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Found 19 results

  1. I've always believed it's best not to go on safari with a checklist mentality...I've set myself up for disappointment before by expecting to see a particular animal: a lion trekking safari in Matusadona NP: no lions seen...a rhino sanctuary in southern Zim: no rhinos's best to let nature decide what to reveal to you because that's how it's going to be anyway, right? My attitude is "a bad day on safari is better than a good day doing just about anything else!" I think a lot of Safaritalkers would agree there's no wasted time spent in the African bush. That being said, you certainly have hopes to see certain animals---call it a "goal"--- and on this particular choice of safari locations (thanks to being a faithful reader of SafariTalk), I became fascinated with the number of folks who had spotted an aardvark at Tswalu in the "green" Kalahari (mostly during the winter months) and the fact it had one of my favorites, Black Rhino, as well as cheetah, lion and leopard...and even better, pangolin!! I just had to go and see for myself! i checked online availability at Tswalu and only found one set of dates in late September to take advantage of their buy four nights get one free I jumped on it. After several attempts and multiple calls to my bank, my deposit finally made it past "security" and into the right hands at Tswalu...nothing was standing in my way and the long months of anticipation began... Next I booked Devil's Pool in Livingstone to get that up close and personal view of the falls only available during the dry season. Finally I reached out to Safaritalker Tony McKeith about visiting Zambia's Kafue NP which I've read a great deal about on this site. He quickly arranged a "too short" but well worth it safari with 2X each at Kaingu Lodge as well as Musekese bush's hard to describe but I fell in love with Kafue. In many ways it's the opposite of Tswalu. Tswalu is a well managed game reserve. A vast, strikingly beautiful reserve, fenced but so large as it is not something that particularly registers with you. There is "the lion side" and then everything else. I imagine they know exactly the numbers of certain species and their DNA such as lion, rhino and wild dogs...they raise sable for sale, I believe. In fact I think this is a feature of a lot of reserves in South Africa. What is not managed would be all the interesting species you can see like pangolins and aardvarks and aardwolves and brown point is that Kafue has that totally wild, free range feel. And very few camps to share the experience only issue with Kafue is that it is intensely burned. Virtually the entire park is burned at one time or another during the year. In certain places it doesn't make for the best pictures with the charred landscapes. I have to agree with Tyrone McKeith that it tends to create a mono landscape over time that favors the fire resistant grasses etc...around Musekese they have taken a different approach and I love the results. The habitat appears more varied and it certainly makes for better pictures My itinerary was as follows: Sept 21 Depart US Sept 22 overnight in Jo'burg Sept 23 - 28 five nights at Tswalu Sept 28 overnight in Jo'burg visit to Kliptown in Soweto Sept 29 over night in Livingstone, Vic Falls Sept 30-Oct 1 2X at Kaingu Lodge in Kafue NP Oct 2-4 2X at Musekese Camp in Kafue Oct 4 Depart for US To get to Kafue required flying to Lusaka and then an approx five hour drive to the park. I didn't mind it. I enjoyed seeing the countryside and the villages along the way. The roads were good although its a bit tough getting through Lusaka. Linda and Rick, part owners of Kaingu picked us up and we had great conversations all the way to the lodge. But apparently next year Proflight will be offering a certain number of flights each week which will make the park more accessible to visitors. I must say that Kafue had lived up to its reputation as a diverse park with the most antelope species but it was only on the ride back to Lusaka (still in the Kafue) through beautiful Miombo woodlands that we came across a galloping herd of sable. They kept pace with the car for a long stretch running through the woodlands. It was a memorable, beautiful sight! So a visit to Tswalu typically begins from the Fireblade Hangar owned by the Oppenheimers. It's plush and certainly not reminiscent of my 16 hour journey flying coach to get to South Africa! You can have a meal, a smoothie, a's all included and the plane ride is about an hour and a half, shortened by wine and beer if you like to drink and fly. As many of you know Tswalu is pricey, but there's no single supplement and each person or two person(s) get(s) their own guide and tracker. We were thrilled with Jonas as our tracker (I requested him based on recommendations here on Safaritalk) and our guide Moses. The had a great rapport with each other and kept us laughing in between seeing all that Tswalu offers---the were skilled trackers, spotters, knew about the environment and wildlife we were seeing---they were as good of guides/trackers as I've had. I'd highly recommend them! The arrival and departure lounge has been taken over by an enormous sociable weaver nest---I love this place already
  2. We recently returned from a 9 day/8 night trip to Tanzania in February 2017. We have had the pleasure and good fortune for this to be our 8th trip to the continent, starting with our honeymoon years ago. Our honeymoon was both a blessing and a curse. A curse in the sense that once we visited we found out we are like the many people who talked about how it gets into your blood, and how no trip will ever compare. When planning every subsequent vacation, we ask ourselves, will this live up to Africa?? In most cases we believe the answer is no, and we find ourselves facing the large expense to return. I can say, however, that we have never returned and thought that it wasn't worth every penny. Retirement is going to have to wait!! As many of you also know, the blessing of visiting Africa takes many forms. Starting with the obvious, the beautiful landscapes, the amazing wildlife that never fails to amazing and bewilder, exposure to new and wonderful foods. The understanding of new cultures, viewpoints, ways of life. Making new friends, experiencing the mishaps that inevitably occur and somehow surviving without your "stuff" for a few days. Learning to appreciate how lucky you are to have the things you have and how random life is that you were born where you were. Noticing the subtle and larger changes you make to your life after returning- maybe wasting less, helping more, just appreciating the natural world. But always returning home wondering how, when, and where we'll be able to get back!
