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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Want to learn how to write non-fiction? Join the Writing Masterclass with Christa Kuljian at Bridge Books


Join us for Jacana Media’s new series of Masterclasses for aspiring writers.

Christa Kuljian, author of Darwin’s Hunch and Sanctuary, will present the Masterclass at Bridge Books and share her insights on writing, non-fiction writing in particular.

Contact Bridge Books or visit for details.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 30 March 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Bridge Books, 85 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg
  • Guest Speaker: Christa Kuljian
  • Cover charge: R150
  • (includes a copy of her book)

  • RSVP:, 079 708 4461,


  • Darwin's HunchBook details

  • Sanctuary

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    Join Christa Kuljian and Ciraj Rassool at the launch of Darwin’s Hunch at The Book Lounge

    Invitation to the launch of Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins

    Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human OriginsJacana Media and The Book Lounge invite you to the launch of Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins by Christa Kuljian.

    Ian Tattersall, Curator emeritus, American Museum of Natural History, said of the book: “With its unsparing wealth of personal and historical detail, there’s nothing else like Darwin’s Hunch available.”

    Kuljian will be in conversation with professor, historian and author Ciraj Rassool.

    Don’t miss it!

    Event Details

    • Date: Tuesday, 29 November 2016
    • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
    • Venue: The Book Lounge
      71 Roeland St
      Cape Town | Map
    • Discussant: Ciraj Rassool
    • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
    • RSVP: The Book Lounge,, 021 462 2425

    Book Details

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    ‘We are all Africans’ – Christa Kuljian launches Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins

    Ben Williams and Christa Kuljian


    Darwin's HunchWits researcher Christa Kuljian was at the Sandton Library recently to launch her new book: Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins.

    The book pays homage to the human evolution theorist Charles Darwin and other naturalists who came after him, such as Raymond Dart, an Australian, and Philip Tobias, an acclaimed South African anthropologist. Tobias was Dart’s colleague and successor at Wits University.

    “There’s a very rich history in this country,” Kuljian said.



    Dart’s work had gone a long way in convincing the western world that humans had their origins in Africa, not Europe or Asia. But with it, incorrect assumptions travelled back to the west. The Killer Ape Theory was one such theory. This theory, now disproved, proposed aggression and anger also had a hand in moving the evolution of humans forward.

    In the 1980s, the thinking favoured by white supremacists was that different racial groups had evolved “separately” and at different paces.

    The work done by Tobias concluded that race was “a superficial concept”.

    Said Tobias: “The term ‘race’ … is heavily charged emotionally and politically and full of unsound and even dangerous meanings. It is in the name of race that millions of people have been murdered and millions of others are being held in degradation. That is why you cannot afford to remain ignorant about race.

    “We are all Africans,” he believed.

    White supremacism allowed for the exploitation of vulnerable racial groups that were treated as “specimens”, not humans, Kuljian said.

    Killing Bushmen merely for research purposes are some disturbing incidents Kuljian records in Darwin’s Hunch. Laws outlawing such atrocities had to be passed, Kuljian said.

    The crowd

    When asked what had been the most shocking behaviour of scientists in their quest for knowledge and their experiments, Kuljian said: “I don’t know if I can tell you that.”

    The details were in the book, she said.

    Darwin’s Hunch is Kuljian’s second book, her first being Sanctuary: How an Inner-city Church Spilled onto a Sidewalk, published in 2013. In writing Sanctuary, Kuljian said she had “spent a lot of time in the Joburg CBD writing about current events”, but with Darwin’s Hunch, the book took her into the archives, dealing with sometimes shocking stories of people who “weren’t alive any longer”.

    At the end of the question and answer session, Jacana Media, the publishers of the book, offered a prize giveaway for a trip to Maropeng.

    Christa KuljianChrista Kuljian




    Lungile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the launch:

    Book details

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    Don’t miss the launch of the new Roberts Bird Guide and art exhibition

    Invitation to the new Roberts Bird Guide

    Roberts Bird Guide: 2nd EditionJacana Media and the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund invite you to the launch of the new edition of the Roberts Bird Guide and a viewing of the original artwork.

    The guide, authored by Hugh Chittenden, Greg Davies and Ingrid Weiersbye, is an essential addition to any birder’s library.

    Light refreshments will be served.

    Don’t miss it!

