Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Turtle and hippo!

Posted in Animals, Humor by admin

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Fascinating story.

NAIROBI (AFP) – A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him. “It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a ‘mother’,” ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP.

“After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together,” the ecologist added. “The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother,” Kahumbu added.

“The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years,” he explained.

7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And Beyond

Posted in Environment, People and Society, Photography, Places, Travel by admin
Fairytales, princes, princesses and Disney movies of childhood and even as we get older, the appeal of the castle remains at least partly because they so regularly serve as backdrops in video games, movies and books.

Unless you happen to find that you had a long lost great great grandfather who left you an international conglomerate in mining and shipping then, unfortunately, you’ll probably never get the chance to live in such grandeur. Luckily there are a lot of absolutely stunning castles around the world that are open to the public, some are even converted into hotels where you can stay if only for a night.

We present you the 7 visually stunning and historically fascinating castles from throughout Europe and beyond.

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

1 Prague Castle 7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And Beyond

2 Prague Castle 7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And BeyondPrague Castle: This 9th Century castle is one of the largest castles in the world and is home to the crown jewels of the Bohemian Kingdom, which according to legend will cause a usurper to die within one year if worn: interestingly this is exactly what happened to Reinhard Heydrich during the Second World War when he was assassinated within a year of placing the crown on his head.

Czechoslovakian kings and presidents have lived in this massive mansion in central Prague which includes not just residences but also churches, palaces, towers, stables and over half a dozen gardens. Lit up at night, Prague Castle is simply mind-blowingly beautiful!

Alhambra Castle, Spain

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4 Alhambra Castle 7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And BeyondAlhambra Castle: The name of this 9th Century castle translates to The Red Fortress and highlights the most outstanding feature of this stunning castle – its instantly recognisable red hue. It’s of architectural interest today because of the fact that it blends both Christian and Islamic design, but the real reason that people love to visit this attraction on Spain’s Costa Tropical is because the building is just so amazingly beautiful.

Amazingly the Alhambra fell into neglect throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries with the lowest point being Napolean’s transformation of the castle into barracks for his troops stationed in Granada. It wasn’t until 1870 that the Alhambra was designated a national monument and given protection.

Himeji Castle, Japan

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6 Himeji Castle 7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And BeyondHimeji Castle: For a castle that looks different from any in the west, you might want to take a trip to Japan to see the 80+ buildings that make up this flatland mountain castle. The design of Himeji Castle is distinctly Japanese, fascinating and awe-inspiring. Among the many defensive elements is the famous maze of paths that protects the main keep by channeling any would-be attacking force into dead ends where they can be attacked by air from the relative safety of the keep. If you are more into anime than Disney, this is the ideal castle.

Chateau de Chambord, France

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8 Chateau de Chambord 7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And BeyondChateau de Chambord: This is the largest castle in the surrounding region and yet it wasn’t even originally built to be a primary residence for the king who ordered its construction; Chateau de Chambord was in fact intended to be a hunting lodge offering respite from the stresses and strains of being a king. Chateau de Chambord is recognised today as one of the most outstanding castles in the world, particularly in terms of its representation of French Medieval and Classical Italian architecture.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

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10 Neuschwanstein 7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And BeyondNeuschwanstein Castle: This Bavarian castle sits atop a mountain in Germany and offers a spectacular view and vantage point over the surrounding region that can hardly be matched by any that of any other castle in the world. Constructed by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a mountain retreat, Neuschwanstein Castle has a gatehouse, a Bower, a citadel and the Knight’s House with a square tower. Chances are that you wouldn’t even notice the view here, though, because you’d be so entranced by the splendour of the castle itself. In fact, the castle was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyla

nd in Florida.

Said to be the most photographed tourist destination in Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle, or New Swan as it translates into English, is a popular spot for anyone interested in Germanic history.

Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City

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12 Chapultepec Castle 7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And BeyondChapultepec Castle: North America has a few amazing castles to its name, the most impressive of which is this one located on a hill overlooking Mexico City. In addition to being a home for royalty, Chapultepec Castle has been a military academy and an observatory. It’s currently a museum providing information about the history of the area to visitors but people go here to see the building more than to learn what it’s about!