  3. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa 2) Website address if known: 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). 13 sep 4) Length of stay:10 days 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Because it has a superb reputation for seeing rare species. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I booked directly and all my enquiries were dealt with courteously and efficiently. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 14 8) To which countries? Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania. Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None, 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? I do not remember my room number but it did have an excellent view. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The room as very comfortably furnished. It was air conditioned. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. I just loved the wine. The food was good, but could have been better with a little effort. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Vegetarian was a superb alternative. I didn't have to order this in advance. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single table, yes they do. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? They were good but not really great. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. As I remember they choose to have land rover defenders 19) How many guests per row? 2 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? 3 to 4 hours. They were absolutely varied. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? We usually left at 6 and stayed out for 4 hours. You can leave at anytime. They are quite flexible. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? It's a private concession. It is the biggest private concession in South Africa and there are only 6 vehicles. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? It's not a National park 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? This place is famous for pangolin, aardvark, bat eared fox, meerkats, cape fox, mountain zebra,cheetah, white rhino, and black rhino. It's also famous for superb antelope sightings. I got fabulous sightings, 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent and my tracker Jonas is the best in the business. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? No i did not have issues with the guide. 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: My guide Kallie was fine, but I have to say that Jonas is the best tracker there is. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes, the staff was excellent. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes it does support. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Like this
  4. My OH managed to snare a straight 5-night stay a month and a half before he booked, paid up in full and confirmed his trip to Tswalu. It's unheard of for Tswalu to have such a long stretch of available nights but he had to wait for a couple of weeks before a 3-night availability became a 5-night, so he could take advantage of the stay 5, pay 4. I jumped on his trip a week before the trip after results of my various dogs' medical tests came back not that positive but not too negative either. This was his trip, and I was more than happy to be there for the ride, and to travel with him after two years' of having separate holidays. This is my second visit to Tswalu after I had stayed 5 nights in May last year. I'll be very sparse with text this report since I've said most of what I felt in the first TR ( Although I saw many of Tswalu's nocturnal specialities in May last year, the aardvark eluded me. I was back to stalk the mysterious creature - will it show up? a clue....
  5. ~ These news articles from the Bangkok Post and ABC News provide details of a raid by Indonesian navy personnel on a warehouse in Sumatra where more than 200 pangolins were found. Many had died from stress and dehydration. They were bound for Malaysia. At the Belawan port in Medan it was found that two dozen of the pangolins had already been skinned.
  6. Trip report to CAR and Cameroon.pdf I just returned from a very special trips to one of the most amazing places I've ever visited: Dzangha-Sangha Special Reserve in the Central African Republic. It's a long report because it has a LOT of info about the animals we saw, and some about animals we missed. It's totally different from your typical Eastern/Southern African Safari, and there is almost no overlap in the species you see. What an amazing place. I just have to note something very important for anyone considering going to Dzanga-Sangha: It's SAFE! Yes, the Central African Republic is considered a War Zone, but it's only in the North, 100s of miles from this reserve, and from the amazing Sangha Lodge. You should get there via flight from Bangui or Yaounde, or by driving the long and turtourous road from Yaounde to Libongo. But once you get there, it's more safe than the USA has been over the past few years, with all the shootings etc... Enjoy :-)
  7. Hello! I’m working on a paper about cultural valuation/traditional ecological knowledge surrounding pangolins in East Africa: specifically, in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, or Burundi. If you have any information on sightings, photographs, field reports, encounter rates, presence/absence data, mythology, local folk beliefs, religious practices, or cultural valuation related to any of the African pangolin species, please reach out!
