ranger diaries

This page is specially for our rangers, who are constantly coming across interesting things on their guest drives through the Reserve. Here you can keep an eye out for the latest news and intriguing discoveries from Bartholomeus Klip.

Farm News in November

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Its been a while since our last story but there has been so much happening on the farm we thought we would add one big story to tell you all.We have had a real mixed season of weather with some late rain with the harvest  being held up slightly but still  proving to be successful. 325 ha of wheat still needs to be collected with 826 ha already been collected. Our yield for the wheat is roughly 3 tons a hectare, which is good considering the lack of rain we recieved leading up to the harvest. All of our canola has been collected and the triticale,barley and oats still to be harvested.

Three weeks ago the sheep shearing took place to great success with many of our guests being able to witness the excercise.The A.I. of the sheep has also taken place with great success, but only a few guests with a iron constitution were able to witness the operation!

The Wagyu project is also  doing well with some new calves expected in the new year. The embryo transplant was also very successfull. During this year Wagyu has really taken off with the official membership doubling. as a ressult we have been able to sell six of our bulls for breeding and we shall in the next few months be able to purchase 25 embryos from the States. In turn we hope to be using our own females for breeding. With the bonsmara females still being used as surrrogate mothers.

The Quagga project is also seen allot of changes this last year after the game aunction, with the core herd animals being brought to Elandsberg and 2 other peoperties.It has been decided that these will be the main breeding animals and their offspring will be sold off in the future to other reserves. We had a few relocations to manage and the Reserve team was on hand to assist with the moving of the animals to Elandsberg.

We do hope to welcome you in the near future,  to see some of our breeding projects and see our working farm in action.

 

Silage Bailing

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

They have bailed around 400 bales these last few weeks with 14He of oat hay harvest while still green,the wrapped in plastic. In an anaerobic environment the bale ferments breaking donw ligning and cellulose and improves palatability for the cattle on the farm.It provides them with good nutrients content over the dry periods of summer.

Through the binoculars....

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Spring is here and the visitors have returned for Summer.From dawn to dusk you can hear the melody of birdsong fill the air. It is a hive of activity with nest constructions and mating displays.Some wonderful sightings of our resident Fish Eagle collecting twigs have been recorded and the ever elegant Blue Cranes are gathered in flocks all around the farm. We are planning a Birding weekend in October with Western Cape Birding, hosted by Dr A Odendal. Please send us an  e-mail for more information.

Spring Flowers 2017

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Better late than never- The rains have fallen quite late this year so our usual display of flowers are slightly late. Our guides have seen some beautiful specimen around the Reserve including the rare Ground Protea. Be sure to take a drive to our area to see the majestic colour display.

Canola Fields

Monday, 4 September 2017

Well you know Spring is here when the you see the sea of yellow around you.On Elandsberg we have planted around 100he of canola this year and its planted as a rational crop on the farm.Canola or rape seed as its know in the rest of the world was developed in the early 1970s using traditional plant breeding techniques by Canadian plant breeders to remove the anti-nutritional components (erucic acid and glucosinolates) from rapeseed to assure its safety for human and animal consumption. The canola plant also produced seeds with a very low level of saturated fat, seven percent or below.

Christened “Canola” from “Can” (for Canada) and “ola” (for oil low acid), canola is not, strictly speaking, rapeseed. There is a internationally regulated definition of canola that differentiates it from rapeseed, based upon its having less than two percent erucic acid and less than 30 umoles glucosinolates. Oilseed products that do not meet this standard cannot use the trademarked term Canola.

 

Luck and preparation go hand in hoof

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

 I was lucky enough to be able to join my first animal capture. The animals in question were 5 bontebok (3 females and 2 males) and 8 of Elandsbergs Quagga. With my experience of animal capture being a verbal experience, I wasn’t sure what lay ahead of me. All that I knew of a capture was that it involved a lot of running, shouting and frayed tempers. This, on the day was not the case at all.

