I am back with some exciting news!

We spent over 2 weeks away from the bush and it seems like in those two weeks, the winter has arrived in Mozambique.

The grass has dried out and the leaves have started falling. It cold isn’t the same as the Free State cold we are used too, but there is a definite chill in the air at night.  

Although I have been very quiet on my blog, there is something else that I have been busy with for a while now. I have written my very first children’s story book. I will reveal more soon, but for now I can tell you this!

The story is South African wildlife themed and whether you have kids or not, if you love the bush,  you are probably going to love this story book! I am blessed to have the illustrations for the book done by the very talented artist, Alex van Houwelingen. I am leaving with you this small taster that Alex has shared on his Instagram a while back.

On the blog side of things, you can once again join in on the fun of my blogs on Eco-aware Southern African Country Living. Also loads of great stories coming up and some surprises too!

Time for a break…

I will be taking a two week break from blogging as of today. It has been a year since I bought a domain for my blog and I would like to take this time to refresh my mind and come back inspired.

Thank you to each and every person who come and enjoy the eco-side of Country Living here with me. What is book or a blog without readers?

I’ll still be on my Facebook page and Instagram from time-to-time in the next two weeks. If you are not on there you are most welcome to follow my stories on there. Links are on the left-hand side of my webpage.

See you soon,

Liza

Tuesday Trailcam-Takes, What happens at the Civet midden?

I have, after many months of looking for one, finally found a Civet midden. I have been walking past it for a few weeks while I kept my camera at the same spot. This was the spot where I found the Serval, you can see the pictures here. Serval on my trailcam

Everyday I check the midden to see if something had visited. What amazed me is exactly how fast the dung beetles and insects make work of breaking down the dung in the midden. There might be fresh dung in the morning and be the evening it will be mostly spread out and by the next morning it is just a heap of seeds and Millipede rings. (Millipedes are an important part of Civet’s diet and where have plenty Millipedes here!) Seeing how fast the insects work made me realise why it had been so difficult to spot a midden before.

Here are the first pictures I have captured at the midden. Surprisingly the only animal that has actually used the midden this past week, was a Large-spotted Genet. When I checked the camera the morning after I first set out the camera, I saw the smaller droppings than the previous time and wondered who was the visitor.

All the other animals were simple captured passing the midden and not using it, it seems to be a busy road.

Please let me know if you can see all the images in the slideshow? Previously there has been issues with it.

Hope you enjoyed this weeks Trailcam-takes from the Govuro district in Mozambique. For more stories like this, you follow this blog by subscribing with your e-mail address in the top left-hand of the page.

Sustainable Saturdays – Is your sunblock coral reef-friendly?

If you are like me, you have probably never even thought twice about what is inside your sunblock. My main concern has always been avoiding sunburn. It was only recently that I found out that some mainstream sunblock does not only contain plastic, but they also contain ingredients that can physically bleach and even kill a coral reef. So my question is this. If your sunblock can kill a coral reef, should you be putting that stuff on your skin? I think not…
So what do you need to look out for?
A man who has his PhD in Ecotoxicology has spent the last 14 years pinpointing ingredients that are detrimental to marine health and life.
According to him, the main culprit is an ingredient called Oxybenzone. This ingredient attacks the DNA of coral reefs in such a way that they could still look healthy, but they are actually sterile and unable to reproduce or even already dead. It also causes coral reefs to bleach and die. When a coral reef dies it crumbles, disappears and does not come back.
So when you buy sunblock again replace it with a better choice for the environment, but also for you. Various ‘green’ online-shops sell many different environmentally friendly sunscreens and sunblock.

(Source:https://www.vogue.com/article/reef-safe-sunscreens-oxybenzone-free-sea-turtles-environment-stream2sea)

Volhoubare Vrydae – Is jou sonskerm koraalrif-vriendelik?

An English version of this blog post on environmentally friendly sunscreen will appear on the blog tomorrow.

As jy soos ek is, het waarskynlik nog nooit twee-keer gedink oor presies wat binne jou sonblok is nie. Al wat vir my belangrik was, is dat ek veilig sou wees van ‘n sonbrand. Ek het onlangs uitgevind dat baie hoofstroom sonblokmerke nie net plastiek bevat nie, maar ook koraalriwwe in die see fisies verbleik of selfs doodmaak. Skrikwekkend nê? As dit ‘n koraalrif kan doodmaak en verbleik, is dit iets wat jy op jou vel moet smeer? Eerder dalk nie dink ek…

So waarvoor moet jy uitkyk as jy weer jou sonblok moet vervang?

