Our guides and trackers are highly trained and deeply committed to conserving the Sabi Sand Wildtuin and revealing its secrets. Learn more about this talented team:
Georgie is a living legend in the reserve. He was born on the property and as a result started honing his bush craft skills as a toddler. George is still living and working on the reserve with his family. Tracking and anticipating animal movements and behaviour is second nature to George and his guests are guaranteed to be where action is taking place.
Keith studied to become a conservationist and moved to the Kruger Park after qualifying, here he fell in love with guiding and furthered his career as a field Guide. Keith loves tracking big game, and all the small wonders the Sabi Sand has to offer.
After qualifying Matt cut his teeth in a walking concession in the Kruger Park, this sparked his passion for Guiding on foot. Matt enjoys safe responsible interactions with big game and has an intricate knowledge of everything from big game to insects.
Like most of the best guides Omega started his career as a tracker. This moulded his understanding of the animals he lives and works with. Omega quickly moved through the ranks and is now a trails Guide at Inyati. Omega brings a huge amount of energy to the team with a larger than life bubbly personality.
Darren has a lot of experience guiding in the Sabi Sand, and has now found his niche. His passion for wildlife and his guest is always evident as he goes the extra mile. His humble nature, brimming smile and bush lore keep his guest enthralled on game drives and walks.
Solly is one of the most respected trackers in the reserve. His immense trailing talent is evident in his relaxed yet confident approach to tracking. He is one of a handful of trackers that managed full marks on his first ever tracking assessment and has been growing even stronger since.
Nelson has over 30 year tracking experience at Inyati and has an intricate knowledge of the land, and knows most of the animal’s individual habits. His local knowledge, tracking skill, sparkling personality and work ethic make him privilege to be with.
Roger is one of the most multi skilled trackers in the team. He has strong tracking and hospitality background and treats every guest like gold. He tracking skills and passion for the bush enthral every guest that he guides.
Joel has been with Inyati for almost twenty years he has a quiet calm demeanour that suits his profession perfectly. He loves every aspect of the bush but tracking and spending time with guests are his firm favourites.
Cliff came to Inyati after finishing top of his class at the Tracker Academy. His tracking skill meant that he slotted into this experiences team very well and his fresh and youthful perspective motivates the old salts to stay on their game.
Planning on traveling to South Africa with your child? If so, it’s super important to keep in mind South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs’ new laws pertaining to traveling with minors (children under the age of 18). The new laws were effective on June 1, 2015 and were put in place in order to reduce (and hopefully eliminate) child trafficking across South African borders.
But the laws aren’t as simple as “show your child’s birth certificate.” There are several different documents that parents will need to show in order to bring their children on a South Africa safari vacation. Not to mention there are several different scenarios that warrant different types of documents. For example, a single parent traveling with a minor, or two parents traveling with a minor (both biological parents but different last names), a child traveling alone, etc.
Is your head spinning yet from all those different scenarios? Well, fear not, there is an app that can help you figure out what documents you need! The app, which is called the South African Child VISA Checklist App, was created by Andre Van Kets who says that there are “15 different documents and 37 unique scenarios for children traveling in and out of South Africa.”
This app is designed to simplify the process in figuring out what documents you need for traveling with a minor. All you have to do is download the app and answer two to three multiple-choice questions that will then generate a list of the appropriate documents you’ll need.
The questions ask about whom the child is traveling with. Specifically, the questions cover the status of the parents (divorced, married, etc.), as well as any special circumstance, such as if the child is adopted, if both parents are alive, etc.
The app, which can be downloaded on your mobile device or computer desktop, then generates a list of documents you’ll need, based on your responses. The app also includes links to official documents from the Department of Home Affairs, as well as frequently asked questions.
Honored as a Top Performing Game Reserve as Reviewed by Travelers on the
World’s Largest Travel Site
Sabi Sand Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa – June 20, 2013– Inyati Game Lodge today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 percent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.
To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.
“Inyati Game Lodge is pleased to receive a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence,” said Leighanne Dawkins, Marketing Manager at Inyati. “We strive to offer our customers a memorable experience, and this accolade is evidence that our hard work is translating into positive reviews on TripAdvisor.”
“TripAdvisor is delighted to celebrate the success of businesses around the globe, from Sydney to Chicago, Sao Paulo to Rome, which are consistently offering TripAdvisor travelers a great customer experience,” said Alison Copus, Vice President of Marketing for TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award provides top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers.”
