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The fake that could save the real thing

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A local communications agency was given the task of creating awareness of the plight of Africa’s vultures for International Vulture Awareness Day. With no budget, and only one photograph at their disposal, they knew their approach would have to be bold and so the Tuluver was created.

In the lead up to International Vulture Awareness Day on 5 September, one of South Africa’s top conservation NGOs, BirdLife South Africa made an astonishing announcement. BirdLife South Africa announced a recently discovered, rare and exceptionally beautiful species of scavenging bird, and offered a stunning visual of the enchanting ‘Tuluver’.

With the headline ‘New Species Discovered in South Africa’ plastered across lamp posts, radio and news media; it didn’t take long for a social media storm to brew.  While thousands excitedly ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ the news of the gorgeous Tuluver, others questioned its authenticity.

On 2 September, an online video artfully revealed that the ‘Tuluver’ was, in fact, a photoshopped image of the increasingly threatened Lappet-faced Vulture, the largest vulture in Africa.  While it might lack the eye-catching beauty of a Tuluver, the Lappet-faced Vulture is undeniably a bird that, despite its great ecological importance, has earned an unfair reputation and its plight has gone unnoticed.

According to BirdLife South Africa CEO, Mark D. Anderson, “The increased absence of vultures in some parts of the world, such as South Asia, has already led to an increase in feral dogs and, in turn, rabies – at huge cost to human health.”

And yet for years, its population has been in serious decline due to poisoning, electrocution on powerlines, persecution and habitat loss while very few people have been paying attention.  The Tuluver campaign message: ‘If we can get this passionate about discovering a new species, why can’t we get as passionate about losing one?’ certainly clanged the bells across social media around the world.

Through innovative disruption, BirdLife South Africa has succeeded in getting the message across – no matter what they look like, the continued existence of vultures warrants our care and keen attention.

The campaign received an overwhelmingly positive response. The video has so far garnered over 18 000 views and 81 million earned media impressions, with many people expressing that they had no idea vultures were even in trouble.

“We are ecstatic with the results of our Tuluver campaign, and sincerely hope that people are now more aware of the plight faced by vultures, they will view them in a different light and make more of an effort to help conserve them,” said Mark D. Anderson.

Better yet, among others, previous skeptics of the campaign recanted and praised BirdLife South Africa on what has been their biggest awareness and promotional campaign yet.

The innovative campaign was developed for BirdLife South Africa by Utopia, an up-and-coming communications agency based in Cape Town. Utopia and BirdLife South Africa have been working together on a pro bono basis for nearly five years, with many successes to date.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

Use the page links below to continue reading about Tan’s visions.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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