Category Archives: Nature Conservation

Day 1 of The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2018

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - Jessica taking on Save The Waterberg Rhino
An introductory talk from Jessica Babich of Save The Waterberg Rhino

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 began with a talk on Save The Waterberg Rhino who will receive 50% of funds raised on the ride to increase security in the area.

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While the rhino themselves were resting under a tree, the riders gathered to embark on an afternoon ride across Ant’s Nest game reserve to gain an understanding of the area.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - riders having tea before setting out

The route was planned by Ant Baber, who would use his experience to lead the challenge ride over the next six days. Everyone had been in training, working on their fitness.

The horse managers at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill had carefully chosen and prepared horses for each rider. They needed to be young and hardy enough to cope with the challenge.

Some riders had found vented hot-weather helmets and wore gloves to keep off the sun. Long-distance McClellen saddles were used with specialist neoprene numnas.

It was magical to be riding through the African bushveldt. Being high summer in South Africa, everything was green and the dams were filling after last year’s drought.

The riders soon came across a number of giraffe browsing on blooming acacia.

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A mature adult male giraffe was happy to let us get fairly close.

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As the horses normally graze out on the reserve, the wild animals are used to their presence.

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We let the horses browse to reassure the wildlife that all was well.

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The riders moved on to see zebra, wildebeest, warthog and a variety of antelope.

Ant Baber was also able to show us his breeding herd of Cape buffalo that tend to prefer thick bush.

This would normally be a rare sighting but the animals were peaceful and behaved naturally.

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We then picked up speed and managed to cover quite a bit of ground.

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It was not a hard ride but we learnt a great deal and got used to dodging thorn trees.

Riders ended up gathering at Ant Baber’s house to as the sun went down to learn more about Save The Waterberg Rhino and the anti-poaching initiatives currently in place.

Here they could observe a number of white rhino who arrived with a few warthog in tow.

It was an opportunity to met some of the armed security guards who watch over the rhino around the clock and are in contact with the South African police.

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Arriving in South Africa for The 4th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

Something very special happened the night riders gathered at Ant’s Nest in South Africa on the eve of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride this January.

We were having a drink out on Ant’s Nest game reserve when some local residents approached us:

Rhino at Ant's Nest

Five white rhino emerged from the bush at the same time as six members of the team arrived on horseback, led by Ant Baber.

It was as if the rhinos were coming to thank us for raising funds to assure their security.

Ant Baber approached the animals to assure them all was well.

And as the sun went down we were able to observe the rhinos in their natural habitat.

They are docile animals, sadly under threat as markets in the Far East place a high value their horn – even though it is no more than keratin, akin to human fingernails.

Please read more about Save The Waterberg Rhino, here

To find out about other projects supported by The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, please click here

~Riders taking part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018~

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 proves a great success

 

Sophie Neville on the waterberg Trust Challenge Horse Ride 2018

‘It was demanding but the greatest fun.’

Fifteen riders crossed seven different game reserves in six days, covering 187kms while learning about Save The Waterberg Rhino and visiting community projects that benefit young people in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 ~The Waterberg Trust Challenge Horse Ride 2018~

The ride began at Ant’s Nest game reserve where team members from the United Kingdom and Bermuda learnt about Save The Waterberg Rhino.

~Rhino walking up to riders gathered on the plains at Ant’s Nest~

The challenge ride was led by Ant Baber whose family have lived in the Waterberg for five generations. He has spent the last twenty-one years re-introducing wildlife to the area.

~Ant Baber~

Today, white rhino, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, baboon, zebra, wildebeest, eland, kudu, nyala, impala, blesbok, a variety of other antelope can be spotted from horseback.

 ~TWT riders observing zebra on Ant’s Hill game reserve~

January proved a good time of year for there were many newborn animals.

We were able to observe breeding groups of rare species such as sable and roan antelope.

Sable antelope at Ant's Nest

The riders helped to capture a sick eland so it could receive treatment from a game vet.

The game vet ministering to an injured eland on Ant's Nest~A sick eland cow receiving veterinary treatment~

We learnt more about the area while traversing six other game reserves.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride crossing Lindani game reserve in 2018~TWT Riders crossing Lindani game reserve~

~Observing young giraffe from horseback on Lindani~

We saw golden wildebeest, red heartebeest, vervet monkeys, ostrich, black-backed jackal, bushbuck, oryx and waterbuck as well as species we’d seen previously.

