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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

What is it like to be a volunteer at SANCCOB in Table View?

We made this video to show people what it is like to volunteer at SANCCOB for a day. Many have complained that they want to help the baby flamingo's but then when they got there, they were disappointed as they were not allowed to interact with the birds. We however had a great day learning about the sanctuary and while we cant volunteer on a permanent basis (too busy preparing to build an animal shelter) , we really enjoyed this experience.

Their current needs in the #laundry room is more laundry baskets and fold-up towel racks. So if you have any to spare, please do take it to them. Also, pop in any time, they always have too much laundry that needs drying, so if you can grab a basket of wet towels and dry at your home, they will greatly appreciate that. There is a possibility that they might be getting in more baby birds, so this need is constant. Thank you :)

When we heard via Birdlife South Africa about the plight of a breeding colony of the endangered Lesser Flamingo’s, we jumped into action to see how we could help towards saving the birds. 

Their location, the Kamfers Dam near Kimberley is one of only four sites in the world where 80 000 of these birds breed.  The dam has practically run dry, and the adult birds have abandoned their nests.

Leaving conservationists to desperately find surrogate environments for the 1800 hatch-lings and eggs to survive. 

Baby birds were flown all over south Africa and emergency measures were put in place to accommodate and try and help these babies make it to adulthood.

One of the many places the birdies ended up was right on our doorstep, and a mere 15-minute cycle to get to SANCCOB in Cape Town.  We registered our names for helping as volunteers, and the day finally arrived two weeks later.  Capetonians stepped up and got busy.  We shared social media notices, donated money, goods and our time.

Sunday morning, breathless and an easy quick cycle got us to the sanctuary.  My husband and I were 3 minutes late and missed the volunteer briefing session. Note to self, don’t be late next time!

But Natalie came to our rescue and showed us around before we were commissioned to our station.  The laundry room. 

We quickly got into our sexy green overalls and headed to the laundry.  

3 Washing machines, 2 tumble dryers and a mountain of wet, dry, dirty and clean laundry awaited us. 

There was no space to hang the wet towels, and no space to place the newly washed laundry.  This did not matter to the caregivers, as they were just piling in more dirty towels, so we had to think fast. 

We quickly got onto our WhatsApp groups and social media and asked for our friends to come and collect laundry baskets to hang and dry at their homes.  This worked very well.   I think we saved ourselves from at least 20 baskets of laundry to hang.  As the clean washing came off the press, it was taken to the front for collection.

A quick tea break and a chat to the lady in charge, gave us the opportunity to pop in and see the little baby flamingos for the first time. 

We were not allowed to get close to them as they were all very ill and in special care.  They all arrived with salmonella poisoning, and it is now a race against time to get them healthy and strong again.  They have lost a few, but this was to be expected.

There are people assigned to sifting the food and cleaning syringes.  First, they must cut the food into small pieces then they must squash them through the sieves.  Then they mix the food with baby food and start filling the syringes for the next feed. 

While they are sifting food and filling syringes, there are also ladies cleaning syringes.  This involves about half an hour of soaking in special chemicals, cleaning, scrubbing and drying too.

The birdies also need a bath often, and they are then sent to this special room where they get washed and dried. 

Soon the oldest ones will be moved to a newly developed walking enclosure to start to strengthen the chick’s legs for the final rehabilitation back into the wild.

And this is just the part that we know of.  I take my hat off to the people who are in charge here.  They are doing a fantastic job, and they have a well-oiled machine.

Pic Source : SANCCOB
We also did not miss up on the opportunity to go visit the other residents of SANCCOB.  Of course, there are the adorable penguins, some are here for rehabilitation and others are here for life. 

We met this beautiful pelican that was hand reared but handed to SANCCOB.  They released this beauty to the local dam, but returned twice with injuries.  He is now here for rehab, but if he comes back again, they might consider keeping him.

Some of the rarities under care that we visited were the northern rock hoppers, swift turns, bank cormorants, cape cormorants and white breasted cormorants.  The cape gannets and chicks were off limits to the public.

All of this is to thank an amazing woman, Mrs Althea Louise Berman Westphal who in the late 1960’s opened up a sanctuary in her back garden to help treat a colony of penguins from an oil spill.  From there her research began, and with good support local and international authorities, eventually SANCCOB was founded.

If you would like to volunteer, support or donate to this Seabird Centre, you can find them online at  

Thank you SANCCOB for a great volunteering experience.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Sevilla Rock Art Trail Vol 5 of 5

Sevilla Rock Art and its wonderful sights brought back a rush of memories from 10 years ago when we decided to visit one of our favourite destinations, the Cederberg - to witness our seasonal spring flower display.

We decided to combine this flower getaway with some serious rock art excursions.  This time we chose to engage the services of a professional guide, Mr David van der Westhuizen - who is also a rock art specialist and part of the Living Landscape Project.

To add a better understanding of this magical location, we chose our base to be Travelers Rest which is the farm on which these ten special sites are located.

With map in hand, and beautiful crisp spring air, we set off to explore and understand the true meaning and interpretations of these wonderfully crafted images that were made over 2000 years ago by the San people.

David has a wonderful insight to the reasons why and the understanding of these images.  This was a welcome change from our first visit, where we simply could only admire the images.  This time around, we appreciated a much deeper understanding of why they painted these images and what they meant.

A very unique sighting was these paintings representing monster-like creatures combining chameleons, mantis, giraffe and dinosaurian figures.

A common rock art painting, might represent only a portion of the object painted, due to the use of white paint.  The white paint is the one colour that faded the fastest of all colours used for rock art.

Over and above the wonderful description of the various sites and their meanings, this excursion follows the Brandewyn River, and has scenic views of typical Cederberg landscape and rock formations.  Being flower season we had the added treat of a beautiful array of seasonal flowers to compliment our excursion.

Today it is practically impossible to enjoy a sighting of wild elephants roaming the area, but many years ago they were a common sighting.  Elephants were mainly painted in yellow and ochre and is fairly commonly painted around this area.

Upon our return route, the view changes and is again so beautiful looking towards the Pakhuis pass in the distance.  

Looking carefully at the above image, you will notice a man hunting a small antelope.  The fellow hunter is cheering with hands in the air, as if the hunt was successful.   It is so interesting to see the story behind each rock art painting, this one being no exception.

We were hoping that this getaway would not bore the younger generation, but as you can see they were mesmerized by the story telling and its unique historical value that can be shared for generations to come.

Site nine had some very interesting, but typical male and female figurines, but it was also shared with us that this site is slowly deteriorating due to the falling rocks.  It might not be around for too much longer, and we are privileged to witness this before it might disappear in time to come.

Site ten is unique because of it's location, but also because of the images that represent a procession and a time-lapse.  This site is not directly part of the site one to nine route (as you have to cross over the Brandewyn river), therefore it has to be followed from a different starting point at the Restaurant.

We chose to cycle to site ten and it was a short and pleasant 3 km ride along the river, and an easy find.  It has been ten years in the making for us to finally also get to see site ten. 

A night in the Cederberg is not the same with out playing with the shutter and some light art painting.  Be sure to get your camera onto a tri-pod and enjoy the open shutter, you might even get to see the milky way in the distance too.

For more information:
Contact Travelers Rest