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Found 25 results

  1. Last month, I was once again in Selinda, as everyone will have already understood, my favorite place in Africa, this time for eight nights. A few days later, there was still only one heavy downpour of one hour. I first spent five nights at Main Camp and then three at Zarafa, in order to make game drives along the Savute Channel and the lagoon, and more generally in this part of the concession which was fairly easily accessible in the past departing from Main Camp and not being so nowadays and especially in this year of heavy rains, perhaps one of the most important since the year 2000. It was a good decision in terms of species seen, mainly giraffes in abundance, as in the past, and zebras, in fewer however, as generally all other species that the rains had dispersed. On the way to Zarafa, I visited Explorer’s. As last year, some tents had been flooded after heavy showers, these were raised by about fifteen centimeters in order to avoid this problem in the future. Water was everywhere, on the roads, on the plains and the pans were overflowing. Some large ones, as Twin Pans, would probably not dry out at the end of the dry season and the water coming from the mountains of Angola was just about to arrive. What impact will this have on the quality and frequency of sightings in the high season? For starters
  2. ~ This June, 2017 article from The Hindu compares the presence of leopards in two widely separated, crowded urban areas — Mumbai, India and Nairobi, Kenya. Leopards in and around Mumbai's Sanjay Gandhi National Park are contrasted with those in and around Nairobi National Park.
  3. Botswana, where I spent ten days last November, and more particularly Selinda, again provided a series of extraordinary sightings. Indeed, at Selinda, we did not even have time, during the four afternoon game drives, to take the sundowners as there were so many interesting things to see. On the other hand, at Shinde, all was well gone so that it was going to be a hit and miss…… until the dogs ! Here are some opening pictures.
  4. An inexplicable start of new year it was..! 11 Tigers & a leopard..! In all a dozen of Predator cats of Tadoba accompanied me in the start of this year, as if an indication to stay around them all this year and many more years coming ahead. Besides the hectic schedule, the glimpses of these extremely ROYAL Bengal Tigers helped me to keep up. Haven't expected it to be this amazing..! Excited as ever, Seeing off 2016, welcoming 2017..!!! Once again Wishing you all a very Happy New Year . May this year bring you lots of glory and Happiness....💥💥💥 Keep in touch for more updates.
  5. Hi folks, Does anyone here know if Bera was the site that was featured on bbc Natural World, 21st century leopard? The place where several leopards were seen relaxing on boulders? If so, has anyone got first hand experience of this area? Thanks, Jo
  6. Reports To read the full article click here. Do you think this is becoming more and more a problem in African parks, especially those which allow self driving? Are we seeing an increase in wildlife casualties due to drivers speeding to sightings?
  7. This is the second part to my trip report from November/December, 2015. This was a last minute visit to East Africa which included two new places for me which were Ruaha and Zanzibar. I would have to say a big thank you to everyone who wrote about Ruaha because these trip reports on SafariTalk were the stimulus for my visit. After visiting Asilia's Naboisho Camp in the Naboisho Conservancy for 9 nights (trip report on the Kenya thread coming soon), I decided at the very last minute to tack on a visit to Ruaha and Zanzibar. The ever patient Troy from True Africa was brilliant in organising these add ons and to get me out to Kwihala for 6 nights with 6 nights at Matemwe, Zanzibar. I was able to take advantage of the shoulder/green season rates and their special stay 3 pay for 2. I stayed at the Transit Airport Motel, Dar es Salaam before my flight out to Ruaha and used free transfers/local taxis to cut down costs as much as possible. I thought I was organised but unfortunately I forgot my additional memory cards so I ended up concentrating more on photography and less with my videoing to not use as much memory. I also spent plenty of time just waiting and watching because I really wanted to observe animal behaviour and to enjoy the scenery that I knew Ruaha was famous for. I arrived in Ruaha on the 23 November with only 3 other guests in camp. I think I waved hello to @@Jaycees2012 when they were heading back to the airport and I too had the Umbele Tent during my stay as well as having Alex as my guide. It was a pleasure to be welcomed by Tam and her excellent team at Kwihala. I was hoping to meet the Italian head guide Pietro because I was interested in having a foreign guide who had come to love Africa and the bush so much that they stayed. I really thought that they must be extremely passionate and dedicated to do something like that. The tent was very large with an attached bathroom, which had a flushing toilet, running water, a bucket shower and toiletries. Water for the showers were provided after lunch and evening. Due to the hot weather I chose to have showers with no hot water added. The bed was extremely comfortable, additional seating was provided, a desk and chair for catching up with trip reports