Author Archives Vanessa

May 17, 2010

Gondwana’s Grand Opening

Gondwana’s Grand Opening

Lehele Lodge

Gondwana Game Reserve opens Lehele Lodge

15 August 2009 Gondwana Game Reserve officially opened Lehele Lodge and the game reserve on Saturday 15 August. The grand opening party was hosted at the newly completed Lehele Lodge and over a 100 guests were in attendance. Lehele Lodge provided the ultimate setting for this festive occasion. It’s cool organic style with warm African flavours set a wonderful backdrop to the celebrations. VIP guests included the Western Cape Minister Gerrit Van Rensburg, the Mayoress of Mossel Bay Marie Ferreira and the head of marketing for Pam Golding Properties Anthony Stroebel.

African singers got the party mood started as sumptuous hor d’oerves, free-flowing gluwein and champagne were passed to guests as they enjoyed the sunset. The elephants came out for the occasion and entertained the crowd from a nearby ridgeline. Gondwana has been the vision and hard work of Mark and Wendy Rutherfoord for the past five years and now the dream has become a top class reality. The opening of Lehele Lodge was another milestone reached and the next step is the completion of new bush lodge at Fynbos Camp including its luxury kwena huts.

The design of the lodge was organic in purpose and concept as it needed to suit multiple needs as an intimate bush lodge for guests to enjoy and as a boutique functions venue. The lodge is comprised of four thatched areas: rounded amoeba-like rugby ball shapes that are interconnected. The architect, FC Holm from George, conceived it to resemble the original Gondwanaland, the prehistoric super-continent that was slowly carved and split by tectonic forces into the continents as we know them today. The Outeniqua and Langeberg Mountains that surround the reserve are the last visible vestiges of these turbulent shifts in the Earth’s crust. The design of the lodge allows visitors to relax in the lounge and library area while a business presentation is taking place in the meeting area next door.

Lehele Lodge Opening 01 05 Lehele Lodge Lehele Lodge Opening 01 07 Lehele Lodge Opening 01 08

The lodge is comprised of the lounge, bar, library and dining area including large outdoor areas with an infinity pool, boma deck area, which has been nicknamed ‘the party pit’, and ample outdoor seating for meals and sundowners. The interactive media library has Apple Mac flat screens for internet use and Fynbos identification programs for visitors to ID their latest finds of the over 5000 varieties found on Gondwana. A fun sighting map with the recent big five and other sightings is updated daily by guests when they arrive back from game drives.

Lynne K Interiors together with Gondwana owner Wendy Rutherfoord planned the interiors to be clean and organic with splashes of colour found in the surrounding Fynbos vegetation. The outdoors is the main feature with floor to ceiling glass doors and windows all around Lehele. The interior form followed the rounded building form with barely any straight edges in the entire lodge. All the furniture was locally custom-made with some items found at various boutiques in Cape Town and throughout Africa. The overall impression is a contemporary natural feel with colourful African accents.

Lehele Lodge Opening 01 Lehele Lodge Lehele Lodge Opening 01 03 Lehele Lodge Opening 01 04

Lehele Lodge not only acts as the hub’ for Gondwana but it is also a popular meeting place for the wildlife population on the reserve. The elephant are often seen walking through and grazing in the lush valley that the lodge overlooks and have delighted visitors with visits to the pool. Malachite and Orange-Breasted Sunbirds flutter at the windows and endangered Black Harriers are seen regularly flying low looking for prey around the waterholes. The Eland are enjoying the freshly planted aloes and the lion keep guests excited with regular visits to the lodge vicinity.

View the Opening Photos

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May 17, 2010

1st Bush Wedding on Gondwana

1st Bush Wedding on Gondwana

7 March 2009

Jessica (De Witt) and Ben Cade celebrated their marriage on Gondwana with a large contingent of guests from England
and South Africa.

The overseas guests and family began their wedding weekend with a sunset game drive followed by a bush braai under
the stars.

Jessica and Ben were wed Saturday afternoon at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Mossel Bay. The reception was in the
middle of the game reserve with African singers entertaining during cocktails and hor d’orves overlooking the mountains,
followed by an elegant dinner under Bedouin tents with witty English toasts and late night dancing led by the DJ.

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May 17, 2010

Lions Released

Gondwana’s New Pride of Lion Capture & Release

Lion Released.

February 23, 2009

The lion were fed their last meal of ostrich while the boma gates were opened for release. They made their way out late in the evening. After one failed attempt at hunting the girls succeeded with a large gemsbok.

