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The endangered Western leopard toad
Little terrapin friendy!
Volunteers Julia and Nicholas Gerk, Michael Schudzich and Michael Fischer with volunteer co-ordinator Meschak Bugaye
The view from one of the lookout points at Rondevlei
Last week we took a group of German volunteers to visit Rondevlei Nature Reserve in Grassy Park.
The 960 hectare reserve forms part of the greater False Bay Nature Reserve, which spans a total of 2300 hectares.
The wetland eco-system and Fynbos vegetation of the reserve are both important and vulnerable and are managed by the reserve staff as such.
The main focus at Rondevlei is the preservation of biodiversity, while environmental education comes a close second.
As a city reserve, Rondevlei encounters countless problems from surrounding human settlements. Factors such as fencing theft, truant teenagers slipping into the reserve to take drugs and the poaching of the plants and animals (for both food and entertainment) pose threats to the area’s diverse flora and fauna. Members of the local community are encouraged to learn about the importance of the reserve and of conservation in general, and almost 3000 school children are brought to the reserve each year to experience first-hand environmental education.
Rondevlei is the only reserve in Cape Town with a resident pod of hippos. The volunteers visited the reserve at a good time for hippo spotting but unfortunately did not catch a glimpse of the giant mammals as they generally only come out at night. As hippos like to expand their territory and form new pods, the reserve staff often has its hands full with renegade hippos venturing into nearby settlements.
Originally proclaimed a bird sanctuary in the 1950s, the reserve is a must for bird ...
I thought Madurai was an impossible city to come to know, just mess of shops and identical buildings and painted-on advertising and thatch-roofed huts, but after two months I have finally got my bearings. It really takes time and exploration and mistakes, but even the most foreign came become the familiar. Essentially everything I first posted about Madurai must now be amended or readdressed now that I have the hindsight of each passing day and confidence as I take to the streets. My morning walk to work had transformed from something new every day to a memorized trail of landmarks, although every so often new stores or juice bars or watermelon carts will pop up like mushrooms over night. We pass the Moolakkari bus stand and face the daunting task of crossing the street. This can be achieved by either joining a shielding scrum with other roadside warriors, forcing on-coming traffic to yield, or otherwise by singly sprinting across when a gap opens up or inching progressively like Frogger to the rows of motorbikes. We pass a breakfast place, then a bicycle repair hut, then a barber hut always with a full chair, and then Poori Man, who will look up from his wok of oil, sitting in perfect Sukhasana on the dirty ground in all his greased-stained-tank-top and frizzled-hair glory, raise a hand and say, “Good morning Krista!” The Poori Man makes the best poori, but only on days we see him rolling out the fresh balls of dough, not peeling them out of packages, ready to puff up into perfect air-filled crisps. If our morning breakfast is runny oatmeal or bizarre instant noodles, we'll sit down on the little wooden bench and have breakfast treats piled on our plates and slathered in sauce by the Poori Man's son and daughter. Peeling ourselves away from the cheap fare, we pass ...
Ik zit nu in het kantoor van Project Abroad in Togo. Delphine( een plaatselijke staffmember) is de laatste dingen in orde aan het brengen en aan het wachten op de plaatselijke directeur en dus mocht ik even mijn familie op de hoogte brengen. Sewwes gaan we nog verder de stad(met de scooter! niet evident als je weet dat ik al schrik heb vanachter op ne fiets) in en dan ook al naar de school kijken waar ik zal proberen les te geven. Die brommers/moto is wel het meest aangename vervoersmiddel dat ze hebben want de wind doet echt wel deugd.
De vlucht heeft dus veel langer geduurd dan ik had verwacht( 9 en half uur in totaal), met een tussenlanding in de Ivoorkust. De vlucht is wel goed verlopen alleen hebben men oortjes wel wat geleden met die 2 landingen. De vlucht zelf was chill want ik zat aan het gangpad en de 2 zetels naast mij (2-4-2) waren leeg en dan zat er iemand aan het andere gangpad. En er waren natuurlijk film en series om te kijken en veel voetruimte ( toch tegenover wat ze bij Ryanair geven :P)
Omdat ik nogal laat aangekomen ben heb ik nog niet echt kennis gemaakt met de familie, enkel al een paar leden tegengekomen. Stephan was een praatje komen maken met Fanny en Fabiola was is nieuwschirig komen kijken, Flaro is gisteren dag komen zeggen. Er is dus ook nog een ander meisje bij de familie. Ze noemt Fanny en is franse en werkt in de chreche. Ze blijft hier ook een maand en is van denk ik disndag hier. Mijn frans zal dus zeker geboost worden ( en het is echt dringend nodig!) Dus mijn frans moet nog wat terug naar boven komen want het valt toch niet mee, de mensen praten vlug en hebben ook de neiging om te mompelen wat het niet makkelijker maakt.
I returned at the beginning of this year for another month of a great, rewarding teaching experience with Projects Abroad SA at Hyde Park Primary School in Parkwood after a similar mission a year ago.
As opposed to teaching virtually any topic to a 6th grade class in 2012, I was assigned my own grade 7 class this year. A huge advantage of my return was the fact that most of the children still remembered me.
Although working predominantly with one specific class (supporting the local teacher with English and Maths), I was also allowed to teach French and reading to all four of the grade 7 classes.
One of the highlights of my time at the school was a day trip that I organised to Cape Town’s beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. About 80% of the over 130 children and teachers I took were seeing the famous gardens for the first time. I incorporated the outing into the school's Natural Science teaching curriculum.
On my last day at the project, all four grade 7 classes organised a surprise farewell party for me with songs, drinks, gifts and lots of emotional and personal thank you notes. I have included some of these below:
"We appreciate everything you've done for us and thank you with everything inside of us.”
"Lots of love - thank you, Sir!"
"We will never forget you. You are the 'most best' volunteer I have ever met.”
"We felt like the luckiest children".
"Thank you for teaching us French and for letting us have a wonderful opportunity on going to Kirstenbosch.”
"I wrote your name in the sky but the wind blew it away. I wrote your name in the sand but the waves washed it away. So, I wrote your name in my heart and here it will stay.”
Last week we took some lucky care, teaching and building volunteers to one of our animal care partner projects, SANCCOB Saves Seabirds Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Tableview.
We were guided through a most informative tour by the centre’s Educational Officer Rifqah Talieb, who briefed us on the full rehabilitation cycle that takes place at the centre.
We started off in the wash and rinse area, where each bird is carefully washed – a process that takes up to two hours and four people per bird.
Each enclosure at the centre houses birds with different needs. There are currently 174 birds in the different pens – a quiet period for the centre.
All the seabirds that are brought in are first taken to the admissions room before commencing their treatment. They undergo an assessment process much like that of any hospital. They are evaluated by the vet or another member of staff and given a hospital card with all their measurements and requirements.
Birds that are weak, oiled or injured are then admitted to ICU, where they are tended to on an hourly basis. A current ICU patient is an adult kelp gull with a blood poisoning that had started to paralyse its body and that would have killed it if it had not been brought in to the centre.
There is an inside as well as an outside ICU facility so that the birds don’t acclimatize to being indoors. At night all the birds are brought inside, though, as they are less susceptible to insect bites and disease inside. The birds that don’t need intensive care are admitted to the general rehabilitation centre.
A highlight for us was the chick rearing unit, in which 30 eggs are currently in incubators where factors such as vein development and heart rate are ...