We are so proud to announce that Inyati Game Lodge has been nominated for the 2018 Safari Awards, sponsored by The Good Safari Guide.
If it weren’t for our guests continued support throughout the years we’d never be in the position we’re in today. Your positive reviews, constructive criticism and contribution to Inyati Game Lodge, has ensured we’ve secured a place in the Safari Awards, a prestigious annual award bestowed upon camps and lodges displaying excellence in specific categories. Inyati Game Lodge has been nominated in 8 categories. We’d really like to rally your support to secure an award.
Voting is easy! Here’s how you do it:
1. Go to this page, search and click on the property: Safari Awards Voting Selection Page
2. Log in with your username and password, or register if this is your first time voting.
3. You will be redirected to the camp page, where you click on the big “vote” button.
Follow the prompts, rate us out of 10 and leave a comment if you’d like!
At its worst the drought left the bush barren of life. Mother Nature herself wanted us to see the value of water and the suffering that happens when it doesn’t fall. Mercifully though one afternoon a giant cumulonimbus cloud rolled up from the south, bringing with it a light show of thunder and lightning, tempestuous winds whirled and whipped the dust bowl and finally a light sprinkling of the most precious fluid on earth. This auspicious start has compounded over the rainy season, and as I write this we have had non-stop rain for five days. The revival has been astounding, the browns, greys and whites have all but faded and the greens have taken over. The soil left an open canvas by the drought has been painted by the pioneering wild flowers and grasses, the insects that follow cycles and held on through the drought then went about making enough offspring to fertilise all the wonderful plants.
Traditionally predators do better in the dryer seasons as the herbivores lose condition, but with three new Othawa cubs and two cubs for Tlangisa it appears that the cats do well no matter what the conditions are. Xhikavi’s adult offspring is still hanging around his mom almost two years into his life, Dewane seems to like him more than his mom does. His name is Mondzo and he really is a beautiful leopard and even has blue eyes. Ravenscourt has been pushing further and further into Dewane’s territory. Schotia had cubs several months ago but she hasn’t brought them out for inspection yet. Torchwood took some heavy beatings of late and has faded a bit into obscurity as he licks his wounds.
With the dams filling up nicely and the river flooding regularly I think we will sail through the next winter and while it will take a few years for the smaller animal populations to recover, the drought is truly behind us.
That’s all from Matt for 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.
Regards, THE INYATI TEAM
Keith & Francis – Managers
George , Solly, Khimbini , Matthew , Nelson ,Omega & Rodger
This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan. *Photographs by Keith and Matthew
Large Rhino cow walking off happily after being darted and infused. Good people of the Sabi Sand in the backround proudly looking on in the hope that our efforts will save these majestic animals
More Rhino being darted to have the horn poisoned. The Sabi Sand is aiming to have all the rhino infused in the next few days.
As part of our ongoing effort to combat rhino poaching on the Sabi sand, we are undertaking the horn infusion treatment as pioneered by the Rhino Rescue Project.We view poisoning rhino horn as a valuable intervention to deflect prospective poachers. For more info visit: http://www.rhinorescueproject.com/
As part of our ongoing effort to combat rhino poaching on the Sabi sand, we are undertaking the horn infusion treatment as pioneered by the Rhino Rescue Project.We view poisoning rhino horn as a valuable intervention to deflect prospective poachers.
What does the treatment entail?
The horn is treated by infusing it with an indelible dye that contaminates the horn and renders it useless for ornamental – or medicinal use. A full DNA sample is harvested and three matching identification microchips are inserted into the horns and the animal itself. At the owners discretion, the indelible dye can be mixed with with special compound of depot ectoparasiticides (specifically acaricides containing pyrethroids and organophosphates) and a tracking device can also be fitted.
How was the treatment developed?
Following the poaching on their reserve, Rhino Rescue Project started researching a number of possible solutions to prevent having another rhino poached and in the process, heard about a group of wildlife vets researching the treatment and management of ectoparasites in rhino through the use of depot ectoparasiticides. Much research went into all products readily available on the market for treating livestock, to ensure that firstly, they would have not have a negative effect on the rhino or its horn, and secondly that they would have no impact on other fauna and flora sharing the same ecosystem. Since the Reserve is dependent on tourists as its major source of income, dehorning of animals was not deemed to be a practical solution – especially since dehorned rhinos often still get poached for the base of their horns, and the horns grow back. Furthermore, some research studies have indicated that dehorning can have adverse impacts on the animal’s social structures and breeding patterns. Frequent darting of large mammals, as is required for dehorning to be an effective deterrent, leads to increased health risks and is often the cause of an animal’s life span being shortened substantially.
