the amandzing way

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Rhino capture – not so easy

4.30am – Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa


Long awaited spring rains finally arrived on Friday in the South African National Parks’ (SANParks) Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga.

In Skukuza rest camp; there is a crisp freshness in the air, as the Kruger slowly awakened with the dawn. The storm clouds have been shredded by gale force winds during the night, leaving thin grey streaks of cloud in the sky. The rain is gone for now, but threatens still. Now all that remains is for rangers to track today’s first rhino for translocation.

The process is in full swing now, with a limit of 500 set by Parliament in August. Rangers have until the end of October to move as many rhino as possible until stress inducing heat shuts down SANParks’ rhino management implementation strategy until autumn.



At Wildlife Veterinary Services, Operations manager Marius Kruger said Friday’s target was four white rhino.
“Because of the rain, we will have to work from the tar roads and walk in. So be aware of other animals, other rhino, other dangerous animals, so stay in a group,” Kruger said.

No problem.

As the sun cracked the sky, a sense of urgency was evident in the capture team. The entire operation is heat dependent and time was a wasting.

SANParks has captured 16 rhino so far, black and white, with another 15 corralled in boma’s.



The blatting of the chopper in its distinctive yellow and green SANParks livery as it banks hard overhead destroys the early morning peace.

Battling gusting winds, chopper pilot Grant Knight herds a rhino up a hill towards the road. Experience has taught the crew rain makes the bush treacherous for vehicles so the rhino needs to be sedated as close as possible to the main road.

The game capture vehicles, massive 4×4 trucks, should cope, but there is no point in taking chances.



Rhino down. It’s done its characteristic high stepping dance but it’s powerless to resist the powerful opiate coursing through its veins, even as it tries to defend its calf, already knocked out by a smaller dose of the same drug.


A mad dash through the bush follows; there are only minutes to left to collect vital information. Horn length, blood and hair and skin samples for Rhodis, the rhino DNA database, and the actual size of the rhino cow are gathered.

Microchip the horn and the animal, check body condition, the cow is pregnant, about half way through its gestation period of 16 months.

The cow is more awake than for usual DNA tagging, it has to be walked to its container about 100m away.


With cloth tightly bound over its eyes to keep it calm, a train of men pull on a rope tied around its head and walk it slowly towards the container. As soon as it’s safe, the calf is brought to its feet. A year old, it is also a female, and heavier than it looks.

As is the way with many children, it’s a lot more stubborn than its parent, and has to be pushed all the way to the container.
It walks like a drunken man, strapping wide and short, and dodging its feet is a full time job.

Trying not to trip in the knee length grass either is also a full time job.



Done. Mother and calf are safely ensconced in their very temporary homes. They will be transported to a boma to be acclimatized to small spaces for when it is time to move them longer distances.

“Weather plays an enormous part in rhino capture. The animals also need to be close enough to the road,” said SANParks chief veterinarian Dr Markus Hofmeyr.

He says it is a first for SANParks to move rhino from their established areas into others, in this case, protected zones.
“This is an experimental exercise. We put transmitters on the ankle so we can monitor how they interact with others and to see if they leave the area,” Hofmeyr said.

As the first truck drives off with the rhino, the helicopter takes off; it’s time to find the next two.



Soggy, ankle-breaking terrain, vicious gusting winds which threatened to knock the helicopter out of the sky and soaring temperatures notwithstanding, the final rhino cow has finally been crated.

Four female white rhino, one of which was pregnant, have been taken to safer climes within the park.

Remember, says Hofmeyr, it is not only about protection. “This is also about increasing the number of rhinos by reducing competition for nutrition and social space so breeding levels can pick up,” Hofmeyr said.

He cautioned against thinking 500 rhino was a must-reach target, saying it was a limit, and in all probability it may not be reached because of the conditions the team faced.


old man Africa kissed me on the cheek

old man Africa kissed me on the cheek067
the other day
2014 freedom day
a day when he would remember
a lifetime of wrong
a day of sad song
no one would blame him for wanting to dismember
this caucasian this white this apartheid era ex-cop

he was sitting on a chair in the sun
i leaned close to him to ask him
that stupid question reporters have to ask in post-apartheid south africa
“Hello Grandfather, how does it feel being able to vote?”
and as he smiled a thousand years smoothed from his face
and i saw a proud young man in love with his country
with his wife his children his life
his people

old man Africa pulled me closer
cheek to cheek his stubble was scratchy
i was panicky i didnt know the custom
what if he was an elder
what if i was doing
way to go amanda piss off a people already pissed off
then he released me
took my face in his soft leathery hands again

he laughed gently at me
his breath of fresh umqoboti (traditional beer)
washing over me
his energy and vitality
bathing me
“This, my daughter, is how it feels,” said old man Africa
and i laughed too as his love cleansed me
and made me sad

i cried when i left
i cried for the wrongs, my wrongs
i cried for lives destroyed
because people say different is wrong
when it isnt
different can never be wrong
its only better
when different makes whole


2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Thank you all, for your visits, patience, and love. New Years resolution is definitly to post more here, and vist you all a little more. Thank you again,


Women are valuable…as target practice…

Interview: Amanda Watson by Ulla

Are you really a woman?

In my reality, yes.

Prove it.

Why? Is it a threat to you if I say I am, and I’m not? Is it a threat if I am not and I say I am? What about the binary of male / female is so critical and so threatening to the survival of homo sapiens that people can’t simply be who they are?

