It’s been a busy last six months at paradise camp. The project continues to flourish and the data being collected is becoming ever more valuable. The mammal population dynamics study continues along with a few recent additions to the volunteer program.
Transfrontier Africa are currently over-seeing a water points survey and a bore hole study throughout Balule, measuring the bore holes and hopefully identifying an ideal time to pump during a 24 hour period. There has been little rain over the last eight months and our last rainy season proved a disaster. The ground water level is therefore terribly volatile.
A predator study has also been introduced, focusing on Lions. Volunteers are currently recording all the kills that our resident prides make. Recently the York pride, our largest pride of lions with sixteen individuals, made five kills in the space of a week. Our volunteers were lucky to experience four of these kills at close quarters and were able to gather valuable data. The giraffe still remains the chosen prey species for these particular lions.
Leopards are also being seen around the camp and volunteers regularly hear our resident male calling at night. Two male cheetahs are also being seen quite often. Becoming more used to the presence of vehicles these two males are often seen resting at the sides of the tracks around the reserve.
Perhaps as a result of the lack of rain the elephant population, for the most part, moved out of our research area. We were regularly seeing herds of fifty plus up until two months ago. However recent volunteer groups have been recording good elephant sightings around the Olifants river and even around paradise camp. The elephants are making a strong come back. Transfrontier Africa along with the Save the Elephant foundation based in Kenya are currently involved in a population dynamics census throughout the Association of Private Nature Reserves (APNR) and the Greater Kruger National Park. We have, at present, identified five Bull elephants who regularly visit paradise camp and thrill the volunteers. The breeding herds are also making an appearance, keeping the bulls happy! This valuable work has now become a permanent addition to the program.
Two white rhino bulls have also staked claim to an area that we regularly traverse. As a key stone species for the Savanna forest biome it’s nice to see them making a come back.
The erosion control continues. Recent groups have made excellent progress when it comes to battling the ever present donga issue. A donga is another word for an erosion gully. Teams of volunteers have also been sent to various areas of the reserve to remove some alien invasive species. The Prickly Pear seems to be the most apparent. However, Transfrontier Africa and project volunteers have removed some two hundred individual plants. Although there are many more to deal with it’s a healthy start.
The camp itself has had a few make-overs. Our Australian volunteers have worked wonders with the kitchen area and the bathrooms. Paradise is becoming ever more honey badger proof much to the delight of the team.
Last but certainly not least is the addition of another Land Rover to our ever-growing fleet and the team continues to fly the Land Rover flag. We are the proud owners of four landys now, two overland safari vehicles and two game-viewers for use within the reserve. Both our game viewers run on petrol making them quieter and less intrusive to the surrounding wildlife. Those of you who have been on the project before will be happy to know that our 1976 series three land rover is still operational and has become quite a feature within the reserve.