Saving Africa’s Rarest Antelope

From the largest, fastest and scaliest mammals on the African continent, right down to some of its tiniest amphibians, flightless birds and smallest antelopes, more and more African species are sadly joining the endangered list. A forever growing list that no one wants to be on.

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For more than 25 years, the core company ethos at &Beyond has remained resolute: Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. As a global leading conservation company, we now positively impact more than 9 million acres of wildlife land and 2 000 kilometres of coastline, with the prime goal of helping to conserve this land (and water), as well as its inhabitants, for future generations.

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With countless conservation victories under their belt, they continue to look for ways to make a meaningful difference to our planet, from helping to reverse a 15-year local extinction of lion in Rwanda and moving 100 rhino from the poaching hotspots of South Africa, to providing a safe haven for endangered green sea turtles and taking a proven conservation model all the way to Argentina for the reintroduction of jaguar to the Iberá Wetlands.

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Lion translocation image © African Parks.

One of our most recent conservation success stories is our Aders’ duiker breeding programme on &Beyond Mnemba Island, an exclusive private island and barefoot beach paradise situated just off the shores of Zanzibar.

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Known as Africa’s rarest antelope, it is estimated that there are only between 300 and 600 Aders’ duiker left in the wild. Back in 2005, we successfully introduced five of these tiny (approximately 8 to 12 kg) antelopes onto the island, where they now thrive with a population of 35.

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With no natural predators and a constant and plentiful food supply, the duikers have thrived and bred extremely well in their island paradise. Can you blame them?! As a direct result of this success and at the request of the Minister of Natural Resources and Fisheries in Zanzibar, four Aders’ duiker were recently translocated from &Beyond Mnemba Island to a brand new breeding site on the island of Zanzibar where they can now form a new breeding population.

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A team of wildlife and conservation experts was assembled on Mnemba Island for the translocation, including representatives from Zanzibar’s Department of Natural Resources, as well as famed Dr Dave Cooper, Head Veterinarian for the Provincial Conservations Department in South Africa, and Les Carlisle, &Beyond Group Conservation Manager. The carefully planned translocation techniques used were influenced by prior research carried out by University of South Africa researcher Lorraine Braby, who had collared a number of the small antelopes to collect information on their diet and behaviour in an effort to help further improve the outcome of the breeding programme.

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Darting the duiker was proven to be most stress-free method of capture and was therefore chosen for the translocation. The required equipment and drugs were provided by &Beyond and, given just how critical the actual tranquiliser dart location on the small animal is, the expert skills of Dr Dave Cooper were called upon to safely and precisely dart the four duikers.

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Upon being darted, of course the miniature and characteristically skittish antelopes scattered off into Mnemba’s dense forest foliage, so the team had to act fast to quickly track and blindfold each duiker and gently carry them back to the loading area. The darts were then safely removed, the small dart wounds treated and a sedative administered to calm the duiker before the antidote to the immobilisation drug was administered. Once all four of the Aders’ duiker were successfully crated, the crates were taken by boat from Mnemba to the main island of Zanzibar. The last leg of the duiker’s trip to their new home was by vehicle.

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This historic translocation process, which marks the first time that Aders’ duiker have been moved from Mnemba Island, will help bolster a brand new population of the endangered antelope on Zanzibar, while also ensuring that the number of animals on Mnemba does not exceed the resources available on the island. It is estimated that roughly 30 duiker remain on the island and, should the animals continue to breed at their current rate, we will aim to translocate 10 to 12 of these little antelope every year. A great win for conservation.

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Maasai Women Leading Change

 

Today’s story of empowerment and upliftment takes us to the world-famous and game-rich plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara, where a small group of strong, fearless Maasai women are breaking down cultural boundaries and inspiring a new generation of never-before-seen gender equality among their traditionally male-dominated communities.

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There’s no denying that the women of Africa are resourceful, industrious and unrelentingly resilient. In the Maasai culture specifically, it is the women that are responsible for the daily household chores and cooking, the physical construction and ongoing maintenance of the homes, the child-rearing, as well as the time-consuming and burdensome task of collecting firewood and clean water each and every day.

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Despite so much responsibility resting solely on their shoulders, a woman’s ‘place’ in traditional African society is often a precarious one. Historically, Maasai women have been forbidden from owning their own property and from accumulating their own worldly goods, cash included, but thankfully these long-held customs are slowly changing.

