From Rags To Riches: An African Cheetah Story

January 26th, 2015

Privileged to be home to the highly endangered cheetah, Samara also hosts a remarkable individual. Her story embodies not only the plight of these incredible cats, but also the immense potential for successful conservation of a species on the precipice of extinction.

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Born a wild cheetah in South Africa’s North West province, Sibella’s life nearly ended at the hands of hunters. After being set upon by hunting dogs who tore away all the flesh on her hind legs, a rope was forced roughly into her mouth, and she was savagely beaten and locked in a cage. Lying at death’s door, fear and mistrust haunting her eyes, she was fortunate enough to be rescued by the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust. She owes her life to the five-hour surgery and dedicated rehabilitation that ensued.

In December 2003, Sibella began a new chapter when she was introduced onto Samara along with two male cheetah. From the moment of her release, all those involved in her rehabilitation waited anxiously to see whether she would be able to fend for herself. But we needn’t have worried. Eleven years on, Sibella has outlived most cheetah in the wild, proving herself to be a capable hunter despite the occasional twinge from her previous injuries.

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Successfully rearing an astonishing 20 cubs in four litters since her release, she has also been an exemplary mother – giving birth on steep mountain slopes to avoid potential predators and eating only after her young have had their fill.

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The unspoken bond she now shares with the humans in her new home is extraordinary – with the birth of each new litter, when the cubs are old enough to leave their den, this wild cat dutifully presents to her human guardians her latest bundles of fur, the very reason for her existence. The degree of trust she vests in human beings, walking to within just a few metres of them, is simply astounding – her past suffering at the hands of her tormentors all but forgotten.

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This exceptional cat has done more than merely touch our hearts and allow us to marvel at her beauty. She is also a record-breaker of note, being the first cheetah back in the Karoo in 125 years, contributing 3% to the wild cheetah population in South Africa through her various litters, and featuring in dozens of magazines, newspapers and television programs across the globe.

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Sibella, Sultaness of Samara, is a true ambassador for Samara’s ongoing conservation efforts and objectives.






South Africa’s Durban Street Food: Bunny Chow

January 23rd, 2015

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Bunny Chow has become one of Durban’s most famous exports! It’s usually called a ‘bunny’ and brings back youthful memories for many Durbanites who used to stop for a bunny chow on their way home from late night clubbing.

A bunny is basically made from half a loaf of bread (with the inside scooped out and kept to dip in the gravy). The hollow loaf is then filled with delicious authentic Indian curry – made from either Lamb Mutton or Vegetables. Beef, chicken or mince can also be used.

While the precise origins of the dish is greatly disputed, it is said to have made it’s delicious debut sometime in the early 1940′s. The story goes that the migrant workers brought from India to work in th sugar plantations in South Africa needed an efficient way to transport their vegetarian curries (curry meat fillings came much later) to the fields each day. In the absence of the traditional Indian bread Roti, loaf bread had to do. Thus was born Bunny Chow! An incredibly tasty dish that remains today a very popular street food in Durban as well as on many menus in restaurants from small stop in’s to fine dining.

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Ingredients

  • 1kg lamb pieces
  • Little oil to cover base of pot
  • 2 large cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed green chillies
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbles crushed ginger and garlic mix
  • 1 tbles vinegar (your choice on type) I normally use white vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 level tsp medium chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dhania-jeeru powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tomatoes, blended
  • 5 small to medium potatoes, quartered
  • chopped fresh coriander
  • salt to taste

Instructions
  1. Heat oil in pot.
  2. Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and fennel
  3. Stir
  4. Add curry leaves, chillies, onion, turmeric, ginger and garlic
  5. Braise for 3-4 minutes
  6. Add garam masala and spices to pot. Then vinegar and sugar. mix well
  7. Add the meat and salt
  8. Mix until the meat is coated with masala
  9. Cover saucepan and cook/braise on moderate heat for a few minutes.
  10. Stir from time to time until meat is well braised. Add potatoes.
  11. Add water when ever needed-don’t let it burn out. When potatoes are ¾ cooked add the chopped tomatoes.
  12. When potatoes are cooked, stir and add coriander
  13. Serve with salad

To assemble the bunny
  1. Hollow out the inner, keep intact.Scoop meat, potato or sugar beans to your delight– garnish with more greens.Seal the bunny with the bread retrieved. Place bunny in a large platter and serve with tomato/onion salad, beetroot, mango achar and freshly sliced red onion rings, for the brave guys… Fiery hot fresh chilli and dashings of Tabasco sauce …



 

A Photographic Tribute To Kenya’s Samburu People

January 22nd, 2015

A wonderful photographic tribute to Kenya’s lesser known Samburu People by Dirk Rees.

The Samburu are a Nilotic people, originally hailing from the plains alongside the Nile river. As part of a Maa speaking group, they moved under pressure from the Borana expansion in the late 16th century. The earliest settlement of the Maa was just south of Lake Turkana. This group became known as the Samburu, while another group moved further south eventually becoming known as the Maasai. Their languages and rites of passage remain closely related to one another, as do their rituals and spiritual beliefs.

In essence the Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists whereas the Maasai retained a completely nomadic lifestyle until recent colonization and land ownership confined both tribes to a more sedentary existence.

Living in a more remote area than than the Maasai, the Samburu remain a little more traditional in attitude than the Maasai who’s younger members in particular feel the call of the city and modern education. Because of the arid climate of the Samburu region, along with cattle and goats, camels make up part of the Samburu’s wealth.

Different Samburu clans can be identified by the color combinations of their clothing. A great deal of time is spent onpersonal decoration. Most distinct are the bird feathers men use in headdresses in combination with plastic flowers – a modern addition. Men wear elaborate beaded collars and their chests are criss-crossed with strings of beads. Women wear a large number of circular beaded necklaces and keep their hair short, unlike the men who will braid and color it with red ochre.

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