Reserve Activities - December 2023

It has been a wet and wonderful month at Ingwelala. We had a busy and productive month celebrating the holiday season with you all.

The rains came in beautifully, the temperatures cooled down over the month, and Ingwelala was buzzing with the spirit of the Festive season!

With summer here, we celebrated the last month of 2023 in style - the pool was a hub of activity, the sightings were off the charts and the atmosphere was captivating. We also enjoyed an elephant talk, a game drive for the staff children and a fabulous New Year’s Party celebrating Ingwelala’s 40th Anniversary!

The bush is looking lovely and green, and our Fire Danger Index has been hovering around “Safe” for the month thanks to the rainfall being high and spread out over the month.



Lowest Temp: 15.2°C (Avg: 20.5°C)
Highest Temp: 40.0°C (Avg: 31.1°C)


Rainfall for the month: 135.6mm
(Avg: 89.2mm)


Projects of the month:

Our main focus areas were:

  • Road, crossing and airstrip maintenance as usual
  • Fence monitoring/maintenance around camp and the apron
  • Reserve monitoring and mapping - introducing EarthRanger
  • Camera trap research continued
  • Site, boma and hide upkeep and maintenance, including replacing damaged benches and the introduction of a new picnic site on Cliff Loop, Op Goedehoop.
  • Opening of the upgraded entrance gate
  • Clearing and neatening of causeways and servitudes
  • Staff children enjoyed a Game Drive on Buffelsbed for Christmas
  • Neatening and upgrades at the main garden at reception are well underway
  • Environmental Awareness and Informational Talks
  • New Year’s Party!
  • Gate maintenance and Incident Reporting/Monitoring


Our Month Expanded:

We enjoyed an interesting talk by Dr Michelle Henley from Elephants Alive! on elephant conservation and research, and how elephant-human conflict is being resolved in different regions of Africa.

A key area of focus in their research has been finding ways to reduce conflict and crop raiding using methods that can also generate income for local communities at the same time, and allow for a safer space for both animals and people.

A great example of this is using beehives to deter elephants, and then using the natural wax and honey from the hives to boost income by making sellable products out of them.

Dr Henley also discussed habitat and large tree protection, and the positive impact elephants have on smaller animals by shaping the habitat.

She also explained how the distribution and density of water sources affects local elephant movements across Southern Africa, which in turn has a long-term effect on habitat and tree damage.

The talk was incredibly interesting, with great member involvement and questions. We thank her for coming to Ingwelala and sharing her incredible knowledge and results with us, and thank you to the Members who attended.


On the smaller animal scale, we had a rescue of a fruit bat from the swimming pool. Thank you to Gladman Mathebula for retrieving it safely, and to Christine Wagner for rehabilitating and releasing it.

We have also had quite a few snake call-outs this month, with the species relocated including multiple Black Mambas and Mozambique Spitting Cobras, along with various others.

It is the perfect season for snakes to be out and about, so please be mindful of this, and if you need assistance feel free to call Conservation or Reception on the radio!

The image shows a large Mozambique Spitting Cobra removed from the waste area by Christine Wagner and Tessa Woollgar.


The fence at Ingwelala Camp has had some more intensive maintenance and brush clearing this month, with multiple sections of the fence needing new bobbins and various other parts to keep it running smoothly.

This is natural degradation that occurs over time, so this is considered routine maintenance on a slightly larger scale. Grass and plants growing around the fence are being trimmed back, and the main causeway and servitude was cleared.

In a surprise turn of events, a small breeding herd of 6 elephants, followed by 1 lone bull, managed to get into camp while the fence was undergoing maintenance. Damage to the fence was minimal, breaking only one strand on a roughly 5m stretch of the fence and uprooting one steel dropper.

This was fixed immediately after the elephants had been safely encouraged out of camp, without any further damage. This is the first incident of elephants in camp in roughly 2 years - they knew the electric fence was switched off and took their chance!


Improvements at the main garden are well underway, including the introduction of a new pathway from the parking area to the lawn and swimming pool.

The garden beds and other main areas are also being added to, little by little, and we are excited to see where this takes us in the future. Keep an eye on this - there will be a lot more to come!

