- Lettie and Lisa were whisked away by one of Sibuya’s rangers. As they boarded the boat to navigate the river to camp, Roger and Mark warned them of something called “khaki fever”. Their puzzled faces said it all…
Sibuya Game Reserve and Tented Camp is one of the many conservation efforts in the area that focus of the rehabilitation of agricultural land. The camps are completely off-grid, generating power through solar energy with generator backups, and Sibuya participates in a cheetah breeding programme. The game viewing was fantastic, including a black-backed jackal and buffalo herd at the waterhole at sunset, and the elevated boardwalk through the thick riverine forest makes you feel like you’re completely in the middle of the wilderness.
We woke to a misty morning, but Lettie and Lisa were not deterred. They fearlessly joined the fence patrol team whose responsibility it is to ensure the security of the Amakhala Game Reserve perimetre. Truth be told… Dedos did all the work with his handy little voltage metre and bag of tools, while Debbie skillfully navigated the dirt tracks.
In addition to having a great time and learning how much work it is to actually maintain a game fence, they also managed to squeeze in some game viewing and spotted a rare blue duiker and large herd of giraffe. They also crossed paths with the Amakhala ecologist who was tracking the cheetah who were due to be relocated to the Free State – marking the first time in over 100 years that wild cheetah would roam freely in that province.
Angus – our trusty Landy – wound his way down to the ocean where The EXPEDITION Project team joined the interns at the Nature’s Valley Trust to tag along on their research activities. It turned out to be a lot of fun; some of us even rolled up our trousers to wade in the chilly river to collect samples for data entry to complete a “mini SASS” (it’s ok to look that up – we did). After identifying mayflies and various other creatures, the NVT team calculated that the river is in excellent health!
Equally fun was checking the speed, PH, and temperature of the ocean and the lagoon. Really, we played in the sand more than anything and thank goodness for that because according to our findings, the temperature of the water was only 10.4 degrees..!! We struggled to imagine how difficult it might be to do all of this with the groups of children that the NVT interns take out weekly from various local schools. They do a great job to ensure that local youth are aware of the importance of healthy ecosystems.
Usually when people think about seeing animals in enclosures, they have a certain ‘zoo-like’ expectation. However, we were proven that other options are possible during our visit to Monkeyland and Birds of Eden in the Craggs. The sanctuaries enable rescued primates and birds to live a ‘semi-wild’ existence in their 12ha of indigenous forest (for the primates) and the largest enclosed aviary in the world (for the birds).
The curator at Monkeyland showed us how primates are introduced into the forest and we were fortunate enough to see two spider monkeys getting familiar with their soon-to-be new home and interacting with other ‘residents’ through their specially designed enclosure. When their behaviour is less ‘humanised’, the curator will make the call to release them. These particular monkeys will then be the largest species in the sanctuary.