Friday, 18 November 2011

Nestle: Born and Died a Free Cat

We received the sad news from Erindi Game Reserve two days ago that Nestle, one of the chocolate sisters we helped release into Erindi was found dead. As of yet the cause of death is unknown, although as a wild cheetah there are numerous possibilities. She could have been killed by lions, snake bite, illness or sustained a fatal injury whilst hunting.

This was of course tough news to hear especially as we were responsible for looking after her during our two and half years at CCF and were part of the team that watched her and her sisters take their first steps back to the wild.
Nestle and her siblings Toblerone, Hershey, Lindt and Cadbury were brought to CCF in February 2003 when they were only eight months old after they, but not their mother was trapped on a farm near Otavi. Therefore the mother was suspected to have been shot. Lindt and Cadbury were released into the NamibRand Reserve in 2008 along with three other males. The chocolate sisters spent most of their time at CCF in the Bellebenno cheetah camp and they along with their adopted sister Chanel were chosen to be released back to the wild as part of a rehabilitation project last year.

Nestle could probably have been described as the grumpiest chocolate sister and when approached by people she would usually hunch her shoulders and scowl. Before being fitted with a collar with red tape on the antenna this distinctive posture was a good way of distinguishing her from her sisters! Around a kill she was also the most defensive and would normally be the first one to charge towards whoever approached.
During observation of the coalition in Bellebenno it appeared that Nestle was the ‘lowest ranking’ member and would sometimes be found away from the other three and it remains a possibility that her death may have happened after she had separated from the others.
I’m sure her sisters and Chanel are wondering where she has gone. However, they will adjust and continue on as a trio, and as much as the loss of Nestle saddens Kate and I, we have no regrets. Chanel and the Chocs were released into CCF’s Bellebenno game camp on the 1st of September 2010 and Nestle therefore had just over a year of freedom. Over that time Erindi staff members have taken many people on tracking safari’s to see the four girls and they have been filmed by numerous TV film crews. Therefore, Nestle has helped educate and inspire people and also enjoyed a bit of fame!
The Bellebenno release will always be a highlight of our time in Namibia and we’ll always have a special connection with Chanel and the chocs. RIP Nestle, a life well lived.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bye Bye Boris!

 The 30th of October marked a very important moment for the NCC as it was the day that saw our first cheetah released back to the wild. It was made even more special as it was also the 40th cheetah N/a’an ku se has released.

The cat in question was Boris, the four year old male who was trapped and taken to N/a’an ku se’s wildlife sanctuary in May 2011 after he had been hunting game repeatedly on a small game farm in the Windhoek area. For a complete account of what happened check out the NCC blog.
It was a really great feeling watching him go free and we tracked him yesterday and even got a visual, he looks in really good condition and we suspect he has already made a kill due to his bulging belly. So for Boris, so far so good :)

Here is a great video of the release made by my colleagues at N/a'an ku se, unfortunately I'm in it. In the video you may notice a film crew filming proceedings. They were filming for an Animal Planet documentary series about N/a'an ku se which starts next year in March. The show will be called 'Wild Animal Orphans' so keep an eye out. Kate and I will be featured in the episodes about the NCC, thankfully, for me anyway, in a non-speaking role!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Namib Conservation Centre Blog

Exciting news everybody, the Namib Conservation Centre has its very own blog site! Please check it out and if you could become one of our Followers I would greatly appreciate it :)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

My Experiment With 9/11 Conspiracy Believers

We have just marked the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, an event that we will all vividly remember for the rest of our lives. I have overwhelming sympathy for the families who lost people that day and wished the marking of this anniversary would solely be focused on supporting these families and remembering those who died. But a week before the anniversary more and more coverage in the media was given to the conspiracy theories that depressingly have spread like a virus infecting the minds of millions around the world. I find it disgusting that the families of the victims have had to hear these incessant examples of utter stupidity.

So when I saw this status on a social networking site three days before the anniversary I despaired:

Test Subject 1:
‘With 9/11 creeping up on us I urge you....look into the collapse of building 7. A building that was not even hit, falling to earth at free fall speed. Don't give me upset bullshit...LOOK INTO IT. If you don't have questions after....then you are truly blind.’

I felt compelled to talk some sense into him and simply posted him a link to a well sourced website that clearly explains why WTC7 collapsed the way it did.  I did not expect the response I got and I ended up in a three-day exchange with grade A conspiracy believers. I took this as a chance to try and see if I could make these people see sense and so began my experiment into the mindset of conspiracy nuts and try to work out how in the face of overwhelming evidence they believe what they do.

Before you read on be warned, what follows is a journey into a world of total lunacy and shocking stupidity that may cause you to loose all hope in humanity! I must add that although I have greatly condensed what was said this still could be the longest blog I will ever write.

