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Somkhanda Community Game Reserve welcomes a new herd of Elephant

Somkhanda Community Game Reserve welcomes a new herd of Elephant

Somkhanda Game Reserve, owned by the Emvokweni Community Trust (ECT) and co-managed with the Wildlands Conservation Trust, achieved a significant milestone when Somkhanda welcomed a herd of 11 elephants recently which were donated by Nambiti Game Reserve. This is the first time that two rural communities have worked together to extend an elephant range.

Wildlands and the ECT worked with the Elephant Rhino and People Project (ERP) over the past year to identify a suitable herd for Somkhanda. ERP, funded by Group, actively identify elephant herds that are under threat and find them new homes. They have invested over R 250 000 in the capture and translocation of this herd to Somkhanda.

The introduction of the elephants will underwrite the financial and ecological sustainability of Somkhanda. It represents a key step towards establishing the reserve as a Big 5 reserve, essential from an eco-tourism investment and development perspective, whilst re-establishing the ecological processes that are so important in savannah systems, allowing them to be healthy and functional systems.

Under suitable conditions, elephants can breed very rapidly, with populations in fenced reserves often becoming larger than is ecologically sustainable. Such was the case at Nambiti, who recognised the need to reduce their population size. This became an opportunity for Wildlands and ERP to assist in the translocation of a small herd from Nambiti to Somkhanda.

The process of obtaining the elephant has been carefully considered and planned by the Emvokweni Community Trust, the Wildlands team and its partners, ensuring that all necessary infrastructure and approvals were in place. Wildlands has worked closely with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to finalise the Somkhanda Elephant Management Plan, secure an Adequate Enclosure Certificate and secure the permits for the capture and relocation. When introducing elephants, it is important to introduce an entire breeding herd, as they have a very strong social and family structure, that needs to be maintained at all times. Conservation Solutions recognised globally for their expertise in elephant capture and translocation, were contracted to manage the capture and relocation process.

“The introduction of these elephant represents a key milestone for the Emvokweni Community Trust, underwriting their ability to harness and benefit from South Africa’s flourishing wildlife and eco-tourism economies,” commented Wildlands’ CEO Dr Andrew Venter. “From a personal perspective, the capture and introduction process has been one of the most humbling and emotional experiences of my life. Africa’s elephants are under threat, with over 100 being poached every day. Across the continent, communities and conservation organisations are fighting to stop this poaching and save this iconic species from extinction. The Somkhanda introduction represents a small, but incredibly important step in this fight.”

“We at Nambiti are very positive about the move of some of our elephant to Somkhanda and their future there,” said Clarke Smith of Nambiti.

“ERP are thrilled to have been able to partner with the Emvokweni Community Trust and Wildlands Conservation Trust, in securing the lives of the 11 Elephant,” said Dereck Milburn, Director at ERP. “We wish Somkhanda Game Reserve the very best for the future and we look forward to visiting the elephants at the reserve and partnering with Wildlands in future projects.” “A big thank you to ERP, and Nambiti Private Game Reserve for their support in enabling this project. Thanks to the Gumbi Community for supporting the introduction of the elephant and acknowledging this as a key development for their game reserve,” concluded Dr Venter.

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Creature Feature - Dung Beetle

No insect rose to such high eminence in the ancient halls of Egyptian religion as Scarabaeus sacer, the sacred scarab. The Egyptians believed that a cosmic scarab, a type of dung beetle, rolled the golden orb of the sun across the sky towards the west during the day and then trundled it through the underworld at night, attending to any necessary repairs and maintenance along the way. When the sun popped up in the east each morning, it was consequently as good as new. By David Muirhead

The connection between celestial mechanics and a small beetle rolling a pile of dung about is not so apparent to the modern mind. However, before pooh-poohing the idea, it is as well to note that painstaking and excruciatingly precise research has revealed that there is indeed a connection of sorts. Dung beetles apparently man-age to roll their ball in a straight line by orientating themselves relative to the sun by day and the Milky Way by night. They need to keep to the straight and narrow in order to make a fast getaway; rolling a dung ball around aimlessly is an open invitation to other beetles to try and steal it, and none of them wants that to happen.

