The Reserve has been busy whilst we were away, and we returned back to spring, where the birds are so busy! Every day I watch birds fly past my window with new materials to build their perfect homes! They are intricately made, and it is amazing to see the effort that goes into each and every nest built. A clever House Sparrow has built her nest in amongst the Aloe’s prickly leaves for safety, just outside our office. Whilst she was away from her nest we carefully took a mirror to hold above the nest to see what was inside. It was carefully laden with what looks like cotton wool, for eggs to lie on: total perfection!
We also were blessed with a new Baby Buffalo, born whilst we were away. I have not been able to get a good picture of him ~ but rumour has it he is awfully cute! We also have loads of tiny little Red Hartebeest babies tearing around like no one’s business ~ very entertaining to sit and watch!
A fun story and something different to show you ~ one of our Rangers, Harry, was on his way back from a drive with his guests, when he saw a huge Leguaan in the middle of the road. He stopped fairly close and got all his guests out of the vehicle to have a look at it. The Lizard got such a fright that it ran under the land rover to look for a hiding place. The engine looked a good enough place as any, and with that he hid inside the engine compartment, got solidly wedged in and refused to budge. Prodding and pulling and even smoking it out were to no avail. Harry was worried that the lizard would get hurt if he continued driving, so he asked for assistance to get the guests back to the Lodge. The Lodge sent another land rover to collect the guests, whilst the land rover with the lizard was pushed to the side of the road for the night. By the next morning the monitor lizard had slunk off into the bush. A couple of days later our Head Ranger Stu was doing a drive and came across the same specimen in roughly the same area, so we know he hasn’t been too ruffled by his experience.
While we are talking about our Rangers: two of our Rangers had to finish their Advanced Rifle Handling for part of their qualification. The training is done by Schalk Pretorius – Owner and Trainer of the Ulovane Training Facility we have here on the Reserve. We were all very impressed to see Sandra loading up. (And who said women can’t handle a weapon??!!)
We were also privileged to host our first Marriage Enrichment Seminar, which was organised by Minister David Higgs. It was a weekend full of romance with chocolates, strawberries, champagne, feather boas, high teas in the bush and special boma dinners under a star lit sky.
Both Lodges were fully booked, and the group spent all meal times together at Hlosi. The weekend was a great hit and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. According to one of the guests, “In the 10 years we’ve been at different lodges, hotels and venues … yours are the best! …. The staff is trained very well. Friendly, accommodating and very helpful. …You surely have a good team of people here! Thank you for the privilege to have the marriage enrichment here.”
On the conservation front, two of the sub-adult cheetahs have been moved off the reserve and placed in a wonderful home – the same home we sent our last cheetah to. We move the sub-adults to a new home when new cubs are born, to provide the new cubs with a territory to explore in safety. We’re fortunate to be able to call on Peter Brothers, who is in partnership with William Fowlds, to come in and dart the pair. Two of our guests Richard & Jenny Culley were very excited to join in on the action and got to watch up closely as the vets gave the cheetah their final anti-biotic & vitamin jabs, before getting them ready for transportation.
We have had such beautiful weather out here, that we have been able to get back into the swing of doing bush breakfasts out on the Reserve. Our guests simply love the surprise, and it is classic to see their faces when we drive around the corner and they see breakfast awaiting them!!
We had a big game capture day in August, where we brought in a helicopter to help with the procedure. About 20 – 30 disease-free Black Wildebeest were captured. We will now be able to move these fantastic specimens out onto other reserves who need them, and use the funds generated to develop other species populations on the Reserve.
Erica Ferreira, our Maintenance Manageress on the Reserve, worked with her staff and the vets to ensure the animals were dealt with quickly and efficiently. A hessian sack corridor is put up towards the entrance of the boma so that the animals do not see anything going on outside that would make them frightened. Once the first animal enters the boma, the rest more or less just follow each other in, which makes things easier. The day went very well and a big thank you goes out to all those who worked so hard in running the operation so smoothly.
The Reserve was recently contacted by Tenikwa, an animal Sanctuary in Plettenburg bay, who asked us if we would take a fairly tame bush pig and release him back into the wild. Of course we said we would. When he arrived on the Reserve we put him straight into a large boma area, so that he would have no contact with humans, and also to get used his new surroundings. We kept him there for a month or so, before we let him out, and before we knew it he was scratching at the door of Hlosi wanting to be part of the activities! Needless to say there were a few shrieks from the staff before they realised he meant no harm. We have since moved him onto a part of the Reserve where he has loads & loads of space to get used to and to find friends of his own kind. There are no lodges nearby, so we hope he will settle down and live life like a proper bush pig now!
Other conservation news is that a huge effort was made by the Amakhala Conservation Centre for Rhino day. With everyone coming together, a lot of noise & awareness was created. A huge well done to all those involved! And especially the younger generation that took part with such enthusiasm.
We were lucky to get a couple of quiet days where we got to work on the Boma at Bukela and the pool deck down at Hlosi. The staff did a great job re-painting our Boma and at Hlosi a new shade roof was put up at the pool. Now guests can relax in the shade at the pool. Thank you to the staff that always go the extra mile, helping with our continuous improvements to the camp.
We have had some fantastic reviews on Trip Advisor, which gives us fuel to carry on with what we know best!
‘Let me begin with the staff especially a young lady called Nomi who welcomes you not by words but her bright and engaging smile every time you meet her. Elvis too was an exceptionally pleasant guy. I do not mean to single these two out as all the staff were exceptional. From the game ranger, Bruce to the head chef we were treated like we were the only thing that mattered in their lives. As for the management Steven and Kerry they lead from the front and I can see why the staff are willing to follow...’ -- Jonathan & Paige Mandell
‘The service at Bukela was absolutely fantastic; the rooms were spacious and lovely. The location was perfect for a relaxing get away - in the bush, animals walking around. There are only four cottages which makes this place a romantic getaway or perfect place to really just relax. There is nothing that I can complain about, every little detail was perfected!!’ -- Marguerite Shahia
‘Compared to many of the other game farms in the area, it was excellent value and most of all affordable to South Africans.....The finer details in the rooms add to the experience and I loved the little extras such as body butter and body scrub. The view from the jacuzzi is magnificent! And I am sure the chocolate cheesecake is truly the best in the WORLD! You have to try it. Service friendly and efficient, Game Ranger knowledgeable. All in all definitely would recommend Hlosi in a heartbeat!’
‘We were at Hlosi last month. We had been to other 5 star game reserves before but Hlosi is the BEST.... Our party which consisted of my wife and my sister and myself were met by Chris and his staff most warmly and professionally. Our lodge was immaculate and the facilities were what one would expect at a 5 star resort.. The highlight of our first game drive was the Cheetah and her 5 cubs... Well done the rangers in finding them.. Our Ranger Megan Ogilvie was very professional and her knowledge of the reserve was excellent.... The hospitality ambience at Hlosi is wonderful. Excellent food, wines and service were exemplary. Well done Chris and Megan in making 3 people very satisfied with your service.... The lodges are situated right beside a water hole and the 'human' swimming pool which gives one the 'right in your face' view of the animals. Imagine a herd of 50 plus Impala standing 50 yards away with no fence in between you and your lodge... Excellent.... We shall return..'
So all in all we have had an action packed, fantastic past 2 months. We have started October with a bang! We are busy at both lodges, we have hosted a 70th birthday party, the Paterson Dancers....but more news at the end of the month.
So once again thank you to all the agents that send us these fantastic people, and keep us doing what we love best!
Bye for now & Take care
P.S Just in case you were wondering – our 5 Cheetah cubs are doing very, very well!