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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

5 scientific fields to keep an eye on in 2016, according to Innovation author Sarah Wild

InnovationInnovasieSarah Wild, multi-award-winning science journalist and science editor at the Mail & Guardian, has identified the five key scientific areas we should keep our eyes on in 2016.

“Science continues to shift the boundaries of what we think we know and 2016 will be no exception,” she writes.

The five key areas this year will be, in no particular order: SKA and MeerKAT, Lee Berger, gene editing, the Large Hadron Collider and Mars.

Wild’s book Innovation: Shaping South Africa through Science, also available in Afrikaans as Innovasie: Hoe wetenskap Suid-Afrika vorm, is a celebration of the science and innovation happening in South Africa right now, addressing real problems on the ground and helping people to live healthier, happier lives.

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Lee Berger

Palaeoscientist Lee Berger wowed the world in 2015, when he unveiled possible human ancestor Homo naledi and a treasure trove of skeletons in the Dinaledi Cave, in the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng. Berger, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, was also responsible for the discovery of Australopithecus sediba in 2008 – another hominin.

While there has been controversy about the Homo naledi find – from the scientific community, with question marks over the researchers’ conclusions, and from South African society at large, where the announcement sparked a race row – there is no doubt Berger has remarkable talent. He makes finding hominin fossils, some of the most rare and precious artefacts on Earth, look easy.

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“Lion Whisperer” Kevin Richardson Comments on the Recent Lion Attack (Podcast)

Part of the PrideXolani Gwala recently called on Kevin Richardson, animal behaviourist and co-author of Part of the Pride, to give his opinion on the recent lion attack at the Lion Park near Lanseria on Talk Radio 702.

In the podcast, Richardson reminds listeners that lions are wild animals that people should be wary of.

Gwala asks Richardson if he thinks videos of “Lion Whisperers” like himself encourage dangerous animals. Richardson responds by saying that there are “experts in every field,” and ordinary people should not try to handle lions because they saw a professional do it anymore than they would attempt heart surgery after seeing a trained surgeon at work.

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Duncan Brown’s Are Trout South African? Takes Second Prize as the Oddest Book Title of the Year

Are Trout South African?Are Trout South African?: Stories of Fish, People and Places by Duncan Brown has come second in the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, sharing the spot with The Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews.

The winning title is How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers’ Guide to Toilet Etiquette by Mats and Enzo.

In Are Trout South African? Brown discusses notions of identity and belonging, using the history of trout in South Africa as a way of exploring these issues.

Powered by the British public’s unstoppable enthusiasm for toilet humour, the enticingly-titled How to Poo on a Date has carried off this year’s Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year.

With previous winners of the award including How to Shit in the Woods, American Bottom Archaeology and Cooking with Poo – which innocently drew its name from author Saiyuud Diwong’s nickname, “Poo”, Thai for crab – the prize is beginning to show a dangerous trend. “Diagram devotees have spoken, and spoken in no uncertain terms: poo wins prizes,” said prize administrator Tom Tivnan, also highlighting the shortlisted title The Origin of Feces, which came in a narrow second to How to Poo on a Date in this year’s public vote.

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Why Live in Trout? This Book Excerpt Answers Key Fishy Questions

Are Trout South African?Kevin Shenton has shared a number of pages on Behance from Are Trout South African?: Stories of Fish, People and Places by Duncan Brown. Read the first few pages from Chapters Two and Three and see the contents page as well as photographs of Brown’s various fishing expeditions.

In Are Trout South African? Brown asks questions about identity and belonging by considering whether trout should still be considered “alien” after all these years. View pages from the book:

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Are Trout South African? by Duncan Brown Named Flyfishing Magazine’s Book of the Year

Are Trout South African?Flyfishing Magazine has named Duncan Brown’s Are Trout South African? their book of the year. Ed Herbst writes that “it comes at the ideal time to assist debate over the controversial new new NEM:BA [National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act] legislation.”

Herbst writes that he was conflicted about including Brown’s book as he is featured in one of the chapters, but he says that several of his friends read the entire book in one sitting, so he is assured that it’s an enjoyable read.

It is said that there have been more books written about flyfishing than any other outdoor pastime. Each year seems to add to the tally and the available range has been increased by DVDs and e-books. They make ideal Christmas presents so, with the help of Craig Thom of StreamX/Netbooks, I have drawn up the following list of what we regard as the best books and DVDs which have reached the market in the past year.

Without a doubt the book of the year is Are Trout South African? (Pan Macmillan) by Duncan Brown. Peter Brigg reviewed it in the October/November issue of this magazine, and if you Google the title and Neels Blom you will see his review in Business Day. The book contains a chapter about me, so I am somewhat conflicted in mentioning it, but several of my friends read it cover to cover in a single session, so it obviously is enjoyable. Furthermore, it comes at the ideal time to assist debate over the controversial new NEM:BA legislation.

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Duncan Brown to Launch Are Trout South African? at Exclusive Books Westville

Invitation: Launch of Are Trout South African?

 
Are Trout South African?: Stories of Fish, People and PlacesExclusive Books invites you to the launch of Are Trout South African?: Stories of Fish, People and Places by Duncan Brown.

The event starts at 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM on Thursday 25 July at Exclusive Books Westville.

See you there!

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Duncan Brown’s Are Trout South African? Launched at Kalk Bay Books with Tim Butcher

Duncan Brown

The Main Road in Kalk Bay, which is finally open to two-way traffic after some years of roadworks, was awash just hours before the launch of Duncan Brown’s fascinating new book, Are Trout South African?: Stories of Fish, People and Places. Tim Butcher, a Kalk Bay resident and author of Blood River, was there to chat to the author. He suggested that the flooding was a ploy by Kalk Bay Books’ new owner, Audrey Rademeyer, to lend veracity to the event’s theme of fishing.