Schonbrunn Palace, Austria

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14 Schonbrunn Palace 7 Of The Most Stunning Castles In Europe And BeyondSchonbrunn Palace: Anyone who knows much about European history knows about the important influence of the Hapsburg family. The aesthetic preferences of that family are displayed here in the palaces and gardens that make up this amazing castle in the heart of modern Vienna. One outstanding feature is a ‘Roman Ruin’ which was created in the 18th Century on the grounds that represents the ancient architecture of Rome in days gone by.

Sri Lanka – The Beauty

Posted in Places, Travel by admin

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Myriad of Sri Lankans gather at Galle Face beach in Colombo to take a walk, watch the sun descend over the Indian Ocean, and wash their feet in the waves. “There is lots of color,” says photographer Palani Mohan. “There are children screaming, young lovers holding hands, people flying kites. The whole place is full of activity.”

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Mihintale, a sacred mountain pilgrimage site. Today Mihintale is considered the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka with its many temples and lodgings for monks as well as ancient remains of stone steps, a stupa built in the first century A.D., a Lion Bath, and stone ponds built in the first century A.D.

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In Sri Lanka, water lilies, lotuses, and frangipani are popular offerings at Buddhist temples. In Buddhism lotuses represent a person’s progress toward spiritual enlightenment— the emergence from darkness and corruption, growth from water, and the emergence towards the sunlight.

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A 100-year-old clock tower rises from the center of Colombo, “a great small city by the ocean,” The tower is a symbol of the city’s Old World charm. Rapid growth is changing the face of the colonial city with skyscrapers rising next to early British-built buildings. “Though it’s crowded and hot, the people are warm, the buildings are fantastic, and there is just a charm about it.”

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Early morning a woman sweeps leaves off of the ruins at Polonnaruwa. The former capital of Sri Lanka was long deserted and revived in modern times. “The women do this every morning, slowly walking around sweeping the fallen leaves and talking as they work.”

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Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, a 24-acre (9.7-hectare) plot where some 60 elephants are bathed, fed, and protected.

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There are hundreds of roadside Ganeshas found in Sri Lanka.

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Monks watching just as a young man jumps from the ramparts of the fort in Galle into the waters of the Indian Ocean below.

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These young Sri Lankan men enjoy an afternoon of playful mischief on the beach ouside the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.

The Fire Rainbow An Astonishing and Rare Marvel of Nature

Posted in Environment, Nature by admin
fire rainbow 1 The Fire Rainbow An Astonishing and Rare Marvel of NatureNo, it’s not the first of April, the phenomenon known as a “fire rainbow” does exist. Here, read the science behind it and marvel at some amazing photography of this rare beauty, the Circumhorizon Arc, known to its friends as a CHA.
fire rainbow 2 The Fire Rainbow An Astonishing and Rare Marvel of NatureIf you are very lucky you may see a fire rainbow once or twice in your life. It sounds like it could be one of a series of children’s books – “Harry Potter and the Fire Rainbow” has a certain ring to it, but this phenomenon is not fiction. If you are in the right place and at the right time then a fire rainbow is something that you will remember witnessing forever.

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To name it properly, a fire rainbow is a circumhorizontal arc. It is also known as a circumhorizon arc but whichever you chose, scientists (and aficionados) call it a CHA. It is given its name because it looks as if a rainbow has spontaneously combusted as it made its way across the sky. It could even be suspected, perhaps, that some malign fairy or goblin has blown the rainbow up to stop some errant human discovering that elusive pot of gold at its end!

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The real explanation behind a fire rainbow lies more in science text books than in a Brothers Grimm tale. A CHA is a kind of halo – which is an optical phenomenon. These appear around the moon – or in this case the Sun. You have probably seen a halo yourself around a strong light source – take a look at street lights in the fog for example.
fire rainbow 5 The Fire Rainbow An Astonishing and Rare Marvel of NatureAlthough there are many different types of optical halos, a CHA is caused by the refraction though ice crystals in cirrus clouds of light from the sun. Refraction happens when the speed of light is reduced inside a particular medium. This particular refraction happens when light goes from air without cloud to air containing cloud. In this case it is vital that the cloud is cirrus in shape.

