Thursday, 30 April 2015

Ant lions - Part 4 of Africa's Little 5

Ant lion larvae. 
These interesting species of ants live mainly within Africa but are also found in places known to have much colder temperatures such as North America. Ant lion larvae look terrifying but are harmless to people and cause no damage to flowers or structures but do hunt on unwary insects.

There are 2000 species of ant lions throughout the world. The largest species has impressive wings with a wingspan of 16cm (6.3 in.)!

Ant lions start out as larvae who help as hosts to parasitic insects and then develop into pupae. They transform from pupae into adult ant lions who resemble dragonflies.


These unusual ants are found in sheltered, sandy areas away from rainfall. They call areas such as wooded dunes, forest floors and dry river banks home. Lion ants can even be found in the soil of flower beds, under hedges or in undeveloped city plots.


The ant lion larvae stays in a dormant stage deep within the ground to get through winter. They can remain as larvae for up to three years reaching their full weight before transforming into a pupae. It is from this cocoon they emerge as an adult ant lion, a life cycle which is alike to that of a butterfly!

Adult ant lion.
An adult ant lion is rarely seen out and about in the wild as they are only active in the evening. They rest during the day and remain unseen due to their well-camouflage of their wings and dusk coloured body.


The ant lion larvae has evolved in such a way that is perfect to build a sand pit. They use this death trap for the capture of their food. They mainly eat other smaller ants and insects while adults eat pollen and nectar, some eat small arthropods as well.

After they have captured their prey either through the method of a sand pit or hiding underneath debris to attack insects, they suck out the body fluids after having injected a special liquefying substance into their prey. Once they have consumed their meal they throw away the carcass.

Death trap – sand pit

Ant larvae are equipped with a large and square shaped flattened head which has a pair of pinchers on the end. They have three sets of legs to tread on and which they use for digging.

These young ant lions settle on a patch of soil which is light and easy to shift for their sand pit. They begin by pushing themselves backwards, to draw a circle on the ground, they then dig deeper in spiral shapes towards the middle. The shape of their head comes in handy when ploughing through the soil.
A sand pit.

When there is more than one young ant lion living near one another, they appear to be considerate and keep spacing between their pits.

The hungrier the ant lion, the bigger the sand pit is!


Once the adult emerges from their cocoon they allow their wings to expand and harden nearby on a tree. These nocturnal creatures hang on twigs with raised wings as a sign of mating and once a partner is attracted, they mate for nearly two hours.

The female then goes on to lay eggs in the sand within a suitable place. She repeatedly taps the sands surface with the tip of her abdomen and then inserts her abdomen into the sand to lay an egg. She repeats this for all of her eggs. During this process her wings remain raised and move at a very fast pace. She will then return back to a tree where more mating can possibly happen again.

We are very lucky to not have monster sized ant lion larvae’s around!

Did you know?

They are called Doodlebugs in America due to the designs they leave in the sand when making their sand pits.

Ant lion larvaes do not poop, all waste is stored internally until the end of their pupal stage. It is then when they excrete their waste into the case of the cocoon.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The truth about the Rhino massacre

White Rhino.

Rhino poaching

The magnificent rhino which has been roaming the Earth for around 60 million years, is under grave threat from heartless poachers. They are facing near extinction. By 2025 rhinos might no longer walk our planet if poaching continues at the rate it is.

Many years ago there were thirty different species of the rhino but in todays World there are only five species left. Rhinos used to be found in great numbers throughout Africa and Asia with a population of about 500 000 in the early 20th century.

Three of these species are types of Asian Rhinos and two of the species are African Rhinos. All rhinos are listed as threatened but three of these species are known to be critically endangered, meaning that they are facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

The name Rhinoceros comes from the ancient Greek word meaning ‘horned nose’, which can grow up to three inches a year. It is this very horned nose that has put them on the top of the list for poaching, with a black market value higher than that of cocaine and gold.