But no, the binary, societal conditioning, call it what you will, demands we be a what before a who. A shared consensus is a happy consensus, an oblivious consensus. No questioning if it is good for me, it’s safer in the crowd.

Everybody must fit into a socially defined mould that no-one knows who defined? It’s ridiculous and after 45 years on this planet, I refuse to pander to all societal norms.

Prove it?

Please. I’m so over proving anything to anyone except myself, so no.

What are your thoughts on Women’s Day in South Africa?

It’s a joke. I expand on this below.

Where were you during the struggle?

In school and to my shame, oblivious to the world around me.  Hopefully, my work now will one day constitute an apology for the harm we’ve done to others and ourselves.

What are the most important issues facing us in 2013?

I believe femicide by intimate partners is one of our biggest issues. Sure, there is corruption, and ham-fisted politicking, but the genocide being perpetrated against women is terrifying.

Sparse attention was accorded to a recent report by the South African Medical Research Council regarding intimate femicide. Perhaps it was too inconvenient?

Good news, gals. The report concluded women were murdered by their intimate partners every eight hours during 2009, instead of every six hours as was the case in 1999. Celebrations are in order because femicide has increased, despite all the Women’s Day pontification. The leading cause of death for women in 2009 was at the hands of their intimate partner.

We are doing well.

This gives new meaning to the cliché love hurts… In a nutshell, the report concluded police work was sloppy, half-hearted, and damn near pointless.

Police continue to perpetrate second stage abuse on victims and lip service reverberates through the nation but no real change has happened. Male police officers still undress you with their eyes before they speak to you, they still hit on you, and it’s not unheard of for male cops to phone female victims of crime and hit on them again!

We are second class citizens in practical law. And if you’re a lesbian, then forget about service, whatever happened to you. You probably deserved it. In June a poll by TrustLaw, a legal news service of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, found that South Africa was the fourth worst place in the world to be female.

Simply, as a woman, South Africa is a dangerous place to live and your lover will probably kill you. It seems as if the entire patriarchal machine is there to grind women into grey paste that can be washed away so they don’t bother anyone. Sure, women are highly valued in our society.

As target practice, definitely. As an equal? Hardly.

What is your job/business/role and does your gender make a difference to it?

I am a reporter/attempted photographer. I believe being womyn does allow me to empathise and connect with people.

The million dollar question – what makes a woman?

It’s in the way she moves…kidding.

Seriously, until we stop being our worst enemy, extend our natural empathy to each other, accept instead of judge, and fight for each other instead of with each other, there will never be one thing that makes a woman a woman.

sleepless in jozi

tired wired
too tense feeling intense
i see dust floating in the air
its irritating me
irritated with myself
impatience was always a virtue
introspection has left me unsettled
fear of impending change
yes planned for change
still brings fear of self
but embracing the fear
i like the fear
the unknown challenges me
scares me
worries at me
gnaws at me
all i can do is stare it down
for my demons
my long time companions
i know their names
i play their games
they know where im weak
but they dont know
i know too but maybe
that scar tissue is a little tougher
a little thicker
more pliable less forgiving
the wind howls
through my forest of thoughts
each leaf an action
each twig an inaction
the wind caresses and tickles
swirls and teases
…a lovers touch…an intimate touch… a terror touch
…a just enough to make me grit my teeth touch…a sub-atomic touch
…my soul reaches out for that touch…
and the wind swirls and blows again…

smoke and mirrors

imagine a world where you could see me
and i could see you
the real me the real you
no smoke and mirrors
no social grease oiling politically correct smiles
how would we be what would we see
if we could see the real me the real you
the wanton whore the snake-oil charmer
the freak the meek the sad the mad
the very very bad

the world is watching
and judging
they see us
you see what I let you see
what society demands I should be
but if its all the same to you
im going to sit in the corner now
and bleed quietly
internally where no one can see

imagine a real world where
the real me was easy to be
the real you was true to you
would life be simpler and  honest
would we tear each other apart
instead of our monsters shredding the walls of our souls
where we trap our  demons
behind smoke and mirrors
the heartbroken the lusty the damaged the peacemaker
the very very lost

would you say my name mom

another anniversary another remembrance
another year another lost embrace
would you say my name as i silently weep
for my loss behind this stony face
for my childrens loss
for my loss
seventeen years and still no tears
even as my heart shatters each morning
as hells own fires wither in the face of my fury
for my loss behind this stony face
for my loss
fuck you death im not afraid you cant hurt me anymore
i didnt show you then and i cant show you now
i take my rage tame my fury and heel this savage beast
and turn my back on fear
even as my heart shatters each morning
as hells own fires wither in the face of my fury
for my loss behind this stony face
for my loss
i still dont know why youre gone
why i couldnt save you
these words are my tears
even as my heart shatters each morning
as hells own fires wither in the face of my fury
for my loss behind this stony face
for my loss
would you say my name mom
just once

where are you?

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That's a happy radiator But first first, clean. Was not sticking my hands in that toilet 😝 ... in here. Preferably without dents my my two grand radiator fin things Now this has to go ... Time to play mechanic. Somehow I have to put this radiator in my car Cheers to #DollsHouse roadhouse. So many jobs lost with the closing of this iconic #Jozi landmark #Gauteng #SouthAfrica
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