Some 50+ staff children of all ages enjoyed a morning out in the bush with us as we took them on a Game Drive for Christmas. We got to enjoy the animals with them, and spent some time showing them the gorgeous sites on Buffelsbed, Beacon Boma, the Platform and Buffels Hide. The children enjoyed snack packs and juices as they went. We had a great morning getting to know everyone, and enjoying the excitement of the day!

Special thanks to John for organising, and to Nelson, Gladman, Ruan, Christine, Josh and Tessa for taking them out for their morning of adventure in the bush! For privacy reasons, we will not be adding images of the children to the newsletter or website.


New Picnic Site

Exciting news... we have set up a new picnic site on Op Goedehoop! This bench replaces the bench that was previously at Confluence View, which washed away.

Instead of putting the bench back in the same vulnerable position, we found a new spot on Cliff Loop that promises beautiful views of the Hammerkop river and the gorgeous rock face on the opposite bank.

We hope you will enjoy many a stop at this new spot, and that you still pay a visit to Confluence View every now and then too!


New Entrance Gate

We are incredibly happy to have our new entrance open and functioning!

It underwent an upgrade towards the end of 2023, and with the exception of some final finishing touches that still need to be done, it is looking fantastic.

Well done to the team for the hard work and effort that went into making this a possibility.


New Year’s Bash

We had a brilliant evening bringing in the New Year in 80's style, celebrating Ingwelala’s 40th Anniversary!

The pool area was decorated beautifully, and attendance was spectacular. Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate the end of 2023 and the start of a wonderful 2024.

A big thanks to the Ingwelala team for organizing the event and decorating the venue so beautifully. Also, a big thanks to the Yum Factory for absolutely exceptional food throughout the evening, and DJ Henry Crabb for keeping everyone dancing until the early hours of the morning.

We hope everyone had a blast! We know we did.

Cheers to a successful 2023, and here’s to a prosperous 2024 together! 


When to use 4X4 in the Bush

This one is for the Land Rover drivers only... just kidding!

4x4 is crucial when you are driving in the bush. When you are on game drive, using 4x4 allows you to conquer rocky roads, river crossings, deep sand or steep slopes with ease... all while saving the longevity of your vehicle, the safety of those on board and keeping the integrity of the landscape we get to drive around in. It has been scientifically proven that engaging 4x4 reduces damage to the soil significantly - especially when it comes to slopes and river crossings!

If you’re on dirt roads, slippery sand, a steep slope or driving in wet conditions, use 4x4 High - this will reduce wheel spin, create more traction and allow a much easier and smoother climb, especially on those steep rocky roads and river crossings. If you’re in thick sand, mud, or on very tricky/rocky spots (especially for long distances down or uphill), use 4x4 Low - this will give you enough slow pull and power to avoid a deep and sticky situation, keeping it slow and steady!

Please keep this in mind as you explore the wonders of Ingwelala - keep yourself safe and help us keep the roads and river crossings smoother and safer for longer!


Incident Reports

We have had multiple incidents this month. This included 5 gates being damaged, an impala lamb that was struck by a vehicle, and multiple stone signposts that were knocked over in camp.

Of the incidents recorded this month, there were a good few which were not reported by the Members who caused the damage, but rather by other members passing by and noticing the damage later. Two incidents stood out - the Impala lamb that was hit by a vehicle, and severe damage to Argyle Gate. Both required immediate action, but neither were reported to us on occurrence. The impala lamb was alive but unable to move and had to be humanely euthanised once discovered later. Argyle Gate and the motor were seriously damaged and stayed open, which is both a safety risk and can cause extended damage to the motor from being stuck open.

Please remember to report any incidents immediately - either on the radio, at Reception, or with the Gate Guard on duty. There is an Incident Report Form to be filled in when reporting. Reporting incidents to us helps us manage them as quickly as possible and reduce any potential health and safety risks without delay.

Please note that if you report the incident, you will only be liable for the cost of damages. If you fail to report an incident and are found to be the guilty party, a fine may be issued and further action may be taken on top of the cost of damages. Thank you.


Our Staff Member of the Month

This month our superhero of the team is Difference Mokoena.
Difference is a jack-of-all-trades and always has the biggest smile on his face, and laugh in his voice!

He is our go-to person for anything and everything, and he is well-known as the jokester in the Conservation Team.

This month he has transformed gardens, fences, management spaces and even chose our new picnic site on Op Goedehoop!

Thank you, Difference!



Words by Tess Woollgar, images by Josh Hibbett.


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