Tag Archives: Sabi Sand Wildtuin

Inyati supporter of SSW Rhino Protection Helicopter Programme

Inyati Game Lodge has always been a supporter of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin rhino protection programme and can boast that we are the largest donor of the total cost of the SSW helicopter programme.

Anti-rhino poaching

SSW Rhino Protection Programme:

Rhino poaching has severely impacted almost all of the reserves within South Africa, and as a result the Sabi Sand Wildtuin has committed itself to providing a safe haven for rhino. In 2013, after significant rhino losses in the area and across the country the Sabi Sand undertook the implementation of a major rhino protection project aimed at creating a sanctuary for our rhino.
SSW developed a multi-layered security intervention, and invested heavily in Hi-Tec perimeter fencing, boots on the ground, vehicles, K9, security equipment, intelligence and a rigorous community engagement campaign.
The SSW is to be a refuge for both black and white rhinoceros, an area from which other reserves can be restocked should either species be pushed to the brink of extinction. Moreover, as these animals play a key role in the genetic diversity of the Greater Kruger National Park, the reserve would act to conserve these important genes should the African population be drastically depleted.

anti-rhino poaching night patrolAs almost all poaching incidents occur after dark, “owning the night” and rapid response is fundamental for success. Given the large area to be covered and the rugged nature of the terrain, a critical tool that was identified was a helicopter with night vision capabilities.
After extensive investigation, a Bell Long Ranger was identified as a suitable model. The helicopter allows us to respond to a breach or incursion within 15 minutes.

anti-rhino poaching night patrol

We have experience of incidents during which poachers have entered and exited the reserve within this 15 minute time slot. The helicopter has been proven to improve the anti-poaching team effectiveness far beyond what could ever be achieved with manpower and vehicles alone.

Review of helicopter impact
• Demand and concomitant poaching pressure has increased as evidenced by 122% increase in the number of poaching entries to the reserve for the 9 months since the helicopter has been deployed versus the 9 months prior.

• Improving reaction capability and response time impacts poacher success. Despite 122% increase in poaching entries the kill rate was contained and remained flat at 15%.

• The helicopter has worked to prevent further rhino fatalities. This was most noticeable in incidents where poaching groups were identified and detained using the helicopter before they could enter the reserve.

• The deployment of the helicopter has been extremely effective in establishing a visible
security presence in and around the reserve. This has been evidenced by community forum awareness and feedback indicating:
“it is easy for the security to react now”
“the Sabi Sand is a difficult area to get rhino because poachers can be easily trapped and caught”

• An additional factor that has been identified is the impact of the helicopter on ranger morale:
– The helicopter has enabled rapid emergency medical support in the case of a ranger being seriously injured.
– The rangers are more confident entering contact situations knowing that the helicopter can bring back-up quickly when needed – this has decreased reaction time by up to 1 hour.
– The additional investment in the helicopter to support the ground forces and the investment in ranger skills relating to the helicopter has considerably increased ranger morale.

Donor Funding
The Sabi Sand Nature Conservation Trust is a registered Public Benefit Organisation.  Donations will be paid directly into and managed by the Sabi Sand Nature Conservation Trust. No administration fee will be charged meaning 100% of donated funds go directly to project costs where it is needed most.
Contact details:
For more information or to get involved please contact the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Warden,
David Powrie on Tel. 079 946 7433 or email at warden@sabisand.co.za

 

Original article -https://xtoday.news/media/50508/ssw-rhino-protection-initiative.pdf

Inyati initiativePhotographs by Heinrich Röntgen

Returning to change by Matthew Brennan

MatthewI was on my way back from leave. It was the last day of September and close on a month into spring. When I left it was still winter but on this day it was warm into the evening as we expect down in the Lowveld. I therefore had my windows up and my aircon on. Until I reached the entrance into this great game reserve the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, on entry into the reserve I opened all windows and turned the radio off.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve

It was good to be home and the first thing I noticed was the air thick with the smell of smoke. It clings in the spider-webs, it dancers in the dust devils and settles everywhere, sometimes it rains in the scented ash.

My drive to the lodge was uneventful, and I arrived to settle in. I had arrived just at the end of safari and I am quite keen to see my friends and catch up with the news from the last two weeks. So I knew exactly where I needed to go too. Straight to post safari hub of the lodge, the bar. George and Keith are there assisting guests with drinks and good conversation. I notice that most of the guests are updating whichever social medium they choose to broadcast their stories of the African bush. The older generation always scold the youngsters as they order their drinks. I chat a bit with the staff at the bar, but I’m here for bush updates, so I corner the rangers and greet them and get some talk going.