    Event Details

    • Date: Wednesday, 30 November 2016
    • 6 PM: Viewing of the artwork
    • 6:30 PM: Welcome by Mark D Anderson CEO of BirdLife South Africa
    • 6:35 PM: Brief overview of Roberts Bird Guide and artwork by Ingrid Weiersbye, artist and trustee of the JVBBF.
    • Venue: BirdLife South Africa, Isdell House
      17 Hume Road
      Dunkeld West
      Johannesburg | Map
    • Guest Speakers: Mark D Anderson and Ingrid Weiersbye
    • Refreshments: Refreshments will be served
    • RSVP:

    Book Details

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    Don’t miss the launch of Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins by Christa Kuljian

    Invitation to the launch of Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins


    Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human OriginsJacana Media, WiSER and the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Paleosciences invite you to the launch of Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins by Christa Kuljian.

    The event will take place at Wednesday, 2 November at 6 PM.

    See you there!

    About the book:

    In 1871, Darwin predicted that humans evolved in Africa. European scientists thought his claim astonishing and it took the better part of a century for Darwin to be proven correct. From Raymond Dart’s description of the Taung Child Skull in 1925 to Lee Berger’s announcement of Homo Naledi in 2015, South Africa has been the site of fossil discoveries that have led us to explore our understanding of human evolution.

    Darwin’s Hunch reviews how the search for human origins has been shaped by a changing social and political context. The book engages with the concept of race, from the race typology of the 1920s and ’30s to the post-World War II concern with race, to the impact of apartheid and its demise. The book explores the scientific racism that often placed people in a hierarchy of race and treated them as objects to be measured.

    In 1987, the publication of “Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution” suggested that all living humans could trace their ancestry back to an African woman 200,000 years ago. Again, many scientists and the general public in the West were slow to accept such a claim.

    Event Details

    Book Details

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    The new Roberts Bird Guide: A valuable addition to any birder’s library

    Robert's Bird GuideJacana Media is proud to present Roberts Bird Guide: 2nd Edition by Hugh Chittenden, Greg Davies and Ingrid Weiersbye:

    Published by The John Voelcker Bird Book Fund

    Covering nearly 1 000 species found in southern Africa (south of the Cunene and Zambezi rivers), this revised edition of Roberts Bird Guide features stunning new artwork treating seasonal, age and sexual
    differences in approximately 240 annotated colour plates, updated distribution maps, breeding and seasonality bars and concise but informative species texts dealing not just identification but aspects of biology such as food and voice.

    This new guide should be a valuable addition to any birder’s library.

    All photographs by Hugh Chittenden except where otherwise acknowledged.

    About the authors

    Hugh Chittenden has over 50 years birding experience in the region. His ornithological interests have taken him to many remote places on the African continent and elsewhere in the world. Hugh received an honorary Doctorate degree for contributions to Ornithology in 2012, has a passion for bird photography and is author of numerous bird guides in the southern African region. He is Chairman of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund.

    Greg Davies has been passionate about birds and natural history since a young age. Following in Austin Roberts’s footsteps, Greg was Curator of Ornithology at the Transvaal (Ditsong) Museum, Pretoria from 2010 to 2016 and travelled widely in southern Africa and beyond to study birds. Prior to that appointment, Greg was Curator of Entomology at the Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg. Now resident in California, USA, he continues to maintain his interest in Afrotropical Ornithology.

    Ingrid Weiersbye grew up in Zimbabwe, a country where the natural beauty shaped her deep interest in, and love for all aspects of nature. Ingrid has painted professionally and exhibited extensively for 38 years, working in acrylic and oils from her studio in Hilton, KZN. She travels widely, particularly in the rest of Africa to acquaint herself and photograph subject matter. Ingrid is a Trustee of the JVBBF, for which she has illustrated for the past 12 years.

    Book details

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    Rob Little’s definitive monograph: Terrestrial Gamebirds and Snipes of Africa

    Terrestrial Gamebirds and Snipes of AfricaJacana Media is proud to present Terrestrial Gamebirds and Snipes of Africa by Rob Little:

    Terrestrial Gamebirds and Snipes of Africa is a detailed full-colour hand book. It includes everything needed to identify and get to know the 74 species that fall into six groups: guineafowls and Congo Peafowl, francolins and partridges, spurfowls, quails, sandgrouse, and snipes and Eurasian Woodcock.

    Terrestrial Gamebirds and Snipes of Africa offers a concise summary of the large but scattered body of accumulated scientific research and field-guide literature. Pertinent and interesting facts about the distribution, habits, breeding and conservation of each species are presented in a readable fashion. More than 250 photographs convey the appearance, characteristic features, behavioural activities and, in many cases, the habitats frequented by each bird.

    Terrestrial Gamebirds and Snipes of Africa will be a worthy addition to the ornithological literature and to the bookshelves of bird enthusiasts, particularly birders, wing-shooters, land owners and anyone with an interest in nature and conservation, throughout Africa and across the rest of the world.