“Sorry mate but talk of a 9/11 conspiracy is bullsh@t. For answers about WT7 follow this link. And think of this.....the US government couldn't keep it covered up that the president got a blowjob, do you REALLY think they could have planned 9/11 and keep EVERYONE involved quiet!?”

My inner monologue: Ok, that link I’ve sent them clearly explains why WTC7 collapsed the way it did. Maybe I’ll be thanked for clearing up the issue?'

Test Subject 1:
‘I've seen all this Matt...and yes, I DO think they could have planned it and allowed Clinton to be found out. They didn't WANT to hide his sordid affair, it's silly to think that it could not have been covered up if they had so chosen.’

 Oh dear….

Have you read about the Gulf of Tonken incident? The incident that kicked off the Vietnam war?'

Gulf of Tonken incident? Vietnam? ….What has that got to do with WTC7? And who does he mean by THEY?

At this point the thread had been joined by many conspiracy supporters stating comments like: ‘100% agree’ ‘Interesting stuff, the world is corrupt’ and ‘yeah, too many questions unanswered’.

Rational Person 1:
‘Are you high man?! i've never read so much horse sh@t in my life as this status and the ensuing total moronic madness that are the comments that followed.’


Rational Person 2:
‘ANYONE can come up with a theory, find a few convenient links, fact remains, not even the American government is that desperate to re-ignite an old rivalry and go on the hunt for oil at the expense of thousands of innocent lives and billions upon billions of pounds in insurance claims, rebuilding projects and the payouts to families.'

Anyway, i'm crashing dude, let me know if you find out where Elvis is hiding.’

Very nice, glad to see I have some allies here.

Test Subject 2:
 ‘I wonder if Rational Person 1 and Matt just believe EVERYTHING they are told? Don't talk to me about 'moronic' fellas.

Purely from a STATISTICAL viewpoint, SOME conspiracy theories must have some truth.’

He didn’t just say that did he? Let me read it again………..oh he really did.

I bet a pound to a penny you think that jfk was killed by a stalker, even though ALL the evidence suggests otherwise. To say 'there is no way they could get away with something like that' is BEYOND stupid. Look at Vietnam for Christs sake!’

JFK? Vietnam again? ……… I’m beyond stupid?! Oh boy….

'Wow…. I don’t even know where to begin. I simply posted you guys a link with a counter argument about the falling of WTC7 and instead of getting back some kind of evidence to the contrary all I get is abuse hurled back at me. Quite clearly no matter what evidence is presented to you you will believe whatever you want.

When something truly shocking happens people just can not accept that there is a simple explanation i.e. Princess Di died in a car crash cos her driver was drunk and speeding, Kennedy got shot by a disturbed individual (please don’t mention the magic bullet) or that hijackers fueled with religious hatred and armed only with box cutters, nail clippers and some flying lessons could crash a plane into building. I’m guessing you also think the moon landing was faked?

Do I think governments can mislead the people, yes, Bush completely used 9/11 as an excuse to start a war with Iraq and manipulated evidence about the WMDs. But to jump from that and whatever happened in Vietnam to say that hundreds of people in a secret organisation got together to commit the worst mass slaughter in US history is going too far.

As well as the huge amount of evidence to support the debunking of conspiracy claims just ask one common sense question - why increase the risk of being discovered by faking the hijack of four planes, to achieve the aims you claim the government wanted then surely just one or maybe even two being smashed into the world centre would have sufficed? Why even make the towers fall?

I can argue with you quite sensibly about the claims made about 9/11 – remote controlled planes, the mysterious white jet, puffs of smoke that look like explosive charges……. but you could just start again with the insults.

And as for a ‘stupid’ statement: ‘purely from a STATISTICAL viewpoint, SOME conspiracy theories must have some truth.’

You have to be joking right?'

Ok, I think I adequately put my case across in a calm way. Maybe we can now have a sensible debate?

Test Subject 2:
‘Kennedy got shot by a disturbed individual" i'm open mouthed. truly. Are you saying you believe it was Oswald? Seriously? Not even most Americans believe that any more.’

Oh dear, here we go again….

After three lengthy posts about the JFK conspiracy…….

Why, in your opinion did jack ruby murder Oswald before the trial. What possible reason was there for that? Justifying your opinion is a two way street. Also "the worst mass slaughter in US history" - are you serious? it doesn't even make the top 20.

Ok is this a joke, what is going on here? Not in the top 20? Why are we talking about JFK????? Did I not justify my opinion by posting a link to some evidence on a website and stating some common sense questions?  Can these people read? Sigh, ok I’ll indulge this misguided individual….

