Poorly timed giraffe danger warning

I’m going to look at some wildlife this weekend. I hope, anyway. Wildlife is exactly that: wild, and sometimes it doesn’t want to be looked at. Mostly, when it doesn’t want to be looked at, wildlife hides away, but sometimes, wildlife fights back and even the most unlikely of wildlife can be deadly.

I’m not talking about lions, hippos, rhinos or elephants here – you look at them and you think DANGER! Teeths, tusks, horns, speed, weight, bulk. DANGER!
But tall isn’t scary. When you look at a giraffe, you just see bewilderingly puny looking legs and neck. Giraffes don’t look dangerous. They look like one of those string and wood toys that you push the base on and they collapse. You let giraffes play with your kids’ cuddly toys:

No. Giraffes aren’t dangerous. Or are they? Because here’s what was waiting for me on the pisspoor TimesLive site this morning:

Cyclist trampled to death by giraffe

The giraffe probably got irritated by some typically arrogant RLJ’ing behaviour.

A Sunday afternoon cycle ride for Braan Bosse of Nigel, on the Far East Rand, ended in his death when he was attacked by a giraffe at the Thaba Monata Game Lodge, in Bela Bela, Limpopo.
Lodge owner Marily Abatemarco believes Bosse, 46, was trampled to death.

Rather unusual, though, right? I thought so too.
But then, somewhere deep in my memory, I found this:

Seventy-year-old Schalk Hagen died without telling anyone exactly what happened to him. Now the prime suspect in his death is a giraffe.

I was quite ready to cower away from the lions and the elephants this weekend. Now it seems that I have to hide from the bloody giraffes as well. Seriously?
You don’t get this sort of danger in the UK – sure, you might come across a vaguely irritated badger or a mildly disgruntled fox, but they’re not going to smash your skull in, eat you or jump up and down all over your rapidly spatchcocked corpse just because they’re anxious to be seen to be living up to their “wildlife” moniker. I didn’t move here for this – if I’d wanted constant animal-related danger, I would have chosen Australia. (Spoiler: No, I wouldn’t – it’s full of Australians.)

Anyway, my new plan is to stay in the short scrub, where there is limited danger of unforeseen giraffe attack (aside, of course, from the extremely sneaky limbo giraffe) (but fortunately they’re pretty rare in the Western Cape).

Wild Weekend

Not as in not sleeping for 2 days and drinking far too much cheap booze and listening to loud music amongst flashy lights for hour after hour after hour. Been there, done that, (and thankfully) washed the t-shirt. No, this was a much more gentile version of wild.

Considering the alleged onset of autumn, there was a lot of wildlife around the cottage this weekend. Starfish, scorpions, spiders, seals and other stuff that began with other letters of the alphabet (like grysbok, mongoose and bastard horseflies). Our kids are certainly getting some amazing experiences.

The seal was chilling on the sand next to the slipway in Struisbaai harbour. Apparently, she’d been there or thereabouts for a couple of days. She didn’t seem overly bothered by the tourists surrounding her, nor by the local kids chucking her spare bait from the fishing boats (although she wasn’t eating any of it). I’m not sure if she was sick or injured (there was no visible injury) or just chilling.

Of course, seals do bask in the sun all over the Cape, but it is unusual to see one here – and so completely unconcerned by all the attention it was causing.

More wild weekend photos here.

Wild Life

Wow. I need a weekend to recover from the weekend I just had. The hard work and investment of time, effort and money just seems so worth it after a fantastic family weekend which we shared with tortoises, goose barnacles, caterpillars (Cape Lappet moth and TBD Pine emperor moth), stick insects and even a puff adder. Oh, and some hot, hot sun!
I have never seen my kids so stimulated, excited, engaged and educated. Truly amazing.

Help yourself to a quick look at the set.

And despite returning to what is the most beautiful city in the world, I can hardly wait to get back out to the wilds and see what new treats our next visit will bring.


Not in that way, of course. That would be very naughty.
No, my drug of choice is fresh air. That and brandy, obviously.

I took this on one of a few quick trips down to the beach from the cottage this weekend.
Rather hypnotic.

The remainder of the time there was spent sorting out the back garden (such as it is) and trying to salvage fynbos from the remnants of the building site. I’m unconvinced that we got a long way with that process, although my aching muscles are screaming otherwise.
My rationale for getting as much done as possible as soon as possible is that then I’ll actually be able to use the cottage for its original purpose, namely to chill out a little.

The place is alive with wildlife: peregrine falcons, African land snails, striped mice, scorpions (x2, in the house) and a tortoise in the bushes at the back. Then one of the neighbours came round to say hello and warned us about the the pofadders.

This sorted out a lot of a gardening worries, since I’m now going to raze the whole thing and concrete it over.

Got to love getting close (but not too close) to nature, hey?

More pics, should you wish.

Money for research

As a scientist, I know just how difficult it is to secure funding for research projects. That’s why it annoys the hell out of me to see that someone (albeit not a scientist) has gone and got a lump of money to find out if television wildlife documentaries infringe on animals’ privacy.
And apparently, yes they do.

Footage of animals giving birth in their burrows or mating crosses an ethical line that film-makers should respect, according to Brett Mills, a lecturer in film studies at the University of East Anglia.
Mills compiled a report on animals’ rights to privacy after reviewing scenes from the BBC’s 2009 wildlife series “Nature’s Great Events”.

Perish the thought that some money should be spent on something important like finding a cure for HIV or addressing the growing scourge of XDR-TB.

No, let’s rather give Brett a big wad of cash to go into the woods with a video camera and see if he can make a badger blush.