Duncan Brown and Tim Butcher Are Trout South African?Butcher’s a self-proclaimed foreigner, “A Brit,” he says. “How long does something have to be in South Africa to be South African? Trout are not indigenous. They were introduced to South Africa in the late nineteenth century, and their continued existence in the country’s rivers has been heatedly debated by local authorities.”

Brown’s book asks whether trout are special above other fish. They are some of the less invasive and threatening of introduced species. He said carp are not good for water quality, making the water turgid. They are not attractive to bodies of water. “The ferocity of the debate pivots around elitism, and colonialism,” said Brown.

Butcher said, “This is a subtle book about fishing, place, anthropology. It makes one ask what does it mean to think about place in the complex region that is South Africa.” Norman Maclean’s famous novella, A River Runs Through It, ends with the last line, “I am haunted by waters”. Are Trout South African? explores how human identities are interposed with the natural environments and species they support, particularly as regards the waterways they frequent.

Brown’s audience included avid flyfishermen, fellow academics from UWC, readers and book lovers. They were treated to a fascinating discussion on how the various types of trout got here, how some died out and some made it. “There is a subtle theme of snobbery,” said Butcher. “Brits all boil everything down to class. Trout fishing was for the upper classes. All other fishing in the UK is known as ‘coarse’ fishing, as if it’s somehow something vulgar.”

Brown talked about the state sanction up until the mid-80s which protected trout. “Conservation bodies saw it as their business not to protect alien species, but to protect indigenous fish. Alienness is associated with undesirability,” he said. “How do we think about the value we place on indigeneity without going back to the hoary notions of origin?”

He said that there are purists who say that dingoes are not indigenous to Australia because they have only been there for 5000 years. “How do we look at that in a South African context? Who, apart from the Khoi are indigneous from that perspective? How far back do you go? It’s an arbitrary decision and legislation is introduced on the back of an assumption that is only a model. What does it mean if something is introduced by the human hand? It can’t be indigenous, say the biologists.”

Brown loves fishing. For him it is about solitude and quiet company rather than the esoteric technical issues about how to tie a fly. “It’s about an immersion in a world that requires behaviour of a different fashion,” he said. “You have to alter the way you read, noticing the water and the wind. Fishing is a significant and humbling activity, not just because of my astonishing lack of success.” Fishing offered him something around which significant relationships had been formed, in particular with his father. As he lay dying, he insisted that his son release a four-pound trout from the end of the hospital bed. Soon after his passing, Brown took the rods he had inherited from his father and, much to his surprise, he caught a fabulous four-pounder. This was just the sort of synchronicity that flyfishing attracts, suggested Buthcher.

Brown said that writing the book had been an intense experience. “This was the first book I tried to write which I hope will be accessible, not just to academics. It has a lot of self-revelation, and, I hope, a coherent argument with just the right amount of cartilage.” His previous books had too much cartilage, he mused. “They were too bony!”

He recalled the advice of Isabel Hofmeyr who suggested that academics should get up from their desk to do their research. He mused, “Did she mean they should go fishing?”

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:

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Join Duncan Brown for the Launch of Are Trout South African? at Kalk Bay Books

Are Trout South African?: Stories of Fish, People and PlacesPan Macmillan and Kalk Bay Books are pleased to invite you to the launch of Are Trout South African?: Stories of Fish, People and Places by Duncan Brown.

Brown will be in conversation with Tim Butcher about his book on Wednesday 26 June at 6:30 PM for 7 PM.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 26 June 2013
  • Time: 6:30 PM for 7:00 PM
  • Venue: Kalk Bay Books,
    Majestic Village
    124 Main Road
    Kalk Bay | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Tim Butcher
  • RSVP: Call 021 788 2266 or let them know online

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Duncan Brown Asks Are Trout South African? in His New Book About Belonging and Identity

Are Trout South African?Are Trout South African? explores questions about the complex community of humans, fauna and flora that make up South Africa.

“South Africanness” usually refers to human identity, or at least to something with a valued place in our national history. In asking whether a fish species that was introduced as part of the process of colonial occupation could be called “South African”, this book uses discussions on trout, their history, the literature about them, scientific work on what is considered “indigenous” or “alien”, as well as the author’s moving personal stories of fishing to provide an engaging and accessible exploration of a contested physical and cultural terrain.

Are Trout South African? will be of interest to anyone who is engaged with notions of how people belong or claim to belong, how people interact with landscapes, animals, plants or fish species, how our histories and family relationships may form around shared pursuits such as fishing, and, of course, what pleasures, complexities and contradictions there are in the activity of fly-fishing for trout in South Africa.

About the author

Duncan Brown caught his first fish at the age of four, and has fished ever since. He is happiest in or around water. He is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Professor of English at the University of the Western Cape. Brown has published widely in the field of South African literary and cultural studies.

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Lawrence Anthony Featured in Latest Issue of Australia Geographic Outdoor Magazine

The Last RhinosThe Elephant WhispererA feature on the late Lawrence Anthony, who co-wrote The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures and The Elephant Whisperer with Graham Spence, appears in the January/February edition of Australia Geographic Outdoor Magazine.

Anthony, who was known for his work in animal conservation, passed away last year but his foundation, the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization, is continuing his legacy.

Never forgotten

Lawrence Anthony saved the animals during the Gulf War, and was integral to the fight for the survival of the rhino in Africa.

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  • The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
    EAN: 9780283071621
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!
  • The Elephant Whisperer: Learning About Life, Loyalty and Freedom From a Remarkable Herd of Elephants by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
    EAN: 9780330506687
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Image courtesy Australia Geographic Outdoor Magazine


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