Saturday, 26 December 2015

Thomas Bain - Famous builder of of mountain passes. A genius of his time

Driving around the Cape's awe inspiring mountain passes over high altitudes, one cannot be amazed at the genius and mastery of Thomas Baines.  Thomas Bain (1830-1893)was responsible for 900km of roads which included 24 mountain passes built bettween 1848 and 1888. These passes and roads played a  major role in opening up the Cape Colony of South Africa to the rest of the country.  What makes this even more amazing is these roads were built by hand, prison gangs, none of the modern machinery we see on the roads today.  The Swartberg Pass just outside  Oudtshoorn going over the Swartberg mountain range to Prince Albert was started in 1884 and finished in 1887. It is 27km long and considered as his crowning achievement. One cannot be blown away by the scenery and the dry stone walling which has held for more than 130 years. Some passes built around the Southern Cape and Klein Karoo include;
Prince Alfred Pass - Knysa and Uniondale 70km long, 1854-58
Robinson Pass - Oudtshoorn to Mossebay 1867-69
Seweweekpoort through Swartberg to Laingsberg 17km, 1869-73
Seven Passes - George to Knysna 75km,1867-83

Be sure to drive these passes and enjoy the spectacular scenery that Thomas Bain made possible to enjoy. Read more on wikipedia and about Thomas Bain and the passes to drive

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Historical Ostrich Distribution throughout africa

Visit for tours and more interesting information on ostriches some of which are from areas shown on the distribution map below

There were historically 4 main groups of  Ostrich (Struthio camelus) in Africa.

  • S. c. camelus,   the red-necked ostrich of  North Africa. Historically this was the most widespread subspecies, ranging from Ethiopia in the East,  Mauritania in the West, North to Egypt and Southern Maroccoa. It now only remains in 6 of the 18 countries where it originally occurred.

  •  S. c. australis It is found primarily in South Africa.  The town of Oudtshoorn is world renowned for farming with this particular species for its Leather, meat and feathers. 

  • S. c. massaicus, Masai ostrichEast Africa. This interesting bird has pink/red coloring on its neck and legs.  It is mostly found in southern Kenya and Eastern Tanzania, Ethiopia and Southern Somalia 

  • daggerS. c. syriacus, known as the Arabian Ostrich. Once commonly found in the Arabian Peninsula, Syria and Iraq. It became extinct around 1966.

  • S. molybdophanes, The Somali Ostrich is found in Southern Ethiopia, Northeast Kenya and Somali. The neck and thighs are grey-blue, and during the mating season, the male's neck and thighs become brighter and bluer. The females are more brown than those of other subspecies It generally.  lives in pairs or alone, rather than in flocks. Its range overlaps with S. c. massaicus in northeastern Kenya.
Sources - Wikipedia