Category Archives: Nature Conservation

TWT sponsors another residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School

This year, The Waterberg Trust enabled 59 students and two teachers from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa about 3 hours due north of Pretoria.

The group travelled north into the Africa bush on a bus also funded by TWT so that no one was excluded by the cost of transport.

Since other pupils from Meetsetshehla had been on the environmental course on previous years, everyone was expectant, eager to grasp the opportunity to learn about ecology and nature conservation.

After a course on snakes and the value of all creatures in balanced eco-systems there was a module on plastic pollution and re-cycling.  Everyone learned how they can make a difference and improve the environment, allowing wildlife to thrive.

Students donned life-jackets to examine aquatic organisms and try swimming in the Palala River, which runs in front of the eco-school.

This was a new experience for most and proved an opportunity to learn about physics.

Teamwork proved essential when constructing a raft and negotiating the river.

Leadership training has always been recognised as an important life-skill at Lapalala Wilderness. It will be interesting to see if any of these young people take up a career in wildlife conservation or management of natural resources.

Learners were set a number of different challenges during the course of the week.

There were a range of outdoor activities that tested pupils in a variety of ways.

The obstacle course in the African bush was enjoyed by one and all

including the teachers accompanying the teenagers who found themselves wearing many hats.

It proved an unforgettable, life-changing experience. To read more about previous visits to Laplala Wilderness School, funded by TWT and watch a short film, please click here.

If you would like to sponsor children of the Waterberg to go on a 5 day residential course at Lapalala Wilderness, please contact us using the comments blow or find details here.

Highlights of The 5th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, 2019

Skies looked threatening at the start of The 5th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride but the game viewing was excellent with herds of zebra and antelope enjoying lush grass.

The ride was hosted by Ant’s Nest who had prepared some of their best horses for what proved to be a 208 kilometre marathon.

Since Ant’s horses usually graze in the bush we were able to get exceptionally close wildlife while riding around the property.

Riders were able to observe rare breeds such as Livingstone eland and sable antelope.

We made our way up to Ant’s Hill in search of rhino, finding the dominant male.

Jessica Babich of Save The Waterberg Rhino gave riders a talk on how funds raised by TWT are being used to install high-tech security equipment to combat poaching.

Early on 31st January, everyone was ready to cross the Waterberg, heading north towards the Palala River.

The horses wore head-collars, lead ropes and long-distance saddles for the journey.

Ant Baber led the team of twelve ladies who soon found themselves passing one of his breeding herds of Cape buffalo.

After pausing to take photos we rode through neighbouring game reserves, crossing wide open plains where wildebeest and blesbok roam.

Lunch was taken at the Waterberg Living Museum, established by Clive Walker and his son Anton Walker, who showed us around. They have a room dedicated to information on rhinos and the poaching situation.

The Waterberg Trust has donated picnic tables, benches and information boards to this centre of environmental education created for local schoolchildren and visitors.

We rode on, spotting giraffe, impala, blesbok and golden wildebeest as we made our way

through another reserve to spend the night at Waterberg Cottages on Triple B Ranch.

It is home for the Baber family who began rearing cattle in the Waterberg in the 1880’s.

There was a solar-heated pool to relax sore muscles and reviving ginger drinks for all.

Dinner was served on the veranda of the farmhouse built by Ant’s grandfather in 1928.

The next morning, we rode through the lovely old traditional Transvaal farm, passing herds of Bonsmara stud cattle.

Summer rain had filled some of the twenty-two dams built by Ant’s father.

We cantered down through woodland, where baboons could be heard barking, and stopped for breakfast at Horizon Horseback Safaris where hippo were in residence.

After crossing plains inhabited by ostrich, we reached another lake on the Melkrivier.

Egyptian geese,  African fish eagle and rare spur-winged geese flew up as we passed by.

We crossed through an old cattle farm and cantered along red roads to Lindani game reserve where we stopped for lunch at a dam where crocodile are known to flourish.

