Tag Archives: lion

The South African Rand

We use the rand every single day, whether it is paying for our rent, buying lunch, paying for that dream holiday or simply putting some away for that “rainy day”.

But have we ever thought of the history of our currency? Here are a few facts and information nuggets to get you  better acquainted with our “boks”

Bacic Info:

* The rand is named after the area in South Africa where gold was first discovered – The Witwatersrand (White-Waters-Ridge)

* The Symbol is “R”  which is subdivided into 100 cents “c”

* The ISO 4217 code is ZAR from the Dutch Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand

* The Rand was first introduced on the 14th February 1961 (Valentines Day!!!) after having used the Pound

* When it was introduced the Rand was 1.40 to the Dollar – this slowly depreciated to R3 = $1 in November 1992 and finally to R8 = $1 today.

* It is the currency of the Common Monetary Area which includes South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (although not part of the Common Monetary Area it can still be used as legal tender in Namibia)

* The denominations of the notes in 1961 were 1, 2, 10 , 20 and bore the image of Jan van Riebeeck

~ Interesting fact: The notes came in two variants – one having English written first and the other with Afrikaans 

* In 1978 the denominations were changed to 2, 5, 10 with 20 and 50 being introduced in 1984

* The images of the Big 5 on the notes was introduced in the 1990’s with the 100 and 200 appearing in 1994.

~ Interesting fact: The phrase “Big 5” was coined by big game hunters when they referred to the most difficult animals to hunt on foot 

The Notes Currently:

While we all know which note is represented by which Big 5 animal – have you ever considered what the reverse of the notes represent? There is in fact a wealth of information about South Africa depicted.

The R10 note – Rhinoceros

The reverse side is depicted by images representing “Agriculture”.  Our awesome country is basically self-sufficient in all major agricultural products. We are among the world’s top exporters of:

* Avocados

* Grapefruit

* Tangerines

* Plums

* Pears

* Ostrich Products

Wildely grown are maize, oats, sugar cane, wheat and sunflowers

The R20 note – Elephant

Representative of mining, of which South Africa is the world leader. We held the position of world’s largest gold producer for over 100 years (impressive!!!) until 2007. (Surpassed by China) We are the 4th largest producer of “a girl’s best friend” ~ diamonds.

The R50 note – Lion

Our Manufacturing industry! Sasol is the first and also the largest, oil-from coal refinery in the world! It provides as much as 40% of the country’s fuel. Putting us also in the top 10 exporters is that of primary steel.

The R100 note – Buffalo

Tourism, of which the zebra is the icon for our thriving tourism industry. From 2004, Tourism eclipsed gold as the foreign exchange earner. We are consistently receiving awards placing us among the top ten tourist destinations in the world. (Cape Town being voted as the world’s favourite city)

The R200 note – Leopard

Our elusive Leopard note’s reverse side represents Tansport and Communication. South Africa has the distinction of being the first country in the world (!) to launch prepaid, “please call me sms”, free voicemail and invented touchtone dialling. We are ranked as teh fourth-fastest growing mobile communications market in the world.

Note Boo-Boos

Not everything goes perfectly in the printing world and in 2011, the Reserve bank issued defective R100 notes.- defective because they lacked fluorescent printing under UV light.

Printing of the R100 was therefore moved in June from the South African Bank Note Company to Crane Currency’s Swedish division, producing reportedly 80 million R100 notes.

The Reserve bank had to shred approximately 3.6 million R100 notes printed by Crane’s, as they had the same serial numbers as a batch printed by the South African Bank Note Company.

And as if that is not enough the notes printed in Sweden were of the wrong colour and one millimeter short.

Where to from here?

On the 11th February, 2012, it was announced that there would be a new set of banknotes depicting the image of Nelson Mandela. These are in production, but no release date has been given.


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Posted by on 11/09/2012 in South Africa


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Lion Photoblog

Top of the day all!

Following on the “Interview with a Lion” blog I have put together a few of the lion pic’s I have. It is truly amazing to see this “King of the Jungle” in his natural environment!


