Covid-19 Hits Kruger Park

South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park is not seeing much traffic these days, and the park’s inhabitants are taking advantage of the peace and quiet.

Roads, once lined with cars, are empty, with the exception of park rangers, like Richard Sowry, who got this photo. This pride of lions could not pass up an opportunity for a late afternoon nap before venturing out for an evening’s activities.

Sowry was out on patrol on Wednesday when he snapped a pride sleeping on a road which would normally be busy with tourists. But Kruger, like other wildlife parks, has been shut since 25 March as part of the corona virus lock down.

While driving near Orpen Rest Camp, he spotted the lions on the road ahead and pulled up just five yards to look at the unusual phenomenon. As he took photos with his mobile phone, the lions did not seem bothered, most of them apparently fast asleep.

“Lions are used to people in vehicles,” he explained. “All animals have much more of an instinctive fear of people on foot, so if I had walked up they would never have allowed me to get so close.” The oldest lioness in the pride is about 14, “which is very old for a lioness,” so they are used to seeing vehicles.

Normally Mr Sowry would only see lions sleeping on the park’s roads on colder nights in the winter, when the tar retains quite a lot of heat. But rain the previous day left the area wet, and lions prefer to be dry.

That and the freedom to nap on a road less traveled.

Source: BBC News

In Memoriam…

Frank and Margaret Taylor

Our DLG Naturals BW team is heart-broken to announce the passing of a great life, a wonderful friend, a mentor, and leader: Frank Taylor.

Frank’s lifelong work was directed toward the betterment of Botswana. He loved its people and gave of himself, every day, toward enriching the lives of others. His deep faith gave him strength when the world tried to frustrate his efforts. His loving family supported him, as he struggled to find new and better ways of utilizing the many natural products that Botswana offered, so that impoverished rural villagers could improve their own lives.

Frank never gave up.

At 84, he was in incredible physical shape. And while he often complained that his memory was not quite as good, he remained intellectually sharp. He continued to write grants and proposals, served on boards of directors, and stayed socially active.

Frank was a force of nature, and nature finally claimed him: Not “natural causes” or Covid-19, nothing so trivial, but the sting of a scorpion. Frank probably could have survived one sting, as most people do. He probably could have survived two.

But not three. Frank lost his fight on 4 April. 2020.

Frank was the reason DLG Naturals came to Botswana. Without Frank, the company would have struggled, perhaps even failed. But he was always there, ready to offer advice, find resources, share his wisdom, and pitch in wherever and whenever he could. DLG BW is and will always be eternally grateful to him.

Frank will be missed – by family, by friends, and by Botswana.

Thank you, Frank, for your wonderful life and the many gifts you have given to so many. May you find a well deserved rest in your new home.

Meet Tuli – an Orphan

An orphan...
Photo credit: Elephants Without Borders

It Takes a Village to raise a child, or… an elephant! An ancient proverb that holds true within African cultures, which means that it takes an entire community of different people interacting in order for a child to experience and grow in a safe environment.

At the Elephants Without Borders Sanctuary, this holds true for the elephant orphan calves. The EWB “village” has many people that are needed and contribute to ensure the success of the elephants’ rehabilitation and placement back into the wild lands of Botswana. 

Botswana is being recognized internationally as the world’s leader in elephant conservation and advocacy. Here, statesmen also understand that natural treasures provide a source of sustainable income for its people, well in to the future.

The “littliest” orphan at EWB came from the Tuli Block in the southern portion of Botswana. After an unfortunate human-conflict situation, Tuli lost her family and was found wandering by a lodge owner along the Botswana/South Africa border. She was airlifted by EWB’s rescue plane and arrived on-site the same day.

Her introduction to Molelo, another orphan, was the first reunion between an elephant from the south of the country and an elephant from the north, a sort of “artificial migration” that many elephants once were afforded freely before the habitat changed and migration routes vanished. Rescued at the age of one month last October, Tuli was in critical care but is now integrated into the small herd and full of spunk! She has bonded tightly with Panda – yes, another orphan at the village, and follows her adopted big sister, everywhere.

From DLG NATURALS BW in Botswana

The majestic elephant, one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, is in serious danger of eradication. Here in Botswana, we are fortunate and proud to have the world’s largest congregation of elephants—70% of Africa’s total. Elephants have emigrated to this beautiful country, forced from their homes to flee a plague unlike any other: ivory and game hunters.

The Numbers

Several years ago, researchers in Africa undertook a mammoth task: counting the remaining African elephants. In 2016, just over 350,000 savanna elephants were found—100,000 fewer than just seven years earlier. That’s nearly two elephants an hour disappearing, every hour, every day, every year. In East Africa, the numbers are even more grim.

