The end of the year is the time when the blue cranes arrive on Welgevonden and begin looking for breeding sites and pairing off with their mates. The cranes generally start arriving at the end of September and early October and usually stay until sometime in March.
A large rhino bull in the central part of the reserve died recently as a result of injuries sustained either during a fight with another bull or through an aggressive interaction with a rhino cow. When rhino bulls fight, which they do fairly regularly over territories, both protagonists invariably leave the field of combat with numerous scratches and wounds.
by Gerhardt Lorist
A bird that lays its eggs in the nest(s) of other (foster or host) species, e.g. Honeyguides, Cuckoos, Indigobirds (widowfinch) and Whydahs. (ref: Roberts Birds of Southern Africa)
We all know that Cuckoos do not raise their own young but lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, but not many people know of the other brood parasites like Honeyguides, Indigobirds (widowfinch) and Whydahs.
The 2009 annual game census was successfully completed over the period 27th to 30th September. We were a little concerned that the early green flush of the trees would impede our ability to see animals and preliminary results suggest that this may indeed have been the case. Hence, next year’s count will definitely be done earlier in September.
After what has been an unusually cold bush winter, I feel I can speak on behalf of all the occupants of Welgevonden, warm and cold blooded, in welcoming back some warmer weather. The Dombeyas (Wild Pear) and Erythrinas (Coral Tree) are already in full flower and it won’t be long before the other trees start to produce new shoots in anticipation of the coming rainy season.
The arrival of spring also heralds the onset of the fire season when dry lightning storms prevail and can cause widespread fires. We therefore urge all lodges to get their firebreaks into a state of adequate readiness as from an ecological perspective, we hope that around 10% to 15% of the reserve will burn as a result of lightning strikes over the next couple of months.
Due to the historically high lion numbers on Welgevonden the prey population had dropped into what is known as a “predator pit”.
WEI is a voluntary, non-profit organisation.
Welgevonden is extremely proud to have as a member of its staff, albeit on a temporary basis, the intrepid mountaineer, explorer, motivational speaker and patron of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Leadership Group, Sibusiso Vilane.
On their way to a set of habitats in the southern plains, Gerhardt Lorist (WEI facilitator) and some university students encountered this awesome sighting of the southern pride interacting with a rhino cow and her calf.
The two lion cubs were practicing their stalking skill on the rhinos, while the lionesses who were were not interested, only looked in from time to time to make sure the cubs didn't get too close.
Although natural lightning strikes are responsible for a lot of natural fires at this time, the exclusion of fire throughout the rest of the year does not necessarily make good conservation sense.
Oom Hennie and his team then effected the running repairs that, with the odd patch here and there, lasted nigh on 15 years.
On the 2nd of April, 9 students from the newly established African Leadership Academy arrived at Welgevonden. The African Leadership Academy recruits top performing, high school age students from all over Africa between the ages of 15-20yrs for a 2 year program that teaches leadership and entrepreneurship.
Welgevonden is involved with the construction of the library at Mokolo Primary School in Vaalwater through the Rural EcoWarrior Programme (REW) it initiated.
The new library is funded by the Khutso Foundation and from donations received from the Welgevonden membership.
However, no female was ever seen and it was decided to introduce some females and try to establish a breeding population on the reserve.
The control of the pom-pom weed is a difficult task in that the emergence of the aerial parts of the plant from underground rootstock depends on the amount of rain and the temperature. Once these aerial parts emerge a flower is produced very rapidly and the associated seed production starts.
Like most of the northern parts of South Africa, Welgevonden has seen an exceptionally wet month in January. All this rain has transformed the reserve into a water paradise, with streams of water flowing out of the mountains, causing cascading waterfalls everywhere.