Ellies…

What did the momma elephant say to her kid when he was misbehaving? “Tusk, tusk!”

Sorry🤣 I couldn’t help myself…A little cabin fever and a few days of an awful virus has me a little woozy…or that’s my excuse…I just looooove funny stupid jokes🤣

Haven’t had any wild adventures lately…but revisiting old photos made me smile at the antics of these juniors at Addo on a Sunday outing….

There is such happiness in just sitting in the car and watching…I get lost watching their antics…so much like humans…

They even have Playdates…
Those Kids are Such a Nuisance

Please forgive the unperfect photos…giving forward a little joy that this beautiful place has shared with me…

May your day be filled with a little sunshine and a lot of love❣ …and some magic too

South African Black Ostrich…

The (Struthio camelus domesticus), the black necked ostrich, Cape Ostrich or Southern ostrich…although only the males have the bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females…Females, on the other hand, are a drab light brown…

A simple elegant wedding in a family member’s house at the Cape…a rainy weekend that turned into the most “perfect” wedding day with sunshine and cool breezes…just for me, I would imagine😉…I had the cake and flowers that I had always dreamed of…surrounded by my South Africa family and friends…and then, of course, my knight in amour who invited me to be his “forever’ love…to top the week off…my son flew 36 hours to give me away…

He had never been to South Africa…while he didn’t have a lot of time to venture through the country…we did have a day to take him to Addo…a wonderful spring day with playful babies and zebra love…it was wonderful to be able to share the beauty of the country with him…

Big Daddy Telling Us it was time to move a little further away… (Video by my son) …

It’s a little late being December, but Mother Nature has her own time frame (usually mating season is between July and November) …the male ostrich’s beak and legs turn red/pink to attract the female for mating…after dancing for her favors…for as long as it takes…men and their antics😉

Bet you didn’t know all these interesting facts…

Ostrich eyes are about the size of billiard balls…measuring about 2″ across…they take so much room in the skull that its brain is smaller than either one of its eyeballs…about the size of a walnut…making them not very adept at alluding predators…they tend to run in circles…they need those enormous eyes with its a high number of photoreceptor cells combined with the sheer size of the image from the lens help them see phenomenal details of the predators even from great distances… as far as 2.2 miles (3.5 km)… https://m.facebook.com/ScienceEvidenceIntelligence/photos/a.316858809164834/635684480615597/?type=3&source=57&__tn__=EH-R

Ostriches are the largest bird (an adult rooster can be 6 to 10 ft and weight up to 340 lbs…and while they can’t fly…they’re puny wings couldn’t lift their heavy bodies off the ground, boy, can they run…they can cover 5m (approx. 16.5 ft) in one stride and can sprint over 70 k/hr (about 43.5 mph) using their wings to balance as they run and rudders to change direction …AND they don’t bury their heads in the sand…they wouldn’t be able to breath😂 and definitely would not have survived for million years…The oldest fossil relatives of ostriches belong to the species Calciavis grandei, which were excavated from the Green River Formation in Wyoming and date to some 56 million to 34 million years ago https://www.britannica.com/animal/ostrich

They do dig holes in the sand to bury their eggs…and they lay their heads flat on the ground for several reasons…when they sleep, when they sense trouble to try and become less visible…they may flop on the ground with their heads outstretched…their coloring blending with the sandy ground and assisting in camouflaging themselves… they sometimes lay their head flat on the ground to swallow sand and pebbles… the hard grit helps them to grind their food in their crop… from a distance, the ostrich does look like it’s burying its head in the sand…. and that may be where the myth began…supposedly with that great Roman thinker, Pliny the Elder (23-79AD) https://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/11/02/1777947.htm

Ostriches typically live in a herd of a dozen or less with an Alpha male and a dominant hen… a successful territorial male is polygamous, but will only form a “pair” bond with a ‘major’ female…he mates with the dominant hen (his favorite) … normally mating for life…but forms a complex structure with the other hens …the females who have become part of the ostrich harem may mate with the Alpha male or with wandering males …

