Tough times for SA’s all-female anti-poaching unit

South Africa’s all-female “Black Mambas” anti-poaching team had never lost a rhino since they were formed in 2013, but the killing of two animals earlier this month shattered their proud record.
Tough times for SA’s all-female anti-poaching unitThe two rhinos, one of which was pregnant, were shot dead and their horns hacked off by poachers on a full moon night, underlining the crisis that threatens the species.

The Black Mambas are made up of 36 unarmed female rangers, aged from 19 to 33, based at the Balule Game Reserve in Limpopo province on the edge of Kruger National Park.

They have been feted worldwide as a mould-breaking experiment that has successfully helped to tackle poaching through foot patrols, intelligence gathering and community awareness work.

But the insatiable appetite for rhino horn in Vietnam and China has fuelled record killing in Africa, and the Black Mambas are struggling under growing pressure.

“It was so horrible. It feels like our fault,” Collet Ngobeni, 32, who has been with the team since they were founded, told AFP.

“We need to be more prepared. Three rhinos (including the unborn calf) means a lot.

“There are greedy people about who don’t think of the future.”

The recent deaths in Balule were in a remote area where rhinos rarely roam and had never been targeted by poachers before, so it was not covered by a regular patrol.

The Black Mambas – named after a venomous snake – won the UN “Champions of the Earth” award last year, which Ngobeni travelled to New York to collect in a blaze of publicity.

And they have been singled out for praise at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference currently underway in Johannesburg.

But Ngobeni is frustrated by a lack of resources that she believes is holding the team back.

“All the attention has not been translated into help,” she said.

“If we step back, the poachers come again. Our vehicles are often broken down and we don’t have enough equipment.

“To go forward, we need more training, more money and more people.”

Members of the Black Mambas are paid by the government, earning a take-home monthly pay of between 3,000 and 3,500 rand ($220 to $255) – a low salary even by South African standards.

After 21 days of back-to-back shifts, they get 10 days off to visit their families and children.

When at work, they live next to their patrol base at Olifants West in a small cluster of huts that are each shared by three or four people.

The compound has no running water as the borehole has run dry, and there is no television or internet.

“Other women do want to join us, but we need more funding,” said Felicia Mogakane, 28, a mother of two sons, aged five and one-and-a-half.

“If you really want to protect the animals you must have the people to do the hard work, to check the fence every day.

“If we are not out on patrol, poachers notice that. There are difficult circumstances, but I do still love it.”

Rhino horn is trafficked to east Asia where it is deemed to be a miracle cure for everything from cancer to lack of virility – and demand is soaring.

In 2008, less than 100 were poached, but numbers have rocketed alarmingly since as illegal trafficking networks channel rhino horn from Africa to overseas markets.

Last year, a record 1,342 rhinos were poached in Africa, according to a count before the CITES meeting, with nearly 1,200 of them killed in South Africa alone.

“The Black Mambas have brought crucial attention to the rhino crisis,” said Pitso Mojapelo, project manager at the Department of Environmental Affairs.

“We pay their salaries, and hope other donors will be able to come in to support their work further.

“They have really proven themselves and we would like to duplicate the idea elsewhere.”

The CITES conference has seen heated debate on controversial plans to legalise rhino horn trade, with some campaigners saying that providing a legal supply of farmed horn is the only way to end poaching.

SA set for bumper Black Friday 2016 if social media is anything to go by

South Africa is set for a bumper Black Friday this year if social media is anything to go by, says online marketing agency, 25AM. In fact, social media conversation around this event has almost tripled in comparison to the same period last year. In the days leading up to Black Friday 2015 social media saw around 4719 mentions, whereas 2016 has already surpassed the 15,500 mark.
The majority of this year’s conversation continues to be driven on Twitter, and the massive increase in conversation is likely due to higher social media adoption by South Africans, as well as the large number of new brands which have joined this annual shopping extravaganza.

2015 vs 2016 Black Friday mentions:

SA set for bumper Black Friday 2016 if social media is anything to go by

In terms of demographics, the interest between male (47.5%) and female (52.2%) remains mostly on par, with women just slightly edging out their male counterparts.

