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Published on June 29, 2012 in Conservation, Guided Tours, South Africa, Tourism and Wildlife. Wildlife ACT Fund's Dr Simon Morgan fixing a VHF radio foot collar to the back leg of a white rhino bull. I was privledged to guide and host members of Rhino Africa Safaris on a recent  trip to &Beyond Phinda Private Reserve. Check out the awesome video below showing the Wildlife ACT Fund team together with members of Rhino Africa Safaris in action. Published on March 9, 2012 in Birding, Conservation, Guided Tours, Plants, Reconnection, South Africa, Tourism and Wildlife.
Notes on solutions put forward at the public hearing on the current rhino poaching crisis held at Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday 26th Jan 2012.
The Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs requested members of the public to submit proposals to them on possible solutions to the rhino poaching crisis that has swept through South Africa. The Department of Environmental Affairs opened and gave an overview of the current situation bringing us all up to date with the latest stats and figures they had. Here are the top 15 tweets from #rhinohearing that were tweeted on the day of the Parliamentary public hearing.
There was a strong divide between those calling for legalised trade in rhino horn as a commodity and those against it. Only Rhino Reality dealt with the issue of educating the end user markets as a proposed solution out of the 14 submissions. Published on October 26, 2011 in Birding, Conservation, Guided Tours, Plants, South Africa, Tourism, Trip Reviews and Wildlife. On a recent road trip along the Garden Route in South Africa I was lucky to spend a night at Reflections Eco Reserve. Rondevlei Lake is a Ramsar wetland which means it is a wetland of importance for bird migrations and has large numbers of water birds utilizing it. It is perfect for people looking for a relaxing wilderness destination on the Garden Route that is close and accessible to the beaches and forests. Published on March 29, 2011 in Conservation, South Africa, Tourism, Uncategorized and Wildlife. In the long run I feel that the rhinos survival depends on educating the people in the countries where there is the demand for horns. It is on the news, the front page of magazines like Africa Geographic and Getaway and everyone is talking about it. Over the next few blog posts we will look at the reasons why there is a demand for rhino horns, how modern day poachers are killing rhinos and what you can do to help combat the poaching.
Last year South Africa lost 333 rhinos and so far this year the poaching is continuing at an alarming rate. The Wildlife ACT Fund has teamed up with Rhino Africa Safaris, a Cape Town based safari travel company, who are passionate about rhino’s. Challenge4aCause was founded in 2009 in order to save the critically endangered desert adapted black rhino. Challenge4aCause is essentially a fund raising platform for wildlife conservation and community upliftment in Africa.
The Save the Rhino Trust will use the funds to support anti-poaching units protecting the largest free ranging black rhino population in the wild. Published on December 15, 2010 in Guided Tours, Plants, South Africa, Tourism, Uncategorized and Wildlife. I recently had the privilege of guiding Miri and Tal, 2 wonderful ladies from Israel, around the Western Cape Province. What a great morning, we had the whole place to ourselves and the penguins were very curious about us and came right up to check us out.
After coffee we headed to the Cape Point Nature Reserve where Tal dipped her finger in the sea of False Bay and we saw the south-western most point in South Africa, the Cape of Good Hope. We headed home via the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive and enjoyed some local South African flavours for dinner at Karibu Restaurant in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.
Back in Hermanus we had a scrumptious lunch at Aubergine Restaurant and a walk around the town. From the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay we could see about 4 whales lobtailing and enjoying themselves. We made the last tour of the day at the Cango Caves (after a coffee) and all of us were amazed at the timescale of the drip formations in the Caves measured in hundreds of thousands of years.
From the Cango Caves we drove over the Outeniqua Pass onto the Garden Route and ended at the Knysna Waterfront Protea Hotel.
From the Knysna Forest we headed to Thesen Island for breakfast at one of my favourite restaurants, Ile de Pain (Island of Bread).
Published on November 1, 2010 in Conservation, Guided Tours, Plants, South Africa, Tourism, Uncategorized and Wildlife. Eden To Addo is a conservation group based on the Garden Route in South Africa and their main focus is Biodiversity Conservation. The longest hike I had ever done previously was a 12 day hike in the Cederberg Mountains as a Boy Scout so it was with a bit of trepidation that I agreed to do the walk.
Biodiversity Corridors are a relatively new field in conservation and the idea is that by creating continuous paths or corridors of indigenous vegetation you maintain the biodiversity of a region. The hike was superbly organised and lead by Galeo Saintz, the pioneer who planned and scouted the route originally. Logistically we had a superb support crew, Bhejane 4×4 Adventures, who put up our tents, cooked all our meals, gave us hot water for bucket showers, dug the latrines and ensured we were well looked after. I found the hike was a great challenge and personal journey, walking 8 hours each day gives you a lot of time for thinking. It was the perfect morning on the Atlantic Ocean in Walker Bay off Gansbaai with no wind, no clouds, a perfect sunrise and smooth water.
