If you ever need to salt your potato, a trip to Lake Magadi may be worth your while.
- Lake Magadi is a lake found in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, Africa, that has a notably high salt content; and ‘magadi’ means ‘soda’ in the native Swahili language.
- Lake Magadi covers an area greater than 100 square kilometres (39 square miles), and it is roughly 32 kilometres (20 miles) in length and 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) in width, at its furthermost points.
- The salt density of Lake Magadi is quite high, with some salt deposits in the lake reaching 40 metres (131 feet) in thickness.
- Lake Magadi is mostly fed by water sources of a high salt content, including various hot springs on the edge of the lake, and some streams, particularly during the wet season; and the lake has no outlet, as the water mostly evaporates.
- Due to Lake Magadi’s large quantities of salt, one of the only fauna species found in the lake is a cichlid fish, with the scientific name Alcolapia grahami, which is endemic to the edges of the lake where the water temperature is tolerable.
- A type of mineral – trona – can be found abundant in Lake Magadi, from which sodium carbonate, or soda ash is extracted; a chemical that is commonly used in dyeing fabric, and creating glass and paper.
- Lake Magadi is among the largest sources of trona in the world; and the lake is surrounded by igneous rocks, and sits at at the lowest part of the valley it is found in, at approximately 600 m (1968.5 feet) above sea level.
- When Lake Magadi contains water, typically up to a metre deep (3.2 feet), it is a bright pink colour, as a result of the salt content.
- Lake Magadi is a popular wading and breeding site for flocks of flamingos, and other birds also gather in the area, making it a favoured bird watching location.
- Lake Magadi is under threat from pollution from nearby areas, partly from environmentally hazardous farming methods, and as a result the quality of soda ash mined from the lake has decreased in recent years.
Kairu P, Lake Magadi Slowly Choking, 2015, Daily Nation,http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/DN2/Lake-Magadi-slowly-choking–/-/957860/2798804/-/g28hplz/-/index.html
A bonobo’s small size does not make it lesser than its great relatives.
- Bonobos are a species of great ape and one of two species in Pan, the chimpanzee genus, and they are native to Africa’s Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- ‘Bonobos’ are also known as ‘dwarf chimpanzees’, ‘pygmy chimpanzees’, and ‘gracile chimpanzees’.
- The scientific name of the bonobo is Pan paniscus, and it is from the family Hominidae, the family of great apes.
- Bonobos stand at a height of approximately 104 to 124 centimetres (41 to 49 inches) and weigh 25 to 61 kilograms (55 to 134 pounds).
- The hair colour of bonobos is dark in colour and can be a combination of brown, black and grey, and while they have a similar appearance to their close relatives, the common chimpanzee, their hair is longer and their exposed skin is typically darker, being almost black.
- It is thought that 30,000 to 50,000 individual bonobos exist, and they are listed as endangered, as their numbers have been decreasing, caused primarily by habitat destruction and human hunting for the pet industry, as well as for food.
- Bonobos typically live in small groups of three to ten individuals, often as part of a large community, and they spend time on the ground, as well as in the treetops of rainforests where they make nests of leaves and branches to sleep in, and they are also adept at using tools.
- Individual bonobos generally get along quite well with those in its troop, and there is a social hierarchy where the females are generally more dominant than males, though once mature, female young generally move to another troop; while the social hierarchy of the males is generally dependent on the individual’s mother.
- A bonobo’s diet consists primarily of fruit, but also other parts of plants, as well as eggs and honey, the occasional meat such as small mammals, insects and earthworms.
- Adult female bonobos give birth to one baby every four to five years, and the young are dependent on their mothers for three or more years, and they have a lifespan of 20 to 50 years, reaching the upper limit in captivity.
Rosary vines really spiff up the outdoors with their appealing leaves and flowers.
- A rosary vine is a species of perennial flowering plant, native to southern areas of Africa, including Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and South Africa.
- ‘Rosary vines’ are also known as ‘sweetheart vines’, ‘chain of hearts’, ‘string of hearts’, ‘heart vines’, ‘hearts-on-a-string’, and ‘collar of hearts’.
- The scientific name of a rosary vine is Ceropegia woodii and it is from the family Apocynaceae, the family of dogbanes; and it has received the Award of Garden Merit from England’s Royal Horticultural Society.
- The leaves of rosary vines are heart-shaped, and are typically dark green with distinct light coloured markings on the top, and they may be purple or green underneath.
- The length of rosary vines can reach two to four metres (6.5 to 13 feet), and leaves are usually situated in pairs, spaced along the long purple stems.
- The white to pink and violet coloured, tube-shaped flower of the rosary vine has a globular base, while the tips of the flower are connected, and along with the hairs found in the flower, this helps to detain insects to ensure effective pollination.
- The rosary vine’s first documented discovery dates to 1881 in Natal, South Africa, found by English botanist John Medley Wood, who sent a specimen to the United Kingdom in 1894 for classification.
