Pairs of animals

This is a post about pairs of animals. Not since the mythical days of Noah and his big wooden boat have so many animals been paired up – and he didn’t even do it in a blog post.

It’s two, by the way. Two pairs of animals.

The first pair is a hawk and a snake. Sadly, neither of them is with us anymore, after a disastrous electrocution incident in northern Montana, USA. It’s believed that the hawk, fancying a sssssnack, swooped down and picked up the snake in its talons, before retreating to a convenient local power line in order to eat its prey.
Ssssssadly, the snake must have been dangling beneath the hawk and touched one of the other power lines as the bird came in to land. If any hawks are reading this (and they might be, because they have eyes like a… like a haw… well look, they just have really good eyes, ok?), let it be a lesson to you to always hold your lengthy prey somewhere in the middle, to prevent excess danglage.

Both the snake (already in a great deal of peril) and the hawk (peckish (no pun intended), but otherwise largely doing fine), were electrocuted and died.


Their still smouldering carcasses then fell to the vegetation below and started a fire which consumed 40 acres of Montana.
Look, if you’re going to go, go bigly.

The hawk and the snake aren’t the only ones to have started fires. There’s a whole list of animal arsonists on that site: squirrels, dogs, pigeons, kites. They’re all at it.

Our other animal pairing is elephants and bees. They haven’t (to the best of my knowledge), been arsoning together. In fact, elephants aren’t huge fans of bees at all, and would much rather stay well away from them, like some pachyderm/apian apartheid situation.

“So what?” I hear you ask. “At least they aren’t starting fires.”
And yes, that’s great news for African farmers, but what’s even better news for African farmers is that they can use bees as a natural deterrent to keep elephants off their crops:

In more than a dozen studies, Dr. King and her colleagues have experimented with beehive fences on East African farms, finding that the region’s indigenous bee, Apis mellifera scutellata, can turn elephants away. A notable long-term trial on farms outside of the Tsavo East National Park found that hive fences deterred 80 percent of elephant raiders compared to unfenced plots used as a control group.

And then, because the farmers need to keep the bees happy to keep the bee numbers up to make the fences effective, they can tap off the honey – which is made by the happy bees – for a second income stream, while reaping more from their original, more traditional crops. Everyone’s a winner.
Apart from the elephants, obviously.

If you have any more interesting (or not) stories about pairs of animals and how they can affect our daily lives (if we’re in Montana or Chad), then don’t hesitate to get in touch and we might even share your tale on 6000 miles…

Is Hout Bay the world’s most dangerous beach?

And lo, it came to pass that a comment was left uponeth my Facebook by Jonny “Harvard” Faull, regarding the Snakes On A Beach thing in Hout Bay on Monday. Here’s that comment:

At least nobody’s overreacting

And yes, the headline is:

Is this the world’s most dangerous beach?

The ever reliable Daily Mirror [see 6000 miles… passim] cites the “huge Cape Cobra beside the shark-infested sea”. And that’s lovely, but yes, it is an overreaction if you’re just going to base it on those two things. You need to be a whole lot more hazardous than just “huge Cape Cobra beside the shark-infested sea” if you’re going to challenge for this title.
Fortunately for the Daily Mirror headline-writing monkeys, I believe that they were inadvertently correct in their query regarding Hout Bay beach, because it has so much more danger to offer than just a big snake and sharky water.

Let me take you through some of the things that make Hout Bay beach potentially worthy of being the world’s most dangerous beach.

1. The snake and sharks.
As mentioned by the Daily Mirror (and who are we to doubt them?), these are really dangerous if you get near them. So don’t get near them. But assuming that you did get near them, really dangerous.
Danger levels: 9/10

2. The contaminated water.
To be fair, no self-respecting person is going to get eaten by a shark in the shark-infested sea because no self-respecting person would step into the water anyway. I actually was surprised that the snake gave it a go.  That’s because the E.coli levels in the Hout Bay water are through the roof. And there isn’t even a roof (we’ll discuss that later). While many of the Western Cape beaches are clean and shiny (27 of them have Blue Flag status), Hout Bay is not one of them.
Hout Bay is full of poo bugs. Eww.
Danger rating: 7/10

3. The crime.
Sadly, yes, there was a mugging on Hout Bay beach fairly recently. This doesn’t quite compare with the astronomical levels of crime on Rio’s Copacabana beach, but we’re not talking about Rio’s Copacabana beach here, we’re talking about Hout Bay beach. The best way to avoid being mugged on Hout Bay beach is not to go to Hout Bay beach. This is also a good idea because of all the other dangerous things on Hout Bay beach.
Danger rating: 6/10