Starting with the welcome breakfast at the headquarters of the White Shark Projects, through the orientation by the Captain and crew, seeing the Sharks to the end of the experience back at the headquarters with a bowl of delicious soup I was blown away.
We boarded the boat after a welcome introduction and safety briefing and were driven out to the best area of the Straits of Dyer Island and anchored the boat.

We hadn’t been anchored for more than 15 minutes when the first Great White Shark appeared on the scene.
Once a shark has approached the boat the first 5 guests make their way into the cage which is tied up alongside the boat. To attract the sharks close to the cage a massive tuna head is attached to a rope by string and throw about 8 meters in front of the cage.
I was positioned on the far left of the cage and every time this one shark came up to the cage it would swim right past me on the left brushing the cage. After 3 hours, 4 Sharks and 1 breaching Southern Right Whale we headed back to Gansbaai and the White Shark Projects headquarters. The main aim of the Shark Cage diving is to change the public perception of sharks and show them for what they are -a vital apex predator that is instrumental in maintaining healthy populations in the seas. So spread the word and I highly recommend going on a boat to experience these amazing ocean predators. Whilst on safari we spent a day on a neighbouring reserve involved in the darting and collaring of a white rhino and an elephant for anti poaching and research purposes.
We helped fix a VHF radio foot collar to the back leg of the white rhino bull and a VHF radio neck collar to the elephant cow.
Created by Galeo Saintz as a project of the Saintz Foundation it allows enthusiastic walkers to become Walk Leaders or to join a walk as a participant. There are 52 walks to chose from so it caters to everyones fitness levels and there is a variety of landscapes to walk in.  The festival is on between the 31 March and the 4th April 2012. From the 40 proposals submitted they asked 16 groups to attend the public hearing to present their solutions. This beautiful 26 hectare piece of land has a prize location bordering Rondevlei Lake just outside Wilderness and is surrounded on 3 sides by the Garden Route National Park. The chalets are amazing and made completely out of wood with gas stoves and fridges, solar heated water, rain water tanks for drinking water and a combination of wind turbine and solar power for electricity. The poachers send the horns to Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East to supply a demand for traditional medicines, potions, remedies and ornaments. It is Rhino poaching and the drastic increase in the deaths of rhinos in Africa in the last 2 years for their horns.
There is always hope and champions who will pick up the fight. Wildlife ACT is one such team of dedicated conservationists who are actively engaged in monitoring and protecting endangered species like Black and White Rhino, Cheetah and Wild Dog. The principle of Challenge 4a Cause is simple – take part in an extraordinary event that will push your personal and physical boundaries while raising funds and awareness for critically endangered and threatened species. The Wildlife ACT Fund will use the funds to develop and implement new anti-poaching technologies for rhinos and monitor other threatened and endangered species.
We spent 2 nights at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town and this gave us a full day to explore around Cape Town.
Yes, you might have picked up that the ladies liked their coffee and this was to be a theme for our road trip – finding funky coffee shops. At the Cape Point I explained that this wasn’t the meeting point of the 2 oceans as everyone believes nor was it the southern most point in Africa. At Cafe Roux we arrived to find it packed to the rafters and a Cafe Roux Idols show was on the go with local talent singing their hearts out. With the rain clouds chasing us we drove via Gordons Bay along the coastal road to Hermanus. Along the way we stopped for lunch, a wine tasting and coffee at Joubert-Tradouw Private Cellar. In the morning we woke up slightly earlier than usual and after a coffee we drove to the Dalene Matthee Memorial and Big Tree in the Milkwood Knysna Forest. Their long term plan is to create biodiversity corridors that link the Garden Route National Park, the Baviaans Mega Reserve and the Addo Elephant National Park together. This is a 400 km mega hike that starts in the Harkerville Forest on the coast and ends 18 days later at Addo Elephant National Park. The fact that the hike was to raise awareness regarding biodiversity and the establishment of correct land use practices was a major reason why I signed on.
Alien vegetation and bad land use practices often cause a barrier that some birds, insects and animals won’t cross.
Over the 18 days we walked through 5 different plant biomes – Afromontane Forest, Fynbos, Succulent Karoo, Savanna Grassland and Namib Karoo. Each day we walked from camp after a hearty breakfast at 08H00 after doing some warm up exercises. I’m already eagerly looking forward to next years hike and highly recommend it to all nature lovers and walkers. Whilst the crew placed the cage alongside the boat and chummed the water we were informed step by step what was happening and how we were going to get into the cage once a shark was sighted.
From the top of the boat on a viewing deck you could clearly see the shark gliding around the boat with the distinctive dorsal fin breaking the oceans surface.
As the shark glides towards the bait the rope is slowly pulled in towards the cage just out of the sharks reach so it follows it right up to the front of the cage. Looking into it’s pitch black eye and watching it glide past with rows of teeth showing was exhilarating and a massive adrenalin rush.
At the headquarters we had a refreshing shower, bowl of soup and watched the DVD of our trip.
