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Killing for conservation?

DYING PANGOLINS A species in crisis


Thriving at Mana Pools



Experience a royal wonder of opulence that redefines African elegance. The Palace runs the gamut between classic luxury and thrilling adventure. Escape on an exclusive safari tour and explore the beauty of Pilanesberg.

Page 2 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News


News from the world of conservation WILD EARTH Wild dogs of Mana Pools


New hope for Namibia’s wild horses


The underwater world of cichlids


Dugongs and seagrass 24 Protecting Ethiopia’s wolves


Secrets of the water-loving welwitschias



The slender-snouted crocodile

Protecting Egyptian vultures 51 SPOTLIGHT

7 Bush telegraph

Does hunting benefit conservation? 7 ADOPTIONS

by René de Klerk

Do your bit for conservation 10


LESS TRAVELLED Birding in Uganda 22 30




FOCUS On safari at Thanda 34 It’s glamping, not camping


HOTSPOTS Our pick of destinations worth travelling for



ON TRACK Beautiful in Beaufort West 48 ADVENTURE Climbing Kilimanjaro for conservation

14 52


REGULARS Columns and letters 4 Africa’s palette 38 By the book


Little safarians: Fun for the little ones Safari style



Food: Dig in 49 A day in the life 54 Last Word: Otch Otto on the bush 55 Editor René de Klerk +27 78 275 5978 / +27 11 340 3352 General manager Advertising and Marketing Subscriptions Janet Gordon +27 83 454 2564 / +27 11 340 3230

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HUNTING Killing for conservation?

DYING PANGOLINS A species in crisis


Thriving at Mana Pools



pring is a time for renewal. Nature sheds her brown coat and dresses in green, accessorised with colourful, fragrant flowers. The bees work with renewed vigour and most of the wildlife celebrates new life with the birth of little ones. I recently undertook my first hike of the season and have vowed to spend more time in the great outdoors. We all need goals to inspire us, to put that spring in our step. At the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference earlier this year, many species got more protection. The debate is ongoing about South Africa’s new black rhino hunting quota though. While on the topic, I became angry after seeing a photo posted on social media of a hunter who had killed an antelope. It wasn’t the hunter I was angry with, but the reactions of those making comments. This person loved nature and wildlife, and hunted once a year to stock up on meat and biltong. How do you feel about hunting? Do you think it can help conservation? Join our debate on p7. If you’re looking for exciting species and experiences to tick off your bucket list, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe is a great place to watch the African wild dog (p14). The wild horses of Namibia (p17) have added new members to the herd, and scientists have commented on the biggest zebra migration in the world (p20). Dive with us into the underwater world of dugongs (p24), and swim with the cichlids of Africa’s Great Lakes (p18). A little birdie whispered to us that Uganda is a must-visit for any twitcher, so head to p22 and start planning. Whether you are looking forward to a holiday or you’re just curious about conservation, join us on a magical journey with Safari News. Hopefully you will find inspiration and plan your next getaway with a spring in your step!

Cover image by Graham Kearney Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 3


Your thoughts

Have you recently travelled to exciting destinations or done something quite different and headed off the beaten track? Or are you simply loving Safari News? Share your thoughts at

INFORMATIVE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH Jan Tudor-Owen writes: We wanted to share some information with your readers. My husband and I recently visited Ithala Game Reserve near Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal after an absence of 23 years. What a wonderful place! The scenery is stunning, from rocky hills to grass-covered plains, and we saw lots of animals, including elephant. We are keen twitchers and found the birding to be fantastic. Accommodation at Ntshondwe camp was great – clean and well equipped with crisp linen and comfortable beds. The standard of maintenance throughout Ntshondwe is far superior to that found in Imfolozi and Mkhuze camps. We stayed in a self-catering chalet, but a very good breakfast was included in our room rate, served in the

restaurant. Ithala staff members – from the gate and reception to the restaurant – are extremely helpful. The only downside is the state of the roads, some of which need at least a high-clearance vehicle, and preferably a 4X4. The picnic sites are currently being upgraded. It is such a pity that this park is not more utilised; the current occupancy rate is very low. We would really recommend it for a wonderfully relaxing, pleasant break!

PLENTY GAME IN THE NORTH Walter Hauck writes: My wife, son from London and I spent six nights in the Kruger National Park. He wished to do the entire length of the park. We spent two nights at Berg en Dal, two nights at Olifants and two nights at Shingwedzi. We had never been so far north. Contrary to what we had read and heard, the north was the best. The Crooks’ Corner area is like a Garden of Eden. My son Michael took amazing photographs, including pics of a leopard and hyenas.

WE LOVE SAFARI NEWS Jenny Clark writes: We recently stayed at Marloth Park and visited the Kruger National Park a few times. We love visiting the park and go there several times each year with friends and family. Watching the game from the comfort of your chalet is the best. We picked up a copy of Safari News at one of the rest camps during our

10-day trip and we wanted to let you know that we loved the stories and pictures. We need good news stories in this world, and you provide a lovely balance. We have seen it before, but this time we took it home to keep. Congratulations and keep up the brilliant work.

GETTING SOCIAL WITH SAFARI NEWS Lorraine Leech: A fabulous publication all round, very interesting articles. I am glad I picked up a copy at the airport. Jonte Bannatyne-van der Merwe: What’s not to like? Competitions, news, updates, pics and fun, fun, fun!

Look out for our competitions on social media: @news_safari

Page 4 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News





bet that when you think of a species on the brink of extinction, you probably don’t think of the African lion. But for the last two decades the lion has been quietly sliding closer to extinction. Africa has lost half of its wild population in the last 25 years. A new knowledge hub was recently launched by my teammates at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), under the auspices of the Cat Specialist Group (CSG) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission. It plans to accurately quantify numbers and population trends of the African lion, and document its presence or absence across its range. There is uncertainty as to how many lion remain and where they occur on the continent. Existing information is dispersed among various institutions, preventing optimal conservation impact for the species. In October 2018, the EWT and CSG embarked on an exciting new project to address this issue and develop the African Lion Database. The database is hosted by the EWT on behalf of the broader conservation community and will be used to compile, analyse, and store data on lion distribution, abundance, and population trends, and support the continuous assessment of the status of lions across the continent. The more we know about a species, the better we can protect it, by guiding conservation action and funding to where they are most needed. This project has been collating existing data from reserve management, researchers, existing data platforms and governments for the last six months and I’m excited to say we can already share some new insights into the distribution of lions. Central African Wilderness Safaris recently confirmed the presence of a resident male lion in Nyika National Park, Malawi. The EWT received

photos to confirm his presence. Another exciting record comes from Angola’s Luando Special Reserve, where a sighting of a male and female with cubs was recorded in the Luando Special Reserve. This is the first female and cubs sighting in more than a decade in this area and this information offers hope that lions may be re-establishing a presence where they were thought to have disappeared. A recent Born Free expedition recorded a small pride of lions for the first time at Mpem and Djim National Park in southern Cameroon – again, in an area where lions were considered to be locally extinct. These records provide hope that lion populations are beginning to establish and increase in areas where hope was lost. This project is made possible with the financial support of the Lion Recovery Fund and National Geographic Society. ’Til next time Mwitu

Hi! My name is Mwitu

Top: The African Lion Database aims to keep a tab on lions across the continent. Photo: Sam Nicholson

Living World

DEAD PANGOLIN highlights reality of poaching crisis D

uring August, news of a poached pangolin reached the team at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital (JWVH). While the rescue of live pangolins from the illegal trade in South Africa during sting operations is nothing new, this case was different. Although the animal was alive, poachers had sealed its fate by removing its claws. The JWVH team named him Fortunate, and tried their best to save the animal, with experienced vet Dr Karin Lourens treating him under anaesthetic in the theatre. He was monitored to determine whether his most important tools, his claws, would grow back – if they did, he could return to the wild. Unfortunately, after three months of care there was no sign of regrowth, and other aspects of the pangolin’s health continued to deteriorate. Fortunate reached the point of no return and the difficult decision was taken to humanely euthanase him. Without claws he would never feed on his own again, and pangolins are unable to survive in captivity. Fortunate was yet another pangolin lost in the battle against poaching. According to Nicci Wright, wildlife rehabilitation specialist at JWVH and director of the African Pangolin Working Group (APWG), more than 68 tonnes of African pangolin scales have been intercepted in Asia’s illegal trade, this year alone. This equates to approximately 300 000 pangolins. “In Southern Africa, pangolins are poached and sold alive on the illegal trade,” Wright says. The APWG assists the South African Police Service (SAPS) and environmental law enforcement officers when sting operations are carried out to intercept poachers. JWVH and APWG are mandated to treat, rehabilitate and release pangolins in South Africa. These two organisations, in collaboration with the Humane Society International – Africa, work hands-on with all pangolins that are confiscated in South Africa. For security reasons, the animals are not kept on site at JWVH, and a

of stress, their immune systems are “Because compromised and they often die ” great deal of time and effort goes into the rehabilitation of survivors. Since the hospital was established in 2016, the team has treated nearly 60 pangolins. “There are probably 10 times more that we are not getting to,” Lourens says. When confiscated, these animals have often been without food and water for weeks, and their condition is dire. “They always have severe health issues because they have

been kept without food and water, often in a sack, or wired into baskets unable to move. We have even found them screwed into closed speaker boxes and bolted into wheel wells of vehicles,” Wright adds. “They urinate and defecate in the same space and inhale the same air. Because of stress, their immune systems are compromised and they often die no matter what we do,” she explains. Initially only 50% of pangolin

patients treated at JWVH survived, but with more knowledge and experience the survival rate is now 80%. Pangolins remain the most expensive animal treated at the hospital, costing R1 000 per day. After release, the costs do not stop. There is a strict release protocol, which involves intense monitoring. Every pangolin is fitted with VHF and satellite telemetry tags, which cost APWG in excess of R20 000 per pangolin per day. Apart from treating and releasing pangolins, JWVH and APWG provide evidence for SAPS dockets, which helps build the chain of custody for the court case against poachers. “In the beginning they were given a R500 fine because it was classified as stock theft,” says Lourens The longest sentence to date has been eight years. “This is because of the continued work that the APWG does with various provincial law enforcement departments, magistrates and prosecutors,” Wright says. Pangolin scales are used in traditional medicines, and they are also seen as a delicacy. African pangolin species are being targeted by syndicates because the Asian pangolin numbers have been severely reduced. Poaching pangolins from the wild is mostly orchestrated by international syndicates, Lourens says. “Pangolins are so highly trafficked, we never know if it will be the last one we receive for treatment,” she adds. – René de Klerk Pangolin care, rehabilitation and release is expensive. Your donation will help to cover the costs. Find out how on p10 or visit www. for more on our virtual adoptions.

Top: Fortunate shortly after a procedure at the hospital. Left: A pangolin enjoying freedom after a long rehabilitation process. Photos: Francois Meyer and Nicci Wright – APWG.

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 5


he human population is fast approaching eight billion people – growing and developing at a rapid rate. Our insatiable desire to explore and challenge boundaries means we constantly scour the universe for planets capable of supporting human life. Back on Earth, three female African wild dogs are ready to disperse from their pack. They will head into the unfamiliar in the hopes of joining up with a group of males to form their own pack and carve out a new territory. Their fate is unknown. It appears that all humans and animals want is space. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), “Habitat loss is the main threat to 85% of all species described in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.” It’s a constant battle for conservationists to keep endangered species from going extinct, but their habitat is also at risk of disappearing – cleared to make way for urbanisation, infrastructure, plantations and agriculture. Genetically modified crops allow agriculture to expand into previously

unfamiliar territory; drought-resistant tomatoes can now grow in semiarid areas. These no-go farming zones used to be a haven for wildlife. Plantations have replaced rainforests – the lungs of the earth and a haven

for countless species. While Africa needs to develop, it should not be at the expense of lifegiving ecosystems and wildlife. Game reserves and national parks provide pockets of protection for

wildlife while preserving natural ecosystems. As humans eat into the boundaries of national parks the human-wildlife conflict escalates. Wildlife corridors and migration routes are also cut off, so natural dispersal and gene flow are affected. The African wild dog is an indicator species that is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. A viable population of wild dogs requires large tracts of wilderness as they hold big territories (depending on game availability) and are capable of running long distances. Because of their nomadic lifestyle and exceptional hunting skills, they are likely to come into conflict with communities. They are affected by snares, and as protected areas shrink, the dogs face increasing pressure from larger predators like lions. A solution is the opening up of wildlife corridors and transfrontier conservation areas. A transfrontier conservation area is an ecological region on the borders of two or more countries. In the Southern Africa Development Community, there are 18 existing and planned transfrontier conservation areas. Wildlife corridors create space for animals to migrate between protected areas and result in larger more connected parks for species to thrive. After all, if the land goes, where will the animals go? – Georgina Lockwood

Page 6 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

Europcar Safari News ad Sept 2019 178x275 FA.indd 1

2019/09/19 10:05


BITING THE BULLET: hunting for conservation

The term ‘Big Five’ resulted from the danger involved in hunting lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo. Whether killing for the pot or paying for a trophy hunt, hunting has always been part of the African landscape. René de Klerk finds out how it benefits conservation…


unters often get a bad rap. Photos of them posing with dead animals, whether it’s antelope or something larger, receive lots of attention. It’s a sensitive subject and will remain a controversial topic for years to come. Is there a place for hunting in conservation? Conservation involves much more than just the protection of a species from extinction. It entails restoring habitat, enhancing ecosystems and protecting overall biological diversity. Conservation is also about preventing the wasteful use of resources. In South Africa, the majority of wildlife is now kept on private land and not only in fenced reserves. These areas have

to be managed to prevent overgrazing and the overutilisation of resources. According to Fred Camphor, CEO of the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA, commonly known as SA Hunters), you have to start managing wildlife the moment you fence an area as there is no longer free migration. “Animals will breed, unless they are hungry or thirsty,” he says. “You have a restricted surface area that can support a certain quantity of animals in the longer term, so you need balance.” Camphor says animals such as zebra only eat grass while impala browse and graze. Lions could target any animals to keep numbers in check, but

some only hunt buffalo, for example. This could easily cause an imbalance in any particular system.

Hunting to restore balance

Henno Cronje, a professional hunting outfitter and former camp manager at the Chawalo Hunting Block in Zumbo, Mozambique’s most western town, said when they initially started in Chawalo plains game numbers were extremely low. This was due to ruthless poaching from the local communities and too many predators for the number of wildlife available. There were only 32 head of buffalo, and they were allowed to hunt five per year. However, low numbers meant they could not be hunted. There

was no food for the lions, so these predators would visit villages and kill goats. A decision was made to employ game guards from the local community and they thinned out predator numbers. “Today more than 300 buffalo roam the area,” Cronje explains.

Is the balance in jeopardy?

Much has been said about large elephant populations in Southern Africa, but the culling of elephants remains controversial. Decision makers often prefer managing for ecosystems as opposed to species. Elephants are destructive

and many people are of the opinion that South Africa “is on a downward spiral”. In places like the Kruger, the elephant population reached more than 17 000 four years ago. “If there is no balance, every animal in the ecosystem will suffer,” says Cronje. He says there are spots in Botswana where bush has turned to desert because of large elephant populations. However, scientists believe those areas can become woody because of low elephant numbers. > Continue reading on the next page

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 7


Elephant numbers, where managed correctly, could be beneficial as they improve the browse availability for impala and black rhino. Elephants also open thickets, making it easier for predators to hunt, and play a major role in seed dispersal.

What if hunting was banned? Those against hunting are quick to argue that it should be banned, but how would this affect wildlife communities? “We would see a massive economic impact due to job losses, the loss of wildlife and conservation,” Camphor says. He says hunting for meat attracts approximately 300 000 hunters who hunt at least once a year in South Africa. This results in spending of around R8,6 billion per year. Trophy hunting contributes a further R1,2 billion and trade in live animals brings in R1,82 billion per year. In Kenya, wildlife hunting was banned in 1977 in an attempt to stop poaching. Landowners were even banned from killing wildlife on their own properties. “Since the ban the country has lost 60–70% of its wildlife, even in protected areas,” Camphor says. Why? Locals kill wildlife, whether legal or not, as animals raid their crops and eat their livestock. Wildlife and livestock also Page 8 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

compete for forage. Botswana banned trophy hunting in 2014. “The owners of concessions are responsible for anti-poaching and most of these areas are surrounded by communities,” he says, adding that if a lion kills a head of livestock, the community members will kill the lion. Human-wildlife conflict can lead to the poisoning of wildlife. “The destruction of game and natural resources go hand in

hand,” Camphor says. Botswana lifted its trophy hunting ban this year. Onkokame Mokaila, Botswana’s minister of environment, natural resources, conservation and tourism said the hunting ban was harmful to wildlife economies. In less than 12 months, the Botswana community lost US$1,4 million and 305 jobs. In a local case study, South Africa introduced white rhino trophy

hunting in 1968 at a very early stage of the recovery process, when there were only 1 800 animals. According to Richard Thomas, global communication coordinator for TRAFFIC, wildlife trade specialists, this created an economic incentive for land managers and owners to host rhino on their land. This also removed older males, which stimulated breeding. Land use is important too. Many areas where hunting takes place are arid and rocky, so there are few options for alternative productive land use. Mining and tourism has a bigger impact on the environment. With tourism, guests are taken on game drives several times a day and stay in luxury lodging. Hunters are generally satisfied with camping or basic accommodation and the responsible hunter will walk on foot, tracking and stalking the animal.