I start it off, “how’s Tlangisa?” I ask George. “Still going strong and both alive”. “you know what I saw the other day?” George questions immediately. “The one Majingilane male with the Othawa’s, cubs and all. ‘Strue!” Keith weighs in, “And have you noticed the Othawa’s have an extra cub?” This is exactly what I have been hoping for an update on the last two weeks. I notice that a few guests have been paying attention to the conversation and so does Keith so he turns the guests to include them in the conversation. “The Othawa’s are one of the prides of lions here, they have three cubs now but it has been two for a very long time and so we are still deliberating as too which pride this extraneous cub originally belongs too. On top of that the Majingilanes are not the father of the cubs and have killed off five of their siblings. So the question now is why not?”

“Xhikave is here in a tree”, says a lady from across the bar. She points in the general area south. “That girl is pregnant,” says Kimmy as he walks guests from their room to the bar. “And there is an elephant on the lawn. Please the barman will help you with a drink.” All the guests shuffle and jostle to the end of the verandah to get a glimpse of the elephant who is preening the Knobthorns in the garden. He moves from lamp post to spotlight coming and going as the shadows hide him from view, he humphs deeply as he moves out of the orange glow and into the river. “There are cheetah everywhere at the moment. We see them every day almost and the wild dogs have come back twice and they have brought there pups. Dam Three and Dewane have been mating as well as Dam Three and Nyeleti.” Keith starts to roll through the scorecard. It makes me anxious to get out there and see for myself. Having got what I needed I retired for the evening. The sooner to bed the sooner I would wake up to get the day started.

I woke with a start as I’m not used to having light in my room in the morning. I could hear the warbling of the bulbuls outside in the trees and the distinct and somber call of the black cuckoo. I notice that it is overcast, I sighed deeply knowing that I was back. I turned my radio onto the game drive channel while I made my way down to the lodge to start my day with a coffee. My radio crackled to life, “I’m leaving Dewane in a tree with a kill,” loosely translated of course. I get my coffee and I am greeted by all the staff welcoming me back from leave. I make myself a cup and take a moment on the verandah and look at the view, it is breath-taking. I then go look for Nelson. I find him cleaning our vehicle. I ask him about his leave and we talk home life for a bit. He knows my enjoyment of the story and so tells me,” John the workshop assistant was picking up staff today and he saw a cheetah kill an impala, we going to go this afternoon.” He states forthright. “Ok.” Is all I can say against such determination. Nelson also states that there is buffalo in the south at least a thousand he says.

I then move off to prepare for safari and get my equipment clean and working and start to focus on the guests that will be coming in. So by 15h30 when it is high tea I am ready to explode onto the scene. I greet the guests and chat for a bit, I find out what they are expecting from their stay here. I then inform them of how things will work and such and as soon as possible I usher them to the vehicle. There they climb on and I instruct them as to how to remain safe and then. I start up the car and off we go.

Matthew and Nelson
Matthew and Nelson

If Rhinos Go Extinct

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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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

 

Rhino Dog Deployed in Sabi Sand Reserve

Sponsored by The Dis-Chem Foundation via Jacaranda’s Purple Rhino Project, Bobby Rhino Dog – a Springer Spaniel – has been successfully deployed in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin.

Rhino Dog Deployed
Rhino Dog Deployed

Bobby was trained by the MECHEM Dog Unit and is a detection dog, able to sniff out both rhino horn as well as ammunitions. This combination of scent imprinting is new –  traditionally dogs are trained as either ammunitions dogs or endangered species dogs. Bobby has bonded very closely with his new handler-dad and will play an active role in the fight against rhino poaching in this reserve.

Nsunguti / January – 2013 Wildlife Journal

The weather: We had some good rains again this January, dropping a drenching 170mm in 1 day. Most of the rains came in the form of afternoon thundershowers. We experienced another flood this year. The Sand river has been transformed into a mighty torrent of water and many of the smaller drainage lines were not crossable .The area is really looking very green and lush at the moment. Temperatures averaged a high of 32°C.

January flooding

Wildlife:  Although this season is often regarded as a quieter time of the year for game viewing, the green season at Inyati game lodge would prove any sceptic wrong. Most of the antelope species have young at this time of the year, and watching these miniature creatures can provide hours of entertainment. The general game here will never disappoint and on game drives you are rarely out of sight of an animal of some sort. The wildlife sightings and interactions we saw left us simply in awe and unsure what to expect next.

