Kruger National Park

Ngwenya Wildlife Photography Competition Winners

Ngwenya Wildlife Photography Competition Winners

We would like to extend a big shout-out and heaps of thanks to everyone who participated in the Ngwenya Wildlife Photography Competition! Your enthusiasm and undeniable talent transformed this competition into an extraordinary celebration of the awe-inspiring moments captured in the Kruger.

The inspiration behind this competition sprouted from the remarkable wildlife photos shared by our guests on social media. Witnessing the beauty of the Kruger National Park and Ngwenya Lodge through your lenses motivated us to create this opportunity for your photographic masterpieces to shine. The response to the competition was nothing short of incredible, and we are truly humbled by the wealth of creativity and passion displayed in each submission.

Without further ado, let’s give a virtual round of applause to our monthly winners!

March: Zahn Kruger

April: Vivienne Ruiter

May: Marijke Claassen

June: Zahn Kruger

July: Jackie Boshoff

August: Jordan Scorgie

September: Francois Smit

October: Daniélle Van Romburgh

November: Chris Rossouw

A sincere thank you to every participant for generously sharing your photos with us; it is your passion and enthusiasm that made this competition something special. Continue to capture and share your Ngwenya and Kruger moments, as we eagerly look forward to sharing them with the entire Ngwenya Lodge community!

Submit your photos to us via email or WeTransfer:

myholiday@ngwenya.co.zaWeTransfer

Posted by WSC_Dev in Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, 0 comments
Ngwenya Lodge Gives a Hoot

Ngwenya Lodge Gives a Hoot

We love that we so often get to fall asleep to the sound of owls hooting, here at Ngwenya Lodge. This time, however, the hooting was a little too close to home…

Barn Owl found in a unit at Ngwenya Lodge

This beautiful little guy, a Barn Owl, somehow found his way into one of the units, where he was discovered by our housekeeping team. We’re not sure just ‘hoo’ was more surprised…

The housekeeping team enlisted the help of the maintenance team, who carefully and calmly, manoeuvred him into a corner where they could safely gather him up. They then duly removed him back to the great outdoors and left him in the fork of a large branch, in a dense, shady tree away from any populated areas.

Barn Owl in the bush

Interestingly enough, Barn Owls don’t actually hoot! They make a harsh, eerie-sounding shriek. This, combined with their somewhat spooky appearance, especially in flight, and their fondness for abandoned buildings, is what has led to the nickname ‘ghost owl’.

Barn owls are one of the most widely spread species of birds and are the most widely distributed owl in the world. Western Barn Owl breeding pairs are monogamous and mate for life. They are nocturnal predators, usually setting off to hunt just after sunset and returning to roost just before sunrise. The owl’s facial disk helps to channel sound to its ears, which are located on either side of the face, and they can zone in on sounds with extreme accuracy. Another remarkable adaptation is their silent flight, thanks to specialised feathers that muffle the sound of their wingbeats. This silent flight enables them to surprise their prey, making them highly efficient hunters.

Barn Owl hunting at night

In addition to the threat of loss of habitat which owls face, through deforestation and land conservation for agriculture, owls are at risk from pesticides and rodenticides, as these chemicals can accumulate in their prey and affect their reproductive success; or often kill the owls outright through secondary poisoning. Unfortunately, over the course of time, Western Barn Owls have been linked to unfounded beliefs in a tragic manner. They are believed to represent death and are seen as bearers of misfortune for humans, often associated with practices like witchcraft. It is widely believed that if a Western Barn Owl is spotted resting on a house’s roof, a family member will die the next day. These baseless superstitions and the subsequent bias against Western Barn Owls have resulted in their senseless and cruel killing by some humans.

The African Scops-Owl is the smallest Southern African owl, and is smaller than a dove

Fortunately, more enlightened folk hold these magnificent birds in high regard and understand and appreciate their role in the ecosystem.