Hunting as an income generator There are three choices when it comes to managing wildlife: selling, culling or hunting. Even if wildlife is sold, the animals can still end up being hunted elsewhere. Camphor, who owns a piece of property with wildlife, says a hunter can pay R900– R1 000 for an impala ewe and up


to R1 800 for a ram. If he were to sell the same animal to a game capturer, he would earn R600 as a set price per animal, regardless of sex. Other alternatives include selling on auction where you may have two options. You either take 60% of the selling price (with all costs carried by the capturer), or 70% of the income if the landowner pays for the cost of the helicopter, while the game capturer carries the rest of the cost. “You therefore receive about one third of the amount that could have been generated by hunting, so hunting as an income source is better,” he explains.

Hunting and communities

South African comedian Trevor Noah recently claimed on The Daily Show that trophy hunting only brings as little as 3% benefits to local communities in Southern Africa and should be banned. His statement sparked considerable outrage, even among conservationists. “Trophy hunting is important, it creates jobs for our people, infrastructure, clinics, schools,” said Zimbabwe’s national parks and wildlife management authority public relations manager, Tinashe Farawo. In Zimbabwe, the authority is custodian of national parks, but also manages some land outside of protected areas where hunting is allowed. Cronje supports this statement, saying communities benefit greatly

when trophy animals are hunted, because the hunter cannot take the meat too. In one case, a hunter paid US$30 000 to shoot an elephant, and up to 300 community members were able to claim their chunk of meat. The meat of animals hunted as trophies forms an important source of protein for poor rural communities as trophy hunters do not take any of this meat with them. “We have to understand that communities have lived there for thousands of years and used to live off the land. They are no longer allowed to hunt, but they need to be able to use the harvest of the land,” Cronje says.

Responsible vs irresponsible hunting

Camphor says there is a code of conduct, and all hunters should stick to it. This includes fair chase, and shooting to kill as quickly as possible. Fair chase entails taking freeranging, wild, big game animals in a manner that does not give the hunter an unfair advantage over the animal. However, with modern technology and scopes, it is possible to shoot animals from much further distances. Hunters who kill for the sake of killing or who hunt irresponsibly, give hunting a bad name. Cronje says the problem comes in when you breed just to kill. Hunting lodges only allow a certain quota of certain species

for a few breeders offering hunts to be removed, so responsible of captive-bred animals. A short landowners and managers do not documentary titled The horrors breed to kill. of lion farming in South Africa by There are also areas where the lines Lord Ashcroft, businessman and are blurred, especially when it comes philanthropist, highlights the issue to hunting from the back of a vehicle, damaging South Africa’s reputation, and the hunting of predators. with South Africa’s Free State Hunting from a vehicle is not province lying at the heart of seen as ethical, but in some cases this industry. it could be necessary. In places like There are no official figures the Karoo with its open plains, it available, but it is believed South would be difficult to hunt springbok Africa holds between 6 000 and successfully. There might be other 8 000 predators at these facilities, exceptions too. “If I had a hunter most of which are lions. Some who spent five days walking 15km a statistics are as high as 12 000 lions. day searching for a specific antelope In contrast to this, there are only unsuccessfully and we drove back 2 000 wild lions in South Africa. and found it on the road, I would Ashcroft speaks to various experts, allow him to shoot it. Most places including Stewart Dorrington, a however do not allow hunting from hunter and president of Custodians vehicles,” Cronje says. of Professional The hunting Hunting and of wild lion Conservation South and leopard is Mining and tourism Africa. “Most of controversial and generally can’t have a bigger impact us feel hunting must support be done without on the environment conservation and setting up bait and not be detrimental waiting in a hide. than hunting to a species. It is Placing bait in used by animal trees depends on rightists to the circumstances attack all of trophy hunting. It has and the environment. It may not focused the world’s attention on the be possible to track lions on foot negatives of trophy hunting. All the due to hard surfaces, or massive good done through trophy hunting unfenced areas. has been undermined by the lion “We interfere as little as possible industry,” Dorrington says. with the pride. If you set up bait, you Cronje believes hunting in general can isolate the lion you want to shoot has done a lot of good to expand instead of having to shoot out of selfranges of wildlife. “Today, there is defence, possibly shooting a female a much more wildlife than ever or multiple lions,” says Cronje. because of the value of game,” Trail cameras are used to identify he says. the lion or leopard in the area before Every hunting farm, nature reserve making a decision. At the same time, and game reserve should be seen the hunter relies on hearing, and the as a little piece of natural habitat ability to sit silently for hours inside for wildlife. the hide. “If the hunt is quick and efficient, it is ethical,” he says.

Rise in canned hunting An unethical aspect of hunting is the rise in the canned industry – animals are bred in confined areas purely to be hunted, often in small camps. This practice started due to the expenses involved in hunting wild lions in Africa, opening the market

Main (p7): A hunter in search of wildlife. Inset: Hunters target a wide variety of animals, including kudu. Main: Hunting on the Lammerfontein farm in the Moordenaarskaroo. Left: A Hercules Safaris hunt in the Middelburg area. Top: An eye on the prize. Photos: Michael Nieuwoudt, Koos Barnard, Neil Grabe and Kobus Janse v Rensburg Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 9



he pangolin is under severe threat as a result of illegal trade and has become the most poached animal on the planet. Its scales are sold for traditional medicine and as a result of numbers dwindling elsewhere, syndicates are focusing on the African continent. The African Pangolin Working Group works around the clock to protect this species, and you can help them. Visit to support pangolin conservation.

Democratic Republic of the Congo. Conservation status: Vulnerable White-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) This species is widespread in West and Central Africa, marginally entering East Africa and Southern Africa. As a semi-arboreal species, they come to the ground to forage and cross open patches. Their scales are grey to light brown and the belly and skin are white. Adults average 60–105cm in length, with the tail contributing to half of that. Females give birth to a single pup after a gestation period of 150 days. Conservation status: Vulnerable

Four pangolin species on the African continent

Temminck's ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii) The second largest pangolin is also the most widespread of the species, occurring from the northern parts of South Africa through most of East Africa into southern Sudan and Chad. Predominantly nocturnal, they use aardvark, porcupine, springhares and warthog burrows for shelter. Their diet consists of ants and termites. Females give birth to one pup after a gestation period of up to 140 days. Conservation status: Vulnerable Giant ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) This is the largest, but rarest in Africa. They inhabit tropical lowland and riparian forests and savanna in Central and West Africa, marginally stretching into East Africa. Just like the Temmincks ground pangolin, they also feed

Help the PANGOLIN! on ants and termites. Nothing is known about the breeding of this species, but it is believed that females give birth to a pup every second year. Adults grow up to 1,5m and although rare, can weigh up to 33kg. Conservation status: Vulnerable Black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla) The scales of this species are a rich

Our other causes

ochre colour with dark borders. Individuals of this species average 85–110cm and weigh 1–2kg. Their tails can measure up to 60cm. They are the only species exclusively active during the day. Black-bellied pangolins are found in tropical riverine and swamp forests, but are occasionally found away from water. They occur in West Africa, from Sierra Leone to Ghana, and Central Africa from Nigeria to the eastern

How can I help? Your contribution can make a difference! Help the pangolin, or one of our other causes today. Funds go towards projects run by our conservation partners. Get more information from

Above: A black-bellied pangolin, one of four pangolin species on the African continent. Photo: Alexis Kriel – APWG

Help save Africa’s wildlife!

Africa’s rangers


Africa’s rangers are under immense pressure due to the increase in poaching incidents and working long hours. Funds raised can assist with much-needed equipment, counter-poaching requirements, special projects and so much more.

This magnificent African icon can easily be recognised by the horn on its forehead, but this has also been the reason for the ruthless slaughter of the species. We joined forces with Saving the Survivors who give poaching victims that survive a second chance through surgical interventions.


Southern ground-hornbill

The okapi is a shy forest-dweller from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The species has strongholds in Okapi Wildlife Reserve and Maiko National Park, and is listed as Endangered. We partnered with the Okapi Conservation Project to help with their valuable work.

West African chimpanzee

The critically endangered West African chimpanzee has already disappeared in Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso due to deforestation, poaching, and capture for the pet trade. Help Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection as they take care of confiscated and abandoned chimpanzees, with the hope of releasing them into the wild. Page 10 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

There are an estimated 417 breeding groups in South Africa, listing this bird as Endangered. Only one chick reaches adulthood every nine years. The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project manages the metapopulation in South Africa, which is why we are supporting them.

Ring-tailed lemur

This lemur is one of the most distinguished lemur species because of its black and white tail, but there’s only approximately 5 000 of these endangered primates left in Madagascar. We support Lemur Love who conducts research and involves local women in their work.

Living World

Volunteering benefits


he rise in ‘voluntourism’ over the last decade has led to an increase in illegal organisations that take advantage of eager adventurers. Horror stories abound, with organisations breeding ‘orphans’ in order to allow animal interactions, and providing promises of releasing the wildlife back into their environment. Volunteering abroad may seem like a great way to spend your hard-earned money, time and skills, but not all organisations offering volunteering services are equal. Your intentions may be good, but many of these organisations do not have conservation interests at heart. With this in mind, Paul Gardiner, CEO of Worldwide Experience, started the conservation organisation two years after his father Adrian founded the Mantis Collection. The aim of Worldwide Experience is to provide a safe, supervised and structured programme for

students and volunteers looking to dedicate their time to wildlife and conservation. The philosophy embraces responsible travel, education, conservation, sustainability and community. “Voluntourism has become an extremely competitive playing field, with lots of people getting involved,” Gardiner says. “However, at Worldwide Experience we play in the ethical space, which is something we strive to develop and grow.” He believes it is vital to talk about ethical conservation, and what Worldwide Experience stands for. The company offers volunteering programmes in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Croatia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Mozambique and Mauritius, all of which promise a unique experience. All the programmes are specially developed and guaranteed to enrich the lives of the participants.

The whale shark conservation programme in Mozambique, for example, includes a diving qualification, participation in coral reef surveys and other marine research, involvement with the local community, the opportunity to try your hand at cooking local cuisine and learning the local language. If you love baby animals, spending time at the rhino orphanage might be right up your alley. These youngsters have been orphaned because of poaching and they will be released into the wild when they are old enough to care for themselves. The volunteering experience includes cleaning enclosures, exposure to veterinary care, feeding, monitoring and facility maintenance. Conservation projects focus on wildlife such as black and white rhino, leopards, Asian and desert elephants, bears, colobus monkeys and many more.

Worldwide Experience also offers accredited courses in fields such as game ranging, wildlife management and marine guiding. Gardiner believes their programme makes a difference. “We hope that what we do will lead to others following and that unethical organisations will be weeded out. In a world of social media, a lot of power is in people’s hands,” he says. Gardiner says the programme has met all his expectations. “We see what our vet and other students go through and the beliefs they come back with. The more people we can get involved in conservation, the better.” For more information, visit – René de Klerk

Below: Volunteers assist with various projects, including rhino conservation. Photo: Earl Smith

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 11

Living World

Roaring success for


outh Africa’s captive lion breeding industry has been an ethical challenge for years. The connection between cub petting, lion walking and canned hunting is well known, and goes hand in hand with the lion bone trade. A number of organisations have featured in the news for their disregard of animal welfare, and the recent court case won by the National Council of SPCAs against the former Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), now known as the

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, has been welcomed. The Pretoria High Court ruled the late Dr Edna Molewa’s 2017 and 2018

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lion bone quotas were unlawful, saying that correct procedures were not followed when they were implemented. According to Judge

Jody Kollapen, the quotas were reportedly not legal and were constitutionally invalid. While the judgement cannot affect skeletons that have been exported, it is seen as a victory for lions on the African continent. When it comes to future decisions, the government will have to consider animal welfare in all its conservation decisions. Ashleigh Dore, Wildlife in Trade programme manager at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) agrees that the battle is not over. “There are still legal and systematic shortcomings around welfare of wild animals that need to be addressed,” she says. Dore says the recent policy brief on welfare protection of wild animals not only addresses these legal and systematic shortcomings but also provides key recommendations. “This includes the standardisation of laws and their implementation across the country, continuous education and training of conservation officers, as well as sufficient budget allocation geared towards capacitating conservation departments to carry out their important mandate,” Dore explains. Export quotas increased significantly in recent years. In 2017 they were set at 800, but this increased to 1 500 in 2018. The Department of Environmental Affairs issued more than 5 363 permits

for the export of skeletons between 2008 and 2015. Many of these skeletons went to Laos and Vietnam, which are known hubs for illegal wildlife trafficking. According to statistics provided by the EWT, current lion population numbers in Africa are estimated to be fewer than 23 000. While there are 26 countries with wild lion populations, only seven of them have more than 1 000. Lions have lost 94% of their natural range. South Africa allows lions to be bred in captivity and is the only country in Africa with an industry dealing in carnivore production. The government has not yet set export quotas for 2019, meaning that no skeletons have been exported this year. The report on legal and practical regulations of the welfare of wild animals in South Africa is available at CER-Wildlife-Welfare-PolicyBrief-2019.pdf

Top: A lion relaxing in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Photo: René de Klerk Sketch: Graham Kearney


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Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 5

Wild Earth

It’s a wild

DOG’S LIFE Sarah Kingdom travels to the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe and learns more about its thriving wild dog population


e sat silently, watching the wild dogs. Sixteen in total. They lay napping in a shady depression, camouflaged by their mottled coats. The air was warm and still. The only sound to be heard was distant birds. Aside from the occasional flick of a tail, the pack lay inert. We were transfixed. The sun sank lower in the sky. One by one the dogs woke, yawned and stretched. Getting to their feet, the pack members exchanged elaborate greetings, whimpering as they sniffed, smelt and licked one another. The dogs became livelier, and it became apparent what the 20 or 30 hooded vultures lurking in the wings had been waiting for. In preparation for their evening hunt, the dogs vacated their digestive systems. I watched horrified, as the vultures squabbled over and made quick work of these deposits. Having lightened their load, the dogs pranced and played, making half-hearted, playful attempts to catch the still-lurking vultures. There was a definite light-hearted atmosphere among the pack members as they gambolled together, waiting for the last few deep sleepers to stir. Playtime over, it was time to get to work, and the Page 14 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

pack readied themselves for the night’s hunt. A hyena appeared, previously hidden from sight, obviously intending to follow the dogs in the hope of cashing in on their hard work and scoring a free meal. We had come to Mana Pools to stay with African Bush Camps and we were fortunate to see wild dogs from two of their camps. Zambezi Expeditions camp is perched on the banks of the Zambezi, with the magnificent backdrop of Zambia

and the Zambezi Escarpment across the river. Nyamatusi Camp is their stunning, brand new camp where we relaxed in the lap of luxury in between game drives and wild dog sightings. It was on an afternoon drive from Zambezi Expeditions that we’d had our first wild dog encounter and when we moved camp to Nyamatusi we would see the dogs again the next morning. After what had clearly been a successful hunt, they lay resting, with blood-smeared faces and bloated tummies.

The Zambezi River at Mana Pools is wide and dotted with islands. The silhouettes of elephant, buffalo and hippo are visible as they wade in the shallows and feed on the banks. Mana Pools is a 219 600ha wildlife conservation area, national park and World Heritage area in northern Zimbabwe, situated along the lower stretches of the Zambezi River. Over time, the river has gradually changed its course, leaving behind river channels, ox-bow lakes and seasonal pools, surrounded by forests of winter

Wild Earth

Mana Pools National Park is in the far north of Zimbabwe. It includes the south bank and islands of the Zambezi River, which forms the border with Zambia.

thorn, mahogany, wild fig, ebony and baobab trees. Mana is the Shona word for ‘four’, and within the park the abandoned river channels have created four large pools, giving the park its name. All this water provides abundant vegetation, attracting a wealth of wildlife. In the dry season, the shady glades beneath the trees are filled with concentrations of wildlife: herds of impala, eland, elephant, zebra, buffalo, waterbuck and kudu. These populations provide a plentiful supply of prey for both predators and scavengers. There are several sizeable lion prides, as well as leopard and hyena. Mana Pools is a stronghold for the wild dog, also known as painted wolves, African painted dogs, or Cape hunting dogs. Currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with only 6 600 remaining in the wild, African wild dogs are one of the continent’s most captivating carnivores and one of its most endangered species. Once found all over Africa, their numbers have drastically declined over the last 100 years. Seen as pests by farmers and frequently blamed for livestock deaths (that are more often than not the work of lion or hyena) they

which is remarkable considering are often poisoned, and can catch lions average around 30%. Hunting distemper and rabies from domestic in packs that number anywhere dogs. With vast home ranges, wild from five to 40, the adults combine dogs are vulnerable to humans. to become an awesome killing Nowadays populations are limited machine, communicating constantly to pockets of wildlife sanctuaries with bird-like chirrups and hoots. and reserves. They are prodigious athletes, able At Mana Pools wild dogs live far to outrun almost any creature over from human habitation, so the risk long distances. to their survival is Using stamina relatively limited. to overcome They thrive in their prey, they the park and can At Mana Pools wild can maintain regularly be seen dogs live far from an impressive hunting twice for a day, generally human habitation, so 50km/h extended periods, in the early occasionally morning and late the risk is limited reaching top afternoon. There speeds of 70km/h, are six main wild basically running dog packs in the their prey to exhaustion. Wild dogs’ park, numbering around 100. Three ability to coordinate their moves, of these packs live on the flood combined with their relentless plains and have become relatively running skills, enables them to take accustomed to human visitors. down an animal over 10 times their Wild dogs are successful hunters, size and literally tear it limb from having a success rate of around 80%,

limb at an astonishing rate, eating almost the entire carcass. Wild dog packs have an extraordinary social dynamic. They play, nurture and communicate efficiently with one another, functioning as a highly integrated group. Play forms an important part of their society and helps to reinforce pack hierarchies and bonds. Each pack member is an individual, with its own characteristics, and each takes on a different role within the group. With their intriguing markings, each as unique as a fingerprint, and an intimate social structure combined with impressive hunting success, these are fascinating creatures to watch. After the hunt, the pack usually returns to the den, where they regurgitate their kill for pups as well as old or injured pack members. The whole pack works together to raise a litter of pups, even if that means letting them feed first on a kill. Wild dogs are a ‘weathervane’ species for conservation, an indicator of the health of the whole ecosystem. Their presence at Mana Pools is a sign of a balanced environment. For more information, visit

Main and above: The African wild dog is thriving at Mana Pools National Park. Far left: A guided walk allows visitors to get closer to the dogs. Photos: Shaun Stanley Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 15

Living World

Second chance for indigenous


hat would you do if you found an injured owl hit by a car, or a monkey with a broken hip? There are plenty of veterinary facilities around, but most of them cater for pets, and not for the smaller indigenous wildlife. Because of this, wildlife does not always receive the specialised care that is required. Armed with a childhood dream to create a hospital for wildlife and 16 years’ experience of running a wildlife rehabilitation facility, Nicci Wright knew what had to be done. Together with Dr Karin Lourens, who volunteered at the same rehabilitation facility, the pair joined forces and created the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital (JWVH) in 2016. “My experience as a wildlife rehabilitation specialist and Karin’s veterinary knowledge make an excellent skillset for what we do here,” says Wright, director of the JWVH. It is the only facility of its kind in South Africa. Indigenous wildlife is treated at no cost to those who bring the animals in, before being released back into the wild. “Careful consideration is taken on multiple levels to ensure that each patient is able to be released back into suitable habitat. Our aim is to get them back to the wild as fully functioning members of their species. If this is not possible, we humanely euthanase them as we don’t believe captivity is a humane solution for a wild animal that cannot be fully itself again,” she says.

