Back in 1999 something truly interesting happened in the Limpopo Province of South Africa; the Van Den Berg family purchased Bushfellows, a game lodge located in the Marble hall / Groblersdal region. They aspired to help save our wildlife heritage.
Today, the reserve is home to 16 species of plains game, including buffalo, brown hyena, giraffe and zebra. It is also an oasis for the numerous birds and animals that the Van Den Bergs have rescued and helped to rehabilitate over the years.
Everything began one fateful day when Kyne Van Den Berg received a call from a farmer about a barn owl that he had found. She did not have any idea about owls or for that matter birds but she did take the distressed bird under her wings and brought it home. The next day she received another call from yet another farmer, who heard the previous incident and thought that they rescue owls. He was reporting about another owl! By the end of that month the Van Den Bergs were looking after seven owls! There were four barn owls, two spotted eagle owls and one pearl spotted owl. All of the owls, except for one that did not make it due to severe poisoning, were released back to the reserve.
Incidentally, one of the barn owls has made a home for itself close to the lodge. It lives inside an owl box and has, since being released, raised two sets of four owlets much to the satisfaction of the residents at the lodge.
Kyne’s passion for helping and rehabilitating these animals grew and she started joining a number of wildlife rehabilitation courses. However, she has continued to learn, first hand, from each of the animals that the lodge rescues including cheetahs, wild dogs and even an African python that already had 24 hatchlings! The lodge had recently been successful in releasing to the reserve two bat eared foxes which are expected to breed this summer.
One particular story, which if untold will make this report incomplete, is that of Titan and Sahara, two lion cubs which were bred for the purpose of canned-hunting and rescued by the Bushfellows. At just three weeks old they were purchased by the Bushfellows and brought to the lodge when all hopes of a future nearly ended for them. They quickly adapted to life at the lodge. Currently the two lions are being kept in an enclosure as a part of the process to teach them how to survive in their natural habitat, instilling the traits that they would need to hunt and defend, before being released in to the Bushfellows game reserve. The lions are showing progress and have already scored a few kills including blesbok, porcupine and waterbuck.
Kyne mentioned that by the time the lions are scheduled to be released (i.e. next year) they will have a sufficiently developed natural survival skill and the necessary maturity to live on their own.
Kyne also mentioned that they have launched a campaign for awareness about their wildlife conservation project and would like more and more people to follow the footsteps of Titan and Sahara on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/TitanAndSahara
More information about the conservation project can be obtained at www.bushfellows.co.za