and an undercover patio with seating and a birdbath outside to attract visitors. The tent was hot during the day so I spent most of my downtime up in the communal areas where a breeze would pass by and I had access to cold drinks and ice. I was fortunate to have to only share a car for the 1.5 days during my stay and was alone in camp for 2 days as well. My guide for the first 4 days was Alex who is a very experienced Asilia floating guide who moves around the different properties to where he is needed. He knew all of my previous Asilia guides in Tanzania so we were able to share lots of great stories. He was accompanied by a trainee guide during my time who was a lovely young man who was a little quiet but came out of his shell during my stay. Alex also accompanied myself and two other guests on a walking safari during my stay which was lead by Hamza. Hamza also guided me on my last 1.5 days when Alex left for his break. Hamza was permanently based in Kwihala and was able to share some wonderful stories about some of the famous leopards in the park. He was a real character and a brilliant mimic of animal sounds which were very entertaining throughout the evenings. The weather was extremely hot during the day, with storms circling the park but not necessarily bringing rain to the Kwihala Camp. The park looked a patchwork of brown and green from above as well as from the ground as we drove around really highlighting where rain had recently fallen. During my stay we had two drives affected by heavy rains, strong winds, lighting and thunder. This only lasted a maximum of 2 hours and brought a lovely fresh feel to the camp. The rain assisted in providing new smaller sightings for myself including emperor scorpions, a smaller clear/white scorpion (I can’t remember the name), red baboon spiders, many different types of flying insects which flooded the sky around the lights in camp and of course frogs. With everything in abundance it meant that the birds and lizards were having a field day with so much food around. Due to the rains we didn’t have daily lion sightings because I was told they normally head to the higher areas to stay dry. I did manage to see lions on 3 out of the 6 days but they were very inactive due to the heat. I had 3 spectacular leopard sightings and then an additional 3 from afar. I spent a day tracking wild dogs after the rains (when the lions headed to higher grounds) without any luck (we found spoor and scat) but then we found the dogs the next morning and spent the morning and afternoon drives with them with some brilliant photo opportunities for everyone including the Ruaha Wild Dogs Conservation researcher. The elephants congregated along the dried rivers digging holes to find water because there was not enough rain to even produce a trickle in the dry riverbeds. Giraffes were present but skittish and had what I remember as fungal infections around their knees which resulted in them having large hard inflammations which were supposedly contagious. Researchers and vets were trying to understand this disease and how to treat it. I was able to enjoy a wonderful walking safari and saw elephants, giraffes, kudu, impala and learnt about different flora in the area. I loved my time at Ruaha and was very impressed with the fantastic management, staff, lovely tents, communal area, my favorite the bush tv as well as the wonderful park and its animals. I loved the authentic bush feel, the landscapes were amazing and the sightings were wonderful. It is a park that requires great guides to track spoor and to find animals in the bush and it is extremely rewarding when everyone in the car is trying to help out. There are pockets of tsetse flies but we generally chose not to drive in these areas unless there was a great sighting. It certainly didn’t detract me from my time at Ruaha. I will definitely revisit this camp because I found it to be the type of camp and park that offers a true safari experience.
  8. The Lipault Ladies go to the Mara It was meant to be my second solo trip to Africa. Singapore had a short working week in February and I wanted to make use of it to have a longer trip. But feb is packed end to end with projects for my husband so that meant I would go alone again. As I narrowed my short list to kenya (thanks to much advice and input by the ST-ers in this thread: ), @@SafariChick jumped on board. I had originally wanted to see wild dogs in Laikipia but in the end, Laikipia didn't work out so we were happy to settle for a Masai Mara-focused trip that minimized travel to land transits between neighboring areas, and sealed a what turned out to be 9-night trip. The schedule was finalized - Feb 8 - Emakoko in Nairobi National Park for @kitsafari Feb 9 - meet @@SafariChick at Eka Hotel, Nairobi Feb 10-13 Serian Mara camp, Mara North conservancy Feb 13-16 Serian Nkorombo mobile camp, Masai Mara Reseve Feb 16-18 Mara Plains, Olare Motorogi conservancy Feb 19 - Emakoko for @@SafariChick Once we had the schedule pinned up, @@graceland jumped in, eager to relive her happy memories at Serian in Mara. So it became a threesome and it worked out marvellously as with the power of three we could command a PV at MP. Serian provides PV and guide for each tent, one of 2 big draws in clinching the deal, the other being a stay 6 and pay 4 deal. How we ended up being the Lipault ladies is something of a tale that @@graceland has to tell since she was the catalyst!
