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Recent update on my research in the Greater Kruger National Park: "In South Africa, Protected Areas managers and tourists alike are concerned that our expanding elephant population will negatively affect the number and structure of iconic tree species such as the Marula (Sclerocarya birrea). Elephants Alive were approached by South Africa National Parks (SANParks) in 2012 to discuss methods which could be used to keep elephants out of particular areas where certain landscape features such as tall trees needed to be preserved as part of the biodiversity objectives of SANParks..." Read more here: http://elephantsandbees.com/south-africa/
RobC posted a topic in Research / scientific papersElephants Alive has been a-buzz with activity as we have literally been as busy as bees. We had a very productive time making beehives for Robin’s MSc! In just two and a half days our inspired team made 79 beehives. Our only hold-up being a hiccup with the delivery of materials. We still have 40 to go but with our new skills, we are unstoppable. But bees and elephants....where is the link? Robin’s project will focus on using bees to deter elephants from impacting iconic Marula trees. His thesis will build on the wonderful work done by our colleague, Dr. Lucy King who used bees to protect crops from raiding elephants. We hope to protect individual Marula trees from elephant impact to ensure the aesthetics of certain landscape features, secure bees for the future, produce honey and in general to foster a peaceful co-existence between elephants and people. We will provide updates as the project develops and as beehives get hung in trees at the experimental site on Jejane Private Nature Reserve. Thank you to all who have sponsored a hive at $50 each. We will post pictures of your labelled hive as we go. Please use our website to donate via PayPal with the words ‘BEES’ if you wish to sponsor a hive (www.elephantsalive.org) or alternatively follow this link:http://www.gofundme.com/y7b2tc4 We would like to thank our bee expert, Johan Labuschagne for his design and wonderful guidance throughout the workshop. Gionni Gelletich is thanked for providing the ideal venue at Mica Village. Mica’s wonderful staff all lent a hand and we would like to thank Robert, Rector, Reggie, Mathieu and Given. Prince from Nourish was amazing and did everything in his stride and with the biggest smile. Winnie is thanked for helping with the catering. Michellene worked out all the meals. Lucia, our intern worked tirelessly wherever she was needed. BUCO is thanked for providing a good discount on the expensive materials. Woolworths is thanked for their support via their Wild About Elephants - Bags4Good campaign.
I have just gotten back from a fantastic 4 day trip to the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, bordering the Kruger National Park. I was there to monitor trees containing vulture nests and score the damage on the trees as a result of elephant impact. We had various encounters with elephants whilst on foot, and were lucky enough to see spotted hyena and side striped jackal as well.Being out in the field is always one of the perks of being a researcher here in Greater Kruger.
It rained today, Wed 23 August. Okay I will admit it was only like three drops here and there, but it really means something when you live on a game reserve. Rain now, at the close of the dry season, in any way shape or form signals renewal. When the tiniest amount of water drops from the sky, the excitement is palpable. Soon, everything around us is going to transform. As I sit here on my brand new patio courtesy of our wonderful bosses and owners I gaze out into the bush. It looks drab. It’s brown. It’s Dull. It’s bare and above all, it’s quiet. I guess it’s true that there is a strange kind of beauty to this dry environment surrounding me, but it gets to a point where it’s just plain unpleasant to look at. Especially when you know full well what it looks like in Spring and Summer. Everything is bare and exposed at the moment. Dry and withered, seemingly devoid of colour and smell. Dust lies everywhere, thick and crusty. You breathe in and the sharp stench of dry earth is the predominant smell. Animals are starting to look gaunt and frail. Everything seems to be scrambling for food and waiting for better days. Okay, not every living thing is looking that way, but a fair deal more than what I have been used to seeing in the past five years. It’s a slightly depressing time in the bush veldt. Where we live, on a private section of Mabula Game Reserve in Northern Limpopo, South Africa the dry winter season is such a great contrast to the wet summer season. As the dry season invades your senses you can’t help but feel kind of sorry for the bush veldt. It always looks like its dying a slow and agonizing death. In summer though the abundance of trees layered in the bush hang heavy with large leaves, sweet smelling flowers and delicious fruits. Birds flock here in their hundreds, some a common sight like the Yellow-Bill Hornbills and other rarer sorts like the Grey Headed Bush Shrike litter the branches. Babies are born to all sorts of creatures and life roams around everywhere. The sounds coming out of the bush are jolly. It’s a warm, cheerful mixture of tweeting and chirping. Insects come out in their multitudes. The variety of insects we have observed here is astounding and each year we see at least one species that we have never observed before. Frogs and toads too make their appearance. All shapes and sizes. It’s these small creatures that keep the nights on a high volume setting during summer with all the buzzing and croaking. What about lightning strikes and thunder! Oh my giddy aunt, there is no sound in the world that can