Tanzania’s New & Invaluable Reserve!

Udzungwa red colobus © Andrew Marshall, wildlife



A rich African forest teeming with unique and endangered wildlife in Tanzania has finally been placed under protection, supported by World Land Trust and other partners.

The new Magombera Nature Reserve now protects 6,425 acres (2,600 hectares) of tropical forest and grassland, managed by the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG). Without acquiring this land and creating this reserve, this habitat was under threat from conversion to a sugar plantation.

Magombera Forest is internationally recognized for its diverse landscapes and unique wildlife. In addition to holding charismatic African megafauna such as African elephants and hippopotamus, it has also been identified as one of the top 20 Priority Primate Areas in Tanzania, and until now has been the only one without protected status. It is home to at least five primate species: Udzungwa red colobus (an endangered species which can only be found in this valley and the neighboring Udzungwa Mountains), Angolan black and white colobus, Sykes’s monkey, greater bushbaby and Udzungwa galago.


Magombera forest © Andrew Marshall


WLT’s Director of Conservation, Richard Cuthbert, said “We are proud to have been a part of this project, protecting a globally important forest remnant and ensuring the future of its unique wildlife. The botanical diversity of Magombera is particularly striking, with more than 500 plant species including a number of rare and endemic trees”.

In an ecological report from 2008, Dr Marshall predicted that the forest understorey would be gone by 2018 if the rates of logging of young, straight trees continued without intervention. The landscape had suffered drastic deforestation since the 1950s and some 988,420 acres (400,000 hectares) of this habitat in the surrounding Kilombero Valley had been lost, and Magombera Forest was all that remained.


Magombera chameleon © Andrew Marshall, wildlife


Having been closely involved in the establishment of the Udzungwa Forest Project (UFP), under UK conservation zoo Flamingo Land, TFCG, and the University of York, Dr Marshall said, “This wonderful news has followed more than 40 years of research and consultation. When I first began work in the forest 15 years ago it was clearly a biologically important place, but it rang with the sound of axes and machetes. Over the past few years the Udzungwa Forest Project has worked with local villages to find alternative sources for wood and has even managed to reduce the frequency of wildfires in Magombera, leading to thousands of small trees now growing back into the once empty forest understorey”.

Under the UFP, local communities have shown strong support for the conservation of Magombera Forest. In addition to the benefits such as regulating climate, preventing flooding, and maintaining soil fertility for crops, villagers will now benefit from entrance fees paid by tourists to visit the forest. A group of villagers also recently showed their support by travelling 40 km to protest to the district government against forest encroachment by a wealthy landowner.

Besides support from the local villages, this project has come together thanks to the collaboration of numerous organisations. TFCG was able to purchase 3,030 acres (1,227 hectares) of this reserve from a sugar company thanks to the joint support of World Land Trust (WLT), Flamingo Land, Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, and Rainforest Trust. The remaining 3,395 acres (1,374 hectares) already belong to the Tanzanian government and will now be protected as Magombera Nature Reserve, the highest level of protection available under the Tanzania Forest Service.


Mwanihana Peak from Magombera sugar plantation © Andrew Marshall


Press release by World Land Trust

Painted Wild Dogs of Luangwa Valley

Recent painted wolf – also known as the African wild dog – conservation success in the Luangwa Valley has it estimated to now have the largest population of painted wolves in the whole of Zambia.Despite being one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores, painted wolves in and around the South Luangwa National Park have enjoyed several years of increasing numbers, and there are now estimated to be approximately 350 adults and yearlings living in the Luangwa Valley.

This is largely due to the collaborative efforts of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), and Conservation South Luangwa (CSL). Successfully increasing the painted wolf population in the Luangwa has required joint conservation endeavours to reduce the impacts of snaring, which has had devastating impacts on painted wolves in the past.


Wild dog conservation, South Luangwa, Zambia 

ZCP Ecologist and Graduate student Henry Mwape (L) takes measurements from an immobilized painted wolf with CSL-ZCP vet Dr. Mwamba Sichande as part of the collaborative work with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and Conservation South Luangwa. Painted wolves easily moving over hundreds and even thousands of square kilometres of remote Luangwa Valley bush these collars and intensive field efforts have helped keep the painted wolves on the landscape, especially in and around South Luangwa. © Matt Becker

As a result of intense monitoring of approximately 150 to 180 wolves by ground-based field crews, aerial tracking and satellite-GPS collar technology, teams from DNPW, ZCP and CSL have been able to detect and treat snared wolves. The data provided by collared wolves is also used in anti-poaching patrols, which target snare removals in high snaring risk areas for wolves.

