Wildlife Corner

November 29, 2012

Gondwana welcomes its First Lion Cubs!

This season at Gondwana Game Reserve on the Garden Route, we celebrate the birth of two free roaming lion cubs.  These are believed to be the first wild lion cubs born in the Southern Cape for the last 150 years.  The award winning, Western Cape Private Game Reserve has embarked on an ambitious conservation project to restore and rehabilitate the 11000-hectare fynbos reserve by populating it with indigenous game. The birth of the two lion cubs marks the success of the efforts implemented to encourage the self-sustaining wild lion pride of Gondwana.
It is believed that lions that historically occurred in the Southern Cape were similar to the black maned lions of the Kalahari Desert. It was decided to introduce a male lion from the Kalahari in 2008. This lion has matured into arguably Africa’s most handsome lion with his gorgeous golden locks, and he has literally swept the lionesses off their paws.

The lioness took her maternity leave deep in a Gondwana valley blanketed in colourful Fynbos, where she kept her new-borns well hidden. Typically lion cubs are not seen until they are approximately 6 weeks old, and start to move with their mother. Many of Gondwanas’ guides have tried to catch a glimpse and get a photo of the new-borns for some time, but it was Gondwana’s senior field guide Forget Ndlovu who beat them to it and struck luck on the morning of 23 November when he found the pride on a zebra kill just above the den. The cubs were in full view playing and harassing their mother and other members of the pride. This area has become affectionately known as “Pride Rock” where the pride, together with the cubs, tend to congregate for fresh air in the afternoon on display for all to see.

The lion cubs will only start eating meat at about 3 months of age. Lion cubs are usually weaned from their mother at 7 months and at about 18 months they either join their natal pride or disperse and form their own coalitions and prides.

November has proved to be baby season on this Garden Route Game Reserve, with numerous births from a variety of species taking place. Black Wildebeest and Eland seem to be multiplying by the day and probably most exciting is the birth of the Cape Mountain Zebra, an endangered species endemic to the Cape Mountain Belt. The reproduction and survival of all species on Gondwana Game Reserve is vital and reassuring. This indicates that the game has settled in well, and conditions are favorable for the species’ perpetual existence.

Gondwana welcomes all the additions to the family and we look forward to watching them mature. Not to be out done- One of the lioness sisters also seems to be expecting news soon! Watch this space!

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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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September 21, 2012

Gondwana Introduces 2 New Antelope Species this Spring!

Gondwana Game Reserve, situated in the Garden Route of South Africa, is now home to Waterbuck and Springbok among 12 other antelope species already found on the reserve.  Antelope diversity is an important part of the overall nature and game experience at Gondwana and includes Kudu, Eland, Red Hartebeest, and Gemsbok among many others. Gondwana has added nearly 200 new four legged friends to the reserve this month which will have a fantastic impact on the game viewing experience.  Growing the bio diversity of the reserve forms an important part of Gondwana’s wildlife management plan in order to offer visitors an interesting wildlife experience.  Gondwana’s climate and grazing and browsing capacity allow for a wide variety of antelope species – now only 4 fewer species than the whole of the Kruger Park!

Gondwana Game Reserve provides the perfect safari break for Cape Town visitors and residents. Less than a four-hour drive, the 11,000-hectare (26,000 acre) private game reserve offers a distinctive and luxurious malaria-free safari experience.  Indigenous Fynbos vegetation cloaks the undulating valleys, adding vivid colour and interest to a Big Five wilderness experience with awe inspiring views of the Langeberg Mountains wherever you look. This exclusive reserve offers guests attentive service, superb cuisine, inspiring luxurious interiors, expert game rangers, and an array of activities including horseback safaris and mountain biking.  World-class tourist facilities and attractions on Gondwana’s doorstep include championship golf courses at Pinnacle Point, Pezula, Oubaai and Fancourt, great swimming and surfing beaches and the attractive coastal towns of Mossel Bay and Knysna.   The reserve is easily accessible through George Domestic Airport, a 45-minute drive (transfers provided) with daily flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town International airports.

The herd of Waterbuck, a shaggy grizzly grey antelope, was released onto the central plains of the reserve. Despite its name, Waterbuck are not truly aquatic, though they are water dependent and rarely forage more than 2km from a water source. With the vast plains and abundance of water, this has made Gondwana an ideal home for these large robust animals.

The waterbuck especially the older ones take on an unpleasant odor that is believed to be from the waterproofing secretions of its sweat glands, prompting predators to choose other prey. Waterbuck have been known to be good swimmers and have been recorded running into dams to avoid stalking lions. Waterbuck in general are bulky and slow animals and thus adopted an alternative anti-predator approach in comparison to other antelope.

Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of these large ungulate are the circular white ring on the rump. There are various theories in regards to the purpose of this, but it is likely an adaptation to help them follow one another when in pursuit.

The agile Springbok is a medium sized brown and white gazelle, which enjoys the vast grasslands of Southern Africa grazing and browsing mostly seeds and succulent shrubs. Springbok can go without water and in extreme cases some go without drinking water throughout the course of their lives meeting their water needs from the food they eat.

The Springbok get their name from their most prominent characteristic which is being able to leap repeatedly at high leaps of up to 4.0 meters (13ft). This practice is known as “pronking” which is the Afrikaans word for “showing off”

Springbok normally gather together in the wet seasons and spread out in the dry seasons. Bachelor males and females tend to form separate herds, quite similar to the nature of South Africans at an informal braai. The Springbok is known to be South Africa’s national animal and was adopted as a nickname by the South African Rugby Union.

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September 3, 2012

Living to See another Generation

Change is on the horizon, with South Africa and Vietnam sitting down to discuss issues concerning rhino poaching and the illicit trade of rhino horns in the east Asian country. This could mark the beginning of the end for poaching in South Africa, saving countless numbers of rhino and allowing them to repopulate their habitats.  Gondwana provides a haven for the endangered black rhino and White Rhino to thrive and roam free.

Vietnam is one of the biggest importers of illegal rhino horns, due to the huge demand for what many in the country believe to have mystical healing properties.  The horns are also sought after to be used as dagger horns on knives given to young males in a rite of passage. As a result, there’s been a boom in rhino poaching in and around South Africa, which has adversely affected the already declining rhino population.

If all goes well in the discussions between South Africa and Vietnam, which is what Gondwana and all South Africans are rooting for, we are hoping for a major reduction in instances of the mindless killing of the magnificent rhino in the future. Not only is it important for us to save the rhino for our future generations, but we must also take into account that every animal has a right to life, the rhino included.

We must respect the intrinsic value that this animal possesses and play our part to make our country a sanctuary for it. If we don’t do it, then who will? Gondwana is home to the rare and endangered black rhino and we hope to contribute to the species’ growth by conserving a habitat and eco system for this majestic animal in order to help grow the population to less critical numbers.

We are happy to see the great level of support that animal rights activists and the average citizen of South Africa has shown in a bid to curb poaching in the country. This may not make any immediate difference, but in the long run, stricter policies and the on-going support from everyone will have us defeating the means to poaching and creating an environment that is conducive to the black rhino’s continued existence.

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June 15, 2012

Elephant Reserach programme

We are proud to announce that Gondwana has entered into a formal research program together with the African Elephant Research Unit looking at the links between urine and dung levels of hormones in addition to validating displacement behavior in African Elephants. Gondwana will form part of  Lisa Howard’s Phd research over a two year period.  Gondwana offers the unique opportunity for scientists to study these incredible species within a fynbos biome. Such a study has never been done before and all parties are extremely excited about the pending results.

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