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Amakala Game Reserve- South Africa


Ally C
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I volunteered for a month at this reserve and i found it to be, in my opinion, not very natural from a conservation perspective for the following reasons...

1. Black wildebeast were located on the reserve where they would not normally be in nature.

2. cheetahs were also located on the reserve (the reserve is very dense with trees and shrubs) making it difficult for the cheetahs to hunt as their speed cannot be used to its fullest potential - forcing the cheetahs to adapt and rely on different strategies for hunting.

3. there was abandoned croc pens with crocs still living there. very small pens. unsanitary. not to mention crocodiles dont exist on the eastern cape

4. lions (5 of them) are kept in a seperate, much smaller section of the reserve with only approxamitly 30 blesbok to hunt. the blesbok get taken out pretty quickly in a small section like that. while the other side of the reserve is overpopulating due to lack of predators

 

I would hope that reserves would do their best to maintain a natural setting, however, from a finanical perspective a reserve in SA that has cheetahs would get much more business then one without.

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madaboutcheetah

Ally C,

 

Welcome to SafariTalk.

 

I have no idea about this reserve you talk about...... I have a couple of comments about your cheetah reference. Even in the Wilds of Botswana, I have seen cheetahs hunting and surviving in thick bush. In fact, I'm certain there's more of them in there than out in the flood plains (where you see them more often during game drives or in the documentaries). For example, in Jan 2008 - we were following a coalition of 3 males through the open flood plains of Kwara and tried our best to keep up with them in thick Kalahari apple leaf areas - Lost them eventually when they took off after the kudus.

 

Natural setting you say? There are some lodges in the Sabi Sands that have gotten so gaudy and have huge gates and things that keep away intruders that I'm not sure the "natural" is really there anymore........ So, who knows.......

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thanks for your comments - very insightful! - i love learning more about this stuff

and to answer yoyr question, no, i wouldn't pay to stay there as a guest. but then again, i wouldnt go to a reserve as a guest, i would much rather go as a volunteer because you learn so much more and can get much closer to the wildlife.

but i also worked at another game reserve called Kariega which i absolutly loved! the layout of the reserve was fantastic and it was just an amazing time altogether.

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Atravelynn

Welcome to Safaritalk AllyC and you'll have to tell us more about Kariega.

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For the past few years the government has been trying to draft new regulations on alien and invasive species. (AIS)

As a game farmer I have been trying to follow this, but they have been unable to find common ground.

 

The topic is too complicated. It will include plants, fish, birds and mammals. It gets even more complicated when you realize that Giraffe were never found in Kwa Zulu Natal a few hundred years ago, but they do surprising well there. Then you have the issue with Blesbuck and Bontebok, and blue and black wildebeest that technically can live in the same area, but will produce hybrids if they are kept together.

 

The other problem they have is - Where do they draw the line. In the case of the bushbuck, they believe that there are many subspecies that should not be moved from one area to another. You cannot use provincial boundaries, as - well of course animals don't understand that.

 

Then you must remember that climate change (caused by man) has also had an impact on vegetation and now some areas are becoming more suitable for animals that wouldn't normally occur there. Who is to say that if there were no fences, they wouldn't naturally make their way there.

 

Then the biggest thing of all is the tourist. He wants to see a greater species list at one venue. Hence Nyala have been successfully introduced into the Eastern Cape where they would normally occur. Or should I say - didn't occur 300 years ago.

 

Click HERE to see the draft regulations.

 

The topic makes for interesting discussion.

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The lion issue is an entirely different debate. But also involves hot issues. In South Africa private farmers will buy or breed their own wild animals. For the protection of these animals and they will have to fence the area. Land is expensive, and such forms of land utilization have to be justified by generating an income.

 

Government has little time for game farmers, as they are seen to be taking good land away from producing food or protein. It is also seen as more of a recreational thing as opposed to farming, so such farmers do not get tax breaks as farmers.

 

As you can imagine an Nyala will cost the farmer from R5000 to R9000, and he wouldn't want his lion to be eating those. If he were to allow that, then imagine what the guests would have to pay. Further to this, I can see that this person keeps lions and cheetah, and in a confined area, this will spell disaster for the cheetah.

 

As you can see this topic is also up for much debate, but much of it is about what makes economic sense.

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The other problem they have is - Where do they draw the line. In the case of the bushbuck, they believe that there are many subspecies that should not be moved from one area to another. You cannot use provincial boundaries, as - well of course animals don't understand that.