  8. Hi all, I mentioned a little while ago that I had come across some interesting articles about where to see one of the most endangered mammals in the world, the Riverine rabbit. Well I have contacted the Endangered Wildlife Trust and they have responded with the following advice: "Hi Jo Many thanks for your email 28 March and your interest in Riverine Rabbit conservation. The list of places to see Riverine Rabbits in the link you sent is quite complete. My suggestions would be to try the Sanbona Reserve as we have done quite a bit of research with them and they have an excellent idea of where their rabbits are, and also offer night drives. In terms of a farmland experience in the Karoo, the Dunedin Riverine Rabbit Retreat is an excellent option as well, we have worked with the landowner who is an avid Riverine Rabbit conservationist and a member of the Sak River Conservancy. With regards to accompanying a researcher, if you contact us nearer to the time when you are in SA again, we could see what our schedule is and maybe try arrange a day out in the field if we have field work on the go then. However, this would strictly be determined on our time and availability. Note also that our home base is mostly in Loxton in the Northern Cape (+-7hrs from Cape Town) - although we do also work out of Cape Town in Sanbona from time to time. Please feel free to contact me on this email address once you have travel plans, and let's see what we can do. In the meantime, in case you have not already viewed our website, our news page has links to archive newsletters with lots of information in them on the habitat restoration work and camera trap studies work we do. Kind Regards Bonnie Schumann Senior Field Officer Endangered Wildlife Trust So I have sent an enquiry to Sanbona as a first step. Has anyone visited this reserve? They are part of the shamwari group. They are a big five reserve and seems cheetah are seen quite often along with all the usual game and some dry ecosystem game like gemsbok and springbok too which I haven't seen in the wild before. They do also have white lions. Not that this is a draw for me! More interesting is that they say they have aardvark, aardwolf and brown hyena on their reserve. My enquiry to them also asks about frequency of sightings. I haven't looked into the other place mentioned yet. Does anyone have any suggestions for other places to look into nearby to either of these suggested areas nd/or an comment as having visited either, for any of the other mammals of interest that I have tagged in the post? I know some other members have expressed an interest in this potential trip. So please let me know if you might like to join me and what would be on your list? I have no particular dates in mind for this trip but it won't be any time within the next few months I wouldn't think.. Regards Jo
  9. Hi, all! Somehow, it's been 2 years since I last posted to/visited SafariTalk! In that time, I've almost finished my dissertation (the big paper on lions is in review and due out before year's end), have spent a year in London, got engaged to a lovely Englishman, founded a community development startup in SSA, and begun the post-PhD job search in East & Southern Africa. As I trend toward the end of my PhD, I'm also working on a new project with a collaborator at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. We're trying to collect informations about pangolins, those darling little walking avocados that suffer so badly at the hands (and feet) of poachers/safari guides everywhere. During my time in the Mara, I gathered a few 2nd hand reports about pangolin sightings, plus a lot of Maasai mythology related to the pangolin (endtaboi in the local Maa) and its importance to local culture/ecology. But a few isn't enough -- so I need your help. If anyone has stories/sightings, and ESPECIALLY gps-location-linked pictures of pangolins anywhere in East Africa, please please please let me know. I'm more than happy to make you a co-author on our paper if you're keen, and happier still just to learn what your pangolin encounters have been like. Anyway -- hello, again, SafariTalk! May your grasses be lush, your cattle be fat, and your wildlife sightings be plentiful and photogenic.