The weather: The last rumbles of thunder have faded into the distance and the flickering lightning is finally stilled. Summer is ending and the cool breath of the tropical winter touches us. It ruffles the surface of the water and shakes leaves which are already turning gold. The afternoon showers provided a refreshing relief from the warm days and cleared the air to reveal stunning blue skies. The hint of cloud remaining on the skyline provided us with the backdrop for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Wildlife: Game viewing this month has been fantastic. Along with the herds of elephant, zebras, kudus and other general game, there have been some great sightings of cape hunting dogs. Lion sightings have been a daily occurrence and the antics of the cubs have been a continual source of entertainment. Distant drives and patient tracking were rewarded with some excellent sightings.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Magnificent cat!! He has grown to be large male, becoming even more confident, still holding his territory and dominating most of the Western sector. We have seen him frequently and life is good for Dayone as there are no young males in his territory at the moment.
Hlabankunzi and cub
This mother and her young continue to thrill us with their presence and ever playful behaviour. Here they climb up the tree; incredibly the mother jumps down from a great height, the cub then contemplates doing the same but then decides to climb down little closer.
The mother got worried a bit seeing the cub running around the tree considering jumping down from such great height, and then she stepped in close to helped it down.
Few days later she killed an impala ram and large herd buffaloes came past the area, cub was happily viewing from a safe perch as mum was feeding on an impala carcass at the base of the tree at the time.
The illusive Metsi and her cub were out and seen about several times this month. On one afternoon we followed them for a while she was en route to an impala kill. She walked the cub a considerable distance but was kind enough to have some water and grooming breaks in between.
She normally keeps her kill on the ground unlike most leopards that will put up a tree to keep it away from other predators like hyenas, having it on the kill ground means that she needs to stay alert the whole time, every time the bush moves she jumps up, listens and scans the area for any intruders.
Lion (Panthera leo)
The last three months have been tough for the Selati coalition, the Majinilane have been keeping them on their toes. There was another dispute between these two groups of male lions this month. Three Majingilane male lions came across one Selati male, the smaller one and a Othawa lioness mating. Majingilane retreated immediately and one other Selati join in chasing the intruding males north-west across the sand river. We herd commotion across the river unfortunately we could follow across. It was on few minutes after the two Selati males chased Majingilane males, when suddenly we saw our boys running back across with the three males chasing them back. It was only the younger two of the Selati males that were in this territorial dispute. The Majingilane had the upper hand since three of the Selati we still injured, two were injured in previous battle and the third one was injured by buffalo and was not well enough to participate in this fight. There were no major added injuries on the recent territorial fight. However one of the males who was actively fighting and chasing the three intruding male is now badly limping. The boys are recovering well even managed to kill two buffalo cows in one evening.
One of the Selati males showing battle scars after the encounter with the Majingilane males.
These big cats are still thrilling guests and staff alike. The three lionesses and seven cubs are forever present; cubs are always energetic and playful. Sadly, the fourth lioness of the pride has not been seen for over two months , she have not been well for some time and it seems as if we have “lost” her . Of the seven cubs we think six are females and a male, if it all goes well 50% or more survive we could end up with a big pride in our reserve.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
We had astonishing elephant sightings in March. On one afternoon while driving along the bank of Sand River we found ourselves amongst a breeding herd of Africa’s largest land mammal – the Elephant. We sat back and watched as the whole family walk pass in their way to the river. We spent about 30 minutes watching these animals swimming and the young males being their usual self, play fighting. It’s always a nice treat to watch elephant take a bath they become so playful like kids.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The large herd of buffalo consisting of about 500 animals stayed on our traversing area for most of the month. Smaller herds were also seen on the northern section of our property. Some lonely bulls and bachelor herd have been spotted several times this month.
More than the big five…..
The male cheetah was spotted and seen several times this month, he has visited this area for over a year, it was exciting to see him again.On one afternoon we set off to try to find him it wasn’t easy, Thanks to the team of rangers and tracker for their hard work and determination we found and the end. What great afternoon I had, viewing a beautiful animal shared with awesome group of guests. Unfortunately it was rather late when we finally find him, we had to share the sighting rather quickly and some of the guides didn’t get to see him before it got too dark. Since cheetahs are diurnal we don’t view them at night. And the next morning, he killed an impala only to have it stolen by three lionesses, ooh what a bad start of a day.
We even got see pair of klipspringer, these antelopes are seldom seen in our region. The name Klipspringer is the Afrikaans for ‘rock jumper’ and alludes to the animal’s ability in rocky territory where it can be seen moving freely, seemingly on tiptoe. They are the only antelope that lives on cliffs and rock outcrops. Here are some of their adoptions: The klipspringer stands on the flat tips of its truncated hooves, walking and running in a jerky, stilted manner, their coat is rough and the hairs are hollow, brittle and loose, which makes for good padding and insulation.
