CARD MAGAZINE TM
2017 SA PUBLICATION FORUM
KRUGERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S WILD DOGS
BIRDS OF PREY
How do we protect them?
How they hunt Spot peregrines on Table Mountain THE LODGE LIFE
Go green in Gamkaberg
FLOWER SEASON NAMAQUA STAY IN LUXURY TENTS POSTBERG STROLL THE STEENBOK TRAIL
Walk wildlife WITH
BEST OF SWAZILAND 3 DAYS, 3 GAME PARKS 09025
Conserve. Explore. Experience.
explore | conserve | enjoy
9 771993 790001
I discovered a place so beautiful even the sunset lingered
Namaqua National Park: Luxury camping from R2â&#x20AC;&#x2030;250 per person sharing. Limited season. Ts&Cs apply. Reservations (012) 428 9111 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org www.sanparks.org
Wild WINTER 2018
12 Hlane may be small but it packs a wealth of natural history.
With flowers at my feet, I watched the sea break metres away.
The bush found me. This job was meant to be.
– HLENGIWE MAGAGULA
– MAGRIET KRUGER
– MINNIE MABENDLHE
24 4 Letters 10 Winter trip planner Embrace slow tourism and take it easy on these trails 12 Gamkaberg’s eco lodges See why they rate among Africa’s finest 14 MTB breakaway Four rides in Namaqualand, from coast to mountain pass KIDS 88 The food web What eats what in the bush? www.wildcard.co.za
DESTINATIONS 16 Walk with wildlife Discover Swaziland’s charms on foot 24 Luxe camping in Namaqua Wake up among the blooms 40 West Coast flower hike Postberg’s Steenbok Trail makes for the perfect day trip 54 Golden Classics A weekend of music and sightseeing at Golden Gate 70 Boland Hiking Trail Experience true wilderness right on Cape Town’s doorstep
50 PEOPLE IN PARKS 50 A passion for the past The Kruger cultural guide who makes history come alive 59 Into the future How SANParks plans to make more people fall in love with our wild places BOTANY 32 Coming up daisies Inside the wildflower spectacle 82 Pod mahogany Meet the lucky bean tree WINTER 2018 WILD 1
NATURE 44 Wild dog alert A new way to protect South Africa’s rarest carnivore 62 Peregrine falcon Why Table Mountain is the best place to see this bird 66 Adorable bushbabies Know the lesser from the greater 74 Deadly hunters How raptors secure their prey 80 Messy nester The white-browed sparrow weaver’s take on building
2 WILD WINTER 2018
91 Parks protocol Strike a healthy balance when it comes to technology 93 Become a member 94 Map of the Wild parks 96 Competition Win a stay at Swaziland’s Big Game Parks PHOTOGRAPHY 84 Compose like a master Use the golden mean to enhance your landscape images
FALL IN LOVE WITH CAPENATURE AND ITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S
CapeNature offers nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the unparalleled beauty of nature first hand, which we work so hard to preserve. Our spectacular nature reserves boast a wide variety of attractions and activities for the whole family, as well as fully equipped self-catering accommodation. This winter we invite you to come and explore the untouched splendour of CapeNature for yourself.
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Self-catering Accommodation. Campsites. Hiking Trails. Mountain Biking. Horse Riding. Bird Watching. Canoes. and so much more! 021 483 0190
email@example.com Book online: www.capenature.co.za
Promotion valid from 2 May to 31 August 2018. Terms and conditions apply. Standard daily conservation fees apply. Free access for Wild Card members.
INSIDE TRACK EDITORIAL BOARD HAPILOE SELLO, SANParks SHERAAZ ISMAIL, CapeNature TEBOHO MOKOENA, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife MBONISENI DLAMINI, Msinsi Resorts ANN REILLY, Swazi Big Game Parks HEIN GROBLER, Wild Card
FROM THE EDITOR
WILD CARD ENQUIRIES 0861 GO WILD (46 9453) firstname.lastname@example.org International Wild Card members call
+27-12-428-9112 EDITOR Romi Boom | email@example.com DEPUTY EDITOR Magriet Kruger | firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTOR Riaan Vermeulen | email@example.com DESIGNER Leon Kriel TEXT EDITOR Marion Boddy-Evans PROOFREADER Margy Beves-Gibson DIGITAL EDITOR Arnold Ras CONTENT DIRECTOR Igna Schneider EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Joan Kruger CREATIVE DIRECTOR Petro du Toit MAGAZINE ENQUIRIES
CONTRIBUTORS Emma Bryce, Gareth Coombs, Albert Froneman, Craig Glatthaar, Andrew Jenkins, Liesel Kershoff, Hlengiwe Magagula, Jacques Marais, Harriet Nimmo, Micòl Ricci, Lesley Stones, Ron Swilling, Dianne Tipping-Woods, Morgan Trimble, Albie Venter PHOTOGRAPHY & ART Alessandro Bonora, Romi Boom, Francois Booyens, Sabie Botha, Alberto Cambone, Albert Froneman, Lizet Grobbelaar, Fanie Heymans, Roberto Isotti, Andrew Jenkins, Mike Kendrick, Liesel Kershoff, Calvin Kotze, Jacques Marais, Isak Pretorius, Scott Ramsay, Daleen Roodt, Lesley Stones, Ron Swilling, Dianne Tipping-Woods, Morgan Trimble, Arno van der Heever, Albie Venter, Elmar Venter
hen Hlengiwe Magagula was covering three Swazi Big Game Parks in three days for Wild (page 16), we keenly anticipated each new batch of photos from photographer Sabie Botha. They were clearly having a whale of a time walking with wildlife and we could
just imagine the adrenalin pumping when she texted: “Lace up your hiking boots and feel the wildness dial go up to 10.” Winter in Namaqualand is synonymous with flower carpets. Join deputy editor
Magriet Kruger in a luxury safari tent at Namaqua Flowers Beach Camp, as well as at Skilpad Wildflower Reserve near Kamieskroon, the heart of the national park. She noticed straight away that the privilege lies in the setting and fell head over heels for the colours, the soundtrack, and some pretty bizarre succulents (page 24). Closer to Cape Town you’ll find the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park in full bloom and open to the public in August and September. Even the windy beaches are covered in daisies. A team of Italian conservationists spent 30 days on a photo expedition in the park and they’ve shared their precious images with us.
PUBLISHED BY Tip Africa Publishing PO Box 13022, Woodstock, 7915 T: (+27) 021-447-6094 F: (+27) 021-447-0312 firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL QUERIES 021-448-5425 BUSINESS & SALES Jaco Scholtz email@example.com | C: 083-303-0453 PUBLISHER Theo Pauw firstname.lastname@example.org | C: 082-558-5730
On my annual autumn pilgrimage to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, we tallied five cheetahs and a handsome leopard. Even on days when the big cats were shy, the magnificent birds of prey never disappointed. Take a look at my photo gallery on wildcard.co.za by typing Kgalagadi Raptors in the search box. The take-home memory of this trip, however, was badgers on the hunt. A trio of fabulous sightings on three consecutive days. How wild is that! Savour the joys of winter with your Wild Card. Here’s to sizzling memories.