  10. Lisa Hywood established the Tikki Hywood Trust in Zimbabwe in 1994 as a wildlife orientated not for profit organization. Targeting smaller and lesser known endangered animals, the Trust was established to address gaps in conservation left by the immense focus on larger and more charismatic wildlife. Such an enigma is the Pangolin, now a priority species for the Trust. From broad spectrum beginnings which involved translocation of elephants and rescue and rearing orphaned animals, to more specific conservation actions of addressing laws that protect wildlife and the environment, the Trust has developed a multifaceted approach to the preservation of our global heritage. Lisa Hywood has been at the helm since inception in the capacity of Founder and CEO. To find out more about the work of the Tikki Hywood Trust, visit the website at ------------------------------ Why has it taken so long for awareness of the pangolin’s conservation plight to reach mainstream media? Unlike your charismatic species, such as the rhino, elephant, tiger together with the cheetah, the pangolin sits in a unique niche all on its own. Firstly they are rather small, covered in scales, (so most people perceive them as reptiles), and they are mainly nocturnal so not easily seen. The pangolin has not been romanticized in novels or films and therefore most people are ignorant in the role that these truly amazing animals have to play in our ecosystem. When one thinks of TCM, rhino horn comes to mind and there is documented evidence of its use going back centuries. What is the history of pangolin body parts in TCM and how come the poaching of it in Africa has accelerated recently? There are eight species of pangolin four in Asia and four in Africa. The Asian species have been so severely poached over the past decade that now those numbers cannot supply the Asian demand and so the harvest grounds for pangolin have turned to Africa. With multiple trade agreements and investment coming into Africa from Asia, so to are the new cultures and TCM beliefs, which of course will affect all our African species including the pangolin. Pangolin TCM like with the rhino horn has been around for centuries in Asia and hence why it is so difficult to try and reduce the already existing demand. How concerned are you that pangolin is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine and how is this leading to increasing pressure on its numbers? It is a huge concern, as the socio-economics of Asia increase so to it seems does the demand on pangolin cuisine. Pangolin soup is considered a delicacy when finalizing a deal – “kind of sign on the dotted line and lets eat a pangolin!” These pangolin, are kept alive in cages and when ordered wheeled out to the customer prior to having his or her neck slit. Barbaric - cannot or does not even describe this activity. What is being done in Vietnam and China to engage consumers? To engage political support? One sees in social media the efforts with regard to elephant ivory and rhino horn, but what about the smuggling of pangolins for consumption and their scales for use in TCM? There are groups working in Vietnam and China in the fight to reduce demand, however as we know education takes generations and what might be the sad fact right now is we do not have this length of time to solve the issues facing pangolin. In China a law was passed stating that it was illegal to eat endangered wildlife. Pangolin are one of these species sited in this law, which carries a 10 year jail term if found guilty. Yet since the law was passed I am unaware of even one offender having been arrested. So to China I say – “in order for the law to serve as a deterrent, one has to enforce it.” One thinks of the huge sums of money involved with rhino horn, what are the monetary sums involved with pangolins? How are pangolins smuggled out of the country and what efforts to stop and search are made at border points, ports of egress etc? The value of pangolin, are up there with rhino horn – sad thing is that no one knows this except the criminals. Due to the ease of being able to capture pangolin, poachers can transport pangolin readily from country to country. Pangolin are smuggled on buses, in suitcases and cargo trucks. As of yet, all of the 8 species of pangolin are only listed on CITES Appendix II, therefore trade is still allowed and this is something we need to address and quickly. There is now a CITES agenda which does include the 8 species of pangolin and here’s hoping that by elevating the pangolin to an Appendix I listing not only will it stop all trade and therefore make monitoring the illegal trade slightly easier, but it will bring the plight of these animals into the light along side of the rhino and the elephant. Like the rhino horn, the use of pangolin in Vietnam is being linked to those with wealth willing to eat or use them as a demonstration as wealth and status, (source,, QUOTE, “The problem, Nguyen complained, was not Vietnam's poor and uneducated, but its wealthy elite - the senior government officials and the wealthy businessmen who ordered pangolin to flaunt their status or to celebrate a deal.” How can you ever hope to engage these people when the rarer something becomes, the more value it has to them? Likewise, how worried are you that a growing and more affluent middle class may seek to emulate them? If they don’t care about its conservation status, what hope is there of stopping the trade? Extremely worried and the only area which might be working in our favor here is that the elite are educated and will always want to save face. Should the Governments, Authorities and the youth of these countries stand up and make enough noise our hope is that those wealthy business men will also wake up and be forced to listen to the law. When, how and why did the trust begin focusing on the Pangolin? The Tikki Hywood Trust received the first pangolin in 1994. Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. A pangolin is like no other mammal – there are no books to read or information which has been past down through the ages as to how best to take care of this species. There in front of me was a sack and in a tightly rolled up ball was a pangolin. The stench that came from the sack was overwhelming, I opened the sack only to see the most beautiful eye staring back at me – terror was the first emotion I detected but besides that there was great wisdom I sensed and this only made me even more nervous. It was that single moment, that look that made me realize we have to do more for this animal and how can we be in 1994 and know almost nothing about how to care and save this animal. Over the past 20 years we have been involved with all aspects of the pangolin from rescue, rehabilitation and release together with working with our Authorities on improving the law involving the pangolin together with the enforcement of the law. We have become a voice for this otherwise silent, magical and prehistoric species around the globe. Why aren’t more NGOs involved in the Pangolin's conservation? One sees a multitude of organisations raising awareness and money for rhinos, elephants, lions etc., but which are the NGOs, including your own, focusing on the pangolin? I don’t know and cannot answer for other NGO’s and or groups – maybe the pangolin at this point is not sexy enough! Maybe size maybe ignorance – either way the Tikki Hywood Trust believes that all animals are equally and as important as the next, that we are all intricately intertwined and should one species perish then it will have a catastrophic knock on affect to yet another species. Please tell us about the African Pangolin Working Group. The Tikki Hywood Trust is a co founding member of the APWG and one of the main aims behind this group was to engage with like minded people around Africa so that we could come together and put multiple resources and energy into saving this species. The APWG attempts to monitor and launch research, rehabilitation, law enforcement and community projects on African pangolins across multiple African states. How easy is it to rehabilitate a rescued pangolin and release it back into the wild? What has been your success rate and what is the cost of doing so? Due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of these mammals I can readily say this is no easy task. One of the main factors that affect a pangolin is stress and one can only imagine how much stress these animals will endure from being captured and transported from pillar to post for who knows how many days and weeks, prior to being rescued. All pangolin that come through our center are invariably dehydrated and very under weight. Many of the pangolin have also been wounded and due to the stress they have endured, succumb to terrible infections, which are difficult to fight. The time to rehabilitate pangolin, vary from one individual to another as does the cost. As with any rehabilitation the injuries that have been inflicted will also determine the cost required. Rod Cassidy from Sangha Lodge in CAR has stated many times that local people also consume the pangolin: what affect has the illegal bush meat trade had on its numbers? What can be done to sensitize local communities to the conservation status of the pangolin, change their habits, when bush meat has always played a part in their diet? In Central and West Africa the bushmeat trade in pangolin continues consuming large numbers of pangolin. The obvious first step is through education in trying to sensitize the local population as well as Government, to the value of these wild animals. The pangolin in CAR is fully protected under their wildlife laws and hence I believe that enforcement of these laws will have the most effect when trying to stop the illegal use of pangolin. How these African countries are resource strapped and until this can be addressed there will be very little done to assist species such as the pangolin. How are you made aware of the pangolins’ plight in the area of the trust’s operation and what action do you take? How many times have you personally seen pangolins, whether dead or alive, for sale in bush meat markets and what do you do about it? How much are pangolins sold for in these markets? (Dead/alive?) In Zimbabwe when a pangolin is confiscated it goes directly to or through our Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authorities. We are then notified and the pangolin should it be alive is handed over to our care for rehabilitation. We then work with the Authorities on the necessary charges and action required to prosecute the poachers. Once we have successfully rehabilitated the pangolin they are then released into designated areas around the country. Each pangolin is micro-chipped and funding dependent where ever possible we use a tracking device to monitor the pangolin once released. We have been involved with more than 64 pangolin cases over the past five years. Whenever we hear about a pangolin in any situation we follow up with the Authorities. With rhinos, lions, elephants, cheetahs etc., there are estimated numbers, various counts and studies but what are the difficulties in trying to ascertain a reliable figure on the number of pangolins? Currently there are no true figures of pangolin numbers worldwide! This is a huge concern as well as a problem, as how do you try and protect a species that you cannot even see? We are fighting a silent enemy and we do not know other than by trade figures how severe this issue is. When you are dealing with tons of pangolin confiscated in Asia and now from Africa, and you do know that the pangolin only gives birth to one young once a year – you can start to understand that this species cannot sustain these figures. Aside from the poaching for bush meat and TCM, what are the other threats facing the pangolin? How are their movements affected by land subdivision