The Economics

Money drives decisions that affect wildlife, but wildlife doesn’t have much input. Elephants fall prey to poachers, but their natural habitat is also being wiped out. The elephant’s need for extensive roaming further exposes the species to poaching and ecological change, necessitating massive initiatives, which cost money, spanning entire nations.

We at DLG Naturals BW are undeterred. Our company is designed to bring economic growth through commerce in these areas, and we now support the critical work of Elephants Without Borders.

We won’t ask you to donate to the cause or take hours out of your day if you aren’t able. We ask that you spread the awareness when you can, and choose companies like ours that share our profits (but choose not to increase prices) to support these causes.

If interested, please learn about this incredible organization:

On behalf of the DLG Naturals BW team and our 2,000+ harvesters, thank you.

Marula Harvesters in Botswana Prep Marula Pips for Organic Oil Production by DLG Naturals BW.

Watch the video at:

Marula “pips” – the inner stone of the marula fruit, much like a plum – offers up oil-rich kernels that can be processed into marula oil. In the video, women of a Botswana village are prepping the stones for oil production by DLG Naturals BW in Botswana.

The delicious taste of marula fruit reflects its origins as the “food of kings.” The history of the marula tree itself goes back thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows the tree was a source of nutrition as far back as 10,000 years B.C. In the Pomongwe Cave in Zimbabwe, 24 million marula fruits are estimated to have been eaten.

Legends abound on the multiple uses of the tree, the bark, the leaves, fruit, nut and kernels. Marula was a dietary mainstay in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia throughout ancient times. But beyond its food value, according to Venda culture, bark infusions from the marula tree can determine the sex of an unborn child. (A child of the opposite sex is considered extra special as it disobeyed the spirits.)

The Marula tree bears small round shaped fruit, green in color that ripens to yellow, that is harvested off the ground from January to March. Marula fruit is described as tart, sweet and refreshing, with a “guava-like” taste and anything from “tropical” to “revitalizing” to “pleasant” or “sour-sweet.”

The fruit pulp contains four to eight times more Vitamin C than oranges and makes an excellent base for fruit soft drinks, nectars and teas; alcoholic beverages such as brandies, liqueurs (the famous Amarula cream liquor), brew (the legendary marula “beer”), wines, and punches. The cooked fruit can be transformed into delicious jams, juices, jelly, and snacks. Even though this fruit is seasonal, it can be processed into pulp in large volumes and stored frozen for a period of over a year.

The fruit peel may have more than twenty-seven different kinds of flavors for ice cream, yogurt, and other foods, and at least ten volatile esters that could be extracted for aromatherapy, homeopathic medicines, and essential oils.

The marula seeds, or nuts, are located inside an extremely hard, walnut-sized stone or “pip” surrounded by the marula flesh (think of the stone inside a plum) . The nuts contain high levels of protein and minerals, such as iron, phosphorous, copper, magnesium and zinc, so they are an excellent food source. They have a very delicate and distinct aroma and – most important – a very high oil content.

The oil, once extracted through cold pressing and cleaned, is used for cooking, as a salad dressing, and – more commonly with its high percentage of oleic acid and other antioxidants – as a popular ingredient in cosmetics and skin/hair formulations.

The fruit is picked off the ground when ripe, by villagers, mostly women, in Southern Africa. One marula tree can produce up to 500 kg of fruit a year. The fruit is spread over the ground for several months to dry. The dried flesh is removed, often by beating the marula, as seen in the video. The “pips” are then cleaned and sorted, for eventual production of marula oil by DLG Naturals BW, located in Gabane, Botswana.

Watch the video at:

The nutritious oil demonstrates impressive anti-oxidant action, penetrates deep into the dermis layer of the skin, and locks in moisture so the skin stays healthy. With a perfect proportion of palmitic acid, Marula oil creates a protective coating on the skin’s surface, resulting in noticeably smooth and protected skin in seconds without a greasy residue.

The oil demonstrates biomimetic functions and a similar fatty acid profile as oil in the skin, is extremely stable and non-irritating, absorbs quickly, reduces redness, and limits trans-epidermal water loss. These factors create a powerful anti-aging effect that may prevent wrinkling and fade ugly scars.

Eight times more stable than olive oil with an induction period of over 30 hours, it has a shelf life of years and is a strong efficacious in conditioners, moisturizers, lotions, and more.

And it all starts with the women collecting marula fruit in Botswana.

The Khoi-Khoi and San Communities Recognized As The Rightful Knowledge Bearers Of Rooibos Tea

Photo credit: Winfried Bruenken (Amrum)

After nearly 200 years, the Khoi-Khoi and San communities are recognized as the rightful knowledge bearers of rooibos (roy-boss) tea.