Everyone was pretty tired but after a relaxed lunch, when we could rest the horses, we rode into more hilly country.

Lindani game reserve has a high population of giraffe, warthog and other plains game.

Two nights were spent at Motseng Lodge where the horses enjoyed excellent grazing.

This enabled us to pay a visit to Lapalala Wilderness School where we met a python and

enjoyed a game drive on Lapalala Wilderness before exploring a remote corner of Lindani on horseback.

Crossing reed-choked stream beds could be challenging but the horses were brave.

One of the highlights of the ride was reaching the crest of the Buffleshoek escarpment.

After coming across giraffe, we dismounted to descend through thick vegetation for a couple of miles.

It was difficult to believe we had brought thirteen horses down the towering cliff face.

After perhaps the greatest of many long canters up the sandy tracks of the Waterberg

the riders made it to Jembisa game reserve where, after following oryx though seringa woodland,

the team was greeted by chilled champagne set out under a tree.

Our goal had been reached, the ride had ended. Most riders had spent a total of 38 hours in the saddle over 7 days: quite an achievement.

~Photographs by Ant Baber who led The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2019~

The next day, riders were able to visit Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding where we met children who had benefited from TWT’s grant to the ‘Back to School’ project and handed over a donation of sports clothes and underwear for Nurse Grace to distribute. She updated us on how successful Dignity Dreams sanitary packs were proving by enabling schoolgirls to remain in lessons whilst they have their periods.

TWT Trustees saw some of the 24 security camera erected to combat rhino poaching in the Waterberg and discussed plans to install more of these effective deterrents.

Very many thanks to Ant’s Nest and Jembisa who hosted the ride and enabled so many of us to visit community projects in the Waterberg.

The 5th Waterberg Trust Ride proves a great success!

~The 5th Waterberg Trust Ride reaches Jembisa on the Palala River on 2nd February 2019~

12 TWT supporters rode across  7 different game reserves in 6 days covering 208 kilometres to raise funds for Save The Waterberg Rhino and community projects that uplift young people in this corner of rural South Africa.

If you would like to add a donation, however small, please click here for TWT’s Justgiving page 

With many thanks to Ant Baber who led the ride, all those at Ant’s Nest, Waterberg Cottages, Lindani and Jembisa Private Game Reserve where the expedition ended with a full gallop down the airfield.

~Thirteen tired riders completing the 208 km ride across the Waterberg in South Africa~

 

 

Up-date on TWT’s support for Save The Waterberg Rhino

~White rhino, their horns micro-chipped and saturated in poison, are under 24-hour armed guard~
The Chairman of The Waterberg Trust  reports, ‘Having just returned from the Waterberg, I can confirm that the The Waterberg Trust security container is being used by the Waterberg Security Initative at the Living Museum.’
~Some of the WSI rangers~
‘We met one of the guards there and saw how the container is used as a staging post for security patrols.’ These run through the night. This security container was bought with funds raised on The 2016 Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride.

~A patrol vehicle outside a security container purchased with funds raised by TWT riders~

As a result of funds raised on the The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2017 and a dinner held at Southill Park by kind invitation of the Whitbreads in November 2017, a significant grant was made to Save the Waterberg Rhino for the installation of LPR cameras to cover what is know as the Dorset/Palala/Melkrivier security cluster. This includes all the reserves traversed this Janaury on The 2019 Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride.

The cluster will be run by the Waterberg Security Initiative (WSI) who are responsible for utilising the sophisticated software that highlights any suspicious activity. It records evidence and prompts security patrols to apprehend potential criminals.

The increased level of security will not only help in the fight against rhino poaching but also combats other crime in the Waterberg.

