Alpacas and Llamas and Pacha Mama

Alpacas and Llamas Moyo's Journey

A Spittoon of Alpacas: Friends of Moyo
Alpacas and Llamas Moyo's Journey

Today is Alpaca Day.
On the Blue page of “Moyo’s Journey” we see a pair of inquisitive llamas – close relatives of the alpaca, but with a few differences.
Here are some fun facts about these Friends of Moyo:

Alpacas have short spear-shaped ears and blunter shaped faces while the lengthier faced llama has longer, banana shaped ears. Llamas also have less hair on their heads and faces than alpacas.
Alpacas are shorter at around 35″ high, weighing less than half of their taller cousins, who can tip the scales at as much as 400lb and stand at around 43”.
For more than 5,000 years alpacas have been bred for their coats (and in Peru for meat as well), while llamas have traditionally been bred as pack animals and for their meat.
Alpacas produce a finer and greater quantity of fleece than llamas, in a wider variety of colors. The alpaca also produces more fleece than its larger cousin and in a much greater variety of colors. Llamas also generally do not have as much hair on their head and face as alpacas do.
While Alpacas are herd animals – I like to call the collective noun a spittoon – llamas are more independent creatures and are often used as guard animals for alpacas, sheep, and other small livestock.
Oh and they all love sunbathing!

A bit of history…
I found this story from Andean mythology and thought I would share it here:
According to both the Aimara and Quechua-speaking peoples of South America, the ancient world was comprised two superimposed worlds, the upper and the lower.
The lower world was populated by enormous herds of plump, sleek alpacas belonging to the Apu, or mountain god, and were tended to by his daughter. The alpacas of the upper world, by contrast, were far fewer in number and were inferior in quality, with only a short fleece
Because the Apu’s daughter had difficulty in protecting her alpacas from the region’s numerous predators, her father arranged for her to marry a young herdsman from the upper world who could help her tend these herds. The Apu’s daughter and her husband lived contentedly in the lower world for a while until the young herdsman began to grow homesick. He told his wife that he wished to return to his own world, and to enrich it with the lower world’s herds of alpaca.
The mountain god’s daughter agreed and, collecting her alpacas, began traveling via the springs and lakes to live with her husband in the upper world. Her father’s only condition to his daughter’s marriage was that her husband was always to take good care of the herds and especially of a tiny alpaca that always had to be carried. Sadly, the daughter’s husband proved to be lazy and one day dropped the tiny alpaca on the ground, leaving it to fend for itself.
When his wife saw this she took fright and immediately ran to the nearest spring and began swimming towards the lower world. The alpacas followed her, although a few were prevented from doing so by the herdsman.
Ever since, the alpacas of the upper world have remained near springs and lakes. There, they continue to yearn after their mistress who, as yet, has never returned.
The myth of the origin of alpacas contains a basic lesson that is still understood by Andean herders today – in the beginning life was difficult, by the grace of the mountain gods, alpaca herds increased, the world became fertile and life for a time became leisurely. Mankind then disobeyed the gods’ wishes, causing the herds to decline so that now they must be tended to continually.”

Sources: https://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/difference-between-llama-and-alpaca/

World Whale Shark Day

Friends of Moyo: Oceans
Miranda Roberts Art Whale Shark Landscape

In “Moyo’s Journey”, on the Indigo page, she explores the deep oceans along with many creatures we know. Not included in the original illustration from the book is the world’s largest fish and one of the biggest creatures on earth – the gentle whale shark. I guess I’m holding out for a standalone “Oceans Journey” follow-up with Moyo, sometime in the future.

The only predator these magnificent animals have is us humans. Yup. Again. They are considered to be some of the most vulnerable marine animals and some of the most endangered sharks. I always believe that to love something you need to know more about it, so here on World Whale Shark Day are some facts I’ve gleaned from around the web, in order for us to learn a little more about them together. (Credits below.)

Scientific Name: Rhincodon typus
Average Length: 18 – 40 foot and the females are larger than the males
Average Weight: 20.6 tons. That is equal to the combined weight of three average African elephants (not that there is ANYTHING average about an African Elephant!)
Average Width of Mouth: 5 foot and this consists of 300 rows of tiny teeth, each only 6mm long! With this huge mouth they can suck up to 600 cubic meters of water every hour. As they feed mostly from scooped up plankton, they have no need for larger teeth.
Swimming Speed is around 3 mph and they can dive up to around 3000 feet. Sadly, they prefer to live at around 150 feet which makes them susceptible to unsustainable fishing practices and damage from larger vessels.
Communication: Whale Sharks do not use sound for communication but instead respond to the vibrations created by sound.
Their migration habits are still a source of relatively new study and therefore not fully understood. We do know however that they gather in large groups in specific places and at specific times. Regular followers of “Moyo’s Journey” on social media will know that I am a HUGE fan of collective nouns – official and otherwise. I came across and interesting article on this with specific regard to whale sharks: A constellation of whale sharks.
And that leads smoothly to their skin – hard and scaly, it can be up to 4” thick. Interestingly, like many animals, their pattern is utterly unique to each animal and an obvious reason for the choice of informal collective noun.

