Author Archives: daveharcourt

TIME TO GET TO KNOW SKA AFRICA The time for the final decision on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA…


The time for the final decision on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is getting nearer. The SKA is a radio telescope in development which will be able to survey the sky more than ten thousand times faster than ever before. It will continue radio astronomy's tradition of providing the highest resolution images in all astronomy.

This is an international €1.5 billion project that has to be in the Southern Hemisphere. Following a long process the choice is now between South Africa and Australia/New Zealand.

Have a look and make your inputs.

Southern Africa is fast becoming a hub of activities in the field of astronomy and related technologies. Winning the SKA bid will be a major step forward for the government's Astronomy Geographica…


Is it not just a carbonated alcoholic liquid which is then flavored (cinamon for the hot version and rasberry and ginger for the cool) by the consumer depending on whether it’s going to be drunk hot or cold.

I would rather a normal red for mull wine or white wine for a kir. On the other hand I have drunk beer with fruit syrup in France which is a nice change.

It does show how difficult the market, with all the alcopop offerings is, and what lengths brewers, once a very conservative breed, now seem to be prepared to go.

A Polish brewer has launched a beer that is designed to be consumed chilled, or heated!

Wooden Scooter in The DRC

Amazing what lengths people need to go to for transport and then still to have the drive to modify it not for utility but just for fun!

In the towns and villages of war-ravaged eastern Congo, the lumpy, lava-covered roads belong to the humble chukudu: hand-hewn wooden scooters that men ride and push across the hills, hauling towering …


Did the baddies had a hand in this, the almost million Rand campaign to encourage informing, won’t catch a crook because the number given to bring the law in is wrong on the posters!

At the same time, another campaign warned citizens to be law abiding to avoid prosection, which Wikipedia defines as “dissection of a cadaver (human or animal) or part of a cadaver by an experienced anatomist in order to demonstrate for students anatomic structure”. No thats not what we do with criminals in South Africa.

A bit more care and commitment to ones job is what is required here and in many other areas where South Africa battles.

SHAIN GERMANER. It IS a R740 000 bungle that may cost police valuable information and even prevent the arrest of numerous criminals. The error? One missing zero. Fifty-eight billboards have been erect…


I’m sure this is more a brand than a chocolate quality issue, as they are both pretty bad, but the UK bar edges the US in my opinion!

American confectionery brands Hershey’s and Reese’s have outsold established British brands in their first week on sale at ASDA in the UK.


Do you always get the one chocolate in the box that you don’t like – that’s ginger for me! Well now you can avoid it with chocolates that are specifically matched to your taste.

Maison Cailler, a Nestle chocolate maker, sends you a free set of 5 chocolates which you rate and compare in a standard taste testing on their website. They undertake to send you just the chocolates that match your taste within two days.

I have seen a few other of these individualized foods and wonder if it will grow and weather it can become something other than a novelty?

CARBON FOOTPRINT OF FINNISH MEALS This kind of representation, quickly highlights the major issue…


This kind of representation, quickly highlights the major issue – the footprint of agriculture is overwhelming especially for the carbon intense foods. The balance between ready to eat and home processing is less clear.

This kind of detail also needs to be seen against the higher level situation – the total contribution of the food chain on climate change in Finland is calculated at 14%. The contribution to the total CO2 being only 7% but to methane being 43%.

PANDA DROPPINGS TO GROW BETTER “GREEN” TEA The press always likes to sesationalise these poo stor…


The press always likes to sesationalise these poo stories. An Yanshi is actually aiming to sell tea grown on land fertilized with Panda droppings at a very high price by claiming special properties for the tea.

He has a secondary and maybe more realistic goal of promoting the use of manure over chemical fertilizers.

A Chinese entrepreneur is convinced he has found the key ingredient to produce the world's most expensive tea.

Smuggler Caught With Heads of 353 African Gray Parrots

A new trade in parrot heads and tail feathers is adding to the pressure on the world’s wild population of African Grey Parrots, which is confined to the tropical forest area of West and Central Africa. 

African Grey Parrot

African Grey Parrot



This is highlighted by a recent post by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) from Cameroon, which reports on a suspect arrested by game rangers who was found to be carrying 353 parrot heads and 2000 tail feathers. The suspect stated that he had collected the material for a witch doctor who was treating his mentally ill brother.

The African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) is a medium-sized parrot, endemic to the rainforests of West and Central Africa. The birds are highly valued for their beauty and ability to mimic humans – they cost a minimum of US$ 500 each.

Between 1994 & 2003 more than 450 000 parrots were captured and exported under controls that required a permit from a national authority to certify that the export was not detrimental to the species in the wild. However, this trade along with illegal capturing, exceeding of  quotas and other demands resulted in considerable stress on the African Grey populations.  As a result and following investigation, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) recommended zero export quotas for several range states and decided to develop regional management plans for the species. In particular it recommended a two-year ban on the export of African Grey Parrots from Cameroon. It is interesting that the United States and the EU have banned the import of wild caught parrots since 1992 and 2007 respectively.

This introduction of regulated trade does not effect the illegal export of African Grey Parrots, which is apparently quite well established although very inefficient. For example, it is believed that about 15,000 birds are taken out of the Lobeke region of Cameroon every year but that almost half of these die in transit due to poor handling.

The constraints on the movement of live parrots has probably contributed to this even more threatening trade in heads and feathers, which are more easily stored and transported. The market for these products in not yet understood. Balla Ottou, a leader in Cameroon’s wildlife management, thinks the heads are probably mainly exported to India and China and the tails to Nigeria. This needs to be clarified so that the authorities can develop counter strategies

Unfortunately this kind of trade is likely to flourish as the financial difficulties of the world bite deeper and the unemployed poor in Africa become more and more desperate.

Interestingly a search of ebay, shows that there is a substantial trade in the red feathers of the African Grey. The feathers appear to be used for craft and fly fishing. On 24/01/2009 there were 16 auctions for feathers with one seller parrotinthegarden having 125 feathers on auction, supposedly molted by his African Grey Pandora! These feathers sell for from 50c to just over a dollar each. Another person sells African Grey Tail feathers as “Pluma De Loro Africano” for religious purposes at US$ 7 each!