“We have seen pretty devastating impacts of snares on wild dogs over the years in the Luangwa,” said CSL CEO Rachel McRobb. “Until recently most of a pack or key individuals like an alpha could suddenly be gone as they get caught in a snare set, and the pack would dissolve.”


Wild dog conservation, South Luangwa, Zambia 

Dr. Mwamba Sichande (L) and Henry Mwape treat a painted wolf snared through the mouth © Fred Watson

While this population increase is encouraging news, the painted wolves still face an uncertain future, particularly outside the areas in the Luangwa where they are not intensively protected.

“Conservation successes are hard to achieve, and we cannot relax, as they can quickly be undone if we are not vigilant,” said ZCP Ecologist Thandiwe Mweetwa. “Nevertheless, we should celebrate this conservation success for Zambia and the region’s wild dogs.”


Wild dog conservation, tracking, South Luangwa, Zambia

© Zambian Carnivore Programme


With multiple safari camps in the South Luangwa National Park, Robin Pope Safaris actively supports the wonderful conservation efforts of the ZCP through a mandatory Conservation Fee levied on every bed night through their South Luangwa camps and by hosting their base camp at Nkwali Camp.

The Robin Pope Safaris guides also play a part in assisting the ZCP teams not only providing the ZCP information when an injured animal is spotted but also help with the man-power when needed.


Wild dog conservation, South Luangwa, Zambia

© Zambian Carnivore Programme


During Robin Pope Safaris’ Carnivore Week in November, guests are given the opportunity to learn about and view carnivores as well as gain some exclusive insights into the ZCP under the guidance of project manager, Dr Matt Becker and his team. Furthermore, guests staying with Robin Pope Safaris in South Luangwa also indirectly help this great cause through the conservation and community funds paid during their stay.

A huge congratulations and thanks to all those involved in this project!


Wild dog conservation, South Luangwa, Zambia

© Zambian Carnivore Programme


Many people refer to painted wolves as wild dogs, a term which is also used around the world to describe domesticated dogs that have gone feral, rather than to refer to indigenous species of the Canidae family (of which the painted wolf is a member). To fully understand this interesting topic, read ‘What’s in a name? Dogs or wolves, painted or wild’


With their small size, big eyes, and playful demeanour, baby animals are always fun to watch!

baby animals 3

With impala lambing season at an end, the bush is filled with young, thin-legged antelopes scrambling to keep up their mothers.

Several guides were lucky enough to view a family of bat-eared foxes on the plains with, again, 4 puppies. These pups were seen poking their noses out of the den in response to their mother’s call, or playing outside.

On one occasion, they were even spotted foraging at night with the adults, licking ants off the ground and digging for larvae.

Some of us have also been seeing four black-backed jackal puppies on the road that leads to the plains. They are very relaxed around vehicles, and display curiosity and playfulness.

baby animals 2

During one sighting I had a few days ago, we watched them even show aggression towards each other as they were fighting over an impala leg – even though they are siblings, their survival instinct is strong.

baby animals 4

Hippo, elephant, rhino and lion babies are also flourishing, and all this youthful energy has been rejuvenating for both Marataba’s animal and human inhabitants.

Words by: Helene Mertens
Photos by: Scott Fraser, Adriaan Mulder and Charlotte Arthun


About 8 months ago, South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve received a wonderful treat when two leopard cubs, a male and a female, were born on the reserve.

When leopard cubs are born in the African bush, they are extremely vulnerable. They are blind for the first week of their lives, and rely heavily on their mothers for protection and food.

Cubs will stay with the mother for up to two years, gaining the skills and experience they will need to be able to live alone.

Being a leopard cub in Madikwe can be challenging, as cubs share the area with many other large predators who are all competing for the same resources.

After a few months of the cubs being kept out of sight and away from danger, we started to spot the brother and sister duo on our safaris, frequently moving between their favorite hiding places.




One of their regular hangouts is a vacant aardvark burrow, where they enjoy playing hide and seek while escaping the heat during the day.

We all knew these cubs were special from a very young age. They seemed to be very relaxed and comfortable around vehicles even without their mother present.

The mother, who has hardly been seen and is extremely shy, seems to leave her cubs to their own devices. In reality, I’m sure she is watching over them from a distance! Her presence is only revealed when she leaves meals for them up in the trees.

The female cub is far more adventurous than her brother, who tends to be the lazier one. Even though they are quite young, the cubs have already matured so much and are becoming somewhat independent.

One of the cubs even made its first kill, managing to hunt a mongoose, and was clearly proud to bring it home to her mother that evening.

We are so lucky to watch these cubs grow up and develop their own personalities. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the cubs into adulthood.

