Thursday, 28 April 2016

''Disabilities do not define a person''

Smiling Lachlan!
I had the pleasure of meeting Lachlan Nicholson, whom was living in a beautiful wooden house tucked away at the end of a road on the mountainside. Born in Waterfall, Durban, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 18 months and his parents were given the prognosis that he would never learn to speak, write, walk or do anything for himself. Now 25 years old, despite the unfavourable prognosis he was given, he is a tattoo collector, loves reading in his spare time, an avid writer and plans to study English literature and film through UNISA. He states his, ‘’biggest challenge is feeling normal as related to the rest of society.’’

Lachlan was a victim of a house robbery back in Durban and as a result became involved in tae kwon do with an instructor in Durban, a little over a year ago. A young man with determination and a challenge on his mind, despite having to use a wheelchair to go about his daily life, decided to take on the form of martial arts that has since changed his life and made him physically stronger.

He considers his biggest achievement in life, ‘’leaving Durban for Cape Town as it is by no means a small feat.’’ Lachlan met Aly while they were both working together as journalists at Media24 in Durban and stayed in contact. He was inspired to come to Cape Town after Aly suggested he visit the beautiful and diverse city for a holiday. Aly, currently working as a paramedic, undertook a home-based care course in order to be fully equipped to take care of Lachlan. Both with journalism backgrounds, they ‘’decided to take on the trip as a project and write about accessibility in the city.’’

He wrote for his blog, The Great Cape Town Odyssey, in the evenings after a days’ quest in the city and surrounding areas about accessibility and their recent activities. The goal of his Cape Town journey and writing about it is to, ‘’push others with disabilities.’’ His favourite adventure in Cape Town was, ‘’visiting the Bay Market in Hout Bay for its diversity.’’ He expresses that he, ‘’hasn’t come across many hurdles in Cape Town, it is doable, and in some instances there might be issues but to deal with it as it comes.’’

Lachlan at Boulders Beach visiting the penguins. 
Lachlan, ‘’would want people to know about those with cerebral palsy that they may look a little a strange but are just people. Take a few minutes to engage with others with the disability and don’t fear saying the wrong thing because you might just miss out on an enlightening conversation.’’

We moved the conversation onto concerns within the disability community and Lachlan shared that his, ‘’concerns for people with disabilities include the lack of infrastructure in the county and that services to the disabled community are a joke.’’

His advice for those that avoid conversations or are scared when meeting people with disabilities is, ‘’saying hello is a good place to start. Treat people like people. Disabilities do not define a person and are usually the most boring aspect of that person.’’

Lachlan wisely shared advice for those with disabilities, ‘’Do not fear. If you are scared of doing something, build up slowly to achieve it. Make small changes every day, so big things won’t seem so big. Slowly prepare yourself. See possibilities, not hurdles.’’

Monday, 25 April 2016

A Fond Farewell ❀

Hello All,

Ntombi and I. 
It comes with a sense of sadness to bid farewell to you all and inform you that I will be leaving my position at Epic Enabled and Epic Guest House, on Friday 29th of April, to begin a new chapter. I am heading off to England to take on an adventure and explore the wonders of Europe and beyond. After having developed a passion for raising awareness and learning about disabilities and accessibility, since working for Epic from January 2015, I am booked for training to learn about the skills needed for caring for both the elderly and people with disabilities.

Having truly enjoyed working for this wonderful company, I can honestly say it changed my life for the better and has been the best working experience. I am thankful for having been given the opportunity to enhance my writing skills and learn about wildlife and disabilities. I've had the chance to interview great people and to gain another perspective for life. Great friends were made and I was lucky to experience the adventure of a lifetime on an accessible safari. It's been a wonderful experience writing blogs and keeping the social media sites updated, meeting guests who arrive at Epic Guest House and learning about accessible travel, spending time with the dogs and getting to know the team at Epic. Memories have been made that will never be forgotten and forever treasured. 

