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Struik Nature

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Charles Griffiths, Jenny Day and Mike Picker Present Freshwater Life – The First Field Guide of its Kind

Freshwater LifeStruik Nature is proud to present Freshwater Life, a milestone book by Charles Griffiths, Jenny Day and Mike Picker:

Freshwater Life – the first illustrated field guide of its kind for the wider southern African region – describes a vast range of plant and animal groups in a single volume. A ground-breaking concept that encompasses diverse groups from the large and conspicuous vertebrates to the diverse microscopic taxa, the book facilitates identification and describes the ecology of more than 1,000 freshwater organisms.

Species have been selected on the basis of how likely they are to be encountered, and each account is accompanied by photographs and a distribution map. A comprehensive introduction details the ecology and significance of freshwater systems. This indispensable, easy-to-use guide will prove invaluable to outdoor enthusiasts, students and conservationists.

This is a milestone work” – Louis du Preez

About the Authors

Charles Griffiths is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town and a well-known natural history photographer. He has participated in the discovery of over 100 new species and has published over 170 scientific papers and a number of best-selling guides.

Jenny Day is Emeritus Associate Professor in the same department at UCT, where she was Director of the Freshwater Research Unit for many years. She co-authored the well-known Vanishing Waters and has published numerous papers and research reports on various aspects of river and wetland ecology.

Mike Picker, an Associate Professor in UCT’s Department of Biological Sciences, has focused his research on insect diversity and ecology, resulting in the discovery of a new insect order and the world’s first jumping cockroach. He has published 114 scientific papers and co-authored several guides, including – along with Charles Griffiths – the best-selling Field Guide to Insects of South Africa.

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Presenting Jeff Gordon’s 101 Kruger Tales: Extraordinary Stories from Ordinary Visitors to the Kruger National Park

101 Kruger Tales101 Kruger Tales: Extraordinary Stories from Ordinary Visitors to the Kruger National Park by Jeff Gordon is a collection of 101 jaw-dropping stories, as told by the very people who experienced them:

101 Kruger Tales contains first-hand accounts of sightings, scrapes and encounters in one of Africa’s greatest National Parks. It details hair-raising experiences from the Kruger Park’s roads, camps, picnic sites and walking trails, such as:

  • An enraged elephant flips a car onto its roof
  • A lioness prises open a terrified couple’s car door
  • A fleeing impala leaps through an open car window
  • A hyaena snatches a baby from a tent
  • A tourist takes a bath in a croc-infested dam …

Wherever you are, this book will transport you directly into the bush. It’s a book to keep by your bedside in Kruger, to dip into at home when you’re missing the bush, to lend to friends who’ve never visited Kruger, or to pore over before your next trip. Just don’t expect to ever sleep soundly in a safari tent again …

About the author

Jeff Gordon is one of the myriad ordinary Kruger visitors, with no special affiliation to the Park. But he happens to enjoy a good yarn, so he invited other ordinary Kruger visitors to submit stories about their experiences. The result has proved popular beyond his imaginings, and he has already started collecting stories for a second compilation. He likes his boerewors a touch underdone, his biltong thinly sliced and his Amarula on ice.

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Everything You Need to Know About the 2015-2016 Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts

The Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts are an annual opportunity to enjoy some of the best of South African music in the country’s most beautiful concert venue.

Highlights this year include Mango Groove, the Rotary Carols, the New Year’s Eve party with Grassy Spark and Jeremy Loops, and the Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival in February.

Tickets cost between R110 and R175 for adults. There is a concession for people younger than 21, who pay only R80 and R140. Tickets for the Rotary Carols and the New Year’s Eve party are priced differently (details below). Tickets are sold by Webtickets.

Shows start between 5 and 5:30 PM, and gates open at 4 PM. Going early to secure a good picnic spot is a good idea. Going even earlier to enjoy the beautiful gardens before the music begins is a great idea!

Read all about the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in these Struik Nature books:

KirstenboschKirstenboschAdventure Trails in KirstenboschKirstenbosch JournalKirstenbosch


Have a look at the exciting line up:
22 November 5:30 PM Freshlyground (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

29 November 5:30 PM Zonke Dikana (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

6 December 5:30 PM Arno Carstens (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

13 December 5:30 PM Mango Groove (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

17 December 5:30 PM Rotary Carols at Kirstenbosch (age 2-5: R20 / age 6-18: R65 / adult: R90)

18 – 20 December 5:30 PM Rotary Carols at Kirstenbosch (age 2-5: R25 / age 6-18: R75 / adult: R100)

