Another month has passed and I have so much news to share. I think I will start this month’s newsletter with the sad news, and get it over with.
Sadly two of the Reserve’s male white Rhino were poached this month. It has left us all feeling a huge sense of loss and violation. This kind of treatment to animals seems to be read about more and more these days, and it certainly hits home really hard when its animals you view on a daily basis. The gallery photos are gruesome, and I do not wish to offend you, but I wanted you to see the reality of rhino poaching and by doing so create even more awareness. So mercilessly hacked off, for what?
I insert an article that really says it all. This article was written by Sarah Foderer who is one of the Trainers at the Ulovane Training School which is situated on the Reserve. This article has since been published in the African Geographic website.
Enough is enough
The first time you see a wild adult rhino you cannot but help feel in complete awe of this magnificent creation of nature. The first time you see a baby rhino your heart melts and you look forward to watching their wondrous life evolve.
When Isipho came into our lives on Amakhala he was a complete surprise (hence his name which means “Gift”). Female rhinos are generally on the large size, so to tell visually that they are pregnant is a bit tricky. He was a typical rhino baby. Inquisitive, but with a very protective mother, he always had to keep his distance, even though his happy feet always wanted to run and come take a closer look at this strange green giant before him (the land rover). As time went on our relationship with them grew stronger and she allowed us to come closer and closer.
Over the next three years we saw this handsome young boy start to show the signs of one day becoming a magnificent dominant male. When his mother gave birth again the inevitable happened and he was pushed away by his mother, her priority now being the younger of her two calves. It was a heartbreaking scene to watch Isipho being pushed away by the guardian that had protected him so well for the last 3 years, but this is nature, cruel and kind. Our main worry was our dominant male (chippy) who himself had battled long and hard for his position. Maybe he would not take kindly to a little competition. But things over the next few months went well.
Sometime earlier this week, poachers came to our reserve. They hunted down our two beautiful boys, murdered them and hacked off their horns. We as a reserve are devastated that these people have taken two members of our family, and for what? Some say their horns have medicinal uses. I say these horns belong to the rhino and no one else and it is time to say enough is enough. Africa needs to wake up and realise people don’t come here to see your
fancy cars and houses they come here to see one of the most spectacular array of animals the world has to offer.
We are lucky enough to live in this beautiful land. We have a duty to protect all that lives here. This is a war and it is a war that we the conservationists are currently fighting alone. We need the help of all who read this and many more. We have to draw attention to the plight of all the animals that are being butchered in Africa on a daily basis.
We are always told that we shouldn’t humanize our animals because of course they are wild animals. But I say to Isipho and Chippy we shall miss you. You enriched our lives as we watched your battles and your struggles just to find your place in the hierarchy of it all. Both your lives were ended long before they had really even begun. The guilt we feel that these people were able to get to you and take you from us is unbearable. We know these cruel and uncaring slayers will continue to take your kind. But we shall do everything within our power to stop them. We are ready to fight and ensure that your species will not be just a photo in a book.
Currently a rhino is poached every 30hrs in South Africa. Females give birth roughly every 3 years. What chance do they have? Please help us! - Sarah, Ulovane Environmental Training (www.ulovane.co.za).
Despite our efforts on the Reserve of anti-poaching shifts, they still got to them. The Police Force have tasked a unit to many of the Reserves throughout the Eastern Cape to monitor the movements more carefully, check suspicious vehicles, Patrol the roads and the likes – we hope this will make it too difficult for them to think about trying again for more rhino horn.
Sigh… Moving on to lighter reading… Nature always reminds us of the good things. We have had a lot of rainy days this past month and with that we have got beauty & colour popping up all over the reserve! We have areas that look like carpets of yellow, or white, or pink tiny little flowers, that are just so pretty and bright. We go on drives to look for the animals and along the way are constantly stopping to admire the beautiful wild flowers that have sprung up since the rains.
And after the rain passes, we are blessed with the most stunning clear blue skies and warm sunshine. We take these opportunities to lay breakfast outside on the pool deck for the guests to take in the scenery. This day we got a little more of a bargain when the heard of buffalo decided to visit Bukela just as guests were about to sit down for their meal. It’s always fantastic for guests to see the animals come in close to the Lodges.
We have had some nice big corporate groups coming out to enjoy what South Africa has to offer, and one group in particular that were just so blown away, was sent to us by Arlene Daly. This group of internationals that came to do business in Port Elizabeth & were sent out to Hlosi to enjoy an evening of leisure. Arlene shares some of her fantastic shots of the group on drive, in this month’s gallery.
This lucky group got to watch the feeding frenzy of a female cheetah with her five cubs. They ate till their bellies were so full – the cubs could barely move after all that. After an awesome game drive they arrived back at the Lodge for a Traditional South African braai. Under a stunning African sky they sat around the boma with a cold drink and enjoyed the last bit of entertainment we had for them – the fantastic Paterson Dancers. The braai went down well, the performance blew their socks off, the drive was awesome, and needless to say they returned to P.E very happy. Well done to the Hlosi team & our fantastic Rangers!
I have been intrigued once again this month by all the birds’ nests that lay around our lodges – of all the places they could build their nests, they build them so close to human movement & noise. See the gallery for pics of a nest built in a trailer – in the car park! And yes, we did get to see these precious eggs hatch into 2 tiny, bald chicks. The next couple of shots also show nests built in bizarre places close to the noise of humans. Ah, but look at the little chicks peeping out from their cosy nest!
Then, I also wanted to show you our beautiful Cheetah family – all healthy and growing so Big. We spent a good hour sitting fairly close and watching them play and then stop to watch a potential meal approaching. The female has recovered nicely from her stomach infection last month, and our efforts to help her get back on her feet worked well & promoted a quick recovery. She has been seen on numerous hunts and their condition is looking great.
Some of our guests comments this past month:
‘Thank you very much for such an outstanding last stop on our honeymoon. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Special thanks to our Ranger Stu who was fantastic. We really enjoyed him sharing his passion with us. The staff also did an excellent job, especially Wella 1 with his special touch and smile. Thanks for wonderful memories!’ -- Todd & Natalia Griesbach, USA
‘Thank you for making our first safari & honeymoon so special. Words can’t describe the experience of being so close to the magnificent lions, elephants and all the other animals. Our Ranger Deanne was excellent and even managed to find us the elusive lions on our last day! Finally the food and hospitality has been, by far the best during our trip to South Africa. We hope to back soon! Thanks again to all the staff.’ -- Louise & Warren Bronnan, Ireland
‘Bukela Team, Thank you for everything. You really go the extra mile to make sure your guests are happy. Hope to see you again soon!’ -- Chris Fourie, South Africa
All that’s left to say is thank you to our agents for sending us these awesome guests! We have had such a fun month with so many honeymooners, special birthdays & day trips. Guests seeing amazing wildlife for the first time is priceless & it's an honour for us to share this beautiful Reserve with them.
Across the board in the Amakhala we will go to any lengths to protect what we have here, and we hope & pray that our animals can be protected from the horrors of the world.
As we head on into the month of prosperity, we start to get our Lodges ready for the festivities ahead. We look forward to having our Lodges busy for Christmas & New Year, and will catch up with you all in the New year!
Have a fantastic month ahead, and a Wonderful Christmas.