This Malaria free Big-5 game reserve offers guests some of the best opportunities to witness many of Africa’s most threatened and endangered species. These include Cheetah, Black and White Rhino, Brown Hyena, Giraffe, Elephant, Lappet faced Vulture, Pangolin, and African Wild Dogs.
Based on the ecological needs of the reserve, we are participating in continuous monitoring of the population dynamics and predator/prey relations of African Wild Dogs and Lions. From time to time it might also include other wildlife including (but not limited to); Cheetah, Leopard, Brown and Spotted Hyena, Elephant, Rhino, Vultures, and Buffalo. *This may require following predators late at night when they are most active.
The reserve is home to some incredible nocturnal species such as; Aardvark, Aardwolf, Bat-Eared and Cape Foxes, Brown and Spotted Hyenas, Caracals, Genets, Honey Badgers, Leopard, and Porcupines. Current nocturnal monitoring focuses on lions and camera traps, but it is our goal to include additional species in our monitoring project soon. It is also our goal to begin researching the reserve’s Pangolin population due to the current global pangolin poaching crisis.
Placing and monitoring camera traps to conduct scientific research, nocturnal monitoring, and animal identification (e.g. a wild dog’s unique coat or a leopard’s unique pattern). Due to the sheer size of this magnificent reserve, placing and/or collecting these camera traps from different parts of the reserve, before even analysing the data, is no small task! These camera trap sites have been carefully selected, and camera trap sites can be located hours apart.
Conduct regular game surveys to monitor the distribution and sex and age ratios in all the reserve’s wildlife populations. Accurate game surveys are one of the most important tools for reserve management as changes in wildlife populations or sex ratios can be an early indication of specific ecological problems (e.g. too many/few predators). Management can isolate different variables and use these surveys to correctly identify the habitat that different species choose, and keep up to speed with changes happening in wildlife populations as these changes occur.
The reserve’s ecologist has set a programme in motion to monitor changes in fauna and flora. Over sixty randomly selected sites have been identified, and vegetation surveys are used to identify gradual and/or sudden changes in vegetation across the reserve, recognise changes in species composition, health of the grass layer, bush encroachment and whether the reserve is overstocked. This data is captured and analysed and used to determine the impact that environmental factors, including herbivores, are having on the vegetation of the reserve.
Bush encroachment is a problem throughout African savannas. Not only does it impact on the habitats available to animals, it also impacts the infrastructure that we need to use in conservation areas. As this is a large reserve that is not open to the general public, many of the roads are hardly used. In fact, you’re unlikely to encounter another vehicle during your entire stay at the reserve! This also means that many of these roads get overgrown with encroaching bush, and trimming of bushes on the road verges provides access to the road across the reserve. Other reserve work may include removing invasive plant species, and removal of old fencing wires from left over from earlier farming days that may entangle animals
Due to the ongoing poaching crisis plaguing South Africa, we offer guests the chance to join the anti-poaching team for a day! You will join experienced rangers on patrols (day and night) to identify signs of poaching and collect valuable data. Spend time in the watch tower as eyes on an animal offers it the best form of protection. Record activities of animals at water points and other key areas as such data is used to identify poaching “hotspots” and potential vulnerabilities. This data ensures that rangers are deployed in the right areas both day and night. These activities play a huge part in keeping animals safe and your eyes and ears do make a difference!
On any well managed reserve, there are occasional some special activities that take place in the successful running of a reserve. These activities range from ear notching rhinos and lions, to capturing and translocation of wild dogs, lions or other predators to different reserves to ensure proper genetic diversity or to contribute to the conservation of the species elsewhere, tracking collars may be fitted or removed from specific animals, game capture teams may be required to remove some animals to maintain a balanced ecosystem (population control), whilst other animals may need to be darted for veterinary care or moved to a quarantine zone for disease testing. These events can provide veterinary students with a more hands-on experience that will undoubtedly aid in their studies. Whilst we can never guarantee these events or the dates that they will occur, we will do our utmost to keep guests informed via our website and social media channels should there be any planned upcoming activities.
Under no circumstances will an animal be darted for guest purposes. This project falls in-line with the ecological needs of the reserve only!
Be a part of a truly unique African conservation experience in one of the continent’s largest private Big-5 game reserves!