Day 4, Dec. 24: Port Elizabeth and Schotia Safari
On Christmas Eve, Larry and I went on our second of three safaris. This one was by far my favorite. Schotia Safaris is the oldest private game reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, bordering the eastern side of Addo Elephant National Park. The Schotia farm is located in Zululand–the same territory that Thula Thula Reserve owned by the Elephant Whisperer Lawrence Anthony lived.
The Eastern Cape Private Game Reserve is owned, managed and run hands on by the Bean family, who are now in their sixth generation and have owned the original farm, Orlando, since the early 1800’s. The original farm raised cattle. The homesteading Bean family cleared out much of the growth and planted grass for the cattle grazing which makes safari viewing so easy to spot the animals.
Schotia was the first reserve in the Cape Province to have free roaming lions. Schotia Reserve get its name from an indiginous tree by the same name. The reserve is malaria free and is reputedly the most densely stocked reserve in Africa, and with more than forty mammal species including four of the big five (elephant, lion, rhino, and Wildebeest) and approximately two thousand animals.
Our guide was Mike who had twenty-five years experience as a bush and safari guide. I had the pleasure of sitting next to him in the land rover and pepper him with questions the entire day.
I asked Mike if he had heard of Lawrence Anthony, the Elephant Whisperer and he said yes that Anthony owned the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve in Zululand. He credited Anthony for his dedication to wildlife conservation and stopping poaching.
Poaching is big business in Africa. They hunt the elephant and rhino for their tusks and horns. Some cultures prized the horns and tusks for various medical conditions to status symbol. Lawrence Anthony writes about poaching at length in two of his books, The Elephant Whisperer and The Last Rhino.
Bonnie & Clyde
Mike said Schotia’s two rhinos were attacked by poachers, their horns cut off and the rhinos left to die bleeding out. However, the two rhinos were discovered soon after by reserve employees and the rhinos lives were saved. He said they no longer broadcast the location of the rhinos when safaris are running. The poachers listen to the radio chatter. The rhinos are now referred to as Bonnie and Clyde. Further security is provided directly to the rhinos at night and when the park is closed.
Mike said Bonnie and Clyde remember their attack and have remained wary of everyone. Out of respect for what the two rhinos have endured, no safari truck gets too close them. Mike said as aClyde was particularly grumpy from his trauma–years later.
Mike reminded me that the animals are wild and human interaction was avoided. He told of a time when an elephant felt Mike’s land rover was parked too close and charged the land rover and knocked the front windshield out.
Schotia served a fabuous BBQ luncheon and I tasted antelope and other South African dishes.
Debora Ragland Buerk
The Write Stuff
Looking at life from a different POV.