Mark’s Reserve Update, May 2012

May 31, 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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