WILDLIFE The JWVH receives many patients – since opening the team has taken care of almost 5 000 animals. These include everything from mammals and reptiles to birds. “We’ve treated bats, owls, raptors, mongoose, pangolins, meerkats, servals, genets, hedgehogs,

Page 16 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

bushbabies, garden birds, water birds and otters.” They have also had the privilege of treating many unusual species, such as the African striped weasel, European honey buzzard and Temminck’s ground pangolin. The hospital also contributes to research

projects and is at the forefront of groundbreaking treatment. Wright says apart from the interesting species they have treated, Lourens has performed several ‘world firsts’ in the treatment of pangolins, such as pangolin to pangolin blood transfusions and feeding with a PEG tube.

On the research front, the hospital collaborates widely with local and international researchers, and contributes data towards research papers and studies. Wright says they have attached telemetry devices to track both migratory European honey buzzards and secretarybirds. They also contribute carcasses towards specialised eye and brain research projects and to the BioBank for DNA banking. “Other collaborations include monitoring lead levels in raptors, the migratory distribution behaviours of grey-headed gulls, and pangolin behaviour and distribution post-release,” Wright adds. The JWVH collaborates with the African Pangolin Working Group and the Humane Society International – Africa. As the JWVH is a nonprofit company, it relies on public support and donations. These can include anything from unused pet carriers and plastic kennels to food supplies such as eggs, mealworms, birdseed and fruit. If you have a favourite animal, you could sponsor a specific species by making a small monthly contribution. For information on how you can assist, visit www. johannesburgwildlifevet. com – René de Klerk

Above: Two lesser bushbabies in the care of JWVH. Left: Dr Karin Lourens and Nicci Wright treat a raptor at the hospital. Photos: Ashleigh Pienaar

Wild Earth

New hope for


Fact file

A controversial move by the Namibian government has given the wild horses of the Garub Plains a second chance at survival, writes Louzel Lombard Steyn


here is new cause for optimism among the wild horses of Namibia – the first two foals to survive in six years now roam the Garub Plains alongside the surviving herd. With the summer rains on the way, new life suggests the luck of these desertadapted horses may now have turned. A few months ago, extinction loomed as foal after foal was killed by a marauding pack of spotted hyenas. When the predators moved into the Garub region in 2013, the horses’ numbers plummeted from 286 to a mere 77; no foal could survive. In March 2019, a controversial intervention by the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) gave the horses a window of opportunity. Three hyenas were euthanased while three more were then relocated to another region within the Namib-Naukluft National Park. In August, MET issued a new draft management plan, formally recognising the tourism and ecological value of the Garub horses. The plan aims to include the


horses as a resident species of the region. According to spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, the plan will be launched officially in October 2019. The herd’s newest additions, a filly named Zohra and a colt named Mirage, arrived at just the right moment. Their first months of life coincided with widespread rains, which secured water and grazing for the foals and their mums. According to the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation (NWHF), predation on the horses has not occurred since February 2019. But this could change at any moment, says NWHF spokesperson Christine Wulff-Swiegers. “There are still four hyenas in the area, coming and going – we will have to monitor the situation closely when new foals are born and report back to the ministry.” MET previously denied a proposal to hand over management of the horses to the NWHF, saying the Garub horses were the property of the state, to be managed by MET. As part of the new action

• Legend has it that Union troops set up camp at Garub during WWI. The Germans bombed the encampment, scattering the army’s horses. Some of the animals survived by adapting to the desert environment. •7  7: The wild horse population plummeted from 286 to only 77 horses between 2013 and 2019. •Z  ohra is Persian for ‘flower blossom’ and Arabic for ‘Venus, the jewel of the sky’. The new filly has a jewellike star on her forehead.

plan, the ministry will rezone the Garub area of the Namib-Naukluft Park and Tsau //Khaeb National Park (formerly known as the Sperrgebiet National Park) as a multi-use area, which will hopefully result in more effective management. “We are confident that, once approved, the strategy will serve in the preservation of the horses and empower the people around those areas through tourism concessions,” Muyunda says. The NWHF has offered assistance with the development of the action plan. There are currently 73 horses, consisting of 31 mares, 40 stallions and

2 foals. Several pregnant mares are expected to foal from September 2019 until February 2020. Most will arrive in December 2019. Hopefully, this will coincide with the summer rainfall cycle, which will stimulate new grass. “With Zohra and Mirage still alive and growing, there is hope,” Wulff-Swiegers says. “It looks promising that both will make it and it is very good that Zohra is a mare, as the number of mares is quite low,” she adds. “However, the real hope will only come when the new season’s foals survive and the group can grow again significantly.”

• The Garub horses have a complex social structure. The core of a herd is made up of a breeding group of one or two stallions, several mares and their foals. Stallions from casual bachelor groups are occasionally tolerated in the herd. These ‘outsiders’ or ‘peripheral stallions’ may follow a herd for several years, but are not permitted to interact with the adult mares in the group.

Main: The wild horses of the Garub in Namibia. Middle: Zohra and sire Kilo enjoy a moment. It’s rare for fillies to bond with their sire rather than their dam. Photos: Telané Greyling and NWHF


Wild Earth

The underwater world of


Africa’s Great Lakes are teeming with brightly coloured cichlids. This popular aquarium fish is arguably one of the most diverse aquatic fish groups in the world, writes Georgina Lockwood


ichlids are a key component of Africa’s Great Lakes ecosystem and inhabit the benthic zones – shallow and deep gravel surfaces of the lakes. They play a role in reducing mosquito populations and provide protein to lakeside communities. Different cichlids have diversified to feed on a wide array of food sources, such as algae, sponges, invertebrates, molluscs and even fish scales. “This diversity of diet is a result of adaptive radiation, and probably what drove the evolution of so many different species,” explains Professor Walter Salzburger from the Zoological Institute at the

University of Basel, Switzerland. Adaptive radiation is an evolutionary process in which organisms diversify rapidly from an ancestral species into a multitude of new forms to fill different ecological niches. “The cichlid adaptive radiations in the East African Great Lakes have evolved independently from single or very few ancestors that colonised these lakes,” Salzburger says. The cichlids found in Lake Malawi, Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika evolved from three separate or very few ancestors as there is no gene flow between the lakes. Cichlid predators include catfish, Nile perch, water snakes,

birds, crocodiles and otters. Other threats include habitat destruction, overfishing and climate change. Local fishermen use gill and mosquito nets to catch fish. The most destructive fishing method for shallow water cichlids is beach seining, a method of fishing using a net hanging vertically in the water from the beach. “Certain varieties are fancied by aquarium hobbyists, and can be overfished,” Salzburger adds.

Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika is the oldest of Africa’s Great Lakes, dating back 9–12 million years. As a result the

Lake Tanganyika cichlids Brightest: Neolamprologus mustax Unique behaviour: Neolamprologus brichardi are cooperative breeders – a breeding pair will recruit older offspring to help them take care of new babies, behaviour that is not known to fish. Largest: Boulengerochromis microlepis is 80–90cm long, making it the largest cichlid in the world

Page 18 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

cichlids are unique and well studied. There are 208 described and 40 undescribed species. Some species are rarely seen because they live in deep waters, while other species are only known from old ichthyology collections. “The Tanganyikan cichlids are the most diverse with respect to morphology, ecology and behaviour,” Salzburger explains. The cichlids in Lake Tanganyika also evolved with the presence of a natural predatory fish, the Nile perch, making them resilient to predatory invasive species. “Unlike the fish in Lake Victoria and Lake Malawi, many of the Lake Tanganyika cichlids are substrate spawners,” Salzburger says. “They build nests or use empty snail shells or small rock crevices for shelter. “Certain cichlids from Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika construct volcano-like sandcastles to lay their eggs,” says Salzburger. There is also a scale-eating cichlid that lures other fish in order to bite off their scales. Most Tanganyikan scale-eating species have mouth dimorphisms. “Half of the cichlid population have a mouth opening to the right side and the other half to the left,” Salzburger explains. “This helps them attack their prey,” says Salzburger.

Wild Earth Lake Victoria

It is thought there are between 500 and 700 cichlid species in Lake Victoria. The lake dried up during the last ice age, about 18 000 years ago, so its cichlid species would have had to evolve after the ice age. However, genetic testing indicates Lake Victoria’s cichlids evolved around 100 000–150 000 years ago, before the ice age. Experts believe that the evolution of the Lake Victoria cichlids initially involved hybridisation between more distantly related cichlids that arrived via rivers. The invasive Nile perch threatens open-water predator cichlids as both species compete to fill the same ecological niche. “The Nile perch was introduced by fisheries looking to improve the productivity of Lake Victoria,” Salzburger says. Unfortunately, native cichlid species are small and predated on. Lake Victoria has become more turbid because of eutrophication.

Lake Malawi

There are an estimated 500 to 1 000 species of cichlid in Lake Malawi, of which only 250 are described, and all of which are endemic to the lake. Unlike the fish in Lake Tanganyika, the Malawian fish are relatively understudied because of the size of the lake. They are also the most affected by future oil exploration, habitat destruction, climate change and eutrophication. The most endangered cichlids, like Copadichromis, are those that have suffered from overfishing. Populations in the south of the lake have collapsed due to commercial trawling. It is believed that certain cichlid species have gone extinct. The lake is unfortunately too big to evaluate this.

Deforestation has also had an effect on the lake as sediment washes into the water.

Lake Victoria cichlids Brightest: Pundamilia pundamilia. As Lake Victoria is relatively young geologically speaking, many of its cichlids look the same. Unique behaviour: Some Lake Victoria species practise paedophagy – egg stealing from mouthbrooding females.

Main: Dr Salzburger with a school of Cyprichromis cichlids. Bottom of left page: Paracyprichromis brieni in Lake Tanganyika. Left and inset: Cyathopharynx foae and Ophthalmotilapia ventralis cichlids. Below: Sunset calmness at Lake Tanganyika. Bottom: The Princess of Burundi cichlids. Photos: Adrian Indermaur

Lake Malawi cichlids Brightest: Metriaclima zebra Unique behaviour: Nimbochromis cichlids imitate dead fish on the lake floor. When a fish comes to prey upon the ‘dead body’, it attacks.


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Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 19

Living World

ZEBRAS crossing in Botswana T

he most famous migration is no doubt the wildebeest participation in the Great Migration of the Serengeti-Masai Mara Ecosystem. The second largest wildebeest migration takes place in Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia. But wildebeest are not the only animals that migrate. New research has revealed that Botswana’s zebra undertake one of the longest mammal migrations in the world. Robin Naidoo, PhD and lead scientist for wildlife conservation at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and Mike Chase from Elephants Without Borders, simultaneously observed a seasonal migration of Burchell’s zebra (Equus quagga burchellii) from Chobe National Park and the

adjacent Salambala conservancy in Namibia to Nxai Pan National Park in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. This is the largest transfrontier conservation area in the world. Signalled by the first rains, the zebras complete the first part of the journey over two to three weeks, typically in December. “The rainy season allows the zebra to thrive away from permanent water sources,” Naidoo explains. They remain in Nxai Pan for approximately 10 weeks before returning to the Chobe River along the Namibia-Botswana border for the dry season. The round trip is close to 500km. “Up to several thousand zebra take part in the migration,” he

adds. “It is likely the migration remained unnoticed because the zebra numbers are relatively small.” Satellite tracking collars were crucial to the discovery, and eight adult female zebras were collared in Naidoo’s study. During the study, Naidoo determined there were several other suitable grazing destinations closer to the Chobe River that the zebra could have chosen. Instead, the Burchell’s zebra opt to migrate further distances to the Nxai Pan. This information suggests this is cultural and/or genetic behaviour on the zebra’s part. Cultural behaviour in animals is socially learned information that is passed down from one generation to the next.

Animal migrations during the wet season allow vegetation to regrow near permanent water sources like the Chobe River. “Vegetation can become trampled during the dry season when animals come to drink,” Naidoo explains. “We can preserve iconic wildlife migrations only if we are aware of them,” he adds. In other parts of Africa, fences and changes in land use threaten zebra migrations, and the vegetation and wildlife suffer as a result. “Phenomena like this newly discovered migration show these animals need large, wide-open spaces to survive,” Naidoo says. – Georgina Lockwood

Sketch: Graham Kearney

It’s a bug’s life in the Afromontane forest canopies... I

of the arthropod diversity at ndigenous forests do not more than 3 000 species in operate in isolation and are the forest canopy,” says Rudi teeming with life, including Swart, PhD candidate in insects that have colonised Conservation Ecology at the almost every space. But University of Stellenbosch. accessing forest canopies “This is probably an and studying insect underestimation as we biodiversity is not easy - data include only eight species of in this field remains scant. tree in a forest Researchers complex with from the approximately University of Each forest 470 plant Stellenbosch species.” are trying to hosts species These include narrow the unique to assegai knowledge (Curtisia gap in South its locality Africa’s dentata), real indigenous yellowwood forests. (Podocarpus Just before sunrise, a latifolius), ironwood (Olea column of fog is released capensis macrocarpa), into a tree. As the fog slowly Cape beech (Rapanea rises in the morning air and melanophloeos), hard envelops the tree, large pear (Olinia ventosa), sails underneath the tree red alder (Cunonia capture insects and spiders capensis), white alder displaced by the fog. (Platylophus trifoliatus) and “Data suggests estimates candlewood (Pterocelastrus

Page 20 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

tricuspidatus). The study took place at five nature reserves and forests within Afromontane forest regions, namely Oubos in the Riviersonderend Mountains, Grootvadersbosch near Heidelberg, Kleinbos near Friemersheim, Woodville near Sedgefield and Witelsbos near Storms River.

Data indicates the assegai tree has the biggest species diversity, with more than 600 arthropod species found in its canopies. While Swart’s research is ongoing, there have already been some interesting results. Despite similar dominant tree species found in all the different study areas, each forest hosts

species unique to its locality. “Oubos has the most unique community of insects,” he says. “It is the furthest west and isolated from the other forests by a gap between the Langeberge and Riviersonderend Mountains.” Swart says, even though these forests are not connected, they find an excessive number of insect species shared among the patches. “This fits with the understanding that these forests were once connected.” Swart also noticed that certain insect species prefer certain trees. “Should one tree species be lost from a forest, it will be to the detriment of many host-specific insect species,” he says. – René de Klerk

Top: Dennis Bird from Dyna Fog Africa assisted with fogging the canopies. Photo: Andries Cilliers

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Less Travelled


IN UGANDA Dr Rob Little from the FitzPatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town travelled to Uganda for a birding extravaganza and was amazed at the number of unique birds added to his life list


lthough I have birded in five West African and three East African countries, having never been to Uganda, our 10-day Escape to the Wild birding tour was an overdose of lifers. We had done a lot of homework on what we could expect to see at the different places on the trip and – as expected – it was inevitably a case of ‘bring it on’ and let’s revel in whatever presents itself. We arrived at Entebbe in July and spent the first two nights at the Lake Victoria View Guest House. We searched for birds in the Mabamba Swamp and in the Nkima Forest. The Mabamba Swamp west of Entebbe on the north shore of Lake Victoria is an extensive marshland Uganda is situated in east-central Africa. of papyrus, water lilies and other It shares borders with Kenya, South wetland grasses, which hosts over Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the 300 bird species. This Important Congo and Rwanda. Bird and Biodiversity Area is one of the best sites for shoebills. This was confirmed when within half an hour we were calmly viewing a very obliging shoebill from our wooden African hobby, eastern grey plantainswamp boat. eater, Ross’s turaco, black-headed Other exciting birds that we gonalek and red-chested sunbird. found in the swamp were longHaving thoroughly enjoyed the toed lapwing, blue-headed coucal, birding around Entebbe, we headed blue-breasted bee-eater, swamp to Queen Elizabeth National Park flycatcher, papyrus gonalek, black(QENP), which boasts over 500 bird bellied firefinch as well as species. We spent three nights at the slender-billed and northern Queen Elizabeth Park View Tourist brown-throated weavers. Lodge and spent a great deal of time The relatively small Nkima Forest at the Lake Edward floodplain and on Nansubuga Hill overlooking the the Kalinzu Forest. However, even Mabamba Wetlands the road to QENP offered good views was eventful, with of Madagascar olive occasional stops bee-eater, little to stretch our legs We also visited greenbul, sooty chat, producing whitethe Kalinzu black-and-white headed saw-wing, Forest, home to vanga flycatcher, black-billed wood blue malkoha, olivedove, doublemore than 414 bellied sunbird and toothed barbet and tree species exciting African lifers Weyn’s weaver. for me that included A small flooded red-shouldered crater near the end cuckooshrike and the elusive whiteof the road surprised us further spotted flufftail. The route between with red-headed lovebird, Elliot’s the swamp and the forest also woodpecker and the goldenproduced black-and-white-casqued backed weaver. hornbill, great blue turaco, splendid We also visited the Kalinzu Forest, starling and Cassin’s honeyguide. home to more than 414 tree species Each day, before and after these as well as chimpanzees and other birding outings, we were amazed by primates. The forest proved to be the superb birdlife in the gardens of the bumper birding day of our trip. the guest house with appearances of I recorded no less than 16 African Page 22 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

lifers, which included black beeeater, yellow-throated tinkerbird, yellow-spotted barbet, joyful and toro olive greenbuls, Lühder’s bushshrike, Fraser’s forest and also dusky crested flycatchers.