Note from American Girlfriend – 'Wow, you guys must really be bored to put so much energy into the conspiracy theories floating around the US. By the way, this American does think JFK was shot by Oswald, and that Osama bin Laden did order the attack on the world trade centre, And to say otherwise is disrespectful to the multiple lives lost on that day.'

'Ok, so I see you ignored my points about 9/11 .....which is why i started piping in on this in the first place and like Kate I do find it disrespectful to those who died, especially those on the planes who are often accused of 'being in on it' and have gone into hiding, the families of these people do not deserve to hear that. I’ll answer one point about Jack Ruby. Ruby is known to have been a total flag waving patriot who was devastated JFK had been shot, he is known to have told his friends that he was going to do something about thing you know Oswald is dead. A LOT of people probably wanted to kill him, but it was no conspiracy he was just a drunk pissed off American. Please think about it.....if Ruby was hired to silence Oswald....then by that logic someone would have to silence Ruby and so on and so doesn't make any sense.

You guys should really youtube the Penn and Teller show: 'Bullshit', they ask people on both sides of this issue (as well as many others).....there is NO evidence for a conspiracy. The people who write the books and make the movies have a very clear agenda in making people believe this Just look at how much money has been made by the people selling books and videos about Elvis being alive! Believing this mumbo jumbo is all much more exciting, interesting and easier to handle than the simple truth that a few determined extremists could so easily cause such devastation...'

Ok, that was hard but I stayed calm and I think I made some clear points . Hopefully Subject 2 will stop going on about JFK.

Test Subject 2:
'DUDE!!! did you even read what the HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE's findings into JFK were!?!?!?!? THE OFFICIAL FINDINGS of a body that was SPECIFICALLY TASKED with finding out what happened. But no, apparently Matt and his girlfriend know better!!

Oh come on!

Absolutely, ball-achingly unbelievable. The polar-opposite of a conspiracy nut!! You’re an anti conspiracy nut - the player on the other side, and every bit as loony!!!!

Please tell me this is a joke?

I want you to answer this, a simple answer, no hyperbole, just answer... Why are you so convinced Oswald was the only shooter?

I’m confused, when did I talk about Oswald being the only shooter? I thought he asked me about Ruby?

and don't say evidence, because as I’ve clearly demonstrated, the evidence suggests otherwise - DOCUMENTED evidence. Evidence that has been accepted by the US government and yet in the face of this, you remain convinced. even though the evidence is contrary to your opinion, you have just decided to believe your own take on things.

Very, very confused now………. I thought he criticised me for believing Oswald had anything to do with it? Now hes saying I’m a loony because I think he was the only shooter? What the hell does this guy believe? Does HE even know?!!!

…based on what? a gut feeling? a phobia of conspiracy theories?
this kind of blind devotion to (in spite of contrary evidence), what we call in psychology, a 'perceptual set' is actually quite troubling.

Wow, I’m being psychoanalysed, maybe this guy is a top psychologist, let me check his profile…….oh there is no current employer information and his profile pic is him in his underwear showing off his muscles….maybe not then. Ah well, surely he can’t be anymore insanely patronising.

I'm beginning to form an opinion of my own here... are you and/or your girlfriend religious perchance?'

Oh, apparently he can.

Test Subject 3:
'How does my girlfriend is American put to bed the subject? Does she speak for every single American.

How does a passenger jet fit into a 27ft hole and not break windows either side of that hole, does not leave any marks outside the building and leaves lamposts fully intact in the line the plane was supposed to have travelled, and then we are told the only camera to pick anything up you cannot see anything? So are we to believe the Pentagon has less cctv than my local ASDA ? lol

Oh oh, he’s used 'lol'………..i’ve been well and truly put in my place.

Look at the invasion in Iraq because they have WMD's, still haven’t found them have we.'

I think I said I agreed with the WMD evidence manipulation, didn't I? Reading and retaining information must be hard for these people.  Maybe they deserve some sympathy?

Test Subject 4:
‘Surely pursuing the possibility that 9/11 was a government-instigated event is doing the opposite of disrespecting those who lost their lives. it doesn’t add up, so by investigating and uncovering the truth enables us to try to prevent such things happening in the future. The few cannot control the many unless your in ur little bubble that they’ve put u in so that u believe all that they feed you rather than you having your own mind and questioning what really occurred. They get away with it because they can when every one is eating out of their palm. Wake up and smell that horsesh@t.’