Rats and mice are notorious for destroying crops and can cause ill health to humans through the zoonotic diseases they carry. As predators of rats and mice in both rural and suburban areas, Western Barn Owls have an important role to play.

Owls play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of the Greater Kruger Park Lodge ecosystem. As top predators, they help regulate populations of small mammals and birds, preventing unchecked growth and potential imbalances. By controlling rodent populations, owls indirectly contribute to the health of the region’s vegetation, as excessive plant consumption by rodents can disrupt the ecosystem extensively.

Pel’s Fishing Owl, another local resident considered one of the Kruger birds Big 6

We wish you many happy hoot spots on your next visit to Ngwenya Lodge, but hopefully not in the lounge!

Posted by WSC_Dev in Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, Ngwenya Sightings, Wildlife, 0 comments
Ngwenya Wildlife Photography Competition

Ngwenya Wildlife Photography Competition

Ngwenya Lodge is full of awe-inspiring pulchritude that provides an extra frisson of grandeur to every guest that drives past our welcome wall into their home-away-from home.  And the greatest source of all this magnificence is the abundant wildlife that occurs on the boundary of our unbeaten location. Being situated on the southern boundary of one of the biggest and best-known wildlife sanctuaries in the world – the Kruger National Park – has provided our guests with an unmatched game-viewing and birding experience without even having to leave the Resort gates, so guests never miss an opportunity to capture and share in these special game-viewing experiences.

We have seen all of your photos of herds of elephants with their calves in tow, crocodiles sunning themselves down along the riverbanks and the eagle dominating the sky with its majestic wingspan, and we thought we’d just have a bit of fun with all of you and host a photo competition on our Facebook page where you get to share your best and favourite wildlife photos with us for a chance of being featured as our Facebook cover photo for an entire month!

All you need to do is submit your favourite top-quality high-resolution photographic masterpieces to us at myholiday@ngwenya.co.za or via WeTransfer and we’ll choose the best ones to feature on our page for every month in 2023! Who doesn’t love bragging rights?

Competition Rules:

  1. Poor quality photos and videos will be disqualified.

Take note:

– Images submitted must be in high-resolution only.

– Images submitted must be above 1MB in size; any images below that size will not be accepted.

– Images and videos submitted which are pixellated or blurry will not be accepted.

– Images and videos submitted via Facebook or Instagram will not be considered. Please email or WeTransfer all submissions.

  1. Imagery submitted should only reflect wildlife and holidays at Ngwenya Lodge and the Kruger National Park; no photos of other holidays or at other game and wildlife facilities will be accepted.
  2. By entering this competition, the participant warrants that the submissions do not violate any copyright, nor the rights of any third person.
  3. By entering this competition, the participant agrees to give Ngwenya Lodge, as well as all affiliate companies, unrestricted access to make use of the submissions for marketing purposes, even if they are not the winning entries.
  4. Ngwenya Lodge reserves the right to cancel this competition at any time, if deemed necessary.
  5. The judges’ decision is final.

Sounds pretty simple, right? So start scrolling through your camera rolls and show us your best captures. We can’t wait to see them:

myholiday@ngwenya.co.za | WeTransfer

Posted by WSC_Dev in Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, Ngwenya Sightings, Wildlife
Hear the Kruger Call

Hear the Kruger Call

Hear the Kruger call: the shrill cry of a fish eagle gliding over the floodplains; the rumbling sound of a lion as dusk settles in; the thundering hooves of a buffalo herd fleeing into the undergrowth from a predator. These are all nature’s melodies. These are all sounds that resonate in our souls, and that which we know to be synonymous with an authentic bushveld experience. But, there is so much more to the songs and calls of the wild than this. From communication to foraging, wildlife have evolved their own languages into a range of patterns and frequencies across the spectrum of species (many of which humans do not yet fully understand).