In and around camp
Elephants, waterbucks, warthogs, nyalas and giraffes are amongst the few animals that came to the camp during the month of this report.
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.
This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane
In a groundbreaking move to halt the relentless poaching of Rhinos, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has partnered with Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), a Vietnamese non-profit NGO, to develop a hard hitting rhino protection campaign for countries where rhino horn is in great demand, starting with Vietnam.
Said Rynette Coetzee, Project Executant of the EWT’s Law and Policy Programme: “We are extremely excited about our partnership with ENV. We are certain that our campaign, with this crucial buy in from a respected and well known Vietnamese NGO, will help us to turn the tide on the plight of the rhino. Our message: Say NO to rhino horn, is an invitation to all the people of Vietnam to join the people in South Africa to help conserve Africa’s rhinos for today’s and tomorrow’s generations. By saying NO to rhino horn, the demand for rhino horn will decrease, and in this way, the slaughter of these magnificent animals could come to an end.”
The campaign consists of posters, media outreach and an online component and will be executed in both English and Vietnamese. “In Vietnam, the campaign elements will be distributed virally through websites, social media channels, forums and blogs, and displayed during ENV awareness activities such as public exhibitions and university programmes. The joint venture marks the first formal co-operation between ENV and a South African organization mutually committed to ending the killing of rhinos and we at ENV are absolutely committed to its success,” commented Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy of ENV’s Communication and Public Awareness Unit.
Rhino poaching has been on the rise since 2008 with a staggering 668 rhinos killed in South Africa at the end of 2012. The EWT believes that there is no single solution to addressing illegal wildlife trade, which is an increasing global phenomenon, estimated to be the third largest illegal industry worldwide after drugs and human trafficking. Wildlife trade often has its roots firmly established in organised and trans-boundary crimes. For this reason the EWT’s Rhino Project is implementing interventions at several stages in the poaching and wildlife trade chain. These interventions include: # Improving the detection of wildlife contraband through the deployment of wildlife detection dogs. Thus far the EWT has deployed four sniffer dogs at OR Tambo International airport with plans to secure dogs in additional airports throughout South Africa;
# Improving the detection of wildlife contraband through capacity building and training;
# Supporting and facilitating the reporting of information to the authorities;
# Supporting anti-poaching efforts in Zimbabwe by trialling anti-poaching dogs;Deploying a rhino horn detection dog in Limpopo;
# Supporting selected provincial government organisations through the provision of equipment and resources;
# Supporting selected private reserves; # Contributing to the standardisation of anti-poaching training;
# Implementing the Rhino Orphan Response Project, which focuses on improving rescue and rehabilitation through emergency response and training;
# Reducing the involvement of lodge and reserve staff directly or indirectly with poaching through the development of a community based support project;
# Promoting the consistent and effective implementation of legislation around rhino; # Providing awareness raising and support to the judiciary involved in rhino poaching cases; and
# Influencing the legal framework to contribute to enforcement.
For further information and comment please contact Rynette Coetzee, Project Executant of the EWT’s Law and Policy Programme, on firstname.lastname@example.org and Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy of ENV’s Communication and Public Awareness Unit on email@example.com.
The weather: Nwendzamhala is Shangaan word for December it translates to “the visits of impalas”. During this month life seems to explode in this part of the world. We have had a good amount of rainfall, interspersed with sunny days, creating that characteristically crisp, clear air that adds an edge of brightness to our world. The bush is infused with the wonderful aroma of the earth stirred to life by rain – a scent that is impossible to describe, yet so evocative of Africa in the rainy season.
Wildlife: The rains have given life to the landscape and the earth and wildlife react to this change with unparalleled vigour. Where the ground was once dusty and bare, rampant green growth bursts from the ground. Fireball lilies add firecrackers of colour to the landscape, other flowers open themselves to the sun, and of course, the antelope drop their young in multitudes, creating a bounty for predators large and small.
The interesting duel between the Dayone and Nyeleti male leopards has continued with the younger Nyeleti male still fancying his chances against the recovering Deyone male. At the beginning of the month the young Nyeleti even managed to take over Dayone’s impala kill. But then the tables have turned, Dayone have bounced back to life his injuries are healing quickly and he has been able to keep the young interloper at bay.
Hlabankunzi and Metsi female
We saw had only a couple of sighting of Metsi female and cub as she kept him/her well hidden. Hlabankunzi on the other hand have been seen regularly, the cub had become very relax with vehicles around. She has been extremely successful on hunting.