Descending the Waterberg escapement on the Water~Descending an escarpment on foot~

~Reaching the Palala River on Jembisa game reserve~

Over the week riders were able to visit a number of charitable projects supported by The Waterberg Trust, which gave us a chance to meet local people.

~Discussing conservation issues with Clive Walker at the Living Museum~

~The Waterberg Trust Riders at Lapalala Wilderness School~

~The ‘Back to School’ project at Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding~

~Nurse Grace telling TWT riders about her work in local schools~

‘What a trip. It was totally WOW!! I can’t quite believe I have done it …’The Waterberg

~The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018~

Highlights of The Waterberg Trust Ride 2017

Bringing you some of the best photographs from The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride in January, featuring each of the riders who took part and gallantly raised funds for Save The Waterberg Rhino and community projects in the area. Thank you for all your help and support!

-Ant Baber leading the riders in search of game re-introduced to the Waterberg-

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-Juliet Madden from North Yorkshire who gathered together the group-

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-Sam Scott from Cumbria with giraffe on Ant’s Nest in the Waterberg-

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-Tina Fox-Edwards from Berkshire riding across the Waterberg –

The rains had been late and we saw newborn animals

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-Hilly Collinson from Yorkshire, grabbing photos of giraffe-

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-Louise Horsely from Australia coming across a herd of buffalo-

-A white rhino arriving while we were being given a talk

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-Janie Beardsall from Yorkshire in her bush hat-

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-Elisa Spearmann from Wiltshire on her mare-

– A roan antelope photographed by Mairi Hunt-

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-Camilla Newton from Rutland-

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-Sisters, Mairi Hunt and Sally Milvertson being introduced to a python-

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-Claudia Smythe-Osbourne from Yorkshire with two very young giraffe-

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-TWT rider Lulu Ferrand from Leicestershire –

simon-williams-thomas-on-ground-support-for-the-twt-ride-2017-Simon Williams-Thomas from Hampshire on ground support –

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-TWT Trustee Sophie Neville observing the endangered white rhino-

Many thanks go to Tessa Baber for hosting the ride and having us to stay at Ant’s Nest

-The lodge at Ant’s Nest some three-and-a-half hours north of Pretoria-

twt-riders-and-back-up-guides-at-kolobe-2017-The team: TWT riders and guides at Kolobe Lodge on Lapalala Wilderness, January 2017-

– Sunset at Ant’s Nest photographed by Sam Scott –

The Last Day of The Waterberg Trust Ride 2017

TWT Riders climbing down the escarpment 2017While the horses were being transported back to Ant’s Nest, TWT riders grabbed the chance to descend the escarpment above the Palala River on foot to see ancient San bushmen paintings, pottery shards and tools, preserved under a rock overhang.

TWT Rider Juliet Maddan looking at Bushmen paintings 2017

We came across a number of things of interest including an agama.

An agama spotted on the 2017 TWT Ride

The team then drove to the township of Leseding outside Vaalwater to visit Lethabo Kids Club. 

TWT Riders visiting Lethabo Kids Club 2017The Waterberg Trust has been supporting their ‘Back to School’ project by helping to equip the children with school uniform, school shoes and bags.

TWT Riders visiting Leseding

Fundraisers were able to meet Marilyn Cook who has been running the project for more than sixeen years. They heard of her plans to provide sponsorship for tertiary education of the youth who have shown commitment to the project and help with the little ones.

Juliet Maddan with Marilyn Cook 2017

On their way to Johannesburg airport, some of the riders visited Kamotsogo sewing project, a community not-for-profit enterprise that employs women living with HIV/Aids.

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Others stayed on at Jembisa where they enjoyed the experience of being driven up the Palala River.

Driving up the Palala RiverThey then lay quietly on the bank taking a well-earned rest after meeting the challenges of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride and raising significant funds for projects in the area.

The day after the ride - lying by the river as if nothing had happened

 

Visiting Lapalala Wilderness School on Day 5 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

TWT Ride Day 5 at Kolobe

Although the group of thirteen taking part in the challenge ride were briefed over breakfast, none of them guessed who they would meet that morning.

TWT Ride 2017 Day 5 at Lapalala Wilderness School

The beautiful snake, a rescued Burmese python, is an impressive teaching aid at the Lapalala Wilderness School. We saw how local teenagers reacted to reptiles during an outdoor seminar on nature conservation.

