Conservation and Environment in South Africa: Monthly Updates
Botswana Conservation - Monthly Update: January - February 2016
Such an amazing beginning of the year, first week volunteers had the chance to see some mammal’s census, Leopards (Panthera pardus) and lions (Panthera leo). We are so happy to encounter more and more lions in the area (4 sightings in two months!). We also had the most elusive cat sighting with a female cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). It was my first sighting of this rare animal in Wild at Tuli, such an unforgettable moment. The cheetahs are at the bottom of the predatory chain, the young and adults can easily be killed by lions, leopards and hyenas. It is also difficult for them to find a nice territory to hunt and raise their offspring’s.
We hope that the female that we saw will stay in the area. We also had nice sighting of all the new born: tiny elephants (Loxodonta Africana) following their mum as fast as they can, hundreds of impalas (Aepycers melampus) who are born all at the same time and growing really fast, plain zebras (Equus quagga) running behind their mums, such a pleasure for all the volunteers. We also had a rare sighting of two spotted hyena playing in a waterhole on a hot morning.
This year have been full of challenges and great achievements you will see all in our review of the year, we also managed to build a new small waterhole for the benefit of the wildlife and in a neighbouring farm we helped to take down a big reservoir to transform it in a big waterhole. This year the rain is really low so it is really important to prepare and build all the waterholes we can for the dry season, to ensure the water supply for the wildlife.
We hope that you enjoy this latest update and learn a lot of interesting facts about African wildlife and life in the bush. The bush is an everyday adventure, every day is different and we just can’t get enough!
A year of effort, well worth it!
Thank you and well done to all the volunteers who helped our project in 2015! Thanks to you, during the entire year we made a real difference in the Wild at Tuli nature reserve. For instance, we have created and installed 3 solar pumps in different areas of the reserve. Volunteers and staff have removed 225 snares set by poachers to illegally kill our wildlife – this means that 225 animals could have died but you helped save their lives. The fence separating wildlife from humans and cattle was pampered with 257 holes fixed. This is the only fence that needs to be checked and keeps the wildlife from going into the human area to be killed and reduce the poachers to come in. We removed a total of 87km of wire fencing, it has been agreed to remove all the fences found in the area to allow the wildlife to roam freely.
This wire will no longer be an obstacle in the animals’ journey, nor will it harm or kill them anymore. We also freed the bush from 83 garbage bags full of rubbish left behind by people driving through the reserve and from the past farm owners. Most of the area was farming land after the Second World War, farmers realized that more money could be made from the growing tourism market than direct farming. Slowly the farmers converted their farms or sold them to conservationists, wildlife lovers, slowly most of the wildlife is coming back to the area. Rubbish such as plastic, cans, wire, glass bottles etc. would pollute soils and injure wildlife if not removed.
A surface of 5400m² of alien plants (8 times the size of a tennis court!) was also removed, allowing indigenous plants to grow again, as it should be in the African savanna ecosystem. The soils have been taken care of too with the construction of 71 weaved barriers and 19 dug dams aiming to prevent soil, seeds, water to leave the reserve and leave bare soil behind. We also re-grassed 130m of field. With the future rain this area will be green and will help to slow down the rain water. We are also happy to have the first picture on our camera traps of an elusive aardvark and be able to follow for a year the growing and progress of 2 brown hyenas. It look like that they are now grown enough and start their independent life. We have the chance to see more lions in the area, first sighting of a cheetah in the reserve.
El Nino is changing the world climate and here in Wild a Tuli we can see the effect too. The rain has been really seldom, the water is already rare and to help the wildlife it is our duty to create as many permanent waterholes as possible. It is easy to say but more difficult to do. First we always need a source of water, most of the times a borehole (a pit) that has been drilled by a driller who comes on to the property with a huge truck and drills in the ground to find water. When we have this borehole and that are efficient enough to deliver some water, a pump needs to be installed. The construction of the waterhole has been fast (see November-December 2015 for more details), as the waterhole is of moderate size. In 2 months all the construction has been done by our motivated volunteers. The results are astounding and wildlife is already coming to enjoy the fresh water.
We also helped our neighbour to take down a huge Reservoir that was available only for big elephants. All other species couldn’t access the water. During this morning’s activity we had the chance to get a visit of an elephant that came inspect if the work was done properly. He spent a long time to drink from the natural waterhole and look at us working. It was such an amazing moment. Today the reservoir is finished and all species can come and drink water.
Conservation Manager, Sophie Juget