Rhino horn is believed in Chinese traditions to hold magical healing powers for helping to heal ailments such as arthritis, vomiting, and even cancer among others. However this belief has been scientifically disproved yet poaching is still very real.  A rhinos’ horn is made from the same substance that your hair and nails are made of – keratin. In Vietnamese the rhino horn is used as a recreational drug.

The rhino horn also holds a superficial status of wealth for the elite and is made into dagger handles, bowls, and necklaces among other ornamental uses.

A rhino’s horn belongs on a rhino, with which they have many uses. Their horns are used to dig into the ground to uncover food, or as a weapon for self-defence, and mother rhinos use their horns to guide their babies.

In India and Nepal, organized gangs of poachers pay the poverty stricken locals to tell them where the rhinos can be found. These gangs then move into the location of the rhinos and kill them. Other devastating actions against rhinos take place in Malaysia and Indonesia, where forest plantations are growing at rapid rates, which end up destroying the rhinos’ habitat. 

When a rhino’s horn is so cruelly taken from them this is often done without anaesthesia, causing them immense agony. Rhinos are also sometimes killed before their horns are taken either by being shot or they overdose on tranquillers. Once their horn has been stolen they are abandoned without shame by the poachers and can easily succumb to the brutal act by bleeding to death. If they do survive after the attack, the wound could become infected.

Poaching in South Africa

South Africa has the largest population of rhinos found in the world making poaching rive within the country. During 2014, in South Africa, 1 215 rhinos were killed by poachers, shockingly that is one killed every 8 hours. Kruger National Park holds the majority of South African rhinos making it the biggest hotspot for poaching.

The number of poached rhinos has increased from 1 004 in 2013, despite efforts in the fight against the illegal slaughter of rhinos. If poaching remains at this rate or gets worse, by the year 2018, rhino deaths will overtake births.

Last year 386 arrests were made on poachers compared to 165 arrests in the year 2010. Punishments have become more severe and arrests are on the increase.

The fight against poaching

Foundations such as Save the Rhino International, WWF and Stop Rhino Poaching are doing their best to help the rhinos survive this horrendous massacre. 

You can play your part by making a donation which goes towards training and equipment. 

Never reveal the location you have seen any rhinos as poachers might be able to access that information. Report any activity you see as suspicious. 

According to News24, tourists over this past weekend (25th – 26th April 2015) played a part in the arrests of poachers in Kruger National Park. They spotted two men crossing a road late at night, alerted the rangers who then called in the SAPS. The two men were apprehended and found in possession of two rhino horns, a rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment.

The truth about the West African Black Rhino
The Western African Black Rhino.

Their numbers drastically decreased in the 1970’s and 1980’s due to the illegal act of poaching. 

They were the rarest of the black rhino subspecies and were officially declared extinct in 2011 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

By the year 2000, there were only 10 remaining.

2001, was the last time Western African Black Rhinos were seen. Five were seen in Cameroon.

Searches continued through to 2006 for the rhinos, and that is when they were declared likely to be extinct.

Scientific American gave news that the Western African Black Rhino was confirmed extinct in November of 2011.

On the internet, news of the extinction spread in the years 2011, 2013 and again this year, 2015 but it was first noted to be likely extinct in 2006. 

I hope that the bad guys get caught, put behind bars and the key thrown away. 

I dream that rhinos will once again flourish the planet and that the young children of today will get to see the rhinos of tomorrow.

Rhino facts

They are herbivores that either graze on grasses or eat trees and bushes depending on whether they are a Black or White Rhino.

Black and white rhinos have different lip shapes.

Rhinos have extremely good hearing and a great sense of smell, which makes up for their poor eyesight.

These impressive animals can sleep standing or lying down.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Leopard Tortoise - Part 3 of Africa's Little 5

A leopard tortoise.
Being the fourth largest tortoise species on the planet, these animals can grow up to 28 inches in size. Tortoises have been around since the dinosaur age, and this particular species can live up to 100 years. 

