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July 2003

This Month:
• July to September is Wild Dog season at Kwando Safaris in Botswana.
• Update from Xigera Camp in Botswana's Okavango Delta.
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is now home to three 5-Star lodges, following a successful 5-Star grading for Bush Lodge by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA).
• Update on the introduced Wild Dogs at Pilansberg National Park, South Africa.
• Exeter Holdings (Pty) Ltd acquires MalaMala Kirkman's Kamp.

 Botswana Camps
Wild Dog Season at Kwando Safaris                Jump to Kwando Lebala Camp
Conveniently for its guests, Kwando's Wild Dog pack have for the 7th year running again denned between Lebala and Lagoon camps. So again excellent wild dog tracking, sightings and hunting scenes for Kwando's guests. If the past is anything to go by, the den will last from now until end September.

The alpha female has just given birth and the newborn puppies will remain in the burrow for ± 6 weeks before they will be introduced to the rest of the pack above the ground plus the "Kwando Guests." Until then and the fact that the puppies have been born means that the pack can now easily be found each day. Their typical behaviour henceforth would be for most of the adults to go out hunting each morning and late afternoon/early evening, returning to the den after each foray to feed the alpha female and to rest. This routine will only change if the den site is threatened in any way by other species, e.g. Lions.


July Report from Xigera Camp                Jump to Xigera Camp  

The weather at Xigera has been playing some tricks on us. When we first got back it was pretty cold out here, but into the first two weeks it warmed up quite nicely. The morning temperatures were sitting at about 15 C and the day temp.s at 29 to 30 C- but have subsequently dropped to 11 and 26 respectively. The flood waters have been ebbing slowly but surely, exposing more and more land. In my opinion seeing the water rise and recede is equally exciting.

The inflow of elephants seem to continue and our area has basically been littered with them and lots of good lion sightings. As per usual the camp seems to be a popular spot to visit. We have witnessed the 2 lionesses crossing the camp bridge on 2 occasions. During one of these they managed to kill a baboon as soon as they got to the staff village side. It did not take long for the hyenas to catch on to this, and the guests were treated to a growl and whoop symphony whilst sitting around the fire on the front deck.

On another occasion we had the Pel's owl on the bridge, so we decided to "stalk" it. After a lot of leopard crawling we managed to get to about 3 meters from it and were in absolute awe when he started calling. We were, however yanked back to reality when we heard a lion calling nearby and without a single word having been said, we got up and walked back to the safety of the lounge.... for the bridge at Xigera is lion territory!

Things have been going 100% with the guests and everybody seemed to have a great time at Xigera, as demonstrated by some guest comments:

"Such kind people- thank you - wonderful!"
" This is a special place cared for by special people and we loved every minute" "Loved it here, very peaceful and so easy to forget about the rest of world"

All in all it has been a good month and we are very much looking forward to the next, which seems as if it will be busy, if not busier than July.


 South Africa Camps
Now all Sabi Sabi lodges 5-Star                Jump to Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

Media Release - 13 July 2003
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is now home to three 5-Star lodges, following a successful 5-Star grading for Bush Lodge by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) last week.

Earth Lodge and Selati Camp – Sabi Sabi’s other two lodges – were amongst the first game lodges to receive 5-Star grading under the TGCSA’s new Stars Grading System. Recently upgraded and refurbished, Bush Lodge comprises 24 suites plus the Mandleve Presidential suite, all styled and decorated in a contemporary African theme, and reflecting today’s relaxed atmosphere.

To comply with 5-Star grading criteria, Bush Lodge had to measure up to world-class standards of accommodation, service, cuisine, special facilities and overall experience. This, says Sabi Sabi managing director, Patrick Shorten, together with highly trained staff and years of experience, paved the way for the new grading.

“The past few years have been ones of consolidation for Sabi Sabi, with the upgrading of Selati, total refurbishment of Bush Lodge and the establishment of our groundbreaking Earth Lodge. Hard work and clear strategy have paid off, and we are now in a position to confirm our status as one of Africa’s premier private game reserves.

“It is a great honour to become an all 5-Star property, and we will continue to work hard to retain this grading and maintain these very high standards,” says Shorten.

Sabi Sabi recently launched a new 4-night package to include 2 nights at Selati Camp and 2 nights at Earth Lodge - this being in line with their new philosophy of ‘100 Years of Safari Experience’, with a theme of ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’. This reflects the diversity of the lodges, with Selati Camp portraying the elegance and colonial tradition of the early 1900’s, Bush Lodge depicting today’s vibrant lifestyle and Earth Lodge showing a glimpse of the future. While distinct in appearance and ambience and each with a unique blend of luxury, the lodges share a spirit of warm hospitality that has become synonymous with the Sabi Sabi bush experience.

Situated in the exclusive Sabi Sand reserve, Sabi Sabi is home to hundreds of species of animals, birds and plants, including the ‘Big Five’. Highly trained rangers and trackers ensure that safari experiences rank amongst the best in the world.

Sabi Sabi holds the Diners Club/ASATA Travel Award for the Best Game Lodge as well as the AA Accommodation Award for Best Lodge in South Africa and Earth Lodge was voted one of the top 50 international hot spots for 2002 by Conde Naste Traveler (U.S.).


