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Addo: Predators

Addo, Camdeboo, Karoo, Mountain Zebra

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Friedrich von Hörsten
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Addo: Predators

Unread postby Friedrich von Hörsten » Sat May 03, 2014 7:56 pm

Just back from 3 lovely days in Addo, in spite of heavy rain and wet roads, saw plenty of elephants as usual. :clap:
Really close-up, within 1 meter of huge cows and a bull, as usual. (couldn't move -- traffic) :clap:
And eland, as usual. :clap:
And caracal, as usual (3). :clap: :clap: :clap:
And tortoises, as usual. :clap:
And a hare, as usual. :clap:
And warthogs, as usual. :clap:
And lots of birds, as usual. :clap:
And zebra, kudu and hartebeest, as usual. :clap:
And not 1 hyena, very unusual. :(
And 1 male lion, NOT as usual, in fact, the first sighting in 5 visits! :mrgreen:

SO ADDO, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO ADD A FEW MORE PREDATORS?

You have doubled the size of the park by adding Matyholweni. :clap:
You have added lions and hyenas over the past few years. :clap: :clap:

You have halved the number of lions, contracepted the females till they've forgotten how to breed. :wall:

Question: Where are the wild dogs promised so long ago?

There used to be an exhibition at the viewing point of Main Camp/Nyati waterhole, bragging about the new lions introduced from Kgalagadi...

And promising wild dog soon... What happened to that project? They would surely keep the numbers of kudu and warthog in check, so we don't need another cull of warthogs every few years to avoid degradation of the park... :cry: :cry: :cry:

And promising cheetah soon... (I know you have 2 hidden away somewhere in Kuzuko contractual area where most people never go)... but now the excuse is that the park is not suitable for them/they never were there before... were there warthogs before? The environment has been changed so much that cheetah would do very well in all the open spaces that were created by farmers previously, especially in Matyholweni... :( :( :( Or are we going to replant trees in all those open spaces because "grasslands didn't exist here before"?

Please remember: Addo used to be a zoo with a few elephants and 2 hartebeest, and people spent a few hours there before leaving.
The addition of zebra, eland, black rhino, hyena, and ultimately lions, made it a better park where people can stay for a week without getting bored.

But Addo really isn't a predator park.

A leopard is seen once in 2 years by some lucky individual.

Lions are mostly in the south, far from Main Camp, and your chance of seeing one is 0,001%.

Please, please consider:

Wild dog :mrgreen:

Cheetah :mrgreen:

in Main game viewing area and Matyholweni.

That will truly put Addo on the map for tourists and locals who don't want to travel to Kruger to see predators!

Just think about it.

Then... Just Do It!

MAKE ADDO A SUPERPARK! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten
Last edited by Friedrich von Hörsten on Mon May 05, 2014 8:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Hugh
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Hugh » Sat May 03, 2014 8:23 pm

I am sorry ... but Some of us like ADDO as it is and don't want a super park filled with tourists .
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Imberbe » Sat May 03, 2014 10:50 pm

It is SANParks policy not to introduce animals which did not previously naturally occur in a park. They will not introduce species just to attract tourists.

One must differentiate between nature conservation and what happens in many many so called nature areas. In an effort to make money these areas will do whatever is needed to attract paying tourists and therefore will present the tourists with what they want. Nature conservation sometimes needs to take a hard decision not to introduce animals even though it may cost them some tourist rands.

Addo has a specific habitat which simply do not favour some species. Even if some of them did wonder through in days gone by, they would not thrive in that habitat and therefore their presence as a species is not sustainable.

I am not an expert on this but I doubt as example whether wild dog will currently thrive in Addo. The habitat is not conducive and there are other challenges such as the size and distribution of the park. Wild dog needs huge space and are prone to escape and come in to contact with other dogs (disease), run in to vehicles, etc. Remember that KNP has only between 200 and 250 wild dog.

Addo is a special place. We can enjoy it for what it is. :cam:
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Friedrich von Hörsten » Mon May 05, 2014 8:03 pm

Hi Hugh and Imberbe,

Thanks for the answers.

I don't want any park to become a mad tourist destination any more than you do.
The fact is that if a park does not pay for itself, in the long run the government will not subidize it either, and it will cease to exist.
Right now most small Sanparks parks stay alive because of bigger parks like Table Mountain and Kruger. That is a fact of modern life.
Addo will never become a Kruger Park because it is out of the way, and far from big centres like Cape Town and Johannesburg.
I am simply asking for the improvement of the park as far as game viewing is concerned. You have to admit that 10 years ago, most people could drive through Addo in a morning, see their elephants and go home. Apart from tortoises, warthog and kudu, there was very little to see.
Today the game viewing is much more rewarding because there is a bigger variety. It could be even better, a "superpark" as far as game viewing is concerned, not for the sake of numbers.