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A cirrus cloud is one of those thin, wispy ones, often with tufts sticking out like disheveled hair! They can be huge – covering so much of the sky that you cannot see where one ends and another begins. When they are a massive sheet they are called cirrostratus. They are formed at enormous heights – over eight thousand meters. There is very little moisture at those heights and that’s why they are so skinny!
fire rainbow 7 The Fire Rainbow An Astonishing and Rare Marvel of NatureSo, what happens when light hits a cirrus cloud and what special conditions are needed to form a fire rainbow? The refraction of the light causes it to separate from its “white” form to its different components (which people call wavelengths). The person on the street would say that the light is bent out of shape and split up in to all the different colors that make it up. In other words, a rainbow – or in our case, a fire rainbow!

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So, why don’t we see fire rainbows as often as (its now more mundane!) cousin, the rainbow? For a start the sun has to be at least fifty eight degrees above the horizon for one to occur – and you have to be lucky enough to have cirrus clouds around at the same time! Because of the necessary height of the sun you will not see a fire rainbow north of fifty five degrees – and likewise further south of the magic fifty five degrees. You may occasionally see one if you are high up on a mountain further south or north, but it is not likely!
fire rainbow 9 The Fire Rainbow An Astonishing and Rare Marvel of NatureIt is vital that the crystal is aligned just so as otherwise the light will not separate in to the rainbow like colors we expect. If the alignment is correct then the whole cirrus cloud will “explode” in to a flaming, fire rainbow! The sight is almost as if someone has sprayed the sky with gasoline, thrown a lit match at it and then leant back, arms folded, to take in their handiwork!

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So, if you are lucky enough to see this phenomenon, perhaps it is a good idea to make a wish! The conditions for a fire rainbow are so exact that it means that to see one is a rare sight indeed. When nature does us this sort of favor by giving us a gift such as this, then perhaps it is only right that we make a wish when we encounter it! It may not be very scientific, but to be honest, would you care?

Antarctica in Pictures

Posted in Environment, Nature, Photography, Places by admin

Down in Antarctica, November marks the end of spring, the beginning of austral summer, and the beginning of Antarctica’s cruise season.

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10 Amazing Natural Wonders That Will Blow Your Mind

Posted in Beauty, Environment, Nature, Places, Travel by admin | Tags: ,
Whether you believe in God, the Big Bang theory, or some other idea you cannot deny the fact that the world in which we live in is mind-blowingly overwhelming. We live upon a canvas of picturesque beauty and admirable wonders; an exhibition of ancient artwork and glamorous spectacles. Raging waterfalls crashing down onto rocks, snow-capped majestic mountains standing tall and proud and even a morning sunrise that casts it’s heart-warming rays upon the landscape. Of course, to experience these fully it would be best to get some hands-on experience, but for those of you who don’t fancy taking a trip into Brazil to see the Iguassu falls or waking up at the crack of dawn to catch a fleeting glimpse of the morning sun, here is a breakdown of just ten amazing natural wonders to blow your mind:

The Northern Lights

The Great Barrier Reef

This marvellous happening of beauty is also often called “Aurora Borealis” named after the Roman Goddess of dawn (Aurora) and the Greek word for the north wind (Boreas). This spectacle can only be viewed in the North Sky of the Northern Hemisphere, most often during March through to April and September through to October. Often appearing as a green glow (although sometimes faint red) a lot of people wish to see this “piece of art in the sky”.

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Admired among many, off the coast of north-east Australia in the Coral Sea lays this behemoth of vibrantly coloured fish and a forest of extraordinary reef. This is the world’s largest reef that stretches out over an area of 344,400 square kilometres which is home to a wide range of tropical fish, built by billions of organisms. People often scuba dive off of boats just to look upon this beautiful piece of sea landscape.

A Simple Sunrise

Most people believe that you must travel far and wide to experience the full splendours of this Earth but in actual fact they can be found anywhere. Most people can take solace in waking up early, sitting on a nearby hill and watching the morning sun rise behind the landscape with it’s shine blaring across the skies, puncturing the clouds and blasting it’s way across the land. Sunrises look very effective on lakes and beaches.