Words By: William Knight
Photos By: Stephanie Hornsey

Making Elephant Dung Paper

At Sand Rivers in Tanzania, we always try and do something different, coming up with clever ideas, involving the local community.

Last month we invited some kids to come and experience a safari with us. This month we decided to go and visit them at their place. We came up with the idea to get the kids from the local school to create and design our honeymoon cards for camp. And as we are privileged enough to have elephant droppings on our doorstep, what better way than making elephant dung paper, using recycled paper and elephant dung. First and foremost, I needed to know what I was doing, or at least pretend I knew. A couple of tutorials on YouTube soon fixed that. With all my bits and pieces in hand, excitedly Simba, our guide and I set off on the two hour journey, collecting bags of dung along the way…

We were greeted by big smiles and waves, and got the kids stuck in straight away.



First step: “get some gauze to clean and drain dung” – an old recycled guest’s mosquito net worked perfectly.



Kids all gathered around to hold up the net. Next step: “clean dung at least 14 times, or until water runs clear” – The looks on their faces when I asked for 20 buckets of boiled water, made me foolishly realize that water was a precious commodity out here. Something I took for granted and hadn’t even thought about. We made do with 4 buckets of cold water collected from the village communal well and cleaned/ rinsed the dung to get rid of all the bacteria.




We tore up the dung taking out all the sticks and bugs that were embedded inside and even though it didn’t smell at all, some kids decided to leave the ‘workshop’ and have a go at football with a dry, round dung ball.



We encouraged the kids to go around the school and surrounds and pick up any litter that we could use for our paper as the next step was to “make pulp out of shredded recycled paper”. Something I probably should have prepped back in camp with a blender or guillotine, as it took ages to tear the paper up into small bits.



The kids ripped up the paper but it was taking too long so we went ahead and threw it in water to turn to pulp. A bucket of a grey, soggy swamp. Final step: “Mix the pulp and dung together and flatten on mesh surface” – I’d had our camp carpenter, Cornelius make up two frames to use. We flattened the ‘paper’ down…



..added some red food colouring (I thought a red tinge would be a delicate final touch) and then stand on the paper with newspaper to “absorb the water”.



As the kids picked it up to pose for the final photo the entire sheet flopped over into the mud on the ground! Wow – what a lesson I learnt, and although we said goodbye and I sheepishly jumped back in the vehicle and waved goodbye to a crowd of confused faces, having no idea what I was actually trying to achieve it’s left me with a burning desire to get back to show them what I wanted to do. So – the project continues and we will keep trying.

The Little Jackal that Could

As a ranger, one of the things that I love about the African bushveld is that that you never know what nature has in store for you on any given day. It might be a lilac breasted roller that you spot with its beautiful rainbow of colors brightening up a tree it’s resting on. Maybe it is a herd of Buffalo grazing together, slowing making their way to a watering hole on the Reserve. Or perhaps it’s something closer to the ground like a hardworking dung beetle, pushing its ball tirelessly to where it needs to be. No matter how many years I have been a ranger, you never know what surprise lies waiting for you, or what lesson you are about to learn from nature!

I left Kapama River Lodge with my tracker Colin and excited guests for our early morning drive, eager to be intrigued once again by the sights and sounds of our wonderful country. It was a cloudy morning which I was grateful for as the shade of the clouds offered some relief from the bright early morning sun. Even though its spring, heading into summer, the first rays of the morning can still be quite warm.

After our coffee break, a great way to appreciate and acknowledge the sounds of the bush, we came across a very intriguing scene. It appeared that a Giraffe had died of natural causes. At first, my guests got excited thinking that there would be a predator, like a Lion or a Leopard, feasting on the carcass. However, all that we saw was a lonely Black-backed Jackal.

The Black-backed Jackal is an opportunistic scavenger and predator. It will take food that is both abundant and easy to acquire, but it can also hunt for its own prey. On this particular day, I think the Jackal thought Christmas had come early, with the huge carcass of this Giraffe lying there for the taking, just for him. Or so he thought…!

We watched for a moment as the Jackal started to devour the rump of the Giraffe. Then without warning, a few moments later one vulture after the next began descending around the very same carcass, also wanting their fair share of the prize. One after the other they started advancing on the carcass. Perched on the highest part of the feast the now seemingly tiny Jackal, had his hands full. He tried to defend his kill and snapped and bit and yelped as the vultures advanced on him. With each snap of the Jackal’s jaw, the vultures would back off for just a second, giving the Jackal just enough time for another mouth full.