  9. Before 2013 I had been a volunteer with Biosphere Expeditions (BE) 6 previous times, each time in Namibia but in varying locations (Khomas Hochland, Caprivi and Omaheke) as the scientists whose work we were supporting came and went. The model used by BE is to fund a scientific study both by financing infra-structure, scientific equipment, manpower and sometimes the scientists themselves. The money for these activities comes from the volunteers who pay both for their accommodation and a contribution to the research fund as well as offering their time to collect data. This means that BE's projects are at the upper end of the price range for conservation holidays, but they are of high quality. The typical project is a scientist collecting data in the field for a Masters or PhD or involved in a long or short term study related to conservation which might otherwise have difficulty getting funded due to being in the early part of their career. Projects are selected which fit BE's pattern: Quality scientific data should be collectable by interested volunteers with a modicum of training and with activities capable of being divided up so that small groups of volunteers can have both morning and afternoon activities each day over a 12 day period. Results must be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. BE currently has expeditions to Amazonia (cats, primates), Arabia (oryx, wildcat), Australia (marsupials), Azores, (whales, dolphins, turtles), Kyrgyzstan (snow leopard), Malaysia (coral reef, sharks, dolphins), Maldives (coral reef, whale sharks), Musandam (coral reef), Namibia (leopard, elephant, cheetah), Scotland (whales, dolphins, basking sharks), Slovakia (wolf, lynx, wildcat) BE describes its Namibian expedition as a game of cats and elephants but its more formal title is a working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa. Before I went on my first Namibia expedition I searched for reports from people who had already taken part and found one by a BBC Radio 4 travel reporter. He recommended the "holiday" to anyone who wanted to work on a conservation related project gathering scientific data but to forget the idea of ever seeing the target species in the flesh. You do see their presence in the form of their tracks, their scat and sometimes the remains of their meals and it is your job to record this, take samples for genetic analysis in the case of scat and to count their potential prey. These data can give realistic information about predator densities and what they are eating as well as sometimes genetic information of individuals. This first expedition in 2007 was on a former cattle ranch converted to game farm called Okomitundu where the main study animals were cheetahs and leopards (we saw none and the collared cheetahs were out of telemetry range). The cheetah study had moved around several locations under the auspices of Okatumba Wildlife Research, and contributed to the 2007 Namibian cheetah status report for the Cat Specialist Group of the IUCN authored by Laurie Marker et al. After that the study site moved to the communal conservancies in eastern Caprivi (sorry, the Zambezi Region) for two years before returning to a game farm, Ongos, near Windhoek which I wrote about in 2010 and 2011. That farm was sold for redevelopment so the study moved yet again to the present site in 2012.
  10. In 2003, I decided to see what was happening north of Selinda, while saying that the region should be similar. Although the atmosphere of the Kwando camps was different, I was not disappointed. I spent a week in Lebala & Lagoon. This trip was followed by three others in 2006, 2009 & 2011, each time including Kwara. In 2003, there were many lions, including the three males’ coalition that had dominated the Selinda pride for a few years, and wild dogs, but no leopards or cheetahs. During my four travels, I will, moreover, see, and very briefly, only very few cheetahs, at Kwara, as well as at Lebala and Lagoon. Like what, an individual reality never totally reflects THE reality of a place. There is not a single cheetah’s picture in this report. The lion population has decreased over the years. In 2011, I saw only 2 shy males feeding on the carcass of a young elephant, they had not killed, and that hastened to clear off when we arrived. In Kwara, on the other hand, the lions were still present, and continuously. Wild dogs, more discreet in Kwara, were mostly found in Lagoon, on a daily basis. As for leopards, from 2006, we could see them regularly everywhere. Elephants were everywhere, especially in Lebala. There were more great buffaloes’ herds in 2003 than in subsequent years. There were also sightings, that if not many, were regular, of smaller cats and honey badgers. May 2003 The pictures and some of 2006 are slides’ scans. Lagoon was managed by a lady who, if I remember correctly, was the wife of the chief-pilot of Moremi Air. Charles Sebaka was my guide. The camp was as I like, comfortable and without ostentatious luxury. The tents had a side entrance. It was then a small hall / dressing room with, en-suite, to the right the bathroom, and left the bedroom, facing the lagoon. I remember all this because one day, returning to my tent, I came up against something unpleasant, that, at the extreme, could have ended badly for me. More details on this a bit further. The dining room had no floor or tiles. The table and chairs were laid on the sand. Pictures taken from and around the camp. Lebala was managed, on an interim basis, by a charming young woman, Dee. Ras Mundu was my excellent guide. Ras is a brother of Barberton (BB) who was guide at Selinda. I do not quite remember the details of the camp. I imagine that the tents were to be similar to those of Lagoon. To be continued
  11. This trip was made in October 2008. I took a flight from Joburg to Polokwane and went by road to Pont Drift. Before going to Mashatu, I visited another lodge in another area of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Nitani, located at ninety minutes drive from Mashatu and the border. The lodge is almost only used by the owners but from time to time, they offer a few weeks to other visitors. It’s a beautiful lodge of only five rooms, built with timber and wood. Elevated walkways are connecting the common facilities to the rooms. A rather deep gully, where the Majali river flows, divides the camp in two and over it, the walkway becomes a footbridge. The food was excellent. When I was there, the river was dry and when elephants were in the camp, it was possible to watch them from the footbridge. The area is semi-arid and quite pristine, very different compared to Mashatu. I did not see a lot of water, which probably explains the few animals seen. These are the species that I saw in small numbers : ostrich, jackal, giraffe, zebra, warthog, steenbok, impala and a serval. In the camp, it was mainly kudu and bushbuck, and six elephants. The only species that I saw in great numbers were hyena and at night scrubhare, springhare, genet and bush baby. African hawk eagle and giant eagle owl were the only raptors seen. Big cats were conspicuously absent but I was not really expecting to see them a lot. Indeed, the lodge website says that lion and cheetah are only accasionally seen. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the five nights I spent there because of its privacy and peace.
