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Ken Borland



Pilanesberg National Park 0

Posted on July 11, 2016 by Ken

 

The Secretarybird is one of the great wanderers of the African grasslands, covering 20 to 30km a day as it strides purposefully across the savanna in search of terrestrial prey like insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and rodents.

There is something imperturbable about them, as if they are on an important quest and will not be distracted. Considered vulnerable, their numbers in decline, I am always happy to see them and it was a hot morning in the Pilanesberg National Park in March when I came across a pair marching across the grasslands beneath the Nkakane hill.

But on this occasion their smooth progress was to be disturbed in humorous fashion. Between myself and the Secretarybirds there were bunches of little thicket-like bushes and resting in the shade of one of them was a Steenbok … I was the only one who could foresee what would happen next.

IMG_1445

A distressed Grey Lourie tries to find some shelter during the heat of the day.

The raptors made inexorable progress towards the bush and, as they disturbed the Steenbok, both the birds and the little antelope were surprised with all three charming animals leaping away in fright!

Just before turning on to the Nkakane Link from Tshepe Drive, having entered the park through the KwaMaritane Gate, those selfsame low bushes had Pearlbreasted Swallows perched on top of them. They are one of the Hirundines that spend their time lower to the ground.

These bushes also provide vantage points for the Lesser Grey Shrikes, which thrive in the open spaces of the savanna, as well as providing some shelter from the midday sun when it is especially hot.

I guess 34°C qualifies because respite from the heat seemed to be on everyone’s mind. It was so hot that a Blue Wildebeest sheltering under a thorn tree almost on the road was very reluctant to move away from my car, while even a European Bee-Eater was being surprisingly inconspicuous lurking in the foliage of a tree.

The Hippopotami had the right idea with 13 of them in a little dam, along with two Elephant! Arrowmarked Babblers were also making a beeline, descending towards the water.

Little pools of water formed from streams running down from Magare Hill were also full of life, with Common Waxbills flying up from the water’s edge as I drove past.

The main stream coming out of Mankwe Dam obviously had fish in it because African Spoonbill and Grey Heron were in attendance.

There were no other surprises for me, although it was nice to see Wattled Plover and Wood Sandpiper amongst the Warthog at Tilodi Dam.

Sightings

Blue Wildebeest

Common Waxbill

Impala

African Elephant

Plains Zebra

Lesser Grey Shrike

Blackeyed Bulbul

Pearlbreasted Swallow

African Spoonbill

Grey Heron

Secretarybird

Steenbok

Blacksmith Plover

Hippopotamus

Yellowthroated Sparrow

European Bee-Eater

Arrowmarked Babbler

Egyptian Goose

Warthog

Wattled Plover

Wood Sandpiper

Pied Crow

Greater Striped Swallow

Grey Lourie

Bhubesi Pride – really making a difference to African rugby 0

Posted on November 13, 2015 by Ken

 

 

One day when Richard Bennett is old and greying and watching Zambia make their debut in the 2039 World Cup he will sit back and reflect on how his Bhubesi Pride Foundation really did make a difference to African rugby after all.

Bhubesi Pride is the initiative Bennett started in 2010 to bring together rural communities, NGOs and government departments in Africa with lovers of rugby union. It’s basically a charitable initiative that selects volunteers from all over the world to help develop rugby and harness its benefits for society in general.

According to Bennett, Bhubesi Pride has three main objectives: “To unite communities through rugby, promoting the sport’s values and life skills; empower and up-skill local staff, nurturing community leaders, male and female, in a way that maximises sustainability; and to inspire long-term developmental outcomes via tangible legacy projects, alongside in-country partners.”

The current expedition, which began at the end of January, is travelling through Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and the 25-strong team of volunteers is drawn from 11 different countries.

The charity has reached over 10 000 children since 2012 and the likes of Ethiopia and Rwanda have also featured on the itinerary.

The key goal for Bennett is sustainability and the synergies between Bhubesi Pride and WorldRugby’s own Get Into Rugby initiatives in Africa are obvious.

“We do overlap with Get Into Rugby, we have the same basic premise, which is to offer rugby as a means of bringing communities together, to give youngsters life skills and to promote the values of WorldRugby. There’s a synergy between us and we like to support those efforts.

“Ideally, we want to up-skill local teachers, show them how to teach and coach rugby. Bhubesi Pride is a legacy program and we want to inspire the people we work with. If we just coach rugby and bugger off five days later, then there’s very little sustainability, which is the key. The important thing is we see a lot of kids come back to our sessions and we can see the improvement in them,” Bennett says.

Building a new netball court at the Emzomncane Primary School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and opening a new computer room, complete with 25 computers, in the rural Nahumba Basic School in Choma, Zambia, are just a couple of the legacy projects Bhubesi Pride have implemented.

And it’s not as if  Bhubesi Pride arrive and sweep through villages with all the subtlety of Schalk Burger entering a ruck either. They are sensitive to the needs of local communities and Bennett says the volunteers only arrive in a village after the foundation’s management have met with all the key stakeholders to nail down their plans. The places to visit are suggested by the NGOs, government departments and rugby structures in the host country.

G4S Africa have signed on as the foundation’s lead partner due to their success thus far.

“Bhubesi Pride is really making a significant difference to the lives of children, teachers and the community around us. We definitely see opportunities to expand the programme and we are on board all the way. We’re also keen to get involved in community legacy projects that make a difference to the youth,” Elanie Kruger, the Regional HR Director of G4S Africa, says.

Wordsworth Rashid, a 43-year-old from Lilongwe, Malawi, is a prime example of the difference Bhubesi Pride is making in the lives of people.