Is this treatment legal?
Yes. The Rhino Rescue Project horn treatment methodology is the only legally-recognised treatment option available at present (a full legal opinion is available upon request).
What steps have been taken to prevent treated horns being accidently ingested?
The fact that the rhino’s in the reserve are treated is widely publicised by means of 200+ signposts around the reserve’s perimeter and, should a treated rhino be killed, the indelible dye is clearly visible inside the horn – a clear indication that the horn had been tampered with. We strongly suggest involving staff in the horn treatment process to assist (with menial tasks) as their involvement ensures that word about the treatment spreads rapidly via the “bush telegraph”.
What is the purpose of the dye and how does it work?
The dye is bright pink and clearly seen inside a treated horn, regardless of whether the ectoparasiticides have been used, which means that there can be no doubt about whether a horn is treated or not. It is similar to products used in the banking industry and has the added benefit that it is visible on an x-ray scanner. Thus a treated horn, even when ground to a fine powder, cannot be passed through security checkpoints unnoticed and so airport security checkpoints are almost certain to pick up the presence of the dye. The dye cannot be removed in any way and therefore the horn is rendered useless in terms of ornamental use. This contamination should also discourage medicinal use. Furthermore, sniffer dogs have been trained at a professional training facility to track rhino horns containing the dye, even in minuscule quantities.
Is the dye animal- and eco-friendly?
It is 100% organic and biodegradable (a full fact sheet is available upon request).
Is the treatment injected?
No, it is not possible to inject into a rhino horn. Rather it is infused into the horn using a patented high-pressure device designed by the wildlife vet who developed and oversees the programme, Dr. Charles van Niekerk.
What is the reason for the DNA sample and microchips?
To further assist in the ongoing war against poaching, scientists at Onderstepoort have made available a full DNA sampling kit, called RHODIS. Information from the sample is added to the national database of rhino, with the aim of aiding the legal community in securing prosecutions in cases where poached horns are recovered by being able to trace exactly which animal the horn belonged to. The microchips also serve as a means of identification. By law, any rhino that is immobilised for whatever reason, now has to be microchipped.
What is the purpose of the tracking device?
The tracking device allows the real-time tracking and location of the rhino horn using the same technology as vehicle anti-hijacking tracking systems.
What are depot ectoparasiticides, acaracides, pyrethroids and organophosphates?
Registered depot ectoparasiticides are used to to treat ectoparasitic infestations.
• An ectoparasiticide is an antiparasitic drug used in the treatment of ectoparasitic infestations
• An ectoparasitic infestation is a parasitic disease caused by organisms that live primarily on the surface of the host.
• Acaricides are pesticides that kill members of the Acari group, which includes ticks and mites
• A pyrethroid is an organic compound similar to the natural pyrethrins produced by the flowers of pyrethrums (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium and C. coccineum). Pyrethroids now constitute a major commercial household insecticides
• In health, agriculture, and government, the word “organophosphates” refers to a group of insecticides or nerve agents acting on the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Organophosphate pesticides irreversibly inactivate acetylcholinesterase, which is essential to nerve function in insects, humans, and many other animals.
Are any of the products highly specialised and/or illegal?
No. They are all freely available over-the-counter products. We do not use any compounds which could be harmful to the animals we treat.
Are the products used exactly as directed?
Yes, in terms of their registration and classification as per Act 36 of 1947 (Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act). The products are registered to treat ectoparasites in cattle, horses and sheep, so the only extra-label use is that it is being used on rhino instead.
What is extra-label use?
The South African Medical Journal says “The term ‘off-label’ means that the medicine is used in another way or for an indication other than those specified in the conditions of registration of the medicine and as reflected in it’s labelling. It does, however, not necessarily imply that the medication is not effective or is unsafe to be used in this way. Off-label use has become an important part of mainstream, legitimate medical practice worldwide and is especially common in oncology, obstetrics, paediatrics, infectious diseases (notably HIV) and rare diseases. Depending on the circumstances, off-label use of medication can vary from being experimental or controversial to standard practice and even state-of-the-art treatment.”
Wikipedia makes mention of the fact that “The veterinarian has a much smaller pharmacopeia available than does the human practitioner. Therefore, drugs are more likely to be used off-label”.
Are the products poisonous?