  12. Hi All, Here are some photographs covering the diversity of Sri Lankan wildlife taken by me. Enjoy.
  13. Just returned from the breathtaking beauty of Zimbabwe. Many folks we met were happily surprised to see Americans in their paradise as it appears our countrymen do not visit; perhaps Hwange as a stop after Vic Falls, but not many venture further into the park and I was given the job to please spread the word...I keep my word and will return as well! Jud and I were so thrilled every day. How did we not plan this earlier! The amount of wildlife, the ability to walk and get so close and spend hours observing the behavior of lions and ellies was for us the treat of a lifetime. Elephants greeted us as we drove into our first camp, Trichillia which we found to be absolutely lovely and the ellies lived with us for three nights. Boswell, Curly, Big Vic waiting on the road for us...Did Craig call ahead and plan this greeting? A drive to the next camp was a treat... and the camp itself felt so wild and gave us many opportunities for walking, canoeing and fishing! Ellies and Kudo hung out in camp, as well as baboons. I've never seen so many baboons as in Mana, and hippos as well! Don't get me started on the lions we hung with. Flying between camps was perfect; gave us aerial views of where we had been and where we were going. What a way to travel. Matsuadona and Rhino Camp were amazing. Stories to come. Hwange and Somalisa Acacia were a pleasant surprise; we were having such great sightings there I did not want to leave. However, Camp Hwange was blockbuster chock full of large herds of buffalo, lions, roan (16 at once), so many elephants I lost count; and a sable greeting us on the drive in - which was a bit longer than I perceived, but all bumps and bruises forgotten once we arrived. Who has a gorgeous sable greeting them into camp? I have bruises on my knees from all the crawling on the ground to get as close as we can to the wildlife. Best souvenir to bring home! Since we are moving tomorrow, I just wanted to get something down to thank everyone on Safaritalk who had posted scores of exciting trip reports on Zim; and those in particular who gave me much needed advice. Youall know who you are and I thank you sincerely. @ZimGirl; @@Paolo, @@Anita, @@Sangeeta, @@Whyone?, @@wilddog, @@Pennyanne, @@Maki...oh I know there are more..... A special delight on our first night was when Craig produced a bottle of wine left behind for us from Paolo and his family. We toasted them, and gossiped (not really) about ST. Craig is the BEST guide we've ever had the pleasure to travel with. His knowledge. tracking abilities; and what I called, his mental telepathy; his love of the bush were so evident throughout. Craig is definitely happiest when seeing and living amongst his beloved wildlife. He told us we were "lucky" with our sightings; I say we were "lucky" to have booked with him. Because of the move, I do not have a proper trip report ready, nor pictures....However Craig made a short vid showing a few highlights and some opportunities we stumbled upon that I did not capture on flim, but he did. A little tease for a big experience. Zimbabwe has now replaced all others as my most favorite destination. The beauty, the wildlife, the can one not love it all. Oh usual a problem. I get a notice that the Craig's film is too large... Anyway around that? I have no control over cutting it as it was produced by Craig. Will try to get my self together after the move and get my own pics and raves together. I want to go back tomorrow and start over again. That was my daily "mantra" to Craig. I'm sure HE was ready for US to go on home UNBELIEVABLE -Zimbabwe. Won my heart for sure.
  14. 2014 marks the 20th Anniversary of a very special project that took place in the remote and unspoilt South Luangwa Valley; arguably one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas. In April 1994 two one-year old leopards were released by a young game ranger called Graham Cooke, who had been living with and raising the leopard cubs in the South African lowveld. Boycat and his smaller sister Poepface had spent every day of their lives with Graham since they were small cubs, depending on his parental wisdom and guidance until they were ready to face a life in the wild. Once in Zambia, a small and very secluded tented camp was pitched on a remote island in the Luangwa River to oversee the last stages of the cubs' rehabilitation, and it was here that Boycat and Poepface tentatively ventured into the wilderness of their new home over the next weeks. Joining them on daily walks to ensure the cubs were prepared to deal with the new environment, Graham traipsed through some of the area's wildest places which teemed with dangerous animals. Although Boycat and Poepface were initially nervous of their new environment they soon learnt to adjust to the magnificent wilderness where they perfected their ability to live wild. The only thing separating them from the remote wilderness of the national park were the flood rivers that were soon due to dry up with the approach of the dry season. After about a month on the island, before the river had had a chance to subside and formed a natural land bridge to the park, the cubs urgings to leave the safety the small camp provided drove them to cross the Luangwa River and start their life in the wild. With his heart throbbing Graham watched as his beloved charges swam the distance across the crocodile-infested water, heaving a sigh of relief as they arrived safely on the other side of the bank. For Graham it was now time to let go …. Author Fransje van Riel chronicled Graham's story in the book My Life with Leopards, Graham Cooke’s Story in September 2012 (Penguin Books SA and Penguin Global) and since that time the story has met with great interest from people around the world. This year, 2014, is the 20th anniversary of the release of Boycat and Poepface in the South Luangwa Valley and to commemorate this event Fransje van Riel and Graham Cooke will return to the area to follow in the footsteps of the two leopard cubs. Collaborating with Kafunta and Norman Carr Safaris, the very first My Life with Leopards Safari will go underway in October 2014, with others following in 2015. The trip is an exclusive, tailor-made 8-night safari that can accommodate a maximum of six guests. Spending the main part of the safari in the southern side of the park and in close vicinity of the island, guests are then invite to explore the South Luangwa Valley further upstream, enjoying a combination of exciting walking safaris and game drives in comfortable open 4x4 vehicles. Hosted by Graham Cooke, professional safari guide and Fransje van Riel, author of the book My Life with Leopards, published by Penguin Books, 2012. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Safarious My Life with Leopards: BBC Wildlife Magazine Book of the Month April 2013 This compelling story is a “must read” for anyone who loves nature and the challenges of helping two young leopards get back to their wild world. Well written, entertaining and emotional; to be enjoyed. Dr. Richard Leakey No other book I know takes you so deeply into the secret world of the leopard. Brian Jackman BBC Wildlife Magazine 14-My Life with Leopards Safaris.pdf