This recognition also comes with a signatory that requires industries that trade in all aspects of rooibos to share benefits with the traditional knowledge holders in a fair and equitable manner. It also presents an opportunity for small farmers to become big players in a global market, preserves the biodiversity, and addresses poverty relief.

The Khoi-Khoi and San are the indigenous peoples who originally inhabited South Africa’s Cape region. This is where rooibos tea grows naturally. They were the first to inform on the usage of the rooibos plant.

This designation, which took four years of negotiation, is part of a growing movement of African countries reclaiming artifacts and scientific knowledge stolen or co-opted by European countries.

What is Rooibos?

The rooibos plant is 300 years old. It’s a medicinal herb native to South Africa’s mountain region, Cederberg. Indigenous peoples in the Cederberg region have been harvesting and brewing rooibos for centuries.

Today, Cederberg farmers still wild-harvest rooibos. Portions of the commercially produced rooibos herb is farmed in other regions of South Africa. Still, South Africa is the only country in the world producing the rooibos plant.   

Rooibos tea is the national drink of South Africa. Rooibos, also known as African red tea or red bush tea, is a medicinal herb beverage. It’s chock full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Scientists believe the health benefits come from the high levels of flavonoids.

How to Use Rooibos

Drinking rooibos tea boosts the health of your body. Steep the dried rooibos in just boiled water for 4-5 minutes. Add your favorite sweetener, spices, milk or cream and enjoy.

Applying rooibos tea directly to your skin relieves acne, pimples, eczema, and sunburn.

Simply boil a cup of rooibos tea and let it steep for 20-30 minutes. When it’s room temperature, you can apply the tea with a cotton ball to your skin as a toner. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

You can infuse rooibos in your skincare products or apply red tea powder directly to your skin. It helps prevent premature skin aging.

This official designation is a win for the Khoi-Khoi and San peoples. It acknowledges and rights a wrongdoing that has existed far too long.

How The Chocolate Industry Holds Ghana’s Cocoa Farmers Hostage

Photo credit: Charisse Kenion

Ghanian cocoa farmers do not make a living wage and succumb to poverty at the hands of the chocolate industry. Multinational companies hold farmers hostage by preventing them from diversifying their crops.

Farmers routinely diversify their crops based on physical and financial resources. For instance, if suitable land to produce a particular crop becomes limited, the farmer plants another crop that is more suited for the conditions. Farmers also diversify their crops, if they cannot fetch a desirable price for their crop.

Tropical forestland is needed to grow cocoa. It’s in limited supply. Therefore, farmers want to diversify their land to feed and provide for their families — basically to survive.

Last May I published, The Unfortunate Casualty of The World’s Love For Chocolate, which talks about how clearing for cocoa is the leading cause of deforestation in Ghana. Ghana is losing its rainforest faster than any other country in the world.

This is a threat to the profits of multinational chocolate companies. They can no longer slash and burn forests to make way for more cocoa farms, but they insist on spending money on cocoa farming to the detriment of the cocoa farmer.

Over time, as the land becomes exhausted, the farmer must rework the land. This makes it costlier for the farmer to cultivate the land. It’s estimated that the cost of maintaining an exhausted farm is double the customary costs.

Not only does the cocoa farmer suffer, but workers and end users suffer. Continued use of exhausted land requires more labor. Hence, the use of child labor increases. Fertilizer and pesticide use also increases to aid exhausted farmland. Therefore, the end user is potentially subjected to harmful chemicals.

Everyone suffers except the chocolate industry. They generate over $80 Billion a year. Supplying chocolate to wealthy countries should not come at the cost of the farmer’s future nor precious tropical forestland.

Tanzania Is Home To A Newly Discovered Species Of Fish Called, “Wakanda”

Photo credit: H.T. Pinheiro and B. Shepherd

In a life imitating art discovery, deep-sea diving scientists from the University of Sydney and California Academy of Science Hope for Reefs, have found a new species of fairy wrasses fish – Cirrhilabrus wakanda, off the east coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa.

The Cirrhilabrus wakanda is part of a group of fairy wrasses from the western Indo-Pacific Ocean. There are eight species recorded from the western Indian Ocean, which is where “Wakanda” was discovered. There is a nine-species complex of fairy wrasses from the western Pacific Ocean.

They named this new genus “Wakanda” due to the similarities in appearance of the fish and the Black Panther’s suit. The Cirrhilabrus wakanda is a small colorful fish. It has facial stripes above and below the eyes with prominent purple chain-like scales reminiscent of the fictional rare vibranium metal woven into Black Panther’s suit.

Another similarity between the Cirrhilabrus wakanda and the fictional Wakanda is that they both inhabit a secretive reef off of the east coast of Africa. The “Wakanda” fish lives in a small patch of reefs dominated by rhodolith and sponge beds 50-80m below the ocean.