 Leopard (Panthera pardus)  Dayone male leopard

Dayone and Khashane male

Dayone male is recovering well from his battle wounds and young males (including Nyeleti male) that have been troubling him seems to have moved off his territory for now. On one morning while happily patrolling his territory thinking life is good! He met up with the Khashane male leopard for the whole morning drive they were involved with a territorial dispute. As is normal with these kinds of interactions, there is very little physical contact and it mainly involves continuously growling and scent-marking in an attempt to intimidate one another. After few hours the two cats eventually split, moving in opposite directions.

 Hlabankunzi female and cub

Hlabankunzi female and cub Hlabankunzi female and cubThis leopard mother and cub have provided some memorable sighting this month, they were sighted regularly and the four month old cub has become completely relax in the presence of vehicle. The cub is very playful and having no siblings to play and practise her hunting skills the mother is kept very busy and often become the hunted.

The energetic young hunter stalking her mother…..

In the wild there are certain moments that leave you with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. We have had couple of those moments with Hlabankunzi interaction with her cub this month.

Metsi female

 Hlabankunzi mothers love

This female and her cub have been hiding, one saw her couple of times out hunting without the cub. We do believe all is well with the cub as we noticed that she is being suckled and tracks of her and cub were seen on few occasions. 

Ravenscourt female leopard

Ravenscourt and her sub adult cub paid couple of visits into our traversing area, On the first week of the month they had mixed fortune.

Mum killed large Inyala cow only to have it stolen by a hyena in the afternoon…the Othawa pride then arrived and took the kill away from the hyena.

We were lucky enough to witness the entire episode.

Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati coalition

Selati coalition

The Selati males have continued the usual routine of patrolling and marking their territory against other male lion while searching for buffaloes. They did manage to kill a large buffalo bull, they were later joined by Ximhungwe lionesses which brought the cubs to be introduced them to their fathers and a meal. The buffalo carcass didn’t take long to finish off between the four brothers and four lionesses. They are all looking in good condition, and it seems that the one injured during an attempted buffalo hunt is healing well.

The little cubs were looking very nervous when meeting their fathers for first time…..

Selati coalition cubs

Solo and Cleo Two new male lions moved in our section of the reserve and killed a large male cape buffalo yesterday. These males are come from the far-eastern part of the reserve; they are coalition made of males from two different pride, Sparta and Tsalala pride. The one is known as Solo is from the Tsalala and Cleo is from the Sparta Pride. They enjoyed their kill for few days undisturbed and when finished they went back east the dominant males, the Selatis didn’t even know that they were here.

 Solo and Cleo

 

 Solo and Cleo New arrivals

Ximhungwe pride

Ximhungwe pride

Two lionesses gave birth few months ago they been keeping their cubs up on the rocky hills. We excited to report that finally the mothers have brought their cubs down and we are having some great regular sightings. One female, short-tail female have three has the older cubs of just over three months old now and the other female have two cubs just under two months old and the photographic opportunites have been really great.

Ximhungwe pride wet

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

They were lots of breeding herds this month, we had few sightings of them moving from one marula tree to another enjoy their fruits. These giants love the marula season and one could almost see them smiling as they enjoy this sweet delicacy after all the grass and bark.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Although the big breeding herds are a bit scarce we did have fantastic sightings of small group of buffalo bulls, most of these sighting were North of Sand River, the northern boundary of the reserve.

 More than the big five…..

 

An African rock python
An African rock python also came out onto the lawn and all our guests and lodge staff came out to see and learn about this interesting and protected snake.

 

Cape hunting dogsThe pack of cape hunting dogs was here with us and was as usual very entertaining with their interesting social behaviour and hunting techniques.

In and around camp

Elephant crossing in camp

The Camp remains the exclusive preserve of warthog and impala by day; lumbering, curiously impassive hippo by night. We continue to have awesome elephant viewing from the camp as these gentle beasts come down for drink and bath in the sand river after a whole-long day of marula fruit hunt.

 Wild dog in camp

The game viewing around camp has been really astounding, leopard, lions, even wild dog came around camp to spent an entire day.

That’s all from us this month. We thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, sharing our experiences and joining our adventures. We are committed to keep you updated. Please follow our Facebook page for daily updates.