The selections of depot ectoparasiticides for inclusion in the treatment compound are registered for use in animals and only Ox-Pecker friendly and Vulture safe products have been used. Ectoparasiticides are not intended for consumption by humans, and are registered as such. Although not lethal in small quantities, they are toxic, and symptoms of accidental ingestion may include, but are not limited to, severe nausea, vomiting and convulsions.
What if an animal is injured by a treated horn (ie. in a fight between two rhino)?
There are no side-effects. It is the same as a cow with a lesion on its leg being dipped.
Are you trying to kill people?
No. The compounds are toxic, but non-lethal in small quantities. Research into quantities of rhino horn used for medicinal purposes has indicated that no more than a pinch of ground horn is generally used at one time.
What is the reason for treating the horn?
Aside from the health benefits to the rhinos, it is the hope of the Rhino Rescue Project that the treatment of the horn will deter the poacher and prevent the rhino being killed in the first place. We are hoping that no treated horn enters the market, as that will mean that programme is successful and the rhino horns are being left intact on the rhino.
When can a rhino be treated?
Rhinos can be treated at any age as long as they have a horn. Compound quantities are adjusted for all cases.
What are the costs involved?
The treatment is fairly inexpensive compared to other alternatives and has a minimal impact on the environment, and no impact on tourism, legitimate trophy hunting activities or the country’s economy in general. The cost includes the professional time (ie. application of the treatment by a vet, taking of DNA sampling and insertion of microchips and tracking devices) as well as the compounds and consumables involved (anaesthetic, treatment compound, dye, DNA kit, microchips, tracking device). As flying time is highly variable, this will be invoiced directly by a helicopter pilot, in cases where one’s services are required.
Is the treatment effective?
All animals in the initial treatment sample are in excellent health. Since treatment was administered approximately 18 months ago, two cows have given birth to healthy calfs, both of whom are lactating normally. Another cow has fallen pregnant during this time. Moreover, not a single treated animal has been poached since administration of the treatment. The treatment could thus be said to have brought about a 100% decrease in poaching. A year after administration of the treatment, a number of the animlas horns were re-tested to establish distribution of the treatment inside the horn over time and to ensure that the treatment did not find its way into the animal’s system and affect its overall health. Ideally, from a research perspective, a four year growth cycle should elapse before we can say with certainty that the treatment is 100% effective. However, with the current poaching numbers skyrocketing by the day, our fear is that in four years time, this information will be useless, and there won’t be rhinos left to treat.
How does the treatment affect legal hunting?
We believe that treatment of horns could slot neatly into the trophy hunting trade. If Government would endorse an initiative whereby only rhinos with treated horns may be hunted, it can be ensured that these animals are no longer valued solely for their horns. Reputable hunting farms whose business is true trophy hunting should, in principal, easily reconcile themselves with having horns treated since the horns are not to be removed from the rhino anyway.
Why should professional hunters support treatment?
Unscrupulous game farmers have managed to trade in horns unchecked, under the guise of legal hunting, and have thus been feeding the demand from the virtually insatiable market. Only those individuals who are interested more in the horn and less in a trophy could possibly have objections to having horns treated.
How long does the treatment remain effective?
The Rhino Rescue Project horn treatment should remain effective for approximately three to four years (a full horn growth cycle), after which re-administration would be required.
What are the long-term effects of the treatment?
Since all the products used are biodegradable and eco-friendly, there are no long-term effects on the environment. The treatment “grows” out with the horn and so poses no long-term effect and, if a treated animal dies of natural causes, retrieval and registration of the horn is a legal requirement.
Is the treatment programmed intended to be used as a long-term solution?
It is our hope that by the time the treatment needs to be reapplied, a more sustainable solution would have been found rendering re-administration unnecessary. We see the treatment purely as a means to “buy time” while a long-term solution is being researched. No long-term solution, whether it be legalisation of trade or otherwise, is likely to be implemented within the next four years. Therefore, a rhino horn treated today for the purposes of keeping the animal alive, can easily be sold, should the animal’s owner desire to do so after the four year growth cycle has elapsed and the horn is once again free of any compounds.
What are the overall benefits of including the ectoparasiticides in to the treatment?
The inclusion of ectoparasiticides in to the treatment assists towards improved health of the animals. Wild animals are not normally be treated against parasites – we believe strongly in nature being allowed to run its course and human intervention being kept to a minimum – however, the inclusion in to the treatment potentially neutralises a dual threat (both poaching and parasites). This treatment benefits the rhino owner, does not harm the environment, does not harm other living organisms, has no adverse effects on tourism or the economy, is cost-effective, legal and can be completed in under an hour. In other words, it is a minimally-invasive procedure intended to uphold the status quo with regard to the trade in animal parts.
