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Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Eswatini


Soukous

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Soukous

I should have known, but I didn’t.

Swaziland changed it’s name to Eswatini, or more correctly, the Kingdom of Eswatini.

 

I spent a good 15 minutes at WTM in November criss-crossing the aisles of the Africa section looking in vain for the Swaziland stand.

I was sure they would be there but they were not shown on the plan.

I only found the stand at all because a friend of mine was working on it and she called out to me.

I’d seen her only a couple of months earlier at the Wildlife & Safari show in Harrogate, and on that occasion it had still been called Swaziland – although it shouldn’t have been because the name was officially changed in April 2018.

 

Anyhow, by the time I reached the border post in November 2018, I knew, although a lot of the display material in the border post had still not been updated. (If you look at the Big Game Parks website today it still refers to “The Kingdom of Swaziland”.)

 

I was heading to Mlilwane to attend the launch of a campaign by Ted Reilly, the father of wildlife conservation in Eswatini, with the aim of gathering support in the lead up to the next CITES CoP in March 2019.

I’d been invited to attend so that I could take some photographs and write articles on their initiative. I won’t dwell on that too much here as I don’t want to provoke yet another debate about the rights & wrongs of legalising the trade in rhino horn, I just want to tell you what a unique and lovely place Mlilwane is.

 

It really is. I can’t think of another place like it.

Mlilwane is not a game reserve, it is a wildlife sanctuary. The wildlife you see here is not extensive, lots of small antelope and loads of Roan, and there are no predators, but not many people come here just for the wildlife.

Mlilwane attracts both local and international visitors. In fact I cannot think of another wildlife park anywhere that is busy throughout the week with local visitors. During the weeks groups of school children come to enjoy the area, hiking or riding bicycles along the many miles of trails. At weekends families and young couples come for a day out; a picnic and a braai.

 

Mlilwane, Eswatini. Stunning views over the lake on a beautiful morning.

 

The landscapes are gorgeous and the on-site accommodation is simple but adequate; my favourite are the bee-hive villages, which are available for twin share from as little as ZAR495.

 

Beehive huts at Mlilwane

 

There’s a bar, a restaurant and a swimming pool – although I wasn’t brave enough to get into it after 3 bus loads of school kids had spent the afternoon in it.

 

It’s not a bad spot for birding either, with plenty of water around the list of species is extensive enough to keep most people happy.

The Sacred Ibises were in a tree near the restaurant, but the others were seen on a short walk early one morning.

 

African Sacred Ibis - in abundance

 

African sacred Ibis

 

sacred-ibises

 

African sacred Ibis

 

sacred-ibis-x-3

 

Pin Tailed Whydah

Pin-tailed Whydah

 

Pin-tailed Whydah

 

Pin-tailed Whydah

 

Fan Tailed Widowbird

Fan-tailed Widowbird

 

Fan-tailed Widowbird

 

White Fronted Bee Eater

White-fronted Bee Eater

 

White-fronted Bee Eater

 

Southern Black Flycatcher

southern-black-flycatcher

 

Village Weaver

Village Weaver

 

Village Weaver

 

Village Weaver

 

Village Weaver

 

Southern Red Bishop

Southern Red Bishop

 

Kurrichane Thrush

Kurrichane Thrush

 

Black Crake

African Black Crake

 

Diderick Cuckoo

Diderick Cuckoo

 

 

 

And, as I can't think of where else to post them, here are some of the species we spotted on the drive back to Johannesburg.

I have to say that in terms of what you can see just driving along the road, South Africa is hard to beat. Although it can be a bit hectic at times, seeing something and trying to stop for a photo without causing a pile up.

 

Long Tailed Widowbird

Long-tailed Widowbird

 

Long-tailed Widowbird

 

Black Shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

 

Ant eating Chat

Ant Eating Chat

 

Secretary Bird

Secretary Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Soukous
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Pamshelton3932

I didn't know either.  So thanks for the education as well as the great photos.

 

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Peter Connan

Some really nice shots there!

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Soukous

Thanks @xelasWhen are you going to be in South Africa? And where are you going to be in South Africa?

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3 hours ago, Soukous said:

Thanks @xelasWhen are you going to be in South Africa? And where are you going to be in South Africa?

 

From 1st February, mostly KwaZulu Natal. Only skirting by Eswatini ... this time around.

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Soukous
14 hours ago, xelas said:

 

From 1st February, mostly KwaZulu Natal. Only skirting by Eswatini ... this time around.

 

Enjoy.

There are some lovely parks in KZN.

I just wondered if you'd be venturing as far across as Klein Karoo.

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4 hours ago, Soukous said:

There are some lovely parks in KZN.

 

uMkhuze, iSmailingo and Hluhluwe/iMfolozi are on our itinerary.

 

I have missed Klein Karoo last year when we have been to Western Cape; but I am sure @Zim Girl will post such a beautiful TR that many of us will want to visit your place!

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Zim Girl

Based on the stunning pictures that @Soukous posted here of his property (which enticed us there in the first place), I am sure that will not be difficult.

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