Pride in boma.

January / February 2009

The 4 lion were placed into their custom made boma on Gondwana in order for them to bond and settle prior to release.

Young Male lion Captured at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve.

December, 2008

Abdominal implant placed in male for monitoring purposes.

Lions Captured at Amankala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape.

November, 2008

Capture of 3 female lions, 2 year old sisters, at Amankala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. They have been in a boma on Gondwana in order for them to bond with the young male lion we have introduced from the Kalahari.

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May 17, 2010

Gondwana featured on Kfm Daily

Gondwana Game Reserve ran a promotion with Kfm, The Cape’s #1 radio station, for a 4 night give away at its
luxury accommodation. Every day during the month of February the promotion and Gondwana was featured hourly.

Both Mark and Alessandro were interviewed and our reservationist was pranked’ have a listen!

Sound Bites from Kfm

Promotional Snippet

Daily Snippet

Allesandro�s Interview

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May 17, 2010

Elephants Released

Elephants Released

Elephants Released at Gondwana Game Reserve

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

An elephant translocation initiative has been put together by Gondwana Game Reserve, EMOA (Elephant Managers and Owners Association), ETA (Elephant Tourism Association) and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth to release two elephants bulls from semi intensive, confined environments onto Gondwana Game Reserve, a 10,000 hectare reserve located in the Southern Cape.

This relocation has two valuable purposes. Firstly, it releases these elephant into a more natural, sizable habitat allowing them to roam free and forage for themselves. This will be the first free ranging elephant in the Southern Cape since their historical occurrence, other than the phantom Knysna elephants who have eluded people for years.

Secondly, it creates a cutting edge research opportunity utilizing GPS technology to study the elephant’s utilization of a Fynbos reserve. There is virtually no information about elephant resource use in the area, which
limits efforts to restore elephant to these landscapes. The elephant will be equipped with GPS collars in order to have a constant monitoring of their location on the reserve to understand vegetation utilization and space use.
Field work will also be conducted walking with the elephants, which is possible because of their semi-intensive backgrounds, to observe plants eaten and time spent feeding on plant species.

The aim of the study is to gain knowledge about the elephants’ resource use and impacts on the system to inform future elephant management and introductions both in the Southern Cape and on Gondwana Game Reserve. Gondwana’s ultimate goal is to introduce a natural family herd of elephant onto the reserve.

The elephant have been released on Gondwana and are being monitored through their GPS tracking as well as by vehicle and foot daily. They are truly enjoying themselves and covering a large portion of the game reserve.

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May 17, 2010

Gondwana's 1st overnight guest

Gondwana’s 1st overnight guest

1 December 2008

Gondwana opened it’s doors to it’s first official overnight guest on Monday December 1, 2008.

They hailed from Germany and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery, fine cuisine and black rhino sightings.

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May 17, 2010

First Black Rhino Released

Gondwana Game Reserve Introduces First Black Rhino in the Western Cape

3 November 2008

Gondwana Game Reserve continues to make a significant contribution to wildlife and habitat conservation. As part of its rehabilitation efforts and introduction of indigenous wildlife into the area, Gondwana is proud to announce the relocation of two endangered Desert Black Rhinoceros (Bicornus Bicornus) into the Western Cape from the Kalahari Desert. This marks the first Black Rhino in the Western Cape since their historical occurrence in the area.

This relocation of Black Rhinoceros into another suitable habitat is an important endeavor for conservation as the Bicornus Bicornus Black Rhino is a critically endangered species and has been put onto the International Union for Conservation of Natures Red List. During the last century, this rhino has suffered the most drastic decline in total numbers of all rhino species and presently only 3600 are left in the world. Intensive anti-poaching efforts have had encouraging results since 1996 and numbers have been recovering slowly.

The Black Rhinoceros is a particularly selective feeder eating only browse vegetation such as Acacia sub species. Relocating the species is therefore an extensive process in order to ensure they adapt their diet effectively. The rhino were tracked and darted from helicopter in the Kalahari and put into holding bomas. Their time spent in the bomas allows them to wean onto a transitional food such as Lucerne in order to ensure they are adequately nourished while they adapt to the new browse vegetation available on Gondwana. Twice daily a smorgasbord of freshly cut browse was laid out for them to sample and choose from. Experts helped to determine what they would likely eat on the reserve based on their diet in the Kalahari and focus was put into what Gondwana’s current browse feeder species were eating such as the Kudu and Eland. It was ultimately an Eland bull who led us to one of their favourites.

