An Epic Move for Rhinos

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

crash in kruger © Scotch Macaskill

Crash in Kruger via Scotch Macaskill. A crash is a group of rhino-increasingly rare with the escalation of poaching.

After much speculation as to whether or not it would happen, the South African government has made it official. They have approved moving 500 rhino out of Kruger National Park.

Of the rhino to be moved, 260 will be sold to private buyers and another 250 taken to a safe location.

edna molewa

Edna Molewa, SA Minister of Environmental Affairs

Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, confirmed the possibility the rhino will be sent to Botswana and Zambia, where there will be “intense protection zones”.

According to Molewa, “this move, along with creating rhino strongholds could allow a total rhino population size of South Africa continue to grow.”

Botswana not only has better political and economic stability and a smaller population than South Africa, but they recently banned commercial trophy hunting and in 2013 adopted the controversial…

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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a ..Rhino?!

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

Rhino airlift

Airlift via Black Rhino Rescue Project, photo:Michael Raimondo

Now that South Africa has established its going to move hundreds of rhinos to new locations, logistically HOW will they do it?

Translocating  one-ton animals is tricky. But the most dramatic, and arguably the safest method to date is by air.

Photographer Emma Gatland joined the team from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for a rhino capture and relocation project in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

“There aren’t many people who get to witness a rhino lift,” she says. “It’s a new procedure, which is gentle on the rhino as it shortens the time the animal is kept drugged. The rhinos are airlifted using an old Vietnam Huey, which in itself is an adventure. They are lifted roughly 500 – 1000 meters into the air suspended by their ankles.”

Airlift 2

The rhino is sedated.

Airlift 4

Then secured..

AIrlift 5

And moved!

Of course any location, whether…

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Ebola in Africa – should you panic? by Onne , 01 August 2014

Africa is a huge continent, containing 47 different countries (not counting the surrounding island nations). It is over 7000km from north to south. “We’re going to Africa” is therefore a very vague description of destination. It’s like saying we’re going to Asia. A good first step is to pull out a map of Africa and look at where the current outbreak of Ebola is found:

Ebola map

The countries affected at the moment are all in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria has had one case that was identified on an inbound flight. Subsequently, all flights from affected areas have been cancelled and all countries in the region (including South Africa) are on high alert and have stepped up measures to screen travellers and identify possible victims.

We are certainly not downplaying the crisis and this is without doubt the worst Ebola outbreak in history, with over 700 deaths so far since February. But cancelling a trip to South Africa makes just as much sense as cancelling a trip to Spain because of Ebola. In fact, Spain is closer to the epicentre of the outbreak than South Africa is. All the popular safari destinations in Southern and East Africa remain unaffected by the Ebola outbreak. There is absolutely no reason to cancel your safari trip now. The biggest risk as a traveller right now is that you might have an elevated temperature due to the common flu or cold, and are then quarantined at the airport as a precaution.

How is Ebola spread?

This is an important question to help asses the risk. Thankfully and significantly, Ebola is not an airborne virus. It is spread through direct person-to-person contact, and contact with body fluids of infected persons – blood, saliva and other secretions. The WHO has a helpful factsheet about Ebola, which is worth a read. This means that the risk for ordinary travellers remains low, even in high risk areas, as long as you take basic precautions and avoid intimate contact with others.

Protective clothing

South Africa is not only an interesting mix of cultures, but also of third world and first world conditions. While many people unfortunately still live in third world conditions, the infrastructure in South Africa is very much first world, and the public health system is good. The department of health is very conservative when it comes to public health policy and disease prevention. For example, South Africa was the first country to require yellow fever vaccines for travellers arriving from Zambia, after a part of western Zambia was reclassified from “vaccine not recommended” to “vaccine generally not recommended” a few years ago. A minor change by the WHO, but the health department responded swiftly and firmly with new regulations (considered unnecessary by many). South Africa also has world class airports with excellent screening, medical and quarantine facilities.

Info Ebola 

So these are the facts. There is no Ebola in South Africa or any of its neighbouring countries. Unfortunately, when panic sets in the facts are not always considered in the decision making. During 2012-2013, we had cancellations for trips to South Africa because of the political protests and unrest in Egypt, 7000km away at the opposite end of the content. A major fail of geographical comprehension, and a pity for that family that they cancelled a fantastic trip for a completely unnecessary reason. Let’s hope the same does not happen with this Ebola outbreak.

http://wild-wings-safaris.com/blog/ebola-in-africa-should-you-panic/#.U-osDywbrFd.wordpress

Remembering our Elephants

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

“You know … they say an elephant never forgets.
What they don’t tell you is, you never forget an elephant.” World Ele Day
On today, World Elephant Day, let us bow our heads and remember the gentle giants who have lost their lives to poaching. 100 a day, every day…

We pray for the safety of those who remain, and we will continue to fight like hell to stop the scourge of poaching from taking anymore.

