Umbulo the Dung Beetle Extordinaire…Part I

Ten animal crossing signs from around the world — Just a Little Further

While driving through Addo, Elephant Park, we came across the signs like these and being the curious sort that I am..I dug into finding out more about these small creatures and was completely dumbfounded at how incredibly interesting a beetle that rolled poo for a livelihood could be…what follows is the story of just one…Umulo

An ancient Greek fable…
The storyteller, Aesop (believed to have lived in ancient Greece around 600 BCE) tells the story of “The Dung Beetle and the Eagle”. Despite the appeals of the beetle, the eagle killed a hare. To take revenge on the eagle, the beetle destroyed the eagle’s eggs. In despair, the eagle visited Olympus and asked Zeus to look after its latest eggs by placing them in Zeus’s lap. When the beetle realised what the eagle has done, he stuffed himself with dung and flew into the face of Zeus. This startled Zeus and in the process he jumped to his feet and dropped the eggs. After an explanation from the beetle, and realising that the eagle had ignored the pleas of the beetle, Zeus instructed the eagle and the beetle to stay away from each other. To ensure that the beetle would now leave the eagle’s eggs alone, Zeus changed the breeding season of the eagle to a period when beetles are not above ground.
https://wilderness-safaris.com/

Khepri (Scarabaeus Sacer)

Umbulo woke to a warm and sunny day…he had been extremely lethargic during the whole of winter…time to rise and shine… work to do…shuffling poo around…he absolutely loved his job of environmental specialist…cleaning up the environment, reseeding, providing vital nutrients for the soil, aerating and fertilizing…you have to be very passionate about what you do to work, eat, sleep and drink poo…

Opening each of his four eyes stretching each of his six legs…yep, everything was in working order…he stared at the portraits of his family that he had deliberately arranged on the wall opposite his bed…it was an inspiring reminder of his illustriousness heritage and length of his family’s lineage…65 million years…

The revered Scarab Beetle…his great…great…great (many great’s) ancestor was worshipped for thousands of years…considered a solar deity…and over 600 family lines were known throughout the world…on every continent, except for Antarctica…which for all practicality is not known for it’s warmth…and large amounts of poo…now how’s that for having something to be proud of…

Umbolo was a very unique poo roller…the three members of his family were different than he was…he was a Qenq the roller (Telecoprids)…but there was Iton the Tunneler (Endocoprids), Umhlai the Dweller (Paracoprids) and the Black Sheep of the Family, Ukuba the Stealer (Kleptocoprids). Ukuba never did any work of his own, he always stole other beetles work… so the family never spoke of him much and if they did it was only in hushed whispers…

Rolling out of bed to the floor…immediately to start his callanetics…staying the strongest animal on the planet was not an easy feat…pulling and pushing over 1,000 times his body weight every working day required a great deal of consistent workouts…something no human could pull off…lol…he grinned to himself at the image of any human pulling 6 double decker buses filled with people…


Umbolo’s direct family line was endemic to South Aftica…and his family was of the rarest Dung Beetle kind and now most of his family was found only here in the Park…The Addo Dung Beetle or their fancier name Circellium bacchus…he was so extra special that even the human’s took unusual precautions that he was protected…he was immortalized and given the right of way at all times..he rubbed his beautiful strong body one more time in pride before heading out…

He had to walk…not fly like some of his cousins…remembering all his family that still had wings…like magical capes that allowed them to get to any steaming pile of poo in a hurry…and his own long, dry hot walk seemed unfair……but definitely worth it…his family had adapted themselves with it was the only way to survive in the hot arid desert environment that he had been regulated to…it was always such a long walk for elephant takeaway…His wing case now had evolved to be a CO2 cylinder..which helped him to breathe less and not waste his body water during his daily trek on his job…As opposed to wings, flightless dung beetles have a tightly sealed elytra (wing case), which creates a convective cooling system where heat is drawn away from their body. Thus, they are perfectly suited to hot regions of Africa.