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4 WILD WINTER 2018
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PUNDA MARIA MAGIC I arrived at Punda Maria for a two-night stay and left three weeks later. What a place! I literally parked the car and lay in bed watching game night and day. Leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, bushbaby, civet... the list kept growing. When I wasn’t being lazy in bed, I was walking and birding on the Flycatcher Trail or swimming in the pool. Besides the compulsory visits to Pafuri Picnic Site and Crooks’ Corner, I hardly left camp. When I did, it was normally to keep the battery going or to top up on supplies from the local shop I discovered about 28km from camp. Best holiday ever. Punda has become my number one place to stay; looking forward to my next visit. Big thanks to all the staff, you are amazing. Dusty Elton
Send us your letter for the chance to win. Dusty Elton wins a pair of Wild-Fire Low crossover shoes (R1 099) from HI-TEC. These rugged shoes are just as at home in the bush as in the big city. Micro-fleece fabric keeps feet dry and comfortable inside while the invisible i-shield layer on the outside shrugs off water and dirt. Wild-Fire Low feature extra cushioning so your feet won’t get tired.
IMFOLOZI TIPS Since our first visit to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HIP) in 2015 we simply cannot get enough and return as often as possible. On our last trip we often felt as if we were the only vehicle in the park. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife does phenomenal conservation work, which mostly goes unnoticed. We’ve been fortunate enough to join one of their conservation programmes for a short period and experienced first-hand the efforts made to conserve some of southern Africa’s most endangered species. When you interact with any of the staff you realise that they do it for the love of nature, often www.wildcard.co.za
at huge sacrifice to themselves and their families. Rhino conservation is still at the heart of HIP’s ethos and you won’t find a better place to get close to these magnificent animals, which is a huge attraction for any wildlife photographer. I’m a wild dog enthusiast and I would suggest heading out to point 17 in iMfolozi as soon as the camp gate opens, as three different packs’ territory overlap around this point. You probably have as good a chance to find them here as you would anywhere in the world. Gertzen Schlemmer WINTER 2018 WILD 5
THREAT TO WILDLIFE My husband and I have just returned from another wonderful visit to our amazing national parks, this time Mountain Zebra and Addo. We ended our holiday with a few nights at Ebb-and-Flow, Wilderness, where the friendly staff are committed to keeping the environment in pristine condition. Not so with all visitors. Our neighbours broke the cardinal rule, which prohibits the feeding of all wildlife. We observed them feeding bread to about 50 or more guinea fowl and ducks from their chalet. These beautiful birds gathered continuously outside their hut, waiting patiently for their next meal and also to have their gut contaminated. Imagine if everyone came to our parks with this sense of entitlement, to do whatever pleases them. Please put up signage about wildlife feeding being prohibited. So saddened that this took place, in spite of the efforts of the wonderful rangers who care about conservation and the public that support them in many ways. Trudy Stegmann
All the reasons why responsible guests should not feed wild animals are due to appear in the Spring 2018 issue of Wild. – Ed.
ELEPHANT ARTIST This ‘street painting’ shows marks made by an elephant on a dirt road in the Kruger National Park, a few hours after a short night shower. Elephants love to drag their trunks when walking. The outline looks like it may also serve as a template for pottery and textile designs. Roland A Simonet, Switzerland
EYE SPY Early one morning near Crocodile Bridge in the Kruger National Park we enjoyed a very rare sighting of a pair of leopards coming together to mate. While we watched them frolicking in the long grass, one of them stood up to shake its head — as animals do to get rid of irritations. One assumes that the action of shaking one’s head (human or animal) is probably haphazard, with eyes closed. In this case the head revolved around a slightly open left eye. With us being close by, could we come to the conclusion that this leopard may have wanted to keep an eye even while shaking its head? Simon Holland
Wild’s art director, Riaan Vermeulen, responds: The camera does see the world differently! In theory the outer or wider area of the circumference would show much more movement and be blurred much more. So the movement of the outer whiskers is much more than the fractional movement of the eye. (Like photographing the spinning wheel of a car.) A slow motion camera could perhaps tell for sure, but to really know if he had a watchful eye on the photographer, we would need to know if he’s a slow or a quick blinker, and then get somebody with a maths PhD to crunch the numbers. 6 WILD WINTER 2018
Where did you go with your Wild Card? Send us a picture of your card in the parks and you could win free renewal of your membership. Email your pic to competition@tipafrica. co.za (subject line: Card). For rules, visit www.wildcard.co.za/ category/competitions.
Gilles Stern wins free renewal with this picture of his visit to Cape Point in Table Mountain National Park.
I use the magazine for planning trips for ourselves, and also for some friends from Holland who have recently discovered the beauty of driving in South Africa and staying in the wonderful SANParks and CapeNature places. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Allan Raaff
POLLUTED BEACH During a recent stay in West Coast National Park with friends, we drove to the Tsaarsbank car park to go for a walk along the beach towards the shipwreck of the Pantelis A Lemos. To our collective horror we found the entire beach, from wave line to the dunes covered in litter and waste. The issue of pollution is extremely disheartening. It is alarming to listen to the eternal optimist, Sir David Attenborough, finally accepting that this pollution does not bode well for our planet. How this stuff ends up in the oceans is because man is putting it there, not just from the land either, but ships, too. It will come back to haunt us. Andrew Satow
Carmen Gagiano, Section Ranger: West Coast National Park, responds: The litter on 16 Mile Beach is mainly from passing ships, although studies have shown that some of the material comes all the way from the V&A Waterfront. Sea conditions affect the amount encountered. SANParks cleans the beach regularly using Working for the Coast teams but it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take long to fill up with litter again. During quieter months cleaning takes place on Mondays and Fridays.