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Posted by on 24/02/2012 in Lion


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Interview with a Lion

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the first in our series of “Big 5 Interviews” in which we will be covering the lives of the famous Lion, Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant and Leopard.  In studio with have with us today a guest that strikes fear into the hearts of most of us living in the African bush. We all know who he is, but today we are going to delve a little deeper into what makes him tick. I present to you – LION!!!

“Lion, please tell us a little about yourself”

Lion: Even though my family and I are ferocious animals we are very social, being the only cats which live in groups – we call it a pride – of approximately 15 members. As I am fiercely protective, I will cover and patrol a territory covering over 200 square kilometres.

“The ladies in your pride – how do they fit in?” 

Lion: Well as you can see it is us males who have the mane, the darker it is, the older we are. All our ladies are related, as our female cubs will stay with the pride, while the male cubs will fight for and take over another pride. In an act of liberation I suppose, it is actually our ladies who are the primary hunters. They will work together as a team to bring down the beast that has been chosen for supper. We males have first choice of the kill, followed by the females and only then the cubs.

Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, what is your average life span?”

Lion: hhhmmppfff, well if you must know, if we are in the wild and all goes well, we live for approximately 12 years.

You mentioned that the male cubs will leave their original pride, tell us how that works”

Lion: Between the ages of 2 and 4, the male cubs will either leave on their own or shall we say nicely asked by myself to leave – this is usually accompanied by some growling and tooth gnashing. Once on their own it is up to them to find a pride they can take over – this is once again accompanied by some growling and tooth gnashing. Should the male succeed it is not unusual for him to kill all the existing cubs. While this might seem cruel, it is purely intended to ensure that only his genes continues (also prevents revenge attacks in the future) and to establish dominance.

“In the interest of science, what is your scientific name?”

Lion: Panthera leo

“Should tourists wish to visit your home, where should they look?”

Lion: Our primary continent is Africa, where we choose to live in grasslands or plains.

“Tell us about your family life”

Lion: My females will have litters ranging between 1 to 6 cubs. At birth their average weight will only be about 1 to 2 kilograms. This will steadily increase to an adult weight of between 120 and 190 kilograms. There was of course the heaviest lion on record, weighing in at 375kgs – but that was out of the norm. We call our baby lions cubs, whelps or lionets. The females are either lioness or she-lion, while we have been known to be called Tom (which is where the expression Tom Cat originates)

“If you could say one thing to be public what would it be?”

Lion: please respect us and please protect us. Our protection status at this point is vulnerable, and we would appreciate a little help here.

“Please provide us with a few fast facts”


  • We are excellent swimmers, unlike our other cat cousins
  • Our tails have tufts at the end, no other cats do
  • When we walk our heels don’t touch the ground
  • After Tigers we are the second largest cat species
  • My roar can be heard 8km away
  • We are the national animal of the following countries: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, England, Ethiopia, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Singapore
  • We need approximately 20 hours rest a day



Posted by on 20/02/2012 in Animals


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Wildlife Photoblog


As this is a photo blog I will keep it short and sweet.

The below pictures are a few (else I’d take pages and pages up) of my favourite wildlife pictures for 2011.


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Posted by on 23/12/2011 in Wildlife


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Animal Olympics

Imagine an olympic sized stadium. Imagine spectators cheering wildly. Imagine nervous but excited contestants.

Welcome to the award ceremony of the Animal Olympics – who is the best of the best? Who will take home coveted gold medals? Who will make their species proud? Who are the world record breakers?

A hush falls over the crowd as the announcer clears his voice and in a booming voice calls out, “Ladies and gentlemen I will now announce the winner of our first category – The fastest animal”

“In second place: we have Ostrich speeding over the finish line at an incredible 70 km/h, affording him the title of fastest 2 legged animal, but unfortunately not fastest land animal”

A slightly disappointed but satisfied Ostrich, claims his silver medal and returns to his cheering fans.

” and now, taking the gold…please step forward…with a body made for speed…prey beware…at 110 km/h…the incredibbbbbbbble CHEETAH”

Growls of excitement echo as the cat species cheer on their comrade, while Cheetah streaks over to claim her medal.

“Quiet please, quiet please and onto our second category – The tallest animal, we call on…”

Before the announcer can finish his sentence Giraffe has already strolled elegantly to the podium.