compare to an almighty thunderstorm. Every year we get three or four storms that are practically of biblical proportions. The bangs of thunder scare the living daylights out of a person and lightning frequently strikes close by. It’s sometimes slightly scary and exhilarating all at the same time. The colours also change so vividly between the seasons. There are such severe contrasts to be seen, rich and vibrant greens, yellows, whites, pinks, orange’s, blues, purples. There are flowers, so many flowers. The big blue sky often sports large white puffy clouds and sometimes deep dark black or purple storm clouds. There are just too many colours to mention. The list is endless. Then there are the smells. Oh the smells. A complete sensory overload at times. When the Sweet-Thorn blossoms, you find yourself dragging in large deep breaths of sweet smelling air. It’s such a pleasant and comforting smell. The occasional Fever Tree has a scent I would love to bottle, much like the smell of Jasmine, just wilder. Let us not forget to mention the smell of the Silver Cluster Leaf tree. There are large forested areas here filled with them. The scent of the Cluster Leaf blossom is strong and hangs heavy in the air, but for some people it’s far from pleasant. It smells an awful lot like stinky feet or overly powerful parmesan cheese. But for us, we look forward to it. It’s a sign that summer has fully arrived. Who would have thought that a smell like sweaty feet could hold so much meaning for certain people like us? However, the most noticeable smell is that of rain. Arguably, the only other moment that could stand close to the scent of rain would be the warmth of the sun (particularly on a cold winter’s day) but the aroma of rain tops everything, because it smells of things to come. It smells good and clean and fresh...tra-la-la. At the end of a dry season, the scent of rain before or after a storm is a like a promise. A promise of change, in a good direction. An indication that new life will fill the plains and a time of plenty is on the way. It makes everything giddy with joy. Including us who live here, who can’t wait to witness the transformation. The promise of summer. It’s extraordinary. This year, the change seems more significant. Especially after a slightly upside down year for us. The past few months have been quite a challenge. After living out of a few different homes for a while waiting for our staff accommodation to be renovated, courtesy of the 18+ owners we work for, we are finally back to what can now only be called home. No longer just accommodation, but rather, home. It’s so exciting for us. It feels like a new chapter in our life is about to be written. Like we have been granted a new beginning. Change. We welcome change with open arms. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Since the inception of Our Life in Slow Motion, we have focused on a shared passion for photography. It has become such a joy in our lives and something we will keep pursuing for as long as we possibly can. Having said that, I have to admit that for a little while, we did wander off our original intended track. We focused on some wrong areas for a little while and it certainly began to show. Soon we found ourselves focusing only on the word “photography”. That doesn’t sound so wrong does it? But really, it is wrong, very wrong. What we do is “wildlife photography”. We are not merely photographers. We are WILDLIFE photographers. It’s always been about the wildlife. The whole big move from city life years ago, giving up our home and creature comforts all the way up until now, it has always been about wildlife. The love we have for the wild, its places, its living things, everything that surrounds us, is something difficult to describe. I have often tried to put words or a metaphor to it to aptly describe this passion, but have always failed. It’s all consuming. It’s ultimately the very thing that has shaped us as individuals and as a couple. It’s who we are. With that in mind, during this break we had from online society for the few months that they were renovating here, Anthony and I realised that we need to take a step back. Make a change in our daily actions. We need to go back to the beginning, where it all started. With a happy conversation about loving what we do and finding an outlet for this passion of ours. So a short conversation that went something like “how about we start a page on Facebook and share our stuff. It will pass the time and who knows, maybe people will enjoy what we have to offer” gave way to our page. Our Life in Slow Motion. And now approaching two years this October 2012 with 700 odd followers so far, we still love every minute of every day even more so because of Our Life in Slow Motion. It makes us happy to chat, interact and share anything we can about wildlife with all of you. This is a fact we had to remind ourselves of. We had to be honest with ourselves and understand where we were going wrong. Too much focus on so called “fame and fortune” within the close knit and cliquey photography community, and too little focus on what was our original driving force. To showcase wildlife in all its forms has always been for us, the ultimate way to spend our time. It is so rewarding and satisfying. Lesson learnt. We love the wild. It comes first in our lives. It is that simple. So here we are starting new, like the season with its rain and all the promises it holds for the future. We too are making some changes. Some small, some big ones. Some personal changes and some professional. But without a doubt we are coming back. Stronger and more determined than ever before. With the word WILDLIFE constantly before the word photographer, where it belongs. That’s a promise.
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