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Given that 21 June was ‘World Giraffe Day’, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to share something about these iconic animals with you. The giraffe – the name is believed to be derived from the Arab word zarafa meaning ‘fast walker’ – has captured the human imagination for millennia. The Roman poet Horace opined that the giraffe’s unique appearance resembled that of a camel with leopard markings, which (together with its Arabic name) gave rise to the scientific title Giraffa camelopardalis. The earliest human association with giraffes is recorded in the 9000-year-old rock carvings of northern Niger.

Food is one of the priorities in any survival situation, or when we practise true bush craft by living off the land. The problem, of course, is in knowing which plants you can eat, and which you cannot. Eat the wrong one, and you could be in serious trouble. (I did discuss, in the February 2018 edition of SA4x4, how to determine whether a plant is edible or not by using the edibility test.) In this issue, I thought I’d talk more about a cactus which is easily identifiable, which you can eat, and which is found just about everywhere.

One of the first articles I wrote for SA4x4 was how to treat snakebite. Because I spend so much of my time in the bush, I thought it might be worth sharing my knowledge of how to avoid (or at least lessen) the risk of getting bitten. The good news first, though. Of the 3000 known snake species, only about 250 species are considered to be of medical importance. Unless you are in Australia, which has a higher percentage of venomous snakes than non-venomous snakes, most snakes that you stumble across are likely to be harmless. Detecting humans Snakes pick

The Zulu people call the hippopotamus imvubu. As Credo Mutwa has pointed out, “This word has several meanings, one of which has to do with mixing several things in a container… In this sense, the word imvubu means ‘the mixed up creature’, or ‘the creature which is unable to make up its mind what it is’. It behaves like a crocodile, but it looks like a combination of a rhinoceros and an elephant.” Although this is the stuff of legend, a hippo is indeed a unique animal: it is a terrestrial mammal whose closest relatives are whales and dolphins, a

Congratulations to our eleventh and penultimate #SA4x4OverlandImages Instagram competition winner, Dimitri Fogg! He’s been submitting images of his new Suzuki Jimny for a few months now, and he’s finally cracked it. Well done, Dimitri!   View this post on Instagram   Sometimes all you need to do is take a drive away from the concrete jungle, just to find yourself and test yourself amongst the giants in the 4×4 world. Nothing can hold this little beast down. #suzukijimny #jimny #jimny4x4 #jimnylovers #jimnyoffroad #jimnylife #jimnyjapan #jimnyclub #jimnygram #jimnygrams #sa4x4overlandimages #jb74 #suzuki #suzukiuk #jimnysierra #スズキ #ジムニーシエラ #ジムニー #新型ジムニー #新型ジムニーシエラ #overland #lilbeasty #SuzukiSA

Recovery tracks work on the same principle – no matter whether they are the steel or aluminium ‘sand ladders’ that overlanders have been using since WW2, modern composite versions, or a host of other fold-up or roll-up contraptions. Quite simply, when you are on a soft or slippery surface, these all spread the load under your wheels to provide a grippy platform that helps you to get going again. At SA4x4, lightweight plastic recovery tracks are our first go-to recovery aid, and we never leave on a four-wheeling trip without them. The Australian company, Maxtrax, was one of the first

With its coarse dark fur, and long ‘hangdog’ face the Chacma Baboon (Papio ursinus) is an easily recognisable bushveld inhabitant. Less well known is the origin of its name. The word “chacma” is derived from the Khoikhoi name for baboon, choa kamma, possibly onomatopoeic for their barking call; whilst the word baboon is derived from the French babouin, a name given to them by French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (Whew! No wonder he is referred to only as Buffon in most literature!). Modern baboons evolved as a distinct lineage prior to 2.5 mya. However, only with the advent

Many people believe that sleeping in a tent on the ground is more dangerous than sleeping in a rooftop tent. That, I think, is a bit of a misconception. Whether venturing into the bush in a 4×4 or on my motorbike, I always either ground-camp, or simply sleep beneath a tarp. Apart from being bothered by the odd bug or two, and mosquitoes, I never really feel vulnerable. But, if you do, here are my top tips for ground camping. Location Select a site away from animal activity. If there are footprints, droppings, recently flattened grass, or trees with huge

In part one, published in the March 2019 edition, we learnt some of the terminology used in tracking. In this installment, let us look at the nitty-gritty of interpreting tracks. Before we begin, bear in mind that when tracking an animal, only 50% is actually working with the tracks: the other 50% is working with supplementary signs − what we call “sign tracking”. This includes things such as disturbed foliage, and dew on grass which has been disturbed. The latter is a sign called “dulling” – as an animal passes by, it wipes away the dew and leaves a dull

Following on from last month’s article about the Spotted Hyaena (Crocuta crocuta), I thought I would deal this month with another amazing animal that has also been long misunderstood – the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). “Wild dogs are nomadic animals and can traverse 50km in a single day. As a result, their territories may range anywhere from 400 to 1 500 square kilometres” A distant cousin of the wolf and domestic dog, the wild dog split from the ancestor of other canids two to three million years ago. The Painted Wolf – the other name by which the African

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