It is now over 100 days since the announcement of a national lockdown by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Despite the easing of the lockdown to level three, the South African economy has been hard hit.
Many businesses have had to retrench staff and sadly, in some cases, have had to close their doors. Tourism and its related industries have suffered particular damage. Close to home, the Waterberg region – which relies heavily on tourism – has been severely affected. Here at Lapalala, our tourism partners (Tintswalo and Noka Camp) have not been able to host visitors at all.
This dire situation will undoubtedly delay the progress in reaching the Lapalala vision. However, the board of the Lapalala Wilderness Foundation has shown incredible care and compassion by continuing to pay all Lapalala staff salaries in full.
The Lapalala team met in June to reflect on a way to express their gratitude. They submitted the accompanying letter to the board of the Lapalala Wilderness Foundation, signed by each member of staff.
ROCK ART ADDS TO LAPALALA’S RICH HERITAGE
Noka Camp is located on a site that has long been special to Lapalala. Originally known as ‘Bushman’s paintings’, the site is home to some well-preserved Stone Age rock art. The rock art is found in an alcove about 10 metres below Noka Camp. It depicts animals or symbols that played a significant role in the lives of Lapalala’s original Khoisan inhabitants. Lapalala boasts 13 Stone and Iron Age sites. At Noka Camp, it is our privilege to protect this rich cultural heritage, and educate our visitors about the importance of this serene spot.
With the support of our custodians and the Lapalala Wilderness Foundation, we distributed 2 500 cloth face masks to the residents of three villages near Lapalala.
Our government and health department require that people wear face masks to curb the spread of coronavirus within our communities. The Lapalala masks are designed to support these efforts for our neighbours, both young and old. We will continue to work with communities to inform and encourage them to diligently follow the health measures that can break the cycle of infection of COVID-19.
NEW TECHNICAL SERVICES MANAGER JOINS OUR TEAM
Lapalala Wilderness is thrilled to welcome Christiaan van Eeden to our management team. He was appointed as our new technical services manager on 1 June.
Christiaan is no stranger to Lapalala – in a previous role at TNH Fencing he was regularly involved with fencing work on the reserve. He brings 12 years of experience across the technical field, including his most recent position as the assistant security manager at Welgevonden Game Reserve. Christiaan is married to Bonnita and they are expecting their first child in November.
Lapalala hosted a film crew from the popular Voetspore television series this month. Well-known presenter, Johan Badenhorst and his team, chose to feature Lapalala Wilderness in an upcoming episode of the series Voetspore in Suid-Afrika, expected to air on SABC 2 next January. With the easing of the national lockdown, the Voetspore team was back on the road in June, and we were delighted to welcome them to the Waterberg.
Upon their arrival, the team was welcomed with a bush braai at Look Out Camp, organised by Lapalala management. They spent the weekend exploring the reserve and were treated to an abundance of sightings on a game drive, including elephant, buffalo, rhino, cheetah and lion.
PREPARING FOR FIRE SEASON
The biodiversity team implemented firebreaks along the eastern boundary in anticipation of the annual fire-ban which comes into effect in July.
The firebreaks were created by burning wide strips of veld, and should provide some peace of mind during the fire season in late winter/spring.
This month marked the end of our breeding programme at Lapalala headquarters (HQ). The project ran successfully for the past eight years with the aim of increasing our numbers of buffalo, sable antelope and roan antelope, in particular. Ultimately, our breeding programme aimed to re-establish free- roaming populations of these species on the reserve.
The last remaining herd of 17 sable antelope was caught in the breeding enclosures and successfully released on Mooimeisiesfontein as part of a soft release process.
NEW FENCE STANDARD TO PROTECT OUR BOUNDARY
The Lapalala Wilderness Board recently approved a revised fencing standard in line with recommended guidelines for protected areas. The standard will inform the way we budget and make decisions as we strive for responsible fence management.
Lapalala Wilderness Nature Reserve has over 100 km of fence line that stretches over some very challenging terrain and requires ongoing management and maintenance. Where possible, roads are created along the fence lines. Roads offer quick access to the fence line, making it easier to patrol and detect illegal incursions. However, only about 24 km of our fence line is directly accessible by vehicle due to the challenging terrain in some sections of the reserve.
Lapalala’s fencing team is tasked with ensuring that our fences are up to scratch. They conduct daily patrols, and report and repair any damage to the fences. This is particularly important as we prepare to release the wild dogs from our boma onto the open reserve in the coming months. Lapalala Wilderness is currently providing a temporary home to some of the last free- roaming wild dogs of the Waterberg. In collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), these wild dogs were captured from farms in the area where they had been killing livestock as well as game. We are under no illusion that it will be very difficult to keep these wild dogs within the reserve, due to their nature and behaviour. However, this has not deterred the members of our fencing team. They have been working hard to close any holes, caused mainly by warthog, bush-pig and porcupine that occur naturally within our boundaries.
Noka Camp is perched atop a 30-metre cliff overlooking the Palala River. Beyond that, the pristine bushveld of the Lapalala Wilderness stretches towards a seemingly endless horizon. It is difficult to imagine a more tranquil spot.
At Noka Camp, we pride ourselves on creating a luxurious, memorable experience for our guests.
Each villa has ‘his and hers’ indoor showers, a sunken bath, heated infinity pool, air conditioning, sensor lighting and underfloor heating for those cold winter mornings. Guests can dine under the stars, or surrounded by the African bush, as our award-winning chef serves a delicious array of African-Asian cuisine.
Sustainability is the driving ethos behind Lepogo Lodges – the company that runs Noka Camp. The camp is powered entirely by a bespoke solar walkway, and offers a carbon offset programme to mitigate the effect of guests’ travel on the environment. Noka Camp also operates a unique business model as one of Africa’s few not-for-profit safari experiences. All proceeds are reinvested in programmes that uplift communities and support the conservation goals of Lapalala Wilderness.
It comes as no surprise that Noka Camp has been described as the ‘world’s most stylish new safari lodge’, ‘best eco-hotel’ and ‘best sustainable safari’. We invite you to visit us and find out why…