Monday, 8 February 2016

The exciting world of adapted sports for wheelchair users

Sports played by people with a variety of disabilities, including physical and intellectual impairments or disabilities, are commonly referred to as adapted sports. Many of the sports have been modified based on an already existence sport to enable people with disabilities to get involved with sports. However not all adapted sports are based on an able bodied sport, with several having been created solely for those with disabilities in mind of which there is no equivalent sport for abled bodied people.

There are many benefits to playing sport for those with disabilities, such as a feeling of independence, reduced dependency on pain and depression medication, and fewer secondary medical conditions. Playing sport is wonderful for the mind, body and soul.

A wide range of sports can be played by wheelchair users; either solo or as part of a team; on land or in water; and competitively or just for fun. Some involve speed while some involve precision but all involve skill and practise. Sports included in the wonderful world of adapted sports, but not limited to are; mono skiing, wheelchair golf, wheelchair sailing, horseback riding amongst many more enjoyable sports.

Para-archery
Para-archery. 
Para-archery

The very first para archery competition was held in the year 1948 and was one of the original Paralympic sports back in 1960. Anyone with a physical impairment may take up para archery, which may entail shooting at targets with the use of assistive devices if required. Para archery competitions fall under specific categories for the archers depending on which of the 3 different classifications they fall under.

Hand-cycling

A hand-cycle offers one of a kind ride for those enabled adrenaline junkies! It is powered rather by the use of arms than a pair of legs and the brakes are found on the handholds. It was developed in the 1980’s to create different means of human-powered transport; ever since it has been rising in popularity. Having been developed in a variety of styles it works well for many different forms of physical disabilities. It was first included in the 2004 Paralympics and has been popular to watch in the games since.

Paraplegic swimming

Paraplegic swimming is a fully inclusive sport available for people with a variety of physical, sensory or intellectual disabilities. Not only is swimming a great means to keep fit but is also greatly therapeutic for those with disabilities. One may not have a great sense of freedom and mobility when in their wheelchair but once they experience movement of their body in the water a sense of freedom washes over them.

Wheelchair basketball.
Wheelchair basketball. 
Wheelchair basketball

Wheelchair basketball is played by athletes with disabilities in the Paralympic Games with the Wheelchair Basketball World Championship played two years after every Paralympic Game. Players take over a standard basketball court using their wheelchairs, while retaining most of the key rules and scoring of regular basketball, and using a 10-foot basketball hoop. Modifications to some rules are due to taking the use of wheelchairs into attention.

Wheelchair dance sport

Wheelchair dance sport is an elegant sport that was started in Sweden, back in 1968, with leisure and rehabilitation in mind, for wheelchair users. Wheelchair dancing is when at least one dancer is in a wheelchair and includes standard types of dancing such as waltz, tango, slow foxtrot, samba, jive and more. This sports comes with a variety of physical benefits, including helping to maintain physical balance, flexibility and coordination among others.  

Wheelchair rugby

Wheelchair rugby began in 1976 and was created by five Canadian wheelchair athletes, as a sport for quadriplegics in mind. It is mostly played between two teams of up to twelve players of mixed female and male players on both teams. The game is played on an indoor court based on the same measurements as a standard basketball court. Players use manual wheelchairs that have been custom-made and specifically designed for wheelchair rugby.

Wheelchair tennis.
Wheelchair tennis. 
Wheelchair tennis

Wheelchair tennis was created by Brad Parks in 1976 and is one of the official Paralympic sports. The sport was adapted for those with lower body disabilities and is played in specially designed wheelchairs. The size of the tennis court, balls and rackets are the same as typical tennis with two main differences; the use of wheelchairs and that the ball may bounce up to two times.

Wheelchair fencing

Wheelchair fencing is a version of fencing for people with a form of a disability that affects their lower body such as spinal injuries, lower leg amputations and cerebral palsy or athletes that require the general use of a wheelchair. The wheelchairs of fencers are fastened into medal frames on the floor and allow movement of the upper body only. The sport was first introduced in 1953 by Dr Ludwig Guttman and became a part of the Paralympic Games in 1960.


