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kittykat23uk

In search of smaller, rarer mammals of South Africa- esp Riverine rabbit!

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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.

 

 

http://blog.sa-venues.com/provinces/western-cape/rare-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. https://www.ewt.org.za/DCP/news.html

 

 

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

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I just checked out their website...what makes them say they are "the only reserve in the world with free, self-sustaining white lions" - Kruger has some, and so has Timbavati, afaik

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I guess they mean that they are pure bred white lions rather than the occasional genetic mutation? As I said, it's not the lions that are a draw for me in this case :).

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Sounds very interesting @@kittykat23uk although Sabona seems a bit pricey! We are off to the Karoo NP next Feb so will find out how often they are seen there! Perhaps a trip starting in the Karoo taking in Merrick safaris and ending in the KTP might have a certain something

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Yes that would seem like a good option.

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Hi all. In case anyone needs any further encouragement to join me in planning a trip to look for the bunny, here is a link to a recent trip report: http://www.pacapix.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/20160423-DunedinFarmRSA-PaulCarter_TR_red.pdf

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Excellent @@kittykat23uk this Karoo farm is just the type of place to look for the smaller stuff! Now I am dreaming of a Mt Zebra Karoo NP farm Cape Town Merrick KTP extravaganza!!! If only we had the money or the holiday

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@@kittykat23uk a good Facebook friend of mine is one of the top bird and mammal listers in South Africa. I happened to remember his quest for Riverine rabbit and it seems from his photos that he found them at Sanbona. http://www.hardaker.co.za/0riverinerabbit1.htm

 

I am sure if you contacted him via his web site he would help you out with suggestions. You can tell him you are a friend of mine, he's a very helpful guy.

 

Would love to see one myself as I am a rabbit lover too! Seeing the white lions would be nice too :)

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Thanks! I think the riverine rabbit retreat would be a more cost-effective option compared to Sanbona. I had emailed Sanbona but never got a response from them..

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@@janzin I tried contacting Trevor but got no response. My mum wants to join me for a trip to south Africa, she wants to do the flower Kingdom. If I can combine that idear with the above it would be perfect. But she isn't the sort of person I would want to self drive with. Can anyone here recommend a good company to build a trip for us with a little bit of big 5 safari in addition to the above?

 

Thanks

 

Jo

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Posted (edited)

@@kittykat23uk I would highly, highly recommend Lawson's http://www.lawsons-africa.co.za/ They organized both of my trips to South Africa and one of the partners, Leon Marais, was my guide (although all their guides are excellent.) We did one trip that was Kruger and some birding locations and our second trip, Cape Town, the West Coast in flower season, up to Kgalagadi. I have another friend going with them in a few weeks. They can build any kind of custom tour you want and their pricing I thought was quite reasonable. They are located in Nelspruit, South Africa. Definitely contact them.

 

(Trevor isn't really a tour guide, I just thought he could help you if you needed info on where to find the rabbit. If you still want to contact him I can try to do it for you.) But Leon should know where to find the rabbit also.

Edited by janzin
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@@janzin thanks I'll check them out :)

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In fact @janzen and @@kittykat23uk Lawson's were the agents we used for our last trip and our next one and we can vouch for their helpfulness.They will be at Birdgair 2016 if you are going and wanted a chat

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@@Towlersonsafari I like the sound of your trans-RSA itinerary - I would add in Addo, Samara and Dunedin Farm!

 

Leaving PE for Addo, Samara, Mountain Zebra NP, Dunedin Farm, Karoo NP, Marrick Safari and KTP, something to work on for the future. I wonder what other private reserves, conservancies and small NPs lie between Karoo NP and Marrick - I will do some more research!

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@@Towlersonsafari thanks! Can you point me to your trip report if you wrote one please?

 

Thanks

 

Jo

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@@kittykat23uk I think I may have caused some confusion here - the itinerary I am talking about is a dream at this stage! I remember that @Towlersonsafari have visited Samara, Mountain Zebra and Karoo NPs which have been the inspiration for my 2018 RSA safari. There is a TR for the Samara etc. visit.