One evening, while we were following her as she walked down the sandy track, she stopped and listened. We switched off the vehicle so that we could maybe hear what she had picked up. It was silent except for some frog and crickets chirping nearby. What had she heard? We ask ourselves. She continued walking into the bush and we lost sight of her. We waited patiently for her to reappear. Suddenly a single bleat, then another muffled sound. We drove around and found the leopard with an impala fawn firmly clamped in her powerful jaws. With her excellent hearing and eyesight, she had homed in on some hapless impala. And the next morning she caught a young warthog, unfortunately she lost both kills to Khashane male leopard who walked in, took over the carcasses and threatened the little cub up on the highest and smallest branch of tree.
We have had more yet still infrequent sightings of Tlangisa female leopard this month, on one afternoon she was found with very skittish male and we never got to identify him. She was certainly interested on mating but we are unsure if they ever did because the pair quickly lost us into the thick woodland.
Tai dam male
This is Shangwa’s young male that have been independent for almost a year now. Still residing up in the north, she surfaces very rarely in the dense environment up there but we have not seen Shangwa female for about a month and half now, we fear the elderly female might have passed on.
The coalition is still going very strong in defending their territory. During the month of this report we have seen them pushing more towards the eastern section of their territory, possibly following Othawa pride. This pride normally spent only half of their time on our property as about half of its territory is outside our traversing area. During the whole month of this report they were here and provided good viewing for us and our guests. One of the Selati male had a difficult month his condition deteriorated so much that he got too weak to keep up with the rest of the males. He is believed to be suffering from some kind of trauma, maybe broken rib; possible got hit by buffalo in a hunt. He did how pull it through and he is recovering well.
The Pride sighting continue to dominate our lion viewing. At the begining of the month the four lionesses killed a large male kudu, one lioness got injured in this hunt but the wound isn’t bad and should heal quickly. We are excited to report that the short-tail lioness has 3 cubs, she have finally brought them out few times and some of us have been lucky to see these fluffy little cats. We have no photos of the cubs yet to share, we will most certainly keep you all updated…….
Breeding herds of elephant were abundant at the beginning of December. On one day guests enjoyed watching the ‘elephant parade’ as over 50 elephants walked in front of lodge, one after the other.
On the afternoon drive, they found them to the west of camp, upstream the sand river enjoying an afternoon swim and playing in the mud, two young bull put a good show for us they were sparing testing each other strength and skill.
Excellent buffalo viewing, with great number of bachelor groups, lonely bulls and the large herd of 500 animals frequenting our traversing area, life was made easy for us to complete the big five.
More than the big five…..
The sighting of general game has been fantastic with a lots of kudus, nyalas, wildebeest, giraffe and zebras being sighted regularly throughout the month. Hippo action has also been great; on one occasion an adult bull attempted to take over the resident pod, but was disposed of rapidly and sent running back to the safety of the water. It was a very vocal encounter with lots of grunting and honking.
The bird activity has been astounding…… building nest, calling and performing beautiful display to attract mates. A Black-bellied Bustard using a small termite mount as a perch from where his distinct “popping” call and distinguished pose should attract a mate.
In and around camp
We have had a lot of activity around the lodge, despite the abundant availability of water all round the reserve. Buffalos, waterbuck, warthogs, bushbucks still frequent the lodge area; even zebras came to drinking in the waterhole in front of the lodge.
Other wildlife in and around camp are the newborn impalas. They make a perfect picture with their long unstable legs, small body and big ears. They seem to have a curious yet mischievous look on their little faces as they take in the big world around them. Due to the good rainfall we’ve received, there has been ample forage for them too.
That’s all from us this month, we thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, and we are committed to keep you updated.
This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane
Many Sabi Sand Wildtuin members have been involved in development initiatives working in the neighbouring communities for many years and what has already been achieved through their efforts is remarkable. To unlock the potential of a more coordinated, strategic approach, the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust (SSPT) was established as a joint venture of all the existing agencies (lodges and NGOs). This collaborative trust provides an opportunity to align and maximise these efforts to achieve greater impact. NGO organisations which are part of our collaboration include Africa Foundation, Buffelshoek Trust, Chitwa Trust, Good Work Foundation, Virgin’s Pride ‘n Purpose, the Singita Foundation and the former Pfunanani Trust which has now been incorporated as the central body. Participating lodges who are involved in community development work include Leopard hills, Lion Sands, Londolozi, Sabi Sabi and Savanna Game Lodge. By aligning the combined efforts towards a common vision, the promise of meaningful change through progressive development can be realized.
