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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.

xoLDox

 
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Posted by on 11/09/2012 in South Africa

 

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Tracking in the bush

Dear Readers,

Ranger Trompie (please see blog “Day in the life of a ranger”) is sharing his knowledge today on tracking in the bush. May this enjoyable read transport you straight into the heart of the African bush.

xoLDxo

Working in the bush, one becomes in tune with your surroundings, you could almost say that the bush has its own language. I was fortunate enough to have a helping hand in learning this language.

I can still remember the first time – on foot – I was on an ingwe ngkonzo ( leopard track in Shangaan ). I was still very unexperienced and although I had all the knowledge to conduct a game drive, being on foot in a big 5 area was a whole different ball game. Oscar, my tracker grew up in the area and his father had shown him everything he knew. The first thing he told me was don’t run if something happens……… little did I know what he actually meant! We went into a thicket following the track, all of a sudden the bush became dead still, next thing all I heard was growling and out of nowhere a female leopard was charging us!! Oscar was standing dead still as I reloaded my weapon, heart pounding in my throat. During your initial training as a game ranger you are taught to load your weapon, stand your ground, shout and even kick sand at the animal if necessary, but no ranger ever wants to shoot an animal. After the initial charge she slowly moved backwards and in the blink of an eye she gave a second charge, then turned around and disappeared into the bushes. Oscar looked at me and kindly told me that the ingwe did not understand the language I had just used!

Tracking is a science and is something that can’t be learnt from a book, sure the book can give you pointers as to what to look for and how the different tracks look, but the truth is that in the bush there are a lot of other factors to take into consideration. The climate, the time, is the wind blowing, in what direction is the track heading are just to name a few. You also need to have a in-depth knowledge of the animals behaviour.

The bush is like an open book, all you need is enough skill to read it, you need to project yourself into the position of the animal in order to get a better understanding of what the animal was doing, where it was heading and why it was doing it. Tracking is also more than just tracks in the sand, it can be a broken branch, a bent grass or simply sounds in the bush, like insects that become silent immediately when disturbed and pick up again after the disturbance has passed or a Grey Lourie making alarm sounds when sensing danger, a Baboon barking, an Impala snorting. Silence is as loud as an alarm in the bush if you know how to listen for it. It is astonishing to see how the locals respect the bush and the wildlife which live there, it is important to know that we wander on their turf and not the other way around.

One day on a morning drive Oscar and I only had two guests on the landy, a honeymoon couple from London, we had shown them everything they had come to see except the elusive Rhino. We set out to find one for them on their final drive, and went to an area rarely driven to by rangers in hope of finding a Rhino.

In the area known as Sumatra, whilst driving, we found fresh dung and tracks. Oscar told me to stop and he hopped off and I drove around to check if the tracks appeared on the other side. To my amazement there were no tracks, meaning luck was on my side, as the Rhinos were still close by. I met up with Oscar, he told me that he found a mother with a calf, but the bush was too thick for the vehicle, so we had to go on foot. I turn to the guests and they are already both smiling like children that have found a secret stash of candy. I gave them a pre walk briefing and we set off on foot in search of the Rhinos, as walked I kept an eye on the ground, listening for sounds and looking around, since the bush is really thick. Finally I spot them in a clearing, grazing, a mother White Rhino and her calf. I take the guests as close as I can, without disturbing the Rhinos, we viewed the animals for sometime and then left the same way we came,and the Rhinos never even knew we had been there.

In closing, you don’t have to stand next to an animal to see it, it’s better to see an animal during its natural behavior than to spook it and thereby provoking it. Respect life and love it – it’s a privilege!!

Ranger Trompie

 
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Posted by on 17/02/2012 in Guest Blogs

 

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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)

Pretoria

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

xoxo

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Posted by on 27/11/2011 in Travel

 

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