Where there’s muck there’s money, so to speak, and there are hundreds of different species of beetles which make an honest living harvesting dung and a disreputable few who make a habit of stealing from others. They all prefer it fresh, and the drop-pings of herbivores and omnivores are especially preferred, having the best mix of nutrients. Hyena drop-pings, which are hard, white and mainly composed of calcium, can be safely ignored. Elephants provide a colossal bonanza and an especially large deposit quickly attracts hundreds and sometimes thousands of beetles within a matter of minutes.

Not all dung beetles go through the laborious business of making a ball. Some simply dine al fresco while others, of the genus Onitis, burrow a tunnel into the earth below or very near the dung pile, excavating an ample chamber at the end of it. They then selectively choose the most appetising items from the steaming pile above to stock their larder, just like you would presumably do if a supermarket fell on your head.


Birds of a Feather

How birds maintain their body temperatureStory and photographs by Don Cowie

Common sense tells us that when we are cold seek out the sun and when we are hot, look for some shade. However, we also know that it is not quite as simple as that in practise and birds employ many strategies to keep their body heat between the core 40-42 degree band that maintains life.

Many bird species adopt the simple process of sunning themselves, particularly in the early mornings when their body temperatures are at a low due to cold night time temperatures.

Doves are commonly seen ‘sunning’ themselves, lying on the ground their wings spread out to expose as much of their body surface to the rays of the sun as possible. They will also raise their wings alternately in an upright position while lying on their sides to warm the undersides. Birds such as herons and egrets can be seen perched on the tops of trees taking advantage of the early morning sun. Cattle Egrets fly off from their night time roosts in large numbers to their feeding grounds as soon as their body temperatures are sufficiently raised. Birds that spend a great deal of time in water such as cormorants and darters can regularly be seen with their backs to the sun wings outstretched their black feathers acting like solar panels soaking up the warmth from the sun. Black Crakes clamber up fallen rushes and sun themselves their wings drooping down to expose as much surface area to the sun as possible.

Many smaller birds such as manikins, finches sociable weavers and waxbills will seek shelter at night in their own nests or those of other species. Bronze mannikins will roost in their old breeding nests often re-lined with plant material for the cold months or will construct elongated tunnel shaped nests especially for roosting purposes, and many birds will cram into them at night huddling together to benefit from shared body heat. Numbers of black-cheeked waxbills will utilise the old nests of white-browed sparrow weavers or Buffalo Weavers communally at night for the same purpose. Species that utilise nests for shelter can benefit by 5-10 deg C above the external ambient temperature.


Living in Harmony with Nature

Over the next few editions, Wildside will be taking a look at some of the family, lifestyle and eco-estates around South Africa which are promoting the opportunity for its residents to live in harmony with nature and embrace the conservation ethos which is so vital to the preservation of our natural heritage for future generations.

In this edition, we have a look at the Palm Lakes Family Estate situated on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.


Being positioned in an incredible location on KwaZulu Natal’s North Coast allows Palm Lakes Family Estate to offer residents the ultimate combination of carefree living and modern day convenience. Its residents are free to enjoy the fresh coastal air and live a peaceful, safe, carefree existence in a secure environment. Situated near Tinley Manor, just North of Ballito; Palm Lakes is just a stone’s throw from a variety of exciting attractions associated with this growing seaside com-munity.

Palm Lakes combines community living where neighbours are friends and kids can run wild, with every conceivable modern facility and amenity to make day-to-day life a little more convenient. Span-ning over 700 Hectares, it’s one of the largest residential estates on KwaZulu Natal’s North Coast – but offers so much more than you could imagine.