 

Then you must remember that climate change (caused by man) has also had an impact on vegetation and now some areas are becoming more suitable for animals that wouldn't normally occur there. Who is to say that if there were no fences, they wouldn't naturally make their way there.

 

 

 

The topic makes for interesting discussion.

 

The debate about species versus sub species is particularly interesting as new scientific models and research throw up more dilemmas with classifying these sub species. We may lose a sub species even before we realise that it was significantly different to other members of its species. Just looking at what research is showing with Savannah elephants and forest elephants and then the report on whether the West African savannah elephants are genetically different enough from Eastern Savannah elephants to warrant a separate sub species nomenclature. When did scientists realise that the white rhino had distinct sub species, as do the black rhino. Now, with the dire conservation status of the black rhino, it appears that they are translocated around Africa as needed but not much that I read states whether they are trying to conserve the sub species differences.

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I remember I had a mate who did a thesis on the Knysna elephant. At the time they believed that it was an entirely different sub specie. They had already located some elephants from kruger to the area, in the hope that it would breed with them.

 

I remember that there was much embarrassment around the whole deal as the one remaining elephant (who remained very illusive) turned out to be a female past her reproductive age. They thought it was a male. It also turned out that in fact the knysna elephants had partially adapted to living in the deep forest, but were not a separate sub specie.

 

It was purely a case of them finding refuge from man in the forest and in doing so managed to adapt their diet etc to survive, much like the case of the desert elephants in Namibia.

 

If I recall correctly they had to find the surviving elephants from Kruger in Knysna and move them again, as they were unable to adapt and settle. They filmed the whole story, but I don't think they show it anymore, as it attracted some bad press. The truck carrying the elephants also overturned en route. Subsequently they discovered that it was not wise to locate sub adult elephants without adults in the group, and they should be in an established family group.

 

But scientists make me laugh sometimes they say that a dassie is a close relative to an elephant, and clearly they look different, yet they look for other genetic differences within a species, that you need a microscope before you can agree with them. :(

 

Who are we to argue!!

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Scientists are just trying to understand the relationships among different types of animals, which in the long run is very important to ensuring proper actions are taken and improper ones are avoided. Do they get it right all the time? No. New tools and methods to fine tune our understanding are constantly being developed, and like with most things human, old concepts die slowly.

 

As for dassies and elephants, its not scientists fault that they are indeed related (relatively distantly). Looking different often has little to do with it. Nobody is going to mistake a dassie for an elephant, but differences among subspecies are often harder to detect, and nobody should want a loss in what little diversity remains.

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Catching up on the Farmers Weekly magazine, I saw an interesting article on managing lions on small reserves. The "small" reserve they used as a test was 8500 hectares and they did a 6 year trial.

 

I will have to quote from the article and you will just have to believe me as I cant find a link. The lions averaged 21 kills per month which was equal to 42 per lion per year. They killed between 3.3% and 7.1% of the available prey. (between 7kg and 12kg per Lion per day)

 

They noted that Lions prefered to prey on larger prey between 190kg and 550kg. And took a preference to some animals that were in low numbers in the reserve, like Gemsbok, Hartebeest, and Eland.

 

The problem occurs when the lions reproduce, and the pride grows, you quickly get to the point where they are eating too much, and some lions have to be moved. The article goes on to explain how many lions there should be to make clients happy. The fact remains that lions eat a lot and we cant decide what we want them to eat. Ultimately the client (visitor) has to pay for this.

 

I know that they released lion into Addo, in an effort to control the explosion of warthogs, but the lions took to eating the valuable disease free buffalo, Until the buffalo figured out how to defend themselves. Disease free buffalo are selling for R250 000 per animal. You could probably pick up a lion for free if you prepared to feed it and keep a fence around it.

 

I hope this explains something.

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  • 4 weeks later...
David Youldon

I was at Amakhala when they created the lion enclosure and put the Blesbok in there. The intention was that the lions would get used to eating Blesbok as the only available prey for some time and therefore not hunt the disease free buffalo when they were released into the main reserve. That was back in early 2004 and I believe the lions arrived either later that year or early 2005.

 

In September 2006 I emailed the reserve and asked whether the lions had been released. I was told that the release was delayed for an expected 10 months from that point due to concerns over low prey base on the main reserve.

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