Ngwenya delves into the intricacies of wildlife communication:

Hyena

Hyenas are highly intellectual creatures that operate in large clans. These clans have social structure and a range of rules regarding their territory, hierarchy, the hunt and protection. Naturally, this means they require complex communication to uphold their system; one of the widest ranges in communication found in mammals, as a matter-of-fact. The most well-known of the hyena’s sounds is probably the hoot-laugh and giggling, which has dubbed the species with the name “laughing hyena”. While humans associate loud laughter with joy and relaxation, to hyena’s it actually signals distress and tension. The other most prominent call is the whoop which is a loud call that ranges in pitch. The whoop is used to communicate when out of visual range and can actually distinguish hyenas from one another. It is believed that these calls can signal the sex, age and status of the hyena to others. Scientists continue to study the vocalisations of hyenas, with growling being the most obscure. Hyenas are believed to use growling and body language in different combinations to communicate different meaning, the intricacies of which are still being uncovered.

Coucal

The coucal is one of 27 species of the genus Centropus, though you may be more familiar with the term cuckoo. Many of these medium-to-large birds are named for the sounds they make, or the birdsong they imitate. The two species most prominently found in the Kruger National Park are the Burchell’s Coucal and the Black Coucal. Coucal’s are widely known for the gurgling sound that accompanies their song, which many associate with a babbling brook. In fact, their local name in Kenya translates to “The Water Bottle Bird”. Their birdsong not only imitates water but has been closely studied and revealed to be linked to periods of downpour. Coucal’s will often sing before or after rain, when humidity is at an all-time high. Coucals, and birds in general, are able to produce their melodies due to an organ that only they possess: the syrinx. This vocal organ is found at the base of the trachea and produces sound when air is forced through it. The membranes of the syrinx walls vibrate when this happens; causing an oscillating effect that produces intricate birdsong.

Elephant

Elephants are known to have some of the most complex language systems amongst all wildlife. They are able to produce a range of idiosyncratic sounds, ranging from vibrations and rumbling to barks and snorts. Elephants mostly communicate using a low rumble which is produced at such a low frequency that it is seldom heard by human ears. The low rumble can be heard or felt as vibrations, by other elephants, up-to 10km away! This form of communication travels as vibrations with sound pressures reaching 117 decibels. The receptors of an elephants’ feet, known as Pacinian corpuscles, are highly sensitive and share a direct link to the somatosensory cortex of the brain, which is responsible for processing touch. The PC receptors are localised around the edges of the foot; elephants have been documented pressing their feet more firmly onto the ground to enlarge the surface area of contact so that they can hear better!

While this explains how elephants can hear one another, how exactly do they vocalise? Until recent studies conducted by the University of Vienna, scientists weren’t sure if elephant’s communicated through electrical impulses, known as AMC or active muscular contraction, or by the MEAD or myoelastic-aerodynamic method. Domestic cats use AMC to purr, while humans communicate via the MEAD method. While it is difficult to test for AMC, as it requires muscle contractions produced by brain signals, Christian Herbst at UV was able to test MEAD. His team obtained a deceased elephant’s larynx, which they connected to an airflow system. In this way, they could move air over the vocal cords of the larynx, which in turn mimicked the low rumblings and thus put the debate to rest on how elephants vocalise.

This is just three species’ ways of communicating and vocalising, but every wild animal has its own language to communicate with one another, ward off danger or to simply add a sweet song to the chorus of the bush. Wildlife also make use of a number of tools to effectively communicate that surpass sound, and these intricacies will continue to interest scholars and enthusiasts alike. All we have to do is pause and listen to the sounds of the Kruger.

Posted by WSC_Dev in Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, Ngwenya Sightings, Wildlife
Ngwenya –  A Poem

Ngwenya – A Poem

Families and friends, young and old equally relish the moment they arrive at their home-away-from-home and can step into this space of splendour. Ngwenya is one of a kind and for this reason holidaymakers lose their hearts here. Joyce Joubert, an Ngwenya Lodge shareholder recently shared ‘Ngwenya – A Poem’ with our Team. Joyce and her family have been making holiday memories at Ngwenya for 18 years and the family first purchased a slice of this paradise back in 2015.