- Rosary vines are best suited to partly shady areas; and they mainly bloom in summer and autumn, though depending on the climate, they may flower at other times of the year.
- The rosary vine grows from a tuber that can multiply, and the tubers may form on the stems of the plant, and these can be cut off and used to establish new vines.
- Rosary vines are commonly grown for ornamental purposes, particularly in hanging baskets, and they can be grown as an indoor houseplant, though they will need exposure to light to remain healthy.
Kalanchoe blossfeldina is a toxin in disguise.
- Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a species of succulent plant that is perennial and also evergreen.
- ‘Kalanchoe blossfeldiana’ is also known as ‘florist kalanchoe’, ‘kalanchoe’, ‘Christmas kalanchoe’, ‘flaming Katy’ and ‘Madagascar widow’s-thrill’.
- Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is known as the scientific name of the plant, which is from the family Crassulaceae, the family of stonecrops.
- The height of kalanchoe blossfeldiana generally reaches around 30 to 45 centimetres (12 to 18 inches) although smaller varieties are available.
- Kalanchoe blossfeldina is native to the plateaus of Madagascar, Africa, and the plant is slow growing.
- The flowers of Kalanchoe blossfeldina have four petals, though they can have more if they are a double variety, and they bloom numerously in clusters for long periods during autumn and winter months.
- The colours of Kalanchoe blossfeldina flowers ranges from yellow, red, orange, purple, pink and white.
- Kalanchoe blossfeldina is commonly used for ornamental purposes, particularly as a pot plant or in gardens.
- The best growing conditions for kalanchoe blossfeldina is full sun and warm climates, while the plant needs significant exposure to light to thrive.
- On consumption, Kalanchoe blossfeldina is toxic, particularly to animals, and the flower contains the highest concentration of toxins.
Springboks are the liveliest antelope in town.
- Springboks are a type of antelope of medium stature, native to southwest Africa, and they live in dry savannah areas.
- The scientific name of springboks is Antidorcas marsupialis and it is from the Antilopinae subfamily, which is part of the Bovidae family, the family of cloven-hoofed mammals.
- Springboks generally have a red-brown, tan or brown coloured back with a white underside and face, with the addition of distinct markings, although sometimes they can be mostly dark brown or white in colour.
- Springboks range from 70 to 90 (27.5 to 35 inches) in height, excluding the neck and head, and weigh roughly 30 to 48 kilograms (66 to 106 pounds), and both adult males and females have horns.
- As one of Africa’s most abundant antelope, the estimated population of springboks in southern Africa is up to 2.5 million, and as such, they are listed as ‘least concern’.
- The diet of springbok consists primarily of grasses, but also bushes and shrubs, which may also serve as its only water source.
- Springboks generally live in small to large herds, depending on the season, of both male and female sexes, although entirely male and entirely female herds exist.
- Springboks are notable for leaping vertically upright when scared or excited, known as ‘stotting’ or ‘pronking’, and a number of theories exist as to why this happens.
- Typically a female springbok will have one young at a time, although twins occur on rare occasions, and the mammal can live to be around 10 years of age.
- Due to a well thriving population and their natural beauty, springboks are popularly hunted for their skin and meat, or as a sport.
Would you ever display a hunting trophy on your wall?
- Hunting trophies are objects made of hunted game specimens, typically put on display like a trophy, and they can be as simple as animal horns, tusks or teeth, or it can be the taxidermied head or body of a hunted animal.
- Generally, elderly animal specimens are favoured for exhibiting as a hunting trophy, due to their impressive size, and hunting these animals will usually have little or no impact on the general population of the species.
- The practice of hunting animals for the purpose of gaining a hunting trophy is known as ‘trophy hunting’, and most animals that are used for this purpose come from Canada or African countries.
- If undertaken randomly and without control, trophy hunting can disrupt populations of animals, reproduction patterns and the genetic pool.
- In the 1800s, taxidermied animals became sought after and were commonly displayed, and during this time, the hunting trophy became popular among Europeans.
- Trophy hunting is often considered to be highly beneficial for African countries, as it contributes greatly to the country’s economy with little negative effect, and in 2008, across a small selection of African countries, $190 million USD was injected into the African economy as a result.
- Investigations conducted suggest that the controlled hunting of some animals for hunting trophies, especially those in Africa, controls and potentially increases a species’ population, due, in part, to locals of the area wanting to protect the animals so that can collect large sums of money from those wanting to do the hunting.
- Hunting for the purpose of a hunting trophy is prone to being controversial, as it is commonly claimed that it is inhumane and dangerous to animal populations, however many of the major wildlife organisations have supportive or neutral views on the subject.
- Hunting trophy animal heads and antlers are commonly mounted on a wall, most often in an office or one’s house, often in a specially designated ‘trophy’ or ‘game room’.
- A number of places and organisations, including a number of airlines, have banned the handling or importing of hunting trophies, mainly because they don’t agree with the killing of animals for sport purposes.