Tag Archives: Riding with 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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.

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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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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~

Day 3 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

The riders’ drew on their experience and fitness on the third day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, when we covered a more than 37 kilometers riding from Ant’s Nest to Kwalata Game Reserve on the Blocklands River.

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We made up a big group of thirteen horseman with three guides and set off early in an attempt to find wildlife.

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It was white rhino that we saw first, including one cow with a three month-old calf.

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We were able to get very close as the horses are used to grazing with rhino.

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We then rode west through the bushveldt and although we cantered at times,

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we went slowly in an attempt to find game, pausing to watch wildebeest and zebra.

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After a while we came across Livingstone eland, a rare breed originating from Zimbabwe.

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We crossed through recently filled dams

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and came across a number of new-born animals, including impala lambs.

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Once on the top of the escarpment, at some 1,400 metres above sea level, we found a breeding herd of buffalo – the bull looking at us from behind a clump of dense bush.

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He was with a number of females.

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We were also shown a breeding herd of rare roan antelope being re-introduced to the Waterberg.

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We then left Ant’s game reserve and enjoyed riding fast down sandy roads across the plateau

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and down towards the Blocklands River that flows north into the Limpopo

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The horses were fed and watered in a secure boma originally made for buffalo while the riders were housed at the lodge in cottages that looked out over the water.

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Everyone was able to kick off their boots and relax after what had been a long day in the saddle.

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To our relief, there were bathrooms and a swimming pool to sooth aching muscles.

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And even a stuffed crocodile – luckily the only one of his species we encountered on the ride.

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To keep up with news and events of The Waterberg Trust please see our Facebook page

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Another successful TWT challenge ride

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-Ant Baber leading The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017-

Twelve intrepid riders from around the UK, and one from Australia, successfully completed the third Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride covering 181 kilometers at some speed, crossing rivers and rocky terrain.

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-Riders from Yorkshire crossing the Melk Rivier on horseback-

The six-day expedition proved a real adventure, traversing four different private game reserves and stretching everyone to the limits.

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-Climbing up from the Palala River on Jembisa game reserve-

The horses were beautifully looked after by the guides and back-up team from Ant’s Nest who hosted the expedition.

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-Riders from Yorkshire encountering white rhino at Ant’s Nest on the third TWT Challenge Ride-

Riders, who paid their own travel and safari costs, had to raise a minimum of £1,000 each for The Waterberg Tust to support community projects in the Waterberg.

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Funds raised will be divided between Save The Waterberg Rhino, Lapalala Wilderness School and Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding, with support also being given to other health, welfare and educational projects. The 2017 riders were able to visit projects already supported by The Waterberg Trust. They all took part in an inspirational workshop on the importance of wildlife conservation at Lapalala Wilderness School on the Palala River.

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-Meeting the educators at Lapalala Wilderness School-

The Waterberg Trust riders’ fund-raising efforts in 2016 made it possible for 125 children and their teachers to attend a residential course here. We met the first group from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater:

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-Some of the 125 students sponsored by The Waterberg Trust-

Students from Mokolo Primary School in Vaalwater will be able to come another week. As The Waterberg Trust also paid for pupils’ transport, local children from all backgrounds will be able to gain a grounding in environmental awareness, develop leadership skills and establish contact with a mentor who can help with wildlife issues.

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-Pupils from Meetshesethla Secondary School learning about treats to wildlife-

Having said goodbye to the horses, riders saw an anti-poaching security post donated to Save The Waterberg Rhino by The Waterberg Trust Riders in 2016.

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-Save The Waterberg Rider’s new security point ready to be manned on a 24 hour basis-

They also met children at Lethabo Kids Club in Leseding township who showed-off the school uniforms purchased with grants from The Waterberg Trust in 2016 to ensure every child goes to school.

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-Lethabo Kids Club that has been running for 15 years in the township of Leseding-

The needs of older students who have shown more than ten years committment were discussed. Some are seeking sponsorship for tertiary education.

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-Meeting the youth who help with Letabo Kids Club in Leseding-

It was a joy to meet the people of the Waterberg, learn of their cultural heritage and explore the bushveldt so rich in natural history.

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-TWT Riders on Jembisa-

The ride was led by Ant Baber following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather E.A. Davidson, who explored the area on horseback in early 1900’s.

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-Ant Baber who has been leading horse safaris for more than twenty years-

The Waterberg Trust, a registered UK charity, was represented by trustee Sophie Neville who, along with the twelve other riders, whould like to extend heartfelt thanks to our hosts, the land-owners and all those who sponsored the ride, especially Ant’s Nest and Jembisa.

If you would like to make a donation to support The Waterberg Trust please click here.

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Thanks to the Back-up Crew

 

TWT team 2016

Riders on The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2016 could never have made it –

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without the help of a gallant back-up crew who brought along food for the horses, cool drinks and the baggage. This included tables and chairs!

Back up crew

Lunch cooked in the bush was much appreciated

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as riders were hungry and the food fresh.

Lunch in the bush for tired riders

Those looking after the horses took it in turns to ride the spare horses.

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The days were long and could be hot

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but members of the support crew were able to find time to enjoy the bush and even take a dip in the Palala River

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One of the biggest tasks was trailing the horses home again at the end of the ride.

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We are really appreciative of this along with all the work that went into planning the ride and ensuring it was such a success. Our thanks go to the team at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill as well as all those who helped at Kwalata, Lapalala Wilderness and Jembisa game reserves.

Ant Baber receiving directions

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