” ummm, yes, uhh, standing tall at 5.5m the winner is most definitely GIRAFFE, round of applause please, yes round of applause” 

Giraffe patiently waits, while staff search for a ladder, in order for the President of the Animal Olympics to bestow upon her the gold she deserves.

“Thank you Giraffe, moving on to category three. Who do you not want to invite to a tea party? Who do you buy soap for as a Christmas present? If you haven’t guessed it yet – This is the Smelliest Animal category”

Across the stadium the spectators are pinching their noses closed, everyone looks suspiciously at their neighbours while turning slightly away…who is this creature? Skunk pipes up “Don’t look at me! I did not even compete!” 

Shamefacedly Polecat slinks to the podium, meekly accepts his gold and then in an act of defiance lets off one quick squirt…leaving his horrible smell of victory to linger.

Scarcely breathing and struggling to talk, the announcer’s voice squeaks “Please would Rhino Beetle and Goliath Beetle come forward” 

“The next category we have named “The Beetle Wars”, and as both of you have come out winners, we will be handing over two gold medals. The first medal goes to Rhino Beetle, who as most of you know, is part of the Baby 5 of Africa, able to carry over 800 times its own weight at only 60mm, Rhino Beetle you are the STRONGEST of creatures aaaaaaand with a wingspan of over 20cm, easily having a length of over 10cm, and as your name suggests……… Goliath Beetle you are the BIGGEST and HEAVIEST of beetles” 

But wait what is that commotion? The humans in the crowd are running for cover, pointing and scurrying. Is it a plane? Is it Superman? No…it’s a…a..a…BIRD? huh? I hear you say, a bird? Humans are scared of a bird? *sniggers from the predators are heard*

Well yes, in this case, humans had better be scared! It’s the Cassowary, even though it is flightless, with its powerful legs and knife-like claws it has been known to KILL humans!

Security efficiently and quickly removes the Cassowary and the show must go on….

“Ladies and Gentlemen settle down, settle down please. We have arrived at the grand finale category – that of who is the LARGEST. In order to be absolutely clear we have decided to split the category into land and marine, we have furthermore split marine into mammal and fish. Unfortunately as our marine winners are unable to attend due to … well due to being unable to breathe above water…they will have their representatives from Marine World accept their awards. In the largest of all fish swimming our waters, at an impressive 40 feet in length the gold goes to…..WHALE SHARK and taking gold for the largest mammal please give a round of applause to…….BLUE WHALE at an astounding 35m in length”

(Dear reader please note at this point due to a lack of supporters there was only a smattering of applause – I suppose under water there were a lot of bubble claps.)

A hush falls over the stadium…the largest land animal is going to be announced, who is the biggest of all? Does speed really matter if you could just trample your enemy? Does being tall help if you can just be pushed over? There is an air of expectancy, as if the crowd knows the answer – but could there be a surprise twist?

“The largest land animal is…….

the mighty

the proud


The trumpets of hundreds of elephants resounds throughout the stadium, the matriarch of all elephants leads her herds forward in a triumphant march, each receiving their gleaming prize as they pass the President of the Animal Olympics. Victory is theirs.

and yet…. louder and louder ….the strains of a familiar melody is heard….in the…in the jungle…in the mighty…in the mighty jungle…the ….the lion sleeps …the lion sleeps tonight….. Louder and LOUder and LOUDER……until the crowd is silenced by it. And from deep within the bowels of the stadium a mighty roar is heard, the roar of power, the roar of authority….and from all corners of the stadium padding towards the middle come the LIONS….and as one they roar….“You might have won yourselves little sparkles, but remember, always remember WE are the KINGS OF THE JUNGLE…THE PRIDE OF THE AFRICAN BUSH…hear us RRRRRRROOOOOOOOAAAARRRRRRR”



Posted by on 07/12/2011 in Animals


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My Awesome South Africa

“Ringing out from our blue heavens, from our deep seas breaking round;

Over everlasting mountains where the echoing crags resound;

From our plains where creaking wagons cut their trails into the earth –

Calls the spirit of our Country…”

Every person has a choice to let the negatives become your focus point or to find the positives and remember those.

With that in mind today I make a decision.

I will focus on all the good and beautiful things that form proud and majestic South Africa.  I will hear her call and listen to her spirit.

