Return

Return in Swahili is Rudisha… and that’s what David Lekuta Rudisha, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, world champion and world record holder in the 800 metres, did on Tuesday; he returned the 800 M Gold Medal home. See what I did there… 😉 :). I wrote this on Tuesday and thought it was fresh until I saw a similar statement in one of the local dailies yesterday :/. Oh well, Great minds think alike. 🙂

In the spirit of the current Olympic Games being held in Rio, try out this fun test to see what amazing Amazon animal athlete you are. I’m a jaguar, the all star. 

 

Squirrels

I once had a colleague who would play every hit song loudly, in the chipmunk version. So think of any hit song, then imagine Alvin and the Chipmunks singing it. At first, it was cute then, after a few weeks, it got tiring…. really tiring.I just had to let that out…:|

But aren’t squirrels adorable? With their little paws, large eyes and bushy tails… so so cute. Squirrels (Tree, Ground and Flying), Chipmunks, Marmots and Prairie Dogs are all part of the Sciuridae family.

Some interesting facts about them include:

  1. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa.
  2. There are over 250 species worldwide. The smallest being the African Pygmy at around 13cm and the largest being the Indian giant at 3 ft from head to toe.
  3. Females have a gestation period of 29 to 65 days depending on their size. Their kittens are born blind and rely on their mothers for 2-3 months.
  4. They have four front teeth that never stop growing; this is to ensure that they don’t wear out to stubs as they are constantly gnawing.
  5. Unlike Hammy in “Over the Hedge’, they are quite intelligent. In cold regions, they store nuts and seeds in preparation for winter. They also have fake burials to deceive potential thieves into thinking that they’ve stored their food there. The potential thieves then focus on the fake site allowing the squirrels to bury their stash elsewhere.
  6. They run in erratic paths to deceive potential predators
  7. Squirrels don’t dig up all of their buried nuts, which results in more trees… 😀 😀
    Scrat_Ice_Age
    Scrat

    Read more about these cuties here, here and here.

Glimfeather

The Silver Chair, the second last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis got me interested in Glimfeather’s species. Glimfeather is an owl. I’ve always found owls a bit creepy and cute. I know, weird combination… I mean they have lovely eyes but in many communities, they are a superstitious bird species because of their nocturnal activities. Here are 7 interesting facts about them. Some have been accompanied with excerpts (in italics) from the Silver Chair.

1.Owls are part of a group of birds called raptors. Raptors are birds of prey that feed and hunt insects, small mammals and other birds. Some owl species hunt fish.

The Owl snapped at something which Jill couldn’t see.

“Oh, don’t, please!” said Jill. “Don’t jerk like that. You nearly threw me off.”

“I beg your pardon,” said the Owl. “I was just nabbing a bat. There’s nothing so sustaining, in a small way, as a nice plump little bat. Shall I catch you one?”

“No, thanks,” said Jill with a shudder.

2.There are more than 100 owl species. See here.

3. Owls are nocturnal.

“You see,” explained Glimfeather, “most of the creatures in Narnia have such unnatural habits. They do things by day, in broad blazing sunlight (ugh!) when everyone ought to be asleep. And, as a result, at night they’re so blind and stupid that you can’t get a word out of them. So we owls have got into the habit of meeting at sensible hours, on our own, when we want to talk about things.

4. Owls have pretty unique eyes.

First, they have 3 eyelids to protect their eyes. A normal upper eyelid which closes when an owl blinks, a normal lower eyelid which closes up when the owl is asleep and a thin layer of tissue known as a nictitating membrane that closes diagonally to clean and protect the eye surface.

Second, they don’t really have eyeballs but instead have elongated tubes that are held in place by bony structures in the skull known as sclerotic rings. These eyes provide binocular vision which allows them to focus on their prey and increases depth perception. So owls can only look straight ahead. They cannot move their eyes.

However…their necks make up for this…

5. Owls can rotate their necks up to 270 degrees in either direction! A blood-pooling system collects blood to power their brains and eyes when neck movement cuts off circulation.

6. Many owl species have asymmetrical ears. When located at different heights on the owl’s head, their ears are able to pinpoint the location of sounds in multiple dimensions

And finally:

7. A group of owls is called a parliament of owls.

“Now,” said Glimfeather, “I think we’re all here. Let us hold a parliament of owls.”

Have a hoot 😀 reading more about owls here, here and here.