This isolated reef is part of the mesophotic coral ecosystem. Whew! That’s a mouthful. They’re also known as “twilight” reefs. They’re light-dependent coral ecosystems that have very low light penetration.

Who would have thought movies would transcend pop culture and enter the scientific world? Hopefully, this will bring awareness to the mission of the California Academy of Science Hope for Reefs to protect and preserve little-known habitats.

Wakanda, forever!

The Amazon Fires Bring Attention To The Importance Of Plants And Photosynthesis

Photo credit: Getty Images

While the recent fires in the Amazon Rainforest have the world captivated, it makes me think about the importance of plants. They are key to life on Earth.

I remember sitting in Mr. Hopely’s ninth grade biology class and learning about photosynthesis. In a nutshell, photosynthesis is the process by which plants use the energy from the sun to convert water and carbon dioxide into glucose. This makes plants the primary producers of their own food, energy, and growth.

What does that have to do with us? Plants and living creatures have a cyclical interdependence. In the process of photosynthesis, we get a valuable by-product – oxygen. Plants produce the majority of free oxygen in the air. As we humans inhale oxygen, we exhale carbon dioxide. Therefore, we’re providing an important component to photosynthesis. This helps plants create more food, oxygen, and water. Photosynthesis also helps maintain the balance of carbon dioxide in nature.

That brings me back to the Amazon Rainforest and the ongoing fires. There are roughly 40,000 species of plants living in the forest. Nearly one-third of the land photosynthesis occurs in tropical forests. The largest is in the Amazon Basin.1

When deforestation regulations are relaxed to create more land for farmers, it does more harm than good. If you clear out huge swaths of plants, you decrease their ability to supply necessary nutrients and energy.

Living organisms and fire consume all oxygen.2 Humans and animals are living organisms. All living creatures on earth need plants for life and survival.  Bottom line: life cannot exist without plants and photosynthesis.

Is UV Exposure Really Linked To Skin Cancer?

Photo credit: Dazzle Jam

I recently read the New York Times article, Should Black People Wear Sunscreen? A dermatologist speculates that UV sun exposure is not related to skin cancer. He postulates that if it were the case, there’d be a skin cancer epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. He says sunscreen is not promoted there as it is in America.

I use my SPF 30 mineral sunscreen everyday—rain or shine. When it comes to my skin and health, I don’t want to take any chances. People of color are usually left out of clinical trials regarding sunscreen protection. Therefore, precise recommendations are scarce and/or not specifically tailored to us. Hence, I err on the side of conservancy until more research is gathered.

With that said, I have my own theory as to why we don’t hear about a skin cancer epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. I believe it’s the ingredients in their skincare products. There are over a dozen clues to support my conclusion. Here’s a good list to start.

  1. Mongongo Oil (also called Manketti) contains antioxidant vitamin E and alpha-eleostearic acid. Both protects from UV rays. Mongongo oil is used in Africa for this purpose.
  2. Marula Oil contains fatty antioxidants, which scavenges free radicals. It has essential fatty acids to help build your stratum corneum (outer layer of the skin).
  3. Moringa Oil has antioxidant vitamin C, which fights off free radicals caused by the sun, which leads to wrinkles and cancer. It also has essential fatty acids, which helps build your skin barrier.
  4. Baobab Oil is packed with antioxidant vitamin E for UV protection. The omega fatty acids are building blocks to healthy cell membranes. The polyunsaturated fats help produce skin’s natural oil barrier.
  5. Kalahari Melon Seed Oil contains omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, which builds healthy cell membranes.
  6. Nilotica Shea Butter contains antioxidant vitamin E to kick free radical in the pants. The essential fatty acids help build your skin barrier. And it boasts an SPF value about 3-4.
  7. Mafura Butter/Oil contains essential fatty acids to help build your skin barrier.
  8. Ximenia Oil (also called Wild Plum or Monkey Plum) is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Hello healthy cell membrane.
  9. Maracuja Oil is rich in antioxidant vitamin C, which tackles free radicals.
  10. Argan Oil is high in antioxidant vitamin E. Bye-bye free radicals. It also boasts essential fatty acids for healthy cell membranes.
  11. Sesame Oil has antioxidant vitamin E giving free radicals a one-two punch. Essential fatty acids round out this oil, too.
  12. Avocado Oil contains the free-radical fighting antioxidant vitamin E. The essential fatty acids build healthy cell membranes
  13. Yangu Oil contains antioxidants for natural UV protection.
  14. Macadamia Oil is rich in essential fatty acids to bid free radicals adieu.  It’s similar to human sebum (natural oil produced by your skin).

I’m no dermatologist or scientist, but you can’t deny that there may be a correlation between their skincare products and UV sun protection. That’s just my two-cents, folks.