He climbed out of his tunnel…lifted his head…his strong sense of smell alerted him to the fact that his favorite meal was already prepared for him by the majestic elephant chef who lived on site….and maybe…just maybe he’d convince a beautiful female how magnificent he was and start a family…

Here Comes The Bride

References:

https://jeb.biologists.org/content/206/8/1261.2

https://theconversation.com/five-things-dung-beetles-do-with-a-piece-of-poo

https://www.shamwari.com/the-magnificent-flightless-dung-beetle/

https://www.sabisabi.com/wildfacts/dung-beetles/

Sunday Morning at the Watering Hole…

“Nature itself is the best physician.” 

Hippocrates 

Double C’s…not that🤣…where is your mind at….Cancer and Covid…each on their own are incredibly stressful circumstances to walk with…together, they can become an overwhelming daily event…

To find a place of peace and calmness to breathe in…Mr. P and I headed into nature…we are lucky that Addo Elephant park is only about a 45 minute drive…a place of solace from the current “norm”…

I think I have gone over the edge a tad…for every photo that I came across…seemed to have a conversation with me…but I wanted to share and hope that you might find a respite from your own place of chaos and turmoil or just a laugh…btw…it did work…both of our resting heart rates did come down…❤

Did you hear what’s happening down at the watering hole today?

Oh…OK, Mabel…nothing’s happening here…let’s go check it out…

Hey, Wait for me…I can hear everything…if you let me go too…I’ll tell you everything

…There’s the boy’s again…fighting over that prissy girl…won’t they every learn?

There goes George…all in a huff…I guess he didn’t get the girl this time…

Yup…the party is starting…you better hurry, girls…

There’s Bertha…definitely hasn’t lost all the “pregnancy fat” yet…and that child of her’s…so spoilt and noisy…

And there’s Secretary Martha…always looking for her lost bugs…and that outdated feathered cap!!!!… really needs to go…

Quite eating, Ziggy…we’re going to miss all the fun…

Let’s keep going, Pumba…it looks a little crowded here…

…Psst,,,those nosy girls are on the way….want me to head them off at the pass…I’ll take them both on…you know I will!….

Which way….come on, guys…which way….this is not funny…you know I can’t see which way to go….

The Gang’s all here…

Sending love, laughter, and some magic for your day!!!! ~Renée

Fermented Fruit of the Ancient “Elephant Tree”…

There is a phrase…”curiosity killed the cat…but satisfaction brought him back”…and that is how we got in wonderful trouble…

…After reading about how the animals so enjoyed the fruit…my curiosity about this aromatic, juicy plum-sized fruit rapidly grew…so I had to ask Mr. P if he had tasted the fruit…he HAD tasted the exquisite Amarula cream Liqueur… and of course I just had to give it a try…

Anything that has withstood the test of thousands of years…it must be exceptional…yes, believe it or not archaeological evidence shows the marula tree was a source of nutrition as long as ago as 10,000 years B.C….

It is a botanical treasure…nearly every part of the tree can be used in one way or another…from the bark which can be chewed for stomach issues…the nuts can roasted and are considered to be a delicacy…the leaves used as a spice…and then there is the fruit…raw, cooked, made into jam, a home-made beer called Buganu, in Mozambique the fermented marula fruit is used to produce a wine called Ucanhe…and of course Amarula Cream…

This magical tree is also dioecious trees….what in the world does “dioecios” mean…it means that the tree has a specific sex…and of course, it is the female ones that bear flowers and fruit…the males only “look pretty” by blooming…

I tried it and it is extraordinarily delicious…and Mr. P said it gave him psychedelic dreams…and as I said in the beginning…”satisfaction brought him back”…it is now in our stash of alcohol…just in case we forget why the elephants (and all the rest of the African animals) love it so much…

https://youtu.be/hBzqy5a–WE

*Beautiful Feature Image by Jabulani-Keith-Ladzinski

The March of the Ants…

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Good for You | Good for Our Planet