Moreover, insurance brokers and underwriters have come onboard with the treatment and offer insurance for the procedure itself. They are also in the process of exploring the option of expanding to include insurance cover against poaching for animals with treated horns.
On the morning of the 21st of January 2013 the sand river was still flowing with gusto after a downpour of 233mm of rain, Obed Mkhabele the renowned Inyati waiter noticed an elephant calf washing down the Sand river. He also noticed a large elephant cow swimming after her calf. His excited screams summoned all the staff on duty to the veranda to witness the event.
At first there was an eerie silence among the spectators as we realised that any attempt on our side would be futile as the torrent of water could easily sweep away a human, and that the stressed cow would certainly kill anything close to her calf at this stage. One also tends to underestimate the weight and strength of an elephant calf.The calf and cow were washed over the causeway along with two other elephants we had not noticed before as they had remained submerged until then. The family was bullied into the main stream as the river bottle necks downstream from the causeway. The sullen silence was broken as the cow got her head above water and bellowed a frustrated rumble; our spirits dropped as the giant cow seemed helpless against the current.
The family of ellies disappeared momentarily and we expected to see them downstream, but to our amazement the cows back surfaced closer to shore! She had managed to get downstream of her calf and was propping the calf up with her head. She used her tusk and top of her trunk to lift the calf out of the water, the little calf was frantic but still alive and we could hear it gasping for air when the mother lifted it.
The sub adult bull in the party was able to swim across and stood on the lawn rumbling at his family.
The cow then managed to move upstream as she found some purchase on the southern bank; she now only had one more gully to cross before she got her family to safety. The older calf was able to hold onto its mother’s trunk and the cow showed unbelievable strength to pull the older calf whilst wedging the small calf out of the water.
With the bank in sight the family dropped into pool of what seemed to be slow flowing water, but I would guess due to fatigue the family milled and struggled in the pool for some time. As the cow’s strength withered she was only able to lift the calf enough for it to use it trunk as a snorkel to gasp for air.The cow emitted a last rumble as if to gather all her strength for the last push and with the small calf still balanced on her trunk and forehead and the older calf clasping to her trunk she made a run for the bank. A few pushes and tugs and the exhausted mother was able to push the calf onto the bank and then pull the older calf to safety.
As the family broke from the water the entire staff erupted into whooping applause, truly one of the most heart warming experiences I have ever had in the bush.
After a few gasps of welcome air the family slipped away into the bush to re unite with the herd.
The month of September heralds the change of seasons at Inyati Game Reserve. It is a month of many colours, tones and shades. The ground offers up a tapestried carpet of autumnally coloured fallen leaves, with swathes of tiny purple flowers of the Bolusanthus speciosus trees, bright yellows of the Acacia nigrescens flowers and the electric greens of the kigelias. Everywhere there is life budding out in anticipation of the rains. We are now anxiously scanning the skies for rain, but as yet we only had couple of showers. But while there is still some water there is life, and in abundance. Even by the great standards of Sabi Sand, this last month has been incredibly special.
Tlangisa is still trying to establish a territory she seems to be settling in the centre -western sector of our reserve. She is reaching sexual maturity and she was seen this month introduced herself to Xinzele. He, however, took no interest in as she flirted with him for two days! He totally ignored all her advances apart from for the odd growl for all her hard work.
Hlabankunzi female is been keeping low recently and we hardly ever see her but one morning she was out and very entertaining, hunting.
The two cubs from Metsi female were found one morning but the nervous one soon lost us and the other one couldn’t care less he was just resting on a termite mound. He been making few kills, he got himself slender mongoose and once
with a very unusual kill, a porcupine! This has to e one of the difficult kill to make due to the large quills on these animals, even eating it may proves quite tricky to eat.
Xinzelehas been dominating the area around the river and was found lazing in a large jackalberry tree on a warm morning.The tension between him and Mashibanci male continues heating up, they were seen a territorial stand off again. At one stage Xinzele climb up into Tree Tops (our conference centre) roaring while Mashiabanci sat and glared from the opposite bank of sand river. Some of our guests were even witnesses to a war over dominance on the banks of the Sand River. These two larger male leopards territories shares sand river as the boundary there were seen patrolling their territories in the same area one opposite side of the river. It was not long before Xinzele approached Mashiabanci deep grow and salivating which often precedes a fight. After several minutes of posturing, they both charged forward with flailing claws in a fury of loud coughing calls. The battle was over in seconds, leaving each with a new set of scars. Xinzele was sighted the next day with few small puncture wounds on his chest and scratches on his face.