ALLSORTS GIRAFFES Making our way to our campsite at Tzendze in Kruger National Park, we were travelling on the new Ngotso one-way dirt road off the H14. We spotted this giraffe which appears to be covered in growths all over its body. It was browsing with several other giraffe that were normal. Can you help identify this condition? Is it contagious or painful? Heather Warrior
On our last visit to Kruger we spotted this giraffe licking and playing with what seemed to be a vertebra bone. I know that some antelope may display this behaviour as a method of obtaining calcium, but we’ve never seen this with giraffe, knowing that they are quite vulnerable when reaching for the ground. Juan-Pierre Carstens Dr Francois Deacon, Senior Lecturer: Animal and Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, University of the Free State, answers: The lumps on the giraffe’s skin are known as papillomavirus. Among mammals there are several hundreds of papillomavirus species. Many of these cause small, benign tumours, known as papillomas or warts. They are seldom contagious among species and react exclusively in the basal layer of body surface tissue, typically the sexual organs, anus, mouth or airways. This animal has probably adapted to living with the lesions, lumps and warts. Some discomfort and irritation will occur if the warts are bruised, damaged or undergo pressure. It looks like this giraffe has long ago accepted its condition because in all other respects it appears healthy. The giraffe chewing on a bone is engaged in osteophagia, behaviour linked to a health issue such as mineral deficiency. This has often been observed and is associated with kidney stones. My study in the Kalahari showed that giraffes are highly susceptible to calcium (Ca), potassium (K) and phosphorus (P) imbalances and that bones have the potential to provide supplements. Without sufficient mineral supplements, animals may develop rickets characterised by a loss in general condition and lethargy. During their growth to adulthood, giraffes have to absorb up to twice as much calcium as the African buffalo. In this instance it is most likely a phosphorus deficiency which is common during the winter months from May to September, due to low quality foliage. 8 WILD WINTER 2018
We recently went camping in the Kruger National Park and once again I was reminded of how selfish and inconsiderate humans are. While camping at Shingwedzi, I noticed multiple campers had blue lights at their campsites to kill insects at night. Don’t they realise that insects are part of nature as well? Every insect they kill is one meal less for a bat or bird or owl. The insects have just as much right, if not more, to be in the camp. If you can’t deal with having a few bugs around, don’t camp. I think these lights should be banned from all national parks. I must congratulate you on a wonderful magazine. My husband and I eagerly await each new issue. Marguerite Aitchison
RUNNING MOM We often hike in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve where we can use our Wild Card. Normally I walk at the back because I am always taking photos. On this morning I wanted to get a good pic of the trail ahead without anyone in the pic. I ran past my son in order to get the shot I wanted. The next minute he came charging past me. I shouted, “Where are you running to?” He answered, “I don’t know, why are you running?” Needless to say if Mom runs, you better run faster. Hope this brought a smile to you, too, as we still have a great laugh about it. Bernice Groenewald
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Sentinel Peak Chain Ladder Trail, uKhahlambaDrakensberg Park
SLOW TOURISM Sustainable travel at a relaxed pace and in harmony with nature
When you pause, drift, saunter and ponder under a blue sky, you tap into a more restful way of being. These immersive moments will help you tune out daily life. By Magriet Kruger
The Big Cat Fan
Cheetah tracking, Mountain Zebra National Park
The Water Baby
Whisky Creek Canoe Trail,
Keurbooms River Nature Reserve
The Culture Vulture
!Xaus Lodge, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
When you’re climbing to the top of a mountain, it’s a good idea to pace yourself. And when your hike involves chain ladders, you have no choice but to take it a step at a time. All the better for taking in the scenery. The western end of the Amphitheatre is where Tugela Falls, the world’s second-highest waterfall, plummets to the valley below. A mountainscape of chiselled buttresses stretches before you. Even though this 12 km day hike is the essence of slow tourism, you’re guaranteed to feel a rush.
The open plains of the Great Karoo are happy hunting grounds for the fastest animal on land. Since being reintroduced in 2007, Mountain Zebra’s cheetahs have thrived. You can take advantage of the radio collars fitted for research and track these big cats on foot. In the company of an armed field guide, you’ll scan for a signal from a safari vehicle, then approach cautiously. There’s nothing like walking through the bush with the promise of a predator nearby to sharpen all the senses.
There’s no need to hurry when you embark on this 7 km overnight canoe trail. A leisurely four-hour paddle will bring you to the secluded cabin at the trail’s end. There’s more than enough time to stop along the way and have a swim and picnic lunch at one of the little beaches. It’s when you slow right down that you’ll start to notice the jewel-coloured dragonflies skimming across the water. The trail finishes at Whisky Creek Cabin where you can relax around a large fire before turning in.
This luxury Kalahari lodge looks out over a seemingly empty landscape of red dunes and hardy shrubs. But for those who know what to look for, there are stories written in the sand. To learn how to identify animal spoor, you’ll set off on foot in the company of Bushmen trackers. These are people who live in sync with their surroundings, for whom the veld is both larder and medicine chest. They are artists, too, and at the cultural village you can see crafters at work, creating beautiful objects from beads and bone.
Rate R75 hiking fee. Hike is a 2.5 hour drive from Royal Natal. For a qualified guide, contact Elijah Mbonane on 073-137-4690.
Rate R400 a person, no under 12s, min. 2 guests, max. 8. Contact Mountain Zebra 048-801-5700, www.sanparks.org
Rate Off-peak R1 520 for 2-4 people, R320 an extra person. Peak R2 290 for 2-6, R365 thereafter. Max. 10 guests. Contact 021-483-0190.
Rate From R2 700 a person Contact !Xaus Lodge 021-701-7860 www.xauslodge.co.za
10 WILD WINTER 2018
The Mountain Lover
Sentinel Peak Chain Ladder Trail,
We made memories as golden as the sunrise
West Coast National Park: Cottages from R1â&#x20AC;&#x2030;130 for two, from R1â&#x20AC;&#x2030;514 for four Reservations (012) 428 9111 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org www.sanparks.org
PICNIC HERE Take the 4x4 trail to reach this deck at the view point, a picture perfect spot to have a meal.