4. The seismological activity.
I’ve been doing some historical research on volcanoes and earthquakes around Hout Bay beach. There are actually no documented records of either of these thing having ever happened on Hout Bay beach, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen on Hout Bay beach. After all, it happens all over Hawaii and Iceland’s beaches with alarming regularity. And it might happen while you were on Hout Bay beach, if you were foolish enough to go to Hout Bay beach. That’s why if you do go to Hout Bay beach, you should always have a well-rehearsed evacuation plan to hand in case there’s a volcano.
Danger rating: 5/10

5. The UV levels.
OMG! There isn’t even a roof on Hout Bay beach. That means no protection whatsoever from the sun. And we all know what damage the sun can do to our skin: sunburn, premature aging, melanoma, vitamin D overdose. This is a huge omission by the Hout Bay beach management people and – with summer coming – is yet another reason that Hout Bay beach is right up there with the other most dangerous beaches in the world.
Danger rating: 6/10

6. The Radioactivity.
Can you imagine how ridiculously radioactive Hout Bay beach would be if there was loads of naturally-occurring Uranium just below the sandy surface? Has anyone done any research into whether or not this is the case? Thought not.
So, in the meantime, let’s play it safe by assuming that Hout Bay beach is a seething bed of alpha particles. Lethal (ish).
Danger rating: 8/10

7. The smell of fish.
The local fish processing plant in Hout Bay harbour is wonderfully fragrant, especially on hot, still days.
Technically not dangerous in itself, but wholly unpleasant.
Danger rating: 4/10 (odour may attract bears)

8. The risk of alien abduction.
In the USA, the majority of UFO sightings and alleged alien abductions seem to be in rural areas and states with a higher than average rate of inbreeding. Look, I’m really not casting aspersions here, but I’m just saying that Hout Bay beach might be a bit of a hotspot. *high sixes the local residents*
Danger rating: 2/10

In conclusion, there are many beaches in the world that are really dangerous for any of the reasons given above, but it’s rather the combination of factors that makes Hout Bay beach well worthy of the title “Most Dangerous Beach In The World”.

The Daily Mirror weren’t overreacting: Hout Bay beach really is horrifyingly risky.

Snakes on a beach…

Well – Snake on a beach anyway. This photo was taken this morning by ‘jogger’ Janice Wagner on Hout Bay beach (the same one you can see – sans serpent – here). It’s a Cape Cobra (Naja nivea) and it was off out for a quick slither along the beach.


Because of the nature of social media, this is already old news in Cape Town, but it’s worth recording on here for posterity and for our overseas visitors (none of whom will be sunbathing on this beach again any time soon, I guess).

It also raises the question ‘Just where are we safe now?’, what with sharks in the water and snakes on the sand. Although it’s worth noting that our friend above also went for a swim.

Are we now going to have to employ snake spotters as we do shark spotters?

And then there’s the E.coli, arguably slightly less dangerous than the sharks or the snake, but nevertheless still rather nasty. I hope Hissing Sid has taken his antibiotics…

UPDATE: More info here.

Meanwhile in Benoni this morning…

Much reptile. So yellow. Very escaped. Wow.

I’m a regular follower of the Benoni Community Police Forum webpage. For me, there’s no better way of keeping up with the latest news on the crime front from Benoni and the surrounding area.

Technically, what follows is not a crime, per se (yet), but it did make their webpage this morning:

  • URGENT look out !!!!  Yellow Burmese python escaped from Titans reptiles at oakfileds shopping centre this snakes big enough to take out a small child please call mark 082 557 7084

Oh, Mark 082 557 7084. What have you done? How can you lose a snake big enough to eat a toddler?

While Burmese Pythons in the wild usually “only” reach an average of 3.7 metres, a superior diet (including, perhaps, small children) means that they can get much bigger in captivity:

The record maximum length for Burmese Pythons is held by a female named “Baby”, that lived at Serpent Safari, Gurnee, Illinois, for 27 years. Shortly after death, her actual length was determined to be 5.74 metres (18 feet 10 inches).

That’s a lot of snake.

Other recent examples of exotic escapees up North infamously include Panjo the tiger, Solly the hippo and the Limpopo lion, which wasn’t deemed worthy of being given a name.