14-Apr-2014 via investec.ie

The Wilderness Foundation, as part of their Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, this past weekend hosted Vietnamese pop stars Thu Minh and Thanh Bui in Port Elizabeth.


Dr Will Fowlds of Investec Rhino Lifeline with Vietnamese pop stars Thu Minh and Thanh Bui.

The visit formed part of a Demand Reduction Strategy developed in order to assist in addressing the rhino poaching crisis by reducing demand for rhino horn in user countries.

The rhino poaching crisis (as well as other wildlife crime) is of national and international significance and affects all levels of society. Wildlife crime is the fifth most profitable illicit trade in the world, estimated at up to $10 billion annually. The Wilderness Foundation recognizes this and is working in partnership with various organisations to address this issue.

Until 1970 rhino populations worldwide were relatively stable with minimal poaching incidents. Subsequently with the oil price soaring and per capita income in the Yemen increasing seven-fold, elaborately carved rhino-horn dagger handles became a prized symbol of status and wealth. Within a single decade, half the world’s rhino population had disappeared, and all of the rhino species were either threatened with extinction or endangered.

Since then, thanks to various conservation efforts and improved security measures, the black rhino white rhino populations have increased. But these gains are in danger of being reversed by a resurgence of poaching. Now also peddled as a cancer cure, the demand for the horn is rising, along with the price. Contrary to widespread beliefs, the rhinoceros horn has no proven medicinal or aphrodisiac qualities. The horns consist of agglutinated hair or keratin, the same type of protein that makes up human hair and fingernails.

In 2007, South Africa only lost 13 rhino to poaching. This number increased to 83 in 2008, 122 in 2009 and more than doubled in 2010 to 333. In 2011 we lost 448 rhino and in 2012 we thought we reached the turning point at 668. But 2013 was the worst at 1004 rhino killed for their horns.

Andrew Muir, CEO of the Wilderness Foundation states that demand reduction strategies are developed with an aim to reduce the demand for rhino horn (and other wildlife products) in the countries in which they are used. This is achieved through education and awareness about the properties of rhino horn as well as the impact on rhino populations. Demand reduction is seen as complimentary to law enforcement and anti-poaching activities that take place on the ground and in combination are hoped to tackle the rhino poaching crisis.

“Demand reduction is campaign based and makes use of public service announcements, bill boards and video clips, often using well known celebrities to get the message across. The visit and hard work by Thu Minh and Thanh Bui this past weekend will assist us, in collaboration with international conservation NGO Wild Aid, to produce the material for distribution in South Africa and Vietnam in the next few weeks”.

Thu Minh is passionate about saving the rhino. “In Vietnam we have to understand how important it is to protect the environment, wildlife, and our heritage. The whole world is looking in horror at what we are doing to the Rhinos. It has to stop for the sake of the Rhinos and for the honor of Vietnam. In the past few days, I have experienced the horror of what we are doing to the rhino, as well as the majestic beauty of this species”.

Thanh Bui, supporting this plea further encourages the public to stop wasting their money on the killing of innocent animals for no gain.

The Wilderness Foundation is working in partnership with WildAid, the Shamwari Group; Investec Rhino Lifeline, Mantis Collection and Tusk in order to implement this demand reduction campaign in Vietnam and South Africa.

Biologists have quibbled about it for more than 140 years, but the results of a recent study may have finally yielded a black and white answer to the great stripe debateWhy Do Zebras Have Stripes.

Previous theories as to the purpose of the zebra’s stripes have ranged from camouflage – protecting the zebra with a “motion dazzle confusion effect” against hyenas, lions and other predators in the savannah, to performing a social role – for group identity or perhaps for mating.

Some amusing postulations appeared in the comments section of a National Geographic article announcing the study:

“And I thought they had stripes so that they could use bar code readers to tell each other apart easier!?”

“‘Cause Zebras are sayin’, “It don’t matter if you’re black or white!’”

“It’s because in the old days when everything was in black and white they were much harder to spot.”

According to recent scientific evidence, however, the stripes act as a natural insect repellant, deterring tsetse and other blood-sucking flies. The study states, “blood-feeding flies shun stripey surfaces and prefer instead to land on uniform colours.”