The Leopard Tortoise has a high and domed-like shell, with pyramid shapes. Its shell pattern helps to camouflage it in its surroundings. They can easily walk across rocky terrain and can even stay under water for up to 10 minutes.


These guys prefer semi-dry shrubby or savannah like areas to grassland and may set up home in abandoned fox, jackal or even ant eater holes. The Leopard Tortoises are found from up north in Sudan right down to the Southern Cape. They love to take shelter from the sweltering African sun under bushes or trees.

Grazing on grass.

Tortoises are known to be more defensive than fighters and are not aggressive. When feeling threatened they will retract their heads and feet into their shell for protection. They are sensitive to sounds lower than 1000hz. When kept in captivity they do grow faster than in the wild and also sexually mature at a faster rate.


Being herbivores they are grazers eating grass, succulents, thistles and fruits such as berries. However they will sometimes eat bones for the calcium intake.


They reach their sexual maturity between the ages of 12 and 15 years old in the wild. The female who is often larger than the male, lays a clutch of 5 to 18 eggs in a hole she dug with her back legs. Males have a longer and thicker tail, making it easier for us to determine gender along with comparing their size.

What a cutie! A baby leopard tortoise. 
When adults they don’t have natural predators but are caught by people for pet-trading and to be eaten by the locals in villages. Despite being sold into the pet trade they sometimes do not take well to being kept in captivity.  

These cute guys can be found right here in the Deep South of Cape Town, there are another 7 species found throughout the Western Cape.

Did you know?

If a tortoise lands on its back it may not be able to turn itself around and can die from exposure to the sun. If you find one wrong way round, turn it over and watch it walk merrily on its way.

Watch the tortoise turn his tortoise buddy over!


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

6 awesome ways to look dashing on wheels

Looking good is not only for the ladies. The men can also roll out in confidence, looking dashing and snazzy. Along with specially adapted clothing you can buy regular to suit your needs. Read on for the ultimate tips on how to achieve comfort and style.

Boxers or Briefs

This are an important part of clothing yet no one will see them. Boxers made of cotton material with a stretchy elastic bands are the most comfortable. If you are prone to your back stick to your chair on those hot days, wearing a super light under shirt can help to avoid that from happening.

Sleeve length

Pay attention to the length of your sleeves so as to avoid them being too long and getting stuck in the spokes of your wheels. However you your sleeves should still come down to the end of your arm. Another tip would be to roll up your shirts.

Coats and Jackets

Buy short coats and jackets so as to not sit on the coat-tail when sitting in your chair.

Jeans and Khakis

Wear jeans/khakis that are either casual or smart with a good corresponding colour of shoes. The hem line of your pants should cover the socks you are wearing.


Every man should own a suit! Have a two-piece suit, where your jacket closes comfortably and your pants fit perfectly. Keep a couple stylish ties handy for when needed and you can use a tie tack to keep it in place. Dress your suit with a great pair of shoes and you’ll be ready to cruise looking smart.

Accessorize smart

If buying watches and rings, make sure you invest in ones that won’t easily be scratched. Or why not get yourself an old school pocket watch that radiates both style and class?

Roll in style, looking and feeling good, gentlemen :)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

7 great ways for ladies to roll in style

Clothing for women in wheelchairs needs to be both comfortable and easy to get in and out of, yet why lose out on the stylish factor? Here is a list of ways to cruise in your wheels with some flair.

Show off your Shoulders

Exposing your shoulders can add a little of a flirty style. Perfect for the ladies. Wear a tank top, a one-strapped shoulder top or a top where your shoulders just show a sneaky peek.

Highlight your Waist

Adding a belt to your pretty loose skirt or dress will accentuate your waist. Wear thin ones to the more daring wider ones. The wider the belt the more corset like it will appear.

             Make your Torso appear longer

Buy your tops a couple of inches longer than you would actually need for it to fit. This will help to create the impression that your torso is longer than it actually is. However do make sure that the top is not loose as it will make you appear heavier. A glittery long top with plain thin pants or a skirt would look especially stylish for nights out.