G A M K A B E R G NAT U R E R E S E RV E
Over & above
High spirits are guaranteed whether you indulge in a sky-high picnic, scramble up a forested gorge or simply chill in Tierkloof Eco Lodge. The reputation of CapeNature’s Gamkaberg Nature Reserve as one of Africa’s finest is well deserved. By Romi Boom
hen the spectacle of daybreak unfurls through a gauze net, it is a hold-your-breath-andremember-the-moment kind of treasure. At five, the full moon whispers in quick silver tones over the cliffs of Tierkloof gorge. I am snug as a bug beneath a cosy duvet, but the side and front flaps of my safari tent have been open all night. By six I lace up my vellies, raring to explore the lower section of the reserve’s signature hike, the Tierkloof Trail. From our environmentally friendly base at Tierkloof Eco Lodge, the route to the Overhang and back entails 10 km of moderately strenuous walking. A perfect outing to work up an appetite. Initially sweet thorn, spekboom and botterboom dot the succulent Karoo vegetation and the trail is plain sailing. Once you enter the deep, forested ravine where buttery light bounces off sandstone crags, it becomes a bit trickier with rock hopping and several crossings of a dry river bed, shaded by wild olive
12 WILD WINTER 2018
trees. Paintbrush lilies against the rock face are exclamation marks of scarlet joy in the otherwise muted palette. In the demarcated rock-climbing zone, just ogling the sheer drop is the stuff of nightmares, even if you’re not challenged by vertigo. Gamkaberg means lion mountain, yet it is another big cat, well researched by the Cape Leopard Trust, that prevails in this wilderness. Soon we find ourselves on ‘leopard highway’, the section where the Tierkloof Trail narrows. The cats are as elusive as ever, yet we luck upon fresh, distinct tracks in the sand. They’re here! Late morning proves a good time to pack a cooler box and attempt the winding 4x4 track up the Gamkaberg. Concrete slabs stabilise the ascent of Lawson’s Pass, named after Brett Lawson, an erstwhile reserve manager. Even though heavy showers the previous week, 30 mm in 30 minutes, had shut down the Oukraal section of the route, the breathtaking viewpoint atop the rugged plateau is
accessible for a lofty picnic. From the wooden deck that appears to float on the edge of the precipice, the heavenly scenery extends all the way to the Swartberg, hazy in the far-off distance. We’re in the caress of clouds. It’s impossible to imagine a more sublime spot for lunch. With the day drawing to a close, some of our group chill in hammocks in the lapa area, others sip sundowners by the plunge pool that is naturally filtered by reeds. In the cliffs nearby, baboons kick up a racket. A little scamp gets a spanking, and with the troop moving in our direction, we quickly roll down the canvas awnings in the kitchen. I am not yet done with exploring the reserve on foot and set out on the 4 km
Pied Barbet hike, one of four easy day trails. Number plates assist with Karoo bossie identification. Even non-botanists will enjoy a rewarding stroll among guarrie and euphorbia. Many of the plants have poetry in their names: think plakkiesbos, skilpadbos and klapperbos. Some of the vegetation in the area is delicate and easily damaged, which is why visitors are cautioned not to wander from the pathways. For its conservation ethos, affordability and comfort, Gamkaberg earned a place in the Top 50 line-up of Africa’s Finest, a book on the most sustainable tourism lodges on the continent. Whether you want to make every minute count, or lose yourself in time, it’s a retreat to remember. /
TRIP PLANNER The reserve has three eco lodges, each booked for the exclusive use of one party. During offpeak season R650 a night for one or two people, R325 an extra person. During peak season Fossil Ridge R1 300 (sleeps 4), Sweet Thorn R1 950 (sleeps 6), Tierkloof R2 600 (sleeps 8). Conservation fees R40 an adult, R20 a child, Wild Card members free. Bookings CapeNature Central Reservations 021-483-0190, www.capenature.co.za www.wildcard.co.za
1 Inside a stylish and comfy tent. 2 The eco pool is filtered by reeds. 3 The reserve is rich in early marine invertebrate fossils. 4 Tierkloof Eco Lodge has three safari tents.
Gamkaberg Nature Reserve lies 33 km from Oudtshoorn.
WINTER 2018 WILD 13
Merry go round Wide-sky plains and gritty gravel passes make Namaqua National Park a pedalling destination suited to families as well as riders who enjoy a challenge. By Jacques Marais
ost people instantly think of flowers in full bloom when you mention the Namaqua region. Me, not so much. I conjure up daydreams stringing together endless gravel roads, tortuous enduro downhills and the lazy zig-zag of singletrack looping along a distant Sandveld ridge. The park brims with mountain-biking opportunities throughout the year. One of the best things about it is that you will have the roads mostly to yourself. There aren’t any formal mountain-biking trails, but visitors can crank on more than 200 km of roads and tracks open to the public, including the 180 km Caracal Eco Trail.
ALTITUDE & ATTITUDE 4 TOP RIDES
14 WILD WINTER 2018
SKILPAD REST CAMP RETURN Exit the rest camp road and turn right towards the coast, immediately pinning your ears back as the downhill kicks in. Except for the occasional up, it is a wild ride as you plummet from the escarpment onto the coastal plains (9 km). Settle into a gravel-grinder as you continue on to Soebatsfontein (26 km), where you can grab a cold drink before cranking into the massive return climb. Distance 52 km return Fitness/skills level Intermediate Duration 3 to 5 hours
WILDEPERDEHOEK PASS Don’t spare the horses as you ride wild along this 4,8 km pass in the northern part of the park. It makes for a short, sharp and scenic return ride if you have a back-up vehicle to get you in and out. Link it to the Messelpad Pass (17 km) to super-size your ride. Distance 44 km return Fitness/skills level Easy to Intermediate Duration 3 to 4 hours Did you know? The Wildeperdehoek Pass was built in the 1860s. The summit is reached at 529 metres.
N A M A Q UA N AT I O N A L PA R K
For a unique experience,
explore the spectacular
Coastal Section from the
saddle. Note that it is too sandy for normal
! t a h t is d il w # How CARACAL ECO ROUTE This well-marked 4x4 route constitutes a solid 180 km, mostly navigable by mountain bike. A good idea would be to focus on the section to the coastal town of Hondeklip Bay, around 84 km from Skilpad Rest Camp. The first part of the route follows the park roads to Soebatsfontein, before you turn right onto the well-signposted Caracal Eco Trail (16 km). Distance 84 km one way Fitness/skills level Intermediate Duration 4 to 6 hours
mountain biking and
requires a fat-bike.
GROEN-SPOEG COASTAL SECTION There are two reasons why this could turn into a suffer-fest of a ride. Firstly, there are serious corrugations on the section of gravel road south from Hondeklip Bay. Secondly, you will be subjected to sections of soft sand. Suck it up and carry your bike or instead swap it for a fat-bike along the sandy coastal sections, where you can soak up the tranquillity of the park at the remote campsites. Distance 67 km Fitness/skills level Intermediate to Difficult Duration 4 to 7 hours
Why not combine your cranking pleasures with a flowers trip? For inspiration, turn to page 24.
Accommodation Chalets at Skilpad Rest Camp cost from R671 a night for one or two people, going up to R1 120 a night during flower season. R263 an extra adult, R132 an extra child. Coastal campsites are R147 a night for one to six people. Conservation fees R41 an adult, R21 a child, Wild Card members free Contact SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org www.wildcard.co.za
Namaqua National Park is not quite 500 km from Cape Town, off the N7. WINTER 2018 WILD 15
ADVENTURE & ACTIVITY
Swaziland is smaller than Gauteng, but its trio of Big Game Parks displays an extraordinary diversity. Lace up your hiking boots and feel the wildness dial go up to 10. By Hlengiwe Magagula Pictures Sabie Botha
16 WILD WINTER 2018
The Big Game Parks of Swaziland lend themselves to bush walks, like here at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. A walking safari offers participants the chance to slow down and notice the little things (inset below).
Hlane Royal National Park is home to finelooking white rhino.