Wild Dogs Surviving at Pilansberg

The delicate operation of assembling a pack of wild dogs from a litter bred in the wild and three males bred in captivity in Outdshoorn, was initiated in April 1999 in the Pilanesberg National Park. The North West Parks and Tourism Board approached Sun International to sponsor the reintroduction of wild dogs into the Park. The Park borders the Sun City Resort and plays an intrinsic role in the resort's eco-tourism philosophy.

Three adult male dogs, born in captivity, were introduced to a litter of eight-month old wild pups, their mother, and a second wild adult bitch. Once the pecking order was established, the pack was released from the specially constructed 1,5 hectare boma into the greater Pilanesberg National Park.

The dogs, whose introduction has been hailed a huge success, complete a community of wild animals in the Pilanesberg of which they, and the black rhino introduced in a previous exercise, are the most endangered elements.

"Without exercises such as this, African wild dogs will surely become extinct and we are obliged to assist with the meta-population of these animals. The process is highly sensitive, and some of the wild dogs have not survived due to the savage temperament of mother-nature,” says Gus van Dyk, Predator Biologist, Northwest Province Parks and Tourism Board.

Their first four years in the confines of the Pilanesberg National Park have been fraught with sadness, pain, triumph and exhilaration.

“The development of hunting and other survival skills progressed well. The pack now has instinctive survival instincts and their hunting success has dramatically improved. Lions have proved problematic for the dogs, and two of the dogs were killed from savage encounters,” says Gus van Dyk.

The original pack experienced natural phenomena’s common to animal life in the wilderness. The original Alpha male and female died whilst hunting buffalo and some of the wild dogs were eaten by lion but the pack has continued to grow steadily through frequent litters and now there are a total of sixteen wild dogs in the Pilanesberg National Park.

“The Wild Dogs have not reproduced indiscriminately proving that natural ecological forces are at work and the Wild Dogs are not dominating the Pilanesberg ecosystem which at first was a concern,” says Gus van Dyk.

Two of the original pups, now fully matured, broke away from the original pack. This proved to be the catalyst needed to ensure the success of the project. Two more females were brought into the boma system and they bonded well with these males. They were released into the greater Pilanesberg reserve in December 2001 and are growing steadily and staunchly within the ecosystem. This is excellent for breeding purposes as there are now two separate packs inhabiting the Pilanesberg reserve.

Sun International has been instrumental in contributing to the path of survival of these opportunistic predators. Their initial R150 000 sponsorship of the endangered Wild Dog led to a continued interest in the Pilanesberg National Park’s animal populations. Sun International now makes an annual donation of R300 000 to the Wild Life Trust which ensures that many different wildlife projects are initiated.

The Wildlife Trust was established to develop the Pilanesberg areas as a nature conservation enclave and as a tourism attraction that will, as a by-product have a positive impact on the economic viability of the region. The Trust was initiated by the North West Parks and Tourism Board and Sun City Resort to help with specific conservation projects in the Pilanesberg National Park, its surrounding areas and the need to manage its ecological wellbeing.

The trust focuses on preservation of biodiversity features, veld monitoring, promotion and awareness of conservation issues and the education and training of the community in conservation matters.

The Wild Dog project in the Pilanesberg National Park has contributed to the overall South African Wild Dog strategy. The national plan is to introduce meta-populations throughout the region. The success of the Pilanesberg project has seen the introduction of Wild Dogs into Madikwe, Umfolozi, Skukuza, and Marakele. The total area amounts to half a million hectares of space, and this is what the wild dog needs to survive - the territory in which to grow naturally.

The Pilanesberg National Park is now in a position to translocate wild dogs to other areas. The endangered situation will improve if wild dogs are moved between populations.

“The plight of the wild dog is still dire and the world population amounts to only 4,500. In the last three years, the Kruger National Park has halved its wild dog population,” says Gus van Dyk. “The battle for survival is not over, yet the Pilanesberg project has definitely contributed to establishing one of the first successful meta populations.”

Note that Pilanesberg Park is the 4th largest Park in South Africa and home to the famous "teenage delinquent" elephants featured on 60 minutes with Ed Bradley a while back.


Exeter Holdings acquires MalaMala Kirkman's Kamp

Press Release - 21 July 2003               Jump to Kirkman's Kamp
The Directors of MalaMala Game Reserve and Exeter Holdings (Pty) Ltd are pleased to advise that Exeter Holdings (Pty) Ltd has acquired MalaMala’s interest in the 2,660 hectare property known as Toulon in the south east of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. This acquisition also includes Kirkman's Kamp, which is situated on the property Toulon.

An arrangement between MalaMala Game Reserve and Exeter Holdings (Pty) Ltd has also been concluded which will permit 5 vehicles from Kirkman’s Kamp to traverse the Charleston property (approximately 3,500 hectares) for a long term period. A reciprocal arrangement allows MalaMala access to Toulon Farm as in the past.

Exeter Holdings (Pty) Ltd will take occupation of Kirkman’s Kamp on the 1st of October 2003. However, any reservations held at Kirkman’s Kamp from 01 October 2003 will be handled directly by Exeter Holdings from the 04th August 2003. Reservations prior to 01 October 2003 will continue to be handled by MalaMala Reservations.


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