The favorite female will lay around 7-10 eggs …all the hens will place their eggs in the nest dug by the male of the dominant hen to incubate sometimes up to 60 eggs…here its “put your eggs all in one basket” philosophy …she has a plan (the devious she-devil) …she will move the lesser hens’ eggs to the edge and move hers to the middle of the nest… When she sees a predator, she will sacrifice another hen’s egg by rolling it away from the nest beforehand…

Even though the Alpha male may be a regular Cassanova…he is a good father…helping the female by taking turns incubating the eggs for about 6 weeks…due to their camouflage coloring…normally she sits on the eggs during the day, and he sits on them during the night…so seeing the male nesting during the day was surprising (maybe she just needed a break to stretch her long legs)…sitting on 60 of the largest eggs in the world… at 15 cm (6 in.) long and weighing 1.5 kg (3 lb.) is no easy task…

Whoever survives the hyenas, jackals, and vultures and other predators will be born with that spiky, greyish brown down…they grow approx. 30 cm (1 ft.) each month…and in six months they will be as tall as their parents…they start wandering from the nest with their parents a few days after hatching and in four months they will start to grow feathers … reaching sexual maturity around three or four years old…which is when males grow their black-and-white feathers, and the poor colorless (my personal commentary) females continue to have their brown plumage…

Chicks are born with a spiky, greyish-brown down. They grow brown feathers after 4 months. Then around 3-4 years, ostriches reach sexual maturity. Males develop a striking black and white plumage while females continue to have a brown plumage

For millennium… dynamic and colorful bird plumage has been used for decoration…for many cultures…through time…unusual feathers were sometimes worn as a way of displaying one’s high societal rank…the more exotic the feathers…the higher one’s ranking…through the 18th century both men and women of the upper class wore feathers in their hats… “It was at this time, in England, that the figurative phrase “a feather in one’s hat” was introduced and came to mean that an individual had achieved some significant accomplishment” https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2015/09/18/feathers-in-regency-fashion/

As though these poor birds didn’t have enough problems with natural predators such as cheetahs, lions, leopards, hunting dogs and spotted hyenas…as early as the 16th century these wild birds were hunted throughout Africa… providing the extremely rare product for important women like Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette to use in the elaborate headdresses …

Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of South Africa in 1652 and reported see large flocks… Ostrich feathers were exported from South Africa as early as 1859…as the emigrant farmers became fully aware of the lucrative return on feathers……the farmers soon domesticated the ostriches… trekking into the karoo and the Eastern Cape to steal the wild chicks and eggs… Incubating them……During this feather boom there were more than 77 600 ostriches on farms in the area and in 1914 there were close to a million ostriches…

BETWEEN 1903 AND 1913, OSTRICH FEATHER EXPORTS TOTALED A STAGGERING £19 MILLION (25 MILLION US), TRAILING ONLY GOLD, DIAMONDS AND WOOL.

https://www.ozy.com/true-and-stories/the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-south-africas-ostrich-king/82169/
Woman wearing a hat with ostrich feather. Produced by the Fitzall Bandeau Company as part of their Fitzall Fashions series. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

The farmers who were the pioneers of the ostrich industry, which commenced in the Oudtshoorn district during the middle of the 19th Century in part to the climate being almost identical to the ostrich’s original habitat…and therefore Oudtshoorn became known as the Ostrich Capital of the World… and remains to this day…where you can even take a giddy exhilarating ostrich ride…but we just bought Mr. P a beautiful ostrich leather belt and tried some biltong…

Southern Tip of Africa

“Today, ostrich farms are among the most profitable agricultural projects. They are often referred to as “the farms of the future” because of the large variety of products and hence their high profit potential. Ostriches are raised commercially for their meat, hide and feathers”… https://www.fao.org/3/v6200t/v6200t02.htm

 One of Mr. P’s and I jaunts to Cape Town…we stopped in Oudtshoorn to check it out…

Now that’s my kind of Ostrich
😏 It was a rather tasty treat…dried ostrich (jerky or biltong)

Even the ostrich, with its long neck and large eyes, cannot see what’s in the future

An African Proverb

Much love, laughter, and magic for your day❣

Top 23 Quotes and Sayings about "OSTRICHES" | inspiringquotes.us

Umbulo the Dung Beetle Extordinaire…Part II

Lately the world seems like a heaping pile of poo with the ongoing Covid pandemic, riots, insurrections, political infighting and unrest, the climate crisis, unrelenting conflict and…and on and on and on…we often become numb to the magic that is at our finger tips…yet there is still wonder and amazement to be found in a every day moment…mysteries to marvel at…gifts that God hands to us in our human existence for us to open…

“traveling on the edge of a vast, floating whirlpool of stars”, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas…nearly fourteen billion years after the cosmos bubbled into being”

(Rick Hanson, Ph.D.)