The wake of vultures, now quite substantial, were not prepared to give up that easily on such a perfect meal. One after the other, they started to move in closer on the Jackal. At one point, one of the vultures swooped down, aiming directly for the jackal and pecked it just as the jackal sunk its teeth into the vulture, grabbing a bunch of feather with it.


Eventually, after tirelessly snapping, eating, grabbing, eating, biting, eating, the lonely Jackal abandoned the carcass and left the vultures to decimate the carcass as only vultures can.

He may have been defeated but he still managed to walk away with a full belly and a few battle scars to remind of his great fight.

What a fantastic, incredible display nature put on show for us and we all just felt privileged to have been witness to this wonderful scene.


Story and photos by River Lodge Ranger Rassie 

Maboneng Named Coolest Johannesburg Neighborhood by Vogue!

Maboneng, Johannesburg

Around the time of the legislative end of apartheid in 1991, Johannesburg was falling apart from crime and urban blight, and the South African city became known as one of the most dangerous places on earth. But in recent years, with the stabilization and steady growth of Johannesburg’s economy, crime has tapered off and previously abandoned neighborhoods have once again begun to thrive. The perfect example of this is Maboneng, located on the eastern edge of Joburg’s central business district. A handful of easily walkable blocks up, down, and around the main drag of Fox Street, Maboneng is South Africa’s answer to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

From a Sotho word meaning “place of light,” Maboneng has indeed brought new light to the city. It’s the best place to experience unique cafés and restaurants, exciting nightlife, and one-of-a-kind shopping. So next time you’re in South Africa, don’t just get off the plane and drive out of the city for a safari tour—take an afternoon or two to experience Maboneng and get to know a new “Jozi” that is anything but a stopover city.

Here, a sampling of Maboneng’s latest and greatest spots to eat, drink, and play.


Arts on Main

Arts on Main


Arts on Main The cultural hub of Maboneng, this multi-use facility was once a series of dilapidated buildings that have been renovated, connected, and turned into an atrium of smaller galleries, shops, and cafés. Come by around brunch time on a Sunday when the food market is set up and you can sample freshly made African cuisine and local produce.

Che Maboneng is a melting pot of the different cultures that pass through Johannesburg, and this Argentine grill restaurant has some of the best short ribs asado and sangria pitchers in town. Sample the empanadas humita salteña made with sweet corn, spring onions, and goat cheese—and be sure to visit on Friday or Saturday nights when a live band plays tango music.

Little Addis A favorite among locals, this hole-in-the-wall eatery serves up generous portions of spicy Ethiopian food. If you’re feeling brave, spring for the minchet beef—it’s smothered in a peri-peri sauce so hot that even the most seasoned heat lovers might break a sweat.


David Krut Projects

David Krut Projects

David Krut Projects David Krut has been a pivotal promoter of South African contemporary art for the last 30 years. Part gallery, part bookshop, David Krut Projects is the best place to discover Jozi’s rising art stars.

Tenfold Tucked away in a sculpture garden, this full-service beauty salon specializes in natural, formaldehyde-free, and cruelty-free products.


Living Room

Living Room

Photo: Courtesy of Living Room

Living Room A rooftop eco-cafe serving a range of salads, mezze platters, and other light fare, Living Room is the ideal spot to grab lunch or perch out for an afternoon. With some of the best views of Jozi’s skyline, you’ll probably want to linger over a drink here until the sun sets over the city.

Newbrow There are quite a few clothing vendors running the entire length of Fox Street selling everything from sneakers to batik textiles, but the street wear and basics you’ll find at Newbrow are among the coolest. All the streamlined sweatshirts, tees, and jeans you’ll here are designed and produced locally.

Origin A world-class coffee shop offering single-origin beans from around the world, roasted in-house.



Hallmark House

Hallmark House

Photo: Courtesy of Hallmark House

Hallmark House Equal parts trendy design hotel and neighborhood hub, there’s a lot more to explore here than its 46 rooms tastefully outfitted in artisanal African textiles. There are two restaurants (Eug’s Place and Pot Luck Club), a coffee bar, a speakeasy and barbershop, and a rooftop bar offering some of the best views in town.

Museum of African Design Although MOAD has no permanent collections, its exhibitions rotate every four months, highlighting the latest and greatest in African design from a variety of disciplines.


Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa

Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa

Photo: Courtesy of Saxon Hotel

Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa While technically in the posh area of Sandton just a short cab ride north of Maboneng, no trip to Johannesburg today is complete without a night, a meal, or even just a round of drinks at this urban oasis. The spacious rooms, newly renovated spa, and decadent villa offerings (perfect for groups) make this property a clear leader of luxury hotels in Africa.

Growing Up Wild!

