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Thandi’s Calf: The Rhino That Should Never Have Been Born

Rhinos were once found throughout Euroasia and Africa but their numbers have dropped dramatically due to human activities. Today very few rhinos survive outside protected areas.  In recent years rhino numbers have dropped dramatically due to poaching for their horn which is prized in Asian countries. They also face threats from habitat loss and political conflict.

In Africa, Southern white rhinos, once thought to be extinct, live in protected sanctuaries and are classified as Near Threatened. But the Northern white rhino subspecies is believed to be extinct in the wild and only a few captive individuals remain in a sanctuary in Kenya. They are critically endangered. Black rhinos have doubled in number over the past two decades from their low point of 2,480 individuals, but total numbers are still a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that existed in the early part of the 20th century.

An uplifting story involves a rhino called Thandi, who three years after surviving a brutal poaching attack that left two male rhinos dead,  gave birth to a calf on 13 January 2015 at Kariega Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. With footage of Thandi and her calf captured moments after the birth, this film by photographer and filmmaker Adrian Steirn documents Thandi’s journey from attack to recovery. This the moving story of the rhino that should never have been born.

 

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Meerkats

Meerkats are totally into togetherness. Read on to discover their secrets for getting along with each other.

Meerkats are groupies, bigtime. As many as 40 individuals may live together. Among them may be Mom and Dad with their young pups, the pups’ older sisters and brothers, and many cousins!

Meerkats make getting along in a group seem easy. How do they do it? For starters, members of a group hang out together a lot. They sit back, relax, and often groom each other. Sometimes they tussle and play, too. This helps keep everyone happy and friendly! But meerkats have many more tricks for togetherness, as you’ll soon find out.

What’s a Meerkat?
  • A meerkat is a squirrel sized mammal. It’s a kind of mongoose. Mongooses live mostly in Africa and southern Asia.
  • Meerkats make their homes in burrows in the plains and deserts of southern Africa.
  • A meerkat’s long, thin body is great for scooting through a burrow!
Sharing Jobs

As you know, a group gets along best when everyone pitches in and shares the chores. Meerkats are pros at this. For example, they take turns standing guard: keeping an eye out for danger so the others don’t have to worry about it. At the first sight of an eagle, hawk, or other predator, the guard barks or whistles loudly. That usually sends everyone racing for cover. When the guard gives an alarm call, the meerkats may dash into a wide tunnel called a “bolt hole.”

From a high mound, a guard keeps a sharp eye out for danger. Thanks to the guard, the other members of the group can safely go about their business. When looking for lunch, for instance, almost the whole gang sets off together, taking a slightly different route each day. That increases their chances of finding food. As they go, the meerkats sniff the ground for underground prey. Their favorites? Juicy, wormlike beetle grubs and scorpions.

Once a meerkat picks up the scent of a buried meal, it starts digging. Its sharp front claws get at the food in no time. During a morning of hunting — and digging — a single meerkat may leave behind hundreds of holes, empty of their former residents!

 

Sharing and Caring

By far the most incredible example of meerkat teamwork is childcare! Nearly everyone in the group, both male and female, takes turns babysitting the group’s young pups. And Mom? She nurses her pups, but otherwise she’s not around much. She heads off with the rest of the adults to find food. She needs to keep eating so she can produce enough milk for her babies.

Training the Pups

The babysitter has to be especially cautious when the eager pups are ready to explore the world outside of the familiar burrow. After all, danger could strike at any time — and the pups would hardly notice. They’re too busy playing and wrestling with each other. Meerkat pups spend much of their day playing.

Finally, when they’re about a month old, these mischievous little meerkats will be big enough to tag along with the rest of the group. But they still won’t have learned all the tricks to catching their own food. So the ever-patient adults in the crowd will share their meals—and some will take time to teach the little ones how to hunt and grab prey. It won’t be long before the pups catch on to this—and to all the other secrets of living in one big, happy group, too.

Meerkats really are remarkable animals. Below are some facts to prove it.

• Calling out warnings. Meerkats have as many as 50 different alarm calls to identify different kinds of attackers or dangers!

