Thursday, 31 January 2013

Recognition for Alan, Lynsey and the BLC team.

Early this morning I had a very excited call from my mate and business partner Alan Watson who owns and manages Black Leopard Camp.
"We got it" he almost shouted..."They were blown away, they gave us four stars over all and five star grading for the individual rooms"
Two days ago the grading council had visited BLC to inspect the premises and had clearly been very impressed, as well they should have been. As anyone who has visited BLC will know, the outcome of any inspection could never be in doubt, but nevertheless, it's wonderful to get official recognition.
Alan and Lynsey, owner mangers of black Leopard camp

Our South African Safari base is of-course Black Leopard Camp which is located on on the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve. We start and finish all our safaris here, which is also the base for the INGWE - Leopard Research program that I have managed for the last five or more years.
We chose Black Leopard Camp for two reasons, first and foremost is that Alan and Lynsey are not only great friends but they're also involved in our work in conservation. indeed Alan is a fellow director of PAW Conservation Trust (the none profit organisation that we operate, and the primary reason that we started our safaris i.e. to raise funds for PAW). Secondly that the eco-chic accommodation can defiantly be classed as stunning.

From my part I couldn't be more pleased for Alan, Lynsey and all the team at BLC. And also pleased that the grading council are finally recognising the excellence of eco friendly bush camps such as BLC.
It is a secluded haven within the magnificent mountain bushveld that is the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve. With Alan and Lynsey in charge the reserve is now in the hands of the second generation of Watson's to take custodianship of the reserve. They see their role as one of maintaining the pristine habitat for generations to come and long may they continue.
INGWE head researcher Tara Pirie overlooking the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve at dusk
Written by Will Fox

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

"Do Lions climb trees?"

"Do lions climb trees" I was asked.
Well yes they do, as this youngster who we found on safari, demonstrates so well.
Balance and a head for heights are part of a lions make up, but when mum called, it was time to head down.
Always easier going up a tree than down.
This time, it was just for fun, but it's all part of learning. Next time could be to take a kill from a leopard or worse!
We left this youngster to run back to mom.

Written by Will Fox

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Safari video - Tangala, a favourite with our safari guests

We hand pick all the game reserves that we include in our fully guided safaris. Tanagala is one of the amazing places we visit, normally staying for a couple of nights and enjoying some fantastic game viewing as you'll see from their promotional video.

Written by Will Fox 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Time to take stock

With all the excitement of a New Year and planning for the year to come, it's also good to take stock and in our case confirm that our Safaris continue to maintain the aims that we set out with.
As many of you will know, Carol and I started On Track Safaris with two equal, yet simple aims that are at the very heart of all that we do:

  • To support our work in wildlife conservation 
  • To provide a unique safari that not only provides exciting game viewing opportunities and quality accommodation, but also enables our guests to go beyond the normal tourist rhetoric and be involved with our work in conservation.

We have been very fortunate to receive some wonderful reviews for our safaris, but moreover make many new friendships with safari guests who become part of our INGWE family, and keep in touch with our work in conservation from wherever they are in the world.
Our leopard research has been ongoing for quite a while, but was given a boost in Feb 2012, when zoologist Tara Pirie joined the team to head up our work at our safari base on the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve. Many of you will know Tara from her time as a TV presenter in the Sabi Sands, but it is her passion for leopards that shines through.
Of-course conservation starts with young people. We're actively involved with local schools, helping to improve the facilities and encouraging the youngsters to learn more about wildlife and conservation.
2012 saw us significantly improve our research facilities and make some key links with other institutions aimed at using scientifically achieved data to help make wildlife management decisions.
So what of the future? There is no doubt that we have a long way to go with regard to protecting free roaming leopards, but we'll make it.
Join us on Safari in 2013 and 'Experience the Difference'

Written by Will Fox

Friday, 11 January 2013

Cheetah - Time to leave home

Mother and Son seen on Safari last week. You may be able to tell from the picture that Mum is pregnant, which means that very soon her son will be pushed out.
He's been taught well, and has been hunting with his mother for a while now, but as yet is untested on his own.
Life without Mum will be tough, he has leopard, hyena and lion to avoid as well as establishing himself on the reserve, where other male cheetah are present.
We'll be keeping an eye out for him on safari over the next few months and we'll see how he fares. As seen below he is very relaxed:
Seen on game drive

Written by Will Fox

Monday, 7 January 2013

Lion prides, Nothing but a family thing

The dynamics within and between lion prides are ever changing and often violent. Take for instance the scenario we found yesterday morning.
We had seen two lions mating in front of our lodge during the previous evening.
Observed only through night vision binoculars as we didn't want to disturb them.
We soon found that the lioness in question had left her pride and temporarily wandered off with a male from another pride. Which wasn't a good idea.
The females from the second pride didn't approve and let her know as much my giving her quite a mauling. The pic above was taken the next morning as we found her wandering around. You can see some scars on her hide from fighting off her attackers!
Now stranded on her own, she was frequently and desperately calling for her pride, who had drifted further south hunting Buffalo and out of range for her calls.
Thankfully they found each other later that day as seen below.
During our afternoon game drive we found them all back together, now hungry and looking for an evening meal!
A passing Buffalo bull (daga boy) may have seemed like a possible item on their menu, but these ladies (and boy) had more sense. The male Buffalo was too much of a risk for even this intrepid pride. They watched with interest as the unworried Buffalo walked by, secure in his ability to be able to defeat four lions!
The good news for the lions and not so good for a kudu bull was that they did eat that night.

Written by Will Fox