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Conservation and Environment in South Africa: Monthly Updates

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Legodimo Nature Reserve - April 2009

Sunrise over the Limpopo river

April is always one of the most beautiful times of the year in Legodimo. The temperatures are moderate and the bush is still really green. Mosquitoes have nearly all gone and the nights are getting cooler and cooler.

This April we reached the objective of finishing the infamous hole. The cementing was very daunting and the prospect of hard manual labour was something that had everyone waking up with difficulty. A day or two before this mammoth task was to start, the current volunteers however, surprised us all with a BRIGHT Orange, brand spanking new cement mixer!!! This was major! We would just like to thank David, Daan, Alan, Maaike, Rachel and Pernille for this HUGE contribution. They were all rewarded with the completion of the now "Beautiful" hole, in % of the time! It works wonderfully and even takes breaks when we need them! It works beautifully and is now accessible to animals of all types and sizes. Observations at the waterhole will now be more enjoyable and we should have a wider variety of animals visiting.

We have cleared most of the roads on the reserve after the rainy season had caused them to get overgrown. Vegetation overgrowing our roads makes visibility hard due to more noise and the distance at which animals can be seen, is limited.

Elephants interupting

Another very exciting surprise we had this month was the annual "Bike4Beasts" challenge. Participants undertake a 65km mountain bike race through some very rugged terrain and wild animals. This event is hosted in Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, where we visit to do lion tracking. The event is hosted to raise funds for some of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's projects. This year's funds went to the Carnivore Work Group which we also assist in our carnivore projects. More than R75 000 was raised! Our volunteers helped in setting up displays, carrying things around, unpacking boxes, setting up banners and flags and prepared kit bags, but their main job was to inssure that cyclists get enough water and energy drinks along their route and also to look out for elephants, rhinos and lions. Everything ran smoothly and without a hitch. We had some rhinos in our vicinity but luckily they went about their thing peacefully. Lions had walked along a section of the route and removed all the markers however, but this was quickly sorted out. A very bad mannered elephant bull caused a bit of a panic when it decided to block the road at one point, but he also understood the importance of all the commotion with some persuasion, and left the participants to carry on.

Volunteers got T-shirts and some other goodies and were privileged to meet some very influential people in conservation. They represented Projects Abroad very well and we would just like to thank all of them again for their hard work.

Our months of waiting, tracking and hoping to see a Leopard (Panthera pardus), have paid off. We have had two really good leopard sightings. On separate occasions we've seen the same leopard. The first sighting was in a Weaping Boer Bean (Schotia brachypettela), where we sat watching it lounging for at least 40 minutes! The next sighting was near this same tree but on the ground. We all got some really good photographs which will now be sent to the Carnivore Work Group. Our database of leopard tracks is growing and we should have a very good idea of the number of leopard on Legodimo soon.

The hole begins

Another unusual sighting was a Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger). These were thought to have been locally extinct in our area due to droughts in the past, but seem to be returning, to everyone's delight. These animals are very rare and exceptionally beautiful.

We are now starting to scout for a location for our new observation deck along the river. This project will commence in full swing next month.

We are all very excited about projects planned for May. Although temperatures will drop, our spirits remain high.

African greetings and regards,

Gerrit Prinsloo
7th May 2009

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