Sign: Stop the Ivory Trade

Sign: Google-Stop Ivory Trade through your site

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Ebola in Africa – should you panic? | Wild Wings Safaris Blog

Ebola in Africa – should you panic? | Wild Wings Safaris Blog.

Jan Braai vir Erfenis: 6 Desember 2013 foto’s

Jan en die span kuier in Sabi Sands, opsoek na die groot vyf. Hy wys jou ook hoe om ‘n springbok fillet met ‘n biltongsous op die kole voor te berei.

Arrival

Arrival via private charter @ Ulusaba airstrip

Jan Braai vir Erfenis

Jan Braai vir Erfenis

Springbok fillet on grill

Springbok fillet on grill

Springbok fillet & veg on grill

Springbok fillet

Springbok fillet with vegetable kebab

Sensational Safari

Keith Jenkinson

Keith Jenkinson – Inyati General Manager

Exciting game drive

Exciting game drive

 

 

If Rhinos Go Extinct

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

To every thing there is a yin and yang, a balance. The web of all species is intricately connected, each relies on the others.

When we let a species go extinct, we upset the balance. So if we fail the rhino, what will happen to the rest of the savanna?

Rhinos are mega-herbivores, the lawn maintenance crew of the savanna. Their job to the ecosystem is to carve out paths for other creatures (eating), make water holes (digging), and to help germinate plants (defecating).

rhinos eating grass

It may seem simplistic, but they are the only sizable creatures in this habitat to do it. The other mega-herbivores, elephants affect different parts of the savanna, as they eat from a different menu, browsing on taller bushes and trees.

Rhinos eat an average of 23.6 kg during the course of each day. The dung piles they share can be 5 metres wide and 1 metre deep. That’s a sizable…

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Mating for Life Part 1: Monogamy in Birds

Originally posted on Wildlife TV:

The animal kingdom is full of different mating strategies both of terms of the physical ‘deed’ and courting/attracting mates. Mating is when a male and female of the same species (or genus) come together to reproduce and create offspring. In reality, ‘mating for life‘ is quite rare in the animal kingdom, but several species practice monogamy; providing exclusive mating rights to a single partner for a given period of time.

  • Which animals mate for life?

Some animals are famous for their perceived monogamous behaviour: The European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) has been the subject of Shakespearean poetry for its dedication to its life partner. Turtle doves do indeed seem to pick a preferred mate, but they certainly aren’t as saintly as it first appears; females will commonly mate with passing males if they are deemed more desirable than their partner, this of course is…

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Mating for Life Part 2: Monogamy in Mammals

Originally posted on Wildlife TV:

In the previous post we saw how birdsare, generally speaking, the most faithful animals to their mating partners, but which other animals are monogamous? Although loyalty to a partner is reasonably common (although varied) in the bird world, it is far less common elsewhere, for example, only 3% of mammal species show any sort of monogamy.

  • Which mammals mate for life?

One mammal species that was thought to have mated for life was the siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus), along with some other species of gibbon. Intensive research has shown that they actually practice something called ‘social monogamy‘ as opposed to sexual monogamy, in other words, they are swingers (and not just from tree to tree)! Siamangs pair off and form close social bonds with their partners, often spending their whole lives together and raising families together, however, they quite frequently will mate with other…

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Mating for Life Part 3: Monogamy in Insects

Originally posted on Wildlife TV:

We’ve seen in part 1 (birds) and part 2 (mammals) of this series that there is a lot of variation in monogamy in the animal kingdom. It is worth mentioning one more group of animals before we carry on.

  • Do insects mate for life?

In the invertebrateworld, there is a countless variety of mating techniques, but even amidst this variety there are some examples of monogamy and mating for life. Termites (infraorder: Isoptera) are colonial animals where a single queen produces all the offspring that then grow up to service the collective. A termite queen constantly produces offspring, most of which become workers and soldiers that serve the colony, but each year, the queen will produce a generation of breeding individuals. These ‘breeders’, called alates, are males and females with wings that fly away from the home colony to found their own. Females breed and then…

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Mating for Life Part 4: Why are Animals Monogamous?

Originally posted on Wildlife TV:

  • Why are animals monogamous?