I really did not know that I was supporting the environment or providing extra protein and iron for the health of our guests when I unknowingly feed them “puds” (puds is the South African all encompassing word meaning dessert) with live ants…it really is one of those life experiences that make you cringe and laugh at…all at the same time…

Mr. P asked someone who did him a favor to stay for supper…just to set up the scene…I do enjoy being hospitable and am usually pretty good at it…I was happy to do so…totally unprepared to feed the gentleman and his 10/11 year old son on a 30 minute notice…

Grabbed some steaks out of the freezer…baked a few potatoes and made a salad…easy and perfectly acceptable…but what to serve for dessert🍮…hmmm…now I had leftover chocolate cake and “Crunchies” (Crunchies are a nonbake bar made with oats, coconut and honey)…not a bad ending…I asked if (we’ll call the son “E”) E liked chocolate…now what kid does not like chocolate…and he grinned…warming my heart…

Grabbing a bowl…I add some chocolate cake and “crunchie” and sat it down in front of “E”…he was sitting at the table diagonally across from me and I couldn’t really see what was happening…but I noticed that he wasn’t eating his chocolate cake…and just a little bit of his crunchie…hmmm🤔…a question mark briefly tiptoed across my mind…but just let it keep going as I continued conversing and trying to play hostess…

Then I saw his father briefly reach across his bowl and pick something off…still didn’t register….

…And then when I brought his father dessert…all was revealed…they had been so polite that they didn’t let me know what was going on…though I tried to serve chocolate covered ants unknowingly…

I cannot even imagine what “E” told his mother about the “crazy” woman from America serving live ants with his chocolate cake…maybe that is how I got away with it…because even though I was embarrassed beyond measure…and was probably my worst dinner disaster…I will forever remember how grateful they were with the sharing of our home and meal…even receiving the warmest hug from “E” before they left…a truly memorable evening here…

I firmly believe that the ants own the land here in South Africa…the birthplace of man…and apparently that of the ant too…huge ant hills are a familiar sight…especially in the game reserves…

Out of curiosity, I searched for what countries served “ants” for food…I came across some new and interesting information that I had never really seen before…about Entomophagy, the consumption of insects as food…very nutritional and even promoted by the U.N. for the following reasons….

Adding insects to our diet resolves a lot of problems!

https://www.edibleinsects.com/entomophagy/

Making Entomophagy a trend here in the West will change the trajectory and make eating insects more popular worldwide. Doing this will reduce the demand for traditional meat and help limit the destruction it’s causing. We need to adopt insects into our diets for many reasons.
Key points are listed below.

Food Insecurity: Edible insects are available to just about anyone anywhere. They can be grown in homes, small farms, and large commercial enterprises.

Inhumane Treatment of Livestock: Insects raised for food can be grown and harvested humanely without the need for growth hormones and antibiotics.

Deforestation: Two-thirds of the deforestation taking place in the Amazon is for beef. Insects can be grown humanely just about anywhere, in rural and urban areas. You can even raise insects in old warehouses.

Pollution: Fertilizers, manure, and pesticides are major causes of land, water, and air pollution. Livestock is responsible for around 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Land & Water Resources: Two-thirds of our potable water and over a third of our arable land is used for livestock. As our population increases by 50% in the near future, finding solutions to this is imperative.

Our Health: Edible insects are a real animal protein that includes all nine essential amino acids; they’re a prebiotic fiber (nutrition for probiotics), very high in antioxidants, a perfect Omega 3:6 balance, high in B12, Calcium, Zinc, Iron, and more. Insects are also a very bio-available food source.