~Substantial posts being planted on which LPR cameras are mounted in the Waterberg~
The License Plate Recognition cameras purchased with a substantial grant from The Waterberg Trust are all installed and are live. They use highly sophisticated technology, operating 24/7 to monitor vehicles in the area.  Cameras in the neighbouring Greater Marakele Cluster are also being installed and should be live next week, thanks to a grant from TUSK.
Since The Waterberg Trust is a UK registered charity we can apply for grants in the UK, accept CAF cheques and add Gift Aid to maximise donations to Save The Waterberg Rhino. If you would like to help financially, please click here.
If you would like to get involved and support TWT in other ways, please contact us in the comments, below. To read more about Save The Waterberg Rhino, please click here. 
Save The Waterberg Rhino

Highlights of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

Ant Baber led the fourth Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, taking a new route across the Waterberg Plateau from Ant’s Nest to Jembisa on the Palala River to the north, covering 187kms on horseback over six days and crossing seven different game reserves.

Team members from the UK and Bermuda had been busy raising sponsorship, 50% of funds going to Save The Waterberg Rhino and 50% to community projects that uplift the people and place of the Waterberg in the Limpopo Province of South Africa

White rhino on Ant's Nest

While we had excellent game viewing, we also enjoyed very good food.

Meals were served in a variety of different settings, enabling the team to get to know each other and have time to chat to guides and directors of the game reserve. It was a true safari, in that we went on a journey through the African bush.

Coming across wild animals made our spirits soar.

We were able to get unusually close both on foot and on horseback.

What the animals thought can only be guessed.

But the riders wrote to say how amazing it was. ‘I think you have a winning formula as the riding is wonderful but all the extra experiences such as the school, youth club, church and visiting Clive Walker, enriched it and made it a truly unique experience and insight into the Waterberg.’

On the second day we had a real life adventure, helping the local vet.

‘It was a truly memorable adventure’

The horses were used to approaching wildlife as they graze with other animals in the bush.

It was high summer in South Africa so the afternoons could get hot and tiring

and the road was sometimes steep

but each day was full of variety

and we developed a huge sense of camaraderie.

‘…it was just pure fun and I felt so carefree’

We each had time to develop a relationship with our horse.

While the herd enjoyed the grazing we loved finding out about the projects supported by The Waterberg Trust.

It was a privilege to meet the local people.

These included exceptional women changing the lives of children.

‘Apart from the riding, we so enjoyed seeing all that The Waterberg Trust supports. There are some incredible people involved.’

We met the conservationist Clive Walker and learned of  what he had achieved for the UNESCO Biosphere and good to hear his new plans for the Waterberg Living Museum.

It was a privilege to be able to watch wild animals from horseback.

The landscape was ever-changing.

After five days in the saddle we reached the Palala River without mishap and thanks to the teams at Ant’s Nest and Jembisa, we were able celebrated the finish in style.

‘It really was a very special trip and a challenge at that.’

Special thanks go to Ant Baber and his family for looking after us and enabling us to ride across the land of their forefathers and beyond.

It was ‘a really amazing experience’.

The horses needed a good rest and the riders were tired but everyone agreed that it had been an incredible week of exploration.

60 pupils from Leseding sent to Lapalala Wilderness by The Waterberg Trust

In February 2018, The Waterberg Trust enabled 60 local teenagers from Leseding Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course on environmental awareness at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

The students were given a grounding in nature conservation and experienced the beauty and importance of South African wildlife.

This python was very much alive as was the chameleon that the young people also handled.

27858732_1LWS wildlife 2

The idea was to take away fear of culturally reviled animals and teach students how to handle reptiles and creepy crawlies they might encounter. When they return to the township of Leseding, the teenagers are given a mentor who they can text if they find a snake in the house or hear of worrying wildlife issues.

Everyone enjoyed the obstacle course in the African bush and learnt how to use maps in a wilderness situation.

One day they donned PFD life-jackets to experience what it would be like to swim in the Palala River. It was a great way to cool off after a hot day in the African bush.

One exercise was to build a raft and get out on the water, which was an eye-opener for many. Mr Mashudu Makhokha, Director of Lapalala Wilderness School said, ‘Raft building is one of the activities that enhance teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.’