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In the Enkereri community, which is situated close to &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, a pioneering group of enterprising women are turning tradition on its head and are not only earning a steady income for themselves (which in turn supports their families), but are also ensuring an education (and brighter future) for their children.

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Ramato Nooretet Kipas is the chairwoman of the 20 Women Group from Enkereri. Supported and empowered by Africa Foundation (our social development partner), these entrepreneurs have successfully established their own beekeeping project, which supplies our &Beyond lodges in Kenya with delicious, fresh Maasai honey. The beehives were supplied by Africa Foundation, however it is the determination and unwavering entrepreneurial spirit of these resolute women that keeps the business thriving. The 20 Women Group depends on this income for their livelihood and that of their families.

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In Kenya’s Saparingo community, which is also situated close to &Beyond Kichwa Tembo, a strong-willed woman by the name of Naisenya Seyio drives a number of projects focused on education. A single mother of six that never had the opportunity to attend school herself, this outspoken activist is an advocate for education and has put two of her sons through university. The only way Naisenya was able to manage this extraordinary feat is by tending to their family livestock on her own, on a daily basis, instead of adhering to the long-held tradition of relying on the children to carry out this traditional task.

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Naisenya’s son George, who was the well-deserving beneficiary of a CLEF (Community Leaders Education Fund) bursary through Africa Foundation and &Beyond, studied actuarial science while his brother Emmanuel excelled in statistics.

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A regular volunteer at Saparingo Primary School, Naisenya mobilized her fellow women to pay it forward in the construction of the school. Under her inspiring leadership, each woman in the community collected sand from the nearby river to donate as construction material, a task that continued until the first classroom was complete. And more recently, when the school needed fencing, Naisenya outdid everyone else by donating five times the required materials for the work to be completed.

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In the nearby Olorien community, Natasha Emily Nailenya was one of our very first CLEF bursary recipients in Kenya. Rebelling against village customs, Natasha fled her home at the young age of 13 in order to escape the confines of an early arranged marriage and instead lived with her aunt while she attended school. Determined to succeed, she qualified for a bursary to study agriculture at the University of Nairobi and became the first woman in her community to graduate. Moving on to even greater success, Natasha has now received government sponsorship to study for an MA in environmental governance.

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Each of these extraordinary and strong-willed women is an inspiration to others in their community. Leading by example, these women are dedicating their lives to changing social norms and improving not only their own lives, but also those of others. We are proud to have played a role, however small, in their lives and they inspire us to carry on telling their exceptional stories to the world. “Here’s to strong women. May we know them; may we be them; may we raise them.”

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#GiveBig!

It’s Give Big Tuesday! African Safari Co. is a proud, long term sponsor of the World Wildlife Fund and the incredible work they do to ensure that the world’s wildlife has as much protection in their corner as possible. That said, we encourage you to consider making them a recipient of your gift today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ker&Downey’s New Kalahari Camp!

Situated alongside Africa’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the focus of activities at Dinaka is exploring the Kalahari experience with wildlife ranging from giraffe to the antelope, small mammals like the honey badger, bat eared fox and porcupine to predators including the Kalahari lion, cheetah, leopard and brown hyena. Activities include morning and afternoon game drives in open safari vehicles, with afternoon game drives often continuing into the evening. Our window seat guarantee ensures no more than four guests per vehicle when out on game drives. Alternatively, you may get more up close and personal with nature along with an insight into the San Bushmen culture with guided bush walks. Birding is particularly spectacular as Dinaka hosts over 200 different bird species including the Kori Bustard and Crimson Breasted Shrike and a high concentration of Pale Chanting Goshawk.

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Elephant Conservation Experience!

Kicheche Mara Camp guests now have the amazing opportunity to experience first-hand, the complicated relations between poaching and Human- Elephant conflict in the Mara ecosystem. Kenya’s Kicheche have teamed up with Mara Elephant Project to showcase their important work: reducing the poaching levels, and minimizing the conflict and challenges to livelihood of the local community. The Project also monitors 23 collared elephants for essential research purposes. Safari goers at Kicheche will now have the chance to track these elephants and learn more about how this incredibly important conservation program works.
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Thank you Uthando!