Palm Lakes isn’t just another housing estate though. A hallmark feature of Palm Lakes Family Estate is their careful consideration of the environment: a landscape of rolling green hills, tropical vegeta-tion, and tranquil lakes, the area is rich in indigenous bird and plant life which provides for peaceful, natural living; at one with nature.

The estate has been landscaped with environmental preservation in mind, and as a result, flora such as iFafa Lilies, Aloe Vera, Bromeliads and Variegated Hibiscus flourish. Residents are encouraged to plant a minimum of 70% of their gardens with indigenous plants which, especially in times of drought, as we have been experiencing for the last few years, are more resilient to pests and fungi that thrive in dry conditions. Indigenous plants are also very water-wise and hardy.


Adventure Beneath the Waves


Scuba diving Plett style

Plettenberg Bay, located along South Africa’s spectacular Garden Route, enjoys kilometer upon kilometer of pristine beaches fringing the warm Indian Ocean and boasting some of the most exceptional coral reefs in the world – a diver’s ocean paradise just waiting to be explored. By Jennifer Ponder

For the uninitiated, simply put, scuba diving is a mode of underwater diving in which a scuba diver uses a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) to breathe underwater.

In around 500BC, the equipment used to explore the depths, was noth-ing more than a hollow reed allowing for only quick and somewhat frenzied sojourns beneath the water - a far cry from the streamlined kits of today whereby we explore the riches of the ocean at our leisure.

With this in mind, I decided that the time had come for me, in this 21st century, to explore some of those ‘treasures’ hidden below the surface of the ocean.

I was directed to ProDive, a 5 Star National Geographic Dive Centre situated in the grounds of the Beacon Island Hotel. They were brilliant. Not only was I supplied with all the gear on the spot, but their patience with a first -timer who wasn’t exactly a ‘water baby’ was phenomenal – thank you guys.

Should you want to obtain full PADI qualifications, these can be obtained within 2-4 days.

I was amazed to find that Plettenberg Bay has not only one reef but many, suitable for both beginners and experienced scuba divers.

Ready to submerge below the waves, my imagination took over for a moment as I envisaged all I might see - forests of Gorgonian fans, scattered basket stars. Cup corals, feather stars, brittle stars and nudibranch, pipefish, sharks and more, all flashed through my thoughts as I descended into that silent and unique world beneath the waves.


Journey to the heart of Africa

Kingsley Holgate Exclusive - Part 1

Over the years, Wildside magazine has followed several of Kingsley Holgate’s geographic and humanitarian journeys into Africa. This intrepid explorer – often referred to as the Greybeard of Adventure, the most travelled man in Africa – who alongside his son Ross and the Kingsley Holgate Foundation expedition team, has crisscrossed ‘Mama Afrika’, in a number of world-first expeditions. These include a challenging Cape to Cairo journey in open boats, east to west along the Zambezi and Congo rivers in the footsteps of explorers Livingstone and Stanley, and in Land Rovers tracking the outline of the continent in a single expedition through 33 countries over 449 days. They’ve journeyed to all 54 countries on the African continent including her island states, bringing humanitarian support to far-flung villages and conservation education to communities living near wildlife regions. In an epic expedition called 23° 27’, the team circumnavigated the globe by land following the Tropic of Capricorn.

The last time Wildside reported on Kingsley’s adventures, they were sailing with the trade winds in a 35tonne ancient Swahili dhow from Mozambique to Somalia and back, surviving pirate attacks and high seas in a year-long malaria prevention campaign.

We finally catch up with Kingsley again, and in the first of a three-part story, he tells us of what it was like to find the geographic ‘Heart of Africa’. It’s a story best told from his scribbled bush notes.


