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game census safari, wildlife conservation, buffalo and conservation

Another Game Census Safari Success

By | Conservation & Community, News

From game counting and darting, to capturing and relocating wildlife on horseback, the annual game census safari serves to keep the private reserve and its wild residents thriving.

While having traditionally been carried out from a helicopter, conducting a game census on horseback continues to be more accurate than a helicopter count and, perhaps most importantly, significantly minimises disturbance to the wildlife. Each year, guests join us for several nights, and each day is spent heading out into the reserve – either on horseback or in a vehicle – to count, dart and relocate game animals.

Ant puts his riders into place around, but out of sight of the animal, so that if it runs, we can keep track of its movements. Once the dart is in, everyone stays in their position, and everything is done quietly to keep the animal calm to stop it wanting to run away. Once the animal is down and completely sedated, the radio calls through for guests to come and observe while the vet, Paul, is working on the animal.

game census safari, Riding South Africa, Waterberg game reserve, wildlife conservationThis year, we had an exciting five-day game census safari jam-packed with incredible wildlife encounters that were all part of caring for the many game species that call the reserve home. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a safari at The Ant Collection without many exhilarating horseback rides, bushveld views, and those all-important sundowners.

Day 1: All about the antelopes

Every day of the game census is exciting, but there is always an extra buzz in the air amongst our staff and guests on the first day. This year, we started off by darting two sable bulls, five young Roan bulls, and two oryx bulls. The young sable and Roan bulls were relocated to a separate area where they will form their own bachelor groups.

Once these are firmly established and the rainy season arrives, they will then be released onto the main reserve. For the two oryx bulls, this was their day of release into the main reserve. The day ended with some long canters to the sundowner spot where we watched the sun go down with a drink in hand.

Day 2: It’s all hands on deck!

We got up close with two buffalo bulls that were darted for relocation. It was all hands on deck with these very big, very heavy boys that needed to be loaded into the game trailers. After much huffing and puffing, that job was done and the next was tracking down a female giraffe with a nasty abscess on her buttocks.

game census safari, wildlife conservation, buffalo and conservationThe group cantered to the area where she had been spotted and wound through the bush quietly to get to her. The vet couldn’t dart her in the thickets, so the horses worked hard in trying to push her out into an open area to make darting and treating her easier and safer. Unfortunately, she was very elusive and so we were unable to complete this job successfully. Nevertheless, it was a good second day and well-deserved gin and tonics awaited the guests for sundowners.

Day 3: How to outsmart a buffalo herd

The day started with darting another two buffalo bulls. We have to space out buffalo darting over two days because the herd is very clever and quickly realises what we’re up to, often running off before Paul can dart them. Once the animal is lying down and sedated, the vet will check its condition, give it medication if necessary, and dip it for ticks. A staff member holds the animal’s head in a comfortable position, ensuring it can breathe comfortably and continually monitoring its breathing.

game census safari, Riding South Africa, Waterberg game reserve, wildlife conservationNext up was darting a Roan bull that was in poor condition because of it being winter. The vet gave the bull medication to build up his immune and make him strong again for the next few harsh months. We are happy to report that after several days of monitoring, the Roan bull has taken well to the medication.

In the afternoon, the helicopter assisted us in darting three kudu bulls and one eland bull, which were released onto the main reserve. The team of riders were divided into two, each having a recovery vehicle to load the animals into. The riders and horses love this because it involves following the chopper and cantering through the bush after the animals.

With the sun beginning to set, it was a race to sundowners, where we ended the day sharing stories of everyone’s experience of the captures so far.

Day 4: Second time lucky?

Our aim for this day was to locate sable and Roan bulls in the main reserve for relocating. The riders were divided up into teams and given areas to look for the animals – it can be quite tricky to find one specific animal in an area of 5000 hectares! Later in the morning, everyone cantered to where a sable bull was located, and Ant put everyone at specific point around the animal in case it decided to run. Fortunately, the darting went smoothly, and the vet did all he needed to in good time.

game census safari, Riding South Africa, Waterberg game reserve, wildlife conservationAfter a morning filled with riding and excitement, we cantered to bush lunch at our biggest dam where we were met with the smell of food cooking on the open flame. The guests relaxed under a shady tree, with a drink in hand overlooking the dam and spotting some beautiful birds.

We then tried to dart the same female giraffe from Day 2, but she was once again in thick bush. So we called upon the riders and the trusty horses to try their best to push her out and into an area where the vet could work with her. Like the first time we met her, she had other plans and evaded us once more before daylight ran out. It was time to call it a day and enjoy sundowners.

Day 5: That’s a wrap!

