Wildlife Corner

October 9, 2015
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Sunbird Family of Lehele Lodge

Sunbird Fledgings on Gondwana

Gondwana’s landscape comprises of open grass plains and plateaus, wetlands, rolling fynbos, renosterveld hills, riverine and sub-tropical thicket valleys and cliff faces. The array of vegetation types allows for a variety of bird species. One of the many bird species found on Gondwana is the gorgeous Malachite Sunbird. This large sunbird is found in hilly fynbos including […]

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September 9, 2015
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The Very Strong Dung Beetle

dung beetle

Dung beetles are some of the most amazing insects out here in the bush! We have been experiencing some very warm weather at Gondwana Game Reserve lately and with this have noticed many signs of dungbeetles. Dung beetles (coprophages, which means faeces eaters – although some do feed on mushrooms and rotting vegetation), are the clean-up crew of nature. […]

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October 9, 2014

Gondwana introduces 800 new animals including an additional family herd of 5 elephant!

Garden Route, South Africa: South Africa’s biggest reserve in the Southern Cape, the 11,000 hectare Gondwana Game Reserve has kicked off the summer season with a bang with many exciting wildlife introductions taking place recently. Herds of Eland and Gemsbok have already arrived as well as hundreds of Blue Wildebeest, Springbok, Red Hartebeest and Waterbuck who also recently set hoof on the reserve. Several exciting large game releases are also on the horizon including a pod of hippo, and a new female cheetah, which is a critically endangered species. The new mammoth herbivores, including 2 adult female elephants and their 3 young, are settling in nicely and have met up briefly with the reserve’s resident herd of elephant.  And not to be out done, Gondwana’s pride of lion welcome two new cubs which were recently seen on game drive for the first time since their mother was denning.  These introductions have taken the reserve’s wildlife population to the highest density it has ever been and further cement Gondwana’s reputation as the leading Big 5 safari experience in the Western Cape.

Gondwana Game Reserve is the only free roaming Big 5 wildlife reserve in the Southern Cape.  Expert field guides reveal African wildlife to guests on game drives set in a spectacular Cape Fynbos environment surrounded by the Outeniqua Mountains. Conservation and sustainable management of the indigenous flora and fauna is a key objective. 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. Green rolling hills and undulating valleys are blanketed in colourful fynbos, adding special interest to a Big Five Safari experience.

In addition to sustainable land management, proactive conservation efforts at Gondwana include a sustainable honey production programme as well as an 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, providing a truly unique safari experience and exhilarating wildlife encounters.  The vastness of the reserve, coupled with the area’s Mediterranean climate and terrain, make the land well suited to multiple species of game which are frequently seen by the game lodge guests. Book your stay to experience the breathtaking wildlife family of Gondwana Game Reserve first hand.

Elephant introduction Gondwana

Lucy Rutherfoord assisting with elephant release

elephant release on Gondwana

New Elephant herd taking in their new surroundings

red hartebeest release Gondwana

red hartebeest being released

red hartebeest after release

Home Sweet Home for Red Hartebeest

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August 12, 2014

Gondwana Celebrates World Elephant Day

Gondwana celebrates World Elephant Day today and recognizes the impact it’s herd has had on the Southern Cape.  Its elephant herd was established from 4 adult individuals who came from some form of confinement or limited space and needed to be released into a larger area allowing them to roam free, forage and interact naturally.  Gondwana has provided a sanctuary for these “orphaned” elephants for the last 7 years.  The successful release and rehabilitation process of these two adult males and female elephants has lead to the first two wild elephant calves being born in the Southern Cape in the last 200 years.  This now fully established breeding herd provides critical information for elephant conservation in the Western Cape of South Africa including habitat utilization and social dynamics.  With a greater understanding now of elephant in a Fynbos environment, Gondwana is excited to be introducing an additional herd this winter to join these iconic pioneers.

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June 22, 2014

Gondwana to Introduce 800 New Animals this Year

Gondwana has kicked off with a bang this game capture season with many exciting wildlife introductions taking place.   Herds of Eland and Gemsbok have already arrived with hundreds of Blue Wildebeest, Springbok, Red Hartebeest and Waterbuck to set hoof on the reserve in June and July!  These introductions will take Gondwana Game Reserve’s wildlife population to the 4highest density it has even been.  We also have several exciting Big Five and other large game releases on the horizon including a breeding herd of elephant, a pod of hippo, and a new female cheetah, which is a critically endangered species.

Gondwana has introduced a large family herd of Cape Eland.  In spite of its heavy physique, eland are remarkably agile. Being Africa’s largest antelope, bulls can weigh as much as 900kg. One of the most interesting characteristics of an Eland herd is that it includes a nursery for the calves. When threatened by predators, the herd forms a front with these large males taking the lead positions while the calves and pregnant females are protected behind the fortress of large males.