The needs of the communities are immense and they face a multitude of challenges. Aid
intervention alone would not be able to meet all the needs, but can be a catalyst for meaningful community development. In this regard the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust has identified three focus areas which are:
1. Environment – including water, conservation, biodiversity, sustainable use, ecosystem
services, sanitation etc.;
2. Education – including schooling, youth development, skills and capacity building
3. Entrepreneurship – including income generation and inclusion of communities in the
tourism value chain and other opportunities in the wildlife economy
Within these focus areas we have selected a small number of priority projects which we are actively supporting at present and are endeavouring to raise funds for.
The activities of the trust take place in Bushbuckridge municipal area. Activities span 17 rural villages with approximately 91000 people. The beneficiaries are from under privileged and disadvantaged communities. Community participation in projects is essential and we work closely with community members and leadership to identify and shape projects.
A core principal of SSPT is that beneficiaries receive the maximum possible benefit and that shrinkage in the delivery process is minimised. To this end, internal governance processes strictly regulate the use of funds and project resources are carefully monitored and evaluated to ensure the most efficient use thereof. Donor reporting is comprehensive and detailed. A code of transparency and honesty are non-negotiable in all dealings. Our members have extensive experience in successful project implementation and a strong track record of outstanding delivery.
The Columba Leadership youth leadership program which is aimed at unlocking the potential of the youth and has produced an exponentially positive affect in many of the areas it has been run. It is the Columba and SSPT team’s goal to run a program in each of the main villages neighbouring the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. This will entail running a further 15 programs in the next 3 years. The vision is to build a movement for responsible leadership amongst South African youth by developing young people who are socially and environmentally conscious and active who lead through service. Aiming to help shift the social perception of the role of young people in public life and to and help resolve the social exclusion of youth. The Columba approach uses experiential learning of values to empower young people to make the right choices in life and to elevate their ideals above pure self-interest. They learn to care for themselves, their schools and communities and the environment. The young leaders are equipped with skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work and they become role models of engaged citizens in depressed areas where there is little hope. The program works with 12 young people (selected based on their commitment to building a better society) with 3 senior educators at a quality Lodge in attractive natural surroundings for 6 days using experiential learning and lessons from nature, history and culture to show how every human being has greatness in them and can be a leader if they understand values. A highly skilled team of facilitators run the Academies.
In return for the privilege our graduates are challenged to recruit their friends and use peer/social networks and partnerships with their educators to drive positive change. Their value system and civic engagement experience significantly improves confidence and efficacy enhancing their employability and/or equipping them to become successful entrepreneurs. In many cases our graduates have started social enterprises in their schools.
To date more than 300 young leaders from 17 disadvantaged schools all over South Africa have graduated from the academy and are making a real difference. The first program in Bushbuckridge was run at Manyangana High School in the North last year. The program has continued to deliver excellent outcomes with recent matric prelim results released by the Manyangana High School in the North increasing from 50% to a hitherto unseen 82%. The school principal attributes the change entirely to the Columba program and speaks enthusiastically of the positive initiatives being planned and implemented by the students themselves.
A HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS IN HUNTINGTON VILLAGE
The Huntington community development forum made an appeal to SSPT for assistance with building a high school in their community. At present there is no high school at Huntington and students have to attend school at Mabarule village. Mabarule High School is overcrowded and unable to cope with over 1400 students attending school there. The department of education has given the community their agreement to support the establishment of a high school facility at Huntington and to provide teachers and operational resources if the community can find a sponsor for the necessary infrastructure. Initially 415 students would attend at Huntington and this will be grown over time. The school would need 5 classrooms, an admin building, toilets and fencing.
Local builders will be used for the project to provide short term employment during the
construction. The tribal authority has said they will make land available for the school. The SSPT management committee is of the opinion that this is a project that should be supported and the SSPT is endeavouring to help the community raise the R3m of funds needed to build the school.
Subject to funding being obtained there is also the opportunity to establish a satellite of the Good Work Foundation digital learning centre at the school to enrich the education services. This will provide English and computer tuition to school and adult learners as well as offering management support to the school educators. Local people will be trained and employed to run the program.
The cost of establishing this facility would be R650k and thereafter R180k per annum.
By the end of October 2011, over 350 rhinos had been killed by poachers. Most of these were in the Kruger National Park. Last year, 333 rhinos were killed illegally by poachers, 10 were black rhinos which are critically endangered. This total death count is nearly three times more than in 2009.
Poaching is being carried out by well-organised criminal networks that are linked to drugs, arms and human-trafficking syndicates. These people have high-tech equipment and automatic weapons. This major increase in poaching is due to an increased demand for rhino horn from Asian markets where it is used for various medicinal purposes. It was apparently claimed recently by a Vietnamese politician that rhino horn could cure cancer despite lack of medical evidence. This claim has helped to popularise rhino horn in Asian markets.
Why should we care?
