The perimeter fence has been a focus of attention this month, as part of the ongoing maintenance and expansion of Lapalala Wilderness.
The Board approved a decision to replace sections of the existing perimeter fence in the Southern, Lady Grey area. The first section, measuring 6 km, is almost complete while another project in the northern section of the reserve is currently under way. The expansion of the reserve to incorporate Mooimeisiesfontein, Kirstenbos, Leah and Nkwe requires the building of 19 km of perimeter fencing along this northern section. About 6 km of fencing has already been completed, with the entire project expected to be complete within the next six months.
After spending the past seven months in our predator boma, the Lapalala wild dog pack was released onto the reserve this month.
The pack – now consisting of 21 dogs – is being continuously monitored. They are hunting successfully on the reserve and their preferred prey species are impala and bushbuck. The dogs left the reserve on three occasions after their release but, thanks to
the swift reaction of the monitoring team, were successfully guided back into the reserve.
The pack is spending most of the time in the southeastern section of the reserve. The dogs appear to be comfortable in the presence of tourist vehicles, treating our lodge guests to rewarding sightings of them resting or feeding on a kill. The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has advised our lodge guides on the responsible protocols to follow when they encounter wild dog on the reserve.
SNAKE HANDLING COURSE EMPOWERS LAPALALA STAFF
Snake season is here and with it the arrival of some beautiful snakes, of which southern Africa boasts 173 species. Located in the savanna biome (bushveld), Lapalala Wlderness is home to both venomous and non-venomous snakes.
This month, Lapalala staff and management attended a basic venomous snake handling course presented by renowned South Africa snake expert, Johan Marais, of the African Snakebite Institute. The course included information about scorpions and spiders, as well as an in-depth focus on snakes and the myths that surround them.
Armed with a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills, our team is equipped to safely handle and remove snakes at the reserve’s residential areas where they might be a danger to staff. This will help us to perform our duties with a healthy respect and in harmony with our wonderful – yet much maligned – reptile neighbours.
At Tintswalo Lapalala, we strive to offer each of our guests an unforgettable experience. We do so without compromising our responsibility to safeguard this stunning haven that we are privileged to share.
A quick look around the lodge reveals many examples of a purposeful effort to minimise our impact on the environment. These range from the seemingly large and significant – such as our solar installation – to the equally important ‘smaller’ touches, such as our all-natural room amenities.
Lapalala Wilderness is striving to play its part towards the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) as contained in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The 2030 agenda was adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015, and seeks to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
Lapalala Wilderness, and conservation organisations in general, are well placed to contribute to the achievement of all 17 sustainable development goals. In essence, many of these goals already underpin our vision for Lapalala Wilderness – An Exceptional Conservation Legacy – and are important as we develop our strategies and workplans.
The key pillar of our mission is that of Community and Education. In partnership with the Lapalala Wilderness School, Lapalala Wilderness has been tremendously successful in making a real impact in our communities. It is, however, important that we develop a succinct strategy they will not only identify sustainable and priority opportunities, but also ensure integration of effort as well as sound monitoring and evaluation.
With this in mind, Lapalala Wilderness has partnered with the Oppenheimer Generations | Philanthropy Foundation to formulate an inclusive wildlife economy strategy. This partnership already addresses the SDG goal number 17 (Partnerships for the goals). During a series of workshops by management and external parties, we identified 12 key focus areas. Currently, the project aims to evaluate these opportunities and prioritise action plans so that we can clearly understand the modalities
of each area. This will give us an undertaking of the resources available – or needed – for implementation.
This will be no easy task. However, if we maintain our focus, remain realistic, and partner with relevant role players, Lapalala Wilderness will be in a very strong position to make a meaningful difference. More to follow!
MEET OUR STAFF: JUDA MOKITANE
Juda Mokitane (28) first joined the Lapalala team as a temporary employee in 2017, before being permanently employed in 2018. He is a multi-skilled member of our bush clearing/erosion control team, where is he always willing to learn and has proved himself to be a passionate worker.