December 10, 2013

Happy Trails

The newly established Quagga Hiking Trail is now open to guests to meander and explore the fynbos clad valleys in the 1200 hectare predator free area of Gondwana Game Reserve. Hikers can now amble on foot and see the many treasures on the reserve with points of interest signposted. The trail traverses an area rich in biodiversity that is largely inaccessible to even 4×4 vehicles, while providing the nature lover with the opportunity to marvel at the abundance of indigenous flora while keeping an eye out for rare and endangered animals such as the Cape Mountain Zebra. The trail has been named after the Cape Mountain Zebra that is informally referred to as the Berg Quagga by the local people.  The name quagga is derived from the zebra’s call, which sounds like “kwa-ha-ha.

The 2.5km circular trail is open to all ages and can easily be completed within 45minutes. The walk starts from the Milkwood Valley ridge before descending into a valley where the trail strolls and straddles a non-perennial stream that attracts various indigenous bird and mammal species.

hiking info Gondwana

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November 1, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Gondwana Horse

From the horses’ mouth…

If Gondwana’s horses could talk they would be able to write books full of stories. Our Shire horses have the best of both worlds: the wild horse herd experience that allow them to roam free and fight for their place in the hierarchy. They also have the luxury of being fed and groomed on a daily basis in their own personal stall.  Not to mention the regular visits from the ferrier for a manicure and pedicure. Talk about a stress-free life.

Although these particularly large horses seem intimidating at first, these gentle giants, as Shire’s are known, are more than happy to take a rider along the trails that wander throughout the 1000 hectare protected area with our endangered species.

Their lifestyle is so appealing that they even convinced a zebra to joint their herd. For a couple of months a plains Zebra, given the name Frank, joined the horse herd while the rest of his family went along their way. He would walk with them and come in for food in the morning and at night. He was not so keen on being groomed or ridden; he left that to his adopted family.

Our horses will soon be embarking on a 6 week holiday when they receive their African Horse Sickness injections. For that period it will be all play and no work.

Sounds like the good life to me.

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November 1, 2012

Whats in Bloom!

The spring flowers are out in carpets of oranges, yellows, purples and reds. As species such as the conspicuous Proteas become latent by the passing of winter, we are greeted by a fresh array of blooming plants. The increase in time of day has stimulated various plant species to flower and reproduce. The new season has encouraged rapid growth from underground rootstocks, and more so the geophytes. Renosterveld is well known for its bulb species that are ever so prevalent on Gondwanas’ lower lying areas.

Conspicuous species erupting with new life amongst the dormant Fynbos include the striking yellow wart stemmed pin cushions (Leucospermum cuneiforme). The first description of this species was made in the early 1600s by a botanist named Oldenland on an expedition through the present day Gondwana on route to the Attakwaskloof. The rugged Outeniqua & Langeberg mountains posed a challenge for early settlers who wished to move from the coastal regions into the hinterland. Early navigators such as Oldenland would have to traverse the hazardous trek through the Attakwaskloof, which was originally a thoroughfare for herds of elephants.

Yellow Pin Cushion

Other flowering species includes the candelabra lily (Brunsvigia josephinae.) This notable species is  known to have certain medicinal uses. It is believed that the dry bulb tunics can be used as a wound dressing. This species also has strong cultural value as It is known that young Xhosa men use the tunics as plasters after circumcision.

Gondwana Candelabra lilly

Candelabra Lily

The Babiana (Babiana ambigua) are also in full bloom.  Babiana is derived from Dutch word “baviaantjie” or Afrikaans “bobiaantjie” for small baboon as it believed that they feed on the corms.

Babiana_ambigua gondwana

Babiana Ambigua

The Dolls Rose (Hermania pinnata) has started to flower. This species is often concealed by more dominant species. The common name Doll’s Rose (Poprosie in Afrikaans) for the genus refers to the way the petals are twisted so the flower resembles a miniature rose.

gondwana Dolls rose

Dolls Rose

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November 1, 2012

Gondwana Wins GIFTTS Award!!

Press release

Date: 30th October 2012

Gondwana is recognized for its Conservation and Green Initiatives

In Delhi, India, Gondwana was selected among hundreds of applicants in the Preferred Hotel Group (PHG) to be the honouree in the category of Conservation Well Being in the hotel group’s GIFTTS Awards. GIFTTS (Great Initiatives for Today’s (Tomorrow’s) Society is one of Preferred Hotel Group’s most important programs, serving as a global platform to celebrate the great works of its member hotels in community service, philanthropy, and environmental well-being which entails green, sustainability-focused and/or energy-usage initiatives.

Gondwana was acknowledged for its “Gondwana Goes Greener” program, which includes the implementation of solar power, new communal staff transport,  an enhanced recycling program, establishment of a wormery for compost and organic gardens, as well as the reserve’s ongoing conservation efforts for endangered flora and fauna species.

The “Gondwana Goes Greener” Project:

Solar Energy

Gondwana has replaced all of its electric geysers with solar assisted geysers in their staff village which houses 75 people.  This has had a significant impact on the reserve’s electricity consumption and the team is busy investigating how to roll it out across the lodge and the private residences.

Communal Transport

To lessen our carbon footprint, Gondwana has acquired a fuel efficient mini-bus that picks up all the staff and transports them throughout the reserve throughout the day and night.  This has reduced CO2 emissions and decreased the amount of traffic on the reserve.

Recycling & Wormery

The reserve has implemented a recycling program where organic and inorganic materials are separated. Inorganic materials are recycled and organic materials are used in the vermiculture project. All organic waste is given to the red wriggler worms that assist in the decomposition of the materials into nutrient rich compost. The compost is then diluted and used in the lodge and staff organic vegetable gardens as well as a newly developing plant nursery.   Gondwana’s indigenous tree nursery is underway where all plants that are propagated are indigenous to the region.  Staff are sourced from the surrounding communities to run the project. Once the trees are large enough, they will be transplanted to areas on the reserve where previous land use has altered the landscape. This project in return promotes habitat improvement for fauna, recovery of the veld, job creation, and wise waste management.  Private Residents on the reserve will be able to purchase the trees for planting around their bush home.

Fynbos Conservation

Gondwana supports some of the most critically endangered vegetation types in the world. These areas would have been under intensive threat if under an alternative land use. The reserve bi-annually monitors veld condition to determine the state of the Fynbos. Much of the transformed areas have started to recover by wise veld management which includes the ongoing eradication of alien Wattle trees which helps to re-establish wetlands and natural vegetation.  The reserve now hosts an annual “Throttle the Wattle” effort whereby staff and private residence owners tackle an area infested with wattle.

Bees pollinate flowers and thus play a vital role in the persistence of Fynbos. Gondwana has recognised this and has invested in a sustainable honey production programme. This project ensures the availability of quality natural raw honey without compromising bee populations. Gondwana has promoted the training of individuals from surrounding communities in the art of bee keeping.  This programme is more than just sustainable harvesting, as it encourages the conservation of a threatened ecosystem.

Endangered Species Protection Programme

The reserve has invested in the reintroduction of species that have been on the verge of extinction including the endangered desert black rhinoceros, bontebok, cheetah and Cape Mountain Zebra.  Gondwana has committed to and engaged with interested parties to contribute to these species’ conservation and provide a meaningful population within South Africa´s meta-population. Staff continually monitor these species in the field to gauge their performance.

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