The study team found a strong geographical overlap between zebras and the two groups of biting flies, Tabanus and Glossina, that feed on equid species, which explains why zebras would need a shield against this pest. Other equid species, such as wild horses, are far more likely to be plagued by biting insects.

Researchers find comparatively little blood from zebras in tsetse flies, even though the zebra has a thin coat with hair strands that are shorter and finer than those of giraffes and antelopes. At the same time, zebras are far less susceptible to sleeping sickness, a tsetse-borne disease that is widespread among other African equids.

While this theory has not been universally embraced, it does confirm that the correlation between reduced biting-fly nuisance and stripes is “significant”.

Why do you think the zebra has stripes? Should we start dressing in stripes for safari?


12 ApostlesFlags of the WorldCome join us this Saturday and Sunday at the long-awaited annual Travel and Vacation Show. Held this year at the spectacular new Ottawa Convention Centre, you’ll find special vacation promotions – from weekend getaways to exciting overseas destinations. In a few hours you can walk around the world!

This, the 20th annual show, boasts more than 200 travel and vacation exhibits with over 50 countries represented by their tourist boards or embassies presenting their countries and cultures in a colorful festive atmosphere that will surely make you dream. They, together with tour operators, agencies and resorts will answer your questions and provide you with a wealth of information. And don’t forget to take advantage of the free educational travel seminars and special promotions for show attendees only.

Go Touch Down Travel & Tours will be there en force, with thrilling onsite presentations of South Africa and an exciting opportunity for you to enter to win a South African safari or Cape Town Tour for two.

You’ll discover the untamed, spectacular and pulsating rhythm of the African bushveld in one of the most captivating places on earth. Witness herds of Wildebeest graze and Cheetah cubs learn to hunt, take an elephant-back safari; uncover the mysteries of the bush. Explore The Mother City… Cape Town, a rare cultural gem. Take in breathtaking views of Cape Point, the romantic meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. Embrace the people of South Africa. They will surely touch your heart. Our luxury, all-inclusive 8-day / 7-night tours depart weekly.

Be sure to visit us at Booth # 300. Hope to see you there!

2014 Cape Town International Jazz Festival

“Jazz is alive until every living soul has been liberated of fear, hatred and been firmly planted in nature’s beauty and the honesty of the moment. The music is living and plays out potentially in every location across the planet. It is a language of love that is creating change, peace and healing on planet earth … and probably beyond.” ~ Struan Douglas, Afribeat.com

Cape Town JazzGet ready to feel the love this weekend – the 2014 Cape Town Jazz Festival is finally here! Those lucky enough to have secured tickets (they sold out quickly) can jive to two soulful days of concerts and events at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Cape Town Jazz FestivalBilled to be bigger and brassier than before, with sultry singers and foot-tapping tunes, the much loved annual music festival beckons to both fervent jazz devotees and mainstream music lovers. Since its inception in 2000, the grand gathering has seen its audience double and is now referred to as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, drawing fans from across the globe.

This year’s star-studded line-up features close to 40 local and international artists performing on five stages and includes the sultry and soulful Erykah Badu, 80s jazz-funk bands Shakatak and Level 42 as well as American jazz singer, composer, songwriter and actress Carmen Lundy. Plus, local icons Abdullah Ibrahim, Jimmy Dludlu and Jonas Gwangwa bring a distinct African flavor to the bill, while firm favorites Jimmy Nevis, Mi Casa and AKA & Da L.E.S bring an upbeat vibe to the showcase.

Doors open at 6:00 this evening. If you’re longing to go but don’t have tickets, take a look at the comment thread on the official Festival website, http://www.capetownjazzfest.com. Looks like more than a few folks are selling theirs.

If you’ve always dreamed of visiting Cape Town, Go Touch Down Travel & Tours hosts tours of the Mother City departing weekly from major US airports.



Join us at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for a dance-in-your-seat musical extravaganza!  United in their South African heritage, three-time Grammy® Award-winning vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Zulu-pop crossover artist Johnny Clegg perform this Sunday, March 23rd at 7 p.m. In a very special evening, celebrating years of camaraderie between these fine musicians, audiences will be treated to a rhythm-filled Ladysmith Black Mambazo performance, followed by a soul-stirring set by Johnny Clegg and his band.