    About the author

    Rob Little is a prolific author and a passionate birder and conservationist. He has a BSc in Wildlife Resources and a PhD degree on the behavioural ecology, management and utilisation of the grey-winged francolin. During the early 1990s, Rob coordinated the Gamebird Research Programme at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town. Together with Tim Crowe, he published the book Gamebirds of Southern Africa. Rob was Director: Conservation at WWF South Africa from 1997-2008. In 2009 he was appointed manager of the Centre of Excellence (CoE) at the Fitztitute. He is the Fitztitute’s link with the South African National Research Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology and manages the research activities which are funded by the CoE using birds as keys to biodiversity conservation.

    Book details

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    For Twitchers and Lovers of Poetry: The Laughing Dove and Other Poems by Vernon RL Head (Plus: Read an Excerpt)

    The Laughing Dove and other PoemsJacana Media is proud to announce The Laughing Dove and Other Poems by Vernon RL Head:

    The Laughing Dove and Other Poems is a collection that celebrates the natural world and our delicate place at the very edge of wilderness. Head sees like a birdwatcher and his unique arrangements of words shape a wondrous fact: Nature waits in the everyday: the freshness of a pavement-city-tree; the smoothness of a rock in a stream of pain; the holes and hopes between the planted flowers of a garden; the thorns of light that make the Karoo; the sea and its need to find the land.

    These poems have audacity and wisdom; even at their quietest they are as deft and spry as the smallest birds. They are poems made from an observed life, and a world seen with the naked eye; you can tell that their author is practised at that patient, long, penetrating, and then quite startling vision.
    – PR Anderson

    Head is an important new poet. His poems are exuberant, romantic and revolutionary. Have a sneak peek at two of the poems in the anthology:

    Why do some poets             hop
    Their words around a page,
    Cheating the phrase?
    The little bird: a flitting leaf,
    Torn, tinkling on the branch-bounce,
    Yet surely


    Clouds seen from above are irrelevantly bright,
    But below, blue ideas move deep shades
    On the green fields of Johannesburg.
    Soft moments of ground:
    Opportunities for cool thought and
    Delicious, lost wanderings.
    No more flights for me,
    Time to walk.

    About the poet

    Vernon RL Head was born in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa. He grew up in a bungalow near the sea and the gulls. He studied architecture, winning national and international awards for design and creative thinking. He is past chairman of BirdLife South Africa, one of Africa’s biggest and most influential conservation organisations, and presently serves on the Advisory Board of the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology (UCT). He is author of the critically acclaimed bestseller The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World. When not writing, he is either designing special buildings or travelling the world looking for the rarest birds. This is his first collection of poetry.

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    Garden Aloes by Gideon F Smith and Estrela Figueiredo – a World First Focusing on Cultivars and Hybrids

    Garden AloesPresenting Garden Aloes, by Gideon F Smith and Estrela Figueiredo – a must for anyone interested in gardening, landscaping, natural history, aloes and succulents:

    Books have been written about Aloe species before, but Garden Aloes is a world first, dealing with a range of the most desirable aloe cultivars and hybrids, all of which are exceptionally suitable for planting in gardens. These enhanced aloes have never before had a book dedicated to them, authored by two leading international experts on aloes and their kin, Professor Gideon F Smith and Dr Estrela Figueiredo.

    The book is comprehensively illustrated with over 300 full-colour photographs of the plants, growth forms, inflorescences and flowers. Informative descriptions and flowering periods are provided for more than 60 widely grown and exceptional cultivars and hybrids currently available.

    The species are arranged in 20 groups according to size and flower colour, making it easy to select what is suitable for your garden.

    About the authors

    With over 40 books and hundreds of papers to his name, Gideon F Smith is South Africa’s most prolific author on aloes and other succulent plants. He is Chief Director for Biosystematics and Collections at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, professor of plant science at the University of Pretoria, and a research associate at the University of Coimbra, Portugal and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Through his interests in the biology and classification of succulent plants, as well as landscaping and horticulture, he is involved in various national and international environmental research associations.

    With a keen interest in all things succulent, Estrela Figueiredo has authored or co-authored books on aloes, succulent gardens, ferns and the Angolan flora. She is a research associate at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth and at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. Her interests are in African flora, plant classification, and sustainable gardening and landscaping.

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    Don’t Miss Vernon RL Head’s UCT Summer School Extension Lecture on The Rarest Bird in the World

    The Search for the Rarest Bird in the WorldVernon RL Head will be presenting a lecture on his book The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World at a UCT Summer School Extension event.

    Head will present his lecture on Tuesday, 11 August, from 6 to 7 PM at the Kramer Building on UCT Middle Campus. He will tell the story of his search for the rarest bird in the world, and speak about birding and the concept of rarity.

    The cost for the event is R80, and R40 for UCT employees.

    Don’t miss out!

    Event Details

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