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South Africa’s plant life

first_imgSouth Africa’s large areas of semi-desert scrub and grassland might suggest a certain poverty of plant life. Aside from the fact that a tract of pristine grassland can hold up to 60 grass species, nothing could be further from the truth.Namaqualand is dry, rocky and desert-like for the most of the year except for a few weeks during spring when it yields its floral wealth in dazzling sheets of colour. (Image: Brand South Africa)Brand South Africa reporterThere are eight major terrestrial biomes in South Africa:Nama Karoosucculent Karoofynbosforestthicketsavannagrassland, anddesert.These biomes, or ecological life zones, have distinct environmental conditions and related sets of plant and animal life.Around 10% of the world’s flowering species are found in South Africa, the only country in the world with an entire plant kingdom inside its borders: the Cape Floral Kingdom. While it represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa, it is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora.Also called the Cape Floristic Kingdom, it contains 9 000 species, 69% of them endemic – and 1 435 identified as threatened. It is a World Heritage site and a biodiversity hotspot.The Cape Peninsula alone boasts more plant species than the whole of Great Britain.FynbosThis southwestern area of South Africa is the home of the fynbos (an Afrikaans word meaning “fine bush”), which is composed of ericas (heathers), proteas and the grass-like restios.Most spectacular in flower are the proteas (Proteaceae), which include the king protea – the national flower – and others of broadly similar shape, the pincushion leucospermum types, and spiky leucadendrons. The colour range is vast.The ericas (Ericaceae), the largest genus of flowering plants in South Africa, are more delicate, repaying close examination of their almost infinite variety of colour and form. One or other of these species will be found in bloom at almost any time of the year.These share their Cape home with such beauties as the red disa orchid, one of South Africa’s 479 wild orchids, which grows in the mountains, as well as numerous irises, pelargoniums and many more.South Africa’s pelargoniums, in particular, have contributed greatly to gardens all over the world, as have the arum lilies – the classic white species is from this area, the yellow and pink from elsewhere in the country.The world’s gardens also have South Africa to thank for the agapanthus, gladiolus, Barberton daisy and Gardenia thunbergia, to name a few.Carpet of flowersThe Cape in the spring is a breathtaking sight, but even more astonishing is Namaqualand. Dry, rocky and desert-like for the rest of the year, it yields its floral wealth for a short few weeks in the spring in dazzling sheets of colour.The golden yellow and orange Namaqualand daisies are predominant, but in between them are a wide variety of flowers, including the iridescent succulent mesembryanthemums.Colours here are particularly intense, although there is also much fascination in less colourful species such as the quiver tree (the San, or Bushmen, used to make quivers from its fibrous stem) and the bizarre-looking tall succulent known as the halfmens (half human).And anyone interested in plants’ abilities to adapt to harsh circumstances in a myriad different ways (not all are succulents) need not wait for spring to visit the area.ForestsAlthough South Africa has more than a thousand indigenous trees, large species are relatively scarce in many parts of the country.But they are very much at home in some areas, such as the Knysna-Tsitsikamma forest with its tall stinkwoods, black ironwoods and yellowwoods, and the northeastern region in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, home to the ancient cycads and Lowveld species such as the “fever tree”, so called because of its association with malaria areas.It is also in the north that one finds the famous thick-stemmed baobab, which according to African myth was accidentally planted upside down, accounting for the odd shape of its branches.Then there are the forests of KwaZulu-Natal, where the beautiful shade-loving orange Clivia miniata, a now much cultivated member of the amaryllis family, is found.Another popular orange (and purple) garden flower, now the emblem of the US city of Los Angeles, originates in the Eastern Cape: the strelitzia. In much the same colour range, South Africa’s winters are marked by the flowering of some of the country’s 125 species of aloes.The Eastern Cape’s Greater Addo National Park, which stretches across 180 000 hectares from the coast to the Karoo, includes samples of five of the eight South African biomes mentioned above.Medicinal plants and thorn treesThere is virtually no area of South Africa without its particular floral treasure or species of special beauty or interest.These include succulents that look almost exactly like stones (lithops), mangroves, tree ferns, traditional food plants and those that would kill you if you took a bite, and – one of the most promising fields of study in South Africa – a large number of plants of medicinal value.Some of these, such as the Aloe ferox, a purgative, were discovered to be medicinally useful by the early European colonists; many more have long been known and used by indigenous African people.Yet for all the spectacular plants to be found, perhaps the landscape that most eloquently conjures up the spirit of South African flora is the typical savannah, with its (often dry) grasses and more-or-less thickly scattered shrubs and thorn trees.Lingering images may vary widely, from fynbos field to subtropical forest, but for many South Africans the thorn tree is the nesting place of their hearts.Reviewed 17 May 2017Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? 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In A Decade On The Road, I’ve Learned Tech Can’t Fix Everything

