Speak to any ranger that has worked at MalaMala Game Reserve, past or present, and ask what keeps them here and, in many cases, what brings them back. You will get one simple answer: “It’s all about the wildlife…” So, one has to ask what makes the game viewing so special at MalaMala? There is no single reason but rather the culmination of a number of factors which result in the ‘Magic of MalaMala’ that so many have revelled in over the decades.
The aardvark (or ant bear as it is also known) is arguably one of the most peculiar creatures on MalaMala Game Reserve and it is probably the one that you are least likely to see. Most people don’t know very much about this odd looking animal besides the fact that its name is always the first word in a dictionary and that it has often been portrayed in kids cartoons over the years.
They been described by many as the perfect predator, remaining virtually unchanged for millions of years. Since the time of dinosaurs they have out-survived many other species in some of the toughest and most hostile environments on the African continent.They hold the title of being the second largest reptile on earth as well as being one of the longest living animals.
The world’s most trafficked mammal is one that many people have never even heard of. Amidst the catastrophe of wildlife poaching and trafficking, where animals such as rhinos, lions and elephants often take the spotlight, this very small creature is mostly overlooked. There are eight different species of this, the world’s only truly scaly mammal, and they are all threatened with extinction
Disney recently released their much-anticipated remake of the Lion King. The original movie (first screened in 1994), was a huge success in almost every corner of the world. Indeed, many rangers like myself watched it when we were little urchins and it has remained close to our hearts ever since. If you think I’m exaggerating I’d suggest you put it to the test by humming any one of the songs in the movie next to a ranger and they’ll probably carry the tune or provide you with the lyrics!
For as long as I can remember I have been enraptured by nature. The fascination of how an ant colony selects a new queen, how trees create food, why a zebra has stripes or how a bat can pinpoint a mosquito in the dark. My journey into conservation although inevitable in retrospect, was neither simple nor easy.
Owls are synonymous with darkness and for this association they have bared the brunt of human superstition in several cultures. These birds are shrouded in mystique and myth but once you start to unravel the truth of their biology and understand the essence of the owl, you will soon become enchanted by their charms.
A series of repeated low grunting notes, not unlike the sound of a distant lion, greets the sunrise and adds some bass to the dawn chorus. A flock of prehistoric-looking birds emerge from the thickets into open grassland and stalk across the ground like undertakers at a funeral, their bright-red necks a startling contrast to their solemn black bodies.
With the onset of our dry season MalaMala has become quite… well, dry. And dusty. The rains will only fall again in November and so, in the coming months, animals must endure ever increasing hardships. These include less water availability as well as significantly reduced grazing and browsing opportunities.