WINTER 2018 WILD 17
ADVENTURE & ACTIVITY
o the French visit the Eiffel Tower? I’ve heard they don’t. They treasure it, I’m sure, but leave it for the tourists. This was my musing on a wet evening, at the start of a tour of the treasures in my own backyard, the Big Game Parks of Swaziland. Living in the Kingdom, it’s a bit embarrassing how seldom I’ve visited Mlilwane, Hlane and Mkhaya. But now I was to set that right, and determined to do it in my favourite safari style, on foot. First up was Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, nearest to home. This is the ‘tamest’ park, located in the Kingdom’s heartland, the Ezulwini Valley. It is known both for its conservation programmes and as an activity centre with walking, mountain biking and horse riding available. I arrived at the rest camp after dark and almost fell over some slumbering warthogs, warming their bellies at the campfire that has burned unquenched for half a century. After a peaceful night in a spotless traditional grass-domed hut, I found the warthogs replaced by damp impalas. It wasn’t just wet, but hot, hot, hot. As the sun climbed over distant forest plantations, steam rose from the grasslands where a mixed crew of zebras and antelopes browsed. They hardly raised their heads from breakfast as I joined a small group and set out with Musa Tsabedze, our guide, to a dam. Without Big Five animals, Mlilwane is safe to walk and cycle. But I certainly heeded the warning sign not to get too close to a dozing crocodile. A couple of fit-looking cyclists stopped to chat. They would cover 13 kilometres on their morning tour. It looked like a great way to enjoy Mlilwane, but the last bike I rode had training wheels, and I was keen to avoid injury for the days ahead. Up on Mlilwane Hill (the name means ‘little fire’), I witnessed the serious side of conservation work, a handsome herd of roan antelope restored from local extinction. The 15-year project has been so successful that soon they will be able to relocate roan to other parks. Hlane Royal National Park was an hour
18 WILD WINTER 2018
away. This park is ‘royal’ because it is held in trust for the nation by the king, His Majesty King Mswati III. Once a hunting ground, it is now the flagship of habitat protection and home of Swaziland’s only big cats. The name of the main camp is a clue as to what else to expect, Ndlovu meaning elephant. The camp is next to a large waterhole, which I found brimful with summer rain. With no electricity for air-conditioning or a fan, I cooled after dark sitting outside by the light of an oil lantern. The breeze delivered reminders that the wildness dial was up to 10. Odd noises, then the unmistakable roar of lion in the middle distance. Then, the odd noises again, closer, and heavy footsteps. I pointed my torch into the night, to find an elephant facing me, fortunately behind a sturdy fence. In the morning, my memory fresh with lion sounds, I met my guide, Lucky Vilakati, and looked nervously at the stick he carried in place of a gun. He explained that Hlane has been fenced to keep the endangered species separate from us walkers. What followed was a crash course in nature education. Hlane may be smaller than more famous parks (I’m looking at you, Kruger) but it packs a wealth of natural history. We lolled in the shade of a thorn tree as Lucky told us of the uses for its wood, which include railway sleepers and mine-shaft supports. Nearby, a giraffe delicately selected some leaves using its long tongue. Thorn trees can sense giraffes feeding and secrete a defensive foul-tasting chemical, and even communicate via gas to other trees nearby to warn them. A sudden flutter and a couple of “wows” announced the appearance of a purple-crested turaco, the national bird of Swaziland. I’ve seen this beauty before, a crazy riot of rainbow feathers, but never tire of spotting another. As cameras snapped, we had a chat about how in the avian world it’s the males who make the most effort to look beautiful. Our guide fed our curiosity, bringing us to an aardvark excavation. He called it the bushland “minister for housing”, as other animals
1 1 At Mlilwane hikers enjoy views of grasslands, undulating hills and lush forests. 2 Guests can rent mountain bikes and join a guided trail or opt to see Mlilwane at their own pace. 3 Hlane offers plenty of big game sightings, from imposing elephants to graceful giraffe. 4 The author admiring a rhino at Mkhaya Game Reserve.
We moved on animal trails and 4x4 tracks, pausing often in the shade to absorb more lore.
that! s i d l i w # How 3 www.wildcard.co.za
ADVENTURE & ACTIVITY
Mkhaya staff in traditional Swazi dress welcome guests. 20 WILD WINTER 2018
We call the wildebeest ingongoni, the siSwati word for December, as thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s when they give birth.
A handsome blue wildebeest grazes on the lush grasses in Mkhaya. www.wildcard.co.za
WINTER 2018 WILD 21
ADVENTURE & ACTIVITY
The highlight was a very close encounter with three handsome lions – I swear I could smell their breath when they yawned!
TOP TIPS Spend your first night in Mlilwane in beehive accommodation.
After exploring Hlane on foot in the morning, a guided game drive in the afternoon holds its own rewards. 22 WILD WINTER 2018
Explore the park’s natural beauty from the saddle – the mountain scenery and open grass landscapes are perfect for MTB and horseriding.
including pythons and warthogs are happy to take over these burrows. We moved on animal trails and 4x4 tracks, pausing often in the shade to absorb more lore. Under a tamboti, Lucky described how its hardwood is preferred for furniture, and powdered bark can cure headaches, yet if burned the smoke can not only give you a headache, but an upset stomach, too. In the afternoon sun, I was happy to take a break from the trail and jump in a vehicle to enter the inner fenced park. The highlight was a very close encounter with three handsome lions. I swear I could smell their breath when they yawned! My final destination, Mkhaya Game Reserve, is 10 000 hectares of dense lowveld, and has both black and white rhinos. The experience at Mkhaya is quite a contrast to the other parks. It caters for small numbers of visitors, who must leave their vehicle at the gate, where the welcome included chilled face towels and even colder drinks. We transferred to a game-viewing vehicle and immediately met some of the park’s famous residents, the wildebeest. We call them ingongoni, the siSwati word for December, as that’s when they give birth. We soon spotted a small group of white rhino grazing and climbed down to approach for a closer look on foot. A little later we were thrilled to meet their cranky cousin, the black rhino. It is shocking to think how few are left. Mkhaya’s Stone Camp is something special. If I tell you that the accommodation has no doors or windows and just low walls, you’d think it was unfinished, but I promise it’s not. Never have I felt more immersed in the natural world and, after three busy days, I slept like a baby. The expert guides at Mkhaya can tailor walks, picking a different area depending on visitor interests. On my last morning we left camp and crossed the low flowing Umgwenyana (Little Crocodile) River to walk to a bird hide on a nearby hill. It was a little rainy and not much was moving. It gave me time to reflect on the wonderful diversity of habitats in our little kingdom. With the activities at Mlilwane, the lions at Hlane and the black rhinos and luxury of Mkhaya, each is a distinct experience. And unlike at the Eiffel Tower, there are no crowds to battle. /
Mkhaya’s Stone Camp
Plan your Swazi trip Getting there A round trip from Johannesburg is around 1 000 km. Budget about R1 300 for petrol, plus R180 for four toll gates there and back, as well as R50 for road tax. Remember paperwork for your vehicle and a ZA sticker for the back of your car. 340 km Gauteng to Oshoek border post. Leave home at 09h00, short stop for coffee, arrive at the border 13h30. Allow 90 minutes here. An early arrival is recommended, especially on Fridays, when people go home for the weekend. Take note: no meat, veg or fruit can be taken into Swaziland from South Africa. 46 km Oshoek to Mlilwane. Stop at The Gables Mall, 10 km from Mlilwane, to buy whatever you need. Good roads to Mlilwane. 96 km Mlilwane to Hlane. Good roads. 61 km Hlane to Mkhaya. About 2 hours on the MR 16 due to potholes. 450 km Mkhaya to Gauteng, 6 1/2 hours with a stop for lunch. Just 20 minutes at the border on the return.