The pupils also studied wildlife in the river system and learnt more about water. They  learnt to identify various kinds of aquatic animals – and the basics of how to use SASS (South African Scoring System) – which uses the presence/absence of a variety of freshwater macroinvertebrates to gauge the health of riverine ecosystem.’

Co-operation, team-building and leadership training were important parts of the course. ‘Students discovered that good teamwork is essential.’

However, recycling, eco-systems, the environment and the significance of South African wildlife was at the core of this inspirational week that ties in with the school curriculum and gives the teenagers a grounding for life.

You can see the students here on an interpretive hike that gave them an opportunity to learn basic ecology and gain a changed attitude towards biodiversity.

Could you help raise funds to enable more local children to go on this residential course? It only costs R380 per person a day (about £24) so is exceptionally good value. All food and dormitory accommodation is included. The Waterberg Trust like to provide the cost of transport from the township of Leseding, to ensure that no one is excluded for economic reasons.

Thanks go to those who took part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017, who raised enough money for these 60 pupils and two of their teachers to enjoy this life-changing opportunity. Hopefully some of these young people will consider a career in nature conservation, tourism or teaching in the Waterberg.

Trustees of The Waterberg Trust took TWT Riders to Lapalala Wilderness School in January, when they enjoyed meeting the staff and learning about new projects.

TWT Riders 2018 learing about community projects in the Waterberg

You can read more about Lapalala Wilderness School here and watch this video made for their 30th Anniversary. It’s fun:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:  Lapalala Wilderness School is immensely grateful for the assistance that The Waterberg  Trust has given. This support has enabled 60 children and two adults to attend an environmental education course in 2018. We hope that with ongoing support from TWT, we can continue to bring young people to LWS and awaken in them a love for the environment and a commitment to conserving it.

Day 2 of The Waterberg Trust challenge Ride 2018

 

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The Waterberg Plateau rises to about 1,400 metres on Ant’ Hill: 4,500 feet above sea level. We covered some distance that morning, climbing an escarpment and riding across the game reserve as the sun beat down.

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Although we had encountered a number of waterholes it was only when we reached the highest dam at noon that we took the chance to swim the horses.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 2 - Viv swimming her horse

They loved being able to cool down and play in the water.

As we rode bareback , staying on board wasn’t as easy as you might imagine.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 2 - Lizzie swimming her horse

Later that day, when back in the saddle, we came across a herd of Livingstone eland that hadn’t been seen for some time. One of the cows was badly in need of veterinary treatment.

TWT Ride 2018 - Ant Baber

Ant Baber called in a helicopter to collect his game vet, Paul, and asked the riders if they would volunteer to help by following the eland once it had been darted with anesthetic.

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The riders and horses came into their own, cantering through dense bush after the herd of large antelope while the helicopter was buzzing overhead.TWT Ride 2018 DAy 2 - Helicopter and Game Vet

The vet was able to land in a clearing as one of the guides caught the female eland by the horns and calmed her with a mask before she received treatment to her wounded rear-end.

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It was exciting to take part in the game capture and to be able to observe the procedure. The wound was caused by a tick infestation that had become critical. It would not have healed naturally.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 2 - MC on her horse with game vet team.jpg

The wound was dressed and the cow  given anti-biotics, de-wormed and sprayed with insect repellent to increase her chances of survival, before being released back into her herd.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 2 - eland after vetinary treatment

While the helicopter and vet were on hand, Ant decided to capture the eland bull and translocate him to another breeding herd as it is important to introduce fresh genes.

TWT Ride 2018 - DAY 2 riders help translocate an eland bull.jpg

The riders were needed to help carry the anesthetized bull into the truck, which would transport him into a neighbouring area. Although sprayed for ticks, he was in excellent condition.

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Although cantering some of the way, it was dark by the time the riders returned to the lodge when they still had to pack for the days ahead. The plan was to rise early and ride out of the reserve and across the Waterberg, heading north-west towards the Palala River.

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You can get a feel for what it’s like to ride at speed through the African bush in this video: