Monday, October 29, 2018

Where did it all begin? I visit the Origins Centre at Wits University. Johannesburg

Recently I (on the left) was part of the launch of David Bristow's new book
that was held in the Origins Centre.
I had heard about the Centre and had even watched it being built
when my daughter was a student at the adjacent University.
But the chat that I had with this author was my first "visit".
I was not able to wander around because of the launch time constraints.
However, I did promise that I would return for a proper visit.

This was the book that was launched.
And while it does not necessarily deal with fossils
and archaeological findings, it does tell the stories
that form part of the rich tapestry that is our South African history.

I discovered this rather interesting plant outside the entrance to the Centre.
It reminded me of the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors"...
It is known as the Carrion-Flower

I have to say that the entrance to the building
is very unimposing and somewhat bland.
As it turned out, all the excitement lay behind this
rather underwhelming exterior.

When the ticket office is closed, you can gain entrance via the on-site shop.
Visitors are given a device containing recordings that
 correspond to numbers on the various exhibits.
The concise descriptions are educational and informative.
This is some of what I experienced on my promised visit...

Don Mattera's words say it all...
"Welcome home"...

This World Map is an installation piece by Walter Oltmann.
It can be found in the main entrance
and is designed to both envelop and and inform visitors as they arrive.
This is part of a huge sculpture that can be found in the entrance.

Intricately woven in aluminium wire by the artist,
the copper line shows how mankind began in Africa
and then spread throughout the world.
The sheer size and detail of this work caused me
 to stand here in awe of the artist and his dedication.
To find out more about the artist:

There is a visual display close to this poster,
that gave me quite a fright...
There was a sign that said "Touch me"...
and when I did it started a video that I was not expecting.
Most informative.

There are three of these displays in the main hall of the Centre.
Information on each can be accessed via the "wand" 
that I mentioned earlier.

What would a centre about origins be without a DNA exhibition?
There are also DNA lectures where visitors can have a DNA sample taken
and information about THEIR origins can be supplied.
These are VERY popular and fill up incredibly quickly.
If you want to find out more: 

There are drawers full of skulls,
defining the evolution of mankind.
Fear not, these are only copies and NOT the original ones.

This is an Ndebele child figurine.
One of three such figurines on display in the downstairs gallery.

There are also these bone sculptures on display.
The majority of the bones appear to be from and Eland
as that animal is sacred to the San people of Southern Africa.

I did wish that there were reproductions of this work
for sale in the gift shop.
This is just one of several on display.

This was my favourite part of the the museum.

This life size eland was the focus of the hall.
Not only did it supply sustenance to the San,
but it was the animal most predominantly featured in their rock art.
The San believe that it has supernatural powers,
hence it being such a powerful aspect of their culture.

These tiny hand made arrows were capable of bringing down
the largest antelope in Africa.
Admittedly the tips were covered in a highly toxic poison.
which aided in the demise of the beast. 
This deadly poison was made from certain species of beetles!

Can you identify this animal?
I was able to...
It is, of course, a hyena! One of several on display.
And part of an exhibition featuring animals made form reclaimed wood.

All the items on display are clearly marked and informative.

The real deal!
There are notices asking visitors not to touch...but I am certain that some do.
It is like putting up a "wet paint" warning,
that is guaranteed to have someone get paint on a finger.

There are 11 of these huge pieces on display.
Each of which represents an aspect of the lives of the people who made them.
These include the Trance Dance, Hunting & Gathering and Origins of people.
While visitors are in this space they are able to watch interesting documentaries
that are played on screens. 

The detail on these tapestries is sublime.
I have purposefully NOT  given an in-depth description of my visit
as I want YOU to go and enjoy this awesome space for yourself.
I will say that I came away humbled by what I experienced.

To find out more about this museum and what it offers,
please visit their website:

When I get home. I rely on this ISP
to provide me with high speed fibre connectivity 
to enable me to get my postings published in record time.

This powerbank is my constant companion
 while I am travelling.
It can do up to 4 full re-charges of my phone before
needing to be charged.
Supplied by...

All images are the copyright property of
and may not be used without permission

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Its 5 o'clock somewhere...Marakele National Park

While you read, listen to Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet smash this hit...

With the sun sinking faster that Eliud Kipchoge can run a marathon,
it was a "race" to see if we could find lions before it disappeared altogether.
Not that we were hurtling around the dusty roads at speed,
it was just that they had been spotted in the area 
and it would be a great way to end of our evening drive.