Thursday, 4 February 2016

False Bay wildlife – Background on False Bay

Cape Point, False Bay
Cape Point, Cape Town.
Located from the tip of Cape Point to Hangklip near Pringle Bay, in the extreme South-West of South Africa, is a picturesque bay of water abundant with marine and airborne wildlife. False Bays' coastline is made up of seaside communities lined with shops, restaurants and pubs, and beaches where swimming and surfing are popular. The bay offers pristine conditions for yachting and scuba diving lovers while the bay provides the perfect home for wildlife.

Bartolomeu Dias first came across the bay in 1488 and referred to it as "the gulf between the mountains". False Bay, at least some 300 years ago, was given its name after sailors mistook the natural bay for Table Bay when searching to restock supplies.

The bay is 30km at its widest and is just over 100km long with an average depth of 40m. The eastern and western shores of the bay are considered rocky with large cliffs that plummet into deep water while the northern shore is a long and sandy beach situated on the edge of the Cape Flats. The southern side of the bay is open to the ocean and drops to a depth of 80m at the mouth.

Muizenberg, False Bay
Northern shore of False Bay, Muizenberg, Cape Town. 
With a Mediterranean type climate, during the summer months from December through to March the climate is dry and warm while winter months from June to September bring rainfall and cool weather. During winter, gale force winds and storms can pummel through the bay while in the summer months the Cape is exposed to ferocious south easterly winds commonly known by locals as the Cape Doctor.

Nature reserves that can be visited in the Cape Peninsula, the land running along the western shore side of False Bay, include the Cape of Good Hope, Rondevlei and Silvermine. All 3 nature reserves offer a blend of indigenous flora and astounding fauna making for a peaceful yet fascinating setting.

A small island that goes by the name of Seal Island is found in the bay which is the central
breeding site and home for Cape fur seals and some sea birds. False Bay is considered the world leading site to witness the oceans fiercest predator, the Great white shark. Whales swarm the waters of False every year from June through to November to calve and nurse their new-borns or journey through the area. Penguins live at Boulders Beach while troops of Chacma baboons roam the mountainside of the Cape Peninsula and birds such as hawks and seagulls fly the skies and albatross are found far out at sea.

~ Nestled within the most southern west tip of Africa, is a magical place full of indigenous plants and wildlife that swim in the majestic False Bay water, walk along the Cape Peninsula and fly the sky looking over the Deep South. ~ 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Reptiles found in the Kruger - The Brown house snake

Brown house snake
Adult brown house snake. 
Brown house snakes are one of many species of African house snakes found across sub-Saharan Africa. They are medium in size and non-venomous with a variety of patterns and may be striped, spotted or even solid in colour. African house snakes are sexually dimorphic, meaning that females grow to be larger than their male counterparts, with females reaching up to 783 mm and males up to 656 mm in length.  

Brown house snakes are light brown to reddish brown in colour and darken with age on top while their underparts are an off white colour. There are two distinctive pale yellow streaks running across each side of the head from the tip of the snout through the eye but do not run down more than a third of their body length. 

Habitat

African house snakes, as mentioned are found throughout sub-Saharan African, are able to adapt and live in a variety of habitats. They are referred to as ‘house’ snakes due to often being found settled under stones or in rocky areas of gardens and in the homes of people. These snakes live in underground borrows, scrublands, woodlands, savannah and mountainous areas.

Behaviour

African house snakes that have ventured from the wild are often very nervous if approached by humans and will try to slither away in response. Brown house snakes and their relatives are said to make good pets and make for the perfect first choice of snake for a beginner.

Some may become aggressive during feeding, eating all the food for themselves and preventing others from feeding. In some cases, ravenous hatchlings will eat their smaller brothers and sisters, so it is suggested that all hatchings are best kept apart.

Brown house snake
Juvenile brown house snake. 
Diet

Adult brown house snakes eat mostly rodents but will also feed on frogs, lizards and birds while juvenile snakes eat lizards and geckos.

These snakes are powerful constrictors; able to snatch rodents in their jaws before unleashing a strong and deadly grip around the prey. Once the rodent is no longer alive, the grip is released and the unfortunate victim is eaten head first.  

Reproduction

House snakes lay up to 16 eggs in the summer month among vegetable debris or compost, on average 2 months after mating. Females usually stop eating after the first month of gestation and begin a shed cycle before laying her eggs 5 to 10 days later. Hatchlings take between 60 and 75 days to develop within the egg before hatching. When born, hatchings are around 20 cm in length and begin to shed within a week of leaving their eggs.

Did you know?

Those that prey on brown house snakes are larger snakes and birds of prey.