We started the morning on horseback looking for wildebeest. Capturing wildebeest is very difficult so we were all thrilled when we managed to do so successfully. We located two different groups and darted two wildebeest cows and one bull from one group, and two wildebeest cows from the second that were safely transported by game trailer to another reserve.

After several days of early mornings, being on horseback before the suns up, lots of cantering and heavy lifting of animals, we wrapped up Day 5 in the afternoon. Ant took the guests out for a ride to see the reserve from a different perspective for sundowners, a well-earned treat after all the hard days of riding. Everyone was in high spirts on the ride home because it was time for the game census party.

Dinner was amazing! We cooked a hearty potjie – a traditional South African dish – and once everyone was full and happy, it was time to party. It was a great way to end another successful game census safari.

horseback safari

2020 Newsletter

By | News
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Dear Friends,

What a year 2020 has been! Nobody could have anticipated what a huge affect the pandemic would have across all continents and how everyone’s life has been changed permanently in one way or the other! As in any calamity, it is up to the individual to decide how they will let their life be affected!

Tourism and hospitality being the biggest casualties, the lodges closed on 23 March and the tough decision had to be made to layoff 82 staff members. This left a very small dedicated team to look after the horses, the reserve, the lodges, and the rhino, and they have been magnificent!

Looking back over the year and counting the blessings and positives that have come from this time, I am blown away by how incredible so many people have been in their support, generosity, sacrifices, love, and commitment to keep Ant’s going through the tough times! You, our guests, have contributed sensationally in helping us pay for the game scouts, protecting our rhino for the past ten months through both donations, prize draws, and commissioning paintings to raise the funds needed to keep everything safe and going!

rhino painting

During the pandemic we sadly lost old Erwin, a legendary rhino bull who sired most of the rhino on the reserve, to old age, his teeth been worn down into stumps. He had lived a full and very productive life and must have been close to 40 years of age!

 

 

 

Sekwiri, or better known as ‘ Squirry ‘, our top guide, has used the lockdown to complete his FGASA ( Field Guides Association of South Africa ) Level 3 exams, which is a tremendous achievement! We are very proud of him and his dedication to becoming the best guide!

guide at Ant's Nest

foals born during pandemic

One unexpected blessing has been the arrival of 8 magnificent foals! Our young colt Pemba, son of a 17hh Warmblood mare and 16hh Boerperd stallion, took advantage of being young and free and managed to sire the eight foals! He was only 2 years old! The foals are a delight to everyone and will usher in a new era of big, tough, and well-adapted horses, to our operation.

 

 

With the lockdown being imposed overnight we sat with the uncomfortable experience of having no income at all! It was however a blessing having a large herd of buffalo and a willing buyer for 16 of them. With the small team of riders working hard, all the buffalo were captured, loaded, and translocated.

The fun of wrestling semi sedated buffalo to be loaded and put into quarantine before they are translocated to their new reserve.

Bring on 2021! Thank you all for your support!

Ant

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safari near Gauteng

Escape to the Waterberg

By | News, The Ant's Experience
[:en]Few places can compare to the picturesque views over the Waterberg valley, perfect sunny climate, pristine air, and wide-open spaces.

Combined with stylish and scenically appointed lodges, Ants Hill & Ant’s Nest Bush Homes are the perfect solution for South African couples, families, or corporates wanting to escape the cities and epicentres of the South African COVID pandemic. A mere 2.5 hours from Gauteng.

Ants Hill and Ant’s Nest are now fully open for either short breaks out of the city or longer-term stays. Ant’s Hill can either be booked for a short break but also lends itself well for those wishing to enjoy a bush home from home experience as an extended stay (1 to 3 months) at great rates.

Other than the freedom of space with exciting safari activities (Open Vehicle Game Drives & Night Drives, Horse Riding, Walks, Mountain Biking, Fishing, and many more), we can provide all the other essential necessities such as high-speed WIFI for business or personal use and uninterrupted power (generator on-site).

Contact us for information or to make a booking.[:]

The Ants Lockdown Lowdown

By | News
[:en]South Africa entered a nationwide lockdown on 26 March and since then, things have been surprisingly busy at Ants despite having no guests.

When you have animals to look after, the work never really stops. While many of the staff went home for the lockdown, a small team of dedicated team members stayed behind to help with looking after the horses and the everyday running of things.

Happy Horses
At the beginning of lockdown, the first step was to move half of the horses to a separate area with more grass which is about 3-4km away. In total, 22 horses were relocated, and are now looking fatter and healthier than ever! Apart from a once a day check-in, they are being left to just be horses are enjoying a well-deserved holiday.

