Day 507 – Birds

I spotted this online recently:

And yes, maybe the birds are trying to send us a message about the way we’re treating them and the planet generally.

Most of the time, I’m a big fan of birds, and I’d happily sit and listen to their concerns.

This (Sunday!) morning, however, a couple of sodding Egyptian Geese were having a really loud moan about the environment or something from before 7am.

And I really would give anything for their population to collapse.


Need a New Year’s Resolution?

NB: No payment has been made for this post (see below for details).
It’s just a service I’d like to tell you about and advise you to use.

If you want to make a change, why not make it now? Whether it’s Monday, March or May. I mean, why wait? If it’s worth doing, do it. Right?

We’re not all that way inclined though. And some might talk the talk, but not follow through by walking the proverbial walk.
Some people might need a bit of a kick up the butt, and they might be crouched hopefully with their back to New Year’s Eve, because January 1st might be the swinging foot they have been waiting for.

Whichever category you fall into (and for most Capetonians, my experience says you are in the one awaiting the boot), here’s a good idea for something worthwhile that you can do with many, many benefits.

Recycling. It’s all the rage and you may have heard of it before. But while it sounds like a great idea (and it is a great idea), it’s actually a bit of a shlep to do. And so you don’t do it.

What I’m suggesting to you is different.
What I’m suggesting to you is Recycling with Mr Recycle

Mr Recycle: the website.

Check the name, bru. It’s like he was born into the trade.

Mr Recycle picks up your recycling each and every week (we’ve been using him for several years now and he is the most reliable regular service I’ve experienced in Cape Town) and takes it to the local recycling facility for you. All you have to do is bag your recycling up and pop it outside your door on the relevant day. It disappears in the early evening without you even knowing and goes where it can be reused, instead of choking a seal.

It’s so easy.

Prices start at a frankly ridiculous R25 a week. And yes, there are terms and conditions to protect both you and Mr Recycle, but it’s hardly rocket surgery, guys.

I’m not being paid in cash or kind to write this, even though I sound like an influencer desperately trying to promote a local hotel in order to be able to desperately promote another local hotel next week. There’s nothing in it for me, but Mr Recycle has just picked up our recycling bang on time again and without any fuss. This guy has helped us to reduce our landfill to less than half a bin a week for a family of four and I think it’s a no-brainer if you’re looking for a worthwhile initiative to support in 2019.

Everyone wins.

Please spread this post far and wide (within Cape Town) and tell your friends to use Mr Recycle – REGISTER HERE – to get their recycling recycled.

Message ends. on


While I was enjoying the hospitality of the local… er… hospital yesterday*, some of my recent photos of Theewaterskloof

…were being used (with permissions and credits, I hasten to add) on the website of Norwegian environmental NGO, GRID Arendal.

GRID-Arendal was established in 1989 to support environmentally sustainable development by working with UN Environment and other partners. We communicate environmental knowledge that strengthens management capacity and motivates decision-makers to act. We transform environmental data into credible, science-based information products, delivered through innovative communication tools and capacity building services.

Now you know.


GRID-Arendal have been doing a lot of work on water provision and sustainability across Africa, and this article (with my photos) details Cape Town’s current plight for their readers around the world.

As I mentioned earlier in the year, I’m also looking forward to having some of my snaps published in other publications this year (and some in a book due for publication in September 2019!).


* with apparently what should be a positive outcome [champagne bottle emoji] [I’ll keep you informed emoji].

Nice introduction, interesting idea

Here’s the story:

Synthetic living creatures would be released into the wild to save endangered species and clean up pollution under this futuristic proposal by designer Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.
Called Designing for the Sixth Extinction, the project is designed to trigger debate about how artificial organisms could be used to solve environmental problems.

And here’s how Brian Micklethwait introduced it:

Synthetic creatures could “save nature” says Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.
Has this woman never seen any horror movies?

Haha! Brilliant!

It’s an interesting idea, but it’s not as revolutionary as you might think. Bio-engineering of microorganisms – although not strictly ‘synthetic’ – is already being used to sort out environmental issues, such as these methanotrophs. But Ms Ginsberg is thinking of things on a larger scale:


“These are bio-remediating slugs that reduce acidity levels in the soil to make it more hospitable. Soils get really acidic due to pollution; their slug trails are very alkali and they neutralise the soil.”

Cute. I think I want a bio-remediating slug as a pet. I’d feed it on sand soaked in vinegar and we’d all live happily ever after.

But seriously, these are interesting and promising concepts and an innovative way of looking at some of the environmental problems we face. Until, that is (as Brian points out), they unite, mutate and quickly take over the planet.

New Quagga Foal Is Very Cute

This is very cute. And great news for the environment. I like the environment, but not to extremes.
That said, I’d never eat a quagga. Probably.

new Rau quagga foal was born about 10 days ago in the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area to parents Susan and Freddie.

And here it is:



What’s a quagga, you ask? It looks like a a unfinished zebra. Wikipedia has all the answers:

The quagga (Equus quagga quagga) is an extinct subspecies of the plains zebra that lived in South Africa. It was long thought to be a distinct species, but recent genetic studies have shown it to be the southernmost subspecies of the plains zebra. It is considered particularly close to Burchell’s zebra. Its name is derived from the plains zebra’s call, which is heard like “kwa-ha-ha”.

This follows a typical naturalist trait of naming animals after the noises they make. They did ok with the Kittiwake, but they failed miserably with the Hadeda ibis, which should obviously be called the (ever so slightly less catchy) “Raap-Raap-Greer” ibis.
I can’t comment on the accuracy of the nomenclature of the quagga, because I’ve never heard one calling. Anyone?

A few others among you may have spotted that the quagga is extinct, which does make the news above seem a bit of a stretch, so let Wikipedia explain again:

After the very close relationship between the quagga and surviving zebras was discovered, the Quagga Project was started in 1986 by Reinhold Rau in South Africa to recreate the quagga by selective breeding from plains zebra stock, with the eventual aim of reintroducing them to the wild.

The founding population consisted of 19 individuals from Namibia and South Africa, chosen because they had reduced striping on the rear body and legs. The first foal of the project was born in 1988.
Once a sufficiently quagga-like population has been created, it will be released in the Western Cape. In early 2006, the third and fourth generation animals produced by the project were reported to look very much like the depictions and preserved specimens of the quagga. This type of selective breeding is also called breeding back.

The practice of breeding back is controversial, since the resulting zebras will only resemble the quaggas in external appearance, but genetically they will be different.

Three quagga in the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area feature in the Top 10 of Quagga specimens in the Quagga Project (go look at this website – really interesting). Among them is Freddie – in fact – he ranks as the number one Quagga specimen in SA. So this is big news. Nice one Freddie.

This is now on my list of things to go and do next time we’re down in Cape Agulhas, and it doesn’t hurt that the Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA is just down the road from these places.

Photo credit: Mick D’Alton