and fencing? And talking of fencing, what is the impact of electric fencing on pangolin numbers and what can be done to mitigate loses caused by it? Electric fences, which are used for game ranches, are one of the greatest threats to pangolin in South Africa and due to this there is now a fence that has been designed to try and allow the free movement of pangolin from one property to another in South Africa. Agriculture and poisoning is also a factor but obviously nothing as great as the illegal trade in this species. But lets not forget ignorance – I do believe that this too needs to be mentioned. How seriously are government parastatals in Zimbabwe and other pangolin range state countries taking the threat and what are they doing on the ground? All Authorities have taken the conservation of pangolin within Zimbabwe, extremely seriously and I believe the conviction outcomes speak for themselves. Currently Zimbabwe is the most proactive country in pangolin conservation addressing all aspects from education to law enforcement as well as Zimbabwe having the stiffest penalties for the illegal possession of pangolin which is 9 years in jail and USD 5000.00 fine. I believe that other African countries can indeed learn from the proactive approach Zimbabwe has had with pangolin conservation. At this point it is important to note that for the law to act as a deterrent then one it has to be enforced but secondly it would be made that much stronger if neighboring countries carried a similar penalty making the poacher understand that he cannot poach from the country whose law is weaker and get away with the offence. Once again I believe that from informant to arrest and arrest to conviction Zimbabwe has had very positive outcomes. This year alone, (2015), has seen Zimbabwe prosecuting 22 pangolin poachers to the mandatory sentence of 9 years in jail. These results speak for themselves. And there has been more focus in the national Press, such as this article, which focuses on how the trust is working with the government. This is a paper I co-authored re Zimbabwe and the stance that it has taken through our work for pangolin protection. For many people, to see a pangolin on safari represents a “bucket-list” sighting and yet still there are many who don’t know what it is. So, what are the different African species and where can they be found? If planning a safari with the aim of, (hopefully), spotting a pangolin, where should one go to be in with a reasonable chance? The four species of pangolin in Africa are; The Giant Ground Pangolin – Central to West Africa The White- bellied Pangolin – Central to West Africa The Black-bellied Pangolin – Central to West Africa The Temminck’s Ground Pangolin – Southern and East Africa above 30degree latitude. One must always remember that pangolin are nocturnal and hence hoping to see one during day light hours you are less likely – perhaps my advice would be to go on a night drive or a very early morning drive in the hopes of seeing a pangolin. How would a 25 dollar donation help the Tikki Hywood trust in its objectives to conserve the pangolin and how can one make a donation? A USD 25 donation would go towards the rescue and rehabilitation of a pangolin in care. Should one wish to donate via credit card we have two facilities on our FACEBOOK page otherwise the bank details below: USD Bank Details Correspondent Bank: STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, NEW YORK USA Swift Code: SCBLUS33 Beneficiary Bank: Central Africa Building Society Head Office Northend Close, Northridge Park Harare Zimbabwe Swift Code: CABSZWHA Account Number : 3582-026441-001 Beneficiary Name : TIKKI HYWOOD FOUNDATION Beneficiary Acc No.: 9016337893 Photo Credits: courtesy and copyright Tikki Hywood Trust, images 1 and 7, @@Wild Dogger, images 3 and 4, @@pault. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.
  11. 1) Name of property: Tswalu Kalahari - Motse 2) Website address: 3) Date of stay: June 2015 (same price rate all year round) 4) Length of stay: 10 nights (special offer of stay 5 pay 4) 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Based on Facebook postings of aardvark sightings in 2014. We went during the winter months in a bid to see some of the rarer nocturnal animals, which tend to be out earlier in the afternoon on cold days. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Booked through Africa Direct, an agent based in South Africa. All enquiries dealt with promptly and efficiently, by email. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 16 over last 10 years 8) To which countries? South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Londolozi, Sabi Sabi, various &Beyond properties 10) Was the property fenced? Yes – the property is over 100,000 hectares but split into two sections. The smaller section of 20,000 contains the lions and rhino together with general game. The larger section contains wild dog, cheetah, leopard together with general game including sable and roan antelope. The accommodation is based in the larger section. Whilst you will see the fence when you cross over to the smaller section, you will quickly leave this behind as the reserve is so large. You can be sitting with a mountain range in front of you and another behind you, both of which are within the reserve, and not a fence in sight. 11) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Number 6, which was the nearest to the main communal lodge areas. Not overlooked, and no noise from the main areas. It would have had a great view of the waterhole, if not for the huge shrub a couple of metres from the deck. 12) How comfortable was the bed - were suitable amounts of blankets/duvets/pillows provided? Very comfy, and plenty of blankets and pillows, together with a heated underblanket on the bed. 13) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes – the food is restaurant quality, but this can be a little too rich for me. The kitchen were quite happy to make any meal we requested. There are no set meal times, and you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. 14) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Not sure about the vegetarian options but I doubt this would be a problem. On several days, we requested particular meals which they were happy to provide. 15) Can you choose where you eat, ie privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining? Dining is single tables, although you can choose whether to eat inside, out on one of the main decks or on the deck of your room. The guides never sit with the guests for meals. One of the camp managers will offer to sit with a single traveller if they wish. 16) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very good – we were able to give the kitchen a list of the foods we would like for lunch and they obliged. The only criticism would be that there was far too much food. 17) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Fairly new Landrovers. 18) How many guests per row? Every booking (for a min 3 nights) has its own private vehicle. The vehicles (Landrovers) are all fairly new, and there is a variety of different sizes from the usual 9 seats over 3 rows, to the one we had with 4 seats over 2 rows with covered boxes between the seats for the cameras etc. They even supplied clamps and beanbags without us asking. The vehicles have the best ever blankets, real quality (if I’d had space in my holdall I would have asked to buy mine!) – big enough to wrap around fully and cover from head to toe, thick fleece on one side and sheepskin-type on the other side. Also the usual hot water bottles. Ponchos are Driza-bone, so good quality and wind-proof and warm. 19) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drive times are set by the guests – there are no limits. 20) Are game drive times flexible: ie, if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, ie not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? You can go out whenever you want, for as long as you want. Night drives after dinner are also possible. The kitchen were happy to provide packed breakfast/lunch for us. 21) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Just on the short drive from the airstrip to the lodge we saw two aardvark and an aardwolf. I had no idea of the frequency of aardvark sightings, nor of the quality. Tswalu is to aardvark what Londolozi is to leopards. To be sitting on the ground and have a relaxed aardvark walking within a couple of metres of you, is absolutely mind-blowing. We saw meerkats, aardvarks (23 sightings, all during daylight hours), pangolin (2 sightings), black-maned lions, aardwolf, sable, roan, eland, tssessebe, oryx, springbok, duiker, reedbuck, impala, kudu, nyala, yellow mongoose, slender mongoose, wild dog pups, cheetah & cubs, African wildcat, caracal, bat-eared foxes, black and white rhino, mountain zebra. There have been reported sightings of the yellow morph of the crimson breasted shrike, but we didn’t find it. 22) How was the standard of guiding? OK, but could have been better. The guide was personal and pleasant, but didn’t volunteer much information or make suggestions as to where to go. However, the friend I travelled with is also a qualified guide, so we were able to ask the right questions, tell our guide where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see. So we made all the decisions, rather than the guide. The guide and tracker were always willing to spend all day out in the bush. 23) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? We did discuss the general standard of guiding with the MD over dinner, and he is looking at how to improve the quality of the guides in general and bring them all up to the standard of a true “private guide”. 25) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes – the whole ethos of the lodge is geared towards a personal experience, and the staff are happy to cater for most requests. 27) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Access to Tswalu is through private plane from either Cape Town or Johannesburg. The experience at Fireblade Aviation was awesome – we were treated like royalty. Nothing was too much trouble for them. When we returned from Tswalu, they gave us full use of the facilities so I could get changed, have lunch, and use the lounge and only transfer to ORT when I needed to check in for my flight (rather than having to spend 7 hours in ORT) – all of it complimentary. It was COLD a lot of the time, but there were plenty of fires lit in the main areas which were well-tended and never allowed to die down. The guest rooms have heating and a fireplace (which they will light at any time you request) and electric blankets. Single supplement will no longer apply in 2016. Lodge guidance for tipping (per person per day): Guide – R300 Tracker – R200 Junior Camp Staff – R200 28) Please add your photographs of the property. Didn’t take any photos of the lodge itself as we only went back to the lodge for dinner in the evening. However the pictures on the website are an accurate reflection.
  12. This article from Viet Nam News/Asia News Network describes the results of the initial meeting of the Pangolin Range States Meeting held in Da Nang, Vietnam. The International Union for Conservation (IUCN) stated that over 1,000,000 pangolins have been illegally hunted or transported over the past decade.
  13. This CNN report questions China's commitment to protection for such species as pangolins, river dolphins, tigers and elephants. Dr. Peter Li, China specialist of the Humane Society International says: "Panda conservation is not an accurate indicator of wildlife protection work in China". Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, notes that a disproportionate share of conservation funds have been allocated for giant pandas while such other species as pangolins are comparatively ignored.