In honor to the small gifts of life, and Mr. P’s request…here is the “rest of the story”…

A outstanding planetary citizen preforming a vital function…heads down…bottom ups

Umbolo climbs to the opening of his burrow squinting in the early morning spring sun…It’s October and winter has decided to bid adieu for the season…catching the “bok-bok-mak-kik” of the shy and skulking large yellow Bokmakierie with his black collar…off somewhere pecking for his breakfast of insects, small lizards, snakes, small birds and frogs….uggggg….gross and nauseating to Umbolo….shrugging…but to each his own…

Precious green thickets of spekboom with its small, star-shaped dusty pink buds doing its job of helping the environment by sponging up the carbon dioxide…and surreptitiously providing an ingredient to his own nutritious meals served by the elephants…the Acacia thorns with its conspicuous paired white long thorns 10-25 cm (4″ -10″) that would soon to a mass of sweetly-scented golden-yellow puff balls…

The karoo was definitely in nursery mode…and romance was in the air💕… Spring was here!!!!

Grumbling…his stomach reminds him that the first order of the day is nutrition…there is always such fierce competition between all his friends, relatives and competitors at the self-service take out…sometimes hundreds congregating…❓don’t know why❓…after all one elephant shares up to 150kg (330 lbs.) of poo every day…and with 600+ elephants…well, you do the math…that’s a lot of food…but like all buffets…the best parts are dried up or gone quickly if you arrive too late…

Raising his antenna with its incredible sensitive sense of smell….awww there it is…the delicious smell of fresh gourmet poo…after all he was a very fussy eater…he needed and craved the tiniest particles of the protein-rich nitrogen source needed to keep his muscles strong💪…clicking it up a notch for fast mode to the elephant provided buffet…he’s off…🏁

Yes, Umbolo arrived early enough…food still warm and fresh…but no time to slow down…he was at risk of being assaulted by Isela or one of his gang of thieves…they were relentless…although Umbolo was quite a strong defender of his poo balls…he had lost his prize several times before…..and had been relieved of his precious haul…he had to head off again to find a new fresh source of his edibles and gifts for a potential girlfriend…and just maybe a “baby” nest💞…hopefully not this time…

All hail the underdog!

Umbolo’s long, thin, outwardly bowed hind legs were well suited for running and wrapping around the accumulation of the poo…clinging to the ball as he was forming it…he was able to maneuver a ball 50x his weight…Hercules of the dung beetles..

“Like a bag of money dropped in the street, “everyone would grab as much as they could, get it somewhere safe, and then come back for more.”

Max Barclay

Umbolo quickly gripped the ground with his mid and hind legs and cut into the warm buffet with his front legs. He began then patting bits of food on his new ball with the rakelike extensions on his front legs…definitely not a day for creating the most magnificent of balls today…too much competition…pushing against the buffet table with his head, Umbolo separated his takeaway…and started rolling…quickly…before it was stolen by his rivals…

Beating a hasty retreat…in the most expeditious and efficient way possible…in the most direct route…a straight line…head down…butt up…propelling his meal with his hind legs, he moves backwards with his head pointed to the ground…Off to the races…navigating away from the fray…

No GPS or Google Maps needed here…not confused where to go at all…he has celestial powers too…an internal celestial compass for orientation and skylight cues…he stops, climbing on top of his booty and rotated around to orient himself…detecting the symmetrical patterns of polarized light…climbing back down and pushing his treasure again…the reference point of the sun giving him the way to beat a hasty retreat home…