African Safari Co. is a proud sponsor of Uthando in South Africa and are truly thrilled to share their recent success story in the official opening of the new pre-school center. Uthando has been working with Mhla and the Thokozani organisation since 2009. It has been a long journey, and it is almost surreal to see them now operating in a beautiful clean, decent, dry solid structure.

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We can only dream of the day when ALL children in the world will be able to attend a pre school in such an environment. The building still needs some fun artwork, painting and interiors, but that will come with time of course. Uthando has insured the building for R1.5 million so that is taken care of for the next year.

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A big thank you to the hard work of Uthando and to our amazing clients who trust us with their Africa adventures and allow us to in turn continue to give to wonderful causes such as this.

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Essential Swahili For Your Kenya Safari!

There is nothing better than a genuine smile and a warm ‘Hujambo!’ when you arrive on safari in Kenya. The warmth of the Swahili language is obvious, although it is often followed up with a clumsy ‘Hello’ from a guest and no idea of what to say next. Just as it’s great to learn about all the wildlife in Kenya when you’re on safari, a few days with a great safari guide will also give you an opportunity to learn about the rich cultures and language that the Maasai have.

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Did you know that in Swahili a Giraffe is ‘twiga’? A twiga sounds much more appropriate to us because giraffes like to nibble on the twigs and leaves on Acacia trees.

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We’ve compiled a list of animal names and basic phrases to help you when you’re on your safari in Kenya. Your guide will be amazed and undoubtedly touched by your effort.

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Karibu!

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Swahili translations for animal names

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Animal – Mnyama

Antelope – Paa

Baboon – Nyani

Bird(s) – Ndege

Buffalo – Nyati

Bushbaby (Lesser) – Kombo

Cheetah – Duma

Crocodile – Mamba

Eland – Pofu

Elephant – Ndovu/Tembo

Giraffe – Twiga

Hippo – Kiboko

Hyena – Fisi

Impala – Swalapala

Jackal (Black-backed) – Bweha

Leopard – Chui

Lion – Simba

Mongoose – Ngushiro

Monkey (Vervet) – Tumbili

Monkey (Common name) – Kima

Ostrich – Mbuni

Porcupine – Nungu

Python – Chatu

Rhino – Kifaru

Snake – Nyoka

Warthog – Ngiri

Waterbuck – Kuru

Wild Dog – Mbwa mwitu

Wildebeest – Nyumbu

Zebra – Punda milia

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General phrases in Swahili

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Welcome   Karibu (sg)  Karibuni (pl)

Hello (General greeting)  Habari (inf)   Hujambo (sg) Hamjambo (pl) Sijambo (reply)

How are you? Habari? Hujambo? Habari yako? Habari gani?

Reply to ‘How are you?‘ Nzuri Sijambo

What’s your name? Jina lako ni nani?

My name is…  Jina langu ni…

Where are you from?  Unatoka wapi?

I’m from…  Natoka…

Pleased to meet you   Nafurahi kukuona   Nimefurahi kukutana nawe

Good morning    Habari ya asubuhi

Good afternoon  Habari ya mchana

Good evening   Habari ya jioni

Good night  Usiku mwema  Lala salama (sleep well)

Goodbye   Kwaheri

Good luck  Kila la kheri!

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Traditional Maasai attire at ol Donyo

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There is also a great BBC website where you can click to listen and try to get the pronunciation right
Other sources: http://africafreak.com/how-to-learn-common-animal-names-in-swahili/


Sleeping Out In The Selous!

The Selous is a wild and pristine game reserve in southern Tanzania, offering an off-the-beaten-track safari experience with many adventurous activities that are hard to top!

The lounge area at Roho ya Selous.

Roho ya Selous in particular offers an activity that takes you out into the heart of The Selous wilderness and allows you to fully immerse yourself in all it has to offer – Fly Camping.

Fly Camping in The Selous is something you will never forget.

Imagine going to sleep at night with only the sounds of the African bush around you, and the only lights you’ll see are the stars overhead and full 360-degree views from your bed. The tents keep the wildlife out but still allow you to feel as though you are sleeping in the open air. A night out in your private campsite deep in the bush is a wilderness experience that is truly unmatched!


Congratulations Kapama Private Game Reserve!