The Xikhavi female seem to have expanded he territory further upstream the river pass our lodge has not been seen too often, but it seemsshe is expanding her territory further west. She one of cause of the fight between the two males as she has been seen mating with both Xinzele and Mashiabanci on opposite banks of the river.
She is being found more consistently now further west along the Sand River and on one occasion unsuccessfully attempted to hunt some impala.
Yet another new male leopard was found this month, owing to open borders with Kruger national park some new or unknown animals to us cross into our reserve every so often. This male leopard was initially very skittish but relaxed nicely after some careful approaches.
Mopogos has been sticking together a lot lately. Two of the three were limping but they all doing very well, and seem to be holding their own against the threat from the east for now. On one they morning were feeling playful and affectionate, and shared these great moments of their life with us.They have been venturing east more lately possible inan attempt to re-enforce their eastern boundary. They are obviously feeling a little pressure but are more than holding their own.They currently face the significant threats of the 4 Machingelane males, who have taken already killed two of their brother and take part of their territory. And two other coalitions, one southeast and the other one in the northeast of Sabi sand game reserve.
Ximhungwe Pride of lion has not disappointed us this month. We have had almost daily sightings of the pride, which is expanding. Finally the mother lion bring her cubs out for to see, they are four, 3 males and 1 female cub. These new addition – four tiny chocolate brown cubs – has caused much delight as they emerge from their den to play in
the early evenings.
Ximhungwe Pride of lion
Unfortunately, before the end of the month the four new cubs had been reduced to two, possibly due to the ongoing
attrition between the other super-predators in the area, the spotted hyena.
We have also been fortunate to see a number of lion sightings with kills. The Ximhungwe pride’s grandmother, the mother of two older cubs has been extremely success despite her age. She killed two adult kudu within a week; these kills provided some great viewing and photographic opportunities. On one night she came through the lodge chased out our resident buffalo bulls and moved on to kill yet another kudu.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Elephant galore! Lone bulls and vast matriarch herds, often with some incredibly young elephant with them crash into the Sand River for a drink or to enjoy a cooling swim. One momentous event saw a breeding herd of 25 elephant, spooked by Ximhungwe pride at ” skelem” crossing of sand river, come thundering and splashing through the peace flowing river water of the Sand river; the babies tripping, rolling and sliding through the water as their frantic mothers bellowed and pushed them onwards with their trunks.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The regular buffalo bulls are still hanging around Inyati lodge and we are enjoying great sightings if its day we see them they will rest in the loge at night.As Inyati is completely open, there is nothing stopping these huge herds coming right through camp. Guests have enjoyed sitting on their balconies watching the herds surround their tents as the buffalo and elephant enjoy the vegetation that the river provides.
More than the big five…..
We were fortunate enough to find few rare nocturnal species. A Serval cat, surprisingly this rodent assassin
allowed us to follow it as it hunted for mice. Note the radar dish like ears it uses to detect and lock onto prey.
This Honey badger entertained us for at least an hour yesterday afternoon. It dug out and ate about five Shiny Burrowing Scorpions.
Honey badger burrowing for scorpions
We even got see a Pangolin I have waited a year and half for one of these animals to show themselves out and he was surprisingly relaxed with vehicles around.
The pack of Wild Dogs made an appearance again this month. The pups are still doing well and growing fast, although there are now only four left. We followed them hunting on one morning we were rewarded later as we witnessed them killing an impala. The pack celebrated a recent impala kill by chasing each other up and down the
Grey-headed bush-shrike, An adaptable hunter, it will eat almost any animal that it can catch and kill, ranging from small insects to large one metre long snakes and other bird chicks. We watched him kill and eat
a venomous snake, vine or twig snake.
In and around camp
Our resident hippos continue to amuse all our guests with almost guaranteed viewings in hippo dam. If you are to miss seeing them on your way to camp then you will certainly not miss hearing them in the evenings. On a couple of
occasions, we have heard males fighting in the sand river near our upstream from the lodge in Sand River, sometimes lasting up to a couple of hours. The noises they make can be quite incredible, sometimes giving an impression that
one has been killed.