The proceedings started off at round about 9 in the morning with all the players gathering beforehand to discuss the plan for what was about to unfold. The different parties mentioned were Bernard and Nicola Wooding  ,Tom & Frank Turner, Clive, Jane and her husband, Sonja, and myself Steve Meihuizen. We were also lucky enough to have the help of the farm labourers from Frank and Toms Farm.

Tom an experienced game capturer laid out our plan in detail. Each of the 3 land rovers lead by Bernard,Clive and Franc had handheld receiver radios which were in contact with Tom who in turn was in contact with the chopper pilot. Tom would ride ahead on his motorbike and identify were the species had finally dropped, and would communicate to the specific vehicles.

Communication was essential, as the darts administered with bontebok had a very quick reaction time and getting there to prop up the bonteboks beautiful marked heads upright. During the choppers initial flight, in order to identify the individuals suitable for the capture, it was amazing to see the bonteboks in full flight across the plains. We always forget that these stunning creatures actually can hit speeds of 70km/h for a prolonged period.

The whole process was carried out without a hitch, communication was cool calm and articulate. Before we knew it the bontebok capture was complete, and the animals were relocated. Of course saying all this, the bontebok played their part by staying in relative open areas so that hauling into the land cruisers was an easier prospect.

In the afternoon round midday we were off to capture 8 of our striking quaggas. Again the procedure was explained in full detail by Bernard and executed by us the willing volunteers. On game drives you can always see the beauty of these magnificent creatures, with their distinctive lighter hind quarters. Getting up close and very personal just puts the appreciation to another level. The majesty of their coats, the strength in their breathing and the quiet grandeur in their eyes (which we had to cover to reduce the stress levels)

Again the capture went off without a hitch and I was very proud to be part of a team that took such care and effort in making the experience swift with minimal amounts of stress towards the animals. At the end of the day preparation was the key element in making the day a complete and utter success.

Whats Blooming

Monday, 19 June 2017

The vulnerbale Elandsberg Pea Lotononis complanata has been seen in the Reserve. This species is known from two small subpopulations.The first subpopulation is protected in our nature reserve and is stable.The second subpopulations is likely to continue to delcline to to heavy overgrazing and spreading alien invasive plants.The Elandsberg Pea is a long-lived resprouter (geberation length 30 years) that grows very low to the ground and has a beautiful purple flower which appear in June.

Also seen on the drives is the Men in a boat Colchicum capense or Patrysblom in afrikaans . The vernacular name possibly refers to the belief that the corms were scratched out by the francolins although they have been  recorded as being toxic to crows.Another possibility is that the marked bracts of some species resemeble the speckled breast of the birds. This flower appears as if it is  floating on dry ground.It is a stemless perennial with lance shaped leaves that have fine hairs along the margins.You would usually find this plant in damp clay soils in the South Western Cape and Namaqualand.Flowering times are June to August.

Camera Trap Pictures -Latest

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Here are some updated pictures from our camera traps- sadly no sightingof the Leopard, fingers crossed for the next entry.

Home Stretch

Friday, 19 May 2017

Our farm guys have been hard at work planting the fields over the last few weeks and are busy with the last few hectares of wheat. They have planted the medics,barley and canola already,so look out for the yellow fields when you next drive out to us around August time.The Cape is experiencing a drought at the moment so we do hope that we will get some much needed rain in the next few weeks to germinate all the seeds. Will keep you updated on the progress

Lambs in the Mist (by Mariette Gregor)

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

When the first rains arrive around April, newborn lambs can be found freely ranging the farmlands. They steal the show with our guests when they visit on the drives or are enjoying a leisurely walk around the farmyard. Home to about 2000 ewes and a couple of rams, of which Andrew is our most famous - bought last year at an auction and from an old Merino stock line from Graaf Reinet with him being named after the breeder. Bartholomeus Klip produces about 2000 wool merino lambs every year of which most are twins.

Buffalo Measuring

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The reserve team aswell as the farm guys were all hands on deck to assist with the darting and measuring of our buffalo herd. They check the general condition of the animal and are able to measure the horns and take a closer look as the animal is sedated. Spartacus featured in the images is a 5 year old bull and was born on Elandsberg.