Just Imagine

Studies show that the sex of turtles is determined by the temperature of the eggs during a certain period of development. With rising global temperatures, there is a concern that male turtles will become rare.

surprised

Just Imagine!

Just Imagine

10 interesting facts about the African elephant (Loxodonta Africana):

i.   Is the largest land mammal

ii.  Has a gestation period of 22 months #respect

iii. Gives birth once every 5 years

iv.  Can’t jump 🙂

v.   Has poor eyesight

vi.  The trunk which is a combination of the upper lip and nose is used for smelling, breathing, detecting vibrations, caressing their young, sucking up water, and grasping objects.

vii. The tusks, are modified incisor teeth used for digging, foraging, and fighting. They are present at birth then fall off after one year to be replaced by permanent ones. AND prefer one tusk over the other…so could be right-tusked or left- tusked 😀

viii. Compassionate: Care for the wounded and grieve their dead.

ix. Have a developed sense of memory. They remember loved ones, hold grudges and recognize long-lost friends.

And finally,

x.Elephant herds are led by a matriach. Girl power! The males leave the group as soon as they hit puberty.

surprised

Just Imagine!

 

For more information on the African elephant, visit: The Animal Fact Guide

 

 

Just Imagine

My wedding planner friend gave me this bright idea of sharing random fascinating facts on the environment…nature…So, I’m taking up the challenge by sharing fun facts every Friday for the next 3 months. So here is the genesis of ‘Just Imagine’…

The beaver has transparent eyelids and valves on its ears and nose that close automatically when it submerges in water. These unique features allow the beaver to remain underwater for up to four minutes at a time, where, with the help of its tail and webbed feet, it can swim one and a half miles (nature.org)

Just Imagine!

surprised

Source: emojibase

Just Do It.

Just Do It

Look familiar? That is Nike’s 80’s slogan, which was inspired by a murderer. I kid you not. Google on the history of that slogan… only after you’re done with this post sil vous plait… 🙂

Nobel Laureate the late Prof. Wangari Maathai once shared this story on the humming bird:

One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.

This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.

And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird, in a mocking voice, What do you think you are doing? And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, I am doing what I can.

Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring in the 7.5–13 cm (3–5 in) range. The bee hummingbird is measures only 5cm! They are  colorful birds with iridescent feathers which means that their feathers change colour in different angles…Too cool. They flap their wings so fast (about 80 times per second) that they make a humming noise. Hummingbirds can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down. They are also able to hover by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern. They have a specialized long and tapered bill that is used to obtain nectar from the center of long, tubular flowers. It’s feet are used for perching only, and are not used for hopping or walking.

If a 5cm creation can do what it can, there really is no excuse to lack of action for the rest of us who have the opposable thumb.

So, if you can plant a tree, pick some litter, avoid pollution of water , soil and air, sustainably use natural resources, harvest rainwater, take care of an orphaned animal, contribute towards an environmental cause, recycle, reuse and reduce… Just Do It!

 

 

 

Lessons from the Beaver World

As the world’s population increases, there is a growing demand for various resources. The main resource under stress is water. Water is required for the production of food and energy which are essential for human survival. The same water is required for ecosystem services and human uses such as domestic, drinking and sanitation.

To meet most of these needs, we have opted to use various infrastructural and technological methods such as the building of reservoirs. Unfortunately with these developments, the ecosystem has more often than not been left in the backseat. Even worse, in majority of the locations whereby these developments are taking place, the main stakeholders, the riverine people both upstream and downstream are rarely consulted. The immediate economic benefits override the long term effects on the environment and the people.

Beavers are aquatic rodents famous for building dams, canals and lodges (homes). They build these dams to provide still, deep waters which act as protection against its predators. They first place vertical poles, then place branches horizontally and finally fill the gaps between the branches with a combination of plants and mud until the dam holds enough water to surround their homes. These flooded areas become productive wetlands which are rated as the world’s most valuable land based ecosystems. It is said that after beavers abandon their lodges/ponds, as the wood decays it eventually transforms into marsh. Amazing…Huh?

And before I forget, these cute little engineers do not exist in Africa… 😦

What do beavers therefore teach us?
It is possible to have dams that are not only economically beneficial but also ecologically and socially beneficial. This can only be achieved if dams are built after wide stakeholder involvement and a series of analyses (cost benefit analyses, environmental impact analyses and social impact analyses). If beavers are able to leave the environment better than they found it, so can we.