             Wear printed Leggings

Why not get some bold printed leggings and match it with a plain long top or wear them under a pretty dress? It’s a fun and adventurous style! Or go with solid colour or neutral colour leggings.

            Beautiful Skirts

To make dressing the easiest, buy skirts that button up in the front or wrap-around skirts. They can first be laid on the wheelchair before sitting on it then doing it up.

             Lady Bras

A bra that fastens in the front is the easiest but don’t worry, a back-fastening bra can still be worn. Put it on at waist level, fasten it at the front, then move it round and pull it up into position.

                    Have fun and Accessorize

Add some fun to your outfit with jewellery, scarves or hats. Do your make-up in various styles, the classic smoky eyes, use colours suited to your look, or go for a more natural look.

There are various online clothing stores which make clothes particularly for people in wheelchairs, both men and women. Don’t lose out on dressing in style and feeling pretty in what you’re wearing because you are in a wheelchair.

Happy rolling ladies :) 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Get super stoked and go adapted surfing

Adapted surfing

You were once a keen surfer but tragically lost the use of your legs? Don’t despair, you can get back on that surfboard, dude! Or you want to experience being on a board catching some waves for the first time? With adapted surfing you sure can. Blind? Deaf? Paraplegic? Quadriplegic? You too can enjoy the thrill of riding a board in the majestic shore break of the ocean.

The board

The boards are modified to enable the surfers to enjoy this exceptional experience. Altered in different ways depending on the physical limitations these boards can have straps attached or grab handles among other modifications.


The awesome ocean offers amazing powers for the soul, mind and body. Enjoy the lovely therapeutic benefits that being in the ocean gifts upon anyone who enters the water. Surfing is an epic way to spend your time outdoors, and is a big time stress reliever.

Surfers with disabilities

Chris Irwin broke his neck in a swimming pool accident yet is still surfing. With some help from his buddies he was able to accomplish surfing one of the worlds’ most famous breaks, Cloudbreak in Fiji.

Soul Surfer, Bethany Hamilton, lost her arm in a shark attack while surfing when she was a kid. Today she still enters the water to surf one armed.


Watch the video of Greg Faure surfing, who featured in our EpicEnabled blog earlier this year.

Here is Gregs’ story if you haven't already read it.

Surfing Dog Ricohet

Even this epic surfing dog Ricohet loves the thrill of riding waves. A golden retriever who has been catching waves since she was 8 weeks old, she helps people with disabilities surf by adjusting her balance on the board to keep the surfer up.

Maybe our very own Cosmo would like to give it a go?

Surfing is an exciting challenge for anybody regardless of disability or not.  It gets the adrenaline pumping and gives someone the sense of freedom. A wonderful water sport loved by many people across the globe and you too can enjoy its magic.

Surf Slang

Agro – Bad and aggressive attitude in the water.
Amped – Excited about something.
Brah – A word originated from Hawaii to refer to a surfer friend.
Gnarly – Bad surf conditions.
Sick – Term used when someone does something impressive.
Stoked – Happy or excited.
Wipe-out – Fallen off the surfboard.

Surfs up bro!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Buffalo Weaver - Part 2 of Africa's Little 5

A White-headed Buffalo weaver.
The Buffalo Weaver

There are two types of Buffalo weavers, the Black Buffalo Weaver which is black with white in their wings and are the more commonly found out of the two. The other is the White-headed Buffalo Weaver is brown and white, with a red. They often follow herds of buffaloes and this is where the name Buffalo Weaver comes from.

Buffalo Weavers are bulky birds and are the biggest out of all the weavers measuring up to 24 cm in size.

A red-billed Buffalo Weaver.

Found in dry areas such as dry bushy and thorny savannah's, they build communal nests about 2 – 4 metres above the ground in the trees above. They are messy nest builders, with both sexes taking a part in the building of the nest. Their nests are made out of sticks and thorns with several entrances. These nests can be enormous!