Machu Picchu

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Lost in the mountainside, this remote secret village was discovered a hundred years ago by an American Historian named Hiram Bingham and only recently it was made one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Built with brick (and with some excellent places to climb on) this town is now populated by Llamas and tourists who flock to Peru just to witness and be a part of this unique culture. Machu Picchu was constructed around 1460 at the height of the Inca empire but it was abandoned 100 years later until urban tourists can and invaded this natural landscape.

A Smile

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A very meaningful natural wonder. A single smile can lift someone’s mood and bring out the best in people. If you’re feeling down and blue, a quick smile can help to cheer you up, especially if it’s from a friend or someone who you care about a lot. Isn’t it amazing? How a little effort can do so much; sure, it might not be something that you remember for the rest of your life, but it shows compassion and care and can make you feel special.

A Snowflake

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‘The [Creator] scratched his nose again. “You soon run out of ideas for snowflakes, for example.”’ – Eric by Terry Pratchett.

That’s the thing about snowflakes; they’re so intricate and unique. A sparkling miniscule sculpture of pure intricacy and beauty. Never will you see two that are exactly the same as they glide elegantly down from the winter sky. True beauty can be found right outside your doorstep.

Iguassu Falls

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Niagara Falls has nothing on this. Iguassu (Commonly spelt “Iguazu or “Iguaçu”) Falls are situated on the border between Brazil and Argentina, where the frothy waters fall over the edge of the rocky landscape in this forest filled area. Legend says that a God was planning on marrying a beautiful aborigine by the name of Naipi, but she fled with her lover Tarobá in a canoe. In a fit of rage the God sliced the river to create the waterfalls and consequently condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.

The Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon, a steep-sided gorge that was carved by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona. The canyon is 277 miles long, ranging in width from 4 and 18 miles and has stood for 17 million years. Native Americans built settlements within the canyon and its many caves and the “Pueblo” people considered it to be a holy site, making pilgrimages to it. The first European (known) to have viewed it was García López de Cárdenas from Spain.

A Rainbow

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A Rainbow actually has no physical form, but is a very attractive visual illusion created by our eye viewing the light being bent through raindrops, and it most commonly seen when it is rainy and sunny, or near waterfalls. Also, because it has no physical shape there is no end to it, and therefore, no pot of the gold at the end. Just thought I’d clear that up. Whenever a rainbow is in the sky, people often point it out, and appreciate it’s beauty as it shows the entire spectrum of white light from red to violet.

The Amazon Rainforest

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The Amazon Rainforest is located in the Amazon Basin of South America (the area is also known as Amazonia) and is a moist broadleaf forest that takes up 5.5 million square kilometres and spread out throughout nine different nations. This rainforest is so big that it represents over half of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforest in the entire world, and so beautifulwith it’s luscious green leaves and it’s wild habitat.

Golden snub-nosed monkeys

Posted in Animals, Nature, Photography by admin










The snub-nosed monkeys are a group of Old World monkeys and make up the entirety of the genus Rhinopithecus. The genus occurs rarely, and needs much more research. Some taxonomists group snub-nosed monkeys together with the Pygathrix genus.

Snub-nosed monkeys live in Asia, with a range covering southern China (especially Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou) as well as the northern part of Vietnam.

These monkeys get their name from the short, stump of a nose on their round face, with nostrils arranged forward. They have relatively multicolored and long fur, particularly at the shoulders and backs. They grow to a length of 51 to 83 cm with a tail of 55 to 97 cm.

Snub-nosed monkeys inhabit mountain forests up to a height of 4000 m, in the winter moving into the deeply secluded regions. They spend the majority of their life in the trees. They live together in very large groups of up to 600 members, splitting up into smaller groups in times of food-scarcity, such as in the winter. Groups consist of many more males than females. They have territorial instincts, defending their territory mostly with shouts. They have a large vocal repertoire, calling sometimes solo while at other times together in choir-like fashion.

The diet of these animals consists mainly of tree needles, bamboo buds, fruits and leaves. A multi-chambered stomach helps them with digesting their food.

The impulse for mating starts with the female. She takes up eye contact with the male and runs away a short bit, then flashes her genitals. If the male shows interest (which does not always occur), he joins the female and they mate. The 200-day gestation period ends with a single birth in late spring or early summer. Young animals become fully mature in about 6 to 7 years. Zoologists know little about their lifespan.