Solitary Man

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I have led a life that has been the envy of many, although there are some who consider me to be certifiably insane!

I am an introvert, a solitary man, one who much prefers his own company to being in one.

So what does an introverted, shy and almost reclusive young man do in the way of a suitable career?

Fascinated by wildlife and photography, the choice became obvious.

That choice saw me spending the best part of my life tramping through the African bush, helping out with ethological research, becoming totally in tune with my surroundings and the wildlife within.

As age crept up on me, unannounced and unwanted, I discovered that I no longer had the physical strength or agility required to continue, eventually having to give in to the inevitable and return to what the general population confidently and somewhat optimistically refers to as “civilisation”.

Feeling lost and stuck in a place that I didn’t enjoy much, I started banging away at the keyboard, watching strings of letters become words, words become sentences, paragraphs and pages until, almost as if by magic, a book was born.

One book led to three, with a few others on the side, all telling the stories of the bush, the people, the wildlife, and telling of a life that fulfilled me.

The books had a good reception by those who bought them, with a number of reviews that made me feel that I was doing the right thing. Local and international sales slowly, very slowly, began to build.

Step two was then initiated as a direct result of seeing the horror that is poaching.

How man could do such things to an animal is beyond belief.

Having been involved at ground-level, so to speak, I decided to do something for the dedicated, hard-working rangers – the unsung heroes of the war currently being fought.

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Through the sales of the books, I could spend some of the proceeds to help out in the field against this poaching scourge that is decimating our wildlife, rhino in particular.

Rather than donate money, I decided to buy the things the rangers needed and help in a really tangible way. Things like boot-laces, socks, boots, protective clothing, gps units, radios, and so on.

A marketing effort was started with the vast social-media fraternity all telling me what a good guy I was.

Encouraged by the response, I started putting stories ‘out there’.

And then disappointment reared its ugly little head.

Disappointment in all the people, and there were thousands, who think that ‘liking’ my articles, blogs and observations is all that is required to help our desperately endangered wildlife.

But rhinos, elephants, lions and all the other endangered species can’t read and have no idea as to how many people ‘like’ the stuff written about them, but don’t do anything more.

I wrote an account of an elephant who befriended me. That one story attracted over 168 000 ‘likes’, but only one book order amidst many, many pleas for me to write more.

So all this begs the question: is my marketing effort totally ineffectual?

Does apathy rule in the minds of all the people I have so obviously had a deep impact on?

How do I convince people to commit?

I don’t ask for much.

And it’s most definitely a two-way trade – by buying a book, you receive something tangible, something that brings Africa alive in your mind, a book that you can hold, smell, enjoy and keep.

In return, a ranger or two, working so hard and selflessly, deep in the bush, in terribly dangerous conditions, is presented with goodies to make his life that little bit more comfortable.

While you are comfortably enjoying sitting in the lounge, surrounded by all the comforts of home, spare a thought for the rangers. Patrolling, nerves on edge, searching, listening, tracking, trying to get to the bad guys before another rhino is butchered. Shivering in cold rain, clothing saturated, or sweltering in temperatures that make you glad that you have a swimming pool to cool down in.

And while you eat a fine meal, in the company of friends and family, remember the ranger, eating cold food out of a tin because he can’t risk a fire that may be seen by those rampaging killers.

It is a win-win situation. You help financially, which makes you feel good, and get a best-selling book to keep, to remind you that you did something really worthwhile in our war against poaching.

A war that shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

A war whose fighters need all the help they can get.

Buy a book – help a ranger.

https://www.facebook.com/Tales-from-the-African-bush-429328593862084/?ref=hl

www.msomi.co.za

www.potjiepress.co.za

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Christine Jordaan – Guest Blog

I don’t care if people laugh at this…

I have written it simply because I am tired, and at the end of the day Love is simple. If you love something you stay up all night crying and trying to figure out ways to end the suffering of those whom you love.