Rhinos are part of a group of animals known as the Big 5. The other animals in the Big 5 are lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard. These animals have always been part of the wildlife found in South Africa and are part of our heritage as South Africans. South Africa would just not be the same if we no longer had rhinos in our game reserves and to show future generations of our children.
Tourists come from all over the world to see the Big 5 animals, which are considered the most exciting and impressive animals to see in the African bush. Game reserves, game lodges and the supporting industries around the game reserves provide jobs and a large amount of revenue for the South African economy. If there were no longer rhinos, this would affect the tourist industry, which would affect job-creation and directly impact many people’s livelihoods.
Rhinos are not only important for creating jobs and generating money in tourism. Many game farmers breed and sell rhinos for hunting. If rhinos are poached, the value of the rhino will become less and farmers will no longer want to farm rhinos which means that jobs in this sector will also be lost as well as much revenue for the South African economy.
In the early 1980’s, the rhino nearly went extinct but thanks to a project called “Operation Rhino” South Africa was able to save rhinos and since then the numbers of rhino have grown. South Africa became famous for saving the rhinos and for supporting other countries by selling rhinos to them in order for those countries to grow their own populations of rhinos. It would be a sad thing to see the victory of the 20th Century reversed!
What can people do to help?
Intelligence through the public is a key source of information for the police and investigators. Not everyone can contribute financially but anyone can contribute information. It’s our collective responsibility to blow the whistle on rhino poaching. Call a hotline if you see something suspicious or have info 0800 205 005 or 0860 10111.
If you do want to contribute financially, do your homework. There are many fraudulent organizations disguised to look like anti-poaching organisations. If you don’t know which organization to donate to directly, RAGE is a good option.
Its not only about donating money. We all have skills and resources to offer.
Who is RAGE?
Rhino Action Group Effort (RAGE) is part of the LeadSA initiative that was set up last year (2010) when concerned groups from both the public and private sectors put their heads together to harness public support against rhino poaching. Whether in the form of skills, resources or financial donations, RAGE channels support to the places where it’s needed most and in this regard is a fully transparent organisation, audited by KPMG. RAGE also performs a function in creating awareness and informing the public about rhino poaching, helping to dispel myths as well as assimilating and redirecting information back to the National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit. After the Minister of Environmental Affairs’ rhino summit in 2010, RAGE was identified as the civil arm of the National rhino strategy.
Other useful information:
Commercial hunting helped to give an economic value to the rhino without which there would probably not currently be as much as 20% of the approximately 18000 rhino in SA on private land. Many private owners have invested in land and breeding rhinos because of their value and contribute hugely to the conservation of the species.
Many people don’t realise that the trade in rhino horn isn’t legal in China or Vietnam either.
The live import/export of rhinos anywhere is not illegal. Live animals can be sold and transported out of SA according to CITIES regulations (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species). This is not considered trade in horn.
SANParks have kept records of its rhino sales over the last few years. They no longer conduct auctions wherein there is no control over who buys the rhino. Now, buyers have to be carefully checked before a sale is made.
A new DNA database called RHODIS, is helping to keep track of the origin of rhino’s and where they come from so if illegal sales take place, these crimes can be addressed. Horns can also be matched to crime scenes which will result in many more prosecutions.
Asian traditions have been around for 1000’s of years. The perception that rhino horn is effective as medicine needs to change urgently but it’s unlikely to be effective coming from the Western front. South Africa needs to lead by example and we can’t tell the Asains not to poach rhinos if our own people still chop off vulture heads and feet to win the lottery!
The financial value of an animal and its conservation status are linked. Little serious international consideration has until recently, been given to legalising trade to undermine illegal trade and slash the value of stockpiles; meeting annual consumption by sustainable production of horn; promoting trade relationships with and sustainable use practices in consumer states; maximising sustainable economic benefits from rhino to support conservation costs and promote rural development; and increasing the number and diversity of stake-holders in rhino survival. These possibilities are being investigated.
Solving the rhino poaching problem is a complex issue which is multifaceted. It involves security and coordination of animals on the ground as much as legislation and policy on a local and international scale. The laws of a country, the natural history of the animal, the traditional beliefs of people involved and the greed that drives criminal industries all need to be understood and addressed at different levels.