Op Ngwenya Lodge will ek graag bly (At Ngwenya Lodge I would like to stay)
Want dis hier waar ek vrede kry (Because it brings me peace)
Om die Here te dien (To serve the Lord)
En die natuur te sien (And to experience nature)
Bring ‘n rustigheid in my (Offers tranquillity to my soul)

Saam met die vloei van die rivier (With the flow of the river)
Kom kalmte in my (Calm is washed over me)
En ek weet dis hier (And I realise it is here)
Waar ek net wil sit en tuur (Where I wish to sit and stare)

Voëlgesang van vroeg tot laat (Birdsong from dawn til dusk)
Dikkoppies wat in die skemer praat (Thick-Knees which call at twilight)
Vuurvliegies wat in die donker uitkom (Fireflies which light up the night)
Voltooi die totaal van hierdie som (Complete the sum)

Wat ‘n voorreg om te kan geniet (What a blessing to be able to enjoy)
Alles wat die natuur ons bied (All the offerings of nature)
Soos leeus wat brul, jakkalse wat huil (Such as lions that roar, jackals that whine)
Diep in die nag waar gevare skuil (Late at night when danger lurks)

Sonsondergange raak aan die hart (Sunset pulls the heartstrings)
Verdryf alle pyn en smart (Dissolves all pain and sorrow)

Dis waar ek wil bly (This is where I wish to stay)
En soek jy na my (And, should you be searching for me)
Is ek by Ngwenya (I will be at Ngwenya)
Dis waar jy my sal kry (That is where you will find me)

Thank you Joyce Joubert for this beautiful poem! We’re elated to have you as part of the greater Ngwenya Family and we look forward to making many more everlasting holiday memories together.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing, 2 comments
Explore the Kruger National Park

Explore the Kruger National Park

Ngwenya Lodge is perfectly situated along the south-eastern border of the Kruger National Park. Not only does the Resort’s location offer incredible views over the Crocodile River floodplains, where numerous wildlife venture for respite from the African sun, but it is also a stone’s throw away from the Crocodile Bridge Entrance to the Park; offering guests a gateway to explore the Kruger National Park and all the wonderful gems it protects.

Planning a day trip into (or extended journey through) the Kruger often finds families packing some ‘padkos’, deciding on one section of the Park and then aimlessly coasting along the tarmac and occasional dirt road in search for a particular species. This traditional approach certainly is much-loved and nostalgia washes over us when thinking back to how our parents, and grandparents before them, adopted this same technique. Over the years, however, a number of exciting activities, worth-while pit stops and intriguing locations have popped up across the vast collection of nature reserves, inspiring us to forego the traditional in favour of diving deep into the Kruger National Park. Whether you plan on spending a glorious week at Ngwenya Lodge, or pause only for a few days at the Resort before continuing on your road trip through the Kruger, a number of adventures await beyond the Crocodile Bridge gates! Here are a few of our favourite must-try experiences:

Crocodile River Guided Walk

Experience a new perspective of this well-known region of the Kruger. No other wilderness trails exist in this section of the Park, so this guided walk is the only opportunity to experience the Crocodile River up-close-and-personal. Guests are required to meet the guide at the Crocodile Bridge Gate at 05:00 am and are then escorted in through the gates. The guide is a wealth of knowledge on the African bush and teaches hikers an array of interesting flora and fauna facts at a relaxed pace. The excursion lasts a few hours. Interested parties should phone Crocodile Bridge Reception on +27 (0)13 735 6012 to book.