SA set for bumper Black Friday 2016 if social media is anything to go by

In terms of age, 25 – 34 year olds are the most active in Black Friday conversation on social media, closely followed by the 45-54 age group; while the 55-64 year olds remain the least active. This could also indicate which age groups are likely to utilize online shopping facilities as opposed to travelling to shopping centers.

Interestingly, the buzz around shopping centers remains fairly low in comparison to the general conversation around Black Friday – this could also indicate a greater interest in online shopping as opposed to physically going to the shops, but only time will tell.

SA set for bumper Black Friday 2016 if social media is anything to go by

Big retailers appear to be pushing hard on social media, with Game currently leading the way. Twitter and email marketing seem to be the most successful platforms for the big brands to create awareness for their Black Friday specials.

SA set for bumper Black Friday 2016 if social media is anything to go by

Whether South Africans flood the shops or crash the internet tomorrow, one thing is for sure, Black Friday is here to stay and continues to find popularity and growth within the local market. Happy shopping!

Flight Centre bursaries get tourism students off the ground

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) have launched a partnership to bolster support to tourism and hospitality students facing financial hurdles.
Trishia Tshandu and Neo Malema with Andrew Stark of Flight Centre
Trishia Tshandu and Neo Malema with Andrew Stark of Flight Centre
The travel agency has sponsored new student bursaries and has also made a contribution towards providing a lecture room at the UJ School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH).

Dr Diane Abrahams, director of STH says: “Transformation in the tourism and hospital industry is vital for the growth of this important sector of our economy. At the STH we prepare young people, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, to enter the industry in a variety of exciting careers whereby they transform not only their lives but that of their family and the community in which they live.

“FCTG is sponsoring bursaries for two of our students who are excelling academically, and are part of the ‘missing middle’ – students who are regarded as too rich to qualify for government support, but too poor to afford tuition fees.

“It is encouraging to see international industry partners such as FCTG supporting both students and the infrastructure needed to deliver more young professionals to the workplace,” says Abrahams.

“Travel, tourism and hospitality is the fastest-growing sector alongside banking and agriculture, contributing 10% to global GDP. We’d like to see more government collaboration with the private sector to promote the industry. We are committed to doing our part and our partnership with UJ is the start. We care about delivering amazing travel experiences but we also care about collaboratively educating our youth of today to become our leaders of tomorrow,”says Andrew Stark, managing director at FCTG.

The first two bursaries were handed over to first-year student Neo Malema (21) and Trishia Tshandu (20) who is in her second year of study

Visiting Ha Long Bay By Boat

1. Bãi Cháy Tourist Wharf – Thiên Cung Grotto – Ðâu Gô Grotto –
ÐÉnh H°¡ng (L° H°¡ng) Islet – TrÑng Mái Islets (4 hours).
It takes about 30 minutes from Bãi Cháy Wharf to the southwest of Чu G× Island, where are Чu G× Grotto and Thiên Cung Grotto located. Stopover at the Thiên Cung Grotto for visiting (about 45 minutes visiting), then to Чu G× Grotto which is closed to Thiên Cung Grotto (about 45 minutes visiting). Continue the trip, passing Con Chó (Chó Ðá) and ÐÉnh H°Ûng Islets, and many strange-shaped islets in this area. After that you will reach Trông Mái Islet (Cap Gà Islet), 1 km from Ðinh Huong Islet. Back to Bãi Cháy Tourist Wharf for about 45 minutes.

2. Bãi Cháy Tourist Wharf – Mê Cung Grotto – Síng Sôt Grotto – BÓ Nâu
Grotto – Ti TÑp Island (7 hours)
It takes about an hour from the Wharf to Mê Cung Grotto. Stopover at Mê Cung Grotto. Continue the trip of about 15 minutes to reach Bô Nâu Grotto. Leave BÓ Nâu to Síng Sôt Grotto – the most beautiful and enormous grotto in H¡ Long Bay. Get on the boat to Ti TÑp Island (takes 10-15 minutes). After spending an hour to climb up the peak, swimming or relaxing return to Bãi Cháy Wharf. On the way to come back, the boat pass by many beautiful islands.

