A Day in the Pilanesberg


As we headed towards the Pilanesberg National Park, I was reminded of how close it is to Johannesburg and Pretoria. Only a 2 hour drive and one leaves behind the hustle and bustle of the city and enters a wildlife haven. The main attraction of the park, apart from the wildlife of course, is the fact that it is quick and easy to get to, making it an easy add-on to any itinerary for those who do not have time to visit the Kruger Park or one of the other wildlife reserves further afield. It is also a short drive from the famous Sun City Resort which attracts hundreds of visitors each year.

The park has a rich array of southern African wildlife including lions, elephants, black & white rhinoceros, African buffaloes, leopards, zebras, hyenas, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles. And it is home to over 360 bird species. On our recent visit there, we kept our eyes open trying to spot the big game – we saw plenty of elephant, zebra, giraffe and other small game, but the predators eluded us that day. So, we decided instead to focus on the smaller things, of which there are many. A great way to enjoy the reserve and spot some of the smaller creatures is to stop at one of the many hides in the park.  Many of the hides overlook the vast lake in the middle of the park, and these hides create an excellent vantage point to view wildlife without being noticed. Upon arrival at one of the hides, we noticed a hippo snoozing in the water below the hide – nothing unusual about that. But on further inspection we saw that terrapins were using the hippos back as a resting spot, as if it was a huge stone! That’s something I have never seen before…..when one terrapin moved off, another popped its head out of the water, swam towards to the hippo, and climbed aboard. Astonishing!

114 095

Another fascinating sighting was a pied kingfisher that had caught a fish that was almost the size of his entire body. The kingfisher perched on a branch of a dead tree in the lake nearby to the hide, and we watched for about 30 mins while, fish in beak, it ‘smacked’ the fish on the tree branch over and over again, until finally it swallowed it whole, and flew off. The only guess we had as to why it ‘smacked’ the fish for so long was that it was trying to remove its scales before eating the fish. Nature has its reasons.

055 058

The amazing sightings reminded me that no matter how often I have visited this and other wildlife reserves, there is always something new and incredible to see. If you would like to visit this small, but beautiful reserve, there are a number of fantastic lodges in the area – ask us to recommend one that will suit you. To learn more about the Pilanesberg National Park, please contactJanine@inspired2explore.com

The Elephants of Ruaha


Ruaha is Tanzania’s largest National Park and forms the heart of a unique and large ecosystem, with over 4 million hectares of protected areas. Ruaha is home to an extraordinary diversity of species, and it is Tanzania’s National Park with the largest population of elephants. The current global ivory poaching crisis has seen a massive impact on elephant numbers across Africa. Most experts estimate that more than 30,000 were poached in 2012 across Africa. In Tanzania, which is said to have the second largest population of elephants in Africa after Botswana, this has a notable impact.

The PAMS FOUNDATION, a not-for-profit conservation organisation operating in Tanzania since 2009, recently formed the Ruaha Protection Project. This project was initiated last year and through it they aim to provide support to the Ruaha Ecosystem in order to safeguard Tanzania’s largest remaining elephant population as well as a very impressive variety of associated species which share this exceptional habitat. They have begun supporting rangers in Ruaha through providing advanced training on anti-poaching; establishing an informer network in communities adjacent to the National Park for the gathering and analysis of intelligence information needed for enabling effective preventive actions against poacher networks; providing incentives for exemplary performance; and training and certification of rangers as walking safari guides.

IMG_7032 IMG_7098

In June and August 2013 The PAMS Foundation, in partnership with TANAPA (Tanzanian National Parks), helped train 40 TANAPA rangers in tactical and combat anti-poaching skills in the Ruaha National Park. These rangers now form four special Rapid Response teams that are currently operating in the Ruaha ecosystem and to date have had substantial success in combatting elephant poaching. Toni Krook visited Krissie Clark and Wayne Lotter (the founding members of PAMS) in the Ruaha National Park in August 2013 and experienced what the project was all about:

“I was fortunate to spend a few days in the Ruaha National Park. This picturesque park shared with me many very special moments and heaps of spectacular wildlife sightings. I was completely blown away! I was equally blessed, in being able to spend some time watching the new TANAPA rapid response recruits being trained in advanced anti-poaching techniques. Coming up against poachers who may armed with automatic rifles, means that the training the recruits receive, could well be the difference between life and death. I was in awe of the passion and dedication these recruits display. Only the toughest recruits made it all the way through to the end of the intensive seven week training program….this also include some courageous and determined female recruits. It was a good feeling leaving the training grounds, knowing that the future of the wildlife in Ruaha National Park had a fighting chance against the massive poaching onslaught that Africa is currently experiencing. These brave men and women together with organizations like the PAMS Foundation might just mean that our children and grandchildren still get to see the big five on the plains of Africa.”

IMG_6863 IMG_7494

You can HELP elephant conservation by donating equipment, or funds needed for:

  • Operations (infield anti-poaching patrols and operations against ivory traders)
  • Rewarding informers
  • Field equipment
  • Aviation fuel
  • Procuring vehicles
  • Management and administrative costs.

Should you wish to help or partner with the project in any way, however small or big, please contact us?