On second thoughts…..
                               Test Subject 5:
‘Hate to bust in on this thread, but it's such interesting reading. All participants should look out for a great web site which is provoking to say the least! JFK Murder Solved - has a confession from a grassy knoll shooter for starters. Why is the site interesting - because so many Americans subscribe to it and its owner is not American. The 9/11 info is found within the site's forum. Enjoy.’

mmmm? Many Chinese people believe tiger and rhino bone has magical qualities that give them erections, so it must be true!! Ok guys ignore science and call off the anti-poaching programs!!!

'Wow, (no I’m not religious, although what the hell that has to do with anything is beyond me), you’re obsessed with JFK aren’t you?

When did I get my knickers in a twist about Oswald being a lone shooter? When I brought up JFK it was to make a point about people believing Oswald had nothing to with it. As far as I know the House Select Committee that you keep banging on about looked into this in the late 70’s and yes they claimed the audio analysed from the cop motorcycle led to a high probability of there being a fourth shot. But since then there have been significant doubts over the analysis of that recording, so its not irrefutable evidence at all. There may have been a second shooter, there may not have been…. But that in itself does not mean every other claim about the shootings is true.

And who the hell do you think YOU are:

‘This kind of blind devotion to (in spite of contrary evidence), what we call in psychology, a 'perceptual set' is actually quite troubling’.

It’s astounding you can’t see the hypocrisy in that statement. At no point throughout this insanely angry thread has anyone actually calmly responded to any of my points……I’ve responded about Ruby and now I’ve responded about the lone shooter (not that that has anything to do with 9/11). But no, I’m the close-minded ‘loony’.

And no, I don’t believe everything I’m told but you know what?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

I’ve tried to politely argue with you guys but go back through this thread and look at how you’ve responded. Nothing but insults, snide comments and unbelievably patronising character assumptions.

I’ll try one more time and actually respond to an example of your ‘Evidence’ – the good old missile shaped hole in the pentagon….countless witnesses have testified to seeing the plane fly overhead and as far as I know not many CCTV cameras point to the sky. Do you really think there was going to be a perfect plane shaped hole in the side of a building with reinforced walls? There are also plenty of pictures after the hit where you can see parts of the window sections of the plane. Where did they come from? Toed by the missile? Sneakily placed there by invisible men after it hit? Every conspiracy claim about 9/11 has a logical counter argument…….like I said, extraordinary evidence, where is it?

And if the next person brings up JFK or Vietnam then I’ll leave you guys to it.'

                                  Test Subject 3:
 ‘The plane was supposed to have hit the building, that does not require the cctv to be skyward does it? why no marks on the lawn? do you know what sort of a pilot you would need to be to hit the side of a building with a passenger jet going at around 400 miles an hour. You talk about politely argue yet make comments like "As far as I know CCTV camera's don’t point to the sky" and you don’t think that’s not snide as you put it.’

Test Subject 4:
‘Its important to remember that when debating an issue like this that there is actually no need to take personal offence to comments. Clearly there are a lot of strong viewpoints being expressed in this thread but it does not involve character assassination. That sort of comment makes it personal. chill out.’

Me chill out? I was snide? What….. how…….wait…..what?! oh god my brain is hurting.

Ok, deep breaths…..where the hell did sane persons 1 and 2 go?? Its very suspicious they went missing when they started supporting me, aha! They were taken out by a covert ninja assassin to stop telling the truth!….. oh oh…. being in contact with these people is getting to me…..must get out soon…..but must try and save these people before their brains shut down from lack of stimulation…

'I’ll try one more time to get through to you people:

ASCE team member Mete Sozen, a professor of structural engineering at Purdue University: ‘In this case, one wing hit the ground; the other was sheared off by the force of the impact with the Pentagon's load-bearing columns, What was left of the plane flowed into the structure in a state closer to a liquid than a solid mass’ 

This is where we fundamentally differ, I choose to believe this guys version of what happened over that of some random unqualified whoever who runs a website or has made an agenda driven documentary. But of course he’s been paid off and is part of the conspiracy right? Along with all the witnesses who saw the plane flying in? Do you not realise that the way the buildings behaved, both the pentagon and the WTC has been investigated by probably hundreds of scientists, building experts, University professors etc etc, in both official and non-official capacity. If there was something unexplainable in the way they collapsed and how the holes in the Pentagon were formed there would be worldwide outrage from the ACAMDEMIC community…..but there isn’t! The only ‘scientists’ who will raise suspicions either has a book to sell or wants attention.

There IS CCTV footage of the hit, and it clearly shows the explosion happening just before the wall of the pentagon, why do you find it inconceivable the hijacker could be so accurate?  One of the hardest parts of flying is landing safely….and that wasn’t a concern of the hijacker now was it? Granted its poor footage that doesn’t show the plane, and if footage is being withheld my initial reaction would be that that’s because they don’t want to hurt the families more or provide extremists with more footage to rally their cause around. But you guys take a giant leap in logic and assume its because they don’t want us to see the missile! and where are the witnesses to this missile? Where is the plane and the people on board? If they go to all the trouble to have remote controlled planes in New York why not in Washington??!!  Can you people not see that by asking such simple common sense questions the notion they would send a missile is utterly ridiculous?!