‘n Man wat sy doktersgraad het in Ekotoksikologie, Craig Downs, het die afgelope 14 jaar sy tyd bestee om aan te dui watter bestandele hou ‘n ernstige bedreiging in vir die oseaan en als wat daarin lewe.

Volgens hom is die hoof-skuldige bestandeel  in sonskerm Oksibensoon (Oxybenzone).  Die bestandeel val die DNA van koraalriwwe aan in so manier dat hul steeds gesond lyk, maar nie meer kan voortplant nie. Die UV absorberende verbindings kan ook die koraalrif fisies bleik. Volgens Downs is dit die einde van ‘n koraalrif. As die koraalrif eers dood is, verkrummel dit en verdwyn.

So vervang gerus jou volgende sonblok met ‘n beter keuse vir jou en die omgewing. ‘Groen’ aanlyn-winkels verskaf verskeie soorte sonskerms en sonblokke wat nie skadelik is vir jou of die natuur nie.

Laat weet my gerus in die kommentaar as jy lankal reeds weet en ‘n goeie omgewingsvriendelike sonblok/sonskerm kan aanbeveel.

(Bron:https://www.vogue.com/article/reef-safe-sunscreens-oxybenzone-free-sea-turtles-environment-stream2sea)

Trailcamming in Southern Africa – How can you contribute to trailcam related wildlife-research without owning a trailcamera?

This is something I have come across a few times now through the marvels of social media since my interest in trail cameras was sparked. Various research projects call on citizen scientists to help them classify data. You could be that citizen scientist.

A screenshot of what the classification system looks like on Snapshot Safari.


How does it work?

A research project will post their photos captured by remote cameras on an online platform. Citizen register as users. You can then start going through photographs. Alongside each photograph there are lists of animals that you can tick. You need to tick every animal that you can see in the picture. You will mark the number of animals of each species and the behaviour they are participating in. You do not need to be scared of making mistakes as many people will look at each photographed and potential errors will be ruled out. Even if you do not immediately know what it is, there is an online guide with pictures and options to make it easy to narrow down the species you are seeing. There are also comparisons between very similar species. It is very easy, very user-friendly and a lot of fun.

How to register?

Visit https://www.zooniverse.org and register yourself as a user. Find a project and start classifying. That is how easy it is!

Research Projects

I am listing two of the projects that I have come across here that have are in Southern Africa. If you know of any other projects, you are welcome to share them in the comments.

The first project I would like to share is Snapshot Safari South Africa

With Snapshot Safari South Africa you can help classify animals in various reserves including, but not limited to, Pilanesberg, Madikwe and the APNR (Greater Kruger).

The second project is Wildcam Gorongosa

With Wildcam Gorongosa you helping to classify animals inside Gorongosa National Park. Many exciting things are currently happening in this park. Just yesterday they announced that the 6000th living species have been identified in this park.

Be part of the magic of science and start classifying.

Sustainable Saturdays – The Marvelous Cloth Diaper

Modern Cloth diapers are an environmentally friendly alternative to the plastic disposable diapers that pollutes our beautiful world.

I have made a short video clip to show you what they are all about.

For more information on the use of modern cloth nappies in South Africa visit.

http://www.sacnu.co.za

For an enjoyable and interactive Facebook group visit: South African cloth Nappy users

Volhoubare Vydae – Die Lieflike Lapdoek

An English version of this blogpost will be posted on the blog tomorrow.

Die lieflike lapdoek

Moderne lapdoeke is ‘n omgewingsvriendelike alternatief vir die plastiek doeke wat ons wereld besoedel.

Ek het hierdie kort video gemaak om te wys hoe hul lyk.

Vir verdere informasie oor die gebruik van lapdoeke in Suid Afrika besoek www.sacnu.co.za

En vir ‘n lekker interaktiewe Facebook groep kan jy gaan na ‘South African Cloth Nappy Users’

Tuesday Trailcam-takes – Serval!!! Govuro District, Mozambique

It is the very first time my Trailcam gets to take a Serval. If you have ever seen a person jumping up-and-down in the bush, that was me on Sunday morning when I went to check my camera. I knew that there should theoretically be Servals here, but this is the first one I captured in over 7 months.

Sadly, even though my camera was set on video mode, it only took images. I have no idea why? Would it do that if the memory card was too small or too full? My disappointment was huge because I had the Serval pushing its face into the camera and urinating in front of it. What cool videos that would have made!!

