@Paolo - Absolutely fantastic photos. Paolo you have been more so less everywhere in Africa - in wildest Africa. What do you think about the fact that lions are separated from the largest part of the reserve?
This is a slightly complex issue, which I will try to summarize to the best of my knowledge.
We had dinner and some further conversation with the Reserve Manager, Gus Van Dyk, and the impression I have got is that the goal is to have medium term the lions roaming the enire reserve (which is constantly expanding thanks to purchases of adjacent farmlands).
At the moment there are two obstacles.
One is the public road running along the fence. It will have to be de-gazetted or privatized before the fence can actually be removed.
The second is the local population of....Sable.
Tswalu is geographically in a very peculiar position, since it has the only mountains of the Kalahari (the Korannaberg). To the east of those mountains the vegetation type is the so called "Kalahari Bushveld", which is made of more succulent, higher nutritious grass, to the west there is the "Kalahari Sandveld", much more similar to what you have in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in SA/Botswana or the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana.
Historically (Gus showed me a fantastic book with all the records of the different mammal species in the Northern Cape) the Kalhari Bushveld hosted species like Roan, Tsessebe, Buffalo and White Rhino, which you would normally not associate with the Kalahari (interestingly, the first skull of White Rhino ever recorded - ny Europeans of course - came from Kuruman, roughly 70 km NE of Tswalu on the border with Botswana).
So, whilst reintroduced , when you see a Roan or a White Rhino or a Buffalo at Tswalu you should bear in mind that in all likelihood they are not alien species. But the stunning Sable that mostly roam in the immediate proximity of the lodge are.
You may then wonder why- if the Oppenheimer project is so "purist" - Sable (originally introduced when Tswalu was a game ranch for hunting) have not been removed. The answer is because they are a formidable tool for financing the reserve.
Tswalu's Sable are genetically amongst the best - if not THE best - in South Africa, and they sell (to other reserves, game farms etc....) for remarkably high prices. So what the management is trying to do is keeping the overall number stable, selling the surplus and in this way helping the sustainibility of the reserve.
But the moment you throw powerful Kalahari lions creating havoc and preying on the Sable population, then you have a problem.
This is not going to last forever, and Gus was adamant that they will have to get rid of their Sables at some point, but really shows how difficult and how intricate is managing a private reserve of the immense size as Tswalu, even if you have the backing of the resources of the Oppenheimer family.
On a personal level, it is understood that I would prefer seeing the lions roaming everywhere even now and - as you say - this is definitely not wildest Africa, but I understand the reason of what is going on, and I am quite upbeat on the entire Tswalu project
Edited by Paolo, 17 January 2017 - 06:38 PM.