It’s that time of year again in South Africa and the trees are just beginning to grow leaves after having appeared dead for the last few months while in their dormant state. The first leaves always appear to be the greenest and those that feed on them can’t get to the new shoots fast enough. Most of the females have been pregnant and needing to feed herself as well as a growing fetus from the little food that has been available. But now we are beginning to experience a spectacular change of seasons, with temperatures already soaring into the high 30’s. The rain has teased us with a few scattered showers and babies can be seen around almost every corner!

The long-awaited Impala lambing season has finally begun. Six and a half months ago, the Impala rams gurgling roar filled the air, enticing the females into oestrus. To our delight, it seems many males had successfully done the deed as we are now seeing more and more adorable impala lambs bouncing about. Their legs are so long one wonders how they manage to stand and wobble about within 20 minutes of being born. The mother helps it along of course by licking the new-born clean and in doing so also keeping it completely odorless, a way to keep predators at bay for the first day or two while the lamb and mother bond. Each ewe only has one lamb but the short breeding season means that every able female should give birth within about 3 to 4 weeks. After mother and lamb re-join the herd one starts to see small nurseries of Impala lambs as they huddle together for warmth and safety while allowing the adults to wander a short distance to feed.



Not too far away a mother hyena is laying in her burrow, dug out in an old termite mound, waiting for the first signs of daylight. She is not alone however and snuggled up close to her are her cubs. Hyena cubs are born with their eyes open. They can suckle for up to 12 to 18 months, which is unusually long for carnivores They start venturing out with their mother on hunting forays at about a year old. Until then, they are left at the den with a babysitting adult who keeps a close eye on them.



Unlike human infants, wild babies have to adapt quickly to the dangers of life in the bush. Prey animals like the Impala and Warthog have to be able to run within a few hours of being born and even predator cubs have to learn quickly how to avoid danger. Generally, the prey animals will have their offspring in the spring or summer months at the arrival of the first rains. The predators, however, have shorter gestation periods and most can give birth throughout the year. Their young are dependent on the mother’s hunting skills for roughly the first year and a half before the females mate again.

This year on Kapama, some of our predators have timed their births with the birthing season of their prey and we have been fortunate to have had a plethora of leopard and lion cub sightings over the past month.

Two of our Lion pride have recently grown in size with cubs being born in the last couple of months. Lion cubs are often born as part of a litter of up to six siblings. They‘re blind for the first week but can crawl within a few days, learning to walk at around three weeks. The first months are the most vulnerable and the mother hides her cubs in long grass. In the case of our one pride, she chose a narrow dry riverbed, while she goes hunting.



The biggest threats during this time are starvation and infanticide which can occur when a new male takes over the pride and kills the offspring of his predecessor. Luckily for our new Lion cubs, a coalition of three male Lions have taken over huge parts of the reserved and together provide ample protection for their offspring.


Unlike Lions which are social predators, Leopards being solitary, tend to have fewer cubs and are far more reluctant to bring their cryptically colored youngsters into the open for us to see. The determined guides of Kapama though, have had a keen eye and managed to spot multiple females each with their own cubs. They range in ages with the youngest estimated to be only a few weeks old. One our rangers from Kapama Karula, Andrew Taylor, managed to capture this rare photo of a young Leopard cub.



With all of these youngsters around on our reserve, we can expect to have amazing sightings in the future, with the cute factor leaving all our guests in awe as they learn what it takes for these little things to grow up in the wild.


Story by – Buffalo Camp Ranger Monika, Photos by Kapama Media Team

Kapama Photo Competition Winners!

In 2016, the first Rangers Photo competition kicked off. The competition was initiated to encouraged staff to unleash their creativity and explore the natural African environment around them, express their passion and love for nature and give guests a taste of the abundance of wildlife resident on Kapama Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

This year 2 photo competitions were held. The first one of 2018 concluded in June.

The second one commenced shortly after with last entries received 30th September.  The response was overwhelming and photos truly magnificent which made the task of judging for Professional Photographer Heinrich van der Berg, all the more difficult.  Heinrich had this to say:

The standard of the entries this time round in Kapama’s Ranger competition was exceptionally high. I enjoyed the variety of subjects and the skillful and creative way in which they were photographed.”

After careful consideration, the collection of almost 300 wildlife photos was first drilled down to Top 20, Top 10 and Top 5 before the winner was announced.

Heinrich went on to state that choosing the Top 5 was a tough task. So, not only are we proud to showcase the third place, runner-up and winning photo but also the two that made it into the Top 5.