As we’ve seen in previous posts (about birds, mammals and insects), monogamy is common in some parts of the animal kingdom and rare in others, but the way in which it is practised varies a great deal. But what are the advantages of being faithful to a mating partner? Generally speaking, it makes sense for animals to be promiscuous; mating with a lot of partners increases the chance of producing a large number of offspring as well as increasing the chance of having the opportunity to mate with the most desirable partner. However, monogamy does have some advantages, as demonstrated by many of the species we have already discussed.

Warthog Family Warthogs ( Phacochoerus africanus ) are promiscuous animals; the males wander around large areas, mating with any females they come across. They sacrifice selectivity for increased chances of producing young every breeding season. Photo…

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Culinary safari @ Inyati

The American chef and food writer James Beard described food as “our common ground, a universal experience”. Those who have been on an African bush holiday know that food around a campfire, combined with the back-to-nature experience, has the power of a common language.

Inyati dinner

Inyati sundowners
Inyati apple dessert

Status Quo of the Rhino

Originally posted on Fight for Rhinos:

Rhino bought,rhino sold
with promise of cure
to the wealthy and old.
Rhino hunted,poached rhino in kruger
rhino displayed
for trophies on walls,
for tour operators to be paid.
Poisoned, tagged,
stripped of horn
Under surveillance and guard
from the moment they’re born.
To trade, to hunt,
to farm, to breed
Oh the shame of it all
humanity’s greed.
Ranger vs poacher,
politican vs NGO-
fighting in the bush,
fighting the status quo.
Drones and poison,
armies, shoot-to-kill;
Is this enough
to fight a government with no political will?
By: Tisha Wardlow

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Rest, reward and relaxation by Justice Malala

Justice MalalaFOOD FOR THOUGHT: Rest, reward and relaxation

12 Jun 2014 | Justice Malala

After the stresses and strains of the election, a rest cure is just what the doctor ordered, whether in hospital or in a game reserve, writes Justice Malala

NO SOONER do you think the elections are over and the madness will finally subside, than along comes SACP chairman Senzeni Zokwana. Yes, this worker champion, who has now been elevated to agriculture & fisheries minister by President Jacob Zuma, is also the immediate past president of the NUM.

He pays his cattle herder the princely sum of R26 a day. Yes, dear, that’s R26 a day. And the herder is on duty on Saturdays and Sundays, too. Zokwana is the same guy, mind you, who every second day rails against business and its poor wage increases. Watch this space. Before you can say “promotion” this minister will be on the ANC committee that is investigating the introduction of a basic minimum wage across the country. Before you can say “red tape” there will be a law introducing a basic minimum wage in SA. And before you can say “hypocrisy” you will find that our dear Zokwana is still paying his herder R26 a day.

After all, the SACP did come out guns blazing when the story was published, saying that newspapers were being “petty”. No-one said a word about the fact that Zokwana has been enjoying an annual salary of R1m since he became NUM president 14 years ago. I really am not surprised that Zuma arrived at an ANC national executive committee meeting on Friday looking ragged and had to be sent away by party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Then, on Saturday, it was announced that Zuma was admitted to a Pretoria hospital.

I don’t blame the guy for being so stressed. With the Zokwanas of this world in your cabinet you would also need a rest. And the election was exhausting too, according to Mantashe. “I must say these elections were quite punishing. I was told to go and sleep for nine days. I slept for nine days,” says Mantashe. We all need a holiday after that election campaign and the appointment of the Zokwanas of this world. Which is why it was such a pleasure to hop onto a Federal Air flight to Inyati Game Reserve out in the Sabi Sands, Mpumalanga, the other day. Like Mantashe and Zuma, I needed a break from the madding crowd.

Here is the thing about the bush. The minute you enter those small planes, or drive out of the city, the tension just flows out of you. There are no fences between Inyati and the other lodges in the Sabi Sands. The animals roam free. And there are plenty of them: on my first game drive we saw a leopard with two cubs, two herds of elephant and a testosterone of three male lions who were having their afternoon nap.Ask your game ranger not to park downwind from them: they let rip so often we had to either move on or die of asphyxiation.

There are three things you need to remember if you ever go to Inyati. First, the barman, Levi, is phenomenal. Second, the view from the reception area could make an Ernest Hemingway out of a pedestrian writer such as me. There is nothing like sipping a gin and tonic, writing your piece, and seeing animals come down to the river and have a drink. Or a leopard passing through the premises. Third, try to make sure you have a meal out in the bush on one of the days you are there. The staff build a huge fire, a bar is set up and a braai is laid on. The pap is phenomenal, the drinks flow, the stars are fiercely out in the night sky, the meat is delicious and all is good with the world. And I managed to put in a solid nine hours’ sleep, resting just like my hero, Mantashe. Divine.