At the moment sharks are heavily threatened due to the trade in Shark jawbones with their rows upon rows of teeth showing and also the trade in shark fins for shark fin soup. If you don’t feel up to getting in the water with the sharks in a cage you can also have amazing viewing from the boat itself. You also have the opportunity of seeing over 140 bird species, Cape Clawless Otter, Water Mongoose, Caracal, Bushpig, Grey Duiker and Grysbok.
Scientists have proven that rhino horn has no medical value as a medicine and won’t cure illnesses like Aids and cancer. In the meantime it is up to the hero’s of the conservation world to fight poaching on the ground and to protect our rhinos.

It is a war with the Government, the army, NGOs, private reserves, rangers, guides and everyday folk getting involved to combat the poaching. At this rate the amount of rhinos being poached is starting to affect the population numbers with the deaths overtaking the births. This year they are raising money through 3 mountain biking events with the funds raised going to the save The Rhino Trust, who protect the largest free ranging population of black rhinos outside of national parks in the world, and the Wildlife ACT Trust, who will use the funds for monitoring of rhinos and also the development and implementation of new technologies for rhino anti poaching. This year, we have decided to expand our fundraising by running multiple challenges and it has therefore been decided that Challenge4aCause should be managed as its own entity.
In 2011 we are running three mountain biking events in some of Africa’s most breathtaking landscapes. The Good Work Foundation will use the funds to promote the education of disadvantaged individuals in rural areas. In the morning after coffee and breakfast we looked out over the Waterfront to a massive dark cloud hiding Table Mountain from sight. After a superb breakfast we drove along the N2 through Port Elizabeth, past Grahamstown to andBeyond Kwandwe Private Reserve.
I was extremely lucky to be invited to help on this years hike as a learner guide with a view to guide and help lead future hikes. This leads to a decrease in biodiversity in an area as gene pools get smaller due to the lack of movement of animals, birds, insects and plants into the area from other regions. All we had to carry each day was a small backpack with our lunch, water and wet weather gear.
Yes I had watched the infamous Jaws as a youngster and so was both nervous and excited to meet one of the oceans top predators. Just like been on a safari there is no guarantee that we would see a Great White Shark as they are nomadic and not territorial. I was enthralled watching this streamlined powerful ocean predator slowly and peacefully swim circles around the boat. You then lower yourself into the cage and once in position take a breath and lower yourself underwater to view the sharks as they glide around the cage. You get to spend about 20 minutes in the cage before the next group has a go so everyone who wants to dive gets to experience viewing the sharks under water. These 2 industries lead to the deaths of about 100 million sharks ever year across the worlds oceans.
If you would like to get involved in helping to save Africa’s rhinos check out Challenge4aCause and the below blog posts.
This means that if the rhino poaching continues we are facing another dire situation like the 70’s with our rhino populations facing extinction. Rhino Africa remains an integral part of Challenge4aCause and supports Challenge4aCause through marketing, participation and donations.
We had planned on starting our morning adventure with a ride up the Cable Car to get an eagle eye view of the city and surroundings. The meeting point of the cold Atlantic Ocean Benguela Current and the warm Agulhas Current of the Indian Ocean fluctuates between the Cape Point and Cape Agulhas. We had time for a short walk in the forest and heard the haunting call of the Narina Trogon. Here I said my goodbyes to Miri and Tal and left them to enjoy 3 nights of safari at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge before they headed home to Israel.
Biodiversity Corridors conserve viable populations of threatened and endemic species and cover enough of an area to sustain natural processes such as Carbon and nutrient cycling, seed dispersal, pollination and water cycles. What I really enjoyed about the structure of the hike was that each day we had a contemplation to think about and then we would walk in silence for about 1 hour. As we cruised out to the Straits of Dyer Island about 20 minutes from Gansbaai I thought on all I knew about sharks and realised that it was mostly information I had gleaned from the news and in one or two wildlife documentaries. The sharks cruise into the area attracted by the 20 – 30 000 Cape Fur Seals that reside on Geyser Rock opposite Dyer Island. We were extremely fortunate and had 4 different White Sharks come and investigate the boat and cage. White Shark Projects has volunteers that help the crew collect data on the approximate length and sex of the sharks that they see each day. They ask guests to help with recycling and have a vegetable garden which guests can pick vegetables and herbs from. With the dark clouds this was not possible so we changed plans and headed out to Boulders Beach to see the African Penguins. We crossed mountain ranges, rivers, fences and enjoyed some of the most splendid views and vistas each day.
The contemplations worked with the terrain we walked through and it was great food for thought. They also take photographs of the sharks dorsal fins which is used to compile an identity kit of the sharks that they see.
Each night as we sat around the camp fire enjoying dinner we would discuss the day, what we liked and didn’t like and our thoughts on the contemplation. The experience that followed was completely different to my expectations and changed my perception of sharks.
With the massive wholesale slaughter of sharks worldwide we will eventually lose viable breeding populations of these apex predators.
On our 3 hour boat cruise we saw a Great White Shark, a Humpback Dolphin, at least 8 Southern Right Whales, thousands of Cape Fur Seals and a great array of pelagic bird life.

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