3. Bãi Cháy Tourist Wharf – Thiên Cung Grotto – Чu G× Grotto – ÐÉnh H°¡ng
(L° H°¡ng) Islet – Trông Mái (Cap Gà) Islet – Mê Cung Grotto – Síng SÑt Grotto – Ti TÑp Island – BÓ Nâu Grotto – LuÓn Grotto (10 hours)
Take the same path as the first tour to TrÑng Mái Islets, then goes further southeast to Ti TÑp Island (about 45 minutes). Stop over about an hour at Ti TÑp Island for climbing up the peak or relaxing and swimming. Then leaves for Mê Cung Grotto, closed to Ti TÑp Island about 10 minutes boating. After 30 minutes visiting Mê Cung Grotto, then go to Síng Sôt Grotto (both located on BÓ Hòn Island). Stopover at Síng Sôt Grotto. Get on the boat, pass by fishermen’ village to reach BÓ Nâu Grotto (15 minutes visiting and taking photograph). Continue the trip to LuÓn Grotto. At the entrance gate, a small boat will take travellers to enter the cave for 15 minutes visiting (the ticket including fee for the boat). On the way to come back, the boat pass by many beautiful islands such as Чu Ng°Ýi, Con Cóc…
4. Bãi Cháy Tourist Wharf – Bái Tí Long Bay – Tam Cung Grotto – Síng Sôt Grotto – Ti TÑp Island (8 hours)
Departure from Bãi Cháy Tourist Wharf toward the southeast, the boat pass by Hoàng Gia Park, Bãi Cháy, Hòn Gai, Bài Th¡ Mountain, Vång O£n (small Oan harbour) then reach Bái Tí Long Bay. Through narrow gaps between stones such as RÓng, ¤m islands. Reaching Tam Cung Grotto after about half an hour. From Bái Tí Long Bay to H¡ Long Bay passes an area with many interesting islands such as Чu ng°Ýi and Con Rùa to reach Ti TÑp Island. Stopover for about an hour to climb up the peak of hill to admire the views over the bay or swim and relax on the beach. A further 20-minute journey will take you to visit Sung Sôt Grotto for 45 minutes. Then returns to the wharf.

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Luxury Beach Holiday – Let Go Of All Stress Amidst The Sun, Sand And Sea

Any place that offers relaxation and opportunities for having fun is a good holiday destination. However, beach holidays have their own charm and the sun, sand and sea are loved by one and all. Discover the magic of a beach holiday. Read on to find out how beaches can make for a perfect holiday destination and where to go.

When you go on holiday your meant to get away from normal routine life for some relaxation, let go of our worries and make the most of this time that we have taken out for ourselves. For a perfect holiday we look for a destination that can offer what one requires – fun, culture, food and relaxation. We cannot say that the destination of our holiday is all that matters but yes, a good destination along with Great Spirit makes for an amazing holiday. While some people love to go to the hills to enjoy the beauty of nature and peace, others may venture out to a new land in search of adventure and exploration as well as to experience a different culture. Many people love to visit big cities to enjoy different forms of entertainment that the city offers.

However, beaches have always been one of the most popular tourist destinations, as they have never failed to enchant people. What makes beaches so popular for holidays? Well, one thing is that there is a distinctive charm about beaches that is hard to explain. The picture of the sand, sun, trees, clear blue seas and the atmosphere of people having fun in the water, is sufficient to attract anyone. The other factor that makes beaches the favorite destination for many people is that both adults and children alike love it. While adults love the picturesque beauty, water sports and the free spirit of the beaches, kids need nothing but spending time in the sea. They can spend the entire day in the various water sports and other beach sports or simply playing in the water. Different water sports like swimming, water surfing, boating, snorkeling and beach sports offer loads of fun for everyone. If you are tired after all the fun, just lie down and relax and enjoy a sunbathe. The setting sun in the blue waters is one of the most beautiful sights that nature offers.

Apart from all these attractions, beach holidays also offer great luxury. You can enjoy the delectable seafood, a rejuvenating massage at a spa and a range of other facilities that beach holidays usually offer. If that makes your heart beat faster, the next question that immediately comes to mind is where to go for a beach holiday? Though almost all beaches that are popular as a tourist destination offer exciting recreational opportunities, the most popular ones that are the first choice of many vacationers are Maldives, Mauritius, Bahamas and St. Lucia among several others. These beaches attract several tourists from all around the world due to their breathtaking scenic beauty. Most of the beach destinations offer a great night life as well, so fun is not limited to daytime, you can go clubbing at night, enjoy a drink or simply drive around, exploring the city.