Just have a look at the lovely set of images captured. n

Let me investigate this thing…

I left my camera at the same spot, but with a clean and bigger memory card, but no more visitors when I checked this morning, maybe next week…

If you liked this story, you will love the Facebook group Trailcamming in South Africa, click on the link to join remember to answer the membership questions.

Life around the house and camp on the farm in the Govuro district, Mozambique

Weekly camp-life is a buzz of people, domesticated livestock and the integration of all of the that into the wild surroundings.

When we get up while it is still dark it is fairly quiet. At first, it is just the sound of the bush waking up, mostly bird calls. Then the staff at cattle posts get radioed and after that, it’s the buzz of staff arriving. On Mondays, it is exceptionally busy as everyone starts their weeks from base. It is noisy and busy. This morning the Kalahari red goats got dipped. New-born goats and their moms gets separated from the herd and stay in a sheltered, closed-up nursery during the day. On a few occasions we had baboons visiting the camp and they quite brutally stole and killed some of the lambs. So for their own protection they are kept in until they are old enough to safely go out with the herd. Hand-reared calves got their milk, horses got their tick and parasite treatment. The donkey-car fence team got ready for the fence inspections and the fencing team packed for their week fencing.

Then as everyone went on their separate ways again only the camp staff stays. The ladies who look after the houses, the goat herders take out the goats and the gardener. The sounds now change to the occasional conversation in camp, my chickens and bird-calls around camp. Walking through camp, you can always find something interesting whether it is Dung beetles or Giant Land Snails.


The sound of the Emerald-spotted wood dove, Pied Batis, Black-crowned Tchagra or Grey-headed Bushshrike can be heard frequently and an occasional Crowned Hornbill and Trumpeter Hornbill. This also changes seasonally. Living so far away from it all makes you much more aware of nature and the seasons. In a sense, the past 7 months was the slowest 7 months off my life, but at the same time, peak-summer with heavy rains and migratory birds seemed to go as fast as it came.

When you walk through the camp during the day there is a chance of seeing some tree squirrels in the quieter parts of camp either quietly sunning in a branch or loudly announcing your presence to each other.

On several occasions I have found bats, although I haven’t photographed all, there are some that still need to be identified when I see them again. I found to pretty reddish bats in a guest bathroom and wrongly identified them as Sundevall’s Roundleaf bats in this Instagram post. (If you are on Instagram you are most welcome to follow me.) Thank you to John from Untamed birding for correcting my ID to the red form of the Geoffroy’s Horseshoe Bat rather. Which makes these two an even more special find. The Geoffroys Horseshoe Bats are listed on the Red Data list as near-threatened. They are also insect eaters, so having them in a bathroom is a great way to get rid of the mosquitoes. So happy to have them here.

Night time sounds are the type I would listen to on recordings during our time we lived in Bloemfontein. Scops owl, Fiery-necked Nightjar and fruit bats with the occasional cry of a Greater Galago (Thick-tailed bushbaby) are the sounds I enjoy at night. One night around 2h00 in the morning my husband I and woke up startled by a very strange cry on our roof. I imagined it sounding like a dying fruit bat, but the curiosity got the better of us and we sneaked out with a flashlight. It was 2 Greater Galago in the trees above our house. Whether they were fighting or mating or just chatting I still don’t know.

There are a whole lot more to tell about life in camp we have seen many frogs, snakes and reptiles and I want to do a write up on my Mozambique bird list so far. I am in need of a few guide books to help me identify frogs and reptiles. The most commonly found frogs in our camp would be the foam nest frogs. I absolutely adore these chirpy frogs. We have found a chameleon in camp on two occasions and there are many geckos and lizards living in and around my house. As for snakes, we have seen a few around camp, mostly harmless except for a Mozambican Spitting Cobra. We have seen a Spotted Bushsnake, Rufous Beaked Snake, Common Tiger Snake, Cross Barred Tree Snake, Black-headed Centipede eater and two unidentified because they moved off too fast, one of which was this morning. I would bet all my money that the last mentioned snake got a bigger fright than what I did. I was just outside the camp-fence looking at my pumpkins that grew outside into the bush when I startled the snake. If a snake could jump, that one did…

We have moved to Mozambique 7 months ago as a family, my husband, me and our 2 year old daughter.

To read more of these stories about our life here, you can subscribe to my blog by entering your e-mail address in the follow blog on the top left-hand side of the page or like my Facebook page here: Country Living in Southern Africa.