Acacia Trees are without a doubt the most iconic trees in Africa. The subject of countless thousands of silhouette sunset photos, this picturesque tree is linked with vast African savannas and represents the seeming exotic-ness of the continent. But how much do you really know about the acacia — which, incidentally, is not just one species? Read on for some fascinating and crucial facts about acacia trees.
4 QUICK FACTS!
- There are over 1,300 species of acacia worldwide, primarily in Africa and Australia.
- Acacias provide food and habitats for a wide variety of animals, from hoofed mammals and birds to many species of insects.
- The umbrella & dome shape of most African Acacias is an evolutionary adaptation that enables the trees to capture the maximum amount of sunlight, with the smallest of leaves.
- The African Acacia protects itself in many ways. Most species have long, sharp thorns, which prevent animals from eating their leaves. Secondly, stinging ants live inside hollowed-out thorns, which provides another disincentive for predators. And furthermore, the trees create poisonous chemicals when they detect an assault. Not only can these chemicals be fatal to animals, but the trees warn nearby acacias to start making their own poison.
All Baobabs are deciduous trees ranging in height from 5 - 20 meters. The Baobab tree is a strange looking tree that grows in low-lying areas in Africa and Australia. It can grow to gigantic size and carbon dating indicates that they may live to be 3,000 years old. Various Baobabs have been used as a shop, a prison, a house, a storage barn and a bus shelter. The tree is certainly very different from any other. The trunk is smooth and shiny, not at all like the bark of other trees, and it is pinkish grey or sometimes copper coloured.
Uses of the Baobabs
- Fiber from the bark is used to make rope, baskets, cloth, musical instrument strings, and waterproof hats. Stripping the bark from the lower trunk of most trees usually leads to their death, Baobabs not only survive this common practice, but they regenerate new bark.
- Fresh baobab leaves provide an edible vegetable similar to spinach which is also used medicinally to treat kidney and bladder disease, asthma, insect bites, and several other diseases or ailments.
- The tasty and nutritious fruits and seeds are sought after, while pollen from the African and Australian Baobabs is mixed with water to make glue.
Marula trees are a deciduous tree growing up to 18 m tall. They are found in various types of woodlands, in sandy loam soils. They can be found from Ethiopia to Kwazulu-Natal. Marula Trees produce flowers from September to November and bear fruit from January to March. The fruits are edible and very high in vitamin C. Warthog, Elephant, Waterbuck, Giraffe and Kudu all eat the fruit and leaves of the tree.
From the Marula fruit, oil is created. Marula Oil is a very light weight oil, extracted from the kernels of the fruit. This oil contains the highest levels of antioxidants than any other oil know to date. The oil is known as one of the most stable oils in the world, and is proven to slow skin ageing because of its protective properties against free radicals.
Amarula is a popular brand in South Africa, making a tasty blend of cream and extract of marula. Amarula has recently been ranked sixth in a Top 10 Hot Liqueur poll conducted by respected global publication Drinks International.
For many years the Montagu Pass was the link between the coastal plain and George to the Klein Karoo and Oudtshoorn. As traffic volumes grew and by the mid 1930s it was time for an alternative route to be found. In October 1942, construction started on the Outeniqua Pass, which ran along the Western slopes of the Malgas River valley. Initially using Italian P.O.W.s , work was rather slow, probably due to the professional mix of the prisoners. When the war ended, the Italians were repatriated and they were replaced by about half the number of local labourers. There was an immediate improvement in the pace of construction. Initially two tunnels were to run through the mountain near the peaks, but after much discussion, consultation and assessment, the road was taken 60m higher over the top. The 14,5 km pass was opened in 1951. It was an achievement of modern engineering and was completed with minimal damage to the sensitive surrounding environment. By the late 1980s traffic had increased to the point where the long queues caused by slower moving vehicles were causing major disruption. In September 1993, construction commenced on the widening project. The upgraded pass with its numerous passing lanes and viewing sites was opened in July 1997.
