Bags are packed and we are on our way to our first Renostermaan in the Mpumalanga province, it started on the 30th of March, Fortunately I have met the owners of this Beautiful rehabilitation centre and had the opportunity to see this establishment beforehand
Driving into the main Gate, the view of Rolling hills and mountains surround this pristine property.
On arrival, we were met by an eager Pointer and a very friendly, yet demanding baby Warthog which made the weekend ahead even more adventurous.
The friendly owners of course, greeted us with a warm welcome, which made the quest feel at ease and comfortable on arrival.
Amongst the guests we were greeted by regular Renostermaners, which made the initial uncomfortable silence fade into a distance and provided a settling atmosphere.
Soon after, everyone was admiring the lodge along with the spacious camps which accommodated several of the rehabilitated animals, each with its own sad story on how the human race has total disregard to Nature and its Wildlife.
The day kicked off with a presentation in the Lecture Hall, next to the new nearly done built animal clinic.
Even those that know the story behind the Renostermaan and had previously seen the slide shows were in Awe with the details, facts and informative talk given by the owner himself, his knowledge and involvement goes far beyond his reach, within his own farm and aiding other farmers in need to relocate, nurture and capture animals, using only his funds to assist even National Parks where animals are in need, whether Privately owned, or State owned.
Whilst I was giving a heartfelt presentation I caught a glimpse of Squirrel strolling into the doorway, walking straight up to my friend (accompanied by her son) whist she was taking Photos of the proceedings. A slight shriek was heard, but the squirrel made itself comfortable on the table getting ready for some well-deserved attention, taking my presentation to another level. And had everyone in giggling and myself feeling much more relaxed.
Thereafter the quests where shown to their accommodation and given some time to settle in.
The guests started to make their way back to the reception, and had the opportunity to hear the story of the saved Hand reared hyena, that can never be released back to his natural habitat due to past Human interaction as a pup.
The walk through the enclosures surrounding the lodge held many stories, some sad and some hopeful of those animals being able to go back into the wild.
Back at the reception, beverages where served and the evening fire was started.
Jackets where on and we were on our first Sunset Patrol.
Within the first 10 minutes we spotted the Rhinos grazing peacefully mere meters away from the lodge. Driving to a safe distance we sat and watched them graze fearlessly. As curious as the White Rhino species is, they slowly came closer to the vehicle to investigate the uncommon sounds and smells from all of us. Everyone had the opportunity to take some superb photos of these majestic beasts, in their now common surroundings, with the full moon rising in the perfect spot behind them.
As nightfall neared, we were treated to an exquisite meal around the fire. With all the tummies full to the brim a while to relax was undoubtedly accepted with open arms.
Lots of insightful stories and past experiences where shared by the guests and the owners around the crackling fire, with the regular visit from the warthog wanting a tummy rub.
The late night sounds welcomed us as we set foot on our first night Patrol down the road to the Main Gate. Surrounding us were various types of antelope, easily spotted due to the open plain.
The main fence was patrolled and stretched out for a couple of Kilometres, fortunately no unusual activities or items were perceived as this area is less dense and easily observable.
The evening ended with us seeing a mother with her calf, not being to wary of us in their presence. Making bed time at a fairly acceptable time…
A welcoming shower was enjoyed with a last minute coffee break on the accommodation veranda, suddenly the night silence was disturbed with sound the pointer coming to say hello. Empathy got the better of us, and we made room for him in our chalet…. But wait… the sounds of movement echoed outside the chalet door…curiosity set in with us starring straight at the Alpha bull on our doorstep. Nervously yet amused we admired the bull from the safety of the chalet, watching him through the window as he slowly made his way to the lush grassy area between the chalets for a late night snack.
Before sunrise, everyone got their dose of caffeine before to start the Sunrise patrol on foot, we were joined by the squirrel for a share of a rusk.
Heading out on patrol, accompanied by the dogs and the warthog by our side… approaching the predator enclosures, we watched as a leopard, previously owned as a pet, take natural instincts of the wild and stalk the little warthog, once spotted, the warthog gave a high pitched squeal and made way back to the lodge at lightning speed…. With fear of not being on his own the warthog briskly made its way back to the owner and further enjoyed the patrol with us, even being carried over a bridge he wasn’t too keen to cross by one of the Renostermaners.
A long and informative patrol let us through a river, up the mountain and passing the hornbill breeding centre, having everyone amazed at the view of these large, long lashed birds as we headed and back down to the lodge for brunch.
Brunch was in and we immediately made way to a distant area of the most beautiful lush, forest type camp for a dip in the rock pool and some scenic bird watching.
Snacks were ready after a relaxing swim followed by some Rhino monitoring and a silent moment with them, again providing numerous photographic experiences.
Sunset at the 3 crosses, of the 3 poached rhinos brought many to tears, and creating even more need for awareness of what is actually happening in our beloved country.
3 Rhinos are poached daily nationwide, making this war between man and beast an epidemic.
Century old traditions combined with human greed have caused this un-necessary demise of these majestic animals, that although they survived the times 50 million years ago, in today’s world are helpless and targets for trade of Rhino horn, for jewellery and false medicinal purposes.
The clear sunset skies, gave warmth to our hearts and rumbling in our tummies as we headed back for supper around the popping bonfire.
An early night made way for a good night’s rest before the dawn patrol followed by breakfast and a short “departure briefing” and handing out of certificates as everyone made their way back home.
Not only did we get our ‘fix’ of protecting these gentle giants we all loved and cherished deeply, we were fortunate enough to meet all the animals who were in the process of being rehabilitated, some soon going back to their natural habitat.
Another successful Renostermaan, and we, the owners as well as the Renostermaners were as happy and content as can be with the weekend’s proceedings.