There are often more than just one nest in a tree and each nest can have different compartments which can house 2 or more pairs of Buffalo Weavers.

Buffalo Weaver nest.

Buffalo Weavers are loud and noisy birds with a range of calls and sounds which they make. Being territorial they often get aggressive when intruders of other birds enter their area, they will then display their unhappiness vocally. These birds can hang upside down much like parrots can.


They enjoy munching on grass seeds, small insects and small fruits. These birds often feed off the ground in noisy flocks among herds of buffaloes. Buffalo Weavers use their strong bills to crack open hard seeds to enjoy.


The female Buffalo Weaver lays 3 or 4 eggs which are pale blue in colour with brown and olive markings. The little ones develop within the eggs for up to between 11 to 14 days. Once the chicks hatch they are fed a diet of insects and small seeds mostly by the female but sometimes by both parents. After about 3 weeks, they leave the nest to live out their own lives in the plains of Africa.

White-headed Buffalo Weavers hanging out.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Awesome inclusive parks for children with special needs

Play is the work of childhood.

Every child deserves a playground to do what a child does best – play!

However kids with disabilities often don’t have the luxury of enjoying time in the playground.

Imagine a place where both able bodied children and those with disabilities could play together.

Those parks do exist (although there are not enough) where all children can play happily and safely together, laughing and smiling, discovering and learning, while their parents look on with utter delight.

Known as inclusive playgrounds, they are designed and equipped in such a way as to allow children of all disabilities and special needs, or those able bodied children to experience playtime.

Play equipment

Roundabouts can have wheelchair friendly spaces, or seats for children to seat on as well as standing spaces for able bodied children.

Adaptive swing.
Swings are adapted to put wheelchair users in or strap kids safely in.

Wheel-through arcade, this is a spin on the more traditional monkey bars. A wheelchair fits within the width of the arcade, and they can pull themselves through.

Always accessible routes to equipment for the children to easily access to enjoy their fun on the playground. There are often ramps put in place for wheelchair using children.

Best Inclusive playgrounds

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Africa's Little 5 - Part 1, the adorable Elephant shrew

The Little 5 of Africa

We all know of Africa’s famous BIG 5, but did you know Africa has the little 5? The first of a 5 part series of the lesser known group of the Little 5…

A species of Elephant shrew - Giant Elephant shrew.

The Elephant shrew

Elephant shrews are fast cute looking creatures that boast long snouts which resemble that of an Elephants' trunk, and have rather long legs for their size. Also known as Jumping shrews because of their skill to hop much like rabbits do. There are 17 species in total, which range in size from 10cm to almost 30cm. The average lifespan of an Elephant shrew is between 2 and 4 years.


They call various different habitats home, such as from deserts to grasslands to thick forests, across the southern part of Africa. There is one species known to live in the far northwest of the continent among the mountains. Elephant shrews are not common in anyone place across Africa and are seldom seen by anyone, so count yourself lucky if you spot one!

Elephant shrew hop away fast!


They are very active daytime adventurers, hunting, eating and taking dust baths during the day. These animals are not social and prefer a more solidarity lifestyle. Many however do live in monogamous pairs only to reproduce babies. The couple share and defend a home territory but do not spend much time together. They keep track of where the other is through scent markings.

Elephant shrews are well camouflaged and very good at dashing away making them very hard to find. Some species make a collection of cleared paths which they spend their day patrolling and when disturbed, dash through their very own obstacle-free routes to escape.


Known to be a messy eating insectivores. Elephant shrews mainly eat creepy crawlies such as insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes and earthworms. They use their nose to smell out prey and then use their tongues to flick the food in to their mouth similar as to how an anteater eats. 


The female elephant shrew gives birth to litters of one to three, a few times a year after carrying them in their womb from 45 to 60 days. Their menstrual cycle is similar to that of mammals. Young Elephants shrews are born quite well developed and venture from the nest a few days after birth.

An adorable baby Elephant shrew.