• Taking good care. Meerkats in a group look out for each other. For instance, young pups often tag along with some grown meerkats who are busy searching for a meal. When the pups get hungry, they let out high-pitched squeals. Someone in the group always goes over and gives the pups food—even when the youngsters aren’t theirs.

• Catching some rays. Early in the morning, meerkats come out of their burrow and warm up in the sun. A meerkat has a nearly hairless patch of dark skin on its belly that absorbs the sun’s rays easily. You might call it a built-in solar panel!

• What a home! A meerkat’s burrow can be humongous, stretching  over an area equal to three school buses parked end to end. A burrow like this often has up to 90 entrances.

• Keeping the dirt out. A meerkat’s eyes have special coverings that act like protective glasses, keeping out dirt when the animal is digging. And a meerkat’s ears can close down to prevent soil from clogging them, too!

Source: Ranger Rick Magazine, written by E. Schleichert.

 

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Kirstenbosh Canopy Walkway

There has been a lot of press lately regarding the new Tree Canopy Walkway at Kirstenbosch Gardens (Cape Town, South Africa), so I thought I would go and see for myself.  Well, what an amazing experience it was………  It was breath taking.

The Walkway is a new curved steel timber bridge that winds its way through and over the tree tops.  The design is inspired by a snake skeleton.  The Walkway takes you from the forest floor into and through the trees and comes out above the canopy, giving you a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and gardens.

The walkway is 130 metres long and lightly snakes its way through the canopy of trees.  It is wheelchair friendly, and there is no extra fee to walk on it.

This is a wonderful outing for the whole family, so put this on your to-do list!

Contact us for more information regarding this wonderful excursion as part of your holiday to South Africa.

Written by Laurice Baker, saSafari SA, Cape Town, 12 June 2014

 

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The Cape’s Top 20 Wineries for 2014

The 20 years since South Africa’s first democratic elections have been momentous for the country’s wine industry. Over the years, Cape wine has benefited hugely from a new international respectability – and a new curiosity. Marvellously, something not short of a revolution was to follow.

More than one international commentator now speaks of the South African wine industry as the most exciting in the world – or at least the southern hemisphere. It’s a happy coincidence that the winery, which topped this poll of 29 local and international wine professionals, was built by a man who qualified as a winemaker in that significant year of 1994. What’s more, among Eben Sadie’s fellow graduates are two other winemakers featuring in this list of the top 20 South African wine producers – Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof and Chris Williams of Meerlust. This is a good year.

In 2001, the first of these polls were conducted. The dynamism of Cape wine means that it has been worth repeating the exercise frequently – the last wine list I created was two years ago, also first reported in the Mail & Guardian (April 2012).

As to the nature of that change, well, this poll is hardly a scientific exercise, admittedly, but as an indication of the standing of Cape wine producers in the marketplace, in critical opinion and in sheer buzz, it is revelatory. All sorts of statistics jump out – one of the most significant being that, of 2001’s list, just seven wineries still feature in 2014.

Of 2001’s Top Five category, which is always treated as a separate list, three of the producers no longer appear. Not even in the Top 20; they are Neil Ellis, Rustenberg and Veenwouden. Most of the wineries in this year’s list did exist in 2001 – though some were very youthful – but Eben Sadie’s first wine (Columella 2000) had not yet been released, and second-placed Mullineux was still seven years away from birth.

Change continues; the wine revolution progresses. There were four brand new entries this year – Cederberg, Delaire Graff, Badenhorst and Reynecke ?– and one re-entry – De Trafford, which was there in 2001 but later had not appeared on the list. The 29-strong panel voted for a total of 84 wineries, but only 46 of them got three or more votes.

The panel comprises of seven leading sommeliers, six retailers, 11 local and five foreign critics and journalists.

A particularly interesting aspect of the results is how geographically diverse quality is revealed as being. True, Stellenbosch got nine of the 20 slots, but that’s in accordance with the region’s size. Swartland, where there are a fraction of the number of wineries, got three (including the top-two spot), and Franschhoek and the Hemel-en-Aarde got two slots each. Constantia, Cape Point, Elgin and Cederberg are also represented.

A full list of the voters and further details of the results can be found on grape.co.za.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Sadie Family Wines. Eben Sadie, an emblematic figure of the Cape’s wine revolution, has been making his red Columella and white Palladius blends since the early years of the century. Local and international acclaim brought fame to the whole Swartland area, initiating its great renaissance. Then came Sadie’s widely-inspiring Old Vineyard Series, confirming his vision, insight and energy.