Lebombo 4×4 Trail

Starting at the Crocodile Bridge Gate and wending through rugged terrain towards Parufi Gate on the northern boundary of the Park, this 525 kilometre, 5-day track offers an exciting challenge to avid 4×4 enthusiasts and incredible views of the varying landscape to passengers. The excursion launches on a Sunday morning, travelling through Lower Sabie, Olifants and arriving at Ndzepfuri for a final night of camping, before making the final journey on Thursday to Parufi Gate. As a guided experience, Lodge guests will need to contact SANParks directly on +27 (0)12 426-5111 to book this unique adventure.

Afsaal Picnic Site

Positioned along the Mthlowa River, under the shade of tall trees, is the popular picnic site Afsaal. A collection of neat tables in the cool shade and neat bathroom facilities make this spot a favourite to break up a self-drive through the Kruger and enjoy a hearty breakfast or light lunch. Visitors can pack their own picnic basket of goodies, rent a gas braai or order a bite to eat from the kiosk onsite (we hear the pancakes are delicious!). The area surrounding Afsaal is home to a resident wild dog pack, while a number of bird species have been spotted when relaxing for a meal.

Ntandanyathi Bird & Game Hide

A lovely game-viewing hide along the edge of a large water source, the Ntandanyathi Hide offers a peaceful spot from which to enjoy ample birding and spot a number of game in close range. The name ‘Ntandanyathi’ loosely translates to ‘where the buffalo drink’. Most days, a calm hippo pod can be viewed in the cool waters, while a number of antelope species and the occasional Big 5 member have been spotted at the water’s edge. This bird and game hide is located near the Lower Sabie Rest Camp and is wheelchair-friendly.

Kruger Tablets

Known to be a favourite lounging site of the lion, the Kruger Tablets certainly are a location you should stop by while enjoying your self-guided game drive through the Park. The site was originally dedicated to Paul Kruger, who founded Sabie Nature Reserve (later renamed the Kruger National Park), and the engraved plaques can still be seen on one of the large boulders. Enjoy a leisurely drive around this unique outcrop – chances are you’ll spot the big cat lazing about in the heat of the day and end up with loads of wonderful photos!

Masorini Archaeological Site

Located approximately 10km from the Phalaborwa Gate entrance to the Kruger, the Masorini Archaeological Site offers a peek into the history of the Sotho tribe which lived here. The tribe’s livelihood relied on melting and forging iron and the open air settlement that can be viewed today showcases some of the tools, which date back to the Stone Age, as well as the ruins of foundries. SANParks has since reconstructed the homestead and guests can enjoy a guided excursion of the settlement by booking through SANParks on +27 (0)12 426-5111.

These experiences are only a handful of the options available to Kruger National Park visitors; each one offering a unique biome to explore, history to discover and wildlife sightings to be enjoyed. Venture into a new direction on your next visit to explore the Kruger National Park and all it has to offer; a new adventure each time you stay at your beloved home-away-from-home: Ngwenya Lodge.

Which are some of your favourite pit stops when exploring the Kruger National Park? Leave your suggestions for other travellers in the comments section.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Kruger National Park, 0 comments
Project Ivory

Project Ivory

While sitting comfortably on a bench in the Lions Corner game-viewing hide, hot coffee and rusks setting the tone for a relaxed early morning, we notice a herd of elephants meandering along the riverbank, just below. Their incredible presence leaves many of us mouths agape, silent ‘wow’s balancing on our lips. It doesn’t take long for hushed whispers to break into a conversation on these sentient beings and quickly a lesson on Project Ivory commences.

Elephants have long been under threat of poaching for their ivory tusks. In fact, according to Ivory’s Ghosts by John Frederick Walker, excavations revealed artistic ivory carvings from around the sixth millennium BCE. Traditionally, elephant ivory has been revered for its unique properties which make it easy to carve and sculpt. In many instances, sculptures and artwork are thought of, but many varying products have been unearthed by archaeologists: buttons, chopsticks, spear and bow tips and, an item made of ivory until recently, piano keys. In Asian culture elephant ivory has always held value and been seen as a statement of wealth; at its peak, in the year 2014, the price for ivory was around $2100 per kilo, but by 2017, its value had decreased to $730 for the same quantity.

