Two short stories illustrating lion management on Welgevonden.
1. Young Lions Move to Makalali
Two young male lions from Welgevonden have found a new home at Makalali Game Reserve.
Although the current fire policy on Welgevonden is to let the veld burn naturally through lightning fires, a controlled burn policy is also still in place for the plains, which is largely old lands.
When we arrived there, only a little bit of his backside was sticking out, so we were not able to see how big the elephant was.
Due to legislation that has come into effect, as part of the training and development of staff and for occupational safety reasons most of the Welgevonden LOA staff attended and completed a two day Basic Fire Fighters course towards the end of August. The course was held at the WelTrac training facility near the West Gate and presented by Working-on-Fire.
A contraception programme is in place to slow down the breeding of the population, but it does not assist in decreasing the numbers.
Welgevonden became the first reserve where a completely successful laparoscopic vasectomy on an elephant bull was performed. Although it was performed before on elephants elsewhere, it was previously only done on one side, or other complications were encountered.
From the 28th to the 31st of May the dream of a young boy with cystic fybrosis came true. The Reach-for-a-Dream Foundation contacted Welgevonden and told us about this young boy, whose dream and passion is to be out in the bush and with wildlife. After originally planning to take him to the Kruger National Park, the Foundation decided that a smaller game reserve might be a better choice.
The Welgevonden giraffe population experienced a decrease in numbers during the last couple of years, and it seems as though female numbers have dropped especially.
During May scientists from the Limpopo Department of Environmental Affairs visited Welgevonden to do follow-up monitoring of the biota in selected streams on Welgevonden, as well as various other streams and rivers in the area.
They first visited the reserve a few years ago when an in-depth survey of the rivers were done for the State of the Rivers Report for Limpopo in 2003.
The first truckloads with the long-awaited new game arrived on Welgevonden in the first week of March. Small groups of impala, wildebeest, zebra, eland and blesbok were delivered to Welgevonden, and the process will probably continue for the next couple of weeks. Due to the road damage caused by heavy rain, access by truck to some parts of the reserve were limited and all the game were offloaded in the Sekgwa Plains area
February saw plenty of rain all over the Nothern part of the country, and Welgevonden was no exception. We had several days of almost continuous rain, converting the Waterberg into exactly what its name suggest, a mountain full of water. The rivers and springs started flowing, and dams that haven't had water for two years filled up.
To the great joy of a number of field guides, the lions that were held in the boma for contraception and pride formation (2 females and 6 young lions of various ages) were released on the 24th of January 2006.
A wildebeest carcass was used to bait them into the small camp after which the main boma gate was opened. The lions showed no immediate interest in their potential freedom and kept feeding undisturbed.
As part of the elephant contraception program, a monitoring project was launched to test if contraception of females had any effect on social behaviour, herd structures, bull associations or movements. We do not expect to see any effects, as no effects were previously observed in other reserves that have been doing contraception for a number of years now.