A full day within the grassy savannah flood plain and surrounding crater hills of the park treated us with Rüppell’s griffon vulture, grey kestrel, blue-naped mousebird, black scimitarbill, spotflanked and white-headed barbets, marsh tchagra and the Cranch’s spurfowl. This bird was recently

Less Travelled

Five facts •Between Kampala and the Queen Elizabeth National Park you can stop at the little town of Kayabwe to stand with each foot on a different side of the equator. •Uganda’s extensive water bodies cover 26% of the land surface. •The source of the Nile River, the longest river in Africa, is in Uganda. •Half of the world’s mountain gorilla population is found in Uganda, and it has more chimpanzees than any other East African country. • The Ishasha Plains in Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to the renowned tree-climbing lion.

elevated from a subspecies of rednecked spurfowl. After Queen Elizabeth National Park, we headed north to the Murchison Falls National Park where we spent three nights at the Bwana Tembo Safari Lodge. The lodge had comfortable chalets and a birdfriendly bushveld edged camp area. Again, while stopping for comfort breaks along the long road we picked up special birds such as Petit’s cuckooshrike, Piapiac, barefaced go-away-bird, lesser blue-eared starling and green-throated sunbird. When arriving at the park gate after a long day’s drive we realised

we had a flat tyre, which further extended our day to experience dusk at the gate. This was richly rewarded with several broad-billed rollers and at least four pennant-winged nightjars hawking above our heads, which was surreal and somewhat like sitting in a fish tank with coral reef fish floating around us. On the first day in the north we headed off to bird in the Budongo Forest, the biggest mahogany forest in East Africa. This also includes the infamous ‘Royal Mile of Birding’, which has a checklist of over 360 birds. Sixty of these are considered

western or central African birds. Vehicle repairs and a downpour delayed the start to our day as we entered the forest. However, even with our time contracted we managed to enjoy special birds such as Sabine’s spinetail, hairy-breasted barbet, narrow-tailed starling, bluethroated brown sunbird and crested malimbe. On our second day we wandered through the park to the top of the Murchison Falls, which is on the Victoria Nile between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert. The grassy plains with scattered

palm trees produced Heuglin’s spurfowl, northern (Abyssinian) ground hornbill, black-billed barbet, speckle-fronted weaver, stout cisticola as well as red-throated beeeater at the northern loading site where you cross the Victoria Nile on a ferry. The falls are very impressive, with rock pratincoles hawking overhead and loafing on the rocks at the top of the falls. With a Southern Africa life list of 864 species and having visited 16 countries in Africa, I was impressed to add 273 bird species to my list and to garner 57 new lifers for Africa during our trip to Uganda. Our birding trip to Uganda with Escape to the Wild was an absolute treat. For more information visit

Left page clockwise: Dr Rob Little poses at the equator in Uganda. Heuglin’s spurfowl in Murchison Falls National Park and a beautiful red-headed lovebird near Queen Elizabeth National Park. Right page clockwise: An Abyssinian ground hornbill, black-headed gonolek and Ross’s turaco spotted during the trip. Maans Booysen, Rob Little and Karen Kearns birding in the Mabamba Swamp. Photos: Sybrand van Niekerk, Maans Booysen and Karen Kearns

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 23

Wild Earth

The dugong debacle D

ugong populations (Dugong dugon) are in decline worldwide, and Dr Mario Lebrato, chief scientist at the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS), says Mozambique holds the last viable population of dugongs in the Western Indian Ocean. This coastal country is home to an estimated 250–300 of these marine mammals. Despite this, dugong sightings in Mozambique are rare. “Surveys conducted in 1969 suggested that dugongs were abundant along Mozambique’s coast,” Lebrato says. “They occurred in Maputo Bay, Chidenguele, Inhambane Bay, Bazaruto Bay, Mozambique Island, Pemba Bay, and sometimes in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Matimbane Bay and Angoche.” Today, however, most of Mozambique’s dugongs are concentrated around the Bazaruto Archipelago. The area is dotted with five tropical islands and consists of 1 430km² of beautiful seascape, teeming with coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass meadows. Sadly, dugongs are threatened by increased coastal development and exploitation, tourism, pollution

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If the seagrass beds go, the dugongs will soon follow. Georgina Lockwood dives into the underwater world of this marine mammal and food shortages. They shy away from human activity such as speed boats, divers and bathers, and it is now illegal to kill them. However, some are accidentally caught in fishermen’s gill nets. In the past, dugongs were sought after for their bones, meat and oil. Perhaps the most significant threat to this sirenian is the degeneration of seagrass pastures. The dugong is the only strictly herbivorous marine mammal, and much like its bovine counterpart, the sea cow spends a great deal of its day grazing. Previous surveys showed herds of up to 10 individuals, but today dugongs are more frequently seen alone or in pairs. “This can be attributed to declining population numbers, or reduction in the quantity and quality of their desired seagrass species,” Lebrato explains. In Australia, where seagrass meadows are abundant, herds can reach up to 200 individuals.

“Dugongs are slow breeders because they have a low reproductive rate, long gestation period, and invest heavily in their offspring,” he adds. These ocean-faring heavyweights feed on a low-nutrient food source – seagrass – and like pandas, dugongs spend much of their lives trying to meet their metabolic needs through a vegetarian diet. “If there is less seagrass available, dugongs may be more concerned with searching for food for survival than mating,” Lebrato explains. Some studies suggest dugongs can delay breeding during unfavourable conditions. A female will breed every three to seven years and spend 18 months with the calf; the bond between mother and calf is strong. It is still uncertain whether dugongs migrate or if populations of dugongs in Tanzania and Kenya are connected. “Studies conducted in Australia revealed dugongs are sedentary but

will travel vast distances to find food,” Lebrato says. It is therefore really important to protect the seagrass meadows. Additional information provided by Karen Bowles, BCSS research manager A dugong among seagrass with golden trevally fish. Sketch: Graham Kearney

Five Facts • 70 years: The lifespan of a dugong. • Juvenile golden trevally: The little yellow fish often seen swimming with dugongs. • Predators: Sharks, crocodiles and killer whales are the dugong’s natural predators. • Elephant: The dugong’s closest living relative. • Stellar’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas): This giant sea cow was hunted to extinction in 1768. Dugongs are the modern relative of the Stellar’s sea cow.

Living World

Seagrass meadows a


reen turtles, dugongs and the omnivorous bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo) are all dependent on seagrass beds. These pastures provide shelter to juvenile fish and play an important role in preserving fish stocks. Sadly, seagrass meadows are threatened globally. In Mozambique, threats like coastal development, dredging, anchoring and human ignorance have led to the destruction of these vital hotspots. “Of the 439,04km² of seagrass meadows in Mozambique, 27,55km² are estimated to be lost already,” says Karen Bowles, research manager at the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS). A decline in seagrass fauna populations also has a negative impact on the health of seagrass pastures. Dugongs and sea turtles act as lawnmowers, and help keep seagrass beds healthy. “Grazing prevents seagrass meadows from

overgrowing, which in turn affects tidal currents and decreases the amount of light available to the many organisms that reside there,” Bowles explains. Dugongs prevent less beneficial seagrass species from taking root and dominating the meadows. These underwater meadows are found in shallow oceans or brackish waters in all temperate and tropical seas. They occur along the east African coastline from Mozambique to Kenya, and also along the coastline of West Africa. Light exposure, temperature, nutrient availability and wave action determine the diversity and distribution of seagrasses. “A recent study has found Thalassodendron ciliatum (a type of seagrass) growing at depths of up to 29m,” Bowles adds. Seagrass is neither a coral, kelp nor seaweed, but is classified as a flowering plant (a marine angiosperm), with roots, leaves, stems, and vascular tissue. “Seagrasses often compete with algae, as they both depend on sunlight for photosynthesis,” Bowles explains. “That being said, they are often connected to other ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs.” The southern hemisphere is home to 12 species of seagrasses, of which 10 are found in Mozambique, including the globally vulnerable Zostera capensis species. “The Thalassodendron ciliatum seagrass bed between Bazaruto and Benguerra islands is an important location for dugongs,” Bowles adds. Seagrass beds are an important underwater treasure trove. They benefit endangered marine species and act as carbon sinks; they purify and improve water quality, prevent coastal erosion and reduce wave energy. “New studies suggest seagrass meadows are able to mitigate ocean acidification,” Bowles says. – Georgina Lockwood Additional information by Karen Bowles, BCSS research manager

Unravelling the life of the mean(ie) jellyfish A

The team goes out to sea on a pink meanie has been found weekly basis to collect specimens for hiding in the jellyfish display in display. With jellyfish, they generally the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape collect a species once off and then Town. This jellyvorous predator made breed them in the laboratory, but its presence known after consuming they have not been able to crack the all other species on display. code on box and comb jellies yet. The team caught the pink meanie They have not yet unravelled the while collecting nightlight jellyfish mysteries of the pink meanie either. in the waters around Robben Island Meanies seem to and in Cape Town appear around Harbour. A pink June in the wild meanie ephyra (the The pink meanie and seem to last free-swimming six to eight months is the only known baby form of on exhibit. “We are a jellyfish) hid member inhabiting still testing to see among the arms if the meanie can of the nightlight cold water procreate, but it’s jellies, and over very hard to do a few short days tests when you it grew to its just have one precious animal,” metaephyra stage (teenager jelly). says Lewis. The exciting discovery provided Generally, jellies leave mats of jelly expert Krish Lewis with the polyps on the sea floor and release perfect opportunity to study its spawn when captured, which then life cycle. “Based on the two pink create new jellyfish. meanies we’ve had on exhibit The pink meanie in the aquarium we’ve learned that they prefer true is special as it is the only known jellyfish (Scyphozoans) like moon member inhabiting cold water. They jellies (Aurelia sp.) or compass jellies are usually found in the warm waters (Chrysaora sp.) as food. They do not of Mexico and the Mediterranean. like eating box jellies (Cubozoans) The first Mexican specimen was only and don’t eat other sea creatures like discovered 19 years ago. The pink hydrozoans, ctenophores and salps,” meanie in Cape Town was only the Lewis says. second to end up in the aquarium. The pink meanie also exhibits the South Africa has an amazing behaviour of fishing for jellies. “The diversity of jellyfish, and more species meanie sits at the top of the tank continue to be discovered. using its bell like a suction cup, and – René de Klerk contracts and relaxes its tentacles, dowsing for jellies. It can also do this mid-water, ‘fighting’ the current and extending its tentacles, fishing for its Above: The pink meanie on display. food,” Lewis explains. Photo: D Bowen/Two Oceans Aquarium Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 25

Wild Earth


of the roof of Africa Sarah Kingdom spent a week trekking across the Bale Mountains National Park in search of the rare Ethiopian wolf


ormed by volcanic fires and shaped by glacial ice, the Bale Mountains, in south-eastern Ethiopia, form the highest plateau on the African continent. These highlands are almost always ringed by clouds and shrouded in mist, rain or sleet. Giant lobelia plants stand guard over the park’s undulating plateau, lakes and swamps, while jewel-coloured swathes of heather stretch out across the landscape. Averaging 4 000m above sea level, the Bale Mountains are like nowhere else on the African continent. Natural selection has been hard at work here. Plants, animals and birds withstand extreme temperatures, oxygen depletion and fierce winds, resulting in an ecosystem where there are more animals unique to these mountains than just about anywhere else on the planet. Bale is also home to the rarest

Five facts • Common names: Ethiopian wolf, Abyssinian wolf, Simien fox, Simien jackal, ky kebero (‘red jackal’ in Amharic), jeedala fardaa (‘horse’s jackal’ in Afan Oromo). • Habitat: Very localised endemic species, confined to afro-alpine heathlands above 3 000m in Ethiopia.

• Foraging behaviour: Solitary, diurnal foragers of small mammals, mostly rodents. • Social organisation: Cohesive family groups, with strong hierarchies. They cooperate to breed and to defend the pack’s territory. • 5  00: The number of adults and sub-adults remaining in the wild.

canid in the world – the elusive Ethiopian wolf, Africa’s most threatened carnivore. With its thick, brick-red coat, white belly, narrow snout, long legs and lithe body, it looks more like a large fox or a jackal than a wolf. These are highly social creatures, living in family packs, but remaining solitary hunters. Decimated by habitat loss and infectious diseases carried by domestic dogs, there are now fewer than 500 of these wolves left in the wild, marooned in a handful of isolated pockets in the mountains of Ethiopia. Bale is not a national park in the traditional sense. Somewhere between 20 000 and 40 000 people live within the park’s boundaries, divided between local villages and pastoralists tending cattle, sheep and horses. High altitude grasslands are crucial pastureland for livestock, and the heathlands a source of much-needed firewood. In many places uncontrolled use of the park is degrading the ecosystem. Stock numbers now exceed the sustainable utilisation of the fragile moorlands, threatening the food source of the rodents, which are in turn the principle food source of the wolf. An even bigger threat is the presence of several thousand domestic dogs in the park. Dogs are carriers of rabies and interact openly with the wolves. “Thirty years ago I witnessed an outbreak of rabies that killed the majority of the wolves I had followed closely for my doctoral studies,” says Prof Claudio Sillero, director of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP). “We now know that pre-emptive vaccination is necessary to save many wolves from a horrible death and to keep the small and isolated populations outside the vortex of extinction.” The EWCP has a dedicated team

Bale Mountains fact file • In 1969, 215 000 hectares of the Bale Mountains were declared a National Park and in 2009 nominated as a World Heritage site. • The Bale Highlands are home to 20 endemic Ethiopian mammals (five of which, including the endangered mountain nyala, are found only here), 12 endemic amphibians, 12 reptiles, 283 species of bird (16 of which are endemic), and all the world’s Bale monkeys and big headed mole-rats. • In 2010 rabies and distemper killed 106 of the wolves (about 40% of the Bale population at the time), and in 2014, 30–50% of the park’s wolves were killed by rabies.

who follow and monitor these endangered canids. This, combined with a network of ‘wolf ambassadors’ from local communities and an oral rabies vaccination programme, using goat meat baits, is slowly turning the tide. When the first immunisation campaign took place, automated cameras showed that nearly all the 119 baits set out among three wolf packs were eaten. “Our target is to immunise at least 40% of all wolves in each population,

reaching as many family packs as possible, including the dominant pair, on which pack stability largely depends,” says EWCP’s Muktar Abute.