The Owl:  I like it when photographers are creative and use the mood in an image. This kind of image is really difficult to capture. The lighting on the Owl is beautiful because it is not straight from the front. This gives the effect of added depth and texture. The contrast between the colour temperature between the warm light on the owl and the neutral light on the moon creates more depth to the image. Unfortunately, the head of the owl is not pin sharp, and the focus is on the body. But apart from that, this is a brilliant image, well done Ranger Albie.

Leopard: Sometimes it just takes something small to elevate an image from an ordinary image to a masterpiece. Here it was a branch. The branch frames the face of the leopard beautifully and because the leopard is looking up, it enhances the effect. The fact that it was looking up also created a beautiful highlight in its eye. The timing was perfect. The lighting on this image is beautiful. Bright overcast light is great for leopards. But what really makes this image pop, is the dark background. Normally during overcast days, it is difficult to get a dark background on which to place the subject, as everything is bright. But if you can find a dark background, like a dark shadow under a bush, then the subject just pops. Brilliant image, great job Ranger Andrew from Karula.

This left the following three photos to claim the awards of Third place, Runner-Up and Winner!

Third place went to the Lioness with the cub, taken by Kapama Karula Ranger Andrew Taylor

I like this image because of the lighting on the subjects, as well as the pose of the cub. The bright overcast lighting conditions also helped to make to bring out the textures on the fur of the animals. What could have improved the image would have been to turn the camera vertically so that there is more space below and above the lions. But a great photograph.

Second place was awarded to The two rhinos sparing captured by River Lodge Ranger Rassie Jacobs

There are two things that make this image unique: the backlighting and the action. Backlighting is a difficult kind of lighting to use as it only really works when the light is dim, i.e. during the last few minutes of the day or the first few. If the light is too harsh backlighting will change the subject into a silhouette. The backlighting works well because it brings out the dust being kicked up by the rhinos. And the contrast between the beautiful warm light on the dust and the neutral light on the rhinos create an image with colour balance. The backlighting also helps to frame the rhinos. The second thing is the action. The lifted foot, which stands out because of the warm coloured background is perfect to show the action. Rhinos are extremely difficult to photograph doing something and mostly look static, even though they are busy moving. So this image really works well to illustrate the action. The cross that the heads create is effective. The texture on the bodies are wonderful and overall this is an exceptional image.

1st  place – Sean Jones – Kapama River Lodge

Heinrich highlighted why this image made it to number one out of the entire collection.

“What I love about this image is the pose. The skill of photography is to capture the decisive moment, even though the moment might not be important. In the end, it is only the final image that counts. The pose in this image is perfect. The paw in the air, the bent back legs, the tail, and the face looking into the beautiful light, creating a highlight in the eyes. The angle of the shot is also good – the photographer was lower than the lion, which created a more intimate image because the camera is about eye height compared to the lion. When you find a lion on a dam wall or an elevated area, always try and position yourself lower than the animal, because a photograph taken from eye level is always better than a photograph taken from the traditional height of game drive vehicles.

But what elevates the image to another level is the framing. The tree on the left-hand side frames the image wonderfully and makes you look to the left – as if looking to see what the lion is looking at. If the lion were tightly cropped, the effect would not have been the same. To photograph an animal in its environment with the environment playing a part of the story of the image is really difficult to do. Here it was perfectly executed. This image just shows you that you don’t need the longest lens to create good images, and you can even photograph animals on roads or dam walls and get good images.”

Christiaan Basson, General Manager – Tourism, once again handed over the prizes to the deserving winners at the official prize-giving held at the brand new River Lodge reception area.

The level of photography of our Rangers is growing from strength to strength and we are looking forward to seeing what scenes of nature are captured in 2019.


Pangolins, the World’s Most Trafficked Mammal

Pangolins, the World's Most Trafficked Mammal

He's a little video we with with CNN's "Great Big Story". Can you do us a favor and share this with a friend my tagging them below? Current donations will specifically go towards a NEW CONSERVATION initiative to get local hunters out of protected forests in Western Togo by providing them a sustainable economic alternative to hunting. They'll participate in a new program raising "Grasscutters", a type of large rodent that hunters traditionally sell in "bushmeat" markets. Instead of setting snares, that also catch pangolins, they'll be able to raise grasscutters in an environmentally friendly manner.Our goal is to raise $10,000. Can you donate $1, $5, or $20 to help us reach that goal? The costs will go specifically towards the following:1.) Providing microloans to hunters to give them the capital to setup grasscutter farms.2.) To provide training to the new grasscutter farms. 3.) To fund the research of a Togolese biologist to best adapt grasscutter farming specific to Togolese villages, measure the successes, failures, and providing rapid changes to the program to maximize engagement within the hunting communities. 4.) Within one year provide recommendations on expanding the program to other communities and neighboring countries.Let's work together to get harmful snares out of the forest through a way that uplifts communities.