2. Mullineux Family Wines. Young Chris Mullineux and his American wife Andrea are based in the little town of Riebeek-Kasteel, buying grapes, especially Shiraz and Chenin Blanc, from Swartland vineyards. They soared onto the Top 20 list in 2012 at number 10, and this year made another record leap: they are just squeezed out of the top spot by their good friend and near-neighbour.

3. Kanonkop, in Stellenbosch, is the longest-established winery in the Top 5 – and the only winery to have been there every time since the first poll in 2001. No other producer in the list has such an impressive track record of great wines ?– especially the Paul Sauer blend, made since 1981, but also Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon.

4. Boekenhoutskloof was in the 2001 Top 20 category, but has grown in size and is renown under the continued direction of cellar master Marc Kent. Based at the organic home-farm in Franschhoek,  it also draws grapes from far and near.

5. Chamonix started revealing the vinous potential of its Franschhoek mountainside soils after Gottfried Mocke arrived in 2001 to look after vineyards and cellars with his flair and insight. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have always done well here; now a handful of reds, especially Pinot Noir, join them amongst the country’s best – and there’s not a dud in sight.

THE REST OF TOP 20

6. Paul Cluver Estate makes mostly white wines off the extensive, pioneering Elgin domaine, but the Pinot Noir is equally fine.

7. Newton Johnson is one of this year’s big climbers. This quintessential family farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde near Hermanus is most famous for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

8. Cape Point Vineyards, lashed by cool sea-winds near Noordhoek on the Peninsula, has seen winemaker Duncan Savage establish an enviable reputation for its white wines.

9. Hamilton Russell Vineyards, pioneer of winemaking in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, is still famous for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – the latter widely regarded as the country’s finest.

10. Vergelegen is one of Stellenbosch’s great historic and contemporary showplaces, with André van Rensburg continuing to produce a range of red and white wines to match.

11. Tokara, high on the Helshoogte Pass just outside Stellenbosch, makes superb, elegant wines from there (as well as Agulhas and Elgin) under Miles Mossop’s deft direction.

12. Thelema is Tokara’s neighbour but longer established (since 1983), with cellar master Gyles Webb amongst the pioneers of modern winemaking in the Cape.

13. Jordan has a large range of wines (modest to grand) from its sizeable Stellenbosch estate, run in masterly style by husband-and-wife winemaking team Gary and Kathy Jordan.

14. Cederberg is the highest new entry, as its mountainous vineyards are among the Cape’s loftiest, though David Nieuwoudt also makes a fine range from vineyards near Cape Agulhas.

15. Delaire Graff – third and oldest of the Helshoogte wineries in the region – arrives to trumpet its reinvigoration since its purchase a decade back by British diamantaire Laurence Graff.

16. AA Badenhorst Family becomes the third Swartland winery in the Top 20, marking the great success of Adi Badenhorst’s mighty labours on the run-down farm the family acquired in 2006.

17. Klein Constantia represents the Constantia Valley here, as well as the prestige particularly (though not solely) of its famous, historically relevant sweet wine, Vin de Constance.

18. Meerlust is one of Stellenbosch’s great old estates, owned by the Myburghs since 1757, it’s fine winemaking tradition re-energised for the past decade by winemaker Chris Williams.

19. Reyneke, one of few biodynamic wineries in the Cape, has its organic Stellenbosch vineyards cared for by “vine-hugger” Johan Reyneke, and its elegant wines crafted by the brilliant Rudiger Gretschel.

20. De Trafford returns after a brief absence, with David Trafford’s big, ripe but well-balanced Stellenbosch wines as commanding as ever.