Mlilwane has a variety of accommodation, from beehive huts (R470 a person a night) and rondavels for self-catering (R505 a person) to the luxurious Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge (from R1 205 a person for dinner, bed and breakfast). Hlane has camping (R125 a person a night) and a range of options for self-catering (from R495 a person). Mkhaya offers all-inclusive packages with guided activities, dinner, bed and breakfast. Prices vary according to the amount of time spent and start from R2 125 a person. Reservations +268-2528-3943, www.biggameparks.org
Mlilwane and Hlane R55 a person, Wild Card members free. At Mkhaya conservation fees are included in the package. WINTER 2018 WILD 23
CULTURE & NATURE
A musical weekend aims to raise the profile of Golden Gate Highlands National Park, and show it has the beauty and majesty of the Drakensberg, without the crowds. By Lesley Stones
The hills are
The imposing Brandwag Buttress lures you to climb it or take hundreds of photos.
GOLDEN Sublime classical music rang out over Golden Gateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sandstone cliffs at the inaugural Golden Classics, a weekend of culture.
ild is that! w w o H # www.wildcard.co.za
WINTER 2018 WILD 55
CULTURE & NATURE
here are times when music can provoke me to tears or to great joy. Times when admiring a burning sunset or the mystery of a million stars makes my spirit soar. So when I hear gorgeous music against a backdrop of nature’s greatest hits, my soul is so well stirred it feels like a heady cocktail. All in all, a pretty good way to spend a weekend, enjoying the inaugural FNB Golden Classics concert in Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The park is named for its spectacular wind-carved sandstone crags that glow a beautiful reddish gold at sunrise and sunset. They’re still stunning in the daytime, with the imposing Brandwag Buttress luring you to climb it or take hundreds of photos. SANParks launched the concert weekend last December. The performances included an intimate jazz evening in a marquee in the Basotho Cultural Village. The Jazz Trio was joined by singers Gloria Bosman and Tim Moloi, with the artists having as much fun as the audience. “I’ve never been to this part of the country and the drive down once we got into the mountains was beautiful. It was just lovely to be at this beautiful place and know we were the first people to do this concert,” Moloi said. “Music and nature go well together and everyone really enjoyed and appreciated the music. I felt enriched by the whole experience.” By Saturday night a full stage had been erected on the lawns of the Golden Gate Hotel, with Brandwag Buttress as the breathtaking backdrop. The Free State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kutlwano Masote played beautifully, despite the wind whipping up a crescendo of its own. Tenor Given Nkosi and spinto soprano Kelebogile Besong performed stirring duets and solos, and we ignored the rain to give them a standing ovation.
56 WILD WINTER 2018
The park’s year-round attractions include biking, hiking and 4x4 trails as well as a Basotho Cultural Village. Field Ranger Phadi Mashapane drove me out to see the vulture hide. The eyrie on the heights of Golden Gate was silent except for a wind that rattled the ribcage of some unfortunate animal lying picked clean on the ground. A large bird flew elegantly high above. A bearded vulture came to check if the vulture restaurant was open. Rangers built the hide a few years ago so they could observe vulnerable Cape vultures and endangered bearded vultures as they fed. The vultures feast when a carcass is donated by nearby farmers, when 40 or 50 of the ever-vigilant birds fly in. On the drive back down the park’s welltarred roads, we passed a group of walkers. “We don’t have the Big Five here so it’s great for hikers. They can walk far and wide,” said Mashapane. Cycling is also a big attraction for the spectacular scenery, the challenging hills and the lack of predators. To sample coffee, a spa treatment or craft beer at a brewery, the arts and crafty town of Clarens is close by, with attractions such as golf, quad biking, ziplining, archery and flyfishing. Horse riding is offered inside the park boundaries. The musical weekend aims to raise the profile of Golden Gate and show it has the beauty and majesty of the Drakensberg, without the crowds. “We want to elevate the stature and visibility of the park. With a limited budget we have to go for ‘talkability’ and see what type of occasion would lure people to visit,” said Hapiloe Sello, SANPark’s Managing Executive for Tourism and Marketing. “There’s a growing interest in operatic and classical music. More young talent is coming through,” she said. The event may grow in length and breadth to include a farm food fair, but will be capped to about 300 tickets. Now that’s something to sing about.
Above: The Basotho Cultural Village in the park. Right and below: Members of the Free State Symphony Orchestra played their hearts out.
So when I hear gorgeous music against a backdrop of natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest hits, my soul is so well stirred it feels like a heady cocktail.
Golden Gate is renowned for its natural beauty and before the evening concerts, guests had plenty to explore.
CULTURE & NATURE Baroque in the Bush concerts are held at Shingwedzi in the Kruger National Park.
Upstaged by elephants and hippo It’s not often a musician gets overshadowed by an elephant, but it’s an occupational hazard for those who perform in the Kruger National Park. Sunset Serenades in Kruger’s Mopani Camp are hosted every year by the Conservation Services Unit of SANParks’ Honorary Rangers. “It’s an amazing experience, combining people’s passion for the bush and passion for music,” says cellist Peta-Ann Holdcroft, who has organised the ensemble and the music since the inception 19 years ago. “It’s such a wonderful thing to do out in the beautiful African bush. In the evenings the animals and birds get attracted to the music and we occasionally get upstaged by an elephant. If we play where there’s a lot of water, hippos come and almost guffaw after a piece of delightful music.” The six musicians play concerts for three evenings in three different settings, chosen for their spectacular views or an outstanding feature like a giant baobab. Sunset Serenades typically take place in May of every year. Numbers are limited to 120 guests who pay from R8 900 and stay in the camp’s bungalows. All proceeds help the honorary rangers fight rhino poaching. For details about the next Sunset Serenade, email email@example.com. Baroque in the Bush concerts, now in its 24th year, are another way to enjoy the sublime combination of music and the melody of nature. At Shingwedzi in Kruger, 16 musicians are conducted by Richard Cock. “What makes it so special is that it’s such a different atmosphere to a traditional concert hall or space. The bush is so close, and we get many animal visitors during our concerts, which makes it unlike any other concert experience,” says Cock. “The music seems to be intriguing to elephants especially, who visit us on a regular basis. These unusual audience members add a touch of magic to every Baroque in the Bush concert.” Shingwedzi’s large thatched veranda overlooking the river serves as the concert hall. It’s sold out for this September, but you can try for next year at www.montybrett.com.
