One of our cheetah has given birth to three cubs, signifying a promising milestone in Lapalala’s cheetah conservation efforts.
Predator researcher, Steve Henley, discovered the cubs on 10 August on top of a hill behind Kolobe Camp
(in the southern part of the reserve). This is the first litter of cheetah to be born on the reserve since the launch of Lapalala’s cheetah reintroduction project. The programme forms part of a greater Cheetah Metapopulation Project, in collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).
This is also the first litter to be born to this particular cheetah, which arrived on Lapalala from Hopewell Nature Reserve on 13 October 2019. She comes from a highly successful lineage of female cheetah – her own mother is still alive and has recently given birth to her 15th cub! Our new mother is already displaying the formidable skills that are needed to protect and provide for her youngsters. Her tracking data indicates that she travels as far as 3 km to hunt after which she swiftly moves back to her cubs.
Cheetah cubs are extremely vulnerable during the first few months of their lives. Statistically, young cheetah have a survival rate of only 5–25 %, with hyena and lion posing the biggest threat to cubs.
With the historic declaration of Lapalala Wilderness as a nature reserve, there is much work on the go to finalise a reserve management plan.
The MEC of the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) signed into effect the declaration of Lapalala Wilderness as a formally protected nature reserve on 20 February 2020. As per Section 38(2) of the Protected Areas Act, the Lapalala Wilderness Foundation NPC was assigned as the management authority of the reserve.
This declaration not only provides significant legal protection for the reserve, but also adds additional responsibility on both the board and management to adhere to certain legislative requirements. The first requirement is found in Section 39(2) of the Protected Areas Act, which states that the management authority must, within 12 months of its assignment, submit a management plan to the MEC for approval.
Management has contracted the specialist expertise of a company called Conservation Outcomes to assist in preparing the reserve management plan.
Lapalala Wilderness is now home to a fine herd of sable antelope that arrived on the reserve in mid-August. The antelope were donated to the Lapalala Wilderness Foundation by Mr David Hathorn. A former CEO of paper giant, Mondi Plc, David is also passionate about conservation. We are delighted that he chose Lapalala as an ideal home for the herd.
LAPALALA ROADS TEAM ‘SPRINGS’ INTO ACTION
Spring has sprung in the Waterberg, and with it the ongoing maintenance of stormwater drainage and road infrastructure on the reserve.
Long-awaited spring rainfall presents a blessing and a challenge. Following the dry winter season, the rainfall rejuvenates the beautiful Waterberg moist mountain bushveld and boosts groundwater supplies. However, it can also cause a headache for the Lapalala Wilderness roads team, tasked with preventing the erosion of our gravel roads.
Drainage infrastructure, such as mitre drains and stormwater pipes buried below the roads, are effective in reducing the extent of water run-off. However, Lapalala Wilderness received 32 mm of rainfall over the past few weeks – enough to cause topsoil run-off, which carried sufficient debris to block some of our stormwater pipes. These blockages subsequently cause water and sediment to flow over and erode the gravel roads.
The Lapalala Wilderness roads team adopted a proactive strategy to open the blocked drainage pipes and fill the portion of road that had been washed away. The drain will function effectively again when the reserve receives its next rainy spell.
Lepogo Lodges has adopted a number of innovative ways to minimise the impact on the environment, while uplifting our local communities.
For starters, the slippers, room bags and water bottle holders at Noka Camp were once plastic bottles! The lodge sources these items from The Joinery, an NGO that uses local sewing co-operatives to create beautiful, environmentally-friendly products from recycled plastic bottles. The bottles are shredded, then heated and extruded through tiny holes to create long polyester fibres. These fibres are then torn into shorter pieces and baled, to create a wool like material.
A bespoke solar walkway generates all the power that is needed to supply Noka Camp. Noka Camp also presents a carbon offset programme to mitigate the emissions that guests incur when they travel to and from the lodge. We consult with each of our guests to calculate the carbon footprint of their journey, which is then allocated a monetary value. Lepogo Lodges donates these funds to one of three projects, selected by the guest. One project partners with the Lapalala Wilderness School to supply high efficiency cooking stoves to local communities.