27 December 5:30 PM Jimmy Nevis (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

31 December 7 PM New Year’s Eve Concert: Jeremy Loops and Grassy Spark (all: R330)

3 January 5:30 PM The Parlotones (youth: R140 / adult: R175)

10 January 5:30 PM Prime Circle (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

17 January 5:30 PM Karen Zoid and Francois van Coke (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

24 January 5:30 PM Mi Casa (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

31 January 5:30 PM The Soil (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

7 February 5 PM Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

14 February 5:15 PM Matthew Mole and Rubber Duc (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

21 February 5:30 PM Goldfish (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

28 February 5:30 PM The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

6 March 5:15 PM Shortstraw and The Plastics (youth: R80 / adult: R110)

13 March 5:15 PM Al Bairre and Bye Beneco (youth: R80 / adult: R110)

20 March 5:15 PM Zebra & Giraffe and Monark (youth: R80 / adult: R110)

21 March 5:30 PM Fundraiser: Performer to be confirmed (TBA)

27 March 5:15 PM Beatenberg and John Wizards (youth: R110 / adult: R150)

3 April 5:15 PM December Streets and The Vanilla (youth: R80 / adult: R110)


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Get Involved with Clean C’s Coastal Clean Ups in Cape Town (Podcast)

South African CoastsPippa Hudson recently interviewed Greg Player of Clean C about a beach clean up day at Strandfontein and Sunrise Circle on her CapeTalk radio show.

Player says that the volunteers on the two beaches picked up about 1,2 tonnes of litter. While some of this litter is left by lazy picnickers, Player explains that a large amount is deposited on the coast by rivers. He estimates that about 80 percent of the rubbish found on beaches is from up country, because litter gets significantly worse when it rains.

Clean C runs beach clean ups on the first Saturday of every month in Cape Town and surrounding areas, and they also facilitate corporate clean up events. Player invites everyone to get involved.

To find out more about our beautiful beaches, check out South African Coasts: A Celebration of Our Seas and Shores by Sylvia Earle.

Listen to the podcast:


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100 New Herbs by Margaret Roberts – An Indispensable Guide to Organic Gardening and Cooking with Herbs

100 New HerbsStruik Nature presents 100 New Herbs by Margaret Roberts:

Margaret Roberts is a well-known proponent of the use of natural products to enhance health and wellbeing. In 100 New Herbs she introduces readers to an exciting range of new plants that can be used in the kitchen, and medicinally.

Roberts offers practical advice on how and when to plant, grow and harvest the featured herbs, and includes recipes that harness the medicinal, cosmetic and edible nature of these plants. The accessible, down-to-earth text is laced with personal anecdotes and historical information about the use of herbs. Colourful photographs aid identification in this beautifully designed book.

An indispensable guide for anyone interested in health, wellness, organic gardening and the use of herbs to enhance cooking.

About the author

Margaret Roberts is a household name, having made her mark in the world of health and gardening. She pursues her passion for all things natural that can uplift, heal and inspire, by creating gardens, teaching about the wonders of herbs and developing medicinal and nutritional plants at her Herbal Centre. She has published many books and articles on flowers, herbs, health and gardening.

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Have a Cuppa – New Studies Find that Rooibos and Honeybush Can Aid in the Treatment of Cancer

Tea: 60 teas to revitalise and restoreBiochemists from Stellenbosch University have found that two South African teas – rooibos and honeybush – contain properties that could fight cancer.

Professors Amanda Swart and Ann Louw presented their research at the CANSA Research in Action Conference earlier this year.

Health 24 reports that the studies, albeit still in the testing phase, show that rooibos and honeybush could treat cancer.

For more about the healing properties of tea, consult Tea: 60 teas to revitalise and restore by Margaret Roberts.

Read the article:

Swart is cautiously optimistic saying that although the effects of rooibos are favourable in cell models, it should not be seen as a cure.

“The research is ongoing and our findings may implicate rooibos to support therapeutic approaches to prostate cancer,” says Swart.

Another SU biochemist Prof Ann Louw studied the cancer-killing abilities of another fynbos variety also used for tea, honeybush. The idea of testing it for medicinal purposes came from anecdotes that communities in Langkloof Valley in the Eastern and Western Capes use it to treat menopause symptoms.

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What Can You Find in My First Book of Southern African Frogs? Jeanne Tarrant Explains (Podcast)

My first book of Southern African FrogsJeanne Tarrant recently joined Sally Bass in studio at Classic FM to discuss My first book of Southern African Frogs.

Tarrant, who is an expert on frogs and heads up the Threatened Amphibian Programme at the Endangered Wildlife Trust, says that in writing the book she concentrated on children but stresses that it is really for anyone who is interested in frogs. The user-friendly book is written in four different languages – English, isiXhosa, isiZulu and Afrikaans – and introduces readers to 55 different types of frog, complete with a CD of their calls.

