Reserve Activities - April 2024

We hope your month of April was as fabulous as ours!

We had a productive and busy month getting everything ready for the dry season and starting on some big and exciting projects for the rest of the year, including veld rehabilitation and an upgrade to the recycling/waste area. All Umbabat PNR staff also enjoyed some training, hosted at Ingwelala.

With a lot of rainfall in the first 2 weeks of the month – almost more, in fact, than the rainfall for the whole of March - we enjoyed seeing the shades of green and spots of flowers again. Sightings were quite varied, with 4 cheetah sightings recorded for the month. What a treat!

The bush is thinning out despite the green shades returning briefly, and our Fire Danger Index bounced between “Moderate” and “Dangerous” levels, where we are now.



Lowest Temp: 9.5°C (Avg: 16.7°C)
Highest Temp: 36.8°C (Avg: 29.9°C)


Rainfall for the month: 25.6mm
(Avg: 26.8mm)


Projects of the month:

Our main focus areas were:

  • Recycling/waste area clearing and beginning construction for upgraded space
  • Neatening at the Garden of Remembrance
  • Staff upskilling: Financial Literacy Training for all staff
  • Argyle Boma deconstruction and a start on reconstruction
  • Temporary fix at Combretum/Third Crossing
  • New Sightings Book format: trying something different for monitoring purposes
  • Removing trees and obstacles from the roads
  • Water Conservation Sightings monitoring, as usual
  • Continued upgrades in the main garden at reception
  • General road, airstrip, and farm maintenance, as usual
  • Electric fence maintenance, as usual

Our Month Expanded:

Recycling Area Upgrade

We have been planning a re-build and modernisation of the recycling/waste area, and this month we have started getting this underway.

You may have noticed that we have cleared the dead tree and the Euphorbia’s away from the outside, and that there is a new foundation being sunk this month! We are really excited to get this project underway, and we hope that the new recycling area will be neater, more functional and easier to use.

The original structure will be removed once a larger structure has been built around the existing space, with an upgraded drainage system and better roofing. The interior will then be completed. We hope everyone will enjoy the new space!

We hope this will be completed in May. Watch this space for the completed structure soon!

Chameleon Builders hard at work at the new recycling area


Garden of Remembrance

The Garden of Remembrance is an incredibly special place to many, and we know how peaceful of a place it is to visit and spend time.

The Garden needed a bit of a tidy-up, which we had originally planned to do in March with our Conservation Work Party. We moved it to April instead and made sure to spend plenty of time making it look beautiful again.

We are so pleased with how it is looking, and we will make every effort to make sure this space stays neat, clean, and peaceful for all who visit.





Combretum Crossing

The Conservation Team has been hard at work on the roads and river crossings making them more durable and comfortable, but Combretum Crossing has posed us quite a challenge. Being such a steep and rocky crossing, our usual methods have not worked particularly well, and as a result we will potentially have to implement more long-term methods both here and at a few others in the future, including Wahlberg’s Crossing.

In the meantime, we have managed to smoothen the steep crossing on the eastern bank by manually removing the larger rocks with the tractor and smoothing out the surface with the grader and tyre. It will also be rolled/compacted. We know it’s not perfect yet, but it is better than it was. We are hopeful that a longer-term solution will be implemented soon for everyone’s comfort, but we are very grateful for everyone’s patience as we plan to fix it properly. As a reminder, please use 4x4 when using the river crossings to help preserve them!




Obstacles in the Road

The Conservation Team has had multiple callouts this month for trees pushed over the roads by elephants. This included a big Marula pushed over on Wild Dog Way, a Bushwillow branch on the dam wall at Main Rd Dam, and a dead Mopani at Treehouse Pan Hide. We also noticed multiple areas where branches or roots were pulled into the roads, which we also removed.

We try our best to get to them as quickly as possible, but it helps us immensely when people report these obstacles to us. Thank you to those who have reported them and allowed us to remove them with minimal impact to the environment. We are out removing these things as much as possible anyway, but we cannot cover all areas of the reserve every week, so the most reliable way of us knowing there is an obstacle to remove is through you reporting it timeously.

Unfortunately, multiple of these situations have not been reported to us at all, or sometimes only days later (including the Marula on Wild Dog Way, which we estimate was down for a few days), which results in people off-roading around the obstacles and causing immense damage to the soil and vegetation on the side of the roads. Worse still, some of these obstacles could easily be moved out of the way, and people have chosen to drive around them instead of just removing the smaller obstacle themselves. Off-roading around obstacles widens the tracks dedicated for vehicular use, and while we understand that this sometimes unavoidable, it can and should be avoided whenever possible. If you can remove a small obstacle yourself, please do.

Did you know that up to 95% of the damage caused by off-roading is caused on the first instance or impact? This is dependent on soil types, tyre width, vehicle weight, etc. but most of the damage is done from the first vehicle that off-roads around an obstacle. This compacts the soil, removing air and water pockets, making it very difficult for plants to grow and making the soil more susceptible to erosion. This is incredibly difficult to undo or repair and cannot ever be fully rehabilitated. It also increases our ecological footprint as all these incidents add up.

Please assist us as best you can by reporting obstacles or trees as accurately and as quickly as possible, and by removing smaller obstacles that you are able to remove, without off-roading around them. This is as much our responsibility as it is yours!

You can report to Reception, the Conservation team, or the Gate Guard on duty. Thank you.

A branch on the road, with vehicle swerving and off-roading tracks highlighted around the side


Our Staff Member of the Month

This month our superhero of the team is John Makhubela.

John is the wizard of all things Maintenance, and he was the hardest worker at Argyle Boma, assisting us with breaking the structure down and building the new one in its place.

Thank you, John, for always having a smile on your face, working extra hard and making a massive difference at Ingwelala.


Snippets from the Conservation Team

Thank you all for the positive feedback on the new Reserve Report! We’ve added a “Food for Thought” section for more broad-based conservation interests that we hope you’ll enjoy.

Some projects to look forward to from our team in the upcoming months:

  • Annual firebreak preparation around all infrastructure
  • Tree wrapping
  • Veld Rehabilitation (thinning out the encroached areas)
  • Maintenance to river crossings
  • Upgrades to some of the bomas, hides and sites
  • Bush walks (starting in winter)
  • Continued invasive plant control
  • Maps from EarthRanger in upcoming reports

A while ago we shared a free online course about scorpion stings and scorpion awareness. This course is still available online, if you’d like to give it a go.

The creator of the course, Jonathan Leeming, has a new book called Essential Scorpion Sting First Response, which is now available and which we will shortly have some copies of on site.

This book focuses upon how to reduce the chance of being stung by a scorpion, and how to ensure the best possible outcome for scorpion stings in humans and animals.

Scorpion awareness in this area is important - you can find information about the new book here.





Words by Tess Woollgar. Images courtesy of Tess Woollgar, Josh Hibbett and Don Bowden


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