Friends in adventure, as you know, there’s always that familiar nervous feeling of anticipation at the beginning of each new great adventure. The challenges of visas, bucks, equipment, sorting out the expedition Landies, the list seems endless. Carnets for the vehicles; first aid, basic food supplies, reference books and maps, letters of authority, GPS, bedrolls, tents, pots and pans, the old camp kettle, a Zulu meat dish, tools high-lift jacks, binoculars, cameras, humanitarian supplies and most importantly a sense of humour, a passion for Mama Africa and that crazy ‘Zen of Travel’ that’s allowed us to adventure to every single country in Africa to include all of her island states.


Wildside Selected Places

In this edition of our annual, Selected Places feature, Wildside explores a variety of lodges. Each of the lodges, whether they are a mountain, game, lake or eco-lodge, situated in a stunning location, offering superb accommodation or have enjoyable activities for guests to enjoy, they each have something unique to offer. Some are perfect for spending family time together, and others offer the promise of a romantic getaway. 

Whatever the reason for your getaway, we hope you find your own special “Selected Place”.

Kosi Forest Lodge

Kosi Forest Lodge is the only private lodge in the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve – an unspoilt wilderness that is part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, now internationally recognised as a World Heritage Site.

16 private thatched suites are tucked into the sand forest, carefully positioned to provide guests with privacy and intimacy within the peaceful surroundings. Each room has an en-suite bathroom which step into wonderful open air, reed enclosed bath and shower area...


“Experience the magic of genuine hospitality at this hidden gem.”

You’ll feel right at home at Shayamoya, which offers spectacular views that strike you the moment you walk through the doors of the central lodge. Shayamoya is a unique venue for a family bush getaway with lots of activities including the thrill of tiger fishing on Lake Jozini. Sunrise and sundowner boat cruises and game drives are also offered. The area hosts even more excitement, such as horse riding safaris, rhino tracking, elephant interactions, cheetah projects to name a few. Situated 30km south of Pongola, 2km off the N2 Highway, the location is excellent for travellers driving from JHB to Southern Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal beach resorts. An authentic bush experience for the whole family...

Palala Boutique Game Lodge

Set in the majestic Limpopo province in northern South Africa, a mere four hours drive from Johannesburg, the 5-star Palala Boutique Game Lodge is irresistible to those who appreciate exclusivity, fine dining, romance and adventure.

The air-conditioned suites are the pinnacle of refinement and opulence, each designed with ultimate luxury and comfort in mind. The suites boast queen or king size beds wrapped in imported linen, elegant solid wooden furniture and large spacious bathrooms...


Agulhas - Plain Magic

Cape Agulhas has an unfortunate reputation as the Cape of Good Hope’s flat-chested sister. The Fairest Cape, the darling of Sir Francis Drake, certainly knows how to pose for the camera, even in inclement weather. In contrast, Agulhas doesn’t strike the same sort of spectacular poses, preferring to slide unobtrusively into the sea, but that’s not to say it lacks a desolate beauty of its own or the capacity for drama. - By David Muirhead

Portuguese mariners gave Agulhas its name, which means Cape of Needles. There is some debate about what they meant. This is one of the few places on earth where magnetic north and true north coincide, so a compass needle doesn’t have to lie. But another view holds that they were probably referring to the deadly needle-like rocks that project from the seabed for many miles out from the coast. One hundred and fifty ships have impaled themselves over the years, includ-ing HMS Arniston in 1815 and, forty years later, further to the east near Danger Point, HMS Birkenhead. The latter catastrophe famously gave rise to the maritime tradition of giving women and children first dibs on the lifeboats.

In those early days, if you’d somehow man-aged to trample over Bertha and the kids and make it safely to shore at Agulhas, you would have found yourself on a sparsely populated plain, bisected by ephemeral streams and lazy rivers. Chief among these is the Nuwejaars, so called because it stops flowing on New Year’s Day, not necessarily on the stroke of midnight, but as near as be damned. Perhaps it should more accurately be called the Oujaars because when it does flow, it does so very, very slowly. It meanders about the flat Agulhas Plain dur-ing the winter months as though it’s forgot-ten where it’s supposed to be going. In the process, it spreads out and helps to sustain a vast wetland which attracts huge numbers of water birds.