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Hi All,

So further to the above, I am planning a trip to South Africa for my mum and I next year- September 2017.

 

She would like to see the flower kingdom and we’d like to combine this with looking for rare mammals and Kgalagadi.

 

This will be my fifth trip to South Africa and I doubt it will be my last, but its my mum’s first and probably only African safari. She is not too fussed about not seeing elephants though as she's seen them in India.

 

We’ve put together the below itinerary and plan to include plenty of nocturnal activities. But I wanted to ask your expertise, we haven’t included anywhere specifically to target pangolin – is there anywhere along this route that you can see where we should sacrifice a day or two somewhere to get a better chance of seeing a pangolin? The likes of Tswalu are well out of our budget. Are there also particular stops that we should include at any of the below to target specific species? We both love birds as well as mammals:

 

Days 1 – 3: The Cape Peninsula.

Visiting some of the main botanical and natural history destinations such as Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Point and the south-western tip of the African Continent, Betty’s Bay, Stony Point, Boulder’s Beach and others. possibly Table Mountain, depending on weather. Staying in Simon’s Town.

 

Days 4 – 5: Swellendam and the Agulhas Plain.

Moving on from the Peninsula our next port-of-call is Swellendam, the third oldest town in the country, which will provide a base from which to explore Bontebok National Park (named after the endemic ‘Pied Buck’) and De Hoop Nature Reserve, another gem of a wildlife destination, and a good place to see Whales.- as well as whales we hope to have a chance to see zorilla and possibly caracal here.

 

Day 6: Karoo National Park.

From Swellendam we’ll begin our long northward journey, with a stopover at Karoo National Park, which can provide some great mammal watching and birding.

 

Days 7 – 9: Dunedin Farm.

Moving on, our next stop will be at Dunedin Farm, where we’ll spend three nights in total, with the extremely rare Riverine Rabbit at the top of our want list here. We’ll be staying in a self-catering farm house, and will stop in Beaufort West en-route to pick up the necessary supplies.- I have Paul Carter’s report for reference so we also hope to pick up a lot of the smaller mammals he saw here and bat eared foxes.

 

Days 10 – 12: Kimberley.

After Dunedin we’ll have a long drive to Kimberley, We’ll be staying at a guest house in town and will have two night drives at Marrick, where we hope to find species such as Black-footed Cat, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Southern African Hedgehog, Springhare and others . On one of our full days here we will have a day visit to Mokala National Park, where we may get lucky with mammals such as Black and White Rhinos, Sable and Roan Antelope, and perhaps a Sengi or two. Having read a report from Royle Safaris we should also look to cover Benfontein Game farm from this base to increase chances of black footed cat. Should we spend the second full day at Mokala as well or are there other options? Anyone know whether the flamingos at Kamfers dam will be present in September?

 

Days 13 – 14: Augrabies Falls National Park.

From Kimberley we’ll drive through to Upington and then Augrabies Falls National Park, our base for the next two nights. look out for birds such as Verreaux’s Eagle, Bradfield’s Swift and Short-toed Rock-Thrush, while drives in the park will give us a chance to see species such as Namaqua Warbler, Rosy-faced Lovebird and Sociable Weaver, among others. Mammals to be seen include the Springbok, South Africa’s national antelope, as well as Klipspringer in the rocky areas, Southern Giraffe, Hartman’s Mountain Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Cape Clawless Otter and others, while a night drive may produce a Leopard with some luck.

 

Days 15 – 19: The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

After Augrabies we’ll stop off in Upington to pick up supplies before heading on to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The exact camps we use will depend on availability, but we’ll perhaps aim for Kieliekrankie, Nossob, Kalahari Tented Camp and Twee Rivieren- are there particular camps that are more productive than others? Our routine will include morning and afternoon drives, and no doubt we’ll get to know the Kalahari very well indeed during our time spent here. Mammals to be seen include an exciting array of predators such as Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Cat, Honey Badger, Spotted and Brown Hyenas. Raptors can be prolific as well, and there plenty of general game along the Auob and Nossob Riverbeds to keep you occupied between predator sightings.