So simply …

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Current State of the Planet and Animal Affairs:

Humans have imposed their socio-economic system on all of Earth’s species.
Humans will not pay for animals unless they can profit from them.
Humans are using all the resources, and animals are denied fair access to these Resources.
Humans have and are continuing to destroy animals’ habitat.
Humans are torturing and killing animals for fun, eating them, wearing them, breeding them (mostly all of these activities are done causing physical and emotional pain to the animals and ultimately loss of Life.

Even animals in so-called Reserves are not really free and still remain at risk of death – whether by legal hunting and culling, or illegal poaching.
Currently animals are living painful, trapped lives under the Human system.

If humans could see this one simple fact, everything would change –

ANIMALS ARE NOT RESOURCES FOR HUMANS TO USE!

Humans did not create Earth or the animals. We have enslaved them under our socio-economic system.

Animals need to have their right to life, habitat and resources legally recognised. They need to have a percentage of seats in each government, and on the United Nations.

If animals are to survive under humanity’s occupation of Earth, and their socio-economic system… then animals need to earn money.

This will enable them to pay for their own protection, vet care, fences, water systems, bridges over highways etc.

Human extractive industries need to pay taxes to animals. It’s only fair. Humans are using these resources, denying access to the animals’ and thus the animals are due compensation.
Humans can pay this compensation into a fund to be administered by a human team of legal advisers, ecologists, communicators etc.

Parts of open land need to be converted into sanctuaries for animals that are currently enslaved in the human socio-economic system (zoos, circuses, farms, laboratories) to be retired to. Land ownership to be transferred to the animals’ Fund.
Wilderness that is still left needs to be placed under immediate protection from ANY human development – or maybe low density tourism development at the edges – of course the Animals’ Fund will own this land, and manage these businesses on behalf of the animals – again – this will enable the animals to pay their own costs.
Humans must stop developing pristine nature, and start rehabilitating inner cities, and ruins etc. Clean up their mess and start building in harmony with nature – clean energy etc.

To kick off proceedings, compensation should be paid to animals for past land grabs and trauma.

Breeding of animals for commercial purposes needs to stop. When the animals have enough land, natural processes will ensue. Corridors should be created for animals to move in between reserves and sanctuaries – for their freedom, and a healthy gene pool. Hunting of animals for any reason should immediately be banned. Animals in hunting camps should be retired to sanctuaries (paid for by the Animals’ Fund).

It’s only FAIR – if we are imposing our socio-economic system on all the other species of Earth, then their rights under this system must be legally recognised and enforceable.

Otherwise Humanity is a Dictator – a Brutal Tyrant occupying Earth (which spells Heart).

We have taken everything from the animals – the simple pleasures of the elephant herds wandering from the bush to the lake system… a fence stops them… birds are born to soar but we’ve caged them… apes are behind bars faraway in BLOODy China… and lions are bred for the bullet… waiting to die.

Isn’t it time we stopped our bullshit and started living with Compassion and Integrity?

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People keep saying for the animals to stay they must pay their way. But actually what they really mean is for the animals to stay they must earn some human somewhere some profit.

And this is just for the dubious honour of being allowed to stay alive in some miserable conditions until it is time for them to be eaten or tortured and skinned alive, or made to perform humiliating stupid tricks for some humans to laugh at somewhere.

Well then – let the animals participate in our socio-economic system. Let them participate as beings who deserve respect.

It’s not that they can’t talk – centuries ago we humans used to be so in touch with Nature, her moods, and her animals.

We have been taught to block it out – so that the carnage can continue unchallenged.

And so we have fractured from the Divine Feminine/Earth.

If we see ourselves as part of this beautiful Ecosystem, we would acknowledge the animals’ right to life and resources without question.

Christine Jordaan

 

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They Moved Us ……

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I have no idea who Mark O’Leary is, but he wrote this on one of the many news sites announcing today’s loss to the entertainment industry.

He wrote this with an empathy and skill that far exceeds anything I could have come up with.

I shamelessly stole it and hope he doesn’t mind ……..

David Bowie is gone.

Goodbye, sir.

He did not cure cancer, or solve global warming, or simplify our world with an amazing invention.

Neither did Michael Hutchence, Lemmy Kilmister, Natalie Cole, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone et al. Some will ask why all the outpouring of emotions. After all, they were merely musicians, weren’t they?