  15. Earlier this year I was fortunate to accompany a group of Aussies to Tanzania to witness the migration. Serengeti Safari - Central Serengeti and Ndutu at Migration time (this link has now been fixed) It was a super safari and we saw some wonderful wildlife Serengati Safari - Central Serengeti and Ndutu at Migration time
  16. On my way back to the UK from South Africa, I have 6 hours to kill in Abu Dhabi airport. Yippee! Putting the time to good use by writing the next couple of installments of my Sabi Sands trip report. Once again apologies for posting links here rather than the actual report but I hope it's not too much inconvenice. A tale of 2 Leopards Thanks for reading
  17. We hired a new guide a few weeks ago. Brand new out of the box, with the ink still wet on his FGASA certificates, but full of passion for the african bush. It was no surprise then to find out that he had been brought up in the bush which was ably demonstrated by the high level of field knowledge he has shown. But, he still has a long way to go and to start with will shadow our experienced guides over the next year or so. But on his very first morning as I was explaining what we do, one question he asked me, let me know that he has the right mind set. “What makes an On Track Safari” Of-course I could have given him our stock answers, we believe in responsible and sustainable travel, we have good green credentials and our safaris raise funds for our work with leopard conservation, but he should know all of that already. However, there is something else that is often difficult for a young guide to understand and then maintain i.e. that of providing a real safari experience. There is a very fine line to walk that requires the personal touch and sensitivity to each individuals needs, such that we can maintain a real safari experience for each safari guest. The quality of your guide and his empathy with each individual guest, is for us, the most important factor in any safari and is something that we spend a lot of time on getting right. For now our latest recruit shows all the signs of being a great addition to our team and we’re hopeful that he’ll be a star for the future. Who knows one day he may even take my job!
  18. I have issued Part 2 of our Camera Trap Pictures booklet. You can view or download for free via the OTS website Just use the About Us tab and scroll down to Camera Trap Images. I hope you enjoy. Written by Will Fox
  19. RIPPING THE HEART OUT OF CONSERVATION On Thursday 25th October the Wildlife Forum met in Cape Town to consider a Protocol which is nothing short of a declaration of war on our wildlife. Small livestock farmers have complained that their livelihoods are threatened by stock losses caused by predators, mainly caracals and jackals. They say that their only defence is to launch a predator extermination program.. Conservationist respond by pointing out:- 3]1. That the farmers’ refusal to employ herders or to kraal their animals at night is the real cause of stock losses. Poor animal husbandry is to blame. Farmers throw their sheep out into the mouths of predators, leaving them unprotected day and night out in the veld. 3]2. Extermination of wildlife will not solve the farmers’ problems. These methods have all been tried before and have failed. The report by Professor Bothma, commissioned by Cape Nature, examined the infamous “Oranjejag” where a similar predator elimination campaign was conducted in the Free State. That slaughter by hunt clubs over a period of years killed 87,000+ wild animals - of which more than 60,000 were harmless non-target species, such as Cape Foxes. 3]3. Bothma points out that more jackals and caracals were killed in the last year of the Orangjejag than ever before. In other words, the mass slaughter certainly devastated wildlife populations - but did not eliminate the clever predators. 3]Unfortunately, the Bothma Report was only completed after government had already decided to give in to the farmers’ demands. Citing food security as an overriding factor, government pressed Cape Nature to sign a Protocol with farmers’ representatives, permitting livestock farmers to form district-wide hunt clubs and to use gin traps, guns, poison and even helicopters to assault the province’s predators. One would expect that the Bothma Report would have knocked out the Protocol and saved our wildlife from persecution but politicians everywhere are more interested in votes that in science. If government does not care about the science, perhaps it will care about losing votes. South Africans who care about their wildlife heritage should talk to their MP’s. (There is indeed a threat to food security in S.A. but it is not caused by jackal and caracals. In my humble opinion it is caused instead by political ideology and populist demand - the national government’s Land Reform Programme.) Our wildlife heritage is under threat. Government intends to implement the Protocol notwithstanding the scientific evidence that this will impact biodiversity out of all proportion to any temporary respite for farmers. The message from Professor Bothma is that both sides must compromise if we are to reach practical solutions. The conservationists publish horror photos of the injuries caused to wild animals by gin traps. The farmers respond with horror photos of stock animals attacked by predators, including gruesome pictures of calves being eaten alive as they are being born. Gin traps. If we had been given the time to question the farmers’ representatives more closely, I would have put the following ideas to them:- 3]1. We ban the manufacture, import, sale, possession and use of all leg-hold traps, soft and hard except where special permits have been issued by Cape Nature. 