EXTRAORDNARY evidence…..there is none!

Throughout this thread I’ve been accused of being ‘blindly devoted’ to being anti-conspiracy yet I have quite clearly explained my position and explained why. But all I got in return was topic dodging and hysterical ranting. And really, my CCTV comment was snide??? Seriously go back and read the comments I’ve received:

i wonder if alex and matt just believe EVERYTHING they are told?’

‘but to say 'there is no way they could get away with something like that' is BEYOND stupid’

‘Absolutely, ball-achingly unbelievable. The polar-opposite of a conspiracy nut!! you're an anti conspiracy nut - the player on the other side, and every bit as loony!!!!’

‘i'm beginning to form an opinion of my own here... are you and/or your girlfriend religious perchance?’

‘wake up and smell that horsesh@t.’

‘this kind of blind devotion to (in spite of contrary evidence), what we call in psychology, a 'perceptual set' is actually quite troubling’

And you tell me not to take personal offence and tell ME to chill out after the CCTV comment…seriously WOW!

I’ve stuck around with this thread as long as I have as I find people’s obsession with conspiracies and their hostility to any other viewpoint fascinating.  I too used to believe that Oswald was set up but then I engaged my brain a little and came to a different opinion – contrary to what I’ve been accused of I was open to other evidence and then I made up my own mind. 

I feel very sorry for all those families who lost people that day who on this 10-year anniversary will have to endure endless talk of these conspiracies which often accuses their loved one of being in on the conspiracy and faking their phone calls from the planes……….that disgusts me.

Well, I’m leaving this now. I await the replies of more venom, dodging of points I’ve made and accusations of running away because I’ve lost the argument.

But there is no getting through to you people; you cannot argue calmly with any kind of logic, you’ve contradicted yourselves and even accused me of having opinions I didn’t have.  I’ve also stated I believe the WMD evidence was manipulated and that there may have been a second shooter at JFK – but no I’m a close-minded loony, living in a bubble and a politicians dream.

You obviously find the possibility of a conspiracy all too exciting and claim a sense of superiority because you know the ‘Truth’.  Again, read back through this thread and see how you’ve behaved, grow up.'

......and .......relax....

I then enjoyed a rather merry evening with colleagues where quite a few drinks were consumed and late at night I had to visit the thread to see if the subjects had behaved as predicted….

Test Subject 3:
‘You have your opinion, I have mine, neither of us will ever know if there was more to this than just a terrorist attack, but I remain open minded to the notion that I feel there are many more unanswered questions. That in itself doesn’t make me deluded or a nut, and if your happy by all the reports you have read, then that's ok isn’t it.’

Test Subject 4:
‘Your intuition and ability to not look beyond the beliefs that you have been fed astounds me it really does. enjoy blindness.’

Sigh, how depressingly predictable……

It is here that Test Subject 1 returns with a stunningly long retort that I will summarise:

‘…….No one here is claiming that we know for certain how 9/11 was carried out. All that's being said is that based on historical evidence, and there is plenty, of our governments causing events to gain public backing for wars……………………………I think, as showed by the volume of posts here that more and more people are coming to terms with this and it raises questions.

No, it really doesn’t……but go on

I think you have taken things too personal, the insults were born from a frustration, as you posted your first piece of "evidence", the video.

You’re right, I apologise for providing evidence to back up my claim……

I could copy and paste all those examples like you did "insults" but I won't, as anyone reading the whole conversation could find for themselves.

Slowly loosing will to live now………, please don’t answer MY questions on the subject, just carry on attacking me….

‘Knowing someone, or being with someone who is American is no proof of anything, we could find Americans who believe massively contrasting theories about how bread is made...

Yep, will to live has left the building….....

ASCE team member Mete Sozen, a professor of structural engineering....I have no doubt what he says about the method is true, and I have no doubt the people who potentially carried it out would also know that. There is no greater crime than one with no evidence.

Did I read that right? Oh god I did………..I thought the holes in the pentagon were proof it was faked………...but now that the holes have been proven to you that they are what you would expect of a plane crashing into it, THAT is evidence of a conspiracy?! …………………….wow

Until the monetary system crashes, and it will...we will not be free. When we are freed, we won't even want to find out who was right, because things will either be a million times worse, or a million times better. And some insults here may have been open, but ostracism is the biggest insult of them all in my book. "you people".'

Blood boiling now, alcohol…….….. in system making me…….. put fingers to keypad……….