“Wordsworth e-mailed me out of the blue in 2010 and has been involved in every expedition since 2011. He’s a special needs co-ordinator, he’s passionate about education and providing for the needs of people.

“Bhubesi Pride has taken Wordsworth out of Malawi for the first time in his life and he’s now our project manager in Lilongwe, he organises everything for us. With the support of the expat community in Lilongwe, we’re hoping to be able to employ Wordsworth for the whole year and he can set up sport and educational programs,” Bennett says.

With the support of G4S, the Bill McLaren Foundation, Inmarsat, Flya Sportswear, DHL, Investec and Norton Rose Fulbright, Bhubesi Pride were able to set off on their latest expedition in a brilliantly branded combi. They will be bringing rugby gear and equipment with them – they have provided over 20 000 euros worth of resources over the last three years – and they plan to expand operations in Africa over the next three years, with Mozambique being added this year. They are hoping to reach 70 schools and communities by 2017 and accredit 250 locals as coaches or referees.

Building and stocking libraries and classrooms, or providing desks are also in the plans, as is establishing rugby academies.

Oregan Hoskins, the vice-chairman of WorldRugby, is a supporter of the foundation.

“I’m really happy to see Bhubesi Pride continue doing what they do so well: Spreading the game at grassroots level, transporting kids to tournament days and delivering life skills talks,” Hoskins says.

Bhubesi Pride is now accepting volunteer applications from all over the world and, thanks to further sponsorship, has been able to significantly decrease its volunteer fees for 2016.

Find out more about Bhubesi Pride and how you can volunteer at http://rugbyinafrica.org/ and http://rugbyinafrica.org/about/apply-to-join-us/

 

 

Kenya grow their 15-a-side team in Vodacom Cup 0

Posted on May 09, 2014 by Ken

Scrumhalf Edwin Achayo feeds flyhalf Kenny Andola as Kenya get their backline going again during their Vodacom Cup victory over the EP Kings. Pic: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

The Vodacom Cup – South Africa’s developmental competition for the provincial teams not involved in SuperRugby – has entered the semi-final stage with overseas visitors Kenya no longer in contention but the tournament did offer the African country the chance to further grow their 15-a-side team.

The Kenyans played as the Tusker Simba XV and although they only won a single match – their opening encounter against the Eastern Province Kings – the fact that they did not finish last in their section provided some comfort.

Kenya were invited by the South African Rugby Union, as part of their mandate to help improve and develop the game in Africa, to take the place of Argentinian side Pampas XV and the east Africans were only too happy to take part, giving a crucial boost to their preparations for the final African World Cup qualifier to be played in Madagascar from June 26.

Namibia have been the African qualifiers for all seven Rugby World Cups and so the rest of the continent are trying to close the gap with them. Zimbabwe and Madagascar are the other countries still in the running for 2015 in England.

Encouragingly for Kenya, the Tusker Simba XV performed no worse than Namibia’s Welwitschias did when they played in the Vodacom Cup in 2010/11 and lost 13 of their 15 matches, winning once and drawing the other game.

And the Tusker Simba XV also suffered some misfortune, losing two of their matches – against Border and Boland – in the final minute.

“It was a great experience and, as we try and qualify for the World Cup, the best thing is to play more games. Last year we won the Africa Cup in Madagascar, but that was only with some games before that. The only way to change that was playing in the Vodacom Cup, and it has been a huge success,” Kenya coach Jerome Paarwater said.

A lack of conditioning was one of the concessions the Tusker Simba XV had to make against almost entirely professional opposition, but the size and attacking promise the Kenyans showed was enough to suggest the 15-a-side team could follow their sevens counterparts up the world rankings.

“Size is certainly not a problem with the Kenyan players, but there is a lack of facilities in Kenya for them to work on their conditioning, which you need to be competitive against professional players for a full 80 minutes.

“But we’re getting them a bit stronger and bigger and the skills levels are improving, so those are positives,” Paarwater, the former Western Province loose forward, said.

“The sevens background of the players means they’re not afraid to attack, it comes naturally to them. It helps that our two wings [Leonard Mugaisi and Dennis Osinde] are both pacy and strong, both around 108/109kg.”

The scrummaging – built around huge identical twins Joseph and James Kang’ethe – was also solid, although they did attract some yellow cards, Paarwater explaining that “The twin props are very aggressive and I think that scared the referees a bit”.

While Kenya’s urban areas are relatively wealthy and modern, 75% of the population work in the agricultural sector and food security is an issue – 38% of the population live in poverty. So there are socio-economic issues that hold rugby back too.

While the International Rugby Board insist that the Kenya Rugby Union find their own sponsors, they are involved in growing the game amongst the youth. Programs like Get Into Rugby ensure that kids that would normally just be herding cows get a chance to experience the beautiful oval-ball game.

“The IRB are heavily involved with development and the U19 team, which is great because Kenya rugby has to step up their junior structures, that is the future. The IRB fund development programs and they’ve given our Sevens team lots of help too.

“It’s good that the Kenya Rugby Union have had to find their own sponsors, it means they don’t just ask for handouts,” Paarwater said.

The Western Province Rugby Union in South Africa, from whom Paarwater has been seconded, have also been a great help, also providing medical supplies.

There’s nothing ham-fisted about the way rugby is being grown in Kenya, as the remarkable success of their Sevens side shows, and they are becoming a growing force in African 15s as well.

“They’re quite jacked up and really serious about rugby in Kenya, including women’s rugby. They’re always trying to improve,” Paarwater said.

And it certainly looks like they are succeeding.

http://www.irb.com/newsmedia/regional/newsid=2071330.html#kenya+more+than+just+sevens+nation

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