Buckle Up! Seat belts saves lives.
Speed Kills - Slow down. Driving too fast is a contributing factor in 75% of the over 12 000 fatal crashes annually.
Reduce Speed – Be patient. A decrease of 10% in speeds reduces fatal crashes by 40%.
Pedestrian Safety – Be cautious. Nearby 40% of the people killed on our roads are pedestrians. Pedestrian
Visibility – Wear visible clothing. A pedestrian wearing white clothing is visible at 55 meters, while if wearing a retro-reflective material s/he will increase visibility to a distance of 150 meter.
Alcohol – Sober up, Drunk driving kills. It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Maximum punishment for drinking and driving is R120 000 AND OR 6 years imprisonment.
Fatigue – Rest. Resting every two hours or 200 kms. It is a silent killer! A tired driver is a danger on the road. Vehicle Fitness – Service your vehicle. Maintain your vehicle properly – for your safety and that of other road users.
- Nationwide Emergency Response - 10111
- Ambulance response - 10177
- Cell phone emergency - 112
The Springbok is a medium-sized antelope found mainly in southern and southwestern Africa. The sole member of the genus Antidorcas, this bovid was first described by the German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1780. Three subspecies are identified. A slender, long-legged antelope, the springbok reaches 71 to 86 cm (28 to 34 in) at the shoulder and weighs between 27 and 42 kg (60 and 93 lb). Both sexes have a pair of black, 35-to-50 cm (14-to-20 in) long horns that curve backwards. The springbok is characterised by a white face, a dark stripe running from the eyes to the mouth, a light-brown coat marked by a reddish-brown stripe that runs from the upper fore leg to the buttocks across the flanks like the Thomson's gazelle, and a white rump flap.
- They feed on shrubs and young succulents.
- Found mainly in southern and southwestern Africa.
- South Africa’s national rugby union team, is named after the Springbok and is commonly known as the Springboks.
- Can reach speeds up to 88 km/h
- Females have thinner horns than males
Thomas was basically a road engineer and surveyor, with strong geological links. He was apprenticed to his father for five years on the construction of Michell’s Pass and Bain’s Kloof Pass, whereafter he sat for and passed top of the entrants the examination in Civil Engineering, set under the direction of the Colonial Engineer and the Superintendent-General of the Colony. He obtained his AMICE in 1877. He earned the nickname of "the man with the theodolite eye" for his uncanny ability to visualise the perfect routing for a pass with the naked eye. In 1848 he was appointed an Assistant under the Central Road Board, and Superintendent of Convicts; then from 1854 Inspector of Roads for the Western Province, holding on several occasions the appointment of Visiting Magistrate of the convict gangs employed under his supervision. In 1873 he was lent to the Railway Department for eighteen months as District Engineer in charge of construction and he also surveyed three proposed railway routes. He then returned to the Road Office of the Department of Public Works until 1888, when he was appointed Irrigation and Geological Surveyor of the Colony. When Thomas and Andrew Bain commenced working for the Central Road Board there were only three engineered mountain passes in the country, one of which Andrew had built. Andrew was responsible for seven major passes, and Thomas for twenty six. Thomas was responsible for 560 miles of major road construction which included minor passes, as also geological investigations, dams and other water supply works. It can be said that the Bains, in conjunction with the Colonial Superintendent of Works and Surveyor-General Major Charles Michell, initiated the great age of road-building in the Cape. Thomas Bain especially has made a contribution to road engineering in South Africa which must rank among the greatest made by any engineer.
“The most famous pass built by Andrew Bain, was of course his opus magnum, which still stands today and named after him - the Bainskloof Pass (1853). He also built the road north out of Graaff-Reinet which included the Lootsberg Pass and a series of smaller passes. His final pass was the Katberg Pass (1854), which he was unable to complete. It was completed by Adam de Smidt.”
Protea cynaroides, the King Protea, is a flowering plant. It is a distinctive member of Protea, having the largest flower head in the genus. The species is also known as Giant Protea, Honeypot or King Sugar Bush. It is widely distributed in the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa in the fynbos region.