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May 12, 2010

Becoming A True Lion Pride

It’s a beautiful, crisp morning and I am about 30 meters behind 3 lionesses stalking a Gemsbok (Oryx Gazelle). I always get excited when this happens, even though I know how low their success rate is. The male is watching from a safe distance, a good 300 meters, so he cannot get in the way. The females are barely visible in the knee high grass. Suddenly they are off, almost reaching full speed within 20 meters. They never got close though. The gemsbok made them look silly, and as they come back my way I notice why. They are so fat, overweight, call it what you like’ no wonder they were unsuccessful. But then, how did they get so fat?

They stop and lay down next to my vehicle. The male joins them. They are beautiful, in perfect condition. Actually their condition is too good!? It’s worrying, right? Is it the vegetation (Fynbos) on the reserve which makes them more successful by allowing them to stalk closer,or lay in ambush longer? Or is it good genes, hunting instinct? Could it be because they are just over 3 years and still growing, or are they just eating more than the average lion?

Normally lion will kill a big animal every 3-5 days. This young pride goes on for some weeks knocking down something big almost every second day. Now, months later they are still this fat. It is fascinating to have seen these lion grow since the beginning of 2009, losing their spots and becoming massive predators. Watching the male adapt from being a nomad to moving a bit closer to the girls every week’ wanting to join in on their kill and getting rejected every time. Now the girls respect him and he only leaves them when he is out marking his territory. The females hunt for him and he protects them. They are now a true lion pride. Watching this young pride begin and form on Gondwana has been so rewarding, almost growing together with them, particularly knowing they will be around for a long time.

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May 12, 2010

The Honey Badgers

It’s a cold winter’s morning. We just had a big breakfast and decided to go out on drive
afterwards. My guests are from Scotland, a real lovely bunch, all wrapped up in warm blankets. I have
never seen the clouds so beautiful. Their shapes, sizes and ripples make them look unreal. The wind is
coming on too strong and is going to make the drive a bit more difficult.

Luckily there are so many deep valleys where we can go and hide. The bigger game is scarce, also
seeking shelter.

As we hit this rocky patch, something catches my eye. Honey badgers, two of them. They came into
the road moving along the one track in front of us. Now and then they stop, looking back at us almost
posing for a picture. We are really close, watching them swagger along. This makes my guests smile
with delight. We follow them for another 400 meters until they finally decide to move back into the
long grass. We continue to enjoy them as they look for lunch.

What a lovely way to end a cold morning drive.

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May 12, 2010

The Birds Are Back

It’s September and its great seeing all the migratory birds coming back in patches over the last few weeks.

Early morning and afternoon, when you look up during a game drive, the Greater Striped, White Throated Swallows and the Black Sawings are all doing their aerial acrobats. I’m expecting the Steppe Buzzards back soon to once again make it difficult to identify them from the Forest Buzzard.

With Gondwana being so new, it is always fun going out knowing that you can pick up a few species not yet seen on the reserve. Something special on the reserve is that we have so many endemic species; it is worth coming just for them.

Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Black Harrier you will see on every game drive. Mentioning the Black Harrier, its always fun watching them hunting by soaring very low over the Fynbos searching for anything moving.

A while back I saw one catching a male Cape Sugarbird by just plucking him off a Bearded Protea. After that I had a Jackal Buzzard catching a Common Slug-eater in front of my vehicle in the road. The other day I sat for half an hour watching this Black Headed Heron catching and then trying to swallow a huge Common (African) Molerat. It took him seven minutes.

The diversity of vegetation makes the bird watching so enjoyable on Gondwana, whether it be sitting on the grasslands identifying very difficult ‘LBJ’s or watching Secretary Birds and Black Headed Heron hunting anything that is small enough to swallow, or just stopping by a dam in a Fynbos valley and watching so many different species coming for a drink or bath. Cape Sisken, Common Waxbill, Bar Throated Apalis, Cape Grassbird and many more species of Sunbirds are always out and about.

Overall you can get a very good birding experience on the Southern Cape birds and bird watching scene plus all the endemics you can find nowhere else in the world. By the way, I still need some help on the Victorins Warbler, Olive Bush Shrike and the Lesser Honeyguide. Any takers?

Please note Albert has just initiated and completed Gondwana’s first bird hide at a beautiful and lively waterhole on the reserve. Come and enjoy for yourself!

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