Officially Open

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Our Geometric Tortoise Headstart programme has been getting bigger each year and we have finally had to move to a larger facility. Jackie,our tortoise assistant and the Reserve team have set up a new living quarters in specially designed boxes as well as a small plant nursery to supply the tortoise with food. The laboratory has also been set up to do the scanning and research of the tortoises. Professor R. Hoffman our partner from UWC officially opened the Hatchery and we look forward to sharing all their news and findings over the next few months.

Pink Lady

Friday, 7 April 2017

Haemanthus sanguineus. Walking through the reserve on foot, out of the corner of my eye there was this striking pink flower low to the ground, what is that? Walking over to inspect what this beautiful plant was I realised that it was a Haemanthus… but which one?. Haemanthus sanguineus or as it is commonly known as Paint Brush Lilly. It is a South African bulbous geophyte in the genus Haemanthus that occurs in the fynbos vegetation of the Western Cape. This endemic fynbos geophyte is dormant during the summer and cannot be seen. In the autumn a striking crimson inflorescence emerges from the ground. This consists of a crimson stem that bears a mass of tiny red, crimson and yellow individual flowers. The plant then produces two circular leathery leaves in the autumn and winter. These lie flat on the ground and are typically edged with scarlet hairs. They are a deep green on the upper surface and underneath are covered in pink and red spots. Truly a wonderful site.

Hanging Around

Friday, 7 April 2017

Argiope Australis(Orb Web Spider). The average orb web is practically invisible, and it is easy to blunder into one and end up covered with a sticky web. The very easily visible pattern of banded silk made by this spider is pure white, and some species make an "X" form, or a zigzag type of web (often with a hollow centre). The spider then aligns one pair of its legs with each of the four lines in the hollow "X", making a complete "X" of white lines with a very eye-catching spider coloured bright yellow on a field of black or variegated red white and yellow stripes forming its centre. The male spider is much smaller than the female, and unassumingly marked. When it is time to mate, he spins a companion web alongside the females. After mating, the female lays her eggs, placing her egg sac into the web. The sac contains between 400 and 1400 eggs. These eggs hatch in autumn, but the spider lings overwinter in the sac and emerge during the spring. Like almost all other spiders, Argiope Spiders are harmless to humans. As is the case with most garden spiders, they eat insects, and they are capable of consuming prey up to twice their size. We are rather filled with wonder for these gentle beauties which are not harmful to humans.

KNOCK, KNOCK, WHO’S THERE?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Sometimes while walking around the garden you here a knocking in the trees and it takes a while to really see that it’s a bird responsible for the commotion .The Olive Woodpecker is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 3 eggs and they are coloured white. The woodpecker builds its nest within a tree cavity, just a few meters above the ground. The hole in the tree is normally reused in the next nesting season. Olive Woodpeckers are very common in most of the Southern African Forests.Woodpecker’s eat insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants, these invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten. When you visit us again, while having sundowners on the back veranda of the guesthouse, look up into the tree on the stoep, you might be lucky by spotting this beautiful bird in the picture.

Keeping our Future in Nature

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Eco-School Program: Our local school visited us for the morning to spend some time in our reserve and learn a bit about what we do. The topics for the day were conservation made easy to understand, Animals & Animal sounds for the Grade R class. It was such great fun to see the excitement on their faces… Will we see lions one asked very excited, putting you in the mind-set that lions are very easy to remember until you asked which animal is that while looking at Quagga thinking they would say it’s a Zebra. It is a Quagga one of the students (Grade R ) said, It blew me away just to think that they knew what it was, and just the other day you’ve learned about the quaggas, absolutely fascinating. We believe teaching from a young age helps kids to understand better when they grow up to be adults, maybe one of them will be the next conservationist. At the end of the day if we understand it, we will love it, & want to conserve it. Let us Learn

Camera Trap Update- Leopard Sighting

Friday, 3 March 2017

Fantastic images have been sent through by the Reserve team from the 5 cameras set up around Elandsberg Nature Reserve. A fantastic sighting of the elusive leopard aswell as an aardwolf and caracal in a tree. We have sent through the picture to the Cape Leopard Trust for identification and will keep you posted on the identification of the individual.