  14. An informative Wildlife PSA from or you can visit their Facebook page.
  15. One of Kenya's most famous, and most loved guides, Jackson Looseyia, last week shocked many people with some slightly disturbing photographs of him parading with a live pangolin over his head. While on Safari with "Wildsours" Safaris in Tanzania, he and his fellow guides Fadhil and Deo came across a pangolin on the plains. They proceeded to get out of the vehicle and pick it up, handing it from one to the other, holding it over their heads, and taking photos. He seems to have taken down all the photos of his own involvement, but has left one photo of Fadhil and Deo holding the obviously terrified animal and smiling for the camera: I have never met Jackson personally, but I have always had the utmost respect for him, his guiding, and what he has achieved for the Maasai and the conservation of the mara ecosystem. I personally saw the photos of him dancing with the pangolin over his head, curled into a ball. If I had not, I would not have believed he'd be capable of something like that. From the little I saw when I was online that day, he drew A LOT of heat rather quickly. This post is not meant to defame him, as I still have lots of respect for him. I'd simply like to know what others think of the incident and if anyone else saw it. It is interesting to see other Maasai guides on his facebook page calling him out on his unethical behaviour. I look forward to a candid, but respectful, mature discussion.
  16. This beggars belief read the full article in the Guardian
  17. Scaly anteaters are now the most illegally-traded mammal in the world, with all eight species listed as threatened I've never been that excited by pangolins, but after reading @@madaboutcheetah's current TR I started thinking I should get a bit more excited. Then this morning I saw this article and thought I might have to move them nearer to the top of my list. And damn! if it isn't the Chinese and Vietnamese being blamed again. >>Pangolins are being "eaten to extinction" due to a demand for their meat at banquets in China and Vietnam and their scales for use in Chinese medicine, conservationists have warned. In an update last week to the authoritative Red List of endangered animals, all eight species of the scaly anteaters were upgraded to threatened status.<< To read the full article click here
  18. Hey Guys If you looking for an awesome getaway with the family, and you are photographically inclined, then head on over to my website where you will see that I offer both private photographic safaris as well as safaris run in conjuction with Pangolin Photo Safaris who are based in Kasane on the Mighty Chobe River which is a prime wildlife photographic destination. Head on over to my website Or head on over to Pangolin Photo Safaris Website and lets see what we can organise for you Have a great day and enjoy your next trip into Africa.
  19. Hi everyone! This is my first post, so it's kind of an introduction and a question at the same time. I've been a wildlife enthusiast my whole life, and a mammal watcher specifically, though I enjoy a variety of animals including birds, herps and interesting fish (sharks, rays, seahorses - though I have yet to see the latter 2) I just joined this forum because finally I'm going to venture into Africa with my family! So hopefully I will be more active in the forum as I continue to explore this amazing sounding continent. We are going to Tanzania in February and are putting together an itinerary, comparing a few options and tour operators, by of course emphasizing that we want to see a variety of animals including the rare ones. Apart from the "Big 5" which every tour company puts tramendous effort into showing you, there are other animals you see like Cheetah, foxes, warthogs, giraffs, etc.. But then there are the ones that you don't get to see because they are so rare and sometimes elusive or just small so you miss them. I am probably interested in many of those animals as much as I am in the big 5! In addition to the big 5, if I came back with pictures of genets, civets, a caracal, a serval, an aardvark, an aardwolf, a honey badgers, wild dogs, a pangolin, striped hyenas, galagos etc. I'd be ecstatic. But that being said, I know I'm not going to see most of these, maybe with the exception of genets, civets and galagos during a night drive and a serval with some luck. So I'm making an effort to research where some of the other ones can be found, especially the high "wants" on the wish list, namely caracal and pangolin. Does anyone know any recent / current information that would help me in my quest? Our itinerary includes: 1 day at Arusha NP 1 day at Tarangire 1 Day at lake Manyara (and a night drive) 1 full day at Ngorongoro (plus a day of getting there) 2 full days at Ndutu/Southern serengeti 2 Full days in Central Serengeti 1 day at Lake Eyasi (this is less for wildlife and more for culture) I definitely want to add a 2nd night drive somewhere, and looking at Manyara Ranch as an option for one of the first 2 nights. Is there any place where Caracal or Pangolin have been sighted recently, sighted with "more frequency than normal" recently, a waterhole they've come to visit repeatedly, a current den, or anything of that nature? As for some of the other species I listed: Manyara ranch night game drive seems like it would have actually decent chances for aardwolf AND aardvark. I've heard of a person who saw 3 aardvarks there in 1 night, and another who saw 2 aardwolves, a porcupine, and several genets and civets on one night. Kisima Ngeda property on Lake Eyasi apparently has an aardvark currently living on the campground (confirmation?) and a den of striped hyena behind some rocks on a lookout platform or something like that? Those would add so much to my family and I's experience while on the safari. Any similar tips about caracal, pangolin, or any other species I listed would be extremely appreciated. Thanks in advance!!! Tomes

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