As with so many of Friends of Moyo, we need to honor these gentle beasts more.

Mermaids – raise your glasses for Whale Shark Day.

 Society 6 Logo
Click on the logo above for Whale Shark inspired merch at my new Society6 store

(Source: https://oceanscubadive.com/facts-about-whale-sharks)

International Bat Night

Friends of Moyo
The bat hanging upside down laughs at the topsy turvey world. (Proverb)
Miranda Roberts Art International Bat NIght Friends of Moyo
Tonight is International Bat Night so let’s show them some love… and really why not?
Apart from super cool facts like they live for about forty years,
and are the only mammals naturally capable of sustained flight (yes you read that last bit correctly), there is one MAJOR reason to love and appreciate bats:
in an hour, a single bat can eat over 1000 mosquitoes – that’s the equivalent of you or me eating 25 pizzas in one night.
Bats – I salute you!
I appreciate you.
I am batty about you! (Ok so maybe that’s going a bit too far… but seriously… let’s get a colony).
.
Oh and alongside bees and butterflies, they are huge pollinators… Some seeds will not sprout unless they have passed through the digestive tracts of a bat. Additionally, bats spread millions of seeds every year from the ripe fruit they eat. Approximately 95% of the reforestation of the tropical rainforest is a result of seed dispersal from bats.
(Source: https://www.factretriever.com/bat-facts)

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists 24 bat species as Critically Endangered, meaning they face an imminent risk of extinction. Fifty-three others are Endangered, and 104 bat species are considered Vulnerable. Bats also are among the most under-studied of mammals. The IUCN lists 226 bat species as “Data Deficient”– there is simply too little information available to determine their conservation status. Of the 1,296 bat species that have been assessed by the IUCN almost a third are considered either threatened (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) or data deficient, indicating the need for more conservation attention to these species. The IUCN continually updates information on species assessments and numbers may vary slightly as new assessments are completed.
(Source: http://www.batcon.org/why-bats/bats-are/bats-are-threatened)

“International Bat Night was established to help promote the good image of bats, and to help start creating some clarity on the facts about them above and beyond the rumors and Hollywood image. While we often think of bats as nocturnal predators feasting on the blood of the innocent and harboring rabies, the truth is quite different. Yes, there are bats that feed on blood, but they mostly feed on insects and believe us, you want bats to be out there patrolling the night and helping eliminate them.”
(Source: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/international-bat-night)

WORLD RHINO DAY. Honoring them while we still can…

We are the sole cause of the dwindling numbers of rhino’s around the world. That’s right. Humans. This information is well documented but I wanted to use this day to share that fact again. Rhino’s have NO natural predators. The decline in their population is as a result of poaching and shrinking natural habitat. That’s it. It’s a rather dreadful fact.

A Few More Rather Serious Rhino Facts:
“Two species of rhino in Asia—Javan and Sumatran—are critically endangered. A subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011. A small population of the Javan rhino still clings for survival on the Indonesian island of Java. Successful conservation efforts have helped the third Asian species, the greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino, to increase in number. Their status was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable, but the species is still poached for its horn.
In Africa, southern white rhinos, once thought to be extinct, now thrive in protected sanctuaries and are classified as near threatened. But the western black rhino and northern white rhinos have recently gone extinct in the wild. The only three remaining northern white rhino are kept under 24-hour guard in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Black rhinos have doubled in number over the past two decades from their low point of fewer than 2,500 individuals, but total numbers are still a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that existed in the early part of the 20th century.”
Source: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/rhino

On A Lighter Note:
The collective noun for rhinos: A crash of rhinos
Closest relatives: Tapirs, zebras and horses
Swahili word for rhino: kifaru

Click here for a free downloadable rhino coloring page from me to you. There are lots more on my “Gifts” page on this website.

Rhino’s appear twice in “Moyo’s Journey” on the African Savanna page and in the Indian jungle page.

An Inspirational Story Time with Moyo


Thank you to Chrissy Brackett from Woodinville, WA for this inspirational story time with Moyo.. Copies available here, from MirandaRobertsArt, Etsy and Amazon.com. Where will YOU take Moyo?