Kapama Private Game Reserve is celebrating success as a major winner in the 2017 Haute Grandeur Global Hotel and Spa Awards ™.

Haute Grandeur is recognized as the world’s leading Awards initiative, acknowledging the finest hospitality experiences across 7 continents and more than 60 countries. Each year, the world’s premium luxury hotel and spa brands compete for the ultimate accolade in overall excellence and greatest contribution to the industry.

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This year, Kapama Karula & Wellness Centre has received this prestigious award, a remarkable achievement for this exclusive private game reserve. Kapama Karula claimed a top position in the Categories of: Safari Retreat and Safari Lodge, winning not only on a country level but global level as well.

The brilliance of Kapama Karula & Wellness Centre was recognized by means of a rigorous rating process, based on a unique concept. By relying on quality feedback from guests rather than a quantity of votes by the general public or judges, fairness, transparency and unbiased results were guaranteed.

According to Founder and Managing Director of Haute Grandeur, Marinique de Wet “An establishment must excel on all levels. Therefore, the winners truly attained the ultimate in excellence; recognized with the highest accolade a hotel or spa can receive.”

Kapama Karula would like to thank all its guests for sharing their experience via multiple social media channels as well as through online reviews. Guest satisfaction is a crucial part of our mission statement, and we are thrilled that our guests recognize our team’s commitment to delivering on that promise.  As this accolade is only awarded to the most exceptional hotels and spas, Kapama Private Game Reserve values the importance of continuously striving for excellence, to set the standard and raise the bar to reach even greater heights.


Clash of the Giants at Sabi Sands

Have you ever seen two African elephant bulls fight? Field Guide, Neil Jennings shares an encounter he recently had with guests while on foot.

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Our game drive was coming to an end after a very busy morning safari. I was wrapping up the drive along the Sabie River, when we noticed a big breeding herd of elephants down in the water drinking.  The elephants were far away and we didn’t have a clear vantage on the road, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to safely view them on foot. After our safety briefing, we made our way along the crest of the bank to view them.

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The breeding herd was big. There must have been at least 40 elephants comprising adult females and their young. While we were watching the elephants, I noticed a male leopard in the bush less than 50 meters from us. The leopard was laying low. He was watching the elephants, but it is unlikely that the elephants were aware of his presence. We remained still, quiet and alert, and after a few minutes, the leopard took notice of us as well, and after a quick lunge, ran off. 

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Our attention refocused on the elephants. There was one big bull amongst the group. Bull elephants do not normally travel with breeding herds. They are too much of a nuisance and their presence amongst the herd is not tolerated by females. Bulls will however, trail behind a breeding herd when there is a female in estrous, waiting for an opportunity to mate.

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The herd was relaxed enough around this bull’s presence, that is until another male approached. Once the second male got into the river, pandemonium erupted. The herd was very unsettled about these bull elephants fighting with each other and potentially injuring one of their young, so they hastily moved out of the water and stampeded up the bank.

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The newly arrived bull elephant approached the other. These two bulls were both here for the same reason – to win the right to mate. Each was a direct threat and competition to the other. The bulls displayed their size and power to each other, keeping their ears out wide and steady. When this didn’t resolve the conflict, they began to fight. It was a short, but an intense and powerful display. The water splashing in the background made it all the more dramatic. They continued to fight until the victor was established. The defeated bull then high-tailed it out of the area, with the dominant bull on his heels to chase him even further away.

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It’s not every day we get to see this behavior, and was definitely a good show of dominance.”

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Written by: Neil Jennings

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Video and images by: Charlotte Arthun


Birding in South Africa!

When people think of Africa and experiencing a once in a lifetime safari adventure, the first picture that forms in their mind might be a lion or elephant, or the rest of the Big 5. Perhaps even the hippo and giraffe are on their list and looking out into the wide-open savanna where the land extends as far as the eye can see.

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Guests don’t often realize the plethora of other types of wildlife they can submerge themselves in when visiting Kapama Private Game Reserve. As part of the Greater Kruger area, besides the Big 5, the terrain offers a magnificent array of bird life that is sometimes even more impressive.

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It might be hard to believe but there are approximately 350 bird species on Kapama and a myriad of smaller species can also be seen here in their natural environment. As a result of this discovery, I’ve had many guests that have left Kapama, and become avid birders after their very first safari experience. They fall in love with the appreciation for Mother Nature and the harmonious union that birding provides.