'ok, I said I wouldn't comment again but just to clarify a few things before I truly walk away from this. My girlfriend wanted to comment because there was one comment which stated that 'most Americans believe there's a conspiracy' as if that actually gave validity to the claims. When did I or she for that matter claim she spoke for every American or that it 'put the matter to bed'? Fact is i didn't, you just jumped on that like a pack of hungry wolves to  ........................... attack.

And is me saying 'you people' really a worse insult than what I’ve been called? I had one guy make a judgement on my psychological state, which he claimed was troubling! And by all means present a list of my personal insults that you claim I have said. I'm dieing to know what you actually deem as 'insulting'.

and sorry but comments like 'we will never know if there was more to this than a terrorist attack' really pisses me off because YES, actually we do know that this was a terrorist attack because there is no irrefutable evidence to suggest otherwise!! and just because governments have acted immorally in the past does NOT therefore mean they can pull of 9/11!!!!! Its in a completely different ball park.

And by the way, I checked out the that 'someone' (i don't want to say you people again now do i) put forward as some interesting have to be flipping kidding me? The front page has an advert for a flipping DVD! Not to mention it looks like its been put together by a 5 year old.

That’s it, I’m done, I've had a drink and I know I will regret responding again in the morning. I’ve wasted far too much of my time on this nonsense.……..and it IS utter, utter nonsense. I leave you in peace and please enjoy meeting up on the JFK website forums where you can back slap each other and discuss your thoughts on the DVD you've just paid a guy 10 quid for.

and for flipsake if you ever want to be taken seriously NEVER introduce this little nugget of wisdom:

'purely from a STATISTICAL viewpoint, SOME conspiracy theories must have some truth.'



At this point Test subject 2 writes two messages that are so absurd and so obviously contradictory to what he has already said that one of his buddies must have told him and minutes later they are deleted. Test subject 2 then goes very quiet.

 Test Subject 3:
Just because you feel there is no irrefutable evidence to believe this was nothing more than just a terrorist attack, doesn’t mean what you believe happened is all that happened does it? Example: I buy a pint in a pub and put it down to talk to someone, I turn back and its empty, someone tells me it evaporated and i have no irrefutable evidence that it was picked up and drunk by someone else, does that mean I believe it evaporated, or do I start to question where it went ? you believe it evaporated because you were told it did, I ask questions because I am not that gullible.’

No…….I would say there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that a pint of beer can evaporate under those conditions………THAT HAS BEEN MY POINT ALL ALONG!!! By logical deduction your pint has been spilled, drunk or replaced! For the love of god…

Test Subject 1:
I personally have never paid anyone anything for any DVD, and if you look into it, to be able to do full research you need time...and some money. These guys go around the world look for the truth, that's gonna cost some dollar. Videos like this have a tendency to look like they have been put together by amateurs, mmmmmmmiiiiimmm because they are.

Someone make it stop.........

Do you actually believe the government is looking out for our best interests? Their most important interest is revenue. That's obvious to anyone. They will do whatever they can to increase revenue.’

Please, please stop…….

‘Dude, if it is so irrefutably true....then why are so many people across the world questioning it? Not just us, MILLIONS of people, are we all crazy?’

Enough, now where is that friend delete button……

If you are still with me reader then well done! Remember, I CONDENSED this conversation significantly; there was a LOT more insanity being thrown around by these people. I wanted to see to just what extent they would go to defend their theories and as you saw the results are thoroughly depressing. You could argue believing in conspiracy theories is harmless… such as Area 51 and JFK but the 9/11 conspiracy takes things to a very disturbing new level. The evidence for the hijacking of four planes by religious extremists ordered by Osama Bin Ladin is OVERWHELMING, to believe otherwise goes against basic rational thinking. Not to mention deeply offensive to those who died and the families and friends they left behind.

What is also troubling is the sheer hostility expressed by these people, their anger blinds them from realising when they contradict themselves and makes them unable to recognise their total hypocrisy. When one theory is proven wrong they immediately jump onto another. Despite THEIR claims of non-believers being closed-minded sheep you simply cannot win an argument with one, anyone against them is part of the conspiracy, any evidence disproving them has been faked and most unbelievably of all - no evidence is also evidence. It is very sad, after all it is exactly that kind of unwavering ideology that motivated the hijackers on that day.

The Internet is both a blessing and a curse, everyone has the opportunity to have a platform to speak their mind (like this blog) and find out information at the click of a button. But it also means it is far too easy for these theories to spread and millions of people can all to easily be brainwashed into believing almost anything, especially as they all seem to think that just because millions believe, it just has to be true.