JUDGING PANEL

Sommeliers

Hansi Joakim Blackadder; Gareth Ferreira; Neil Grant; Higgo Jacobs; James Pietersen; Joerg Pfuetzner; Francois Rautenbach

Retailers

Carrie Adams; Carolyn Barton; Mark Norrish; Roland Peens; Caroline Rillema

Local writers and critics

Michael Crossley; Christian Eedes; Michael Fridjhon; Edo Heyns; Tim James; Angela Lloyd; Melvyn Minnaar; Cathy Marston; Maggie Mostert; Ingrid Motteux; Christine Rudman; Cathy van Zyl

International writers and critics

Tim Atkin; Tom Cannavan; Jamie Goode; Neal Martin; Anthony Rose

(Source: Mail and Guardian SA)

 

 

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Reconsider South Africa

Why not “Consider” South Africa as your next holiday destination.

South African Tourism is going viral with this amazing video, which has been viewed several hundred thousand times, receiving many rave reviews on social media.

“What is beauty?” asks the narrator at the start of the video.  After two minutes of stunning visuals, the video reveals that beauty has much deeper meaning and that the magic of South Africa is its people.  Watch the video to find out more…….

“When you meet South Africa, you’ll reconsider what you think you know,” the narrator concludes.

So come and explore this splendid country for yourself.  It is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world.  Its exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture, makes it a dream destination.

 

 

 

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How to have the worst game drive ever!

Whether you’re on a self-drive expedition in the Kruger National Park or enjoying being ferried around by an experienced guide on an open safari vehicle in one of our country’s gorgeous private reserves, there are a few things that will either make or break your game viewing experience.

We look at nine sure fire ways to soil the whole trip not only for yourself, but for everyone with you too. Just.  Don’t . Do. It!

1. Pump the beats

While driving through the long, open, straight stretches of Karoo or weaving your way through urban traffic might be the perfect setting to pump those inspiring tunes, a game drive is just not the right place.  Turn the music down, lower your voices and listen to the bush breathe and bloom all around you.  Apart from the fact that you will miss out on that special form of audio beauty, you will also most certainly chase possible sightings away, as most animals have very sensitive ears.

2. Overlook the little things

Seeing the big five is fantastic, there’s no way we can deny that, however, overlooking all the other amazing little creatures while searching for the big ones is actually just a waste of time.  Sure, impala get a little boring after a while, but that doesn’t mean you should assume that there’s nothing more interesting potting in the surrounding area.  If you just speed from one conglomeration of cars to the other in search of a big sighting, you’re sure to miss out on those magical animal interactions that only occur when you’re patient.

3. Forget your camera and binocs at home

Unfortunately great animal sightings more often than not play themselves out at a bit of a distance from your vehicle, which means if you do not have a pair of binoculars to zoom in, you may as well be moving along.  Also, if you’re a keen photographer, leaving your camera behind is sure to cause some major frustration, as you are bound to encounter at least a few perfect shots during your drive.

4. Anger an elephant

There is a certain magnetism about elephants – they really do seem to draw one in, don’t they?  Well, keep your wits about you when encountering one, or even more so, a herd.  Trying to get between mothers and babies is a really bad idea and so is trying to play chicken with a lone bull.  Unless, of course, you’d experience all the gigantic wrath and have your car rolled about or get a hefty fine for causing the poor animal trauma if you’re lucky enough to escape unscathed.

5. Have a few beers too many and fall asleep

A picnic/sundowner stop is an absolute must on any game drive.  It adds to the whole atmosphere and makes you feel like you’re part of the daily motions of the bush – the great circle of life if you will (as long as you manage to stay on top of the food chain).  However, drinking too much during your little break is a bad idea – you will feel sleepy and miss out on all the rest of the action.  Apart from this, you’ll probably piss everyone around you off and they might just leave you in the bush.

6. Under or overdress

There are few things that are worse than either being too hot or too cold while on a game drive.  If you’re heading on an early morning game drive, chances are it will probably slightly chilly, so by all means bundle up!  However, be sure to wear layers, so you can peel away unnecessary clothing as the day heats up and progresses.  If you’re heading out on an afternoon game drive, do the opposite – even if it’s super hot during the day, temperatures may drop unexpectedly by evening and if you don’t have something wind resistant and warm, you’re in for a miserable ride.

7. Stop and get out to take a toilet break

This is probably one of the most difficult lines to toe while on a game drive – taking in enough fluid so you don’t get dehydrated and tired, but not too much, because, well frankly, peeing in the bush is a bit of a problem.  Leaving your vehicle without permission in one of the national parks is a serious offence for which you may receive a hefty fine.  As if this isn’t bad enough, being caught with your pants down by a fierce wild creature can only end well if you’ve got a really good guide or back up plan.

