About water

It’s National Water Week this week so of course I feel that it’s my duty to help you learn more about water… I’m starting off with this infographic about the global water footprint. It’s a little old – the data is from 2010 – but it’s doubtful that too much has changed. The bottom line is that worldwide there is very little freshwater available for us to use – and we’re very demanding and wasteful with water. Take a read and pause for thought on just how much water you use on a daily basis.

Global Water FootprintInfographic via waterfootprint.org


Insect hotels

Thanks to that wonderful website Pinterest, I have discovered an amazing little thing called “insect hotels”.  Basically they are manmade structures created from natural materials which provide a sort of ready-made home to beneficial insects like solitary bees, wasps, ladybirds and butterflies.

Popular amongst gardeners, particularly those with veggie patches, these “hotels” aim to attract and keep bugs in their gardens which help with insect pollination of their plants. Some cities, like London, have even introduced them to help increase biodiversity in the city.

They come in all shapes and sizes, and while they really just need to be a combination of twigs, drilled wood and other natural bits and bobs to nest in that you can make yourself, of course these days you can buy ready-made pretty ones. Take a look below…


Large structure as an insect hotel. Image via Root Simple.


Garden art for the wall serves a dual purpose. Image via Sunset 


The most basic versions: holes drilled into old logs or a tin filled with sticks. Images via: GGO Debat and Pinterest


A super-sleek insect hotel perfect for any modern home. Image via Pinterest


Another fancy version, this one with 3 differing types of material. Image via Etsy


Huge multi-unit – even with a bird box! Image via Tuinieren

I think they’re just the bees knees and even though I have plenty of bugs in my garden I think I’m going to make a simple one to hopefully attract that odd carpenter bee and the random ladybug I see around every now and again so that they can live here permanently.

Do you think it’s necessary here in Africa – aka “bug-city”? How about in our towns? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Wise words from EWT’s CEO

I received the latest EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust) newsletter this morning, and the introduction written by CEO Yolan Friedmann really struck a cord with me. So much so that I feel the need to share it with you… (hopefully both Yolan and the EWT are cool with that!)

“Numbers. Mathematical objects used to count, label and measure. Loved by politicians, journalists and teachers, adored by accountants and biologists. Depending on the context, these configurations of symbols have the power to shock us, thrill us or catalyse intense debate about not only the system of tallying which was applied, but the implication of such numbers for the object of its measure. Let me demonstrate: 38 – the number of Blue Swallow pairs left in South Africa. 600 – the number of rhino South Africa will probably lose to poachers during 2012. 48 (or so) days until Christmas and then another 7 until the end of 2012! But the scariest of them all is that there are now over 51.8 million people living in South Africa! That’s a worrying 13% increase in just 10 years! Globally, the human population crossed the 7 billion mark in March 2011. By far the most successful species to ever have existed, human beings seem to multiply despite the stresses of famine, disease, pollution, natural disasters, perpetual conflict and warfare and simply put, our increasingly unsustainable modern way of life, stresses that would probably have wiped out most other species!

So I am going to say it. It is probably no coincidence that the trends within the numbers of so many species are changing disproportionately to the trends within the numbers of humans. There are, simply put, too many humans. Yes, I have had endless debates and hours of discussion with various parties who argue that qualitative measures are more important than quantitative. So it is not about the number of humans per se, but more about the footprint of each human being, the quantity of resources we consume, destroy or just ruin, for others. The social scientists will argue that we need to reduce our impact and not our numbers; numbers alone don’t tell the story. The latter comment is of course true, but let’s consider this: we don’t always employ the ‘qualitative’ argument when we turn the discourse to other species. Numbers alone tell us that we will very possibly lose the last Blue Swallow or East Indian Ocean Dugong, the last of a range of cycads and even the last Wild Dog in South Africa in the next few years unless some drastic action is taken. Numbers alone tell us that the markets in the east for the resources in the south are simply too big to ensure sustainability. Numbers alone send shivers down our spine when the rhino poaching stats are revealed every year.

Yet numbers of humans is a taboo subject in most civilized circles. So let’s qualify the human population issue then. Person number 7 billion, when he or she was born last year, stood a 1 in 7 chance of going to bed hungry for most of his or her life. Over 18 000 people will die of hunger and over 3 000 will die from water related diseases – just today. Around 7 million children will die before they reach their 5th birthday this year. Not much quality for many, many people it seems. And the majority of the people that are counted into the stats above, come from the most populous countries with the highest population growth. Coming back home, 51.8 million folk is a lot of people to house, feed, educate and provide with work. It’s a lot of folk competing with Blue Swallows and Wild Dogs for land and food. Bottom line: Quality versus quantity aside, there are just too many people on planet earth, and if you ask me, this is the greatest and possibly most pressing challenge that the conservation community, AND the social scientists, politicians and in fact every one of us has to admit to, and address if we are ever to comprehend the notion of sustainability, for the sake of not only our wildlife but the future generations of humans too.”

Visit the EWT’s website for more information about the important work they do: https://www.ewt.org.za/

Close the Tap!


For love of water (FLOW), a South African organisation that promotes awareness and conservation of water launched a very clever little web/twitter campaign today for World Water Day.

Called “Close the Tap”, it’s a website that features a dripping tap. To get the tap to stop dripping, people need to tweet the hashtag #CloseTheTap, and as the tweets start adding up the tap starts switching off.

The site allows users to choose between a number of prewritten tweets which raise awareness about the need to save water. It’s super simple and very clever, with the tweets being interesting and humorous enough to generate additional interest on their own.

So, if you have a twitter account, go check out the site and put your tweet out to world about how you plan to save water, and help close that tap!

Find out more about FLOW.

New WWF ads by Murilo Melo

Art Director Murilo Melo has designed these two new adverts for WWF which show a dead tree and barren reef with their related wildlife removed and displayed alongside them asking you to imagine these ecosystems without plants and animals.
The copy reads “There’s a lot of life in a tree. Imagine in a forest. and “There’s a lot of life in a reef. Imagine in an ocean.
Striking and thought-provoking.

As seen on Colossal. Detailed images available on Melo’s website.

Tree planting with Greenpop in Durban

Greenpop – a tree planting initiative out of Cape Town – are currently in Durban for COP17, and they held a tree planting day on Sunday at the Bluff Eco Park as part of COP taking action. As it was an open invitation, I went along to take part (after all, physically planting a tree to offset my flights down here is better than just handing over the money to someone else to do it, right?)

We planted 60 trees in total in an area where the park is trying to recreate an indigenous belt of trees in place of some syringas. The park was actually once a landfill, but you wouldn’t think so now by looking at the greening that has taken place. The odd hole we dug up reminded us that it was indeed a landfill though – we unearthed things like glass bottles, plastic and bricks. (Reminding us of course that glass and plastic should be recycled!!)

Everyone had great fun – especially the kids that joined us – and it was great to be part of that. I do hope to return in a few years to see how the trees are doing.