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One such gem that can be found in our area is the bee-eater. Not too long ago, my guests and I had the pleasure of sitting with 4 different kinds of these interesting birds, feasting away on insects.

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Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about these gorgeous birds;

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The first one is the European Bee Eater. It is an incredibly colorful bird with an unmistakable appearance. It has a rich chestnut crown that blends into gold on its back. This beautiful and elegant bird looks like a rainbow when flying. They have a range spanning an incredible 11 million square kilometers. Although common in southern Africa It breeds in Europe, mostly in the warmer southern parts, but occasionally as far north as Sweden and Finland, and also in parts of Africa and southern-central Asia. Their diet consists mostly of insects, bees and dragonflies. Before eating a bee, the European bee-eater will remove the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect against a hard surface. Nature truly is miraculous.

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The Southern Carmine Bee-Eater is by far one of the more beautiful bird species we find in our area.  They are about the same size as a starling. Like other bee-eaters, they are also richly colored. On sunny days, sunbaths are quite common, while water and dust-bathing activities help rid the birds of ectoparasites. In the late afternoon during the breeding season, they eat sand, snail-shell and other calcium-rich items to increase their calcium levels. They are highly sociable species, gathering in large flocks during breeding season and nest in burrows dug into riverbeds. Their diet is primarily bees and other flying insects.

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Next on the list is the White Fronted Bee Eater. Much like other types of bee-eaters they are also richly colored as well as slender birds.  They have a distinctive black mask, white forehead, squaretail and a bright red throat. Their behavior is rather unique. Only 50% of non-breeders in a colony typically become helpers.  Whether or not a bird becomes a helper and to whom it provides aid is heavily dependent on the degree of kinship involved. This species of bee-eaters have been known to face spitting cobras and forage endlessly for bees. They may even delay having young of their own, all to help close relatives raise a clutch of baby birds. Their diet consists mostly of insects, which are almost always honeybees. They catch their food either through rapid flight down from a low tree perch or during a slower hovering flight.

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The last type that we witnessed was the Little Bee-eater, which is the smallest of the bee-eater family. As with all species of bee-eaters, they are rich and brightly colored. It has green upperparts, yellow throat, black gorget, and rich brown upper breast that fade as it reaches the belly. Unlike most bee-eaters, these are solitary nesters, making a tunnel in sandy banks, or even in Aardvark den entrances. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs. They often hunt from low perches, not higher than a meter or maybe even less.

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So In the future, if the Big 5 is on your list, experience and appreciate them, as they really are magnificent creatures that are amazing to see in their natural habitat. However, don’t forget about the other species that are often forgotten. Allow yourself to glance up towards the beautiful African sky. Let your eyes scan the trees and shrubs. Ask your ranger to explain some interesting facts and behavior of all the different types of birds you encounter. Buy a bird book and start ticking off the list of species you have identified. You never know, before long, we might find out that you too have joined the ranks and become a birder!

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Story and photos by: Bjorn De Bruin – Kapama Karula


Mesmerizing Red-Billed Queleas

What limited scientific understanding we have of it tells us that the queleas move by a system called scale-free correlation, or by three seemingly counter-intuitive principles of cohesion, separation and alignment. Basically the birds are pulling together to stay as a group whilst also pushing apart so that individuals don’t crash into each other, but they’re doing it at the most incredible speeds.____________________________________________________________________________________________As they come down to drink, they surge over and around each other, creating an astounding noise as the collective impact of their tiny wings beat together, making the sum of the whole so much greater than its parts.

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Words don’t do it justice, but the video below will show you what we mean.

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I think that what moves us when we watch these spectacles is the understanding that somewhere at our very essence we are like them. We were born to move and work together as a whole, whilst staying deeply connected to ourselves and the natural world around us. As each individual becomes truly aligned with themselves, so then does the entire group. As we give ourselves to that whole, we regain our sense of belonging. Then as a collective we begin to create magical, mesmerizing patterns of our own.____________________________________________________________________________________________The question is: what whole do you choose to form a part of? And what fractals and frequencies do you wish to create? Humanity alone has the power to choose from this infinite well of possibility.

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Written by Amy Attenborough