58 WILD WINTER 2018
Once you’ve seen our parks, you’ll always want to come back.
Hapiloe Sello, SANParks Managing Executive for Tourism and Marketing, wants more South Africans to know the joy of the national parks.
FRANCOIS BOOYENS, STYLIST: LEE-ANN NOURSE
Futureparks SANParks aims to get more people into parks by spreading the message that it’s the best real estate in the world. Once seen, you’ll always want to come back. Wild talks to Hapiloe Sello, who’s in charge of visitor growth.
lmost every year the areas under SANParks’ protection continue to grow, even as government funding declines. To increase the support base for conservation, there’s the issue of getting more South Africans into the parks. Wild sat down with Hapiloe Sello, the Managing Executive for Tourism and Marketing, to find out how the organisation sees the future.
WINTER 2018 WILD 59
There’s something about the contrast between the lush, indigenous forest and this wild sea smashing against the shoreline. Is there enough support for the national parks? We have extremely loyal clients who are repeat visitors, who come to our parks two or three times a year. They tend to be domestic tourists and they are our lifeblood, so looking after them is particularly important. They are very much appreciated. Our challenge is that these loyal clients are not necessarily particularly young, whereas the majority of South Africans are 35 years and under. We are not seeing enough of the younger generation across the races – new faces coming in and adopting the parks as destination choices. We have the luxury of having 19 parks, yet 70 per cent of our visitors go to Kruger and Table Mountain National Park only. Whereas in those 19 there is a destination for every taste and preference. For example, I love water, I love mountains and I am passionate about heritage, so Golden Gate, Tsitsikamma and Mapungubwe are immediately my favourites. Other people do the Big Five. What is SANParks doing to get more people into more parks? We are creating events for people to come to the parks, people who wouldn’t necessarily come otherwise. We are giving people an excuse to visit a park. Once seen, you’ll always 60 WILD WINTER 2018
want to come back. The events themselves are not money spinners, they are profileraising events for the parks. We are also increasing our social media presence with special offers and promotions. What are some of the events you’ve hosted? We’ve created the annual Golden Classics concerts and also the Mapungubwe Lecture Series. At the Golden Classics you can see opera without dressing up, you can enjoy the arts in the wild. The vision is for the lecture series to evolve into an annual event with different professors giving their perspectives on Mapungubwe’s history. Two years ago we had our weekend of African Spirituality, which we still have to revisit. We’re constantly conceptualising new events and refining them, and we have a few surprises in store regarding brand awareness. Do you see culture and history playing a bigger role in attracting visitors? Yes, SANParks has the secondary mandate of conservation of cultural heritage. We have amazing history attached to the areas we conserve, more than people are aware. There is Thulamela in Kruger [read more about this historic site on page 50], there is Masorini, places that tell the history of our people. We have incredible rock paintings and we have
Mapungubwe, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Over the next couple of years we are going to start amplifying the cultural and heritage side a bit more. What part does technology have to play? The market we need to grow is young, these are people who live on immediacy of everything, short attention spans. For them everything has to be technology driven, preferably mobile, so we should be looking at a future where a lot of the tourism experience is enhanced by technology [see page 91]. We have to improve our transaction systems. How quickly we process people through the gates, how quickly people can book and get feedback, how quickly people can get information. We’d love to develop apps and other devices that serve as tour guides since interpretation is powerful in enhancing visitor experience. Once you’ve been through the interpretation of Mapungubwe Hill, it stops being merely a hill, your mind is able to conjure up how life was in that area in the 14th century. For Kruger, it might say, ‘You’ve just passed the Masorini Ruins’ or ‘This is Lake Panic’ and explain what it means. Those pieces of information enhance experiences. The younger market is also looking for a variety of things to do in the parks. We have to develop more activities inside and on the periphery of parks; for example, ziplining, quad biking and mountain biking. How important is tourism in achieving SANParks’ conservation goals? The revenues are what fund our ability to www.wildcard.co.za
While Tsitsikamma’s rugged coast will appeal to some, others might long for the Richtersveld’s craggy mountains. With 19 national parks in the network, there’s a destination for every taste.
continuously guard the conserved areas. It is a fine balance between the carrying capacity of our conserved areas and the need to drive revenues. That’s why we practise what we call responsible tourism, which means we touch the Earth lightly in the products we develop and in the numbers of tourists that come into our parks. Last financial year we had 1.7 million people in Kruger, but Kruger is not overdeveloped at all. Less than five per cent of the two million hectares of the park is developed, and that includes roads. We’re building Skukuza Safari Lodge in Skukuza because the camp is disturbed ground already, to attract a conference market for our state-of-the-art conference centre. Business tourism is powerful in that it brings huge numbers for conferences. Typically a large percentage of delegates return to destinations for leisure visits. What is your favourite? It’s difficult to choose, but I do love going to Tsitsikamma and watching the sea. There’s something about the contrast between the lush, indigenous forest and this wild sea smashing against the rocky shoreline. I find something incredibly calming about it. I still have to do the suspension bridge, but the morning walks are beautiful. Being there gives me a sense of peace. /
WINTER 2018 WILD 61
What eats what? A fascinating food web supports all the creatures of the bush, from the tiniest mouse to the fiercest lion. By Emma Bryce
SCRUB HARE How does a diet of grasses, juicy plant stems and leaves sound? This bouncy animal finds it delicious! Eventually, the scrub hare will become an energy-rich meal for jackals, owls and caracal.
IMPALA Like the hare and mouse, the impala grazes only on plants. Its favourite foods are fresh, green grass shoots. Further down the food chain, this antelope becomes food for jackals, lions and even snakes.
IT ALL BEGINS WITH PLANTS Without grasses, trees and shrubs, there would be no life in the bushveld. Plants cleverly turn sunshine into energy and then share it with animals. Plant eaters (herbivores) like impala munch on plants and store the energy in their bodies. Meat eaters (carnivores) like lion eat those herbivores. At each stage energy is transferred from one living thing to another. In this way all the animals benefit, both big and small.
STRIPED MOUSE This tiny animal, which is the most common mammal in southern Africa, fills its chubby cheeks with a diet of seeds, nuts, flowers and fruits. In turn, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hunted by snakes, jackals, caracal and birds of prey. 88 WILD WINTER 2018
ou know? Sitting at th the food ch e very top of to consume ain, lions have keep theira lot of meat to ener up: almost 10gy levels â&#x20AC;&#x2030;k per day! g LION The lion is the meat-eating king of the veld. Most of its prey are herbivores like impala, hares, zebra and warthogs. Occasionally, it will sink its claws into another carnivore like a jackal or caracal, but it will most likely not eat them. Carnivores do not taste pleasant.