Discover 100 must-do activities in Durban

Discover 100 must-do activities in Durban, with MapStudio’s newly released Visitor’s Guide to Durban.

This “kif” guide will not only give you interesting facts and figures, but also important information like transport options and “dossing” (accommodation) options.

Keep the laaities happy and tour the city visiting the beaches, surfbreaks, learn about fishing, the arts, theatre, dance and festivals, bookshops, movies, music, art galleries, museums and nightlife.

Of course your visit would not be complete without savouring delicious Indian food and not trying a Durban “bunny”, is like going to the UK and not eating fish ‘n chips. There are of course lovely restaurants, coffee shops, markets as well as food shops to suit the entire family.

The guide also gives a great section on the parks and game reserves and local is lekker so shop around for locally produced goods and support cultural diversity, by supporting local artists, crafters and small businesses.

This guide is a must-have for anyone wanting to visit Durban and the surrounding areas.

So be kwaai bru, and discover the best of Durban!


Based in Durban, author & freelance writer, Sue Derwent works in media development, providing general content, regularly contributing to numerous local, national and international publications and online platforms. author

Sue has published numerous books on Durban & KwaZulu-Natal (KwaZulu-Natal: Adventures in Culture Nature, Picturesque Durban & Surrounds, Picturesque Drakensberg, Kwazulu-Natal Heritage Sites: A Guide to Some Great Places, The Very Best of Kwazulu-Natal & Zulu).

Sue began working as an environmental journalist and photographer for independent newspapers before becaming a travel journalist, and has authored the large majority of travel and guidebooks relating to KwaZulu-Natal and Durban.
Sue has published 17 books in total, and for the past 18 years have worked independently. Her special interests and skills are in travel, traditional culture, food, environment and lifestyle.

When Cape Talk Radio launched in 1997 she produced environment and travel programmes and over the years has also worked for French TV, UK based Channel 4 TV, BBC’s Natural History Unit and South Africa’s MNet.

Sue has extensive experience in public relations (past Director of Communications for the Peace Parks Foundation) and has been employed as media consultant for many companies ranging from corporates such as Nedbank's Green Trust, the Department of Environmental Affairs, and Marine and Coastal Management, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, WESSA, KwaZulu Training Trust to smaller local tourism authorities, as well as many organisations in the travel industry such as hotels, guest houses, travel companies, safari companies, NGO’s and many individuals.

For copies of the book, images, excerpts, give-aways and more information, please contact:

Susan Alexander
Marketing Manager
(021) 514 3910 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   |

Books available in all leading book stores and online at, as well as from our friendly telesales consultants on 0860 10 50 50.

Retail Price: R175.00

Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge Upgrade

Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge upgrade completed

Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge have just completed a fabulous upgrade of their main deck areas. In an effort to remain ahead of the pack, this popular lodge set deep within a private concession in the Kruger National Park have spent the past couple of weeks extended the teak decking to create additional space and private dining and lounging nodes for their guests. 

Three spacious thatched sala’s have been positioned for maximum views around the original lodge, incorporating bright Tsonga designs and comfy squashy cushions have made these spaces the ideal setting to spend languid afternoons relaxing and keeping an eye on the busy waterhole.

Evenings take on a whole new atmosphere now with romantic sala dining set ups. The rim flow pool has been upgraded as well and now boasts an extended lower deck space which adds to the privacy and “safari sunbathing” opportunities.

To book, or receive more information on a breakaway to Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge, contact:
Extraordinary Reservations on +27 11 516 4367 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge is part of the Extraordinary Collection of lodges and hotels in Southern Africa. For more information, contact:
Ms. Cindy Walker of Extraordinary on Tel: +27 011 516 4367, Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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