There are still another 21 horses to look after at the stables, most of which are thoroughbreds and older horses which need extra care and food. These horses are still in their normal routine of being feed and checked twice a day, just without the riding.

Veggie Garden
Now more than ever, it is so important to try and become a little more self-sufficient. This is why we have been busy preparing and planting a vegetable and herb garden which will help ease the reliance we have on external food supplies. After much hard work, it is so exciting to see that the garden is already starting to grow and prosper!

vegetable garden, Ant's Nest Bush Home

Battle of the Buffalo Bulls
The buffalo herd has undergone some changes. The main dominant bull was challenged by a younger bull and killed at the age of approximately 12 years old. A post-mortem was done by our vet and it seems like the younger bull delivered a deadly blow to the head of the dominant bull, cracking his teeth and skull on the one side. We had to go out and search for the herd to find out who the culprit was. As it turns out, it was a younger bull of about 7- 8 years old, who was found on the outskirts of the herd, severely injured.

He had several puncture wounds to the head and face, as well as one under the right shoulder. These wounds needed to be treated so a few days later, we went back out on horseback to find the injured bull who was wallowing in the dam.

buffalo bull, Waterberg

The bull was darted, treated with antibiotics, and the wounds cleaned and treated. It will take a while for his wounds to completely heal but we are relieved to see that he is starting to look and feel much better now.

Roan Herd Update
Four of our one-year-old roan females have been moved into a separate breeding area with a different bull. This needed to be done to take grazing pressure off the camp that they were in, as well as ensuring they do not breed with their father.

We also had to search for a 4-week-old baby roan calf which had not been seen for almost two weeks. Although it is normal for the calf to hide in the grass for the first month after it is born and only appear when it is suckling from the mother, it hadn’t been seen at all. Leanne, who looks after the breeding area, was worried that the calf may have died so we decided to search for it by combing through the area on horseback. Finally, after an hour of searching, the calf was discovered alive and well, hidden in some thick grass under a tree. Horray for a happy ending!

Spring Cleaning
The team has also been busy with the not so fun tasks of sorting out the rubbish areas to make sure we are recycling as much as we can, and that the areas are kept clean and tidy. Some spring cleaning has also been happening and the kitchen, storerooms, and back of house areas have all been spruced up. It is a mammoth job that sometimes gets pushed aside when we are so busy with guests so now is a great time to clear it up.

As well as keeping busy with jobs around the lodge, it has been important for the team to keep up the morale and motivation in this difficult time. Activities like sunrise yoga, sundowners, badminton competitions, braais on the fencelines with our neighbours, cycling, team running, game drives and rides, have all been helping to keep the spirits high.

Painting for Conservation
Ant has also been busy getting creative with his paintbrushes lately! To raise money to support our rhino conservation initiatives, Ant has been commissioned by several past guests to do paintings. We are also doing a prize draw to help raise money to support the rhinos and conservation, and the lucky winner will receive a three-night stay for two people at one of the lodges. It is just 10GBP a ticket for a chance to win.

On a personal note, we would just like to thank everyone who decided to postpone their stay with us, rather than cancelling it. Tourism and conservation go hand in hand, and by not cancelling, you are directly helping us to continue with our conservation initiatives. So, thank you!

We look forward to being able to welcome you through our doors when the time comes, but in the meantime, from our family to yours, we hope that you’re staying safe, keeping well, and daydreaming of your next safari holiday with us!

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Start 2019 with a Detox Safari

By | News
[:en]The festive season is around the corner and we are so excited about it. It’s a wonderful time of friends, family, and of course – food!

During this time of jolliness, it’s not uncommon to over-indulge a bit – in fact, it’s encouraged! And while this is all well and good while you’re in the swing of things, it does tend to take its toll on the waistline at the end of the day. This is why we have decided to offer a detox safari experience from 9 January – 9 February 2019 to help you kickstart your year off on the right foot.

During this time, we will be concentrating on three elements – Wild Moving, Wild Eating, and Wild Living, and all meals and activities will be focused around this. The aim of this experience is to reconnect you with nature and leave you feeling invigorated, rebalanced and restored.

meditate-1851165_1920If you stay with us during that time, you can expect healthy, locally sourced meals that are prepared in-house daily, including fresh fruit and veggie juices and smoothies. As always, your daily itinerary is completely tailored to your desires, and during this time we will be offering a few extra activity options such as pilates, meditation, running, swimming and body weight training, as well as all the normal activities such as horse riding, game drives, cycling and many more. We will also be offering each guest a free massage for every 3 nights spent with us.

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So, what are you waiting for? Let us help you kickstart your New Year’s resolutions with a detox safari experience! Get in touch with us to book your stay.[:]