Just in case you are interested😂…Here is an actual recipce from https://www.bugsfeed.com/locusts_with_ants_and_wild_garlic…

Even though there are over 36 African countries that are “entomophagous…and “bugs” may be a mass produced food source in the future…I don’t think I’ll ever be a “bug” connoisseur anytime soon…or contributing much in the way of this new cuisine…but hey, that’s just my personal aversion to bugs in any shape and form …

Would you be willing to create a meal with bugs…

Sending much love…laughter and magic…no “bugs” though…

Day 206…Through the Doggy Door

And the Front Door Closed Behind Me

“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

…I think life has a wonderful sense of humor and often checks to see how elegantly we handle difficult situations…I did do fairly well during this particular situation…but will admit that I did have a meltdown afterwards…poor Mr. P…he is such my knight-in-shining armor…coming to my rescue to “make-it-all-better”…

…the doorbell rang…opening the door (and leaving it open)…I went to the front gate to let the lawn guys in…

Mother nature had been feeling feisty that day and was making herself known…the ocean breezes had been blowing strongly…and with an explosive BANG…she emphatically slammed the front door shut…

I turned…and everything stopped…my breathing…my brain…my world went silent…

I was stuck outside of the house…while some of the the lawn guys and their paraphernalia were working on the front and others were waiting to have access to the back yard…but I had to be inside the house to get to the back and let them in…

Feeling the fool…and probably turning three shades of embarrassed red…I had to tell them that I had locked myself out of the house and they would need to wait until the next week to cut the back…

But now what…I was still locked out…

The redeeming factor…was that earlier Mr. P had said that he thought he had left his glasses at home and was going to come home at lunch and pick them up…well, he should be home any time now…right

Apparently life was not done laughing at me yet…on my phone (in the house)…he had sent a message…he had gone to get in the car and found his glasses…and guess what…he wasn’t coming home for lunch…

So I waited and waited…and started getting a little antsy…walked around the house looking for a magical door to open up somewhere…anywhere…

Finally figuring out that Mr. P was probably not coming home for lunch…my brain starting working on possible solutions…I don’t know anyone…have no phone with me…no windows that I can crawl through…all barred…and just big enough for my arm…definitely not my whole body…

..Think…Renee think…Walking around the front of the house…walking behind the garage…all I could see that might be a possibility were two options…one was through and the other was over…

Behind the garage was Whickey’s doggie entrance in the gate…the gate itself is rather high…didn’t think crawling over was feasible…maybe I could try going through…looked the easiest…down near the ground…tried it…another comedy of errors…or at least I am sure it looked hilarious…a grandmother on her butt with legs first trying to fit through the small opening…

The only other option that I could see was going over the wall near the front door…it seemed a little less intimidating in height than the back gate…still not manageable for a short person…only 5’3″ …without some assistance…of some kind or another…

I started dragging some bricks next to the wall…they wouldn’t stack very well…but I did manage to get three to stay together…but still couldn’t quite get my leg over the top part of the wall…I could see over the top and it had made my heart stop a second…quite a drop…even though it was into our garden bed…it seemed it might be a broken leg or hip in the making…

So I crawled back out of the flowers and walked around house and garage again…if nothing else…I can be very stubborn and persistent…

Back to the doggie door…and then I had that “aha” moment…bells and whistles…I should try going sideways…the door might not be wide enough…but it was fairly tall…

…and by golly…it worked…not the most elegant of arrivals…but perseverance and pure stubbornness won the day…


“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
― Thomas A. Edison

I love Thomas Edison quotes…but disagree with him on the common sense part…most crazy and wonderful dreams…don’t seem to be based in common sense…and in my humble opinion…in life…above all else…persistence is the key…

“Don’t ever give up.
Don’t ever give in.
Don’t ever stop trying.
Don’t ever sell out.
And if you find yourself succumbing to one of the above for a brief moment,
pick yourself up, brush yourself off, whisper a prayer, and start where you left off.
But never, ever, ever give up.”

― Richelle E. Goodrich, Eena, The Tempter’s Snare