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rhino encounters at Ant's Nest

Sundowners with the Rhinos

By Conservation & Community, Rhinos, The Ant's Experience
[:en]Written by Claire Birtwhistle, a guest at Ant’s Hill

Sundowners on safari is always an enjoyable occasion. Add some special rhino guests to the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an incredibly memorable sundowner experience.

Sundowners with the rhinos; this is what the guests at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes often find themselves being treated to, and one that I was fortunate enough to experience during my stay at Ants Hill.

Rhino sundowners at Ant's Nest

After a long and hot afternoon of some seriously up close and personal experiences with the rhino population in the reserve, some ice-cold drinks were definitely in order. Arriving at the home of Ant Baber, owner of the Ant Collection, a spread of delicious and freshly cooked finger food was waiting for us next to the pool. As we tucked into the snacks, our attention was quietly directed towards a group of approaching rhinos. Seemingly appearing out of nowhere, all of a sudden there were rhinos everywhere. Watching from the safety of the raised deck area, I took great delight in attempting to recognize the rhinos from the various differences that Ant had pointed out to me earlier in the day.

Once all the rhinos had arrived, the real spectacle began as the Lucerne and feed was divvied up among the feeding stations, making sure that each rhino got their fair share.

rhinos being fed at Ant's Nest

Throughout this whole experience, despite the thrill of being so close to these majestic animals, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the nagging feeling at the back of my brain that something about this was just wasn’t quite right. After all, rhinos are wild animals, surely feeding them habituates them to humans? Curiously, I asked Tess how guests generally react to the rhino sundowners and Tess admitted that there has been some concern raised by guests however they still strongly believe in the practice. After hearing their reasoning why, I couldn’t help but agree. Of course, in an ideal world, the rhinos wouldn’t need to be fed or protected at all, however that’s not the reality we live in.

rhino conservation in waterberg

Here’s why the Ant Collection does sundowners with their rhinos:
Putting aside the obvious reasons of drought relief and supplement feeding, the team at Ants has very specific reasons for letting their guests get so close to their rhinos. Simply put, after an experience like that, you can’t help but fall in love with these animals. These rhinos are like children to the team; each of them has their own name and unique personality and once you’ve been exposed to that, there’s really no going back. It’s an opportunity for guests to be educated on the poaching situation, while at the same time, taking personal responsibility for the rhinos.

Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes will do anything to protect their rhinos, however, this protection comes at a great personal expense. After a devastating poaching attack in 2012, Ant and Tessa Baber, together with Victoria Crake and Gustav Collins, founded the Save the Waterberg Rhino Foundation in an effort to fight rhino poaching in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. The Waterberg is home to the second-largest concentration of rhino in South Africa outside of the Kruger National Park. Its population is vital to the survival of the species and it is therefore critical that these rhinos are protected. The Save the Waterberg Rhino is at the forefront of trying to save this last frontier for the rhino. Its main objective is fundraising in order to achieve their mission and other aims of increasing security, creating awareness, supporting education, facilitate training and employment.

At the moment, guests who visit Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes are playing a huge role in keeping this foundation going. After personally meeting these rhinos, many of the guests often want to get involved in the fight. Whether it be donations, or valuable skills and resources, the Waterberg Rhino Foundation needs all the help they can get.

rhino encounters at Ant's Nest

Find out more about the Save the Waterberg Rhino Foundation and how you can get involved here:[:]

New Kids on the Block at Ants

By Horses, Rhinos

As the lockdown continues in South Africa, we find ourselves missing our guests more and more with each day.

Luckily, life in the bush is never boring and there’s always something going on to distract us.  We are still eagerly awaiting the moment when we can reopen our doors and welcome guests back, but while we wait for that day to arrive, we’ll continue to share with you what has been happening in the reserve.

We have had two new and exciting additions join the Ants family recently!

Firstly, Sophie the Rhino gave birth to a healthy bull calf, Dinka, about 3 weeks ago. This is great news for our rhino herd, and the team, especially after having lost two of our eldest rhino’s (Erwin and Skewhorn) during this lockdown period. It has been great welcoming this new little chap into the world. Sophie is still keeping him well protected from the other rhinos and us, so it can be tricky to get a sneak peek, but both are doing very well.

Secondly, a new project we are quite excited about, is breeding some of the best safari horses in South Africa. Our first arrival was on 12 July, a little filly foal born from Lydia, who was born and bred at Ants, and Pemba, the sire, also born here and only turns 3 years old in August. The little foal is a Warmblood x Friesian x Boerperd. With those good genes, we’re certain she’s going to make the perfect safari horse!

We now suspect Pemba managed to cover a few more mares while he was running with the herd, before he was separated and put in a separate area, so watch this space. We now have two lovely thoroughbred mares in with him who we are hoping will produce some beautiful foals next year. This is a very exciting project for us and in a few years from now, we hope to have our own string of well-bred and adapted safari horses.

Buffalo Abound

With over 70 buffalo in our main herd on the reserve and our breeding project doing so well in producing new genetics, it has come a time where we need to sell a number of cows and bulls to continue to diversify the gene pool. We are selling 16 buffalo to a neighbouring reserve who are looking to expand their genetics.

The capture and relocation of these incredible animals is no small task and will take place over a weeklong period in July. All hands will be on deck/on horseback and vehicles to safely dart, load, and move the buffalo into a boma where they will be tested for the 4 diseases (foot and mouth, brucelliosis, Corridor disease and TB) to ensure they are disease-free before moving them to their new home.

They will stay in the boma for a quarantine period before having to dart them again and relocate them. It will be like a mini game census, which seeing as Game Census 2020 had to be cancelled due to COVID 19, the staff are quite excited to take part in it and it will be good practice so we are ready for Game Census 2021!

Find out more about our annual Game Census that guests can partake in here:[:]