- The Protea adapts to its environment.
- The King Protea lends its name to the national cricket team of South Africa.
- The King Protea has several colour forms and horticulturists have recognized 81 garden varieties.
- The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa.
Unlike many natural disasters, most wildfires are caused by humans and can be prevented. Meteorologists are not yet able to forecast wildfire outbreaks, so people in fire-prone areas should plan ahead and prepare to evacuate with little notice. Here are some tips on how to prevent wildfires and what to do if you're caught in the middle of one.
PREVENT A WILDFIRE:
- Contact for help. Preferably emergence assistance like 10111, your local fire department, or the local park service if you notice an unattended or out-of-control fire.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- When camping, take care when using and fueling lanterns, stoves, and heaters.
- Do not discard cigarettes, matches, and smoking materials from moving vehicles, or when camping.
- Follow local rules when burning yard waste. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires under control.
Keep an eye on the news. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Know your evacuation route ahead of time and prepare a checklist and emergency supplies. Wear protective clothing and footwear to protect yourself from flying sparks and ashes if necessary.
Don't try to outrun the blaze. Instead, look for a body of water such as a pond or river to crouch in. If there is no water nearby, find a cleared area with little vegetation, lie low to the ground, and cover your body with wet clothing, soil or a blanket. Stay low and covered until the fire passes. Protect your lungs by breathing air closest to the ground, through a wet cloth to avoid inhaling smoke.
The Yellow Bark Tree is a tree in the Fabaceae family and is commonly known in English as the Fever Tree. The scientific name is Vachellia Xanthophloea. This species of Vachellia is native to eastern and southern Africa. It can be found in Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has also become a landscape tree in other warm climates, outside of its natural range.
Yellow Bark Trees are planted next to dams and streams on farms to control soil erosion, as a live fence or hedge and in ornamental planting for shade and shelter in amenity areas.
Common use is as a source of firewood, as its gummy sap leaves a thick, black, tarlike residue when burnt. The valuable timber is pale reddish brown with a hard, heavy texture, and, because it is liable to crack, it should be seasoned before use. The timber is also used to make poles and posts.
"The trees grow to a height of 15–25 m."
This narrow coastal strip of indigenous forest in the Southern Cape, was the main source of income for generations of woodcutters, Knysna being the principal town as far as the timber industry was concerned. Until well into the 20th century the entire economic life and structure of Knysna revolved around the timber trade.
In 1711, the eastward movement of the Dutch colonists facilitated the search for timber when news of vast forests in the area was related to the authorities in Cape Town. The inaccessibility of the area handicapped trade, but after the completion of a road from Swellendam and the establishment of an official ‘timber post’ in 1772, the situation improved somewhat and there was a gradual influx of settlers who made their living from the forests.
The founding of towns in the Cape interior during the 19th century increased the demand for wood used in the construction of buildings, and the trade also benefited from the Great Trek which created a larger market for ox wagons.
The discovery of diamonds in Kimberley and gold on the Reef as well as the expansion of the railway network acted as a further powerful stimulus since timber from the George-Knysna area was used for mining props and railway sleepers. The timber trade was intimately connected with the general growth of the South African economy, and the 20th century industrial expansion of the country ensured an increasing market for timber.
Many of the newcomers to the area were evicted from the arid Karoo districts. These districts experienced a severe economic crisis after the ostrich feather slump of 1913-14 and a crippling drought in 1916. The forest and coastal belt was a haven for such people from the Karoo. The forestry settlements were started during and shortly after the First World War as relief schemes for the urban unemployed and the rural casualties of drought.
The majority of people in the area found themselves outside the plantation settlements. They constituted the bulk of the woodcutting population and were largely dependant on the indigenous forests for their livelihood. Many of them viewed the forests as a providential gift “God het ons arm mense die houtjies gegee”, one woodcutter expressed this general sentiment.