So we’re into the summer season now and with the summer season comes an increase in tropical activity off the east coast of South Africa. These summer cyclones that occur usually don’t have an effect on South African weather and tend to move south before approaching the S.A coast line. Rain has been quite a dominant factor this month. Dramatic is an understatement – no two days of the play unfolding in the Sabi sand theatre are the same. On the 16th January, Tropical Cyclone Dando caused a torrent of rain to come down over the Sabi Sand and the surrounding Kruger areas. In a matter of 72 hours the rain gauges showed that we had received 520mm of rain and the rivers showed just how much rain had come down. The water rose slowly but as the intense rain continued and the ground became saturated there was nowhere else for the water to go except to the rivers. The Sand and Sabi River got extensively flooded and reached its highest recorded level, even higher than 2000 floods which was the highest the area have ever experienced. The river have been reformed enormously, with trees uprooted and swept away and huge amounts of sand shifted, even diverting the main river course in some areas. The lodge remained safe, we did however lose our lower deck and the bird hide got damaged and thankfully, no major loss of wildlife was recorded. Despite the floods game viewing has, by no means, been a disappointment.
An amazing African sunset has to be the most glorious way to bid farewell to one year and welcome in the next.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
One of the most viewed leopard of our section of the reserve Hlabankunzi have finally brought out her cub briefly for us to see. We are still keeping away from the den site to give them some privacy and time to get comfortable to the new surroundings. We spent a good part of the last night of the year with while on the hunt at some point we had to leave her to enjoy our celebrate New Year’s Eve. The next morning in a new year we set off to find her, we did caught up on her still hunting, the hungry mother leopard stalk and killed a warthog just in front of our vehicle, the first and successful hunt of the year 2012 for her.
We haven’t been seeing much of Metsi female leopard, she did however came out couple of times this month and we were relieved to learn that she is still alive and well.
We found her on one late afternoon perched on a marula tree presenting awesome photo opportunity.
The Day One male leopard also had an exciting start to 2012. He did it again, killed a full grown kudu cow and this time he killed its calf as well. The hyena then tries to steal his kill and pinches pieces of it the entire morning, eventually it drags the kill into the open, in full view of the vultures, within ten minutes more than twenty vultures descend onto the kill and Day one snaps!
He came hurtling out of his resting place and sent vultures and hyena scattering in all directions to reclaim his meal.
Lion (Panthera leo)
The resident males, Mapogo brothers have been seen regularly during the whole month of this report, they still remain separated into 2 males, the elder male and Mohawk mane male together and the other male spent most time with the Ximhungwe pride. Just after the rains the two males killed a young giraffe, the one of the Ximhungwe lioness who is been separating from the pride was present feeding with the males.
With sand river flooding the rest of Ximhungwe pride, 3 lionesses with their four cubs (Ages ranging from 6 to 12 months) for most of the month have remain in the southern side of the river. Despite the smaller hunting ground the pride have remain highly successful in their hunting, they made a wide range of kill, wildebeest, giraffe and waterbuck. Few of our wildebeest calves have fallen victim to this pride during the month.
We also found them feeding on a buffalo kill in the south-western section of our traversing area. The carcass appeared to be a few days old and we had seen the pride far north the night before so it doesn’t look as if as if they killed it. Initially, only one of the Mapogo boys was present, but the other two soon smelled the kill, and joined up with the pride to enjoying their rotting buffalo carcass.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
The hot summer months in the Sabi Sands is the best time to see elephants. Herds have divided into small groups to minimise competition over marula fruits. You can almost count on a breeding herd or a lone bull on every corner. With marula fruits dropping to the bush floor in great quantity, elephants are moving from tree to another in search of these juicy and delicious snacks. They are small fruits that it might not seem worth it for the big giants to spent hours collecting these tiny fruits one by one, this just show how much they love them.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
Buffaloes are still present in significant numbers much to delight of our guests. They are seen mainly on open plains of the southern part of the reserve. There been lots of mating activities in herd and the battle beween the breeding male have been the order of the day(note the battle wounds on his face)
The local bachelor herd have been gracing us with their presence mostly around the camp and along the sand river.
More than the big five…..
We found this hyena walking with intent and occasionally sniffing the air. As these animals have an uncanny ability to sniff out carcasses we followed her for quite some time. After about a kilometer of walking she came across an Impala carcass, recently killed by a leopard. We had a brief glimpse of a small female leopard that was in no mood to cross swords with this large hyena. I presume the hyena heard the impala alarming after the kill was made and then had to rely on her acute sense of smell to locate the meat, truly some well honed senses on a super predator.
In and around camp
After the floods the river have change a lot, there deep pools right in front of the lodge and few hippos have taken resident there, they have been very entertaining day and night.
Xindzele male leopard have been visiting the camp, affording us a rare opportunity to photograph leopard on foot.
That’s all from us this month, we thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, and we are committed to keep you updated.
At the onset of April it seemed bit cooler than March but did not last long and the temperatures rose quickly. Early morning temperatures have been chilly, down to about 17-20°C but warming up during the day to a pleasant 25-29°C. We have also been having strong blustery winds around midday, Sightings were great, and guests came back with interesting tales from the drive and walking safaris.
