Since 2008 poachers have killed at least 5,940 African rhinos……
Rhino poaching is currently at a crisis point. By the end of 2015, the number of African rhinos killed by poachers had increased for the sixth year in a row with at least 1,338 rhinos killed by poachers across Africa in 2015. These statistics are compiled by by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG).
South Africa has by far the largest population of rhinos in the world and is an incredibly important country for rhino conservation. However rhino poaching levels have dramatically escalated over recent years.
1,175 rhinos were poached in South Africa during 2015, a slight decrease on the previous year when a record 1,215 rhinos were illegally killed. This is the first time the country has recorded a dip in poaching levels since 2007, when the rate of poaching began to escalate rapidly.
The cheetah also known as the hunting leopard, is a big cat that occurs mainly in eastern and southern Africa and a few parts of Iran. First recoded in 1775, the cheetah is characterised by a slender body, deep chest, spotted coat, a small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, long thin legs and a long spotted tail. Its lightly built, slender form is in sharp contrast with the robust build of the other big cats. The cheetah reaches nearly 70 to 90 cm (28 to 35 in) at the shoulder, and weighs 21–72 kg (46–159 lb). Though taller than the leopard, it is notably smaller than the lion. Basically yellowish tan or rufous to greyish white, the coat is uniformly covered with nearly 2,000 solid black spots.
Cheetah are active mainly during the day, with hunting its major activity. Adult males are sociable despite their territoriality, forming groups called “coalitions”. Females are not territorial; they may be solitary or live with their offspring in home ranges. Carnivores, cheetah mainly prey upon antelopes and gazelles. They will stalk their prey to within 100–300 metres (330–980 ft), charge towards it and kill it by tripping it during the chase and biting its throat to suffocate it to death. The cheetah’s body is specialised for speed; it is the fastest land animal. The speed of a hunting cheetah averages 64 km/h (40 mph) during a sprint; the chase is interspersed with a few short bursts of speed, when the animal can clock 112 km/h (70 mph). Cheetahs are induced ovulators, breeding throughout the year. Gestation is nearly three months long, resulting in a litter of typically three to five cubs (the number can vary from one to eight). Weaning occurs at six months; siblings tend to stay together for some time.
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is a 65,000 hectare reserve, pioneered by local landowners in the 1950s, and shares a border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park.
Today, many of these families are now third and fourth generation land owners, their legacy being the successful conservation of the highest density of big game in South Africa. Even though there is a 50 kilometre unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park, wildlife in the Sabi Sands Reserve is well habituated resulting in extraordinary close encounters and prolific sightings, particularly of the elusive leopard. The Sabi and the Sand Rivers run through the reserve, which add further dimension to the bio-diversity of this area.
Back from Safari with some wonderful memories and images captured not only on digital ‘film’ but in the mind