Kruger National Park: Rangers pull over to show tourists an African Bush Elephant bull

While the decrease in value holds hope for the African Bush Elephant, poaching in the Kruger National Park has seen an increase in recent years. In 2014, two elephants were poached in the Kruger, but this number has multiplied to 71 in 2018; a growth of 3 550%. While this increase is drastic, Chief Ranger, Nicholas Funda, referring to the Kruger National Park, currently home to 19 000 elephants which have an annual growth of 4% (or 760 new additions), said that, while SANParks aims to be proactive in curbing all forms of poaching, their concern is not that elephant poaching will increase uncontrollably, but rather the element of criminality. In an interview in January 2019, Funda said: “What we are concerned with is criminality; we cannot allow criminals to harvest or to steal from the public. That’s our mandate; we are mandated to protect that. I think elephant poaching is going to be ugly. Elephants are easy to see. If poaching gets out of hand, it will be very difficult to curb. Therefore to be pro-active is critical for us.”

Two Rangers walk through the Park on patrol

It was during this interview that Project Ivory was announced to the public. With its main base of operations in Phalaborwa, Limpopo, (where the highest concentration of elephants can be found) Project Ivory aims to prevent poachers from entering the Park at all. In support of these efforts, the Honourary Rangers donated a group of tracker dogs for the northern section of the Park, as well as agreed to sponsor the first horse unit. The seven horses provide a better means of transport for the rangers who have to track wildlife and poachers across the uneven terrain; the horses move quietly, provide a height advantage and are able to move closer to game than a ranger can on foot. In addition, the Honourary Rangers donated the infrastructure required as a Cessna plane will be moved from Skukuza to offer air support. “It becomes very much important for us to become part of this project. We need to mobilise our communities in support of these initiatives.” – Seaparo Sekoati, MEC for the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, stated.

A large African Bush Elephant

The efforts of the Project Ivory Team and SANParks Rangers will undoubtedly provide valuable support to South Africa’s elephant population within the Kruger National Park. It is imperative for us all to work towards providing protected safe havens for our country’s wildlife and to see groups making progress in the fight against poaching activity is incredible. Read up on the Honourary Rangers and get involved in their projects here.

If you enjoyed this blog, you might like to find out more on the K9 Units which operate within the Kruger National Park. Read our blog, ‘The Game Changers’. Find out more on the fascinating biology of these humble giants in our blog, ‘A Tribute to Elephants’.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Environmental Conservation, Kruger National Park
The Danger of Cell Connection at KNP

The Danger of Cell Connection at KNP

Are Selfies contributing to the endangerment of species?

Do you remember how comforting the Kruger was 30 years ago, when you and your new spouse arrived at the park for a non-conventional honeymoon? The warmth of the sun and the vague sound of all sorts of chatty animals filled the air with peace and purity. Flash forward 30 years and the pulse of the Kruger has been poached, stolen and warped into the morgue of a new predator.

Exposing an animal's coordinates can be done accidentally, due to ignorance of the relevant technologies.

Kruger National Park General Manage,r Ike Phaahla, has urged visitors not to share selfies (or other photos) of endangered species on social media channels. Something as innocent as a selfie can be incredibly detrimental to the preservation of already endangered species, such as rhinos and elephants.

The danger of selfies lies in the fact that your cell’s geolocation can be tracked by poachers, potentially providing increased opportunities for this heinous crime to be committed. With poachers adopting malicious technological methods to track animals, we need to be aware of the danger that we as ‘touring photographers’ potentially pose to wildlife.

Exposing an animal’s coordinates can be done accidentally, due to ignorance of the relevant technologies. Many smartphones and GPS-enabled cameras automatically implant geotagged data that provides the physical coordinates of exactly where the photo was taken.  When the geotagged photo is uploaded to a social media site, the animal is immediately made vulnerable.