A family herd of twelve Gemsbok also known as oryx with their distinctive long dagger shaped horns and striking black and white facial markings have made Gondwana home in the last few weeks, in addition another 200 blue wildebeest are expected to arrive in the near future. These shaggy large herbivores are a favoured prey species by predators on Gondwana. It is expected that by introducing such a large blue wildebeest population, that pressure induced by predation will be suppressed through a reduced regulating effect. However, the equation wildebeest eats grass, lion eats wildebeest is not always as straight forward as expected.

The renegade cosmopolitan hippo bull recently introduced to the reserve has settled in well. He has learnt to deal with competition from other hippo bulls, and has learnt that lions and hippos do not sit around the same campfire. We have managed to find him some voluptuous ladies for some companionship. Two lovely ladies will be reintroduced at the end of May within his territory.

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December 10, 2013

Gondwana Joins Africa Live App

Africa Live helps you find and share real-time African animal sightings on your phone or tablet as well as generate data for conservation.The live safari sightings map shows you what animals are near you right now and allows you to easily and immediately share your sightings with people around the world. It is a must-have for any African safari, and now Gondwana Game Reserve has been added to its sightings map.

Africa live App can be downloaded FREE on android devices via google play and on apple devices via the Apple iStore. Offline maps including the Gondwana Game Reserve map can be purchased within the app by clicking offline maps.  Gondwana’s rangers will be posting sightings regularly so you can stay in the loop on the location and time of sighting.

EACH TIME YOU POST A SIGHTING

– The location, species, activity, time, date and photos are saved electronically and shared with the conservation bodies such as Endangered Wildlife Trust.
– Over 11 000 unique sightings have been recorded so far.

– This Historical data is recorded and can be viewed on the Historical sightings map. This data provides insights into animal distributions, population    densities as well as range and migration patterns.

– Rhino sightings do not appear. The app can be used to report signs of poaching.

For more information please check out the Africa Live  website for more details.

We look forward to seeing your posts.

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October 7, 2013

Big Bird in Africa

GGR secretary bird

A large and distinctive bird of prey, the secretary bird is said to take its name from the elongated distinguishing feathers on the back of its neck. These spatula shaped feathers are believed to give the secretary bird the appearance of an old-fashioned secretary who would carry quill-pens tucked behind the ears. More recently, scientists believe that the name is derived from the Arabic word “saar-et-tair”, which translates directly to hunter and flight which may have been mistranslated through the ages.

Secretary Birds usually pair for life and are faithful to their nest site. The nest is normally an untidy bunch of twigs placed in a fork of a tree. The nest will grow over time as more kindling is added.  Secretary birds raise two, occasionally three young on a diet of small mammals and reptiles. The secretary bird is an opportunistic feeder , prey includes hares, mongoose, snakes, lizards, amphibians, freshwater crabs, and birds up to the size of guinea fowl, as well as their eggs.

In South Africa, there is a considerable concern about the conservation status of the species. There has been a substantial reduction in population size and have vanished from several areas. The most likely reason behind this is the loss of suitable habitat, and power line collisions.

Gondwana Game Reserve hosts several breeding pairs that stalk through the long grass.  By setting land aside for conservation purposes, the protection of a dwindling secretary bird population is fostered.

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September 30, 2013

The Elusive Cape Leopard

Elusive and mysterious, this shadow-walking predator is just one of the species which reside on Gondwana Game Reserve. occupy a home range of between 120-250km2 and despite what many believe, Cape Leopards do not only prowl caves but rather find appropriate areas to rest as they move. Preying upon dassies, small antelope and mice, the Cape Leopard rarely includes group-living animals in their diet as they usually hunt alone.

With less than 1000 Cape Leopards remaining in the wild, Gondwana Conservation efforts are heavily underway. Regarded as a “problem-animal” (a damage causing animal) on farms within the Cape, the Cape Leopard is being largely hunted out due to their instinctual killing of livestock. With Conservation efforts being poured into the protection of these majestic predators, farmers and conservation groups are slowly but surely starting to find a common ground between the removal of these animals on livestock farms and moving them to reserves such as Gondwana Game Reserve.  In an attempt to catch a glimpse of this obscure predator as well as learn about their movements, behaviour and breeding, Gondwana’s wildlife team members as well as guides have started a monitoring project around these animals. Placing stealth cameras in areas which could possibly be home to Cape Leopards such as caves and rocky mountain slopes, caves alike are being scouted for spoor and scat as well as any indicators that they may have passed by. Previous attempts in monitoring  and tracking the Cape Leopard on Gondwana have resulted in findings of prey carcasses hanging in trees, spoor and scat.

Having been unsuccessful in our treasure hunt for a clear photograph of this mysterious predator thus far, efforts are still in the foundation phase. Until then…the hunt shall continue..