8. Rush

A game drive is not a race, actually it’s quite the opposite.  This is why it’s super important to keep gate times in mind – having to rush through the last hour or so of your game drive just to reach your rest camp in time is no fun and also the perfect opportunity for Murphy to strike.  You know?  Spotting a leopard luxuriating on a branch as the sun sets spectacularly as it only can in the African bush… then not having time to stop and appreciate the beauty (not to mention capture it on camera).  Besides you could also be served with a hefty fine for speeding and for being late for the gate.

9. Keep updating your social media and checking your mail

Part of the charm of the bush is getting away from it all.  So, if you’re continually on the lookout for the next spot with good reception so you can quickly tell all your social media friends where you are, what you’re doing, what you’ve seen and how you’re feeling, you’re kind of doing it wrong.  When you’re about to head out on a drive, switch your phone off and tuck it away. Immerse yourself in your surroundings.  Besides, no one will be missing the social media updates.

Source: New24

 

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5 good reasons to book your safari holiday now!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Now is the best time to start thinking about your holiday for the spring or summer. If it is something different you are looking for you may want to celebrate a special occasion on safari, take the family on a wild adventure, or have a romantic bush trip for two. 

A safari is an amazing experience for a memorable holiday, and at this time of year there’s still availability at our best lodges in some of the top game reserves in the area.

It can be a nightmare finding the perfect safari holiday for you, and you want to make sure you make the right decision for that valuable family or couple time together.

Here are 5 good reasons why you should book your safari holiday now

  1. Lower deposits during January – book your holiday now and pay the remainder 8 weeks before you travel

  2. Wide choice of accommodation – don’t miss out on the best places to stay. The good ones always get booked up early!

  3. Flights are often cheaper the earlier you book – a flight in July could cost you less now than if you booked in a few months’ time

  4. Something to look forward to – it’s a nice feeling to have your holiday sorted and your annual leave booked!

  5. Time to research and plan – booking now means you have plenty of time to research things to do and see at your destination and plan for that special time together

Contact us for a tailor made quote today! www.sasafari.com/contact

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Extreme golfing in South Africa

Few holes in the history of golf have generated as much interest as the The Extreme 19th at the Legends Golf and Safari Resort in South Africa.

Accessible only by helicopter, with the tee set 400m up on the majestic Hanglip Mountain and played to a green the shape of Africa some 400m below, the Extreme 19th has captured the imagination like no other hole.

In a shoot-out with French star Raphael Jacquelin, 2008 Open Champion Padraig Harrington famously became the first person to make a Par 3. Since then many others golfing superstars, celebrities and enthusiast from across the world have taken on the spectacular 19th hole.

Here are some facts and figures about the Extreme 19th – the longest Par 3 in the world!

  • Vertical Height – 430m
  • Horizontal distance from foot of mountain to back of green – 400m
  • Horizontal distance from foot of mountain to start of fairway – 280m (St
  • The vertical drop from the start of fairway to the front of the green is 21m.
  • The green is the shape of Africa.
  • Time for ball to land – 20 seconds
  • 1 Million USD for a hole in one!

Contact us  if you would like to know more about our special package deals for this great golfing experience! http://sasafari.com/contact

 

 

 

 

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saSafari educational trip October 2013

Delphine and I recently returned from a wonderful 10 day trip to  Zimbabwe, Zambia and Cape Town to view our lodges and meet the teams at some of the most outstanding lodges and hotels that we use for our clients in these beautiful regions.

A special trip from island hopping in the Zambezi, viewing some of the most fantastic places to stay with first class service and activities, to fantastic game viewing, sunset cruises, walking with rhinos, visiting wine estates, touring the cape peninsula, and experiencing the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen.

It has been an interesting look into the logistics around these kinds of trips, and the ways we can make it even smoother and easier for our clients to get around these areas.  The insight into the regions, people, places and experiences has proved invaluable to Delphine and I, and we are committed to knowing our regions well so that we can provide expert and useful information when planning trips for our clients.

To see some of our photographs and updates go to our Facebook page www.facebook.com/saSafari

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