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#air travel#business travel#online travel#travel#Trip Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts center_img Matt Asay ReadWriteTrip is a series that chronicles the modern challenges of tech-savvy business travelers.For the past 10 years I’ve traveled a minimum of 125,000 miles each year, staying over 75 nights each year in a hotel room. While it would be inaccurate to suggest that business travel has become delightful, in some key ways it has become better.For example, international travel is faster thanks to Global Entry. Security is easier to navigate thanks to TSA Pre. And while luggage sizes have remained constant, far more fits into them than before.Technology, not surprisingly, is cause for both celebration and frustration in all of these changes.Staying Connected At 30,000 FeetEven five years ago, it was hard to stay productive on long-haul flights, both because laptop battery life was minimal and in-flight Wi-Fi didn’t exist. This had upsides and downsides. On the one hand, once my laptop battery died I was free to read. But on the other, it meant that every flight was effectively a productivity dead zone.No more.See also: Wi-Fi Above 10,000 Feet: Which Airlines Provide The Best Connection?Today Wi-Fi is becoming standard on air travel. While coverage varies from airline to airline, the network on my preferred airline, Delta, is exceptional. I no longer have an excuse not to be online while I fly. Alas.Now that you can stay connected on a long flight, we now expect that laptop batteries will last, too. But even if you’re still lugging around an old-model Dell that can’t go more than two hours without topping up on power, airlines have also added in-flight power outlets. Again, availability varies from airline to airline and even plane to plane. Figuring that out used to be maddening, until tech came to the rescue again: You can figure out where to get power on SeatGuru, which uses comments from travelers like me as well as its own research to maintain up-to-date information about seat layouts.Airline And Hotel Monogamy Pays Off … Sort OfOften your choice in airline and hotel will be made for you, through your location or employer or both. If you live in a United hub city like San Francisco, you’re likely stuck flying United. (I’m truly sorry.) But you do want to centralize your flights on one carrier, or one airline alliance if you’re flying internationally. Ditto for hotels.Why? Because it’s your only hope of being treated like a human being. I get upgraded on 90% of my domestic flights (Delta) and 100% of my hotel stays (Marriott). And many airlines and hotels have added perks that relate directly to your trips, like a waiver of fees for checked bags or hotel Wi-Fi.Upgrades, not points, should be your motivator. The points are nice, mind you. I’ve paid for five honeymoons for my wife’s five sisters using points, as well as several personal vacations. But it’s getting harder and harder to actually use points.This is the one big problem with loyalty programs: It has become so easy to earn points through things other than flying (e.g., branded credit cards) that loyalty points are far less valuable today than they used to be 10 years ago. The consolidation of airlines, and along with them their loyalty programs, hasn’t helped: More fliers are now competing for awards and status.If this is new to you, check out The Points Guy’s beginner’s guide—and consolidate, consolidate, consolidate.The More Things ChangeWhich brings me to the things that have gotten worse or stayed the same over the years.International voice and data roaming remain incredibly expensive. I pay $60 per month for 300 megabytes of global data and another $60 each month to be able to text freely while abroad (up to 600 SMS messages). This on top of my domestic data/voice plans. One Google Maps session while walking through London can chew up a significant chunk of that data limit so I tend to use cellular data only as a last resort while traveling abroad.This is slowly changing: T-Mobile now has an “unlimited” international text-and-data plan, though you have to read the fine print: Only 1 gigabyte of data is included at full speed. I’ve been reluctant to switch carriers, though.First-class service on all U.S. airlines has depreciated significantly in the last 10 years. Back in the early days of Pan Am, first class was truly first class. Now it’s simply enhanced coach. Yes, we have lay-flat seats on international or transcontinental flights, but the overall experience—especially on domestic routes—is weak.Even things like TSA Pre, which lets travelers go back to the halcyon days of not having to remove shoes from feet or laptops from bags at airport security, are quickly getting worse. While initially reserved only for serious frequent fliers or those in the Global Entry program, the TSA has opened it up to many others, making TSA Pre lines as slow as other lines. You’d think technology could be deployed to better screen passengers, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.If I had to sum it up, I’d say that the things you can control about business travel—what you pack and how much it weighs—have gotten better. The things you can’t control, like airline loyalty programs or airport security, have gotten both better and worse.The only thing you can truly control is the gear you put in your bag, so optimize for that. Look for more tips on that in an upcoming installment of ReadWriteTrip.Photo by Dan Paluska 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Woman gang-raped in Jaipur

first_imgA woman in her 20s was allegedly tortured and raped by five persons, including a doctor and a suspended police constable, in the city, the police said on Thursday.The accused left the woman in a semi-naked state on Agra road here on Wednesday, they said. The woman alleged that she was tortured and gang-raped on Tuesday night, they added. “A case has been registered against five persons — Kapil Sharma, Deepesh Chaturvedi, Dr Anurag and two others who are unidentified,” DCP (East) Rahul Jain said. The DCP said the case is being probed from all angles.Previous rape case The woman had lodged a case of rape against Mr. Sharma, who was then a police constable, at the Jyoti Nagar police station in 2018. She alleged that Mr. Chaturvedi, who posed as an official of the State Human Rights Commission, assured her of getting Mr. Sharma arrested. However, when she did not find any official in the SHRC by the name, she reached Mr. Chaturvedi’s residence where she was allegedly raped and tortured on Tuesday. An FIR was lodged under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 376-d (gang-rape) of the IPC. “The suspended police constable has been detained and is being interrogated,” Mr. Jain said. The woman has been admitted to a hospital, he said.last_img read more

Maha 2 dead 5 injured as building collapses

first_imgThane: At least two persons were killed and five others injured after a four-storey building collapsed in Bhiwandi town in the district early on Saturday, barely an hour after it was evacuated as cracks were seen in it, an official said.The incident occurred around 1.30 am, he said. The tragedy could have been much worse had the families residing in the residential complex not been moved out in time after cracks were spotted in it late Friday night, the official said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”The building named ‘Manahara’, located at Pirani Pada in Shantinagar area, was very old and dilapidated. On Friday night, some residents noticed cracks in the structure, following which evacuation process was initiated post midnight,” chief of Regional Disaster Management Cell (RDMC) of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) Santosh Kadam said. “However, even after the evacuation, some residents returned to the building, after which it collapsed around 1.30 am. Two persons died in the crash and their bodies were recovered from the debris,” he added. The deceased were identified as Shiraz Ansari (26) and Mohammad Akib Shaikh (27), the official said. After being alerted about the building crash, personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Thane Disaster Response Force (TDRF), fire brigade and others launched a rescue operation. Work of clearing the debris is still on and some more people are feared to be trapped, Kadam said. “Five persons, including two firemen, were injured in the incident and they were admitted to a local hospital,” he added.last_img read more