Written by Taylor Hawkins

Cape Leopard

Image: source

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September 26, 2013

Endangered Bontebok

One of the rarest antelope species in Southern Africa has found sanctuary on the plains of Gondwana Game Reserve. The handsome bontebok antelope naturally occur only in a little stretch along the southern coast of South Africa namely the Cape Floristic Region. Bontebok were hunted so extensively in the early 1800s by colonists that only 22 individuals remained. Overhunted and unprotected, the Van Breda, Van Bijl and Albertyn families of the Bredasdorp district enclosed their farms with stock fences to protect the dwindling population. Fortunately,  bontebok are poor jumpers and unlike antelope such as kudu and eland, scaling a 1.5m fence is too much effort.  By the huge conservation efforts of these three families, bontebok have been re-established in several conservation areas including Gondwana, and the current national population is well over 3000 individuals.

The Bontebok name is derived from the striking coat colouring which originates from the Dutch settlers that colonised the Southern Cape in the early 1600s.  The Bontebok has a rich coffee coloured coat with a purplish tinge. The face , rear and belly seem as if they have been dipped in a smooth white chocolate.

Gondwana currently hosts a small but growing population of these endangered animals and every birth marks a  significant contribution to conserving a species that we nearly lost.

Read more about our Gondwana’s Conservation efforts here

Gondwana Bontebok

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September 2, 2013

10 Reasons you will fall in love with Gondwana Game Reserve

1)      Tickle the taste buds

With a range of gourmet flavors from the freshest local ingredients we can source or grow, dining at Gondwana is an experience in its own right. Gondwana is very privileged to be able to offer the fantastic wines of the Cape, with food prepared by award winning chefs.

 Gondwana cuisine

2)      Walk or ride amongst the game :

With over 1000ha that is free of any potentially big dangerous animals, being on foot or on a mountain bike amongst comical wildebeest or lively sunbirds will add a twist to any conventional safari. Ambling along paths through the Fynbos can allow one to admire the smaller and often overlooked inhabitants.

walk amongst the Fynbos at Gondwana

3)      Floral showcase:

Situated in one of the most diverse regions of the world, The Cape Floristic region is regarded as a global “hotspot” of biodiversity. The fynbos biome is the smallest of the world’s six floristic kingdoms and the only one within the borders of a single country. With 9 600 recorded plant species in the region, 70% of them are not found anywhere else on the planet. September allows for displays of both winter and summer flowering plants. Pink heather blankets the valleys whilst proteas flaunt their bold colours on the plateaus.

 Floral showcase at Gondwana

4)      No game viewing traffic jams:

Viewing the big 5 whilst in a traffic jam can sometimes dilute a wildlife experience. Gondwana has a limit on the number of game drive vehicles on a sighting. This allows for guests to have sightings of animals all to themselves without interfering on an animal’s natural behaviour. .

No Game Viewing Traffic

5)      Rejuvenate the body

After exploring the Gondwana wilderness,  trade in your bush hat for a relaxing and indulgent Spa treatment in African style at Gondwana Spa. Gondwana’s Spa offers a full treatment menu utilizing the luxurious Africology product range which makes use of South Africa’s indigenous plants such as African potato, Rooibos and Aloe.

Rejuvenate at Gondwana Spa

6)      Location, Location, Location

Nestled between the towering mountains and coastline along the world famous Garden Route, Gondwana is easily accessible by road from nearby Cape Town or George.  World-class tourist facilities and attractions on Gondwana’s doorstep include championship golf courses, great swimming and surfing beaches and the attractive coastal towns of Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

Nauga Valley at Gondwana

7)      Junior Ranger Experience

Witnessing the awe in a child’s face as they see an elephant for the first time or catch a fish in one of the reserve dams is a truly gratifying experience.  Aspiring rangers can join senior rangers whilst the parents sip cocktails around the swimming pool.

Junior Ranger Fishing at Gondwana

8.) Conservation Projects

Gondwana has committed to preserve, enrich and rehabilitate the biodiversity and natural resources on the reserve. Endangered and threatened species such as Bontebok, cheetah, rhino, and Cape Mountian Zebra find refuge on the property whereby populations can grow to supply similar minded reserves with surplus animals. Gondwana has recently partnered with Conservation Global to contribute to a greater understanding of the region by carrying out much needed research.

Gondwana conservation

9)      Free Roaming Big 5 Game

Gondwana Game Reserve is the only free ranging Big 5 private wildlife reserve in the Southern Cape – home to the lion, rhinoceros, eland, red hartebeest, endangered Cape Mountain Zebra, springbok, kudu, as well as the elephant, among others. Gondwana saw the birth of 2 lion cub litters – the first born in the Southern Cape in over 100 years.

Lion at Gondwana

10)   Birding 

The region offers a diverse range of habitats and is home to approximately 300 species of birds, making it an ideal destination for bird watching.  The reserve supports healthy populations of sought after endemics such as the Cape Sugarbird, Orange Breasted Sunbird, Protea Seedeater, and Black Harrier.

Birding at Gondwana-Black shouldered kite

To have your own  love affair with Gondwana contact reservations@gondwanagr.co.za – +27 (0)21 424 5430

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