Above: An Ethiopian wolf spotted in the Bale Mountains National Park. It is the most threatened carnivore on the African continent, with fewer than 500 left in the wild. Photo: Sarah Kingdom

Visitor’s guide

est. 1958

KRUGER National Park







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Living World


ave you ever wanted to dart a lion or assist with the relocation of a giraffe? Whether you are a veterinary science student looking to do your practical hours or a qualified vet seeking a course to improve your skillset, the Vets Go Wild programme offers hands-on experience. Launched in 2008, this conservation-based veterinary module provides practical and theoretical experience in an African context. It is one of several programmes offered by Worldwide Experience, a company offering ethical conservation volunteering opportunities. The Vets Go Wild course is endorsed by universities worldwide and also meets extramural study requirements. Bianca Eke, conservation experience consultant at Worldwide Experience says, “The course gives participants further experience, confidence

Hands-on veterinary


The module includes plenty of practical elements and knowledge in the field of wildlife medicine and diversifies their portfolio.” Participants attending the Vets Go Wild programme can choose from 12-day or 16-day courses. The programme is based in the Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape Province,

and managed under the watchful eye of Dr William Fowlds, a veterinarian experienced in the field of conservation. The majority of the practical procedures take place in surrounding

nature reserves and parks. The module includes plenty of practical elements, which may involve game capture, game translocation, the reintroduction of species into reserves, diagnosing

and treating diseases, animal husbandry at the Born Free Rescue and Education Centre, and predator monitoring. Feedback from previous Vets Go Wild programme

participants includes learning how to remain calm under pressure and the importance of the hands-on experience. Ann Orrsten from Sweden, a 2016 participant, says the course is excellent for firsttime visitors to South Africa as it includes game drives and excursions between the theoretical and practical experiences. The course is so comprehensive that many students return. “We have interns who return each year after their Vets Go Wild course to work with Dr Fowlds,” says Eke. “The facilitator of Vets Go Wild and the vet employed by Dr Fowlds is a former Vets Go Wild student who returned for an internship and was then employed full-time,” she adds. The Vets Go Wild course runs between June and August each year. The 12-day module has two scheduled dates in 2020 while the longer course has three options available. The cost for the 12-day course is £2 150 while the 16-day course is £2 980. Fees include accommodation, laundry, three meals a day, transfers to the game reserve and all fieldwork and course materials. For more information visit www.worldwideexperience. com/vets-go-wild/ – René de Klerk

Photos: Students gain insight into elephant and lion wellbeing during the Vets Go Wild course. Photos: Jared Lemelin

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 27

Image courtesy andBeyond

Image courtesy andBeyond

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Image courtesy Paul Changuion


Image courtesy Azura Quilalea

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Lusaka Tete

St Helena Kasane


Nelspruit Sikhupe


Image courtesy Mike and Carlinn



Nosy Be

Discover southern Africa


Endless possibilities


Airlink is a Regional Feeder airline connecting the major cities of Southern Africa with the smaller towns and eco-leisure destinations in the sub-region. Using our unique combination of flights it is possible to travel for example from Johannesburg (or Cape Town) to Nelspruit KMIA to enjoy a lowveld bush safari, then travel to the majestic Victoria Falls in Livingstone (Zambia), then onwards from Victoria Falls to Cape Town. Alternatively, a road transfer connects you to Kasane in Botswana to experience an African river safari on the Chobe River. From Kasane you have the option to travel beyond to the Okavango Delta and then from Maun to Johannesburg (or Cape Town) to connect with your international flight. Alternatively, for a shorter itinerary fly direct from Kasane to Johannesburg.

Image courtesy Helene Ramackers

Image courtesy Jon Meinking

Image courtesy andBeyond

For travellers looking to experience a bush and beach combination, connect on Airlink from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Skukuza Airport, gateway to the Kruger Park and the adjacent Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Thereafter fly direct from Nelspruit KMIA to Vilanculos, Mozambique, to experience the exotic Bazaruto and Bengerra islands, Vilanculos is also serviced daily out of Johannesburg. When planning an unforgettable safari and wanting to maximize time spent at your luxury high end private lodge, take advantage of Airlink’s Lodge Link service which will connect you to more than 25 exclusive and luxurious Big 5 private lodges located in the world-renowned private game reserves in the Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Game Reserve and the Phinda Private Game Reserve in Kwa Zulu Natal. These lodges are accessed via the Ulusaba, Arathusa, Londozi, Ngala and Phinda airstrips which are a short game drive transfer to the doorstep of your lodge. Airlink is a privately owned airline business operating as a franchisee of South African Airways. As a Regional Feeder airline it connects travellers to the widest network comprising more than 55 routes with a wide choice of flights within Southern Africa and St Helena island. Seamless connections with SAA and their airline partners make it easy for travellers to connect onward to multiple destinations using a single ticket itinerary, giving travellers peace of mind. Spread your wings, fly Airlink - Freedom of the African sky. For more information, connect to

course focuses on emotional and social wellness, occupational and financial wellness, and physical and environmental wellness. The Addo Community Project benefits 120 youth between the ages of 18 and 24, enhancing their chances of finding employment. The programme includes a fourweek Siyazenzela life skills and employability skills course, as well as an intensive three-day Imbewu Wilderness Trail, which aims to connect the youth to their culturalenvironmental heritage. It also draws attention to the healing power of nature for personal and social transformation. Top students attend further training to equip them to become field guides in conservation.


TUSK Trust – The Northern Rangelands Trust

How community-led conservation can



ommunity Conservation Fund - Africa (CCFA) has identified a gap around conservation awareness in communities adjacent to protected areas. Supporting communities through environmental and economic educational programmes could cultivate community leaders who want to change the fate of the planet. CCFA is committed to identifying rural African communities who have not yet realised their potential in creating their own sustainable economies. They aim to educate and empower local communities to understand that giving back does not have to be a costly undertaking – just a conscious one. CCFA shares the dream of a continent that demonstrates pride and respect for its wildlife. Diverse cultures and varying levels of education in rural African communities pose a challenge to economic growth outside of city living. This is why CCFA has identified the integral role that these diverse communities play in maintaining a cohesive ecosystem between man and nature. Together with project partners African Parks, Wilderness Foundation Africa and TUSK, CCFA educates and empowers local communities, enabling them to become leaders in driving sustainable wildlife management systems on the

ground. CCFA is involved with a few wildlife management programmes to preserve both the wildlife and the viability of tourism in Africa.

African Parks – Akagera Fisheries Project

Lake Gishanda just outside the Akagera National Park in Rwanda was completely devoid of fish after the 1994 genocide. A cooperative fisheries project reintroduced fish into the lake and encourages breeding, creating scalable aquaculture opportunities that benefit at least 120 families through

income generation, employment and food security. CCFA has invested R1.5 million into the Akagera Fisheries project and will continue to support African Parks until this business becomes fully sustainable.

Wilderness Foundation Africa – Siyazenzela and Addo Community Project The Wilderness Foundation Africa’s (WFA) Siyazenzela training course drives holistic skills development and conservation-based education interventions for previously disadvantaged youth. The training

There are currently 39 community conservancies covering 42 000km² of northern and coastal Kenya, home to 320 000 people belonging to 18 different ethnic groups. This territory is also home to diverse wildlife including elephant, lion, giraffe, oryx, hirola antelope and black rhino. The complex ecosystem offers potential for change, growth and conservation awareness. The Northern Rangelands Trust supports the management of community-owned land for the benefit of livelihoods, focusing on sustainable enterprise directly or indirectly related to conservation. Key focus points include good governance, wildlife, enterprise security and peace, rangelands and marine. To date 71 000 people have benefitted from the Conservancy Livelihood Fund. More than 420 youth members were engaged in conservancy initiative awareness, while over 850 were involved in dialogue meetings around key rangeland and peace issues. Women got involved in peace-building training. On the wildlife front, only three elephants were poached in the Northern Rangelands Trust area, a decrease of 97% between 2012 and 2018.

Main: Youth members who are engaged in conservancy initiative awareness. Left: The Akagera Fisheries Project. Photos: Nicholsa Lelesit and Scott Ramsay

Help save Africa’s wildlife! Visit for more information.

Pangolin West African chimpanzee

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Ring-tailed lemur Rhino

Southern ground-hornbill

Wild Earth



The welwitschia is a broadleaf evergreen tree occurring only in the hyperarid Namib Desert of Namibia and Angola. Joh Henschel reveals more about the plant’s survival in an area where rainfall is scarce, groundwater deep, and fog rare


he welwitschia is a rather unusual plant occurring in the desert landscapes of Namibia and Angola. It is the only member of the family Welwitschiaceae. It is considered to be a gymnosperm (produces conelike seeds), but it also has many characteristics of angiosperms, such as male flowers, pollen transfer by insects and a xylem vascular system to transport water to the leaves. These and many other unusual features render this plant iconic. Its stunted tree stem gives rise to two evergreen leaves, the longestlived leaves in the world, which split and fray to look like many leaves that spread across the ground. Leaves grow by about 14cm per year and reach areas of 1–21m². Its canopy constitutes an important microcosm for communities of small animals that might otherwise not occur in an area. Pollination is performed by small wasps, bees and flies, and not by the commonly seen red or yellow spotted welwitschia bugs. Female plants produce thousands of winged seeds, dispersed by wind, but these are prone to infection by a fungus, rendering them inviable. The biggest puzzle is where welwitschias find sufficient water in the desert. Rainfall is rare, the average being 30mm, and groundwater is deeper than 50 metres. Fog occurs over much of this species’ range during 50–90 nights per year, but deposits very little water. Surprisingly, the main source of water comes from rainfall that infiltrates the top two metres of soil and is blocked by a calcrete layer at that depth. At half a metre depth, a layer of gypsum salts may remobilise moisture and make it available to the plants through their fine root system. A dense network of very shallow fine roots may supplement this source with fog water. These multiple sources of water sustain this evergreen plant and enable it to be resilient against dehydration in extreme desert conditions.

Five facts •3  2: The locations of natural populations of welwitschia in the Namib Desert.

Recruitment events of welwitschia are very rare, and the germination of a few seedlings in a population may occur only once in every few decades. Most welwitschia populations contain older plants, and there is growing concern for this species’ future without sufficient recruitment. This may be further exacerbated by the effects of mining, off-road driving and industrial or tourist activities that disturb the soil. This affects the survival of old plants before they have managed to generate a cohort of young plants, sufficient to sustain the populations into the future.

The most convenient place to see these plants is at the famous population of the Welwitschia Plain, which can be reached from Swakopmund, driving into the Namib-Naukluft Park, past the Moon Landscape, through the Swakop River Canyon to the Big Welwitschia.

Main: Fields of welwitschias in Angola. Above: The famous Big Welwitschia on the Welwitschia Plain is assumed to be more than 1 000 years old. Top right: Males have gymnosperm-like cones containing flowers. Photos: Joh Henschel

• Welwitsch’s miracle plant: Welwitschia mirabilis is named after Friedrich Welwitsch, who discovered it for science. • Longevity: Living individuals have been dated at 920 years; larger plants could be as old as 2 000 years. • One litre: The daily water requirement of a medium-sized welwitschia plant.

• Roots: These are 22–62m long and extend less than 2 metres deep but 9–15 metres sideways from the stem. Dense networks of fine roots occur across this layer, with nearsurface fine roots extending 1.5 metres around the canopy.

LODGES Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 31

Living World

DNA testing to protect cranes R

hino horn, elephant tusks, abalone and pangolin scales frequently feature in news about the illegal wildlife trade, but South Africa’s national bird has also fallen victim to this crime. While the crane does not receive as much attention, this vulnerable species is under threat too. A loophole in the legal system has increased the opportunity for illegal trade operators, but it is hoped the implementation of DNA parenting testing will make illegal trade in this sentinel species a thing of the past. You require a valid permit to trade in cranes and keep them in captivity, says Tanya Smith, Southern Africa regional manager for the African Crane Conservation Programme through the Endangered Wildlife Trust partnership. Devious perpetrators, however, found a way around it. “They would claim chicks are captive bred to obtain the permit to sell them, while they were actually captured from the wild and placed with legally bred adults. The chicks are then sold to other traders and breeders,” she says. “They essentially legalise illegal birds through the system.” It is not easy to catch these perpetrators. “There is a lack of capacity within government agencies, and as an NGO we don’t have the legal mandate to catch

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those involved,” Smith explains. “Wildlife trade is a massive problem across the board, but most resources go towards species such as rhino and abalone,” she adds. Smith says legislation is being strengthened to curb illegal trade. Gauteng and Limpopo’s Nature Conservation Departments are the first in South Africa to request DNA parentage testing before approving a permit. This will prove the parents of the chicks are really the parents, and that chicks have not been harvested from the wild. Another way to prevent illegal

trade is to impose stronger sentencing on those caught without permits. “We are now getting the Prosecuting Authority to follow through on prosecutions,” Smith says. In the past there was no successful sentencing for crane trade, only a few guilty pleas. A case in 2017 saw the guilty party receive a suspended sentence of five years. In a more recent case still under investigation, someone dumped a box containing 10 blue crane chicks in a conservancy in Bloemfontein, probably to avoid arrest at a roadblock. The chicks were still

young and not yet able to fly. Smith says the harvesting of chicks from the wild can have a devastating effect on the blue crane population in South Africa. These birds rely on slow recruitment as they are longlived – they can live for 30–40 years in the wild. “Only 36% of chicks make it through the first year of their lives, as they spend the first four months on the ground exposed to predators,” she says. “Add to that the manmade cause of ‘death’ when chicks are captured and removed from their parents.” Other threats include fences, power lines, predatory birds and the loss of habitat for breeding. The biggest populations of blue crane occur in the Central Karoo and in the Overberg and Swartland of the Western Cape. The Western Cape population accounts for about 50% of South Africa’s crane numbers. Smith says a very small population occurs in Namibia, but South Africa is the world’s crane stronghold. “We have a responsibility to protect them as part of our natural heritage.” – René de Klerk

Main: Wattled cranes are the scarcest crane species in South Africa, but also at risk and traded when the opportunity presents itself. Inset: Blue cranes dancing in the Western Cape. Photos: Daniel Dolpire and David Gaglio

Living Wild World Earth


for conservation volunteers


he island nation of Mauritius is not only known for its azure waters, fantastic coral reefs and beautiful scenery, it is also recognised for its extreme species diversity. Many of the species occurring here are found nowhere else on earth, making it a paradise for conservationists and researchers, and a new addition to Worldwide Experience’s list of conservation destinations. There is no shortage of work required on this island, making it an ideal location for volunteers who want to get involved in ethical conservation volunteering. Taryn Ingram-Gillson, director at Worldwide Experience, says they have partnered with the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF), which has strong partnerships with all other conservation organisations in Mauritius. “The MWF coordinates volunteer work with other organisations on the island such as the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society and Birdlife Africa, in line with overall conservation goals for Mauritius,” she explains. Volunteer duties will include tasks such as marine conservation projects, data collection for conservation research, monitoring of endangered species, and the conservation of tortoises, fruit bats and rare birds. Mauritius forms part of the Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands biodiversity hotspot.

Almost 90% of the local flora is considered threatened Thirty-six biodiversity hotspots around the world are recognised as significant reservoirs for environments that are threatened by destruction. These hotspots are irreplaceable and require urgent

protection because of threats like development, farming and encroachment. To be classified as a biodiversity hotspot, the area needs to include at least 1 500 endemic plants and 30% or less of its original natural vegetation. In the coastal areas of Mauritius, mangrove cover has decreased by 30%, wetlands are under pressure, almost 90% of the local flora is considered threatened, and a number of species are extinct. As much as 39% of the island’s

plants occur nowhere else in the world. The forests alone support 691 species of indigenous flowering plants, 52 native species of vertebrates and 30 different species of land birds. The marine environment in Mauritius consists of 16 840km² of territorial sea and 1 700 species, including 786 species of fish, 17 species of marine mammals, and two species of marine turtles, making it the perfect spot for conservation initiatives. “The fact that Mauritius is a small remote island with a high level of endemic species makes these species immediately more vulnerable,” Ingram-Gillson adds. “Challenges include development, farming and the encroachment of non-native species of plants and animals that threaten its wildlife. The impact of disasters such as heavy cyclones also makes Mauritian species extremely vulnerable,” she says. Interested in volunteering on this island paradise from March 2020? Email info@worldwideexperience. com. – René de Klerk

Main: The Mauritius ornate day gecko is one of the species found on the island. Left: Accommodation for volunteers visiting the island. Photos: Scott Osborn and Taryn Ingram-Gillson



More than just a

SAFARI Georgina Lockwood headed to Thanda Safari for a traditional game-viewing experience combined with a cultural exchange


Thanda Safari is a privately owned Big Five game reserve about 50 minutes from Hluhluwe in northern KwaZulu-Natal

Know before you go • Malaria: the reserve borders on a low-risk malaria area. Medication is not required but mosquito repellent is recommended. • Where to stay: Thanda Tented Camp or Thanda Safari Lodge. • Travelling with kids: Little ones can enjoy the Bucks & Bugs Club while adults relax at the spa. • Airport and landing strips close by: Phinda Airstrip, Richards Bay or King Shaka International Airport in Durban.

Page 34 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

ur guide Ephrahim Mathe had his hands full with a gameviewing vehicle of mostly Swedish women and a few South Africans, all of us chatting away like green wood hoopoes – in isiZulu the birds are known as iNhlekabafazi, which means ‘cackling women’. This is the beauty of an African safari – you make friends with your fellow safari-goers. Our conversation drifted from the rise of Swedish stars like Academy Award-winning actress Alicia Vikander from The Danish Girl and Tarzan actor Alexander Skarsgård to the celebrated children from Star for Life. Star for Life is a Swedish-based NGO that works with schools to focus on developing children’s life skills, creativity and wellbeing, while also teaching them about sexual and reproductive health, HIV/Aids and

other relevant health issues. Anki Elken, the newly appointed secretary general of Star for Life, joined the safari-goers at Thanda. As part of the cultural exchange between Sweden and South Africa, we learnt Swedes are extremely punctual, while South Africans prefer to do things in ‘African time’, according to Mathe. During the safari we referred to sundowners as fika, the Swedish word for a tea break with biscuits. The word also applied to ‘tea breaks’ that involved gin and tonic. In between the discussions and debate, we enjoyed superb gameviewing. While watching a female cheetah stalk impala, two male cheetahs gave chase to a herd of giraffe across a distant plain, ruining the female’s hunt and causing utter chaos as the giraffe stampeded. Irate

Star for Life Swedish-based Star for Life operates in 120 schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Namibia and Sweden. It has recently collaborated with to offer girls advice on menstruation. Sponsors can assist by helping fund fees for education, computers, and other expenses. Visit for more details.

zebras arrived on the scene, which in turn led to the question: why do zebras have stripes? Interestingly, it was a Swedish study that confirmed zebra stripes confuse flies. Mathe showed us the most useful tree in Zululand when it comes to outdoor hygiene: the isifice, otherwise known as the white raisin bush (Grewia bicolor). The sap from the tree makes excellent chewing gum to freshen the breath, as well as a scrumptious-smelling soap. On the accommodation front, Thanda Safari ticked every box. The camp is spread out and spacious, and honeycomb-shaped tents are light and airy, perfect for an afternoon nap. A key feature of the rooms is the Narnia-like wardrobe that leads to the bathroom. When you are not stopping for a fika on a game drive, there are three Thanda-licious meals a day in the main area. Visit www.thandasafari. for more information.