 

Day 20: Departure.

Today we’ll have an early breakfast followed by departure for Upington, with the exact schedule dependent on flight times.

 

Other places I’ve seen come up in trip reports include, De Aar and Witsamd Kalahari reserve. But I don’t know if we have room in the itinerary for either of these sites and/or whether it is worth including them. Any thoughts?

 

Any advice welcome, I know we are packing a lot in this time! Also we would most likely be open to one or two others joining us..

 

thanks

Jo

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Sounds like a fine trip! The other place we have really enjoyed close to Stony Point and where had fine views of Black Eagles is Harold Porter Botanical gardens and of course you are in time for the Whales! @@kittykat23uk

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@@kittykat23uk this sounds like a wonderful itinerary and what a great opportunity to travel with your Mum. I have travelled to Africa twice with my mother and both times we made precious memories that I will now cherish forever.

 

You might get a few ideas from this itinerary.

 

I'll be doing this trip with Lawsons in 2018. If you need a guide for Cape Town and West Coast NP I can recommend Mariana Delport. I have been inrigued by this place for some years now and it might be a treat for your Mum, Royal Hotel in Riebeek.

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Thanks @@Treepol we contacted Lawson initially and they were very helpful but unfortunately their quote for the above was quite high compared with the second company we contacted which was Kalahari Safaris. So we are just in the process of canvassing for references and thus far everything is looking very positive so I think we will be forming up dates and putting down a deposit soon!

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Posted (edited)

@@kittykat23uk I would not move camp every day in KTP (although you may not be able to depending on availability), the travel days can be really tiring, so I would aim for 2 or at a maximum 3 camps. Can you spare any more time for this park? If you had longer, you could get further into the park and do more camps...

In fact I have just realised that you are looking at sept 17 - you will be lucky to get ANY accommodation now, unless you find a TA who has done some block bookings. The rooms have been on sale since 1st October. When we booked for this sept, the day after bookings had opened, practically all rooms and camp sites were gone :(

Edited by Tdgraves

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From what I have heard Kalahari Safaris are well connected in terms of getting availability in ktp. Hopefully should not be a problem. We haven't really got any more days spare though.

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@@kittykat23uk - that's an excellent itinerary and similar to a trip which we will be making earlier in the year (Jan - March). Our trip is less wildlife centric because we're travelling with my 6 month old daughter and we're going for longer, just over two months.s

 

Our trip is basically in three sections:

 

Section 1 - Cape Town, Franschhoek, Knysna (visiting Wilderness & Storms River), Jeffrey's Bay, Prince Albert, Oudtshoorn, Montagu, Cape Point

Section 2 - Cape Town, Worcester, Karoo National Park, Mokala National Park, Marrick / Benfontein, Upington, KTP, Augrabies, Springbok, Cederberg, Cape Town

Section 3 - Fly to Durban, Mtunzini (visit Ngoye Forest for Green Barbet), Sodwana Bay, Isandlwana, Thendele, Johannesberg

 

I think you probably know more then I do at this point but for what it is worth my understanding is that some of the flamingos are resident on Kamfers but that numbers swell pre-breeding season around September / October reaching ~50,000 - so it might be worth your time.

 

As for Pangolin I'm not sure of anyone other then Tswala or sometimes Samara even referencing sights.

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Thanks yeah I think pangolin might have to be in the lap of the gods Tswalu is well out of out budget! But a riverine rabbit is got to be worth at least two pangolins right? ;)

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@@lmSA84 you might be the only other Safaritalker besides me and my husband to have included Jeffreys Bay in your itinerary. Is someone in your family a surfer? :) In our family, it's my husband who said if we're going to South Africa (from California) I HAVE to surf Jeffreys Bay :rolleyes: and so he did.

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