Posted by Pangolin Conservation on Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Sounds of ‘Silence’

Nothing could have prepared me for the fabulous ‘quiet’ I experienced on the Chobe River in Botswana… where the only sounds were the occasional cry of a fish eagle, the swish of a crocodile slipping into the water and the trumpeting sounds from Chobe’s elephants. Despite knowing that Chobe Game Lodge utilized electric, and solar-powered boats, I was still surprised how silent they were as we glided upriver.

An African open-bill barely noticed us, continuing its search for molluscs and a pair of yellow-billed storks maintained their vigilant search for fish, oblivious of our presence. Crocs fished the shallows for barbel, while a herd of puku watched on from the shore.


Silent Electric Safaris on the Chobe River
Openbill Stork. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

Birding on the banks of the Chobe River with Chobe Game Lodge
Yellow-billed Stork on the edge of the river. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

The ‘quiet’ of the eco-boats was not the only thing that impressed that first afternoon – Kgomotso our guide, one of 16 in the all-female guiding team, was quick to notice that a huge herd of elephant was rushing towards the banks of the river from the Namibian side. She skillfully maneuvered the craft so that we were in the best spot to experience the crossing… and oh my, experience it we did!! What an incredible start to our #ThisIsChobe journey. Could it get any better than this? Absolutely.


Elephant crossing the Chobe River
Large elephant herd crossing the Chobe River. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

The elephants of the Chobe National Park
The large herd leaving the Chobe River. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

The following morning, after dragging myself out of the wonderful comfort of my king size bed and downing a quick cup of coffee, we were off for a game drive – in one of the electric-powered Land Rovers.  We hear leaves rustling as a gentle breeze moves through the trees, and bird calls punctuate the still of the morning.  A carmine bee-eater watches from a nearby twig. We pause for a herd of elephants to cross the track in front of us. And watch a pair of jackals scavenge from a very old elephant carcass which had died from natural causes. With barely a snack available they soon gave up and slunk back into the bush.  And this was all within the first half hour!! All is well in the Chobe National Park.


Carmine bee-eater in the Chobe National Park
Carmine bee-eater on our morning game drive. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

Jackal in the Chobe National Park with Chobe Game Lodge
Jackal scavenging old elephant carcass. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

Gobi, another member of the female guiding team, slows the vehicle… ‘guests saw leopard here last night’ she says as she scans the trees. Despite being well camouflaged by bushes she spots a young leopard which, as desirable sightings often do, decided to head further into the bushes. Silently she maneuvered the Landy to the other side just as the young male leopard emerged and chose to lie down in full view of us – not bothered by our presence and certainly appreciating the quiet of our vehicle. Excitement reigned, and cameras clicked, especially as his brother soon joined him.

We see more elephant, loads of them. And the biggest herd of buffalo I have ever seen, estimates were that it was a herd of approximately 400 – but in perfect ‘fisherman’s tale’ fashion, the number grew exponentially 🙂 We follow lion spoor, but to no avail but get to watch a herd of elephants quench their thirst and enjoy swishing glistening charcoal mud over their bulk. One of the littlest ones tried to copy its older siblings, but its trunk just wouldn’t cooperate. So cute.


Leopard in the Chobe National Park with Chobe Game Lodge
Our morning leopard sighting with guide Gobi. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

Buffalo in the Chobe National Park
A large herd of buffalo on the Chobe floodplains

Baby elephant in the Chobe National Park
Baby elephant with wayward trunk. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

Coffee and a packed breakfast beneath a baobab tree enabled us to stretch our legs and appreciate the view across the flood plain of the Chobe River. I wonder what it must be like in the wet season, when the water stretches for miles and the surrounding bush is lush and green. Much like our safari, with wonderful eco-credentials.


Baobab trees in the Chobe National Park
Breakfast beneath a baobab tree. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

Femal guides at Chobe Game Lodge
Our guides for the morning game drive. Photo by Tessa Buhrmann

This idea of ‘eco’ vehicles started in 2010 when Chobe Game Lodge became one of the first properties in Botswana to be fully ecotourism-certified. Jump four years and they became the first electric-powered safari operator in Africa. Johan Bruwer, General Manager of Chobe Game Lodge, told us that this was at a huge cost, especially in the early days when the technology was still new – but thankfully it is a little cheaper now and the next few years will see the last of the fleet (both game vehicles and boats) being converted from diesel to electric.  ‘But it’s not about the cost’ he says, ‘it’s about doing the right thing’.