Yes, they were.

So if that’s the case, then what DID they do?

Why do we care that David Bowie and so many others have passed away?

Three words: THEY MOVED US!

That’s exactly what they did.

Their music and artistry moved us.

They reached our emotions in so many different ways. They called us to action. They touched raw nerves. They touched our soul. They let us rebel. They found our angst. Our anger. Our passions. Our frustrations. And our hopes and fears. They made us want to dance. They made us cry. They made us pump our fists into the air. They made us want to chill. They made us sing. Their music allowed us to shut out the rest of the world, even if it was only for the duration of one song, or an album. We sat back, closed our eyes, and let the music wash over us. They put our emotions into words. It seemed as if their lyrics were written just for us — as if someone finally knew how we felt. These artists stimulated our imagination and touched our hearts. They made us feel like we could be king and you could be queen.

Like we could be heroes … for just one day.

But it all goes back to those three simple words: They moved us.

That’s why they were, and still are, important.

So with a tip of my hat to the Thin White Duke, I say ‘thank you’ for the music.

Rest in peace Ziggy Stardust.

(Mark O’Leary)

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Wake Up My Beloved Country.

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Those who know me know that I am not racist, love my country dearly, and try hard not to be ‘political’.

Recently, I was, by inference, branded as a racist for suggesting that we all stop blaming the past for the present, and noticed a veritable outpouring of hatred, in all forms of media, for fellow beings simply because of skin colour. This shouldn’t happen. We live in a country with potential, with natural beauty, with awesome people and could be truly great.

Africa’s problems are not as intractable, as deep-seated as some would like us to believe.

Sure, in South Africa, apartheid was a horror, and elsewhere in Africa colonialism did its fair share of damage.

Sure, centuries of under-development have left large chunks of Africa in a terrible cycle of poverty, crime and desperation.

The solutions? Believe me, they are all around us. There are the people to make them work. Africa’s talent is overwhelming.

In my travels around southern Africa, I have come across many many individuals who want to make a difference and are willing to work towards the goal of making Africa great.

So why are we all crawling along at a snail’s pace, with massive unemployment, staggeringly large numbers of HIV patients, thousands of matriculants who can’t read or write and a myriad other problems we all seem happy to accept.

And why does South Africa, in particular, have a terrible reputation on the international front for blaming the past as a reason for moving so slowly?

The problem is culture. Culture of respect. Culture of entitlement. Culture of hero worship. Culture of employment rather than entrepreneurship. Culture of selfishness. Culture of ideology. Culture of blaming whites. Culture of blaming blacks. Culture of ignoring the good in others. Culture of deifying the past.

Culture has trapped Africa in its cocoon and made it feel all warm and fuzzy. It is, after all, what makes everyone feel most comfortable. In its turn, it’s keeping Africa in the starting blocks. While others are shooting for the stars, we in Africa are calcifying.

If we don’t break this negative cycle, and soon, we will all wake up one morning and wonder what the hell happened.

Take economics as an example. Why does Africa continue to flirt with communist models and language while no-one mentions that in the 1960’s Singapore was poorer than Uganda, Nigeria and many other African countries? Singapore has no mineral resources. Africa has plenty.

Today, while the people of Nigeria and many other well-endowed African countries battle with hunger, Singaporeans enjoy a life-style better than many New Yorkers.

The culture of deifying the likes of Julius Nyerere, Robert Mugabe and communist idols like Stalin and Lenin is preventing Africa from taking on the great ideas that made Lee Kuan Yew turn Singapore into an economic powerhouse.

So what was the key to Singapore’s success? Uppermost – the willingness to learn from others. Early on, the country found good models of state intervention in Israel and the Netherlands to accelerate development. Just as an aside, Israel, and economic success story in its own right is smaller than the Kruger National Park!

Juxtapose this with the fact that in South Africa, delegations are sent to Zimbabwe to learn about land reform. We have fallen into a culture where we deify a “struggle hero” despite the fact that he is a modern-day despot.