Two drawings for $500 gift vouchers to Touch of Africa will be held at the end of the performance with Johnny Clegg announcing the winners. Guests may also enter to win a South African Safari for two. Winners will be announced a week later on March 31st. Concert tickets are still available! Purchase them online or call the Box Office at Box Office at 800-826-9303 or 941-953-3368.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is actually an all-male musical group; the name “LadySmith” refers to their hometown in South Africa. Since 1960, the singers and musicians of the group – who were friends with Nelson Mandela – have been singing untiringly of love and harmony. Lyrics such as “Wenyukela – Raise Your Spirit Higher” are exemplary of the religious singers, to whom violent conflict is anathema.

During apartheid in South Africa, the choral group became the voice of peace. Today, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is considered part of the country’s national heritage as their singing embodies the oppressed traditions of old South Africa. Ladysmith Black Mambazo accompanied Nelson Mandela to Oslo in 1993, when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. The group also sang at his presidential inauguration in 1994.

Johnny Clegg

Johnny Clegg and his band Savuka composed “Asimbonanga – We Have Not Seen Him”. They sang it in Zulu, the language of many townships, and of course they were singing about Mandela during his exile. Music was Clegg’s weapon against apartheid.

Both of Johnny’s bands, Savuka and Julukia consisted of both white and black musicians, which was considered an affront to the racist regime that frequently forbade public performances by the bands – and repeatedly imprisoned their members.

Today, Johnny Clegg is one of South Africa’s most celebrated sons. He is a singer, a songwriter, a dancer, anthropologist and a musical activist whose infectious crossover music, a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms, has exploded onto the international scene and broken through all the barriers in his own country.

Over three decades, Johnny Clegg has sold over five million albums of his brand of crossover music worldwide. He has wowed vast audiences with his audacious live shows and won a number of national and international awards for his music and for his outspoken views on apartheid, his perspectives on migrant workers in South Africa and the general situation in the world today. Johnny Clegg’s history is as bold, colorful and dashing as the Rainbow Nation which he has called home for more than 40 years.

Hippos in River

We love this charming folktale and so do kids on safari. As the story goes, when God was giving each animal a place in the world, the pair of hippos begged to be allowed to live in the cool water which they so dearly loved.

God looked at them, and was doubtful about letting them live in the water: their mouths were so large, their teeth so long and sharp, and their size and appetites were so big, He was afraid that they would eat up all the fish. Besides, He had already granted the place to another predator – the crocodile. He couldn’t have two kinds of large, hungry animals living in the rivers. So God refused the hippos’ request, and told them that they could live out on the open plains.

At this news, the two hippos began to weep and wail, making the most awful noise. They pleaded and pleaded with God, who finally gave in. But He made the hippos promise that if they lived in the rivers, they must never harm a single fish. They were to eat grass instead. God said that they were to show Him every night, that they were only eating grass. The Hippos promised solemnly, and rushed to the river, grunting with delight.

And to this day, hippos always scatter their dung on the river bank, so God can see that it contains no fish bones. And you can still hear them laughing with joy that they were allowed to live in the rivers after all.

From: When the Hippos were Hairy and Other Tales from Africa: Nick Greaves

Table Mountain Turned GreenEvery year on March 17th, Ireland celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day, a cultural and religious holiday that dates back to the 9th century and pays homage to the nation’s most prominent patron saint. While it does have spiritual roots, today, the occasion is largely used as an excuse for Guinness-filled fun, and has been eagerly adopted by a host of countries outside of the Emerald Isle, South Africa included.

It goes without saying then that this year on St Patrick’s Day, which falls on Monday, March 17th 2014, Cape Town will play host to an assortment of its own lively festivities. To help you uncover some of the finest spots to commemorate the day, we’ve put together an overview of top places to celebrate. Pop into any one of these Mother City haunts for free-flowing Guinness and guaranteed good times.