“For anyone who is interested in frogs this is a really nice starter book to start learning,” Tarrant says.

Listen to the podcast:

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Enjoy Our Rich Geological Heritage with 50 Must-see Geological Sites in South Africa by Gavin Whitfield

50 Must-see Geological Sites in South AfricaStruik Nature presents 50 Must-see Geological Sites in South Africa by Gavin Whitfield:

South Africa has just about the richest geological heritage on the planet. By showcasing 50 must-see sites, this guide describes why, where and how to enjoy it.

The book presents 50 of the most recognisable and geologically interesting sites around South Africa, including some of palaeontological or historical renown and some of mining interest. The diverse selection includes sites such as Chapman’s Peak, Howick Falls, Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Mapungubwe, Tswaing Meteorite Crater and the Fraserburg Fossil Surface.

Each site is unpacked to reveal:

- key features
- geological heritage
- landscape and rock formations
- topics of local or historical interest
- things to see and do at the site and in the surrounding area.

Maps and GPS pointers make the sites easy to find, and some of the more complicated features are explained by means of simplified diagrams. Nearly 1 000 colour images illustrate South Africa’s remarkable geology and bring the topic vividly to life, making the book suitable for armchair travel too.

About the author

Gavin Whitfield graduated with honours in geology and later completed an MSc in kimberlite studies. He has worked in geological research and done mineral exploration with top mining companies round the world. He has co-authored several technical publications and the popular Geological Journeys – A traveller’s guide to South Africa’s rocks and landforms. A Fellow of the Geological Society of SA, he is active on its Conservation Committee.

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New Guide for Beginner Birders: Sasol 300 Easy-to-see Birds by Chevonne Reynolds and Nicholas Tye

Sasol 300 Easy-to-see BirdsSasol 300 maklik sigbare voëls van Suider-AfrikaPresenting Sasol 300 Easy-to-see Birds by Chevonne Reynolds and Nicholas Tye, perfect for beginner birders:

This practical, straightforward guide to some of the most commonly seen birds in southern Africa is aimed at beginner birders, or even juniors. Less daunting than a full-blown field guide, it’s handy and accessible, combining simple text with clear artwork and photographs to introduce 300 of the region’s easy-to-see birds.

For each bird the book offers:

  • Simple text, including how to “find it”, “identify it” and “understand it”
  • Colour images, both illustrations and photographs
  • A distribution map
  • Common English names, plus scientific, Afrikaans and other African names
  • Average size, details of the nest and the number of eggs laid on average
  • Interest boxes for some birds, providing extra information.

Colourful, to-the-point and offering quick ID pointers, this book should find a ready market among southern African birders and outdoor enthusiasts.

Sasol 300 Easy-to-see Birds is also available in Afrikaans as Sasol 300 maklik sigbare voëls van Suider-Afrika.

About the authors

Chevonne Reynolds obtained an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of the Witwatersrand, focusing on grassland birds. She is currently a PhD student at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, where she works on waterbirds.

Nicholas Tye obtained an MSc in Ecology from the University of the Witwatersrand, his thesis focusing on bird communities within the KNP. He has worked as an ornithologist for the North West provincial government, and currently works as a climate change consultant in Cape Town.

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New for Earth Science Buffs: Understanding Minerals and Crystals by Bruce Cairncross and Terence McCarthy

Understanding Minerals Struik Nature presents Understanding Minerals and Crystals by Bruce Cairncross and Terence McCarthy:

Minerals are the building blocks of rocks – they make up the solid Earth’s crust. Understanding Minerals and Crystals takes a close look at minerals, how they form, why they differ and how to go about identifying them.

It begins by examining the nature of atoms and the way they bind together to form minerals with distinctive crystal structures; and it discusses the nature and classification of these crystals, and includes a mineral identification key.

The second part of the book contains detailed descriptions of some 80 common and important minerals, including how they were named, their properties, ID pointers, uses and where in the world they are found. All are lavishly illustrated with full-colour photographs. This book will be invaluable to those interested in any of the earth sciences, or in mineral/crystal collecting – from academics and students to general enthusiasts.

About the authors

Bruce Cairncross is Professor of Geology and Chairman of the Geology Department at the University of Johannesburg. He has a special interest in documenting and preserving southern Africa’s mineralogical heritage, and is the author or co-author of a number of books, including Field Guide to Rocks & Minerals of Southern Africa and Pocket Guide: Rocks & Minerals of Southern Africa.

Terence McCarthy is a retired Professor of Mineral Geochemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has wide research interests in the earth sciences, including economic and environmental geology, geochemistry and geomorphology, and is a leading expert on the geology of wetlands. He is co-author of The Story of Earth and Life and How on Earth?

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