Arrived at Phinda as a guest of Conservation Corporation, it
is the burning season and the reserve looked ethereal with wisps of smoke
rising, as we landed a group of Cheetah hunted across the runway, a mother and
five young in the mid-day heat in pursuit of food, they were hungry. As we
landed there was a pleasing illusion of the Cheetah chasing the plane, as we
climbed out of the plane they sat beside the runway perplexed and hot, eyeing
us. Cooled off they went in pursuit of
game and we circled back to follow ? the mother took a young Nyala. We arrived
just after the kill exhausted and over heated from hunting in the mid-day sun
she retreated to some shade and left the kill to her young.
We saw a wealth of game attracted by the fresh shoots of
grass emerging after the controlled burning ? Wart Hogs, Wildebeest, Kudu, Zebra,
Nyala, Baboons and the treat of seeing an exotic ? the Indian Mynah bird ?
feeding on the ticks on wildebeest, attractive maybe but displacing the Oxpeckers.
As I came out on to the deck beside the plunge pool to write this a long, very
long, vibrant green shoelace, an Eastern Green Snake, slid down the fence and
away into the bush.
The highlight of an evening game drive with White Rhino, Elephant,
Red Duiker, Malachite Kingfishers, Giraffe, Lioness and cubs was a sighting of
the Four-toed Elephant Shrew and the Scrub Hare – those I?ll likely never see
The magic is in the opportunity to enjoy this natural and
fecund wildlife area ? knowing that you are on derelict land purchased in 1991.
Overexploited cattle ranch land and failed pineapple farms were managed back to
bush and restocked providing more jobs at higher wages for the local
communities than under ranching and pasture.
That is a good news story ? tourism contributing to
conservation and benefiting local communities on a significant scale.