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Monthly Archives

February 2016

Staff Feature: Slindile Nyandeni

By Rhino River Lodge

This month’s staff feature is on our receptionist Slindile Nyandeni. Sli handles our reservations and is most likely the first face you will see when you arrive at Rhino River Lodge. She also helps out with meal service down at the lodge and handles a host of other guest service duties. Her infectious smile and bright energy set a positive tone at the lodge. Here she shares a little about herself and offers a little advice for safari guests.

1. What brought you to work at Rhino River Lodge? I was actually browsing through bush holiday accommodation for me and my friends and I read the Trip Advisor reviews for Rhino River Lodge. Being a hospitality graduate I just knew I wanted to be a part of that team. Who knew that shortly I would make my first contact with them and there was a job available? I would call it perfect timing!

2. What is your favorite part of your job? Hospitality is my passion, which makes me enjoy every part of my job. The city girl in my enjoys working in the office doing reservations and the bush giirl in my enjoys being out and interacting with guests, listening to their bush experiences.

3. What is your favorite part of living in the bush? I am a city girl, so just being away from the city…the traffic and loud music. In the bush life experience I have learned a lot about nature and the wild…something you might never think about when all that surrounds you are big buildings and shopping malls.

4. What is your best memory at Rhino River Lodge? RRL is like a home to me. My great team, from management to grounds staff…we all strive for 5 star service and to ensure our guests are happy.

5. What should guests coming from abroad know about South Africa? SA is a beautiful country. Most know of it’s great hospitality and friendly personalities. And we do not all live in mud houses! And, no, lions don’t roam around the street as some think that is house Africa is. It helps to come with an open mind as there is so much to learn.

6. If you could give guests coming for their first safari three tips or suggestions, what would they be? Bring comfortable clothing, a camera, and enjoy nature first hand. There is so much one can learn! 

Catching and releasing vultures for conservation

By Conservation

Written by Shannon Airton

Clouds hung heavily in the sky, mercifully shading us from the searing sun while we waited. Beneath the clouds our desired subjects flew in wide graceful circles, using thermals to scope out the carcass on the ground below. Vultures flew in swiftly from other reserves and seemed determined to join the party. On the ground, lines of foot traps had been laid beside the carcass. We watched from a distance, keeping a close eye on the traps so the capture and release could be carried out as quickly as possible. The vultures circled above us and we continued to wait patiently.

flying-vulture

We had joined Andre from Endangered Wildlife Trust and the team from Wildlife ACT to capture vultures near Rhino River Lodge on the Zululand Rhino Reserve. This was part of the Zululand Vulture Project – a conservation partnership between EWT, Wildlife ACT, and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The goal for the day was to fit vultures with GPS tracking units along with tagging, ringing and measuring the captured birds. The information garnered will help to monitor the vulture population and measure the success of conservation activities.

tagging-vulture-conservation

monitoring-vultures

Six of Africa’s 11 vulture species occur in the Zululand Rhino Reserve. Most commonly seen are the white-backed and lappet-faced vultures, with rarer sightings of the hooded, white-headed, palm nut, and Cape vultures. In 2015 five of these six species have seen their conservation status worsen. The lappet-faced and Cape vultures are now classified as Endangered, while the white-backed, white-headed, and hooded vultures are all classified as Critically Endangered, which is the highest level of threat that the IUCN can assign a species.

vulture-zululand-rhino-reserve
According to BirdLife, the causes for the drop in numbers of African vultures appears to be threefold:

1. Indiscriminate poisoning (usually aimed at other species like predators that kill livestock).

2. The use of vulture body parts in traditional medicine.

3. Deliberate poisoning or killing by poachers because they give away the location of larger animals, such as elephants or rhinos, that have been poached.

vultures-bush-scavengers

As we continued to look to the skies, the vultures began to descend. For a bird that is so graceful in the sky, on the ground they hobble and hop, squabbling amongst themselves, vying for a spot on a carcass. It is a comical and delightful spectacle to behold, although it is set on a solemn stage of the death of an animal. The vultures’ role in the circle of life should not be underestimated. Vultures are the cleaners of the African bush, and play a vital part in stopping the spread of diseases.

vultures-on-giraffe-carcass

In total, three white-backed vultures found their way into the foot traps. Chris from Wildlife ACT and Andre from EWT raced ahead safely to get hold of the birds and remove the traps from their feet. After that we joined them to assist with taking  measurements and fitting the GPS units. Holding a vulture is no easy task, with a beak that can rip through a carcass the danger in handling these animals is real.

fitting-gps-unit-vulture

catching-vulture-zululand-rhino-reserve

measuring-vulture-head

The three captured white-backed vultures were then released, and the Zululand Vulture Project will continue to monitor their movements. Rhino River Lodge is committed to protecting the land and ecosystem that is so critical to the vulture’s survival. We hope to always see skies filled with vultures circling, trees heavy with perched vultures, and the entertaining sight of vultures feeding on a carcass, playing their critical role in the circle of African life.
releasing-vulture-zululand-rhino-reserve

tagged-vultures-monitored

Originally published on Africa Geographic

Clouds hung heavily in the sky, mercifully shading us from the searing sun while we waited. Beneath the clouds our desired subjects flew in wide graceful circles, using thermals to scope out the carcass on the ground below. Vultures flew in swiftly from other reserves and seemed determined to join the party. On the ground, lines of foot traps had been laid beside the carcass. We watched from a distance, keeping a close eye on the traps so the capture and release could be carried out as quickly as possible. The vultures circled above us and we continued to wait patiently. – See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/catching-and-releasing-vultures-for-conservation/#sthash.Au8NpcOV.dpuf
Clouds hung heavily in the sky, mercifully shading us from the searing sun while we waited. Beneath the clouds our desired subjects flew in wide graceful circles, using thermals to scope out the carcass on the ground below. Vultures flew in swiftly from other reserves and seemed determined to join the party. On the ground, lines of foot traps had been laid beside the carcass. We watched from a distance, keeping a close eye on the traps so the capture and release could be carried out as quickly as possible. The vultures circled above us and we continued to wait patiently. – See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/catching-and-releasing-vultures-for-conservation/#sthash.Au8NpcOV.dpuf