Tuesday, June 26, 2012

River Bend Lodge...a privileged part of history!


In this day and age of all the alarm and negative sentiment around the degradation of the natural resources of the world…including animals….it is easy to become unnecessarily negative. It does us well to be reminded from time to time of the successful conservation stories of the world.

One of the greatest of these is the Elephants of Addo!

Martin Meredith, in his book “Africa’s Elephant a biography”, writes:
“By 1760 elephants could no longer be found south of the Olifant’s River on the western coast of the Cape Colony; on the eastern coast the nearest elephant strongholds lay 500 miles distant from Cape Town. They remained plentiful on the eastern frontier for a short while longer. A Swedish scientist, Anders Sparrman, referred in 1775 to incredible numbers there. A government official in 1797 reported a herd 400 strong. But by 1830, when elephant hunting in the Cape Colony was banned, only two small herds were left in the Eastern Cape, one hidden deep in the Knysna forest and the other in the Addo bush country. Out of a Cape herd once estimated at 25 000, no more than a few hundred survived. It was the first mass extinction since Roman times”.

Fortunately that extinction did not come to pass, but the Elephants of Addo came perilously close. In fact there were only 11 left!

“The original section of the park was founded in 1931, in part due to the efforts of Sydney Skaife, in order to provide a sanctuary for the eleven remaining elephants in the area. The park has proved to be very successful and currently houses more than 450 elephants and a large number of other mammals.” (Wikipedia).

This is some of the history of the Addo Elephant National Park as recorded in the Information Centre.

The Park Takes Shape
By the early 1900’s most of the large animals had been shot out and Elephants had become a major problem, damaging crops and competing for water with farmers.
A number of solutions were attempted over the years, and these included:
The Extermination of the Elephants.
In 1919 a Major P J Pretorius was tasked with shooting all of the remaining Elephants. He is reputed to have shot 114 Elephants in 2 years.
The Creation of a Reserve
Feeding the Elephants Orange’s…and finally…
The Erection of the Armstrong Fence.
After some experimentation, in 1953, a concerted effort was made to erect this fence which is still standing around much of the perimeter of the Park today. A notable feature of this fence is that it demonstrated that Big Business and Conservation need to create synergies to create sustainable projects. In that time the Waygood – Otis Lift Company donated the cabling required to erect the fence.
The Armstrong fence, enclosing some 2 570 hectares was completed in September 1954 and changed the atmosphere of the Park forever. The Elephants became calmer and 6 calves were soon born …3 males and 3 females…..to the herd of 11 Elephants.
A mere remnant.

Hapoor (photograph and story included) is the only Elephant to have escaped.
In 1989 the number of Elephants in the Park had risen to around 100…up from only 11 in 1931. Today that number stands at over 500!!!....140 of which are located in the Nyathi Concession on which River Bend Lodge is situated. These Elephants were relocated from the main Park in 2003 when 53 Elephants were moved across the R342.

Today Addo is home to one of the largest concentrations of African Elephants in the world. In 2002 the first bull’s from the Kruger National Park were introduced into the Park to widen the gene pool. One of those bull’s in the Nyathi Concession is currently in musth…..and we are seeing some of his ‘attitude’ in the calves being born which he has fathered.

The Kruger bull referred to in the text above.
The secretion associated with musth clearly visible to the left of his eye.

I find it encouraging that we can see Conservation in Action….and being successful……and we hope that the ‘Men of Vision’ can apply this to the situation we are experiencing with the poaching of Rhino’s today!!

Click on this Link (below) and Like to cast your Vote for this photograph (taken in the Nyathi Concession by the resident photographer at River Bend Lodge) in the Sunday Times/ GreenLife Photography Competition and raise awareness of one of the great success stories in modern conservation history...and what the connections are between that image and the story related above are.


When you open the above photograph bear the following in mind:

All of the Elephants in the photograph (barring the male with tusks) are direct descendants of the original 11 Elephants referred to in the text of the Blog. The male is the Kruger bull referred to and photographed, and the calf is very likely the start of the new generation, sired by this bull (Konstalin) in efforts to increase the gene pool. The green shoot in the cow's mouth serves to remind us of our reliance, no matter how big or small we are, of our finite resources provided on earth!

Click on the Images to view a larger version...all Images the Property of River Bend Lodge and may not be used without permission.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Please Vote for us...!

In 2011 River Bend Lodge won an Award at the World Luxury Hotel Awards in the Category Best Luxury Family Hotel...and we would appreciate your valuable Vote in helping us win this Award again this year. Please Click on the Link below and follow the prompts.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Lion update....!!

The Lions have been roaming free at River Bend Lodge in the Nyathi Concession of the Addo Elephant National Park since their release in September 2011.
It has been interesting to monitor what they are killing. So far we have evidence of.....Red Hartebeest...Warthog....Baboon...Eland...Ostrich and some of the smaller antelope. What we have not seen being preyed on are Kudu.....Buffalo.....and Zebra. That, of course, is not to say that they have not killed any of those species. It will be interesting to watch as they get older.
Here are some images we have taken of the Lions at kills...or soon after.

Click on an Image to view larger version.
All Images the Copyright of River Bend Lodge and michaelpricephotos and may only be
reproduced with permission.