He had made it to safety away from the scrimmage safely this time…digging in the soft soil under his precious ball…he pushed the dirt up around it until it sank into the ground…no need to bury it too deep…the nursery ball would definitely need to be buried deeper….he was in a hurry…his hormones were kicking in and the girls were waiting…

Uswiti was so incredibly frustrated…MEN…they were all alike…the handsome beetle Indoda had duped her that very morning…enticing her with his strong masculine essence…she had fallen for it and followed him into his burrow…the thrill was short lived…nothing to see there…no brood ball in sight…a lazy one… must be part of the gang run by Isela…feeling a little full of himself, he tried a little funny business…the full wrath of Uswiti ensued…kung foo expert…she left him in in the most most vulnerable position…upside down on the floor of his burrow…

She was not giving up…she had spent a lot of time rounding out her curves…getting ready to find a nice man and have a family…after all, that’s all this girl really wanted..in the meantime…curves to be maintained…off to find lunch…

She had wasted a good part of the morning with the scamp…lunch was going to be a quick pick up and go…being around noon now…packed up with all the nutrition needed…she was quickly out of the rowdy crowd…the sun being at its zenith…it was unreliable to discern East from West…no time to wait for afternoon sun guidance…she toggled on her internal wind compass and off she went…headed toward home…to dine in peace…

The late morning fiasco had caused an additional complication… hot…hot…hot…the unrelenting sun searing the surface of the ground…at this time of the day, even the trees were seeking shade…the waves of the afternoon heat were blistering the soles of her feet…she felt herself starting to overheat…a few minutes reprieve…Uswiti climbed on top of her food packet to cool her feet…

Times like this made her extremely jealous of her relatives…the Scarabaeus satyrus family…they took to the air (no walking for them) at dusk…working in the cool of the evening…no need to contend with the heat of the African sun to find the straightest way home…out and about at night…navigating and orienting themselves using the beautiful stars of the Milky way…picking up the polarized light they used this as a map to keep themselves on course…oh, well…that was not her lot in life…back to hot-footing it…

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde

Umbolo’s breathing was getting a quicker and his heart was beating just a little faster…his anxiety level had increased with each beat of his heart…the gift of a brood ball was all of completed…the lovely romantic gift was unwrapped so it could be seen and all his work fully appreciated…would he be accepted today…

Well, here goes…another headstand…supporting his body with his head and four front legs…he rubbed his belly with the brush on his back legs…first one leg and then the other…back and forth…his enticing manly essence was released with a puff of fine white powder…the pungent order that hopefully enticed the ladies…he had a juicy prize to give…

Uswiti felt herself being enticed toward another tempting manly smell…maybe this one would be a more suitable partner…and she headed off to check it out…one never knows…she spotted Umbolo’s beautiful brood ball…such a homey and roomy nursery…she came a little closer and Umbolo relinquished his headstand and raised his forelegs in greeting…his dream come true…advancing on Uswiti he extends his antennae…would she accept him…

Dung beetles prefer human faeces to those of wild animals | The Economist

Hesitantly…Uswati lowers her front legs…Yes!!!!!!…letting him know that she thinks he’s a mighty fine dung beetle with his exquisite offering…she climbs a top his gift and clings to the ball as Umbolo starts to roll the ball away as quickly as he can…now he needs to get her home before Isela or one of his thieves tries to steal both his woman and his brood ball again…

No, such luck…there he comes…thinking he’s the cat’s meow…not this time…Umbolo knew Isela would be relentless…determined to roll off his prize…being bulky had it’s disadvantages…and ground warfare was the only option with no wings…his strength in the battle was his strength and this was a matter of survival…he had experience in all the techniques to viciously fight for his claimed prize…

Umbolo is on the top, now he’s on the ground…now Isela is on the top…Umbolo comes back…not giving up and much like a wrestler flings that would-be thief right off…it’s a big fight…each trying to throw the other off…one more time…Umbolo throws Isela off…Isela is temporarily helpless upside down…deciding that this time perhaps it might be easier to find a less determined target…

Victorious…Umbolo starts off again with Uswiti until they come to an acceptable location for the nursery…Umbolo crawls underneath the ball and starts removing the soil underneath while Uswiti clings to the top…gradually the ball sinks lower and lower into the ground until the nursery is hidden from view…and Uswati lays one egg inside of the soft ball and the ball hardens making a protective layer for the baby…the inside is softer and provides all the food that their babies will need to grow and thrive..