**** Inyati Private Game Reserve

Sabi Sand Reserve Mpumalanga Tel: (013) 735-5125

*****Thuli Madonsela
****Excellent
***Good
**Poor
*Senzani Zokwana

Justice Malala is a weekly columnist for the Financial Mail.

Ranger Diaries – Khaki Fever

Khaki Fever

Khimbini Hlongwane from Inyati Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand was captivated by animals from an early age.

“Growing up in a village in the eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga) got me exposed to wildlife from a young age and I was fascinated by the behaviours of various animals,” he says. “I loved being out there with brothers herding cattle and goats while interacting with wildlife. It was really fun, yet challenging, because every day we had to try to find food with without becoming food!”

Hlongwane says he battled when he grew older and had to divide his days between going to school and spending time having fun outdoors.

When his community was separated from wildlife, he knew he had to find a way back to live closer to and learn more about animals. However, guiding wasn’t his first choice. “I was terrified of being responsible for entertaining people of different cultures, coming from all corners of the globe,” he says. “You have to understand why that was a challenge for me – I was raised by people who couldn’t read and write, never left the Transvaal and hardly had any exposure to the outside world.”

Initially, Hlongwane had his sights set on becoming a wildlife veterinarian but says after graduating from high school, it was clear this wasn’t going to happen. He moved on to plan B and started as a tracker at Inyati Game Lodge in 1994.

“The training went smoothly because the man training me happened to the same man who taught me the ins and outs of surviving in the bush as a herd boy, Simon George Hlongwane, an older brother, a friend, a mentor, a custodian and a role model to many of us in the community.”Khimbini

Changing t(r)ack

“One of the first things Simon told me was: ‘Remember, we used to see lion tracks and we would herd the livestock in the opposite direction to protect them? Now when we see lion tracks, we follow until we find the lions, so be more vigilant!’”

Hlongwane spent five years as a tracker before becoming a ranger. “I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment I got when seeing the astonishment and excitement on my guests’ faces after successfully tracking a leopard where it seemed impossible.”

He didn’t think he would like guiding as much as he did tracking but Hlongwane says, 15 years later he’s still loving it and has found a new passion in the form of wildlife photography.

Khimbini photography

Khimbini ‘s picture of the leopard stalking was featured in the National Geographic top 25 wilderness photographs.

Close call

While he has had a few close calls with wild animals, the incident that stands out involves guests. “One of the biggest fears as guide is losing a guest,” he says.

One afternoon, after tracking for about half an hour, Hlongwane found a pride of four lionesses and 10 cubs. Because the lions were still resting, he continued the drive and returned to the pride at dusk.

“As we arrived, the lions started yawning, indicating that they would soon start moving. We followed the lions and, as we negotiated our way through the bushes, it became difficult to keep up. I was focused on keeping an eye on the movement of the lions while warning guests to mind the branches coming their way.

“All of a sudden there were loud screams behind me in the vehicle. I turned around to find that, of the party of six Germans, only four were left in the vehicle. Two were standing on the seats, two were on the bars we used to embark the vehicle and the other two had jumped out of the vehicle.”

Hlongwane stopped the engine, picked up his rifle and hopped out the vehicle.

“Trying to figure out what was going on was difficult. Even though we had all been speaking English earlier, suddenly the guests were only speaking German. In the midst of the shouting I heard the word ‘schlange’ which sounded like the Afrikaans word ‘slang’, meaning snake.

“With the tracker watching the lions I decided to open the tailgate of the vehicle. Sure enough there was a harmless variegated bush snake underneath the seats.”

Tree-scaling impala

Hlongwane reckons he could fill a book with the strange questions some guests ask. One of his favourites was at a leopard sighting.

“We followed drag marks and found a leopard in jackalberry tree. Beside the leopard was a half-eaten impala carcass. It was the guests’ first leopard sighting so I waited for the excitement to die down a bit before talking more about leopards.”

“The guest sitting at the back asked: ‘What was the impala doing up there in the first place?’ I turned to look at my tracker and before I could answer she hit me with another: ‘Is the impala dead?’.”

Hlongwane politely explained that impala don’t climb trees and it had been dragged up the tree by the leopard.

Khim photoDon’t stop learning

The most valuable lesson Hlongwane has learnt is to never allow yourself to think you know everything, because that will be the day you stop learning. “Especially in wildlife there is so much to learn. Animals continue to prove to us that they don’t live by the theories we write about them.”

http://tourismupdate.co.za/Contents/Editions/2014/June2014/Ranger_Diaries.html

 

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