I think these words of the Amazing James Randi that I used in my experiment should always be remembered: 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'. Otherwise we are open to propaganda and manipulation by those with negative and immoral agendas. 

History is filled with examples where peoples’ senseless disregard to rational thinking to follow the ‘no smoke without fire' crowd has had very real consequences on peoples lives e.g. the Fatty Arbuckle scandal of the 1920s, the case of Lindy Chamberlain who was incorrectly found guilty of killing her baby in Australia in 1982 thanks to public hysteria and more recently the MMR jab controversy where mothers are still deciding not to give their child the vaccination despite the fact the claims (made by a single doctor) have been proven to be entirely false - This has lead to a steep rise of outbreaks of measles and has even resulted in deaths. When will we learn?

Feel free to pass this around to anyone you know who thinks 9/11 was a conspiracy and hopefully on the 20th anniversary this madness will be a distant memory.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Our New Home

Since my holiday in the UK in April I've pretty much been living out of a suitcase and Kate and I have had 7 different rooms/tents to call home since then. This is because we have been waiting for our luxury safari tent to arrive and for the water pipes to our showers and toilet to be completed. But alas it is done and we have made the move finally into what will be our home for the next few years.

We are very happy with the tent to say the least, the back section designed to hold the shower has become our walk in wardrobe and the front room is very spacious. We don't have proper drawers or cupboards yet but it is so nice to finally have ONE place to store our stuff. I even found a place to hang my dartboard! :)
 We've also begun exploring our new back yard, looking for carnivore marking trees and other suitable places to put our camera traps. Several times we've stood looking at views like the one below and smile to ourselves: 'This is our job!'
We have also just said goodbye to our very first volunteer Barbara from Germany, if all of our volunteers could be like her we would be very happy indeed. She was great to have around especially on the tracking safaris with German guests who couldn't speak any English! She also took amazing photos of the guest farm and cats for the new website I'm working on. We were very sad to say goodbye after only 10 days :(
The cheetahs are still doing well and the tourists are still loving the tracking safaris. One thing that IS changing is the weather, it is getting HOT!
A short blog this time but my next one will be a lot longer and very different to what I usually write about....curious? Then keep checking in on the African Adventure! :)  

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Namib Conservation Centre

Wow, where do I begin with this blog?! A LOT has happened since the last time I updated the African Adventure so brace yourselves, this is going to be the longest blog entry yet! As I write this Kate and I are in Solitaire at Solitaire Guest Farm Dessert Ranch, two weeks into our new project. The project will officially be known as the Namib Conservation Centre and is formed by a partnership between the Solitaire Guest Farm and N/a’an ku se.

However, I’ll rewind as we had a very eventful last two weeks at the N/a’an ku se Wildlife Sanctuary.  Kate and I were lucky enough to have been able to move into one of the empty staff houses and as you do in Africa, turned our back garden into a temporary caracal pen.  The caracals in question were two orphaned kittens who were found at a shopping mall believe it or not. I’ll skip over the fact that in preparing the pen I got myself into a fight with a bush, which did not go to well for me and I ended up requiring a trip to the dentist, instead I’ll jump straight to the part when the sneaky little devils found their way into our house. They had pushed over a board that was covering a hole in the wall that was used as a make shift dog flap for the previous inhabitant’s pet.  Due to the brutal cold weather we were experiencing at the time we decided to leave the kittens where they were. So the mischievous duo had free reign of most of the house and liked to tuck themselves amongst our belongings that were being stored ready for our move to Solitaire. 
Eventually the duo made their way back outside and our efforts to secure the back garden were not in vein and the kittens could not find a way out.  Their time will come however; as once they have reached maturity the plan is to release them back into the wild. 
I somehow managed to not be involved in any fire fighting at all during my two and half years at CCF but here I found myself in the thick of the action twice in the space of a week. The second was the most intense and a fire that had spread over numerous farms. It was a hard afternoon but it was great to have been of some use in preventing it spreading further.
The 27th of June arrived and after first discussing the Solitaire project at our interview at N/a’an ku se way back in October 2010 it was finally time to make the move. The cats (7 cheetahs and 1 leopard) had been darted, fitted with radio collars and placed in transport cages during a very busy afternoon the day before. Four of the cheetahs would be released at Solitaire, the other three plus the Leopard would be released at another project site in Sandfontein.
This release was significant as it would be the biggest in N/a’an ku se’s history. The huge convoy (including a film crew for Animal Planet) set off early and as we traveled south and deeper into the stunning mountainous scenery we kept having to pinch ourselves that it was actually happening! Our passenger was a four-year-old cheetah named ‘Boris’ and he actually seemed to enjoy looking out the front of the car and surveying his new surroundings.
After a long 5 hours we arrived at the Solitaire Guest Farm and Kate and I of course had to stop by the entrance sign and capture the moment :)
Our excitement only grew as we took in the glorious landscape that we would wake up to every morning.  We parked up the cars and gave the cats some food and water, as they would spend the night in the cages. Four of them however would be released into their new home the next day. As the sun set Kate and I had the chance to become reacquainted with the guest farm’s owners, Walter and Simone Swarts (we had met them very briefly a few months earlier). I can not adequately describe in words just how fantastic they are, Kate and I have been welcomed with open arms and have already been made to feel like part of the family. And of course without their passion for wildlife and conservation this project would not have been possible.