Top: Game viewing can deliver many surprises, including lion, part of the Big Five. Left: Stopping for a traditional Swedish fika or tea break during the game drive. Photos: Stina Petri

Living World

Local community to help save the pangolin T

of wildlife to spread the word of raditional leaders and village anti-poaching in the educational elders in the communal lands campaigns,” Farawo says. of the Manicaland province in the Neville Gengezha, a member of Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe are the Elephant count community in joining forces with Zimparks, law Zimbabwe who has been lobbying enforcement agencies and various for wildlife conservation since wildlife conservation initiatives 2010, says it is important that antito create educational campaigns poaching campaigns cascade to that will help protect the critically community level. endangered pangolin. “Conservation The indigenous societies cannot Ndau people curb the crimes of Maronga Conservation against wildlife village in remote Chipinge have societies cannot curb on their own,” Gengezha says. always protected the crimes against “By involving and revered the everyone in pangolin as a wildlife on their own protecting wildlife, sacred animal. it makes it difficult They believe the for poachers to animal’s existence infiltrate the communities. Locals brings good fortune, rain, good have attached the pangolin to harvests and harmony within their cultural heritage and the communities. traditional beliefs. During a customary traditional “The crime lords involved in the gathering earlier this year, headman trafficking of pangolins are said to Mungani Timbura of the Maronga hire scouts who infiltrate villages and area urged the locals to stay on the recruit poachers to supply them with right side of the law. He asked them live pangolins. Prices range from to cooperate with rangers and the $5 000–$10 000, depending on the police in clamping down on pangolin size,” he adds. poaching in the area. The black market is primarily “If anyone is caught participating driven by a high demand in Asia for in illegal trade, poaching or even the scales, which some mistakenly possession of the pangolin, it is the believe have medicinal properties. moral duty of the community to In China and Vietnam pangolins report them,” Timbura says. “It is a are regarded as a delicacy and also shame that in this rich ancestral land an aphrodisiac. of Maronga some of our people are According to Zimbabwe Republic now hunting the pangolin,” he adds. Police statistics, 84 arrests linked to “They forget that it is beneficial to pangolin poaching and possession protect the pangolin at community without permits have been made level. That is the way it has always since 2015. Of those, 47 people been since our forefathers settled were convicted and sentenced on this land.” to a minimum of nine years Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe in prison. – Richard Kawazi Farawo applauds the Chipinge communities, acknowledging the efforts of the traditional leaders and conservation initiatives. “We are working closely with Below: A pangolin seen digging for ants. traditional leaders as the custodians Photo: Ashleigh Pienaar

Primate on the road



juvenile samango monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) will go back to her family after recuperating at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital. Originally from Hogsback in the Eastern Cape, she was admitted with wounds to the head and a fractured pelvis. The monkey was a victim of human-wildlife conflict as x-rays revealed two pellets in her skull. This might have caused her to fall out of a tree, resulting in her injuries. Nicci Wright, director and wildlife rehabilitation specialist at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital, says they treat primates on a monthly basis. “Most of them have been confiscated by the authorities, injured or rescued,” she explains. Many of the primates they treat are shot with pellet guns and the pellets are revealed by routine x-rays. When the monkey arrived at the hospital, she was slightly concussed and in pain. Her peripheral vision was slightly affected. “As soon as we are happy that her pelvis is fixed completely then she will go back and be released with her family group,” Wright says. “Our veterinarian, Dr Karin Lourens has chosen not to remove the pellets as they are not causing any pain or issues.” When she is ready for release, a researcher who has been studying the resident samango group will

monitor her gradual reintroduction into her family group, with the team’s guidance. “He will put her in a pre-release enclosure where she will re-acclimatise to the area and bond with her family group once again,” Wright explains. Samango monkeys are listed as one of the Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) in South Africa and restricted to Afromontane and coastal forests. They are found from the Limpopo province all the way down the eastern side of the country. As an arboreal species, they spend most of their time travelling, foraging and resting in the forest canopy. Their diet consists of fruit, leaves and insects. Samango monkeys concentrate on a few plant species only, making population density dependent on species richness and diversity. South African populations have declined sharply and they are currently listed as Vulnerable in the Red Data Book of Mammals of South Africa. “Some people view primates as pests because they eat fruit and crops,” Wright adds. “Habitat loss due to farming causes many of these human-wildlife issues,” she says. – René de Klerk

Top: The samango monkey will be released into the wild after rehabilitation. Photo: Ashleigh Pienaar Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 35


The age of

POP-UP LUXURY René de Klerk spends a night glamping in the heart of the Kruger National Park with Chiefs Tented Camps and Thebe Tourism Group


woke up as a pack of hyenas wandered through the camp, laughing like naughty children. In the distance, objects were moving. Next to my tent, a twig snapped. It was pitch black outside, and I could not

Chiefs Tented Camps hosts the annual mobile tented camp in Namaqua National Park during flower season, and have hosted one event in the Kruger National Park to date. They provide accommodation for events and are in the process of adding more destinations to the list.

Page 36 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

The camp is hosted for a few weeks, and then broken down to leave no traces hear any movement from the tents next to mine. Only a layer of canvas separated me from the wild. Somewhere in the distance, a lion roared… This was such a different experience, so wild. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to spend a night at Chiefs Tented Camps mobile camp among the Namaqua wildflowers during flower season. This is one of the advantages of a mobile setup – the camp is hosted for a few weeks, and then broken down to leave no traces of its existence. The only difference this time around was that I found myself in the heart of the Kruger National Park. It was the same concept, but the tents were pitched in an isolated location in the middle of the Kruger bush next to the Nwaswitshaka River, completely unfenced. When we arrived at the location with Thebe Tourism Group, we received a safety briefing. Armed rangers were stationed at various points throughout the camp to look after us.

We received strict instructions not to walk to our tents alone after dark. Much later, a lone hyena ran off when the ranger escorted me to my tent. Sleeping in a tent is not for everyone, but this is far removed from sleeping on a thin mattress in a sleeping bag on the ground. Each tent is furnished with comfortable beds, electric blankets (in winter) and electric lamps powered by generator power – though not 24 hours a day. Tents include a chemical portable toilet, basin and facilities to shower. Lysta Stander, director of Chiefs Tented Camps says their camps tread lightly on the environment. Stander says returning a year after their test run, there were no signs of the camp’s existence from the previous year. Meals were definitely one of the highlights. After sundowners and snacks, dinner consisted of starters, mains and decadent desserts. It is difficult to imagine freshly baked muffins in the bush, but the

chef pulled out all the stops before our morning game drive. Breakfast included real coffee, omelettes and croissants – everything you would expect to find in a good hotel. Thebe Tourism Group recently acquired a 50% stake in Chiefs Tented Camps. CEO Jerry Mabena had attended a fundraising event where Chiefs provided the accommodation for those who attended. He immediately fell in love with the concept, and wanted to be a part of it. “We saw the quality in how Chiefs Tented Camps put their camps together, from the tents to the professionalism of the teams and services they provide, and that really resonated with us,” Mabena says.

Main: Little luxuries set up in the dry riverbed. Inset and above: Glamping involves a soft bed and good food.



Africa’s Palette

Get your creative juices flowing! FEATURED ARTIST “My name is Peter Flanagan and I have started doing artwork of African animals while my wife and I are travelling around Southern Africa on holiday. We are from Australia and love it so much here that we brought our car and camper trailer over with us so we can spend 10 months travelling. I hope you like my rhino drawing (pictured below).”


STEP 02 Buy an artwork! Visit and pick your favourite art piece by our very own Graham Kearney. High-quality digital prints make beautiful gifts and a focal point in any room or office.

Step 1: Initial sketch Start off with a pencil sketch of your lion, ensuring proportions and scale are correct and that the drawing will fit into the allocated area. Don’t cram your subject up to the edges of your workspace.

Materials used by Graham Kearney in the drawings • Clairefontaine Pastelmat Paper • Rembrandt Soft Pastels • Stabilo Carbothello Pastel Pencils

SEND US YOUR MASTERPIECE! Don’t keep your work to yourself, share your masterpieces with us and get a chance to be featured in the next issue. We look forward to receiving your masterpieces (email artwork to

Page 38 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

Step 2: Foundation stage This stage introduces the basic colours (browns, yellows, whites and blacks) of your lion, done predominantly with soft pastel sticks. This is where you establish contrasts. Keep to mid-range colour tones where possible. Make any necessary corrections to proportion/scale etc. Blending can be included in this stage.


Step 3: Adding detail Using both pastel sticks and pastel pencils, this stage includes adding and building up of detail. Intensifying tonal ranges, introducing life into eyes, detail into hair, etc happens in this stage. Step 4: The final stage This stage introduces the strongest tones done with both pastel sticks and pastel pencils. Add whiskers, final shadows and highlights, etc. Use pastel pencils as a ‘finer’ medium to add finer detail to your lion. Look at the scars and the extra hair!


Central Reservations Tel: 012 428 9111

Addo Elephant National Park • Agulhas National Park • Augrabies Falls National Park • Bontebok National Park Camdeboo National Park • Garden Route National Park • Golden Gate Highlands National Park • Karoo National Park Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park • Kruger National Park • Mapungubwe National Park • Marakele National Park Mokala National Park • Mountain Zebra National Park • Namaqua National Park • Table Mountain National Park Tankwa Karoo National Park • West Coast National Park • Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park Photography by Adriaan van Jaarsveld Designed by


Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 39


Makgadikgadi Pans: A traveller’s guide to the salt flats of Botswana (Struik Nature) Grahame McLeod

These legendary pans are tucked away between the perennial waterways of the Okavango Delta and the R230 arid Kalahari. The area is some 12 000km2 in size and one of Botswana’s fastestgrowing tourist attractions. The book covers geology, wildlife, vegetation, climate, Practical and user-friendly, local economy and key it also offers advice on destinations. Full colour where to stay, sights to maps and photographs see, how to get there and support the text. contact details.

Remembering Lions (Remembering Wildlife) Wildlife Photographers United

This is the fourth book in the highly acclaimed Remembering Wildlife series. It features a foreword by Jonathan and Angela Scott, the only couple to have individually won titles for Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Images were donated by more than 70 of the world’s top wildlife photographers. All funds raised from sales go


towards conservation. The book is available from Get yours now!

On the bookshelf Broaden your wildlife knowledge and add to your bush bookshelf collection with the latest conservation and travel books

Field Guide to Mushrooms & Other Fungi of South Africa (Struik Nature) Gary B Goldman and Marieke Gryzenhout


Do you have the urge to forage for mushrooms but no knowledge of what is edible or poisonous? This guide is beautifully illustrated, making it the perfect tool for identification in the field. It features 200 of the most distinctive and conspicuous mushrooms and other fungi in South Africa. Each species is presented with a clear description and full-

colour photos. Notes on distribution, ecology, size, edibility, toxicity and other interesting facts complete the entries.

Pangolin (Phoenix Design)

Who Will Roar If I Go? (BQB Publishing)

Lisa Fanton

Paige E Jaeger

From The pangolin is the R595 most poached animal on the planet. Published in conjunction with the African Pangolin Working Group, this coffee table book features images from the world’s top pangolin photographers. The book’s goal is to support pangolin towards the protection of conservation. All pangolins this magnificent species. are featured in their natural Available in a standard and environment and all funds a deluxe version. raised from sales will go

This is an ideal gift for the younger members of the family. The lion is losing his home; elephants are $15,39 losing their tusks; Grevy’s zebra is losing his friends, and the tiger is losing his stripes. But everyone can help if they just learn how to get involved. With animal’s story while beautiful watercolour being introduced to the illustrations and rhyming endangered species of verse throughout, children the world. will love learning each

Keeping the balance between culture and nature S

outh Africa and the Kruger National Park are home to rock art sites that tell stories about our cultural heritage. These primal paintings echo the presence of the animals visitors see in the park. They also confirm the importance of the spiritual awareness of the ancient people who first inhabited the area. Since the first rock art sites were discovered in the Kruger in the early 1900s, more sites have been found at many different locations, some probably between 1 500 and 3 000 years old. Many of the paintings depict animals in red, yellow, white and black colours. Dr Stanley Bond, chief archaeologist at the US National Park Service, recently visited the country to learn how South Africa balances cultural and natural conservation. Bond analyses and develops policy recommendations in the public sector and in US National Parks, focusing on the use of archaeological resources for education, interpretation and outreach to communities. During his visit he gained insight into the preservation of sites at Mapungubwe and the Kruger National Park. After visiting the Masorini archaeological and San rock art sites as well as those at Page 40 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

Berg-en-Dal in the south of the park, he expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to visit these important sites. Bond also met with conservation stakeholders and shared best practices about inclusive cultural heritage conservation. He met with archaeology graduate students and faculty members of the University of Pretoria and University of Mpumalanga to discuss how the next generation of archaeologists and conservationists can contribute to preserving South Africa’s cultural and natural heritage. Bond believes the next generation should continue

to reach out to communities, sharing traditions and practising being stewards of sites. “South Africa can be proud about its long tradition in cultural heritage. The youth should find inspiration from it by studying it and learning more about the importance of it,” he says. “It remains important for them to be able to access these sites for the upkeep of cultural traditions.” A project has been initiated to record all of these sites in Kruger.

youth in three major cities in the United States. He also developed the Linking Hispanic Heritage through Archaeology for the Latino and American Indian High School Students programme in Tucson, Arizona. His focus on engaging young people led to the establishment of the Junior Ranger Archaeology programme, which links youth to cultural heritage in the context of public lands. – Mariana Balt

* Dr Bond worked to establish the Urban Archaeology Corps for diverse

Above: Dr Stanley Bond in the Kruger National Park. Photo: Mariana Balt

Kids’ Corner

Jellyfish have no brain, heart, bones or eyes!

How many starfish can you find?


Attention young bush lovers and adventurers! Are you a nature buff? Grab your crayons and pens and you’ll soon be on your way to becoming a conservation pro!

Get creative with your own too! A A A A A A

collective nouns – try making up of of of of of of

apes badgers bees camels cobras owls

In this edition of Safari News, the wild scramble has a marine theme. Can you find the words using the clues below? yjlifehls: I am a jelly-like fish with long tentacles. afshsitr: I look like a star. abcr: My pincers can cause a lot of pain. rhask: With rows of sharp teeth, I am an apex predator in the ocean. uposcto: I have eight legs with suckers underneath.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCES Can you find three differences?

Little Safarians are going on a birding adventure to see how many African birds they can spot below: SHOEBILL MEYER’S PARROT KNYSNA TURACO BARN OWL


A B G R F A A L O D E G I D D B R O D A C S H O E B I L L T M I B H Z M B V J MH A X V C D C M C Y X Q C V G E T A I M H C P R G T A WB L X T N D G Z A T R F R V R E E K Q E X N E R M Y T E E X O N Y H X E V L F M N Z F G F X O F N F R R O F X R Z U A F V X Y G F R G M N G G Y V WQ G R T L Tell your teacher about these fun days taking place during the next few months… World Lemur Day: October 25




World Jellyfish Day: November 3


World Fisheries Day: November 21


Big Birding Day: November 30 International Cheetah Day: December 4


Answers: Collective nouns: A shrewdness of apes; a cete of badgers; a swarm of bees; a caravan of camels; a quiver of cobras; a parliament of owls | Wild Scramble: Jellyfish, starfish, crab, shark, octopus How many starfish: 5 starfish

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 41

Wild Earth

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO... Scientists have now confirmed there are two species of slendersnouted crocodile in Africa. Although crocodiles have been around for millions of years, this is the first new species to be discovered in over 80 years. Georgina Lockwood tells us more


he formation of the Cameroon Volcanic Line began over 80 million years ago, although the final uplift of the major peaks that would disrupt gene flow occurred in the mid to late Miocene, around 10–15 million years ago. The appearance of this mountain chain on the landscape had a profound impact on the slender-snouted crocodile population. The volcanic mountain chain created a physical divide, splitting the population into two isolated groups. Until recently, scientists believed there was only one species of slender-snouted crocodile. The restricted gene flow resulted in two species – the West African slendersnouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus) and the newly confirmed Central African slendersnouted crocodile (Mecistops leptorhynchus). However, this is not good news for the West African species. Based on amended population figures, the West African slendersnouted crocodile is now one of the rarest crocodile species in the world. In addition, the West African slendersnouted crocodile is drastically understudied. It is threatened by habitat loss, with large stretches of habitat being replaced by rubber, cocoa, and palm oil plantations. Slender-snouted crocodiles are medium-sized (about three metres), with a characteristic elongated snout. The slendersnouted crocodile is one of seven different species of crocodile. Page 42 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

How to tell the slender-snouted crocodiles apart

The Central African slender-snouted crocodile can be found across the rainforests of Central Africa, with up to 70% of its population residing in Gabon. It has uncharacteristically smooth skin. Its head and skull tends to be narrower, with few facial markings that typically fade with age. Several populations of the Central African slender-snouted crocodile are known to contain a high proportion of very lightly coloured ‘blonde’ individuals. Its tongue is creamcoloured with no patterning. The West African slender-snouted crocodile tends to be darker with a high degree of melanism (black individuals) in certain populations. It has a pronounced pattern along the jawline and dark splodges on its yellow tongue. Mecistops cataphractus has a more robust snout. Colouration and markings vary highly in both species. Both slender-snouted crocodile species are vocal and contribute significantly to the audioscape of the rainforest. The call of Mecistops cataphractus sounds like the engine of a lawnmower, while the call of the Central African species resembles a growling lion. Although no in-depth studies have been done on the West African slender-snouted crocodiles, both species are believed to be predominantly piscivores. However, studies in Gabon reveal Mecistops leptorhynchus to be a generalist feeder, with crustaceans, insects,

snakes, and even aquatic chevrotain forming part of its diet. Both species of slender-snouted crocodile are mound-nesting. Mecistops leptorhynchus females are particularly shy nesters, building at the base of large trees hidden behind vegetative screens. They both occupy a similar habitat and reside in rivers, lakes, swamps, flood forests, streams, and coastal lagoons. Certain populations have been found in slightly saline waters near San Pedro in Côte d’Ivoire, and in the N’gowe Lagoon and the Nyanga River in Gabon. Both species are able climbers and can be found basking on fallen trees above waterbodies. A collaboration project between the government of Côte d’Ivoire, Matt Shirley, conservation scientist at the Tropical Conservation Institute of Florida International University, and various NGOs in the region, involves a captive breeding programme to restock wild populations of the West African species. There are currently 34 breeding animals at Abidjan National Zoo in Côte d’Ivoire. Information provided by Matt Shirley, conservation scientist at the Tropical Conservation Institute of Florida International University

Main: This slender-snouted crocodile captured in Gabon belongs to the Central African species. Photo: Donna Honey/See Wild Travels

The facts West African slender-snouted crocodile • Population: Estimated at no more than 500–1 000 individuals. • Status: Critically endangered. • Distribution: Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria. Its presence in Togo and Benin is unknown. •T  hreats: Habitat loss, bushmeat hunting, and bycatch in local, freshwater fisheries. •L  atin name: Due to its thicker, rougher scales its Latin name, Mecistops cataphractus, translates to ‘suit of armour’.