Opportunity and Patience

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Driving on the afternoon drive we came across this elegant bird,the Black-Headed Heron. Standing between long grass… motionless opportunist I said… The black-headed heron is common throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. It is mainly resident, but some West African birds move further north in the rainy season.This species usually breeds in the wet season in colonies in trees, reed beds or cliffs. It builds a bulky stick nest, and lays 2–4 eggs. The black-headed heron is a large bird, standing 85 cm tall, and it has a 150 cm wingspan. It also hunts well away from water, taking large insects, small mammals, and birds. It will wait motionless for its prey, or slowly stalk its victim. Smaller birds are part of its diet,,, so I’ve learned witnessing a heron stalking chicken chicks and eventually catch one, quite a surprise in my own back yard,sad to say I was the owner of the chickens… Nature always surprise. So the next time you visit us, join our afternoon game drive and see if you can spot the patient,motionless, opportunist Black Headed Heron.

Looking forward to the next generation

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Calling all hands on deck.... The lambing season is drawing near as the staff of Elandsberg Farms gather the sheep for scanning. With sweat on their brow they herd roughly four hundred and thirty sheep together and guide them one by one to be scanned for lambs.This scan will show if they are carrying 1 or 2 lambs and Abraham our sheep manager is able to predict his birth rate. A productive day was had with good humour and pride as the numbers rolled in.225 Single lambs / 177 Double lambs (Twins) / 30 inconclusive to be rescanned at a later time One of the highest turn-overs in the farm’s history- Well done to the sheep team!

A fresh breath of air

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Spekboom  Portulacaria afra, also known as elephant bush, dwarf jade plant and pork bush, is a small-leaved  indigenous succulent plant found in Southern Africa. It is a soft-wooded, semi-evergreen upright shrub or small tree, usually 2.5–4.5 metres. The spekboom is widespread in the Southern Africa. In this moist climate, it is relatively rare, and tends to favour dryer rocky outcrops and slopes. It is also found in much denser numbers in the dryer Southern Cape.

 

Can you eat this plant? Yes, it is commonly eaten in Southern Africa, usually as one component of a salad or a soup but the most amazing quality this plant has is its ability for carbon sequestration. It is capable of either C3 or CAM carbon fixation, depending on factors such as the season and the age of the leaves. In layman’s terms it absorbs large quantities of carbon dioxide, almost four tons per hectare. It is also water wise and drought resistant and can survive on just 250 -350mm of water a year. Make sure you add this to your garden it can definitely improve the quality of air you breath.

 

Meet the Cats

Friday, 20 January 2017

Caracals are medium-sized wild cats native to Africa; it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and threatened by habitat loss due to  human habitation and farming of natural habitat. Its  habitat includes semi-deserts, open savannas, and scrublands. Typically nocturnal, we say typically because out in Nature you’re not allowed to use two words , ALWAYS & NEVER, because nature can surprise you most of the time as we were surprised by the Cat in picture! Caracals are highly secretive and difficult to observe. They are nocturnal but can be active during the day in protected areas. Caracals are carnivores and feed mostly on hares, rodents, rabbits, hyraxes, antelopes and birds. 

African Wildcat- Rare and endangered,however, there is currently thought to be at least five different subspecies: the European wildcat, the African wildcat , the Southern African wildcat  the Asian wildcat and the Chinese alpine steppecat. These cats are hardly ever seen and to get a picture with  the cat and its prey is very rare too.  We are very fortunate to have got  pictures of these cats walking around during the day on our Reserve and hope to share many more.

 

Meet the Team

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Its a new year and a new team and we are very happy to welcome Jonty and Rebecca to the guiding department. They both have their own skill set with Jonty a keen mountain biker and birder and Rebecca a trails guide who loves everything creep crawly and of course cuddly!

They will be sharing their stories with you weekly and we hope that you will be able to learn more about our fascinating Reserve and the Flora and Fauna found here.We do hope that you will get to meet them when you next visit us in the future.

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