I have to admit that when Alan suggested that we ask our guests to be involved in the annual game count on our home reserve, I thought he'd somewhat lost the plot. As anyone who has stayed with us at Black Leopard Camp will know, Alan exudes positive energy and is always looking for more ways to involve our guests in the conservation activities we do on a daily (and in this case annual), basis.
But as usual he was right. Our guests love it.
It works like this:
While on game drive we ask that guests count the number of each species of mammal we see. It makes perfect sense, because after all we're looking for game anyway. Someone takes on the job of recording the numbers and then at the end of the drive we add those results to our database. In that way we are building up an accurate game count.
Of-course the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve is far to big to cover in one three hour game drive. It takes four days of game drives just to cover all of the reserve roads, but by varying the route we take each day we're getting there.
I was asked "but why don't you just do a normal game count?". It's a fair question. The normal routine is to fly over a reserve in a helicopter and literally count what you see. I figure you can imagine that offers an indicative number rather than an accurate count. But its not something we can consider. Our problem is that Thaba Tholo is made up from a series of magnificent mountains, cliffs, valleys and canyons. Quite simply awe-inspiring scenery, but helicopters don't like the variable thermal currents. Believe me I've flown in those mountains looking for missing leopards and it's a ride that you don't look forward too. Add to that, that animals can be scared by a low flying helicopter and run away. I figure you can imagine the possible devastation that could result from a herd of Giraffe running towards a cliff. They're very difficult to turn around.
So all in all helicopters are best avoided.
But, thanks to Alan we have a better way and not only that it's great fun.
Written by Will Fox