In 2012, South Africa’s president stated that the matric mathematics pass-rate was only marginally better than it was in 1995. Anywhere else in the world there would be shocked outrage. But Africa is held back by the culture of not decrying incompetence. Surely the top officials in the ministry of education should be fired?

Let’s put it differently. When last did anyone hear of or meet someone who was fired for incompetence? The truth is that incompetence is tolerated across the board. This, in turn, leads to a culture of entitlement.

In South Africa, Home Affairs officials feel entitled to their jobs and therefore passport and other applications move at a snail’s pace. Police see the top cop in the land consorting with a known criminal warlord and feel entitled to bribes. If the top cop can do it, why not the lowly guy who can ‘lose’ a docket.

In our African countries, we have developed to a fine art the culture of calling people racists when they disagree with the official line on anything. And so the culture of intolerance rises, subjugation of openness deepens.

There is a solution. That solution is to change Africa’s culture, lock, stock and barrel.

First, let us get out of bed every morning as new men and women. Let us aim to create jobs, not beg for them. Let us put the past aside and see each other, regardless of colour or creed, as partners. Let us forget fruitless debates – they have been enjoined a million times before. Instead, let us take the examples of the very best in the world and implement them here in Africa.

Education needs to be the number one priority. We should be doing everything possible to ensure there is a skilled workforce.

Finally, though, let us set the bar very high. We have it within us to change our various backward cultures and embrace a new culture. A culture of efficiency. A culture of entrepreneurship.  A culture of education at all costs. A culture of choosing practical, good examples. A culture of accountability. A culture of excellence in all that we do.

That is how you fix our beloved land – set the bar high, every hour, every day.

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Will You Cry For Me?

I am privileged to have a very special friend, Christine, who is a tireless campaigner for the eradication of animal abuse through canned hunting and poaching. She has many talents, not least of which is her poetic streak, a talent I wish I shared.

Christine kindly agreed to be my guest on the blog with one of her recent works. And by recent, I really mean it. It was written today!

Thanks Christine, and keep doing what you’re doing. Eventually, people will begin to listen and begin to help us all.

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Will you cry for me?

When the forest falls silent of chattering birds
and the moon shines down on empty glades,
when the Earth no longer shakes under the migrating herds
and the trees are felled where the cheeky apes played

Will you cry for me then?

When the ice melts and grasslands turn to sand
and the gentle humble giants no longer roam the barren lands,
when the setting Sun is pining for the lion’s mighty roar
and the sweet sad sound of the night jar’s call

Will you cry for me then?

When flamingos no longer grace the mirror-like pans
and no koegals joyfully herald approaching soft rains,
when no Mahogany tree lends his shade from the burning sun
nor their pods crunch underfoot in late summertime

Will you cry for me then?

When the lonely wind carries just a memory of a mighty eagle soaring,
and an echo of a dreamtime with soft water falling,
and the ground is soaked in blood of humans’ pointless warring,
pause then,
listen then,
can you not hear Me calling?

When there is no relief from the Long Dark Night
because you’ve blocked out the pain and blinded your sight,
you’ve turned away from the agonising screams
and traded in the Real for fake gold and cheap dreams

pause then,
weep then,
can you not feel yourself falling?

When the last rhino’s horn has been ground into dust,
and we’ve betrayed and we’ve broken the last animals’ trust
and you awaken to a grey land of emptiness and dread
don’t cry for Me then,
for I am your Heart
and I will be dead

by Christine Jordaan, 02 January 2016

DL_Grab

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 81,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Blatant Self-Promotion Time ……

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My new book, “One Chance”, released today.

Quite an exciting day for me, I must say, and I hope that an exceptionally large number of book aficionados will buy it, not only to enhance their own book-shelves, but also to help provide tools and much-needed equipment to our hard-working, dedicated rangers on the ground. These unsung heroes are in need of all sorts of things, from boot-laces and socks, to all-weather clothing, gps units, boots and so on. Remember that 30% of book proceeds goes towards acquiring and distributing this equipment to a bunch a men and women who ask for nothing more than to make their jobs marginally more comfortable.

They are all heroes in my eyes, and I hope you feel the same way, and do your bit to support them.

DL_Grab

 

 

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