O’Driscoll’s Irish Pub
This authentic Celtic watering hole features all the characteristics of the proverbial neighborhood haunt – warm, inviting atmosphere, simple but good bar food, Guinness and Kilkenny on tap, and regulars waiting to give you a hello. Throughout the day on St. Patrick’s Day, thirsty leprechauns can pop in for a green pint and shooter specials, and starting from 4 p.m., there will be a few local bands performing live; a DJ takes over to drop some get-down beats later in the evening. 38 Cnr Hout & Burg Streets | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 424 7453


The Foreign Exchange
The headquarters of international celebrations and general good times, The Foreign Exchange bar is hosting an all-out EPIC St Patrick’s Day blowout. Though the party might entice folk from as near as Cape Town and as far as Copenhagen, Forex, as regulars call it, will make everyone stumble like an Irishman for the evening, what with the assortment of green beers on offer and an entire bar dedicated solely to serving up Irish Car Bombs and Guinness. 92 96 Station Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 448 0083

4Leaf Agency St Patrick’s Day Féile at Wild Clover Farm
The folks at bespoke events and hospitality company 4Leaf Agency have planned the mother of all St Patrick’s Day parties to take place at Wild Clover farm near Stellenbosch on Saturday, March 15th. Revelers will get to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland with a day spent guzzling Guinness, craft beer, wine and whisky (of course) and jamming to the sounds of local artists. To make the party that much more authentic, there will also be Irish dancing displays and delicious Irish eats on offer. Tickets cost R100p/p via Quicket.co.za; or R120p/p at the door. The party starts at 12pm. Wild Clover Farm | R304 | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 21 462 1529

The Happy Oak
Long-time Stellenbosch institution The Brazen Head might have changed its name to The Happy Oak, but patrons can still expect the same whopping blowout for St Patrick’s Day that’s held every year at the laidback bar and eatery. The restaurant has a minor build-up bash planned for Friday but the big party, which will feature authentic Irish music, Guinness specials, giant green hats and giveaways, takes place on actual St Patrick’s Day on Monday. As per tradition, guests are expected to dress up (prizes will be given to the person with the best outfit), if not for any other reason than to make the male waiters, who will be sporting Irish kilts, feel a little more comfortable. 62 Andringa Street | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 21 882 9672

Perseverance Tavern
Though not quite an Irishman, owner Ian Sutcliffe draws on his Yorkshire roots to transform Persies, as the city center bar is endearingly known, into the home of a lively Guinness-filled celebration each year on St Paddy’s Day. With kegs of creamy stout beer on tap, live music to provide a backbeat and, of course, a traditional Irish Stew and Dumplings dish on the menu, the historical tavern is a great place to pay homage to Ireland. 83 Buitenkant Street | Gardens | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 461 2440

The Royal Oak
St Patrick’s Day at this little British pub is one of the tavern’s biggest celebrations of the year. This year the neighborhood haunt will host a three-day drink fest featuring crazy-awesome drinks specials (like buy a Guinness and get a free milk tart shooter), karaoke challenges and giveaways for the best dressed lads and lasses. There will also be a raffle held to raise funds for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and plenty of other fun and games. The festivities start on Saturday and carry on right through to St Patrick’s Day on Monday. 2 Harvan Centre | Marine Circle | Table View | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 557 0354

Foresters Arms
Something of an institution in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs, Forries, as the restaurant and pub is affectionately known, is a prime perch from which to commemorate St Patrick’s Day. The historic watering hole, which also flaunts a large outdoor area, offers frothy pints of Guinness on tap alongside a wide selection of single malt Irish whiskies. What’s more, the eatery will be going all out with live music, drinks specials and a series of giveaways offering patrons the chance to win awesome green-themed prizes. 52 Newlands Avenue | Newlands |Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 689 5949

Johnny Fox’s Pub and Restaurant
This popular neighborhood bar and eatery will host a full-on Friday-to-Monday fiesta featuring all the trimmings that would make any green-blooded Irishman proud. On Saturday and Monday, Johnny Fox’s will run drinks specials on draught Guinness, whiskies, shooters and Drunken Leprechaun Jars (don’t ask, just drink), and all weekend, the restaurant will be offering up dishes like traditional homemade Beef and Guinness Pie served with the authentically Irish colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage and spring onions). There will also be lucky draws with fantastic prizes up for grabs and live music played on all four days of this festive celebration. Shop 21 | Bothasig Mall | Tafelberg Road | Bothasig | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 558 0686

Excerpted from CapeTownMagazine.com

Start planning now to celebrate next St. Patrick’s Day South African style. Visit www.gotouchdowntravelandtours.com.


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