Central African slender-snouted crocodile • Population: Estimated in the tens of thousands. • Status: Endangered. • Distribution: Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Zambia. • Threats: Bushmeat trade, deforestation, the illicit skin trade, and bycatch in local, freshwater fisheries. •L  atin name: Mecistops leptorhynchus, meaning ‘long-beaked’.

It’s a wrap!

Safari Style

Wrap your head around (or in) these African folktale scarves


n Africa, stories and histories were often passed down around the fire. Unfortunately, many of these tales have disappeared as storytelling is no longer such a strong family custom. But Linda Gale, a Johannesburg-based fashion designer, is using her talent to share storytelling via her jewellery and clothing. Founder of ASATSI Africa, Gale is bringing vibrant African folktales to life through scarves. She encourages wearers to tell the story of their scarf and in this way keep traditional storytelling alive. Each design is a conversation starter as it draws attention to a different animal from an

African folktale. “ASATSI draws from its African roots in every design,” Gale says. She studied at LISOF fashion design school in Johannesburg and has been working in the industry since 2007. Each pattern is created in the ASATSI studio, and the designs are then printed onto imported satin chiffon scarves. “I love wearing black, and I always add one of my scarves for a pop of colour,” Gale says. “Our next scarf range will be based on African cities and what makes them unique,” she adds. This year ASATSI Africa also started producing a range of earrings.

The magic crocodile

The heart of monkey

This scarf tells the story of how the magic of the crocodile protected him and the other animals from the bows and arrows of the hunters. Time and again, any hunter that attempted to hunt the crocodile would be temporarily blinded. As soon as he dropped his arrow, the hunter’s sight returned.

This folktale tells the story of two friends, a shark and a monkey. Monkey used to feed shark fruit from the overhanging branches of a seashore tree. One day shark convinced monkey to meet his family in the ocean. Unsure at first, monkey eventually agreed. Once monkey was riding on his back far away from his house in the tree, shark informed monkey that his chief was very ill and in order to get better he needed to feed on the heart of a monkey. Monkey was terrified, but “feeling like a fish out of water”, he thought of a plan. He told shark he had left his heart at home, so they turned around to fetch it. Once in the safety of the branches, monkey informed shark he had no intention of returning with shark or giving up his life for the shark chief. They were no longer friends.

How zebra got his stripes Why do zebras have stripes? This question baffled researchers for years, but today it has been answered: striped equids evolved in the presence of tsetse flies. Black and white stripes are a natural deterrent. But African folktales have another story… The story goes that baboon and zebra got into a scrap over water. Baboon burnt zebra’s white fur with fire. (In those days all zebras were white.) Zebra was eventually able to send baboon flying into the rocky cliffs with one final and powerful kick, but traumatised by the fire, zebra ran into the open plains – and has remained there ever since. Baboon decided to remain in the rocky cliff faces too, barking at passers-by. Satin chiffon scarves: R590 | Pure silk: R990


Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 43

Living World



he walia ibex (Capra walie), a large goat-like creature, has been on the brink of extinction on several occasions, starting in the late 1930s. Their population slowly began increasing but poor conservation strategies resulted in numbers plummeting again in 1996, prompting the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list the walia ibex as Critically Endangered. Today it is listed as Endangered and these outstanding climbers only occur in the mountainous regions of the Simien Mountains National Park in Ethiopia. Based on population projection models, Dessalegn Ejigu, a PhD associate professor at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia, believes there might be about 975 walia ibex individuals occurring in the park. While collecting data on walia ibex ecology, Ejigu discovered that the growing human population and increasing human activity in the northern and central parts of the park have caused the ibex to shift their natural distribution to the south-western area. “Habitat destruction by livestock and increased human activity threaten the walia ibex population,” says Ejigu. There are over 30 000 people living on the periphery of the Simien Mountains National Park boundary. In order to protect the remaining walia ibex, park management is working with communities

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in the Adarkay, Debark and Janamora districts by hiring scouts to protect the species from extinction. “Community-based conservation is an important strategy for sustainable conservation of walia ibex,” he says. Surprisingly little is known about this iconic and rare species. The ibex is a generalist feeder, eating 28 types of grasses, forbs and shrubs. Its natural predators are the hyena and leopard, and in order to avoid them, lactating mothers keep their kids on some of the most inhospitable cliff faces. They are typically found in groups of 12 individuals. The closest relative to the walia ibex is the Nubian ibex found in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East. “Simien Mountains National Park is the southernmost distribution point of ibexes in the world,” Ejigu explains, “and the only place in the world where the walia ibex occurs.” The park is situated in northern Ethiopia, and is made up of Afro-alpine woods, heath forest, high mountain vegetation, montane savanna and montane moorland. Simien Mountains National Park is a registered UNESCO world

heritage site. Ethiopia is home to more than 31 species of endemic mammals including walia ibex. High levels of endemism in Ethiopia can be attributed to large portions of the country being mountainous. Mountains create physical barriers to evolution, and altitudinal variations provide diversified habitats to support different species of plants and animals. – Georgina Lockwood

Right: A male and female Walia ibex. Sketch: Graham Kearney

CRADLE BOUTIQUE HOTEL & NATURE RESERVE The reserve is part of an ancient landscape that protects the largest area of high-al�tude dolomi�c grassland in South Africa. It is home to leopard, brown hyena, caracal, jackal, giraffe and several species of antelope, such as the magnificent eland, zebra, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, blesbok and impala. Midweek special includes dinner, bed and breakfast (Sunday to Thursday) Call 087 353 9599 or email reserva� to book your stay!

Page 44 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News



worth travelling for Think chocolates, photography, and aquamarine waters Sundy Praia, Príncipe This far-flung equatorial paradise is the Atlantic’s answer to Seychelles, complete with barefoot luxury and photogenic surrounds. Dining takes place in a breathtaking whale-like structure made entirely from bamboo, and can include a delicious seven-course chocolatethemed dinner (cocoa is the main crop on the island). Rooms are chic and secluded, in neutral tones and resembling something from your favourite decor magazine. Relax at the pool, swim in the sea, go

turtling or diving, or hike the various peaks of Príncipe. Good to know: Príncipe is a tiny island off Central Africa. The Chocolate Isles are arguably some of the most remote islands in the world, and Príncipe is the smaller of the two. It is accessible via a daily direct flight from São Tomé. Cost: Prices vary according to holiday packages, from €645 (just over R10 000) per night. Book:

The hub of Hluhluwe Lalapanzi Camp, Bonamanzi Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal

“A young girl climbed into a tree one day a princess and, after having what she described as her most thrilling experience, she climbed down from the tree next day a queen,” – Jim Corbett, Queen Elizabeth II’s bodyguard, commenting on her ascension to the British throne. Bonamanzi was the filming location for the Netflix series, The Crown. In season one, Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, travel to Kenya and stay at Treetops Hotel. The hotel has been replicated at Bonamanzi, and guests can enjoy sundowners in its stunning surrounds.

A break in the heart of the bush Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, Limpopo This rest camp is for guests seeking a more private and secluded experience without leaving the safety of busier, fenced rest camps behind. The atmosphere offers the illusion of being far from the crowds as cottages are surrounded by bush. Although basic, the units still offer everything required for a comfortable getaway. The rest camp includes a swimming pool for the warmer months, and a restaurant overlooks Pioneer Dam. This is the perfect location for sipping sundowners while enjoying wildlife and bird sightings. An added bonus is the Page 46 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

Good to know: While sightings are not as plentiful as in the southern section of the park, elephants are abundant here. Cost: R2 492 for the first four people. The guest cottages can accommodate six. Extra adults pay R465 while extra children can be accommodated for R233. Book:

short trail adjacent to the dam, which starts near the restaurant deck and gets you level with the water – ideal for beautiful sunset photos.

Lalapanzi is a mere stone’s throw from Hluhluwe, the pineapple capital of South Africa. It is a hub of guest activity, from film crews, government officials, wedding guests and conference delegates to happy campers and passionate birders. Habituated nyala surround the camp and there are loads of beautiful ilala palms on the property. The reserve boasts critically endangered sand forest as well as grassland vegetation, making it a birding hotspot, and home to the rosy-throated longclaw and other ‘lifers’.

Good to know: The camp has everything guests need to relax, including a swimming pool, air conditioning and a well-stocked bar. Guided walks, boat cruises and game drives are offered separately, and Bonamanzi is home to four of the Big Five (lion are excluded). Campsites are not fenced, and guests are advised to watch out for crocodile near the dam. Cost: From R1 595 per person sharing. Book:

Hotspots A riverside escape

African wilderness reborn

Limpopo River Lodge, Tuli Block, Botswana

Nungubane Game Lodge, Welgevonden Game Reserve, Limpopo

This tranquil and romantic hideaway is perched on the northern bank of the Limpopo River. If chalet number four is available, book it for the most privacy and views stretching a few hundred metres upstream. The rondavels have a well-equipped kitchen including crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils, a gas stove and a fridge. The kitchen is open to the bush, so watch out for opportunistic vervet monkeys looking for a quick meal. The large trees along the river are perfect for the elusive Pel’s fishing owl while other visitors could include antelope, elephant, leopard, cheetah and lion. Limpopo River Lodge is just four and a half hours from Johannesburg and is one of the most relaxing riverside escapes in the region.

Nungubane Game Lodge offers a unique safari adventure for the discerning traveller to experience the raw beauty of Africa. Nungubane is set high in the rolling hills of the Welgevonden Game Reserve, which is considered to be one of the most spectacular and breathtaking wilderness areas in South Africa. The main lodge comprises an intimate lounge, bar and dining room as well as an outdoor dining facility with spectacular views of

the valleys below. There are five well-appointed chalets consisting of king-size or single beds with bathroom en-suite, outdoor shower, air conditioning, overhead fan and a tea/coffee station. Each chalet comes with its own private deck commanding striking panoramic views of rolling hills and valleys. Scrumptious, wholesome homecooked meals and congeniality are the hallmark of the relaxing Nungubane experience.

Good to Know: Nungubane Game Lodge is located in the malaria-free rolling hills of the Welgevonden Game Reserve, some 3 hours and 45 minutes by car from Johannesburg, or 45 minutes by air. It is renowned for its spectacular scenery as well as rhino and cheetah sightings. Book:

Good to know: While we had no trouble getting there in a Renault Sandero Stepway in April, a 4x4 is recommended in the rainy season. Consult the lodge before you go about whether the Platjan border post is in use, as this low-lying river crossing could be submerged. Cost: Approximately R1 000 per person sharing per night to stay in the rondavels. Book: or email Tel: +26 77 210 6098

In the heart of Zululand Firefly Farm Cabin, St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal

Good to know: A variety of pets live and roam freely on the farm, and traffic jams consist of traditional herders leading home their cattle. Cost: R800 per night for the entire cabin. Book: site or phone Lawrie on +27 83 777 6206

Firefly Farm Cabin lies in the heart of tribal Zululand in the iSimangaliso Wetland Area, overlooking the greater St Lucia Lake. The farm is the perfect, rustically romantic spot from where to explore the nearby Hluhluwe and iSimangaliso regions and its spectacular birdlife, cultural vibe and natural beauty – all without breaking the bank. The self-catering cabin comfortably sleeps two, plus a pull-out couch can accommodate close friends or small kids. The wraparound deck allows you to kick off your shoes and soak in the surrounds. If you’re lucky, you will spot flocks of pelicans and pink flamingos flying by as dusk settles. At night, a starlight spectacle will keep you captivated. And on those overcast evenings, lightning and the sound of the rolling African drums of thunder will lull you to sleep.


NATURE COURSES EcoQuest Course: 7 or 14 days EcoTracker Course: 7 or 14 days Birding in the Bush Course: 7 days

re Natu of ian Guard Operating for 25 years, EcoTraining is the Pioneer and Leader in Safari Guide and Wildlife Training in Africa. Wilderness Trails Skills Course: 6 days

Wilderness Photography Course: 7 days Masai Mara EcoQuest: 7 or 14 days

+27 (0)13 752 2532

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 47

On Track

Exploring the beauty of

Beaufort West René de Klerk ventures through the largest town in the arid Karoo region and discovers there is much to see and do


he arid Karoo is a place of open plains, mountains and pastel sunsets, and inhabited by tough people with soft hearts. The occasional sheep, lone farmhouse and dust decorate the landscape, and towns are few and far between. But when you find them, you can travel back in time. Beaufort West is the perfect example – a town filled with Karoo hospitality, history and plenty to do. Towns usually start with settlers arriving in the area and Beaufort West was no different. One of its first farming families was the father and son team of Abraham and Jacob le Clercq, of French Huguenot descent, in 1760. The town was established in 1818, and until 1869 it was known as Beaufort, in honour of Lord Charles Somerset’s father, the fifth Duke of Beaufort.

Historical buildings

Beaufort West became the first municipality in South Africa in February 1837, and was home to the country’s first town hall. Walk through

the town’s historic centre to see examples of the early architecture. The old Town Hall, the Mission Church and the Barnard House are now part of the town’s museums. Together with the Dutch Reformed Mother Church built in 1892, they’re well worth a visit.

A great pioneer of medical science

Dr Christiaan Barnard, South Africa’s heart transplant pioneer, was born in Beaufort West in 1922. Barnard’s father Adam preached in the church next to the town hall, and the family home forms part of the museum complex. The Chris Barnard Museum houses an example of the heart lung machine, a first of its kind in South Africa at the time, as part of the theatre equipment. The building is filled with the numerous awards presented to him during his career.

Game viewing and fossils galore

The Karoo was known for its great springbok migrations,

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and in 1849 a massive herd passed the town – rumour has it that it took three days. While the days of massive migrations are long gone, the Karoo National Park is the ideal place to enjoy nature and wildlife. Although they are not available in such large numbers, you can still find springbok and numerous other antelope species, as well as Cape mountain zebra, lion and a number of smaller species in the park. The first reptile fossil in the area was discovered in 1827 and the park showcases this magnificent time period on their Fossil Trail, a 400m trail depicting the geology and palaeontology of the Great Karoo.

Rock etchings

If you have time, it is worth travelling 50km northeast of Beaufort West to Nelspoort. The dolerite koppies near this forgotten town are home to rock etchings dating back to the hunter-gatherers. Apart from etchings, shell shards and grind stones, the site

Historical sites in Beaufort West

also contains ‘gong rocks’. These boulders, also known as ‘ironstone’, produce a metallic sound when hit with another rock. Enquire at the Beaufort West Tourism office.

Tantalise your taste buds here This little find is in the most unlikely location. The 4 Sheep restaurant, deli and convenience store are all situated at the Caltex service station in Donkin Street. The locals go there to eat (there is no better guarantee that the food is delicious!). Pop in during your visit.

More information

Karoo National Park: +27 23 415 2828 or Beaufort West Tourism: +27 23 415 1160 or Garden Corner Guesthouse: +27 82 420 7622

Background: Game viewing in the Karoo National Park. Photos: René de Klerk

Overnight comfort

Rooms at the intimate Garden Corner Guesthouse just outside town range from R580 for two guests. Bigger rooms are available for the entire family, and breakfast is offered on site. These are just a few of your options while visiting the town. Spend a few days in this beautiful space and get to know Beaufort West – the new and the old.

Beaufort West is in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The town is situated 234km from George and 462km from Cape Town.

Keep calm and picnic on Netflorist has the ideal picnic blanket solution with personalised picnic blankets, ideal for the family or as a gift. Purchase the blanket alone, or add a hamper of scrumptious sweet and savoury snacks like nuts, Pringles, nougat, Lindt chocolate or biscotti. R299 for the blanket only; R499 with snacks.