The first night was also spent meeting the vast array of animal inhabitants that live freely around the farm including 5 incredibly loveable and spoiled dogs, Max the Oryx, Bokkie the Springbok, Sammy the parrot, a family of meerkats as well as peacocks, guinea pigs, rabbits, ducks and chickens! After such a long day it was soon time for bed especially after we had gorged ourselves on the gourmet buffet (the food here is unbelievably good)!
The next day started early and we got straight to work on finishing the fence of the 500ha holding camp that our four cheetahs would be released into. I have to mention that the fact the fence needed just minor touches at this point was a miracle as the camp was far from finished only weeks earlier. However, thanks to incredible work by our colleague Hardas (he really is Hardas by name, Hardas by nature) and some of our farm workers, who worked 7 days a week with no lunch breaks the camp was done in what must have been record time. Work on the fence lasted for most of the day but around 3.00pm it was finally time to release the cats.
The first cat to be released was Boris. Three weeks earlier Boris had been hunting game on a small game farm in the Windhoek area and was trapped by the farm owner who then called N/a’an ku se to collect him. Walter had the honour of opening the cage and Boris wasted no time and sprinted away into the distance to begin exploring his new home.
Next up was Spartacus, a huge 9-year-old male who had gained a feisty reputation during his two-year stay at N/a’n ku se’s Wildlife Sanctuary, and he too wasted no time running away to disappear into the bush.
The two boys would share their new home with two young sisters estimated at two years of age, named Annie and Betty. The sisters had been orphaned at the young age of six months and have been looked after by N/a’an ku se ever since. The sisters took quite a bit of persuading to leave their trailer, however, for the excited onlookers it was worth the wait as the two girls ran only 100 yards into the bush and posed beautifully together as they stood taking in their new surroundings. By now the sun had started to set and casted a beautiful light over the landscape.  This magical moment caused many to shed a tear and many hugs of congratulations were shared. The Namib Conservation Centre was up and running!!!!
The next morning Kate and I were up at the crack of dawn and said goodbye to the team who were about to start a mammoth trip further south to Sandfontein where the Leopard and other three cheetahs were to be released. Kate and I then enjoyed our first morning tracking and to our relief all four cats were still inside the camp!
It’s been two weeks since then and we couldn’t be happier with how things have gone. All four cats are doing well; we even found the two females and Spartacus on a springbok carcass one day (several Springbok were trapped when the fence went up).  We have also started to take guests out with us and the response we have had has been overwhelmingly positive, people are not just liking the experience, they are loving it. All have given us their contact details to receive more information about N/a’an ku se and some have even given donations. The fact that they get to walk alongside wild cheetahs that will be released back into the wild is proving a very unique experience for them. Word is spreading and we have already started to get visitors who are not staying at the guest farm coming just to see the cheetahs.
A student group from the Maricopa Community Colleges in the States were with us for three nights and helped us start exploring the area.  We found several possible leopard caves and marking trees and set up camera traps in our effort to gain an estimate of the population of carnivores already in the area. We haven't had to wait long as one of cameras has already captured this local resident:
We taught the students how to track and they also helped us strengthen the cheetah camp fence and map the camp with a GPS. The group was lead by Prof. Dennis Wilson who is an old friend we met at CCF. It was great having his group here and they helped us out enormously, we are hoping to continue the relationship and welcome another group next year.
Because our campsite is still to be completed, throughout all of this Kate and I have been staying in one of the rooms at the lodge and dining at the gourmet buffet every night! But that’s not to say we will be sad to move to the camp because just look where it is situated:
Not a bad location I think you’ll agree and the large platform on the left will be where our luxury safari tent is going…….Yep, it’s a hard life :) 

Please check out the official N/a’an ku se blog to read more about this and the Sandfontein release. The other three cheetahs are doing well in their holding camp and Derek the Leopard who was released straight to the wild has already made two kills!

Well, if you are still reading, thank you. I think after that epic blog entry you are now fully up to speed with everything that has happened over the past few weeks :)  And rest assured, there will be lots more to talk about over the upcoming months!