3]2. Farmers whose particular conditions require the use of gin traps must apply for permits to Cape Nature, who will only issue permits AS A LAST RESORT for the use of approved traps and after imposing strict conditions on their use. Permit restrictions might require the use of cell phone alarm systems so that the farmer knows instantly when the trap has closed. Herders. 75]1. Farmers undertake to kraal their sheep at night and/or employ herders wherever possible and employ other defensive non-lethal methods of reducing stock losses. Margins in farming have shrunk and more active management is now necessary. Throwing sheep out in to the veld to look after themselves is outmoded. 75]2. If rigid labour laws are preventing farmers from employing herders then some special dispensation for herders is needed. Perhaps prison labour could be used, thereby reducing overcrowding in prisons and relieving the farmer from the burden of paying wages. In school holidays perhaps children could be allowed to earn a little money herding. Gin Trap Destruction Festivals? With good faith on both sides, this system could work. Farmers would avoid the damaging results of a confrontation with their own consumers and no doubt there are media and public relations opportunities in publicly destroying old gin traps. No doubt the big retailers would participate in enhancing the image of farming in SA. Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan Campaign Against Canned Hunting, Sec 21 NGO Co-authors of: Kalahari Dream
  20. We are getting some great results from the Ingwe Camera club cameras. As you can see below Diamond Girl is very active on the reserve and we have also picked up a new young male. We often see transitory or nomadic males wandering through the reserve, but this young chap has been around for a few weeks now and seems intent on staying. He will need to keep a low profile, as the territorial males may not tolerate his presence, but we'll keep an eye on his progress. There are currently 15 camera traps in the camera club, with 13 out in the field and two to be sent over from the UK. Tara is in need of 50 cameras to covet he entire reserve that will enable her to map out leopard behaviour, so if you would like to join our camera club and have an exciting chance for you to get involved with the Ingwe Leopard Research then read on. Apart from helping us with much need equipment for the important research, you get something in return! Buy a camera that we recommend for the research project and here is what you will receive from us: The camera you donate will be named after you or whoever you wish the camera to be named after. A gift certificate stating who the camera is named after, when the camera becomes operational in the field, along with a picture of the camera. We will send you the pictures the camera takes each month. This can be anything found in the area from impala, baboon, to hyena, honey badger and leopard, the list is endless. The pictures taken by the camera can be entered for the wall of fame each month. The pictures taken by the camera can be entered for competitions to win prizes. The pictures taken by the camera can also earn you points to win a weekend break on the reserve. If the camera captures an image of the fabled black leopard you will win the grand prize of a week at black leopard camp on Thaba Tholo Reserve. The cost of the camera is $175, this includes the camera and card that stores the pictures taken in the field. Over the years, we have learned which models are the best to use in the field, so the money will be used to buy the model of camera that is best suited to the Ingwe Leopard Research project’s needs. Just CLICK HERE to go to our website from where you can use the donate button below to join on line via Paypal. With Christmas on the horizon, this could be a great gift for a friend, relative or someone who is interested in African Wildlife and Conservation. Why not buy one for your local school, the pictures could be used as part of a class project to help raise awareness about African Animals and conservation. If you don’t have the funds to buy a camera outright, why not get a group of friends together to each pay part. Written by Will Fox
  21. Trapping Success... We have caught, collared and released a mature female leopard on the Thaba Thaba Wilderness Reserve. Now named Lynsey, her collar data is already providing us with regular updates on her movement and behaviour, which is so essential for our research. We didn't know this cat, hence the puzzled looks as I check through our Leopard ID data with research assistant Pete above. Although we did catch her in an area that we haven't been to in terms of a full camera trap survey, it was still somewhat of a surprise to find a mature female in what we had previously thought was Long Legs territory. On behalf of all the INGWE team our thanks go out to Dairen Simpson and the film company Triosphere (who have funded the trapping expedition). As ever, Dairens professionalism caught this cat without any harm or injury. A true testament to his skills. Next we need to catch two ore leopards, so trapping continues tonight. Written by Will Fox Email:
  22. The INGWE – Leopard Research team are currently in the middle of a four-week leopard-collaring program, in association with my good friend Dairen Simpson. Dairen is probably the worlds premier large predator capture expert and is being shadowed by a TV film crew as he moves around from project to project. Of-course catching a leopard to collar isn’t something that should be taken lightly. The reasons for collaring a leopard and the ethics surrounding the capture must be sound. After all, any captured animal will experience stress when it is caught, there needs to be a very good reason to catch, collar and release a wild leopard. Our motivation is fairly straightforward. Leopards are the last of the so-called big five to roam free in South Africa. With rare exceptions the other four (Buffalo, Elephant, Lion and Rhino) can only be found in National Parks and Game Reserves. Our aim is to gather data on the density and behaviours of free roaming leopards to enable reasoned management decisions to be made by provincial and national authorities. As many of you will know CITES issue 150 permits for international big game hunters to ‘harvest’ leopards in South Africa alone each year. As abhorrent as it may be to many people (including myself), the hunting lobby would argue that 150 is a sustainable number to ‘harvest’. Not to state the blindingly obvious, but without an understanding of the numbers of leopards, how can we know if 150 is a sustainable figure or if there is significant harm being done to the leopard population and genetic lines. My judgment leans towards the latter, but that is a view based on incomplete data and anecdotal evidence i.e. an unreliable perhaps emotive conclusion. What we do know is that it isn’t only 150 leopards that are killed. The knock on effects of taking a large tom out of a system is that other leopards move in to the vacuum (assuming there are others to fill the space) and they will attempt to establish a territory and can kill any cubs in residence. So back to our leopard capture program. We have been very lucky in that the TV film company is funding the event. Without their support we would struggle for the funding to complete this capture work. The total cost of collaring a leopard is around $10,000 per animal, which is normally way beyond our means. So let me put a challenge out to the big game hunters. Help to fund our research and prove that you’re right i.e.that there are sufficient free roaming leopards to take off 150+ each year. After all if your right your right, if not…… Written by Will Fox
  23. Preparations are almost complete for our next Leopard capture program in support of our leopard research on the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve. My good friend Dairen Simpson (with film crew in tow) is due to arrive shortly. As many of you will know Dairen is one of the worlds leading big cat trappers and travels the world working for conservation projects. We hope to catch and collar three leopards as part of INGWE – Leopard Research. The team here are all looking forward to seeing Dairen again. His time with us will form one show of a TV series entitled “The Trapper”. They shot the series pilot show with Dairen catching Jaguars in the Amazon forest, which proved to be very popular and rightly so. We’re hoping to re- collar ‘Lucky ‘ a large male leopard, who Dairen first caught in 2010, just 300 meters from our base Black Leopard Camp. Lucky’s collar batteries have died and it’s important that we have continuation in our monitoring program, such that we can gather data to assist in the conservation of free roaming leopards. The Leopard is the last of the big five roaming free outside of formally protected areas (National Parks and Game Reserves) and as such are vulnerable to a whole host of man made issues. Of-course our Safari guests and conservation volunteers will have plenty of opportunities to meet Dairen and as ever ‘be involved’ with our work in conservation during their stay with us. These are exciting times for everyone. Written by Will Fox
  24. Human Conflict with Predators Predation - a biological interaction where a predator (an organism that is hunting) feeds on its prey. Predators may or may not kill their prey prior to feeding on them, but the act of predation always results in the death of its prey and the eventual absorption of the prey's tissue through consumption. Predation is part of the natural order and is one of the key elements of any Safari. However, it becomes problem when it results in livestock losses, in areas outside of game reserves, which are after all the bigger portion of land in Africa. It is these areas where the leopard is the last of the so called roaming free and if we take that one species as an example will be the main sink for genetic dispersal of that species. Looking at the human conflict issue. In terms of the affect on predators, the key point is how the livestock farmer reacts to a predation problem. There are many species that have historically been considered as vermin. Indeed the very term ‘vermin’ incites extreme emotions, even feelings of hatred towards a particular species. This in turn has (in the past), had devastating affects, resulting in the persecution and even attempted annihilation of some species. Sadly there is a minority of famers who still maintain these views. However, the reality is that must change. Not only because legislation has been introduced in most countries to ensure the protection of predators, but also because we have all have a responsibility (and probably landowners more than others) to conserve and preserve what we have. It is undoubtedly the case that much damage has been done so far. Many of the harsh methods used to deal with predators in the past are now illegal and stricter controls are in place. Although now outlawed and no longer in use these methods live long in the memory. However it is unfair (not to mention unjust) to judge those who used these methods by today’s values. In the same way that it is unfair (nay unethical) to maintain outdated management policies in light of our better understanding of the problem. Human – wildlife conflict will be a constant problem requiring ongoing solutions. As our knowledge and understanding of the complexities of ecosystem management grows, so the methods we use to tackle the predation problem will clearly need to evolve and develop. The key here is the timeline for change. We cannot afford to fail due to dalliances and prevarication over the reasons or methods for change. We can no longer delay. If necessary, we need to readdress this issue taking the commercial, financial and conservation factors into account. Farmers need to feed the world and in so doing earn a living. Predators need to continue to exist at sustainable levels. Both need to survive and rational policies that consider all factors are necessary. We cannot continue to kill predators (in all but the most extreme cases) to help to produce meat. The question that I am most asked by Framers is - Why should I tolerate predators? A big question and I am sure that many eminent scientists and even politicians could answer with well-constructed and lengthy diatribe. However, whichever way we look