However, the work the woodcutters performed and the conditions under which they toiled were most arduous. In trying to account for the poverty of the woodcutter population, it is not they could not adapt themselves to a ‘modern economy.’ On the contrary, the impact of merchant capital in the area, had more to do with the poverty of the woodcutters than their presumed ‘backwardness’ and ‘laziness’.
Throughout the four decades under review the Department of Forestry which was responsible for the conservation of the area, exerted considerable pressure to displace the woodcutters, claiming that the forests were incapable of supporting the number of woodcutters and that their uneconomical methods rapidly depleted the indigenous forests. In 1913 the state sought to regulate the situation through an official Forest Act. One of the clauses determined that all woodcutters had to be registered and that no new names could be added after the initial registration. Since the number of people on the list declined annually and additional registrations were disallowed, the registration clause marked the beginning of the end for the woodcutter population working in the indigenous forests.
WHY DO WE NEED BEES?
Bees are essential to a healthy environment and healthy economy. We rely on them to pollinate most of our fruits and vegetables. The problem is bees are under threat and without them our food and economy are also under threat. You can make your garden, street and community bee-friendly. It's also important that we persuade the government to take action. Be the generation that saves bees!
Bees - the perfect pollinators
What did you have for breakfast today? Jam on toast? Some fruit? Dried fruit in your muesli or some grilled tomatoes with your fry-up? Maybe fruit juice or a coffee?
All of this was brought to you by bees. Bee do not just provide us with honey – but in fact they’re behind much of the food we eat, including most fruit and vegetables.
A healthy environment needs bees
When was the last time you noticed a bee buzzing around some flowers? Maybe you find them beautiful, annoying or even scary – either way, bees are incredibly important. They pollinate plants in gardens, parks and the wider countryside. Bees are a sign of a healthy environment.
The African Elephant
The mighty African elephant is the largest of the Big Five and also the largest land animal in the world. Elephants are chilled and calm, as long as you leave them alone. If threatened, an elephant is a terrifying sight; flapping its ears, trumpeting and sprinting its 12,000 lbs of weight towards you. Can you outrun an elephant? Not many people have. It’s best not to annoy them.
The African Leopard
The leopard is common in many of the African national parks, but it’s a master of disguise. It’s very hard to spot. You might be lucky and see one hiding in a tree, tail flicking, observing his surroundings calmly.
The Cape Buffalo
The name Cape Buffalo covers four species of the African Buffalo. It’s one of Africa’s most dangerous animals as it has killed more hunters than any other animal. Even a lion would not dare to attack a Cape Buffalo without the help of his buddies. We love Cape Buffalo – sometimes it’s a nice change when the vegetarian wins!
The African Lion
For thousands of years we’ve been fascinated by this beautiful, elegant and robust member of the cat family. Lions are impressive and excellent hunters, although you will more likely find them resting in the shade.
The African Rhino
There are two types of rhino in Africa: the black and the white rhino. The black rhino is highly endangered and threatened by poachers. Their population is currently estimated to be only 4,000 animals throughout Africa. There are larger numbers of the white rhino – about 17,000 animals – although most of these are in South Africa.
What is Biltong?
Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat that originated in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Various types of meat are used to produce it, ranging from beef and game meats to fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain. It is related to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats; however, the typical ingredients, taste and production processes may differ.
The origins of biltong date all the way back to the early 17th century. Used primarily as a survival technique, biltong would eventually go on to become a hometown favourite of those who grew up and live in South Africa.
Wait? This is just Jerky?
Biltong differs from jerky in three distinct ways:
- The meat used in biltong can be much thicker due to the slower drying time in dry air conditions; typically biltong meat is cut in strips approximately 1" (25 mm) wide – but can be thicker. Jerky is normally very thin meat.
- The vinegar, salt and spices in biltong, together with the drying process, cure the meat as well as adding texture and flavour. Jerky is traditionally dried with salt but without vinegar.
- Jerky is often smoked; biltong is never smoked.