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A Brief History...
It is difficult to believe that this game reserve was once degraded to the arid conditions resembling a desert and is now referred to “as the hidden jewel” of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Up to 1940 the original farm, Onverwacht, was heavily populated by people and their cattle, goats, sheep and horses had overgrazed the area to the extent that very little vegetation was left. The result of the poor cover was that the soil was left exposed to the power of rainfall and the soil in the low lying areas was washed away. Most of the subsoil and even the underlying weathering rock was eroded away over large areas.
In 1948 the Department of Agriculture expropriated the farm and treated it as a rehabilitation research farm. In 1971 Onverwacht was handed over to the then Natal Parks Board who continued the excellent rehabilitation work. Today the carrying capacity far exceeds the original estimates of its carrying capacity.
The history of degradation and rehabilitation has had a strong influence on the vegetation on Weenen game reserve which hosts about 20 mammal species (including black and white rhino) and over 200 bird species.
Weenen game reserve enjoys a very active group of Honorary Officers who give freely of their time in assisting the staff of the game reserve.
Part of the function of the group is to raise funds for projects to improve or maintain visitor facilities for all to enjoy.
We are fortunate to enjoy the support of a group of “friends of Weenen game reserve” who organise the Ride4Rhino mountain bike ride from Howick to the Game Reserve, raising funds specifically for rhino conservation on the reserve. These funds are handed to the Honorary Officer group who then control funding of agreed projects.
2012 was a challenge for the reserve due to the drought and critical shortage of surface water. The challenge was not only that of potential poaching, but water reticulation to prevent rhino from dying of thirst.
As drought is fairly regular, two strong boreholes have been identified to refurbish and get back into operation to avoid future threats of drought and its consequences on our rhino population.
One of the boreholes identified for repair
Assisting with rhino monitoring