at it the answer is very simple. ‘We all have a responsibility to protect wildlife for future generations’. As the saying goes, think globally and act locally. However, if I were a livestock farmer sat in my farmhouse worrying about how I was going to manage to pay my bills, and all the while being asked to allow a predator to roam free killing my livestock; then while I may agree with the sentiment in the long term, the issue would be my survival in the here and now. There are two points here. First is how can predation be prevented without resorting to lethal means. Second is that we need to set aside emotion and ingrained beliefs for one moment and recognize that there is both economic and ecological benefits to the farmer in conserving wildlife. Of-course that is hardly rocket science and I wouldn’t insult the reader by explaining the reasons why we cannot look at one farm or even one province in isolation. A predator’s territory doesn’t account for fences; indeed nature’s boundaries are the only important geographical factor. However, we need to start somewhere, so it is necessary to drill down to local level and ensure that the farmer has both support and a full understanding of the net effects of his actions. For example, it would be reasonable for a farmer to ask what harm (if any) would be done by killing one leopard (that is assumed to have taken a calf), or a Coyote (that is feeding on a lamb). After all, it would mean that only one predator would be killed and for an apparent good reason. Again not to insult the reader, but it is self evident that this can’t be looked at in isolation. However, it is nigh on impossible for the individual farmer to be expected to assess the net effects of taking a predator out of an ecosystem that will often range far beyond his boundary. Sure, a very expensive study may help, but for most famers that study is just not going to happen. All we do know is that killing one predator will have an adverse effect on the balance of an ecosystem. In conclusion, in terms of determining the livestock farmers and conservationists approaches, it is essential that the annual business plan and budget forecast for a farm ‘factors in’ the estimated losses due to predation and as with any other business attributes costs for predation preventive measures. There are several protection methods that can be considered to protect the farmer from the predator and the predator from the farmer. For example EWT maintain an Anatolian Guard Dog program. My view is that if conservationists are to protect predators then we need to find the funds to compensate farmers for their losses. That does not mean dishing out cash. That has been tried elsewhere and failed in a pit of fraud and discord. But rather composition such as providing an Anatolian Guard Dog, or perhaps a calf to repay the loss, or in some cases the loan of a bull to improve the genetic line and provide a free fresh bloodline. There will be many other costs effective measures that folks will be considering, all we need to do is pool our resources to make them happen. Written by Will Fox
  25. I have to tell you about the most amazing game drive we had the other day. I was guiding a lovely family from the UK, who were not only great company but great fun as well. At this point, we had been away in the Lowveld for a couple of days as part of their safari and had already seen all of the big five, not to mention coming across a Civet taking refuge in a tree while a Lion slept below and a lioness attempting to take on an adult Rhino! All of which were remarkable events in themselves, let alone what happened next. On the morning in question we set off on drive at around at 6:30 after enjoying an early morning cuppa around the open fire, waiting for the sun to rise. Soon after setting off we heard over the radio that a Caracal had killed an Impala around 2km away, so we headed to that spot. However, before we arrived a female leopard chased off the Caracal and pinched his kill, only to be then chased herself by a pride of Lions. When we arrived on the scene it was chaos. The Lions were spread out hunting the leopard, which we eventually found sitting nervously high up in a nearby tree. Then to cap it all off, a family of three white rhino also appeared on the scene. Seemingly unaffected by the high drama, the Rhino cruised the area with scant care for Lions, or Leopards. I say Leopards because we soon descovered that the female leopard (now as high as she could get in the tree) watching the prowling lions, had a sub adult cub close by. Thankfully the leopard cub had enough sense to stay hidden while his mother lured the Lions away. There were some very tense moments as we waited anxiously to see how events would unfold, with the leopard clearly concerned about her cub. It came as some relief when the Lions settled down near the leopards tree, no dobt hoping that she would risk coming down. However the Lions had eaten well and as they relaxed and became less vigilant, the female leopard made her break for it. At first I thought her move was suicidal, but she gauged the mood of the Lions perfectly and slipped away without them knowing. Soon followed by her cub, who somehow during all of this had remained unseen by the Lions. He headed off to find his mother and we decided to head back to our lodge for breakfast. But the excitment didn't stop there. On our way back to camp we spotted a heard of Elephants in an expanse of dense bush, about 300m from the track we were on. As we made our way across country to get closer, we were faced with having to traverse a deep gully. But thanks to some skillful 4x4 driving our trusty landrover made it across, positioning us in the middle of the herd of Ele. We moved with them for what seemed like an age, just enjoying being in their company, watching them feed and listening to the low rumbling noises as they communicated with each other. It was a very excited safari group that returned to Tangala Lodge for brunch, retelling over and over the story of the morning game drive. And then we were on to the next adventure. Special thanks to Sally, David, Craig and Cameron for the laughs and wonderful companionship. As ever with an OTS safari, our guests soon become friends and long may that continue. Written by Will Fox OTS Manager

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