Just last year, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, stated that more than half of the 318 poaching incidences in South Africa, between January and June, happened in the Kruger National Park.

We can all play a part and make a positive difference by following some simple guidelines that will ensure that we don’t place any animal at risk when sharing photos, but rather help to protect them from preying poachers:

We can all play a part and make a positive difference by following some simple guidelines that will ensure that we don’t place any animal at risk when sharing photos, but rather help to protect them from preying poachers:

Refrain from mentioning the animal’s location in your post and gallery

Mentioning the animal’s location is a no-go. If you choose to manage your gallery using different folders, title the folders with very vague names.

Strip your location metadata

We tend to rely heavily on our cell phones to capture our life-experiences and surroundings. With technology constantly advancing, smartphones have built-in GPS, which means your coordinates can be tracked to the tee. It is vital that you turn your device’s location feature off, to prevent information concerning your location being imbedded in the photos’ metadata. Find out more about how to turn off your devices geo-location.

Bring the animals’ plight to light

Make the world aware of the animal’s dire circumstances. Conduct research about the animal you are posting to your social media feed. You could even go so far as to donate the pictures to animal conservationists, as they could use these in awareness campaigns and for counting purposes. Monitoring and tracking the population of a species can prove to be rather difficult due to a number of factors such as the vastness of land, accessibility, the density of vegetation, etc. These pictures may prove to be of vital importance for the preservation of an animal’s population.

Bring the animals' plight to light
These pictures may prove to be of vital importance for the preservation of an animal’s population.

The fact that poachers are now using such technologically sophisticated methods to further their objectives is of great concern, especially when you consider that it is estimated that, by 2029, the number of visitors to the Park will double to 3.65 million per year! For this reason, the danger of posting geo-tagged photos must be brought to the attention of tourists and the general public.

We must then pose the question: is merely cutting cell connection enough to curb the danger of human being’s most dangerous weapon…narcissism?

Tourism in the Kruger National Park: Past Development, Present Determinants and Future Constraints

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing, 1 comment
This is MeerKAT

This is MeerKAT

Meet MeerKAT: the wide area surveillance system which is having a massive impact on the protection of South Africa’s rhino population within the Kruger National Park. Named the Postcode MeerKAT to recognise the funders of this innovation, the People’s Postcode Lottery of the United Kingdom and the Netherland’s Postcode Lottery, this system has reduced poaching in the area which it monitors by 80%. We take a closer look at the MeerKAT Project:

The surveillance system spent a year ‘under construction’ as a dedicated team of engineers researched, sourced and planned a solution to combat poaching activity in an undisclosed area of the Kruger National Park. The MeerKAT wide area surveillance system was developed by three organisations in partnership, namely: SANParks, Peace Parks Foundation and CSIR, who faced a number of challenges. These included the terrain it would need to monitor, the movement of wildlife versus humans, as well as piecing the project together within the shortest time-period possible, as rhino numbers decreased daily. The result of their efforts brought to life the Postcode MeerKAT, fit with Reutech RSR 904 ground surveillance radar, information analysis software and night-detection, long-range cameras.

Postcode MeerKAT was deployed to a high risk area of the Park and the team waited with baited breath for its impact. The team did not have to wait long to track the MeerKAT’s success as it identified just short of 90 poachers in a span of two months while deployed; saving the lives of a predicted 19 rhinos.

Not a year had passed before the Postcode MeerKAT was deployed to a high risk area of the Park and the team waited with baited breath for its impact. The team did not have to wait long to track the MeerKAT’s success as it identified just short of 90 poachers in a span of two months while deployed; saving the lives of a predicted 19 rhinos. Postcode MeerKAT was positioned on a hill overlooking this high-risk area where there is a strong presence of rhino, as well as poachers. The system makes use of the surveillance radar to scan the terrain from its vantage point and picks up on movement; the analysis software then assists in identifying whether the movement is an animal or a human on foot, and whether that human is a possible threat. The long-range cameras are used to assist the team at night-time, when poachers are move prevalent. The surveillance team can then make a call on whether to track the poachers before intervening or to deploy helicopter or road vehicle assistance to the area immediately. Take a look at the MeerKAT in action here.