The next generation will emerge from the soil after the first summer rain when the temperatures are warm enough and the soil is moist enough to break free…Umbolo prevailed and future generations of exemplary planetary citizens…he is truly a Dung Beetle Extraordinaire…

***Although this is a work of fiction, I tried to stick as close to the facts as possible. The information as to the behavior of dung beetles was taken from scientific articles mentioned below…

Evan Nicole Brown ‘When the Sun is High, Dung Beetles Navigate with the Wind’ Atlas Obscura

Matt McGrath “Dancing dung beetles navigate with ‘sky snapshot” BBC News

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/beetles-fight-over-dung-ball

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-humble-dung-beetle-180967781/

Sunday Morning at the Watering Hole…

“Nature itself is the best physician.” 

Hippocrates 

Double C’s…not that🤣…where is your mind at….Cancer and Covid…each on their own are incredibly stressful circumstances to walk with…together, they can become an overwhelming daily event…

To find a place of peace and calmness to breathe in…Mr. P and I headed into nature…we are lucky that Addo Elephant park is only about a 45 minute drive…a place of solace from the current “norm”…

I think I have gone over the edge a tad…for every photo that I came across…seemed to have a conversation with me…but I wanted to share and hope that you might find a respite from your own place of chaos and turmoil or just a laugh…btw…it did work…both of our resting heart rates did come down…❤

Did you hear what’s happening down at the watering hole today?

Oh…OK, Mabel…nothing’s happening here…let’s go check it out…

Hey, Wait for me…I can hear everything…if you let me go too…I’ll tell you everything

…There’s the boy’s again…fighting over that prissy girl…won’t they every learn?

There goes George…all in a huff…I guess he didn’t get the girl this time…

Yup…the party is starting…you better hurry, girls…

There’s Bertha…definitely hasn’t lost all the “pregnancy fat” yet…and that child of her’s…so spoilt and noisy…

And there’s Secretary Martha…always looking for her lost bugs…and that outdated feathered cap!!!!… really needs to go…

Quite eating, Ziggy…we’re going to miss all the fun…

Let’s keep going, Pumba…it looks a little crowded here…

…Psst,,,those nosy girls are on the way….want me to head them off at the pass…I’ll take them both on…you know I will!….

Which way….come on, guys…which way….this is not funny…you know I can’t see which way to go….

The Gang’s all here…

Sending love, laughter, and some magic for your day!!!! ~Renée

Day 55…Elephants

Addo Elephant Herd

“There is a mystery behind the masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires and the sea.” ~Peter Matthiessen, The Tree Where Man was Born

I unequivocally enjoyed our trip to Addo Elephant Park…with the zebras, ostriches, kudu, water buffalo, warthogs…all the expected and much more…it was the majestic elephants which just took my breath away…incredibly fastinating to watch…and I don’t believe that I was the only one…

Like a Troop of Baboons Around the Watering Hole

Lesson #1…Live in a community…There was such a sense of community…you can see their love and enjoyment of each other… it is rare that they live alone…most thrive by living in clans with family and friends…strong social ties have been proven to increase longevity…

Mud Bath Enjoyment

Lesson #2…Flap your ears…happiness has been linked to a longer life…and definately will increase the enjoyment and quality…

The Gang is All Here

Lesson #3…Eat your veggies…and don’t forget about the roughage…elephants typically eat grasses, small plants, fruits, twigs and their favorite tree bark…and they live to about 70 years of age…

We sat and watch a elephant troop…led by a very large Matriarch…who, you could tell, was utterly frustrated that she had to walk around a stupid group of humans in their tin can cars…she didn’t stomp or scream…or create any huge ruckas…

She just kept walking and dumped a huge pile of excrement next to our cars…we had to laugh…and sometimes, I believe…we need to do that that too…figuratively, of course…when people and situations get in our way…anything that threatens your self respect, peace of mind, or self-worth…just “cluck it” and walk away with dignity (and attitude of course)…just saying…