The leopard viewing have been phenomenal again this month, a new young male leopard was seen on our property on numerous occasions. This extremely relaxed male is called Balabas, apparently comes from the south east of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. He is about three and half years old, and relatively young to compete with the males we have on our area so it’s Unlikely that he will stay in the area, he will most likely get chased by larger Xinzele and Khashane males.
We have to mention some sad news that Hlabankunzi’s one remaining sub-adult cub was also killed by the Xinzele male leopard. He had stolen a kill from Hlabankunzi and her cub. The cub was unusually old for a cub to be killed, would have been on few month before it independent. This means that she will come into oestrus and will start mating again hopefully produce a new litter with him as the father. We had already seen her flirting and trying to mate with the Xinzele male. We did follow up the next day and she had followed him down towards the river but then walked into the hippo dam female’s territory, a fight ensued and Hlabankunzi was chased back south to her territory.
Xinzele male leopard killed an impala ram, he fed on four couple of days and he was later join by hippo Dam female. She was tried in vain her to court him but he would have none of it and reacted aggressively towards her, perhaps because he had the kill or she simply was not in full oestrous.
Tlangisa female came upon another leopard’s kill which she dragged it to a tree. The next morning the Mapogo stole the carcass from her. Two of the lion brothers climbed the tree and fought over the carcass before it fell to the ground and the third brother claimed it for himself. Tlangisa moved off and climbed a nearby tree, watching the lions devours her meal and perhaps hoping they might leave some scraps for her.
Ximungwe Pride is still quite fragmented around the west and we haven’t seen all 5 lionesses together for a very long time. The older lioness with the 8 month old male cubs had killed a huge male kudu by herself providing some good viewing for us, her two male cubs are looking very strong and healthy. The short tail lioness with the 2 four month cubs is also doing well and we have been seeing her regularly. Due to the females being quite disjointed they are vocalising a lot to communicate with each other, impressive to hear from the lodge in the mornings and evenings.
One of the Mapogo (Mr T) has been mating with one of the females from the Ximungwe pride, the mother of the newest litter, this unfortunately suggest that the cubs are all dead. Two males from the Mapogo coalition, with four females from the Ximungwe pride and both sets of cubs, on a young giraffe kill on the western firebreak. The good news is that Mr T (the male who has killed all the cubs) was at the kill, and seemed to have accepted all the cubs.
The large herd of around 300 – 400 buffalo have been see regularly in the South, spending a lot of time in the open which has offered some amazing viewing. We watched them as they entered the waterhole, and as always, a large number of Red-billed Oxpeckers are close by to feed on the ectoparasites . There are many youngsters in the herd, with some of them only a couple of days old.
We are very-very excited! Do you wonder why? Wild dogs are the second most endangered large carnivore in the whole continent of Africa (Simien or Ethiopian wolf being the most endangered) there are less than six thousand of these animals left on planet earth. South Africa’s largest park, the Greater Kruger National Park with size of 2.5 million hectares or 5.6 million acres of natural wilderness accommodate a mere 130 individuals of these very misunderstood extraordinary wolf like creatures . The main contributory factor to the decline in population numbers is persecution by mankind, until recently even within conservation areas. They have not denned on our property for over 13 years and now they have decided to have their pups on our traversing area. We understand how these animal cover massive ranges so to have them on our property is really special.
The pack lost a young female recently to a lioness but hopefully they get to raise a few puppies from the new litter. This leaves the two females, Alpha male, older short tail male and two beta male, so only six left. There were 2 females that fell pregnant in the pack, usually it’s just the Alpha female that breeds. And both females have now given birth in two different dens. As you will understand we are extremely sensitive around these animals so the den is closed for another two weeks just to let them settle in their den and to reduce pressure on the pack, after that the sighting will be opened for us to enjoy the new born pups, which is a scene which not many people will be fortunate to see in their life time as these animals may not be on our planet for long. Almost forgot to mention that these animals are intelligent, beautiful, fascinating social behaviour and are the most successful hunters of them all. Yes! You can be fortunate if you come visit us soon. Two weeks will feel like two years for some of us but for now we wait…………
In and around camp
Owing to our location on the bank of sand River, the landscapes around Inyati Lodge are permanently in a state of flux, and this has provided no exception. Xindzele male leopard paid us few visit, entertaining our guests during pre-dinner drinks. Buffalo bulls, nyala, warthog, monkeys and crocodile basking in the sun is one of the regular sightings around the lodge.
That’s all from us this month, We thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, we are committed to keep you updated.