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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!