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17 April2020

by Ross Bowers

While South Africa navigates a five week national lockdown, life in the wild carries on.

South Africa is under a five week national lockdown in order to combat the spread of Covid-19.

While we don’t have any guests at Royal Malewane, life in the African bush continues as usual – for the wildlife at least.

Because we are a private safari lodge in the Greater Kruger National Park, many of the staff live in the reserve itself – it’s their home. The true character of a team becomes apparent during testing times. As we begin week four of the lockdown, it has been amazing to see how the team has pulled together. While we are practising social distancing in a commune like fashion, there has been a constant energy around the lodge. It has become commonplace to see a receptionist feeding fish in our khoi-pond, a ranger sweeping leaves around the spa, a chef assisting with patrols or a duty manager doing a waste-removal run.

Side Effects

As local communities feel the economic burden of Covid-19, some may turn to illegal poaching for short term financial gain or even subsistence poaching. Fewer tourists also mean that there are fewer eyes on the ground which means that it is easier for poachers to operate.

Remain Vigilant

A secondary function of our guiding team has always been safety and security. All the guides have remained on site at Royal Malewane. Our security patrols are now more important than ever in order to protect our precious wildlife.

Our guides are currently organised into teams that fulfil different functions. Two of our guides are heavily involved in our counter poaching dog unit – GKAP. They do daily foot patrols of about 15 -20kms with the dogs ensuring a constant presence around the reserve perimeter, all the while keeping the dogs fit, and well-trained. Other guides do daily (and nightly) vehicle patrols to keep a lookout for anything unusual and to show that we are still active.

A Team United

So that we can keep in touch with our guests we are also producing regular ‘Stay at Home Virtual Safaris’ which we feature on our Instagram page and on our YouTube channels. You might also enjoy some of our favourite wildlife images from the last 20 years at Royal Malewane.

We are proud to have the most qualified guiding team in Africa. Now is the perfect time for the team to further some of the more academic aspects of the Field Guide’s Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) qualifications, while more junior members of the team can spend quality time learning from the senior guides and Master Trackers.

The guides have also been hosting Zoom meetings with the staff from our Western Cape hotels, telling them stories from the bush – many of them have never been on a safari.

We are using the time to train non-guiding staff in basic ‘track and sign’ skills that are important for life in the African bush and staff are able to use this time to do online hospitality training.

Although the team is keeping busy and spending quality time with family, life without our wonderful guests is simply not the same and we can’t wait to welcome back our guests from all over the world to experience the magic of Royal Malewane and a real Big 5 safari.

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The Master Trackers of Royal Malewane
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