Wednesday 12 November 2008

Elephants are a sheep’s best friend

Yes an elephant in South Africa is now best friends with a sheep! The orphaned elephant Themba was introduced to Albert the sheep. To start with Themba teased Albert but now they play and cuddle. They will stay together for another 18months before Themba is released when he turns 2 years old.

This is not the first time that different species have been used to comfort and mother abandoned offspring. In fact it also happens naturally in the wild.

To learn more about altruism in nature check out Richard Dawkins 'Selfish Gene', available from all good bookshops and on line stores.

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Car Sharing: Risk Assesment

On his travels across the globe, photographer Robert Neumiller spotted these locals doing “their bit” to help protect the environment:
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Monday 10 November 2008

Bolivia's Salt Flats a potential gold mine?

Is it just a matter of a few years before we won't be able to take such lovely pictures in all their natural beauty??

Bolivia's immense salt flats are one of the world's largest sources of lithium deposits, and lithium is used to power electric cars. Supplies are dwindling throughout the world and it currently isn't being extracted from the Salt Flats, mainly because Bolivia is reluctant to allow foreign investors to come in and profit from its exploitation. However, there are plans in the pipeline for the Bolivian government to build their own extraction plant, with projections to be producing a third of the world's lithium by 2012.

This is fantastic news in that Bolivia may now have an resource which will help to alleviate the extreme poverty found throughout their country, and it gives the world an option to be much less reliant on fossil fuels.

But let's hope we can still continue to enjoy this fantastic landscape without factories popping up all over the place - it's never simple...

See an article from the BBC on this topic here
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Andy's guide to roll mats

Roll mats play two important roles. They insulate you in cold conditions and make for a more comfortable night’s sleep. There are hundreds on offer and all are different shapes, sizes and materials. So what’s right for you, the cheap and cheerful classic foam role mat or a top of the range thermarest? Here’s a quick guide to what's out there.

1. Foam Roll mat

Price £2.95 - £9

Extremely cheap and durable these mats provide adequate insulation but very little comfort. You will feel every stone and twig through one of these bad boys. Another disadvantage is the size, as such they are often attached to the outside of rucksacks. This often means that they become prematurely worn and torn.

2. Inflatable (airbeds and lillo’s)

Price £1.99 - £22.99

The predecessor of the inflatable camping mat everyone must have mucked about with one of these on family holidays. Beats lying on the floor but have a tendency to push up unevenly and are extremely liable to burst. Airbeds are more comfortable and with a texture finished they are less likely to stick to your face. However they tend to be extremely heavy and as such are not suitable for backpacking or trekking.

3. Inflatable (thermarest)

Generic and own brands - Price £17.50 - £45.00

Thermarests - Price £29.99 - £139.99 for the XL Dreamtime

There are loads of cheaper makes and many camping stores now produce their own versions of this favorite. The more you pay the smaller your mat will pack down and the lighter it will be. Thermarest have also just introduced tougher materials to avoid dreaded leaks which is the mats biggest downfall. Before buying think about what you will use your mat for. If you are planning on lots of trekking then go for something lightweight. If you’re looking for something extremely comfortable then go for something wide, long and thick. A closed cell foam formation will give you the best protection in cold conditions as well as making the mat less liable to holes.

If you speak to anyone who has owned a thermarest or equivalent they will never go back to a foam roll mat. If you do buy one treat it carefully to avoid punctures, also it's best to store inflatable mats not in their compression sacks as this can compress their inner padding, decreasing their lifespan.


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