We found them!
In a sighting like this it is very difficult NOT to attribute
human characteristics to animal behaviour.
There were a LOT of "Ooooh" and "Aaaaah" 
from the occupants of the cruiser.
"Its 5 o'clock somewhere, time for a drink"...
And as this story unfolds, you might understand why...
Mom, although alert, settles in to enjoy a cool drink.
If water is available, lions will drink daily.
If not, they can survive on the moisture content 
in the stomach contents of their prey.

Seeing that there was no immediate threat close by
junior joined her at the edge of the dam.

"My time to look out for Mom",
her cub seems to be saying.
But look closely and you will see that Mom is still vigilant.
Eyes focused for a potential threat, not looking down at the water.

"I love you Mom"...

"Play with me PLEASE"?

"If I ignore you, perhaps you will play"?


"Alone at last...a bit of peace and quiet before the nuisance returns"!

"I am BIG and I can drink on my own"...

"But I have to return to Mom in case she feels ignored"
In real time, the cub had only left her side for less than 5 minutes,
but was constantly in her sight.

"I was only gone a few minutes, did you miss me"?
"Did you"?
Did you"?

"Please tell me that you missed me"

"Alright...I missed you"
"Now will you leave me alone"?
At this point, we on the vehicle heard a soft vocalizing
coming from not too far away.
Probably the reason that this lioness had be on alert.

As they walked off into the bush, we headed off down the road
 and discovered this...

More lions!
Four youngsters and an adult were lying out in the open...
Just like human teenagers, grooming was important to this young male

At least one of the pride seemed to be more interested in the giraffe
than offering to pose for us.
The distance to the giraffe and the inexperience of young lions
would have meant that this possible hunt would have ended up unsuccessfully.
And lions have an aversion to wasting energy where food is concerned.
Time to leave the cats to their nocturnal endevours and head back  home.

Another stunning African sunrise.
On our early morning game drive
we found fresh lion tracks!

After following the spoor for quite a distance,
we almost missed this lioness lying just off the side of the road!

Not the meal of the day...
But certainly this Wildebeest had offered sustenance
 to predators at some point.
That is the way that nature operates...
For something to survive, something has to die.
Be it an insect, a reptile, a bird or large game,
there is a circle that has to be completed to keep the balance.
One day, when we humans actually get to realize
 that our species is unbalanced, maybe, just maybe,
will will seek to address that.
Unfortunately, we are reactive by nature and we need to be proactive
in order to protect this planet for all those who call it home.

You to can experience similar inspirational sightings.
Stay at one of the two MORE lodges in the Park.
To find out about the facilities that are on offer,


The latest addition to my sponsors list...
The Olight SRS2UT Intimidator.
Marketed locally by:

My camera brand of choice for more than 4 decades!

When it is time to print out my special images,
this is the company that I rely on to do that.

A new clothing sponsor has come on board...
Welcome to Kallie Khaki.
Bush gear to make me blend in...
in comfort and style.

I have worn these shoes in the jungles of India
and on the beaches of Croatia.
Not to mention, many game reserves in Africa.
They are probably the most comfortable pair of shoes
that I have ever owned.

When I get home. I rely on this ISP
to provide me with high speed fibre connectivity 
to enable me to get my postings published in record time.

This powerbank is my constant companion
 while I am travelling.
It can do up to 4 full re-charges of my phone before
needing to be charged.
Supplied by...

When offered an option...
ALWAYS be Batman.
Here he is seen looking at a CMR Beetle.
It was named after the Cape Mounted Rifles,
as its colouring resembles that of the regiment.
He can handle it as he is wearing gloves!
Do not be tempted to pick them up bare handed
or you will end up with nasty, painful blisters.
The newest of my travelling companions.
To find out more about the collectible Funko range of figurines,

My new addition, this awesome laptop bag from Solo.
Padded for protection and with enough pockets to keep
almost everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink in,
this is definitely an stylish addition to any business presentation.
Be it in the boardroom or the bush.
This bag can also be worn as a backpack. 
There are straps in a hidden compartment that can be deployed
when you need both hands for other purposes.
To find out more about the stylish Solo range,

A new "tool" in my camera bag.
This locally made product was indispensable when using a long lens.
The ball and socket might look simple...and it is, 
which is why it should be in the gear bag of every serious photographer.
This locally made, deceptively simple device is ideal 
for tracking birds in flight or animals in motion.
The base can be used on a beanbag or a tripod,
with the ball being fitted to the camera.
The simplicity of the device allows to to move from supported
to hand held in a fluid motion.
There is also a version that can be used on a car window.
To see more about the product, 
visit their Facebook page:
Or order directly from:

All images are the copyright property of
and may not be used without permission