Postcode MeerKAT Launch

Since its first deployment in January of 2017, and in a time span of a year, Postcode MeerKAT has decreased poaching activity in the areas it monitors by 80% with a success rate in arrests of 90%. On the 16th of November 2018, the Postcode MeerKAT Team were invited to attend the prestigious Kudu Awards, hosted by SANParks, and were awarded the Innovative Project of the Year. The annual awards ceremony honour the individuals and projects which contribute to operational successes and effectiveness throughout SANPark’s conservation efforts. This is an incredible project which is rightfully being acknowledged for its contributions to the plight for South Africa’s rhino population – we look forward to seeing the project span the Kruger and grow from strength to strength.

2018 MeerKAT Kudu Awards
Posted by Ngwenya Marketing, 1 comment
The Kruger Park “Game Changers”

The Kruger Park “Game Changers”

The bond between man and man’s best friend, the canine, is a love story for the ages. While we appreciate our companions and their unwavering love within our homes, the Kruger Park has their own companions and guardians: The Kruger Park “Game Changers”. This elite K-9 Unit specialises in the tracking and apprehension of poachers and smugglers across the Park.

The Kruger National Park is home to a number of threatened species, whose latest predators (poachers) have had an advantage over anti-poaching efforts until the recent introduction of the K-9 unit, often referred to as the ‘game changers’. These canines are bred through existing, and proven, bloodlines to produce dogs that are the most efficient in the war against poaching. Different breeds have been selected for their inherent abilities: Beagles and Labradors are more commonly used to sniff out contraband in vehicles entering and leaving the park; a mixed breed of Bloodhound and Doberman are used as trackers and; the Belgian Shepherds, commonly referred to as Malinois, are trained to apprehend poachers. There are currently 55 dogs operating within the Kruger National Park, with an additional 20 located in national parks throughout South Africa.

Most notably increasing the success of anti-poaching efforts has been that of the tracking hounds. Traditionally, these working dogs had been led on-leash through sections of the Kruger by a handler, searching for scent; this process is slow-going and often poachers manage to escape. Recently, however, the introductions of hound groups have been deployed to manoeuvre off-leash. Dog handlers and rangers follow the dogs from a helicopter, where they can scour the surrounds for danger, while the pack races along a trail. It is remarkable to see these animals move uniformly through the veld on a trail, often shifting positions as lead runners fatigue. Once the team spots a threat the dogs are called off and collected to be safely removed from the scene, while Rangers assist in the arrest of poachers. Two distinct groups of dogs used in free-run chases can be noted: that of the South African Wildlife College and an import of Texan hounds. To date these K-9 Units have been deployed in over 70 chases, leading to the successful arrests of over 140 poachers; an increase of approximately 50% on poaching efforts.

Credit to ©Ravi Gajjar for Rhino Tears, as adapted from Africa Geographic

These canines can certainly be awarded the title of the Kruger Park ‘game changers’, then. While their work is incredible to witness, this job is also extremely high-risk. Not only are these dogs working hard, across large distances and under the African sun, where exhaustion and heat reign supreme; but the threat of dangerous wildlife and fire-power of poachers needs to be taken into consideration, as well. The hounds are trained by the best, but accidents and mishaps can occur at any time. The costs of running a successful operation of this magnitude also add up; dog breeding operations, satellite collars for the dogs, helicopters, training apparatus and a number of other elements require funding.


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After experiencing the abilities of these hounds, it is no surprise that not only are the Kruger Park ‘game changers’ man’s best friend but the best friend and guardian of South Africa’s heritage: its wildlife.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Environmental Conservation, Kruger National Park, 0 comments