Choosing a destination among the many choices may be difficult, but finding information on any location or finding a holiday planner to these places isn’t. You can easily get infinite information over the Internet on luxury beach holiday, from which you can choose a destination you like, a travel planner to make it easy and fun for you and just head off for a relaxing holiday to the beach.

A Review Of The Electric Mountain Bike, Folding Model Ez008

I feel this is a well-designed bike that is seriously needed in a world of excessive pollution with everyone dependent on steadily rising gas prices.

Most battery-powered bikes in the past had their battery located above the rear wheel which could cause instability. A Lead Acid battery was used (like your car battery) which I could never understand the idea of a volatile battery on my bike.

This battery made those bikes extremely top heavy, most weighed 75 to 95 pounds, had a short traveling range, and almost no ability to climb hills.

The Electric Folding Mountain Bike being reviewed has none of those shortcomings.

Battery technology caught up, the NiMH battery was designed and became a much more functional battery. Today the Lithium-Ion battery is the best choice, although more expensive certainly worth the additional expense.

The benefit of the Lithium-Ion battery is that it does not retain a memory and has a very quick recharge time of 3 to 4 hours. Think of the battery in your cell phone or lap top computer as an example.

The EZ008 has a 36V 10Ah Polymer Lithium-Ion battery located in the rear wheel hub. This keeps the center of balance lower making this bike very stable.

Tidal Force bikes by Wavecrest used this system of the battery in the wheel however their bikes were still quite heavy at 78 pounds, compared to this one at 55 pounds.

The motor has 450W peak power and is located in the front wheel hub. The hub spins around the fixed stator and therefore there is no friction besides the usual wheel bearings. There is no drag from the motor because of the lack of friction and completely enclosed design, the motor is maintenance free.

The Electric Folding Mountain Bike will travel about 20 to 25 miles on one charge and you get almost double the distance by using the Pedal Assistance System, depending on rider weight and terrain.

Front and rear disc brakes are provided for stopping, much more efficient especially on hills. The gear changes are in the handle bar grips as is the twist throttle. The speed switch is thumb close, and the read out that gives you your remaining battery life is easily visible.

The frame folds in half to fit into a trunk easily, creating a nice tidy package, a well-engineered, user-friendly vehicle.

The Electric Folding Mountain Bike opened my life to many new experiences. Like traveling at 20 MPH without pedaling while passing other bike riders is an interesting experience on its own.

Personally, I had not been on a bike in years. I live in the Rocky Mountains and riding is very difficult, always up or down steep hills. For those like me who have bad knees or hips or don’t have the time/desire to get in shape for long hauls this tough bike is ideal.

The steep hill climb home is no problem, making this a very enjoyable bike to ride whether commuting to work or just cruising around town.

I appreciate that the Electric Folding Mountain Bike can be used by a spouse to join the more athletic member of the family on biking excursions.

While riding you have your choice of riding manually, using the pedal assist system (PAS) or putting the bike on straight electric. The real benefit is the fact you can pedal as much as you want. You choose how much exercise you desire.

This bike brings back the enjoyment of mobility and the pleasure of riding again without worrying about being unable to climb hills and having to walk/push my bike up them.

I was impressed, but what really sold me was how easy this bike was able to alter my riding habits. Like me, you will look to find excuses to use the Electric Folding Mountain Bike as often as possible.

The Incredible Experience Of Madagascar Tours


Madagascar tours offer you the opportunity to relate to what could soon be extinct as subject of massive deforestation. Do not hesitate to visit its forests and hills, with octopus trees, baobabs and lemurs staying hidden behind the lavishing vegetation.

Madagascar is an island off the eastern coast of Africa. In addition, it is the fourth island in the world judging by size. It houses around five percent of the world’s species, and about eighty percent are indigenous. If the prospect of Madagascar tours appeals to you, you must remember that there are two main seasons: from November until April there is a lot of rain and high temperatures, while from May to October there is less rain and lower temperatures. Southwestern trade winds are present most of the time.

A must see is Parc National de L’Isalo. Located in the Toliara province, it is famous for its varied terrain, including sandstone formations, canyons and grassland. Dozens of species of birds, reptiles and frogs inhabit the area, as well of three out of Madagascar’s 34 species of lemur.