Imberbe, nobody is asking for the introduction of animals which never occured in that area. May I quote for you from the current Addo NP map I got there last week:
"European settlers moved into the area in the late 1700's and described it as being abundant in wildlife such as elephant, rhino, buffalo, SPRINGBOK, lion, WILD DOGS, red hartebeest and eland".
From experience I know Sanparks are very slow to actually get things going, but Addo has been an exception, and have showed great initiative in expanding the park into a "superpark" that covers 5 biomes and brags of the "Big 7".

I am simply encouraging them to keep on this track and fill in the last missing pieces of the puzzle.

May I remind you that Karoo NP was mostly just a scenic park when I visited it originally in about 1986, with a few springbok, ostriches and steenbok. Most people didn't bother to stay over, but just stopped en route to Johannesburg for a quick Hi and Goodbye.
I wrote to them many times and asked for a bigger variety of game, including lions. The stock answer: "They were here before, but we won't re-introduce lion in the Karoo for a long time!"
How gratifying then to eventually read the announcement in 2010: "Karoo NP to get lions back after ..... years..." with the comment from head of the Frontier parks, Louis Moolman reflecting my exact words to them all along:"Karoo will now not be a mere stopover for tourists en route from Cape Town to Johannesburg, but a worthy destination in its own right!". They also still need to bring the cheetahs back they promised so long ago...

For those of you who live closer to Addo and Karoo NP, it might be very convenient to have your own little sanctuary just for yourselves, but for us who have to travel over 1000 km to get to Kgalagadi and 2000 km to Kruger, we would like to share in your private little parks, but make the travel (700km and 450 km) a little more worthwhile.

Lastly, if small parks like Umfolozi in KZN can accommodate wild dogs, I see no reason why a park like Addo can not do the same to prevent warthog and kudu from damaging the environment. Especially if they become creative enough to let down a few more fences and join up with Nyathi section and the bigger areas further northwest.

Imberbe, I have a vague memory of my first visit to Addo about 40 years ago -- of an old farmhouse turned into an office; of paying an "entrance fee" for the privilege of driving on a dirt track OUTSIDE the Armstrong fence, and scanning the thick Addo bush for a glimpse of a red elephant body to photograph. We actually saw one for a few seconds! Imagine if those Sanparks officials had said:
"Addo is a special place. We can enjoy it for what it is"
... What would we have today?

Lets dream big!

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

Ps Imagine having elephants swimming in the Indian Ocean at Colchester and Woody Cape if we only were brave enough to create a corrider over or under the N2!
Last edited by Friedrich von Hörsten on Mon May 05, 2014 9:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby DinkyBird » Mon May 05, 2014 8:42 pm

Friedrich von Hörsten wrote:Right now most small Sanparks parks stay alive because of bigger parks like Table Mountain and Kruger. That is a fact of modern life.


Hi Friedrich

I cannot point to any data to support my following statement, but I have heard a number of times that, as you say, 'most small SANParks stay alive because of bigger parks'; Addo is one of the parks that turn a profit and contribute to the funding of the parks that do not within the SANParks basket.

If you refer to the latest Annual Report online, 2011/2012, Addo had a unit occupancy rate of just over 81%, second only to KTP.
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby saraf » Mon May 05, 2014 9:12 pm

Addo has a lot going for it as it is. For a start it is a Big 5 park (but I take your point about leopard). It may not be too near Cape Town but it is at one end of the Garden Route, a very famous and popular tourist trail. Its malaria free. And for me, one of the big draws is the chance to see meerkats without having to trek all the way up to the Kalahari. You would not believe how popular meerkats are in the UK right now.

It's a different experience to Kruger and KTP but that's not a bad thing. It caters for different needs.

SANParks is evolving all the time, it has long-term plans for expansion in most of its parks. But it takes money and it takes time and it takes patience. They are (literally in some cases) sowing seeds that will take more than my lifetime to come to fruition.

And the bottom line is, its working - its not easy to get a booking in the Main Camp these days.
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Friedrich von Hörsten » Mon May 05, 2014 9:30 pm

Dinkybird and Saraf,

Thanks for pointing out that Addo is already so popular and doing well financially. Most likely that is because of the recent expansions in the park size, camps like Matyholweni and Spekboom (after many pleas from many forumites for a small camp with a "wilder" feel than main camp), and introduction of Hyena and lion.

Exactly the point I am trying to make...

I love the place!

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

Ps. The meerkats are very special, and I see them every visit at either Woodlands or Hapoor. I doubt that a few more predators would drastically reduce their numbers.
I do think that too many predators would be harmful for the caracal numbers -- this place must be one of the best in the world for caracal lynx sightings!
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Haupie » Mon May 05, 2014 10:00 pm

Frederich Addo is one of the special places in this country. I can hardly travel to PE from Slummies without driving through the park.

