April 17th, 2017


Conservation Triumph as Green Turtle returns to Nest

April 17, 2017 (South Africa) – Thanda Island, the truly exclusive Indian Ocean hideaway located off the Southern coast of Tanzania, was thrilled to welcome the most important of repeat visitors on 2nd April – a female Green Turtle who came ashore to lay her eggs on the beach between the boathouse and the helipad between the hours of 8-12pm.

Due to the endemic illegal fishing practices that had been taking place in the waters around Thanda Island, turtles had not been seen nesting on the island for seven years. However, over the last year the Thanda Island team had started to regularly see them swimming in the surrounding waters. They are thrilled that their persistent pleas for increased policing from the Marine Parks Authorities, together with their own presence in the area, has been rewarded.

Furthering their commitment to the conservation of the region’s sea turtles, Thanda Island works closely with the Tanzanian marine conservation NGO Sea Sense to address a shared concern for the marine biodiversity of these waters. Assisting with research, education and the broader engagement of the local communities in sea turtle conservation, they are able to encourage dialogue and communication around the importance of sea turtle conservation and threats to sea turtle survival to the local Swahili seafaring communities.

Although Sea Sense has worked hard to implement a series of successful measures to reduce the routine poaching of turtle nests off nearby Mafia Island, Sunday night’s success story is made all the more poignant as the practice sadly has not yet been completely abandoned on the smaller islands around Mafia. More than half of all nests laid in Tanzania each year are laid around Mafia Island.

Thanda’s 20 staff undergo regular turtle conservation training comprising essential field skills such as nest protection, relocation (should it be required) and post-hatching excavations to record hatching success. With a 55-day incubation period, the hatchlings are due on 27th May when they will make the heart-felt and determined dash to the seashore.

March 20th, 2017

Borana lodge had long had a cheeky Crested porcupine who regularly broke into unsecured rooms in search of snacks. He seemed to have a fondness for tormenting the poor lodge manager, Hunter – either that or Hunter must have catered for his specific tastes – as he followed his fridge into his new house.

Any door that wasn’t securely latched was fair game, be it pushed open with his bulk or pried open with his incisors.

I was running an Eco Training Safari Guide course at the time when Hunter finally got a new lock for his front door. Before it was installed, we decided to try and film the scoundrel in the act. With GoPros and camera traps all set to time lapse and plugged in to battery packs, it was only a matter of time before we caught our little culprit red handed.

Minutes after everyone was asleep, the prickly customer came knocking. Ignoring the clove of garlic, he went straight for the junk food – prized Nanyuki chips. His noisy chomping and drumming footfalls woke Hunter, Shaun and also poor Florence, who had the misfortune of living below deck. Sensing danger, the porcupine made a break for it just as Shaun Mousley came running in, having had no time to even change!

In the end, the locks did their job and the porcupine can thank us for forcing him on a diet.

Written by: Andreas Fox Video & story credit: Hunter Marrian- Borana Lodge Manage Photo credit: Holly Occhipinti

January 25th, 2017

There’s a big difference between 200 and 15 000 hectares, and it would appear as if the country’s most talked about lion, Sylvester, was all too aware of this.

It took him only minutes to move out of the enclosure that he’s been in since November, into the larger Kuzuko contractual area of the park, when the fence was cut over the weekend.

Sylvester the lion gets released from his enclosure ©SANParks

The two lionesses were released on Friday afternoon when a SANParks vet darted them and fitted one with a tracking collar. As they are never far apart, one collar will provide the location of both at any given time.

“On their first night out they caught a kudu and the very next morning a red hartebeest, confirmation that they can successfully fend for themselves in the African wild,” said Addo Elephant National Park Conservation Manager, John Adendorff.

Sylvester and the other male were released on Saturday afternoon. A carcass was placed about 50 meters from a corner in the fence, the fence was cut and Sylvester was out first. He headed straight to the carcass and started feeding, followed shortly thereafter by the younger male. “Sylvester is already showing signs of being the pride leader, on Sunday night chasing the females off their kill,” continued Adendorff.

Sylvester, too, has proven that he hasn’t forgotten how to hunt, having caught an adult black wildebeest on Monday morning.

“Now that it appears he finally has a place where he belongs, without threat, and the fact that he has bonded so closely with the younger male, we are confident that Sylvester will have no need to ever stray again. His satellite tracking collar location is monitored regularly and easily provides us with an accurate assessment of where the two are,” Adendorff said.

Sylvester the lion – history:

Sylvester first escaped from Karoo National Park in South Africa, on 5 June 2015 and managed to evade capture for over three weeks. After his capture he was fitted with a combination satellite/VHF collar to find his location should he manage to get out again. This collar then alerted authorities on 28 March 2016 that the lion had once again left the park’s boundary, and played a big role in tracking him and returning him back to the park much quicker – three days later on 31 March. There was then much deliberation about where he could be relocated to, and in May 2016 he finally arrived at Kuzuko.

The two lionesses arrived at Kuzuko in May 2015. They became a national news item in December 2014 when park authorities made a desperate plea for visitors to report any sightings of them after their mother died of a suspected snake bite. More than six weeks after they were last seen and long after park staff had given up all hope of finding them alive, new light arose when a guide alerted rangers that he may have spotted them on 10 January 2015. Although skeptical, the park’s rangers still went out and miraculously found the cubs – albeit severely malnourished and lethargic.

Finally, the younger male also has a tale to tell – being the only male in a litter born to Josie last year. He would have experienced the same fate Sylvester did had he been left in Addo’s main camp section of the park – being driven out of the pride and having to fend for himself, possibly even killed by older, more dominant lions. He was moved to Kuzuko to join Sylvester in June last year.


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