“Once a month I run a Children’s StoryTime at the bookstore where I work. At the last event, I chose to share “Moyo’s Journey”. It was amazing to see children as young as 3 entranced by the vibrant artwork, the 8 & up kids enjoying the different places that Moyo travels to and the adults listening closely to the message being delivered through the words. The kids then did a hands-on project of painting with watercolors a place that they thought Moyo should visit – most were imaginary places of wonder – and they placed their own “Moyo” polar bear in their special place. It was a wonderful story time that everyone enjoyed for a variety of reasons.
Afterwards, my two helpers (a 9 and 11 year old), who have attended StoryTime for several years, were looking through the back pages and reading through the facts (with their mom). I surprised them by gifting this very special book to them. They were so excited to take the book home and share it with their dad, who is from New Zealand! A family treasure is what I’ve been told by their mom.
Thank you, Miranda Roberts, for writing and illustrating a children’s book that entertains all ages! I highly recommend “Moyo’s Journey” for families, librarians and teachers!!!”

 

Celebrating earth’s gentle giants on WORLD GIRAFFE DAY

Giraffe painted on silk by MirandaRobertsArt
“Josephine” painted on silk by MirandaRobertsArt

Well in case you missed it on my social media all week, today is WORLD GIRAFFE DAY, which pleases “Josephine” no end!

Tragically, giraffe populations have declined by 40 percent in the last 30 years and are now thought to number fewer than 98,000 in the wild. Thus they have recently been listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation in Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Alarmingly, some subspecies may be even more at risk of extinction than is currently recognised.*
So really, EVERY day should be WORLD GIRAFFE DAY! Today’s date was chosen by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation however, to celebrate the longest-necked animal on earth on either the longest day or night of the year, depending on which hemisphere you live!

In my picture-book-for-all-ages, “Moyo’s Journey”, we join Moyo on a short trip into the African Savanna. There she learns the importance of individuality from the zebra. She could also have learned this from the giraffe as each and every hide is unique, like a thumbprint. Moyo is the Swahili word for Heart. The Swahili word for giraffe is “Twiga”.

Moyo learns from the giraffe on her African Safari
Moyo in Africa on her rainbow Journey

Giraffe Facts you may not know:
While it seems hard to believe, giraffes have the same number of vertebrae in their necks  (7) as humans.

Giraffes have excellent eyesight enabling them to see danger from a distance. It is thought that this is the reason that other animals congregate nearby, for an early warning of approaching predators. It also helps them find their herd easily, despite the excellent camouflage provided by their hides.

While their eyesight may be excellent, they do have the highest blood pressure of any land mammal and need a very big heart to pump the blood all the way up to their head. The average giraffe heart weighs about 22lbs and can be up to 2 foot long. Because they have to bend so low to drink, giraffes have a complex pressure regulation system in their upper necks to prevent excess blood flow to the brain.

Giraffes and NASA? Blood flows differently in space and so the circulatory system of the legs doesn’t have to work as hard as it does on earth, in order to pump the blood back up. As a result, the leg veins of astronauts get thin, and weak, which can create medical complications when returning to Earth. Observing the rapidly inflating leg veins of giraffes, scientists created an airtight tube that seals below the waist and applies periodic vacuum pressure. This makes blood rush into the legs and pelvic area helping keep the astronaut’s leg veins in shape. An example of this in giraffes is seen clearly in babies who are able to stand almost immediately after they are born and are able to run alongside their herd within 10 hours of being born!

And talking of running – giraffes can reach speeds of over 30 mph. Although their ambling gait – they pick up both legs on the same side at the same time – makes it appear as if they are strolling leisurely, they can cover over 15ft with each step!

Giraffes are browsers and feed mainly from the top of acacia and commiphora (myrrh) trees. They are capable of eating up to 140lbs of leaves and twigs a day – with the aid of their very long, prehensile tongues. These can extend as far as 18” and are dark in color to prevent sun damage. They also have unique 2 or 3 lobed canine teeth which they use to strip leaves from branches. Males and females, eat from different parts of the tree to avoid competition for food.

Collective Nouns: I’m rather obsessed with collective nouns and they are sometimes a source of inspiration for paintings for me. Here are a few pertaining to giraffes:
a corps of giraffes
a herd of giraffes
a tower of giraffes
a stretch of giraffes
a totter of giraffes.

The original painting of “Josephine” has been SOLD, but prints, canvasses, clothing and home decor are availb on my Redbubble or Zazzle stores.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only NGO in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa. If you are interested in supporting them and the invaluable work they do – please click here to donate – OR here to adopt a giraffe (no, you can’t take it home with you!).

Here is one last fact – and IMO the WEIRDEST: The closest relative to the Giraffe is the okapi. And that in itself is both a painting and a blog post for another day!

SOURCES:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180103194743.htm
www.thefactsite.com
http://listverse.com/2013/10/12/12-fascinating-facts-about-giraffes/
http://www.theanimalfiles.com/mammals/hoofed_mammals/giraffe.html