The Anthropocene-age of Man or: Out of Africa - the Obsession

August 4, 2017
Current thinking is that the human lineage split from the apes around 7 million years before present in Central Africa, remaining on the continent for at least the next 5 million years.

However, the recent discovery of remains of what has been called 'El Graeco', or Graecopithecus freybergi, indicates that the 'Out of Africa' hypothesis should be re-examined. 'El Graeco' shows that human ancestors were starting to evolve at least 200,000 years before the earliest known African hominid. Is this the 'missing link' in the binding between the Chimpanzees and modern Humans, Homo? Graecopithecus fossils have been discovered in Azmoka, Bulgaria and Pyrgos, Greece. 

At the time when Graecopithecus was roaming the eastern Mediterranean the area was open savanna, forcing apes to become upright walkers, as was the case in Africa. Graecopithecus was a member of the tribe of hominins and a direct ancestor of Homo. The oldest known African hominid, Sahelan tchadensis, is several hundred thousand years younger than G. freybergi. There was probably a two-way multiple series of movements into and out of Africa but the probability now exists that modern man and his ancestors did not just evolve on the 'Dark Continent'. 

Most pre-hominid and hominid fossils have been found in dry areas, such as Koobi Fora, Lake Turkana and Oldupai Gorge. Very few fossils have been located in moist, high rainfall habitats, they rotted and were mulched long ago. Archaeologists and palaeontologists in such locals as South East Asia and the Amazon Basin have no ancient, preserved, fossil material to work with. 

We have a feeling that pre-hominids and hominids evolved independently in Africa, Europe and possibly Asia. Even as the evidence to the contrary mounts the 'Out of Africa' theory continues to dominate. Is this perhaps political expediency and to state otherwise might be categorized as racism and denigrating Africa? 

We get closer to the truth without ever achieving the perfect understanding of everything. We may never have the full picture but we should approach 'Out of Africa' with an open mind!

Socratic paradox: 'I know one thing, that I know nothing.'

Short post script to previous blog

June 5, 2017
A few figures from North America:
  • Wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds each year. 
  • Up to 6.8 million bird deaths are attributed to collisions with cell and radio towers.
  • Feral and domestic cats are estimated to kill 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion birds each year. (By far the worst!)
This makes the wind turbines positively 'bird friendly'. 

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Are Wind Farms so Environmentally Friendly?

June 5, 2017
For the past few months numerous 'Abnormal Load' lorries have trundled past our home village of Loxton. They have been, and still are, carrying the various sections of wind turbines to the new 'wind farm' near Loeriesfontein. 

Many say, that 'wind farms' are amongst the most environmentally friendly of sources of energy. Once they are erected and producing power that is probably the case but....

Firstly, one has to ask how much energy and pollution was used and created in the manufacture of the...
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Lions in the smaller parks

May 7, 2017
On our recent stay in Karoo National Park we encountered small Lion prides, one with two cubs, another with four of almost nine months. We have to ask the questions, how many Lion can a park such as Karoo National Park carry, and when carrying capacity is reached what will be done with the surplus? 
One certainly needs to introduce new genetic stock from time to time in these 'closed' parks but demand for Lions for introduction or reintroduction is limited. Perhaps it is time that SANParks was...
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4x4 Rallies in National Parks?

May 7, 2017
On a recent stay at the isolated Afsaal Cottage in Karoo National Park our peace and quiet was spoiled by a 4x4 "rally". More than 30 Landrovers and Range Rovers in tight convoy roared past, creating clouds of dust. We feel that our national parks are no place for these 4x4 meetings! How tightly do SANParks scrutinize these events, or do the participants not declare their intention to have these gatherings? We would be interested to know what SANParks' policy is on this.

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The Scale of Things! Or: the Madness of Man (&Woman)

March 22, 2017
Consider this - the 2016/2017 budget for South African National Parks is roughly R 1.86 billion, for Cape Nature approximately R 304 million (2014/2015). We are well aware that not all of these budgets go into what we call “real conservation” but one has to measure this against the cost of a single F117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft - R 1.4 billion, or a South African produced Rooivalk attack helicopter at a mere R 500 million. We could go further but there is no point - governments and man ...
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SKA - Meerkat and conservation

January 14, 2017
There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the large tracts of land that have been bought up as part of the SKA-Meerkat astronomical observatory. It lies to the north of the Karoo town of Carnarvon, just 60 km from our home village!

In the general area we are 'threatened' by fracking for gas and open-cast mining for uranium but SKA does put a positive spin on things.

Most complaints against the large land holdings of SKA revolve around the loss of sheep farming country but many of the bough...
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Back to our pet hate - feral & domestic cats

January 14, 2017
On a recent visit to the Neusiedler See in eastern Austria, on the Hungarian border, we encountered feral cats - lots of them. This is a national park and one of the most important bird conservation areas in Austria/Hungary. 

No information is available on the impact these cats are having on the bird and other vertebrate, and invertebrate life. Going on information from England, Sweden and Germany the impact is probably considerable. So, why is nothing being done to control or eradicate this f...
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The Feral Horse Dilemma!

November 9, 2016
We recently read about the feeding of the feral horses in the vicinity of Aus in southern Namibia. Mathilde and I first encountered these horses in 2003 and we were impressed by how they had survived against all the odds from the early 20th century. But they are not part of the natural system of things and if they survive so be it but man should not intervene and feed them.

We both are horse people but where feral horses enter a natural ecosystem they should be removed or controlled. In Austra...

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CITES and Elephants

September 25, 2016
We are watching the CITES gathering in South Africa with interest (let us not consider the carbon footprint of the over 2,000 delegates from all over the world shall we!). 
Elephant poaching has escalated massively despite regulations and regular 'talk shops'. The move to put all Elephant populations on Appendix 1 - if it happens, will inevitably be a disaster for the pachyderms. The trade will continue but just be driven further underground. One just has to think of the rhino horn trade. 
If y...
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