The Eastern Cape bush has its own tranquility. Maybe not the same as KTP or KNP in the off season, but still an escape for those of us who enjoy being in the South African bush.

Believe it or not, I have spent 4 hours in Addo without an elephant sighting. But have always marvelled at how much better I feel when I go home.

Some of us do not just chase the big 5.
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I say 'no bail to poachers', name and shame them, even at a sniff of suspicion. Lets get rid of them quickly

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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Friedrich von Hörsten » Tue May 06, 2014 6:34 am

Morning Haupie,

Couldn't agree more. My son worked in EL for 2 years, and every time I drove past Colchester, I turned left, drove up to the gate, chatted to the Sanparks people there, smelt the thatched roofs of the ablution block, had breakfast outside, listening to all the bird sounds and smelling the lovely bush.
Still my favourite stop-over every time I do that trip!

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

PS. I just keep pushing them to improve the experience! One more example is the gate opening times -- they never vary between summer and winter. Was lovely to be out in the dark before dawn in Addo last week. But in summer, you only get out 40 minutes after sunrise, and have to be back in camp 40 minutes before sunset -- the golden hours are spent in camp?
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Friedrich von Hörsten » Tue May 06, 2014 6:55 am

Haupie said:
Some of us do not just chase the big 5.


How sad when we generalize like that!

I "chase" sunsets, walks with my wife, beautiful grass seeds, bird calls, butterflies (especially charaxes in forests!), smells of elephant dung and the bush, fresh spring leaves on trees, sharing God's creation with children who have never experienced silence before, the beauties of the Namib Desert... the list is endless.
My favourite animal is the elephant. I can sit for hours and watch them, especially at platforms in Hwange NP in Zim, where nobody else bothers you, and you just sit under the platform, in the open, about 20m away from wild African elephants!
If I visit Kruger for 14 days, I am thrilled to see 20 lions during that time, especially good sightings, close-up. That could hardly be called "chasing the big 5"...
I just happen to know that there is an extra spark now in Addo since big predators were introduced, and I look over my shoulder twice before getting out of my car at Zuurkop or Domkrag viewpoints...
Anything wrong with that?

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten
``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay

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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Werner_Patat » Tue May 06, 2014 5:28 pm

I must say I agree with Friedrich.

Camp Matyholweni might get a camping area, they're busy with an environmental impact assessment.

And I'm sure I've read somewhere that they are one day going to release Wild Dogs in the Darlington Dam section?

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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Bush Baptist » Tue May 06, 2014 6:00 pm

I agree with Friedie.

Re-introduce something (that was there before humans), or add to them, which will keep the warthog population in balance.
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby Imberbe » Tue May 06, 2014 10:31 pm

I do not want to disagree with anyone. And Friederich no one is criticising you when we point out that Addo has enough to offer. We are also not saying that it is perfect and could not be improved. I think we all would like to see it back to as natural a system as possible.

I would also love to see wild dogs in Addo. But it is currently probably too risky to release these animals there. We probably have under 350 wild dogs in the entire country. Introducing them simply because they occurred there before and then loosing them because they cross the public roads, get infected by local domestic dogs or get shot would be more than sad, it would be a tragedy. Remember that game fencing do not keep wild dogs in. We have lost dogs i.e. at Marakele which got shot after getting through the fence.

I am sure that it is being considered and that the day it is judged that it has become a feasible option it will be done. Addo is a growing park and because of that it opens new possibilities. But it is not only about the park it is also about what is the best for one of our most threatened species.
Last edited by Imberbe on Wed May 07, 2014 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby jad » Wed May 07, 2014 5:00 pm

SANparks published a report on Addo and it was found that it was not sustainable to have too many predators as the may decimate the buffalo that are sold at an enormous profit due to their being disease free and for some other reasons which I cannot remember, but I think the maximum was ten lions or one pride not sure on that point.
I remember also riding around the outside of the Armstrong fence climbing to the top of the mounds and searching for elephants and we did see a few.
I do see the lions quite often so it is not as rare as some people say, but sometimes I only see one or two elephants. Addo Park is just as good as any other park even better just the restaurant is out of limits to me because I am a vegetarian.

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Re: Addo needs a few more predators!

Unread postby DinkyBird » Wed May 07, 2014 5:55 pm

Something not all might be aware of:

Addo needs to patrol the fence in the game area every day - the SHR (Honorary Rangers) do this to assist over weekends. Bordering the fence are sheep farms, and on the one side, an informal settlement that is out of view to the tourist. It is important to ensure the electrical current never fails, and also to check for holes burrowed under the fence by the warthogs ... can you imagine a lion getting out through that into the neighbours sheep flock ....
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