TWT Ride Day 5 at Lapalala Wilderness School

The students, who came from Metshesethela Secondary School in Vaalwater, were being taught about the importance of protecting South Africa’s wildlife and the environment.

TWT Visit to Lapalala Wilderness School 2017

Their 3-day residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School was sponsored by The Waterberg Trust. The riders explained how funds were being raised in the UK and Australia.

Explaining how TWT Riders raised funds to send pupils to Lapalala Wilderness School

Two of the pupils delivered a carefully written speech of thanks, saying how the course keyed in with their school curriculum. None of them had been to the eco-school before.

Pupils from Meetshesethla School thanking TWT for sponsorshsip

TWT riders were able to met the staff, some of whom had originally come to Lapalala as school children themselves. The eight educators do a wonderful job of inspiring others and run a Youth Development Programme, which entails taking promising individuals from disadvantaged communities and attempting to bring hope and direction to their lives.

TWT riders meeting the staff at LWS 2017

Learning about the history of the school, now it its 31st year, was fascinating. Many confirm that attending a course here was a life-changing experience.

TWT Riders 2017 learning about Lapalala Wilderness School

They aim:

To promote an appreciation and respect for the extrordinary diversity of Africa’s natural world and to develop and encourage a passion and commitment to conserve nature and ecological processes, where possible identifying and nurturing the conservation champions of the future. 

The Lapalala Wilderness School does this through a schools’ programme and by reaching out into the surrounding area through broader youth and community projects. The staff are supported by a Board of Directors, several of whom have an active role in activities.

The plight of both black and white rhino is brought to the attention of students and those visiting the Interpretative Centre at the school where the skulls of poached rhino are on display.

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As the learners put on life-jackets and went to experience paddling a small boat deep in the African bush,

TWT riders were given a tour of the school and its vegetable garden by the director, Mashudu Makhoka, who briefed us on their exciting plans for the future.

TWT Riders looking around LWS 2017

It was evident that by teaching children to recyle, conserve water and plant food, the Wilderness School’s community projects are a huge force for the good in South Africa today.

This March, The Waterberg Trust is sponsoring approximately 60 children and their teachers from Mokolo Primary School in Vaalwater to attend a 3-day course at the school. This video shows how they will be impacted:

We enjoyed meeting both the pupils, educators and the python, and would like to extend our thanks to Lapalala Wilderness for accommodating both riders and horses.

~ TWT Trustee Sophie Neville with students from Metshesethela Secondarary School ~

Lapalala Wilderness School

 

Day 4 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

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We were woken by weaver birds nesting above the lodge where we spent the night at Kwalata Game Reserve deep in the Waterberg hills.img_4270

We tacked up our horses, tying rain coats behind our long-distance McClellan saddles, and left head-collars underneath our bridles so we could tie the horses up in the bush.

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We set off in good spirits and rode through Kwalata into Lapalala Wilderness, a private game reserve of approximately 100,000 hectares.

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Since the Waterberg is on an intercontinental convergence zone there is a greater variety of trees and shrubs on Lapalala than in the whole of Western Europe.

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There is also a great diversity of birds, reptiles and mammal species with a range of different antelope from solitary steinbuck to herds of kudu.

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The annual amount of rainfall can be pretty much the same as in London but in the Waterberg it usually only rains in the summer months with occasional downpours.

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We enjoyed blue skies all day, walking beside the horses as we followed a rocky track down the escarpement as we made our way north.

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We rode up a small river, making a number of crossings until we came across a dam where it was safe to swim.

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By this time our leader, Ant Baber needed a break. He had missed breakfast.

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We rode on up the valley, coming to a bigger dam known for its population of crocodile and hippo.

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The horses were able to take a long drink before resting for a few hours at mid-day.

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We were grateful to find table set out by the water with drinks and bowls of salad.

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The riders, who were exhausted, appreciated the chairs and needed a sleep after lunch.

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We opted to take the scenic route that afternoon, riding past herds of giraffe, impala,

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kudu and wildebeest, while vervet monkeys were spotted in the trees.

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GPS readings revealed that we covered a total of 41 kilometers on this day when we grasped just how wild the Waterberg is.

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That evening the horses ate well, appreciative of the lush summer grazing.

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Ant Baber drove the group of tired but happy riders down the valley

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for a well-earned drink

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and a swim at Kolobe lodge

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before gathering around the fire

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where they met up with the back-up team and members of Save The Waterberg Rhino.

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The director of Lapalala Wilderness School joined us, giving a short talk on what we could expect to see the next morning.

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