Wildlife Corner

June 11, 2012

New Buffalo Calf Spotted!

Gondwana welcomes a new member to the buffalo herd. On the 15th of May, A heifer become a mother and gave birth to a baby boy. The youngster still clumsy on his feet followed his mother through the thicket to meet the rest of the herd. The mother has been very protective over her calf keeping him well hidden away in the dense bush. As the calf grows older he should become more inquisitive and venture out so that we can get a decent photograph of the youngster.

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June 11, 2012

Black Shouldered Kites Are Back With A Vengeance

With the onslaught of winter, the Black Shouldered Kites are back with a vengeance.  May is the time of the year to witness  their aerial courtship displays. The male may fly around slowly with stiff exaggerated flaps. Courting males dive at the female, feeding her in mid-flight. Females select males based on the quality of his territory. Numerous pairs have made home on Gondwana already. These monogamous pairs usually breed in June to August.

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June 11, 2012

Daily Caracal Sightings

Daily Caracal sightings near Kwena Lodge 

Most bush fanatics will admit that a caracal sighting is definitely a special occasion.  The fiercely territorial caracal is one of the most skittish and rarest cats in Africa.  The caracal population on Gondwana has become accustomed to game viewing vehicles, providing some great entertainment on drives as they stalk rodents through the long grass.
It is reassuring to know that caracal along with many other small carnivore species have found sanctuary and refuge at Gondwana. The presence of these small predators is an indication of a healthy and functional system.

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June 6, 2012

Giraffe Release

giraffe release

 Gondwana Game Reserve, the Perfect Cape Town Safari Break introduces another signature species – Giraffe


Gondwana Game Reserve welcomes the world’s tallest land mammal to the 11,000 hectare reserve.

The memorable release of giraffe took placein May in the reserve’s awe inspiring Nauga Valley after their short journey from the Eastern Cape.

The Giraffe gracefully disembarked from the transport truck and surveyed their new surroundings with a sense of ownership. They briefly glared at the small silent audience of humans and moved on against the backdrop of the Langeberg Mountains.

The young bull then led his ladies into the distance… The addition of giraffe to the Gondwana family will enhance the wildlife experience and supplement to the diversity of game species which includes Desert Black Rhino, eland, kudu, lion, Cape Mountain Zebra and cheetah among many others.

The Gondwana Guides are all on the hunt to be the first to tick off giraffe!

Let the games begin….

Gondwana Game Reserve – providing the perfect safari break for Cape Town visitors. Less than a four hour drive away along South Africa’s popular Garden Route, 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 interiors, expert game rangers, and an array of activities including horseback safaris.  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 Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.   The reserve is easily accessible through George Domestic Airport, a 45-minute drive from the reserve (transfers provided) with daily flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town International airports.

 

 

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June 1, 2012

Black Rhino Conservation Experience

Gondwana Game Reserve proudly invites you to experience an exclusive and critically important Black Rhino anti-poaching and conservation initiative.

Given the endangered status of the Desert Black Rhino and dramatic rise of rhino poaching, it is imperative to keep an active tracking device in the horn of all rhino. These need to be replaced every few years.  Gondwana would like to allow a small group of people to share in this thrilling experience to help raise funds to further our Black Rhino Conservation program.
This will include the following:

·  Participation in the capture and rhino horn implant

·  Helicopter darting, capture of Rhino, implant of radio devise into the horn

·  Informational talk on Black Rhino conservation from South African expert

·  Theoretical and practical explanation on chemical immobilization of rhino with Dr Brendan Tindal, Black Rhino Specialist.

Throughout your experience, all of Gondwana Game Reserve’s luxuries will be available to your group exclusively.

·  3 nights 5 star accommodation at Kwena Lodge or in Private Bush Villas depending on your group’s specifications

·  All gourmet meals, snacks and beverages

·  Private Game Viewer and expert field guide for your stay

·  Spa Treatments

Rates are quoted as per person sharing per night

and are as follows:

*2 guests  R29 000 * 4 guests  R14 500 *6 guests R9 720
*8 guests R7 290 *10 guests R5 830

Rack Rate includes the following per overnight stay:
      • Private Game Viewer
      • Private Field Guide
      • Breakfast
      • Lunch
      • Dinner
      • 2 Game Activities
      • Junior Ranger Program for Children
      • Local Beverages including House Wines
      • Taxes
      • Mini Bar
      • Free Internet

Click to download more information Rhino Package

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May 31, 2012

Spotted Eagle Owl

With their eerie calls and silent flight, owls are among the most elusive and misunderstood of all birds. Owls have been described across the world in legends and fables as a mystical being, often synonymous with death, while in other cultures, the owl is considered as being “wise”. The word “owl” is derived from the Icelandic word “ugla” meaning  “fearful or “dreadful”.   In most Western cultures, views of owls have changed drastically over time. Owls can serve as indicators of the state of an ecosystem. Certain owl species are adaptable and opportunistic. Many owl species have adapted to hunting rodents in urban surrounds. This function serves as a complimentary pest control to humans.

A pair of Spotted Eagle Owls that are housed at the Tenikwa Wildlife Sanctuary recently produced offspring.  Unfortunately the adult birds are not suitable for release, yet the three chicks can be released back in to the wild with some assistance. Gondwana Game Reserve has recently obtained the three Spotted Eagle Owl fledglings with the responsibility of fostering and encouraging instinctive hunting behaviour.   The owls are fed prey such as small mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles. It often swallows quite large prey whole.

Owls differ from other birds in having soft, frayed edges to their flight feathers which allows them to fly in silence and capture prey undetected. All have acute hearing and enormous eyes, which provide excellent vision in low light. Spotted Eagle Owls mate for life. The male will hunt and bring food when the female cannot leave the nest. Sometimes, even in conditions verging on starvation, he will tear the head off a mouse, but bring the body for the female to feed to the young, or to eat it herself if the eggs have not yet hatched.

The three fledglings are intended to be released in Spring on the reserve. In addition owl boxes are planned to be erected around the lodges to encourage owl roosting sites. This is a brilliant and efficient eco-solution to controlling rodent populations. This is project goes in hand with the Gondwana Goes Green Programme.

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May 31, 2012

Mark’s Reserve Update, May 2012

With the passing of the new wildlife translocation policy in the Western Cape the doors have been opened, ever so slightly, for us on Gondwana. Western Cape Nature Conservation (Cape Nature) has come to terms that reserves within our unique region have to become more competitive to the rest of the country. After months of negotiations between the trade and Cape Nature, reserves within the Western Cape have been allowed to introduce certain species that have not been permitted in the past. Species such as giraffe and white rhino are now welcome, as it is seen to increase the tourism commercial variability of the reserves and the region.  To apply for these permits, game reserves need to submit a comprehensive management plan evaluating the suitability of the reserve for certain species and do an ecological threat analysis, which includes practical mitigation factors for any potential threat. Gondwana has been busy modifying its Management Plan to the new requirements of Cape Nature

We have a very exciting winter wildlife season ahead of us benefiting from the continued support of our homeowners. The Vernon Family from FC11 has very generously donated three giraffe to Gondwana. The introduction of these giraffe has be a momentous occasion as we have been working together with Cape Nature for almost three years to get such permits. The giraffe were released in the Nauga area and are feeding on the nutrient rich vegetation present in that area.

The Boardman family of Red Rocks 27, have committed to helping us introduce more springbok onto the reserve. This introduction is crucial as we are experimenting with ways to overcome the tick born disease of heartwater which is life threatening for springbok. We will be staggering the introduction of the springbok and monitoring their condition, as they will have to go through a 10-day inoculation process.

April was a big month for our fire management program as were able to burn 2000 hectares.  Gondwana is now part of the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association and we had 50 fire fighters who descended on the reserve in the first week of April. We set fire to most of the North Eastern section of the reserve. There is an abundance of Fynbos within that region that requires, for ecological reasons, to be burnt.  Our conservation team is eager to now commence a 5-7 year monitoring plan in this area to monitor the recovery of the Fynbos and look specifically at things like potential grazing for wildlife and regeneration of Fynbos year on year after the burn. The impact of fire on both the regeneration of Fynbos and the grazing success of large herbivores is something that has not been done before and we are excited to see the trends to come.

Through the dedicated work of our reserve and conservation teams, Gondwana is undoubtedly becoming the leading reserve in the Southern Cape with regards to veld and wildlife management. With Cape Nature opening it doors to new ideas we are very excited for the future prospects on Gondwana. We will keep everyone updated on the wildlife introduction progress throughout the year as well as the success of our fire management program. I look forward to seeing many of you on the reserve and hope that you will be able to enjoy the new wildlife additions on the reserve.

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July 24, 2010

Gondwana´s 2010 wildlife introductions

Game Capture season is well underway and we eagerly await the arrival of 3 hippo and over 350 head of general game including Springbok, Bontebok and Kudu. I would like to extend our utmost gratitude on behalf of Gondwana to Rein and Arne van der Horst for their generosity in sponsoring two of the three hippo to be released in the Lehele Dam this winter. This will add another signature species to Gondwana´s wildlife experience. We are pleased to have Albert Swart join the wildlife team where he will also be heading up the Gondwana Conservation Trust (GCT) projects. The first three GCT projects will focus on the study of our elusive Cape Leopard population and the re-introduction of cheetah and Cape Vulture to the area. The Primary goal of the Trust is to participate in meaningful conservation projects focusing on fauna, flora and environmental education. We are very excited to be initiating these important conservation efforts and appreciate the enthusiasm many of Gondwana´s guests and residents have already shown.

The arrival of the hippo as well as other species will be posted onto our facebook page. If you have not become a friend, please feel free to do so by Joining Us on Facebook.

Gondwana´s 2010 wildlife introductions:

  • 200 Springbok
  • 3 Hippopotamus
  • 40 Kudu
  • 50 Zebra
  • 20 Eland
  • 50 Gemsbok
  • 20 Red hartebeest

We have been through interesting times seeing out the worst drought in living memory in the Southern Cape. We were however fortunate not to be as hard hit as our surrounding regions and the entire area has just had some reprieve in the form of 75mm of rain in the last month. To date Gondwana is about 55% stocked to its capacity, which has also been a key factor in sustaining through this drought. Our conservative stocking rate has helped keep our wildlife in good condition, yet we still believe and analysis shows that the reserve will be able to sustain what we propose to introduce this year and more. Gondwana is predominately a sour veld reserve, which tends to be more resistant to critical conditions. Sour veld does not carry the nutrient value to that of sweet veld, but keeps its bulk in dry times. By supplementing the mineral needs through lick blocks strategically placed throughout the property the animals can maintain their condition. We are continually evaluating our eco system and managing if for natural sustainability.

Mark Rutherfoord, Director
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November 26, 2009

A flurry of offspring from our wildlife

As we enter the summer season, we have been welcomed by a flurry of offspring from a wide range of our wildlife. These progeny are a great indicator that the introduced animals have established themselves on the reserve. We are also encouraged by the increase in population and behavioural development of the species that were always present on the reserve such as the bushbuck, Grey Rheebok, and Caracal to name a few.

Our pride of lion have developed themselves into a successful hunting unit. The initial separation of the male from the females was temporary as sightings are rare without the complete pride. We continue to monitor the predator prey dynamic and are excited to report indisputable evidence of leopard throughout the property.

Our expansion program has now come to fruition with the completion of the external fences and the current dissembling of the fence dividing the two properties. The timing of this was perfect with the late rains stimulating growth in this sweet veld region creating natural movement of wildlife into this new area. We have successfully relocated one of our black rhino into this area according to plan as it is a more suitable habitat for this highly selective browser species. The inclusion of this area has added numerous species to both our mammal and bird list with the guides excitedly reporting a first sighting of the Knysna Lourie and breeding pairs of Klipspringer.

We have established a wonderful team of field guides whose enthusiasm and contributions towards conservation on Gondwana have benefited us all. They are applying their individual passions to better the reserve, such as implementing our first bird hide, Children’s Junior Ranger program and wildlife monitoring. Together with our guides, guests and owners have been enjoying rare sightings of honey badger, aardvark, aardwolf and bushpig. Take a moment to read a few of their ranger diaries now found on the website.

Our reserve manager, Joe Erasmus continues to develop Gondwana and is establishing the implementation of our environmental management policies. This summer will complete the second phase of our annual burning program which forms a critical component of our veld management. We are very excited to initiate a large scale alien removal effort on the reserve starting this November. This will be implemented in conjunction with a rehabilitation program for erosion control and habitat development.

I enjoy seeing you all on the reserve and hope you can visit us again soon to experience what has become a world class establishment.

Mark Rutherfoord, Director
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July 12, 2009

University Research Study on Gondwana’s Elephant Population

We are proud to announce that Gondwana has entered into a formal research program together with the University of Port Elizabeth (UPE) looking at the spatial/ecological utilization of our elephant. 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 both private and government are extremely excited about the pending results. These results will be used by conservation authorities as guidelines within the Western Cape to help structure better and more realistic elephant management plans.

Our lions have been an extremely exciting addition to the reserve. The introduction into their boma and bonding process went according to plan and their release onto the reserve has been nothing but remarkable. They have been seen making their own kills of both Gemsbok and Black Wildebeest and seem to have adapted quite comfortably to their new terrain and surroundings.

There is much we still want to achieve on the reserve and hope to report on new game drive roads next quarter as well as to the changes in the wildlife movement and habitat utilization due to the release of the lions.”

Mark Rutherfoord, Director
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