This is what a safari experience at Chobe Game Lodge is about…


#ThisIsChobe social media campaign
Out on the Chobe River with #ThisIsChobe


Pioneering a new, digital model of education for rural South African communities was a dream for Kate Groch (CEO of GWF – Good Work Foundation), which started way back in 2006…. and today is a reality that is igniting change in these areas of Mpumalanga.  Kate reminded us of the Martin Luther King quote, which aptly describes this journey as “having the faith to take the first step even though you don’t see the whole staircase”.  The focus is solely on the scholars – what they learn, how they learn and how to provide access to them, all while eliminating poverty through education.


sabi sabi good work foundation


GWF is a non-profit organisation which has done exactly this and through the action and similar reaction of their various partnerships, have created a world of possibility for school goers to access learning that is relevant to a global economy and navigate the fast-paced world of the digital marketplace.  There are currently four campuses in the Mpumalanga region – Hazyview (the main GWF hub), Justicia, Huntington and the latest digital center in Lillydale.


sabi sabi good work foundation


Tuesday, 13th November 2018, saw the launch and celebration of the LDLC (Lillydale Digital Learning Campus).  Lillydale forms part of one of the neighbouring communities which Sabi Sabi is proud to support.  Sabi Sabi is one of the founding partners of the LDLC, who together with the Wessels Family Trust, partnered with the GWF that made the dream a reality.  Situated on the Hlomani High School premises, the campus is easily accessible by all schools in the area, and our future vision is to grow this campus, which will further enhance the current model.


Sabi Sabi cause


This joyous day was attended by community leaders, the Mpumalanga Department of Education, GWF alumni, local Ward Councillor and the keynote address given by the Honourable Advocate Dr Ramatlhodi, as well as the Board of Directors of Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.   Everyone was treated to a tour of the campus, seeing first-hand how these hungry minds were being guided through their weekly syllabus.  The day was emotive and uplifting – filled with pride, hope and a knowing that the future of these isolated communities is bright.


sabi sabi good work foundation


There are two major programmes at the LDLC which incorporate theoretical and practical components:

OLA – Open Learning Academy


sabi sabi good work foundation


At this new campus, GWF begins the learning journey with Grade 4’s.  Children are transported to the LDLC once a week for a two-hour session in English, Mathematics and digital literacy.  They also focus on conservation and life skills for school-aged learners – guided by digital facilitators (all GWF facilitators are trained annually by GWF and themselves are graduates of this program). The digital platforms used are by way of tablets and computers.


sabi sabi good work foundation


When these students progress to Grade 5, GWF places a charging trolley, with the tablets they have used and a GWF facilitator into the school and thereby they have a “lab on wheels” from class to class.  The GWF progresses with learners from Grades 4 – 8.

Each digital learning center can support up to 10 satellite schools.

This OLA program has seen a 30% improvement in the children’s grades by being able to implement GWF supplementary learning in their daily school studies.


sabi sabi social initiative


BA – Bridging Academy

This is available to all school leavers and second chance learners who want to further their knowledge (some up to the age of 70) and forms a bridge between school and work, for a further one-year accredited programme.  This prepares learners for life in the business environment and certification is internationally recognised.

Interested learners apply to GWF by way of a registration form and following a successful interview they are selected individually for a bursary to participate in the Bridging Academy for the year.

What has emerged is a world class, high impact education distribution model opening up access to excellence and information to the most rural spaces – a model that is creating a sustainable eco system of learning.

The hope is that by 2020 there will be 6 fully functioning campuses, impacting almost 26,500 scholars by being able to access these satellite hubs.

This partnership is about relationships – notwithstanding the impact this has on the learners – that are symbiotic by nature and enable these collaborations to enhance the path of these youth once they leave school and beyond – with a structure that will strengthen their ability to navigate an online world and all the opportunities that it can afford them.

It is one of Sabi Sabi’s core philosophies that in order for conservation to be successful in Africa, there needs to be an integral and participatory relationship between tourism operations and the neighbouring communities.  In his address, Jacques Smit – Marketing Director of Sabi Sabi – stated “our collaboration with GWF is a fundamental blueprint of conservation in action and is indicative of what this GWF partnership entails”.


Sabi Sabi Jacques smit


Amongst so much hope and possibility, the message was clear; education is power and the golden key to our future.  Our responsibility – as partners and stakeholders – must be to ensure that we support and encourage all youth from our rural communities.


Sabi Sabi Community awareness


In the words of Advocate Dr Ramatlhodi – “The opportunity afforded is leading us to the worlds still to come and is a sterling contribution to the future of our country”.