As the name implies, this blog is about wild stuff in Africa, with 'wild' in the context of 'wilderness'.
I don't do politics, but I do feel compelled to take a closer look at what this Wild Man of Africa has just done.
The Wild Man of Borneo was a saint compared to our own President Zuma. In one final foul swoop this despot has now driven a potentially great country right out into the wilderness of the worst banana republics.
There are millions waiting to be raked off in the shady SAA deal, and possibly billions off the even shadier R 1 trillion nuclear deal with the Russians. When our capable minister of finance attempted to put the brakes on the insanity, he got himself fired for daring to stand up to Zuma and Dudu. He was replaced with an unknown yes-man who could not even manage a small municipality.
This resulted in the bottom dropping out of the economy, and the Rand plummeting into freefall. Someone must have pointed out to the laughing man that he had now gone too far, so he started slamming the screen doors on his sinking submarine by getting rid of his newly appointed minister as well.
Maybe Jan van Riebeeck had torpedoed his sub...
Seems Zuma is falling on the Spear of the Nation.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Fields of flowers destroyed at Langebaan.

Who on earth allowed this?!

Who could have given the go-ahead for this


to be ripped up and transformed to this?



While behind me...


...lo and behold the silly sign they had the audacity to put up


An environmental no-go area? (Environ-) Mental indeed - you could get run over by a bulldozer.

Just outside the beautiful town of Langebaan, on the road to the West Coast National Park, this particular hill and valley used to be famous for the floral cloak it dons every spring. Visitors from far and wide annually flocked to this spot to look at the splendour of the floral display.

This piece of land should have been a heritage site, and protected as such. Who gave the final go-ahead for this development? What was the motive? It can only be a politician. This decision will cost him or her one hell of a lot of votes.
Is there anyone out there who can put a name to this person? The time has come to name and shame.

The developer? Developers do what they do - develop and make money. Nothing wrong with that.

But it should never have been allowed on this irreplaceable piece of land! I believe they are putting up sixty residences. How will any of the new owners ever be able to sleep in their new homes. Imagine living on the graves of millions upon millions of wild flowers that are gone forever.

Shame on you, whoever you are. You are a disgrace.


Monday, 17 August 2015

Aliens committing suicide

Rust fungus creating havoc:


During the nineteenth century Acacia seligna, better known as Port Jackson, was introduced to the Western Cape for soil stabilisation. It was also deemed to be beneficial as animal fodder and for fuel wood. It must have seemed a good idea at the time.

This alien tree soon started invading the delicate fynbos systems of the Cape and there was no stopping it. Both physical and chemical control failed miserably as the Port Jackson marched forth relentlessly on its road of destruction.

In 1987 a rust fungus was introduced, which infected only the Port Jackson and no other species. The fungus itself does not kill the plant, but invokes a potent infection stress. In reaction to this severe stress the Port Jackson forms galls, with which it eventually strangles itself.


The spores of the fungus are spread widely by the wind.


The life expectancy of a Port Jackson tree has dropped from fifty years to less than ten...


On a different front a specific weevil which feeds only on the seed beds of these trees has also been recently introduced.

Hopefully the fynbos will soon reclaim these barren areas.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Printed format

For those who still prefer the feel of paper and the smell of glue:



All five the novels in the Sam Jenkins Series are now also available in printed format from Amazon.