BLACK-BACKED JACKAL While these crafty animals will happily snack on fruits when food is scarce, they also hunt herbivores like hares and small antelope and eat lizards, snakes and birds. Jackals are omnivores, they eat anything and everything!
YELLOW-BILLED KITE Like the owl, this bird of prey catches its meal using a set of piercing talons, but it mostly eats herbivores. The kite soars high, keeping its sharp eyes on the lookout for insects and mice.
CARACAL This furry feline stalks the veld with soft, silent paws in search of planteating creatures like mice, birds, hares, duiker and grysbok. Even young impala and kudu. Caracal occasionally become the target of hungry predators such as wild dogs.
AFRICAN HOUSE SNAKE This slithering reptile feasts on herbivores like mice but also meat eaters such as lizards and even birds. In turn, the snake makes an excellent meal for other snakes and birds of prey, particularly owls.
SPOTTED EAGLE OWL These silent fliers are incredibly skilled hunters, gripping their prey with gleaming, deadly talons. Owls, much like lions, feast on a mixed diet. They eat herbivores like mice and rats, and carnivores like snakes. WINTER 2018 WILD 89
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PARKS PROTOCOL CONNECT NOW Technology can help you appreciate the natural world as long as you keep a sense of balance.
Keep a check on
Technology isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t inherently good or bad. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s both, and everyone needs to find their own balance. By Morgan Trimble
creen addicts can squander an entire holiday without embracing a single moment in nature. Brandishing a selfie stick, buzzing phone and Bluetooth speaker, they can easily ruin the experience for others, too. But purists who demand we forgo tech entirely are out of touch. In decades past, Luddites also argued against tarred roads, electricity and hot water showers in national parks. And few technophobes
today would disparage hi-tech innovations such as binoculars. Advancing technology gives conservationists an unprecedented understanding of the natural world and how to protect it. Tech also makes it easier than ever to plan and book a trip, get there, understand what we see, and later share our experience with others around the world. The tips on the following page could help you keep tech in check. WINTER 2018 WILD 91
Selfies preserve precious memories, but be considerate when snapping them.
Embrace Mobile booking and customer support Most Wild Card parks offer handy online bookings to check availability in real time as well as reserve and pay for accommodation. You can even book a day visit to Kruger in advance online, which is recommended during busy holiday weekends. Problems? Representatives at Wild’s callcentre (0861 GO WILD) are waiting to help with Wild Card queries. Connect and plan On sanparks.org’s busy forums you can connect with nature lovers, get advice and learn more about park experiences. While you’re there, check the webcams for waterhole action around the country and listen to the growing selection of podcasts. Guide book apps Now that many field guides come in app form, it’s possible to carry an entire library in your pocket. My favourites include Sasol eBirds, eFrogs, eSnakes and eTrees of Southern Africa, Stuarts’ SA Mammals, Woodhall’s Butterflies RSA and Insects of South Africa. Roberts VII Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa presents the information from the 1 296-page, 5 kg reference book at the swipe of a finger. Besides the content from the paper books, apps offer handy features such as filtering species by GPS location or physical features, audio playback of calls, photographs, videos and digital checklists. Apps can be cheaper than books, and your back will thank you. xx WILD 92 WILD SPRING WINTER2017 2018
Beware Selfish selfies Sharing your trip through social media helps build appreciation for our parks. But people can get carried away in pursuit of ‘likes’. Instagram is fighting the disturbing trend of taking selfies with wildlife or captive animals. Hashtags such as #lionselfie and #cheetahcuddles now trigger a warning about wildlife exploitation. Even seasoned wildlife photographers need the occasional reminder to think twice about pursuing that perfect picture, to never trample or endanger plants or animals or annoy fellow visitors. And remember, drones are strictly forbidden inside and over national parks. Geotagging Remember to turn off geotagging on your phone or camera when sharing photos of species valuable to poachers such as rhinos, elephant and cycads. Some devices and apps embed the exact location where a photo was taken, which is passed along through social media. Apps like iSpot and iNaturalist are fantastic for learning about nature and sharing observations. But even these could lead criminal collectors to rare and endangered species. Live sightings reports It’s tempting to check live sightings reports through apps or social media to head straight for the action on a game drive. But SANParks advises against it, citing increased reports of speeding, road kills and road rage. Rather take a leisurely drive instead to enjoy the thrill, spontaneity and sense of discovery in finding your own sightings. /
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Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s f lower season in August and September. See page 24 for more. www.sanparks.org +27 (0)12 428 9111 1 Addo Elephant National Park 2 Agulhas National Park 3 Augrabies Falls National Park 4 Bontebok National Park 5 Camdeboo National Park 6 Golden Gate Highlands National Park 7 Karoo National Park 8 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park 9 Knysna National Lake Area 10 Kruger National Park 11 Mapungubwe National Park 12 Marakele National Park 13 Mokala National Park 14 Mountain Zebra National Park 15 Namaqua National Park 16 Table Mountain National Park 17 Tankwa Karoo National Park 18 Tsitsikamma National Park 19 West Coast National Park 20 Wilderness national Park 21 |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
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1 Hlane Royal National Park
22 1 North Coast
MTHATHA Queenstown Graaff-Reinet
5 Camdeboo National Park
Mountain Zebra National Park 14
At Ezemvelo, present your Wild Card + ID + confirmation letter.
King William’s Town Bisho
Addo Elephant National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park
Port Alfred Algoa Bay
N2 St Francis Bay
ss 9 20 Knysna National Lake Area 9
www.msinsi.co.za +27 (0)31-765-7724 www.biggameparks.org +268-2528-3943 / 4
www.kznwildlife.com +27 (0)33-845-1000 1 Amatigulu Nature Reserve
N 10 N 12
1 Hlane Royal National Park 2 Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary 3 Mkhaya Game Reserve
1 2 3 4 5 6
Albert Falls Dam Bon Accorde Hazelmere Dam Inanda Dam Nagle Dam Shongweni Dam
2 Chelmsford Dam Nature Reserve 3 Cobham Nature Reserve 4 Didima - Cathedral Peak 5 Garden Castle Nature Reserve 6 Giants Castle Nature Reserve 7 Harold Johnson Nature Reserve 8 Highmoor Nature Reserve 9 Hilltop – Hluhluwe Game Reserve 10 Mpila – iMfolozi Game Reserve 11 Injesuthi Nature Reserve 12 Ithala Game Reserve 13 Kamberg Nature Reserve 14 Lotheni Nature Reserve 15 Midmar DamNature Reserve 16 Monks Cowl Nature Reserve 17 Ndumo Game Reserve 18 Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve 19 Phongolo Nature Reserve 20 Royal Natal National Park 21 Spioenkop Dam Nature Reserve 22 Umlalazi Nature Reserve 23 Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve 24 Wagendrift Dam Nature Reserve 25 Weenen Game Reserve
WINTER 2018 WILD 95