I strongly believe that all future clients will have an incredible adventure with any tours taken with Epic Enabled. I will miss all the interactions with everyone and if you would like to stay in contact, please contact Epic Enabled who will forward your details on to me. Wishing the company all the very best and every success in all future undertakings. A heartfelt thank you to everyone at Epic and you all, including the animals, will be deeply missed.

Every ending has a new beginning.

Warmest regards,

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Giraffes of Africa

Female giraffe.
Standing at an average height of 5 metres, giraffes (giraffa camelopardalis) are the tallest land animal in the world with legs alone that are taller than many people and feet that reach 30.5 cm in diameter. Despite their extraordinary height, giraffes like most mammals, have only seven vertebrae in their necks that weigh a heavy 270kg. These mostly peaceful and non-territorial mammals have excellent sight, hearing and smell. Giraffes, that live up to 25 years in the wild, are classed as one of nine subspecies which are differentiated depending on the areas they live, and the pattern and colouring of their coats.

Living in savanna areas throughout parts of sub-Saharan Africa, giraffes have light and dark coloured spotted coats that act as excellent camouflage in their surroundings using shadows and sunlight. Beneath their patches are a system of large and finer veins that play a role in thermal regulation. Each of their lungs can hold 55 of air and their hearts beat 170 beats every minute and can pump a bathtub full of blood every three minutes. Males are taller and heavier with elder males usually darker in colour than their female counterparts and both sexes have ossicones situated on top of their heads. Females have a cluster of fur on top of their ossicones while males are left bald because of fighting with other males by swinging their necks at each other as a display of strength.
A giraffe standing. 

Giraffes have a unique walk that involves moving both legs on one side of their bodyfollowed by the opposite side. However, they run like any other mammal by swinging their rear and front legs in synchronisation and are able to reach speeds up to 55km/h at short bursts. They sleep for no longer than 5 minutes with their feet tucked under them and their head resting on their rear legs but are also known for taking short naps while standing or rest while lying down with their head and neck upright.  

They are the largest ruminant on earth, meaning they obtain nourishment from plant based food by fermenting their food in a specially adapted stomach, and then regurgitate their food before chewing the curd. Due to their impressive height, they are able to eat leaves and shoots from tall trees and take notable delight in eating acacia tree leaves. Using their dark blue tongues, that reach up to 45cm in length and are specially adapted for foraging on thorny trees, they spend up to 20 hours a day eating up to 34kg of leaves and twigs. Drinking water puts them at their most vulnerable to predators, as they have to spread their legs or bend their forelegs to reach the ground in order to quench their thirst. Luckily they only need to drink once every few days.

Entangled giraffes.
Females form small herd of between 4 to 25 members, with males seldom in their groups unless still be cared for by their mothers. When young males are capable of taking care of themselves they form bachelor herds where they play and interact with one another in order to figure out who the strongest and thus the most dominant member of the herd, while older males tend to be loners. Originally believed to be silent animals, giraffes make low growling, bellows, snorts, hissing and flute-like sounds as well as low pitch noises that cannot been heard by humans as a means to communicate with one another.

Both sexes reach sexual maturity between four to five years of age and are fully grown by seven. There is no set mating season for giraffes but there is an increase in mating during the rainy season. Males will taste the urine of females so as to know which ones are in oestrus and are then able to determine which ones are ready for mating. Males will then attempt courting rituals that involve resting their chin of the back of a female. Female giraffes carry their young for 15 months and then give birth to a single calf, who has their two ossicones, while standing up. Giraffe mothers are extremely protective of their calf that is kept hidden for the first 3 weeks of its’ life and will defend their calf against predators. Nursery groups are formed for calves to play and rest while females take turns in keeping a watchful eye on them while the others forage. 

Did you know? 
  • Newborns are 1.5m from birth and continue to grow a further 0.5cm each day. 
  • Giraffes cannot throw up.
  • Giraffes are known to slip on paved roads in KNP. 
  • These mammals have special valves in their neck arteries to regulate blood pressure and flow so they do not faint when lowering their heads to drink.
  • They seldom spend more than 5 minutes at a tree when foraging to avoid becoming an easy target for predators.