Why? Because I am not in South Africa – South Africa is in me.

So where are all the good and beautiful things? Well they are all around us.

From our Mother City, Cape Town’s Table Mountain, being honoured as one of the new 7 Natural Wonders of the World (to be confirmed and validated early 2012). This will be a definite boost to our tourism for those wanting to tick off destinations on their bucket lists. The best way to relax and enjoy the view is of course with a glass of world class wine from the Cape Winelands.

Table Mountain

Did you know: Table Mountain is the only natural site on the planet to have a constellation of stars named after it? The constellation is called Mensa – meaning “the table”

We move on to a kaleidoscope of activities and must do’s: Oysters during the Knysna Oyster festival , – cherry picking on a cherry farm in Ceres – experiencing arts and culture at the Grahamstown festival – standing in awe at the Tswaing Meteorite Crater just outside Pretoria, experiencing the wonder of luxury train travel on Rovos Rail, seeing the beauty of blue lined Pretoria streets (not nicknamed the Jacaranda City for nothing), when the trees are in full bloom during the month of October.

One word: Awesome

Stopping at the oldest wildlife parks in Africa – the Kruger National Park, boasting the Big 5 (Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo, Lion), quality roads, accommodation and fantastic views. Spend some time in Kruger and you will take a lifetime of memories home with you and some fantastic photography shots. There is nothing quite like an African thunderstorm while in the bush.

Did you know: South Africa also has the Baby 5:

Ant Lion

Elephant Shrew

Leopard Tortoise

Red Billed Buffalo Weaver

Rhino Beetle

South Africa is AWESOME in sports: The first black golfer to win a major tournament on the European circuit was Vincent Tshabalala (French Open, 1976) – RSA was host to the Soccer World Cup (2010) – World Female Athlete of the year went to Hestrie Cloete (2003) – Gary Player has won 164 tournaments across the world – Karen Muir, at 12 years of age was the youngest to set the world record in any sport (swimming) – RSA was host to the Rugby World Cup (1995) – In 1979 Jody Schecter won the Formula 1 World Driver’s Championship for Ferrari (it would be 21 years before Ferrari won this title again) – RSA was host to the Cricket World Cup (2003) and these are only to name a few of the awards and events South Africa has hosted.

In the 1953 musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, Marilyn Monroe sings the words “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, if that is true then South Africa is every girls dream destination. In the 15 years after the first diamond (appropriately named the Eureka) was found in 1867, South Africa yielded more diamonds than India had in over 2,000 years!! The Kimberly Hole was at the centre of attraction during this time and after its 43 year existence lays claim to being the biggest man-made hole in the world. What about the Cullinan Diamond? The original rough diamond, the largest ever found, was approximately the size of a soft drink can! The diamond was cut and polished – the largest gem was called the Great Star of Africa and is now found in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross (British Royal Sceptre) and the Lesser Star of Africa is found in the British Crown.

Great Star of Africa

Did you know: To produce a single one-carat diamond, 250 tons of earth will have to be mined.

Another word: AWESOME

Fun Facts: Johannesburg has the biggest man-made forest in the world – Barberton’s mountains are the oldest in the world – The Fish River Canyon is the world’s second largest – St Lucia is the largest estuarine system in Africa – Afrikaans, the language, is only 90 years old, making it the youngest in the world – The Tugela Falls is the second-highest in the world – Durban has the highest number of tall buildings in South Africa (218) – The Rand was stronger than the US Dollar until 1982 – In 1961 the Pound is replaced by the Rand – Cape Town is voted as the world’s favourite city – Rovos Rail won the World’s Leading Safari Train for 3 consecutive years and has also been voted World’s leading luxury train – South Africa voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons programme (the only country in the world to do so)


I can go on and on about my awesome South Africa, listing a thousand reasons why I love my country and yes I know nothing can be a hundred percent perfect, so to the people I say:

Remember “UBuntu” – “I am what I am, because of who we all are” – the essence of being human, trusting, caring, it is a way of life, helpfulness and community. Remember it means humanity towards others, because we can’t be human all by ourselves, we need each other and you want to be known for your generosity.

and to my country I say: Ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe – ons vir jou, Suid Afrika


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Posted by on 27/11/2011 in Travel


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