First and foremost, we’d like to wish safety and good health to all of our clients, future guests, suppliers and colleagues during these trying times.
We’re under strict lockdown, but not for long
The year started with such hope – good summer rains and great sightings – only to be blindsided by COVID-19, which disrupted the season, literally overnight. At present, Welgevonden Game Reserve is under a strict lockdown. No visitors are permitted to access the reserve and game drives have been put on hold until the lockdown restrictions relax.
The South African government has implemented a phase-out procedure in which the country will gradually move out of lockdown and back to ‘normal life’. We expect game drives to be allowed either later this month or in June, and that travel will follow shortly after.
Life at Wild Ivory lodge during lockdown
We are privileged to be on
lockdown at the lodge; it’s hard to compete with the spectacular view and
endless space. It’s given us the opportunity to slowdown, take in the surrounding
wilderness and enjoy the regular animal visits. In fact, all
around the world, people are celebrating how Covid-19 has given nature a rare
window of opportunity to ‘bounce back’, reminding us all of the delicate
balance of natural systems and how important it is to protect them.
There's an elephant on my stoep!
We’ve had some really special sightings at the lodge. The elephants visit often and we’ve had up to 50 of them sharing the lodge area and drinking from both the local waterhole and the swimming pool! We’ve even had some relaxed bulls walking over the patio in front of the lodge to access the sparkling water in the pool.
Guests are often surprised by how relaxed the elephants are, especially as they can be less so when approached by a vehicle on game drive. The reason is quite simple. Elephants have an excellent sense of smell, which means that they are completely aware that they are approaching an inhabited area when making their way to the lodge. They expect to see people, so they’re not surprised when they do.
This doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t be cautious when they are
around. It’s better to view these curious creatures from the safety of a tent
or the lodge. Respect their space and they will respect you. We’re lucky to
have had so many elephant visits, and it’s incredibly special to share our
lodge with these grey giants.
Regular predator 'pop-ins'
Our local female Cheetah has visited the lodge waterhole a few times. It’s one of her favourite hunting grounds. Late last year, we were fortunate to witness a cheetah kill right in front of the lodge!
At night, the bush comes to life. Black backed jackals howl into the darkness, lions are heard roaring in the distance, and night jars and owls fill the air with their comforting calls. It’s also the time of day that the nocturnal predators come out to prowl.
One evening, a herd of zebra nearby were noisy and unsettled. We heard them stampeding and calling, moving restlessly from one point to another, and we knew that there had to be a predator nearby. The next morning, just as the sun started to appear from behind the horizon, we heard the distress call of an impala. We knew an animal must have been hunted during the night, so we hopped into the game vehicle to investigate.
We didn’t get very far – a clan of spotted hyaena were waiting for us on our access road! The matriarch had taken down an impala and was taking it back to the nearby den to feed her pups. The clan disappeared into the thicket, but while we lost sight of the clan, we could hear the unique and interesting vocalisations of the pups as they joined the feeding frenzy. It was amazing to experience how raw nature could be, and from so close.
We'll see you soon!
We are missing our guests and the opportunity to share Wild Ivory with you, but are sure that we’ll be seeing you in no time!
Greetings - The Wild Ivory Team