DIG IN Your guide to eating in the great outdoors

Food Slow cooking the fast way If you follow foodie trends and you’re always looking for new ways to entertain, you’ll love this convenient way to braai at picnic sites. Grills of Japan sells a variety of grills made from diatomaceous earth, naturally occurring sedimentary rock, so charcoal burns for longer and creates even heat distribution. The SH5 Table Grill is great for indoor and outdoor use, picnics and camping as it comes with a handle. It is best partnered with Tosa binchotan charcoal, but any natural charcoal will do. Various designs and sizes are available. The SH5 Table Grill costs R2 400 from

Editor’s pick: Wine for rhino The best of SA: biltong

Chances are if you visit South Africa, you will be offered biltong. It is sold everywhere, from petrol stations to supermarkets, and also offered as snacks on sunset game drives. Biltong is meat that has been cured and dried. A variety of meats can be used, but the most popular are beef and game, which can include impala, kudu, wildebeest, and ostrich. Each recipe comes with its own secret spice mix, but usually includes coriander, salt, pepper and vinegar.

Launched in 2014, Rhino Tears wine has already raised R2 million to be used in the war against rhino poaching within South Africa’s National Parks (SANParks). For every bottle sold, R15 goes directly to the SANParks Honorary Rangers. This group of volunteers raise money to be used on conservation projects within the parks. Mt Vernon Wine Estate in Cape Town crafted this high-quality, affordable range of wine for everyday drinking. Available in a red blend and Sauvignon blanc from park shops or online at Online price is R518 for six bottles.

Whet your taste buds

Be the change Tired of single-use plastic but haven’t yet found alternatives for all your products? This range of solutions will replace everything from ziplock bags to cling wrap. EcoBagzz are reusable storage bags made from foodgrade silicone and are BPA free. Beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton and beeswax, which makes them ideal for wrapping sandwiches and food. Visit for details and pricing.

We are joining forces with chef Conrad Gallagher this summer to bring you scrumptious flavours. Gallagher is the CEO of Food Concepts 360 and an award-winning Michelin Star chef. He will tempt you with his simple but delicious recipes, which are perfect for making in the great outdoors.

Guilt-free cheese Cheesemaker George Heler wanted to maintain the family cheesemaking skills and expertise but match them to current healthier demands by making a 100% natural cheese with higher protein and fewer calories. Products are based on top sellers in the United Kingdom and come in cheese blocks, grated and spreadable cheese. Visit www. Available from Shoprite and Pick n Pay. Photo: Open Doors Collective

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 49

Living World

A slice of Africa – preserved


estled between fertile farmlands The land is pristine with everything and the historic ‘settler country’ from steep shady ravines teeming enclave of Makhanda (formerly with thick indigenous riverine Grahamstown) in the malaria-free bush to open plains, grassland and Eastern Cape Province of South everything in between. Africa, lies an authentic slice of Buffalo Kloof Wildlife Safaris Africa. This 13 000-hectare private operates with absolute integrity, game reserve is according to the a veritable Eden highest standards of dramatically of international diverse flora, free roam and The primary focus fauna and ecology fair chase best is to protect the featuring four practices and different which stem critically endangered ethics, flora biomes. from a bedrock of Buffalo passion for their black rhino Kloof offers an wildlife, their land unforgettable and all that they experience for do on the land. those committed to contemporary, The reserve is already home to the considered hunting and conservation Big Four (elephant, black and white – operating in a symbiotic and rhino, leopard and Cape buffalo), holistic manner – in line with its with elephants walking proudly on ethos of conservation with class, its soil for the first time in 300 years. and hunting with thought. From the In an exciting new development, genteel giraffe, enigmatic elephant, lions will soon also be introduced. iconic black and white rhino, roan, As part of Buffalo Kloof’s efforts sable, Cape leopard, cheetah and to continuously push the boundary Cape buffalo that roam the land to in conservation, it is custodian the spectacular contrasts of the land of several black rhino through itself, this is a truly special place. conservation within the community

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partnerships. This project is a joint venture between the East Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, private and communal landowners, facilitated by the World Wildlife Fund’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. The primary focus is to protect the critically endangered black rhino and assist in creating sustainable new breeding populations for the rhino. Guests at Buffalo Kloof have the choice of either Acacia lodge or Spekboom bush camp for accommodation. Spekboom Camp is named after the prolific indigenous spekboom plant (Portulacaria Afra), which grows abundantly in the vicinity. This succulent is a true environment miracle worker with the ability to tackle carbon emissions like no other plant. The camp is off grid, with energy generated from solar panels, water sourced from a borehole and much of the building material sourced from the reserve itself. After a delicious meal and a convivial evening spent around a roaring camp fire in the boma, guests can retire to their en-suite bedrooms in the lodge or bush camp. With

extra-length king-size beds, they are assured of an excellent night’s sleep. A truly African experience does not come better than this. Buffalo Kloof is an excellent example of the conservation, management and sustainable use of wildlife, with their involvement in a variety of game management and conservation activities, as well as community empowerment initiatives. In recognition of their effort and contribution to conservation, Buffalo Kloof Private Game Reserve has been nominated for the WRSA Eastern Cape Game Rancher of the Year Award, a testament to their passion and commitment to the heritage of South Africa’s wildlife. For both the hunter and the eco-tourist, this destination offers comfort combined with a superb African wildlife and bush adventure safari experience. Visit for more information.

Above: A black rhino is being airlifted with a Huey to the loading site. Photo: Chris Holcroft

Wild Earth Food

PROTECTING the pharaoh’s chicken Cloé Pourchier, Sahara Conservation Fund project officer, talks about her work with the Egyptian vultures in Niger


he Egyptian Vulture NEW LIFE project was launched in 2017 to protect the Egyptian vulture across their range, from their breeding grounds in Europe to Africa. The aim of the project is to increase the Egyptian vulture populations in the Balkans, reduce adult mortality, reinforce the breeding population and create awareness of the species. Egyptian vulture populations are steadily declining and this Old World vulture is now considered Endangered. While a large distribution range and migration patterns should help the species be more resilient, it does the opposite – the birds are exposed to a wider range of pressures in different countries as they migrate.

Five facts • Other names: The white scavenger vulture or the pharaoh’s chicken. • Appearance: Similar to the palmnut vulture, but recognisable by its black-and-white plumage and a bare yellow face. • Tool use: Egyptian vultures have been known to use pebbles to break eggs and sticks to collect wool for nests. • Vagrants: Can occur as far south as South Africa and occasionally in Sri Lanka. • Three subspecies: N. p. percnopterus is the most widely distributed and distinguished by its dark grey bill. N. p. ginginianus from the Indian subcontinent is the smallest of the three subspecies and has a pale yellow bill. N. p. majorensis does not migrate, occurs in the Canary Islands, and is larger than the other birds.

To date, 14 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are part of this project and are working together to increase Egyptian vulture populations by 15%. In Africa, the countries of Niger, Nigeria and Ethiopia are actively involved in the project. Once an Egyptian vulture juvenile has fledged the nest it will spend two years in Africa. Ethiopia hosts the largest wintering population registered in Africa. Niger, on the other hand, is home to a small but unique population of Egyptian vultures made up of both migrant and resident vultures that reside in the Sahelo-Saharan territory. The Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) has carried out monitoring activities in the Koutous massif (Zinder Region) of Niger since 2015. With the help of local villagers, six Egyptian vulture territories have been identified. In four of these territories, the occupant pairs were observed repeatedly in the same locations. In addition to monitoring, investigation work has improved the team’s knowledge on the magnitude of the threats the Egyptian vultures face. The three main threats are indirect poisoning, electrocution and illegal killing. In Niger, poaching is the predominant threat as vultures are used for traditional medicine. It was also noted that Nigeria had a significant impact on poaching activities because of the high demand for Egyptian vulture parts. Egyptian Vulture NEW LIFE’s data collection phase is about to end and the results will be used to create adaptive conservation strategies for each location. In Niger the team will focus on educating local communities about the consequences of killing vultures for traditional medicine. Sketch: Graham Kearney

Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 51


CONQUERING Kilimanjaro for conservation At 5 895m, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain, the world’s highest free-standing peak and one of the renowned Seven Summits. Every year, over 35 000 people attempt to conquer it. Sarah Kingdom led a group to the top


t wasn’t my first time up Kilimanjaro and it won’t be my last, but it was great to be climbing with a team passionate about wildlife conservation. The team were lacing up their boots to raise funds to support African elephants and lions. This was a trip that would take them out of their comfort zones and force them to confront their inner strengths and weaknesses. After all, the summit of Kilimanjaro is not only the highest place in Africa, it is also one of the highest points in the world that can be reached without mountaineering equipment. We had selected the Rongai route and our path started in rainforest. We moved at a relaxed pace, letting our legs get used to the walking. The only way to tackle the mountain is inch by inch, unless, of course, you are one of the super-fit porters who climb it several times a month. We had 30 porters, and they sped past us with the group’s luggage, camping gear and food supplies balanced on their heads. Reaching our first camp by afternoon, the group set about getting comfortable for their first night on the mountain; with dark the temperatures on Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro, in north-east Tanzania, is one of the great wonders of the natural world, a snow- and icecapped mountain straddling the equator

plummet. After dinner, the group headed off to their tents, hoping for a good night’s sleep. From my own tent I could hear them settling into their sleeping bags and trying to get comfy on their waferthin mattresses. I knew

Page 52 | Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News

exactly the sort of thoughts going through their minds. Eventually rustling and fidgeting stopped, silence descended and the group settled down to sleep. The next few days saw the team take in beautiful scenery as they climbed

higher and higher, and their goal drew ever closer. They found their walking rhythm and got accustomed to the daily routine and camp life. Finally day five dawned. We had a long day ahead of us. We needed to reach base camp, at Kibo Huts, as

early as possible, because just before midnight we would be setting off for the summit. The path to the summit was clearly visible and appeared terrifyingly vertical. Reality kicked in. Arriving at Kibo camp in time for lunch and a summit briefing, everyone was rather subdued. Lunch, a nap, dinner, another nap, then at 11pm it was time to get up. This was it. A cup of tea and a few biscuits later, I gave them all a few last minute instructions and then we were off, slowly zigzagging up the slippery shale slope. In the dark, with only our head torches to light the way, I could hear rasping breaths all around me. The night sky was clear, the stars and moon seemed very close. Heads down, focusing


on the feet of the person in front, the group got into ‘climbing mode’. I could see the head torches of other climbing groups strung out across the mountain like fairy lights. After plodding on for nearly eight hours, the team finally reached the top. Unfurling the banners they’d brought with them, they posed for photographs to prove they had indeed conquered Kilimanjaro. Everyone savoured the


moment. They had achieved what they had set out to do – raising both awareness and funds for the future of some of the continent’s endangered wildlife.

Climbing Kili for a good cause An estimated 25 000 elephants are killed in Africa every year, approximately one elephant every 15 minutes. ‘Askari’ is the Swahili word for ‘soldier’ and The Askari Project raises

funds to support elephant conservation, particularly the protection of some of Africa’s last Great Tuskers, found in Tsavo, Kenya. Lion numbers in Africa are declining too. KopeLion aims to foster humanlion coexistence in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where intensifying human-wildlife conflict has been tough on the lions and lions have begun to disappear from their former ranges. KopeLion, comprising local experts and international scientists, employs former lion hunters to protect the remaining lions. We were

joined on our climb by one of KopeLion’s llchokutis (Maasai lion guardians). The groups raised in excess of $10 000 from their climb. Find out more at www. and

Know before you go

Main: Glaciers seen from the top of Kilimanjaro. Far left: The team pose for a photo at the top. Middle: The group heading to the summit. Clockwise above: One of the lion guards, Kilimanjaro in the distance at the start and hikers camping on the way to the top. Photos: Sarah Kingdom and Jo Vidal

• Physical challenge: The oxygen level at the summit is only 50% of that at sea level, so altitude sickness is an ever-present threat. Roughly 60–70% of climbers attempting Kilimanjaro will reach the top. • Routes: There are six routes up Kilimanjaro. They vary in length, cost and scenery, as well as difficulty and success rates. Selecting a route is one of the most important decisions you will make. My favourite is the seven-day, scenic Rongai route, as it allows five days to acclimatise before your final assault on the summit.


A Day in the Life

The culture and

SCIENCE CONNECTION Fortunate Mafeta Phaka, author and PhD candidate in environmental science at South Africa’s North-West University and Belgium’s Hasselt University, has a keen interest in the relationship between biodiversity and indigenous cultures


rural upbringing afforded me a lot of time outdoors exploring the veld surrounding our village. My fascination with wildlife grew each year and by the time I reached university it was clear that I would join the environmental sciences stream. From the start I noticed similarities in the sustainability concepts being taught during lectures, and the rural ways of life and cultural knowledge passed down by my elders. For instance, I had practical experience of allowing livestock to roam free and growing crops without chemical pesticides or fertilisers long before I knew they were concepts you could dedicate a career to. I also noticed that people, especially traditional societies and their cultures, were mostly excluded from conservation. This seemed odd as I learned that conservation is meant to benefit both people and wildlife, and from personal experience I knew that conservation ethic was enshrined in the cultural teachings contained within some of the praise songs that South Africans use for their clans. There are also examples of places like Lake Fundudzi and the Modjadji Cycad Forest where wildlife has been protected through cultural knowledge systems. At the early stage of my university career I could only ponder the inclusion/exclusion of people from environmental matters and the relationship between our culture and wildlife. By the second year of postgraduate studies I had acquired enough research experience to

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explore my culture versus wildlife curiosities, and include people in the process. I conducted research under a concept called biocultural diversity – a blanket term used in reference to the complex link between people’s cultural diversity and biodiversity. I focused on frogs and reptiles as they are underrepresented in South African biocultural diversity research, yet they are significant to local culture, as shown by their inclusion in cultural elements such as folklore and traditional medicine. My study of the biocultural diversity of South African frogs and reptiles explores cultural naming systems, traditional ecological knowledge, gastronomy and the culture/ biodiversity relationship in urban environments. One major finding from this research is that traditional societies name and group frogs in a similar way to scientific naming and classification systems. This has initiated a process to compile a comprehensive list of indigenous names for each of South Africa’s 130+ frog species. The list will later be extended to include the country’s reptiles. The research uncovered that not all folklore is mere lore. In some cases it is an attempt to make sense of observed animal behaviour. Without an understanding of amphibian biology, a frog that is repeatedly seen before a rain event may be thought to usher in rainfall. With an understanding of amphibian biology, the frog activity before rain will be understood to be prompted by

humid and cooler conditions, which precede rainfall and also happen to be favourable conditions for frogs. This folklore is shared with me during discussions with various cultural groups; they help me learn how people relate to frogs and reptiles. The lessons in turn shape research outputs specifically aimed at those outside the environmental sciences field. The first of these outputs is a book about the frogs of Zululand written in isiZulu and English. The book includes the Zululand community’s perceptions, curiosities and

inhibitions about the frogs in their area. Greater research could possibly reveal ways in which culture can be harnessed for more effective wildlife protection. As one community member said during a discussion, “My actions are only illegal if I get caught, but culture is always a part of you and makes it difficult to hide your transgressions.”

Main and inset: For Fortunate Phaka, frogs and community knowledge go together. Photos: Dex Kotze and Fortunate Phaka

Last Word


TRACKING THE TRACKER Electronic wildlife tracking must be about 50 years old; an application that was conservation research orientated has now become compulsory in high value species protection, safety and security, writes Otch Otto


racking pack hounds that are chasing down poachers with a rapid reporting lightweight tracker is exciting, amazing and satisfying. And while monitoring rhino Just In Time (JIT), and tracking the migration of a stork across Africa and Europe, you can hardly believe that tracking took so long to be this simple and cheap. Witnessing the massive strides made in 2019 deployed in the field a few months ago was revealing, and loaded with hope. Everything works, plus the equipment is small, light, long-life, long-range, simple, reliable, and so very graphic, informative, accurate and colourful. When serious high-value asset tracking was instituted in 2015 to capacitate close protection and accurate rapid intervention, the counter-poaching rangers simply

will work for three years (or more) walked over to the research without service or intervention. office to poach their technologies To go from the massive elephant and experience. collars to a 66g ear tag was not easy, Almost everything was nor simple. It took two years to get clumsy, painful, short-lived, dirty, there, particularly cumbersome, when it came demanding of to guaranteeing human, vehicle performance. and aircraft The first units have The first units inter-phase, been fitted to have been fitted complicated, overto rhino and hourly marketed and rhino and positions GPS positions underperforming. are then And expensive in transmitted transmitted to comparison, if we a secure look at our current monitoring portal. rhino tracking The tracking devices are universal balance sheet, which states that and may be fitted to any wild animal, after installation and tagging costs field rangers, visitors/contractors or we are now tracking a rhino at JIT any fixed assets. at R300 per year with a 66g ear tag The harsh conditions in which that generates its own power and

conservation asset trackers have to work has made the unit that started as a rhino ear tag a suitable technology for universal tracking applications, including vehicles, luggage, children, staff, firearms and electronic equipment. You can track things yourself, on your device or use a do-it-for-you service that will send you a visual of what your lion, leopard, rhino, dog or wheelbarrow have been up to in the last 24 hours or week. The gOtcha-UTRO-S-A tracker is standard SigFox enabled and is available with alternative communication platforms such as LoRa, Satellite, MQTT and Bluetooth Low Energy. For more information, email or

Illustration by Annalene Lindeque Spring Issue 2019 | Safari News | Page 55

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Safari News  

Safari News is a quarterly conservation and travel publication, packed with travel ideas, environmental news and the best of Africa’s natura...

Safari News  

Safari News is a quarterly conservation and travel publication, packed with travel ideas, environmental news and the best of Africa’s natura...


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