It offers some of the most spectacular views of the island, a spectacle mainly composed of its contrasts. Although generally made of wide plains and grassland, sandstone formations sculpted wind and water puncture it. A great time for Madagascar tours is between April and October. You can walk around free of overwhelming heat, and many exotic plants are in bloom.

Even today, some taboo areas remain the high caves where the Sakalava people used to bury their dead. Having a guide during Madagascar tours is mandatory – also, you can take care of all the formalities in the city of Ranohira. The length of the tour in the area is variable, of course. However, regardless of the time you are willing to spend here, remember to visit Canyon des Singes & Piscine Naturelle, where you can escape the heat for a while, as well as Natural Window, a unique place where you can get a special view on a sunrise or sunset: through a square hole in a rock.

Uganda safaris are also a great way of getting in touch with Africa. With ten national parks, its tourism resources are unlimited. With about one quarter of its total surface occupied by water, there is very little that Uganda safaris cannot offer.

Mgahinga National Park is also generally part of Uganda safaris. Located in the far South-West, close to the city of Kisoro, it sprawls underneath the Virunga Mountains. Out of the eight Virunga volcanoes, three are in the Mgahinga National Park. These are Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo, on the border with Rwanda.

In addition, Kibale Forest is a must-see when undertaking Uganda safaris. Located 35 kilometers from Fort Portal, it is quite an impressive area of equatorial rainforest (among the few remaining ones). It is home to the largest concentration of apes on the globe. Eleven species roam the area, including 500 chimpanzees that have grown accustomed with human presence for quite a few years. In addition, one can encounter the red colobus or galagos.

Dreaming Of The Perfect Safari

Have you dreamed of your perfect African safari, brimming with thrilling jeep rides over windswept grassy plains, close (but safe) encounters with fearsomely beautiful beasts, and romantic evenings under the glittering starry dome of the African night? This magnificent adventure of a lifetime can be yours on an all-inclusive South African safari, with a custom-designed itinerary that mixes to perfection the urban thrills of Cape Town with the primal excitement of a big game reserve, all experienced in elegant five-star splendor.

When travelling in South Africa, a perfect safari/holiday might include several nights in the stunningly beautiful city of Cape Town, followed by a lovely meandering trip through the lush landscapes of the ocean-hugging Garden Route, and ending with the ultimate sojourn to a private big game reserve, where lavish luxury meets untamed wilderness.

With its magnificent mountain backdrop, wildly beautiful coast, fascinating historic sites, world-class cuisine, and rocking nightlife, the Cape Town area is an amazing jump-off point for your South African adventure. Enjoy breathtaking vistas from Table Mountain, stroll the gorgeous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and shop, dine, and dance ‘til you drop at the vibrant V&A Waterfront. You can see Robben Island, former prison of Nelson Mandela, visit the amazing penguin colonies of Boulders Beach, or enjoy stunning scenery and delicious vintages in the vast Cape Winelands region. For the ultimate in luxurious, romantic accommodations during your Cape Town stay, reserve the decadent Penthouse at the waterfront Cape Grace hotel.

Heading out of Cape Town, meander to Port Elizabeth along the unforgettable Garden Route, where lush mountains hug a spectacular shoreline awash in wildflowers and graced with lovely sapphire bays, shimmering lakes, and secluded beaches. Marvel at the towering peaks and plunging gorges of Klein Karoo, chuckle at the ostriches of Oudtshoorn, and thrill to an adventure tour of the incredible Cango Caves. In the balmy South African evenings, enjoy a romantic dinner at a little beach-front cafe, then spend a cozy night in one of the charmingly chic little boutique hotels along this amazing stretch of coastline.

After a sweet taste of civilized South Africa, it’s time for a chartered flight to the untamed regions of the Eastern Cape. Experience the exhilaration of stepping into the true wild heart of Africa as you enter Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve on the continent. In this primal landscape of baobabs and fever trees roam lions, leopards, African elephants, rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo, collectively known as the Big 5, the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot. For a truly memorable African big-game experience, book an exclusive private safari at one of the private reserves bordering the park, offering the extravagant luxury of personal service, five-star accommodations, exquisite cuisine, and exceptional game viewing.

This spectacular holiday combination of vibrant city, gorgeous coastal landscapes, and thrilling luxury safari big-game viewing is truly the adventure of a lifetime.