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Karoo Heartland



As captive wildlife interactions remain is a complex issue, SATSA – the South African Tourism Association, has launched a guide to Evaluating Captive Wildlife Attractions and Activities.

The guide is an interactive tool for easy decision making, through eight simple questions, on interactions through a “decision tree”.

The guide is aimed at four key groups: foreign and local visitors interacting with animals, buyers such as destination management companies, tour operators internationally and locally as well as industry representatives such as associations, industry bodies and government among others.

The tool will allow these groups to assess animal interaction operations and make informed decisions to support ethically sound and responsible operators in South Africa.

Click here to view/download the guide.

Tourism Update – Mia Breytenbach



The second litter of cheetah cubs has successfully been born into the protected wild of Kuzuko Lodge as part of the joint “Breeding, Wilding and Release Project”, set up by Ashia Cheetah Conservation and Kuzuko Lodge, part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group, in 2018.

The four cubs were birthed by another captive-born female cheetah who forms part of this ground-breaking conservation programme, having arrived at Kuzuko Lodge earlier this year already pregnant.

The first-time feline mom delivered all four cubs successfully, however after a short while the project team, who had been keeping an eye on her from a distance, noticed that the cubs were not feeding.

Not wanting to interfere too quickly, the team decided to give them a couple of hours to see whether some privacy would assist with their bonding.

When the team returned and the cubs were still bundled together, it was time to intervene. It was discovered that the umbilical cord had intertwined the cubs together, not allowing them the freedom to feed.

The very protective mother was lured away with food and the cubs quickly released from the cord.

Despite being a first-time mom the female immediately took the cubs back and within no time they started suckling successfully. According to the team at Kuzuko, the are doing very well and have already tripled in size.




Lions successfully released to roam within Samara Private Game Reserve. A key milestone reached for lion conservation in South Africa. In December 2018, Samara Private Game Reserve became home to a founder pride of lions – relatives of the majestic Cape lion that roamed the Great Karoo more than 180 years ago. 

As part of a pioneering project to return the Karoo to the state of true biodiversity it once enjoyed, the lions were initially kept in an enclosure on Samara to ensure their wellbeing and to bond them together as a pride. On 15 January 2019, they were successfully released into the reserve – marking a major milestone not only for Samara, but also for South African wildlife conservation.



The team at Kuzuko Lodge, a member of Legacy Hotels & Resorts, are pleased to announce that Sylvester the most loved lion in South Africa and his lioness mate Angel, are officially parents of two lion cubs. The courtship happened during the first week of March this year.

Sylvester, who rose to fame after escaping twice and after walking more than 370km outside of the Karoo National Park and whose future was uncertain, has been at Kuzuko for more than two years and settled into a tight knit coalition with his male counterpart Fielies. Now, the proud father of two lion cubs, Sylvester and his lioness Angel, have showed us the true power of Mother Nature and defied all odds to become 100% integrated lions in the wild.

We have two lionesses in the reserve with whom the two male lions have established a close bond,” states Gerhard de Lange, Reserve General Manager at Kuzuko Lodge. “Although both lionesses were on contraception we started to suspect that Sylvester’s lioness, Angel, had given birth between 15 – 20 June of this year.

Angel showed all the signs of having cubs suckling her, but as lionesses keep their babies ‘hidden’ for quite a period while they are very young – we hadn’t been able to spot them. On Monday, 10 September our suspicions were confirmed, as Angel and her two little cubs started moving around together and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them.”

According to De Lange, the cubs are approximately 12 weeks old and in good health. Their mother Angel, is another Kuzuko success story as she herself was rescued at five months old with her sister as an orphan and instead of being tamed or raised in captivity, De Lange and his reserve team raised them to be 100% wild.

This lion and lioness are an incredible conservation story. Sylvester, who was during his ‘great escape’ almost euthanized because people simply didn’t understand that he was running for his life and needed a territory of his own and a coalition partner to join up with. And Angel, who by all rights shouldn’t even be alive, are now parents.

Sylvester never fails to surprise me. Since I first heard of him through his jaunts through the Karoo – causing havoc during his time out of the protected wild – till today where he is completely integrated at Kuzuko, he is living proof that conservation, when done right, is always the preferred option.

I can confirm that Sylvester himself has paid the mother of his cubs a few visits since they were born, so we are sure that Sylvester and his coalition partner will provide them with the protection they need. We can also confirm that the two little cubs have adopted their father’s good looks and are fit and healthy,” says De Lange. 

De Lange also wants to thank SANParks for allowing him the opportunity to bond these four special lions together and this exceptional outcome is a reflection of their conservation vision.

Kuzuko Lodge – We Make Conservation Happen.


Kuzuko Lodge is built high up on a hill in a 15 000ha private game reserve located in the Malaria free greater Addo area in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. This reserve is perfectly situated to start or complete a trip along the Garden Route. Guests are housed in 24 chalets of which three are wheelchair accessible. Children of all ages are welcome. Kuzuko is part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group and is a member of the Inqo Investments Social Impact Investment Group, which combines job creation, conservation and social transformation.

Please visit or or phone +27 42 203 1700 for more detailed information.



Mount Camdeboo advances its long-term conservation vision with introduction of elephantand lion in 2018Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve has announced that it will be furthering its long-term conservation vision with the introduction of elephant and lion onto the 14 000ha reserve in 2018.

This means that Mount Camdeboo will become home to the famed ‘Big Five’ as rhino, Cape buffalo and leopard are already present on the property. These species all historically occurred in the Great Karoo region and forms part of the reserve’s long-term plans to reintroduce historically occurring species in the area.

“We are thrilled to welcome back these majestic creatures to Mount Camdeboo, which will undoubtedly add great value to our safari experience” says owner Iain Buchanan. Records show that elephant have always been indigenous to the area, being an animal that can live in habitats ranging from deserts to forests, as long as there is clean fresh drinking water and shade. We are delighted that Mount Camdeboo meets all their habitat requirements and are confident that they will thrive on the reserve. In addition to the elephant, we will also introduce lion later during the year, which will complete our Big Five safari offering.

”Since the reserve’s inception in 1995, when the late Logie Buchanan purchased several properties making up the current 14 000 ha Mount Camdeboo private game reserve. The family’s long-term conservation vision included developing the property for the conservation of fauna and flora sustained by eco-tourism, with the view to expanding this further into the Karoo region. The recent approval by the Department of Environmental Affairs of the region’s Mountain Zebra-Camdeboo Protected Environment’s proposed management plan – which will see approximately 286 343 hectares of both private and public land in the Great Karoo protected and preserved for generations to come – was a feather in the region’s land conservation cap. Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve has played a pivotal role in this initiative, being the first property to sign into the Protected Environment in 2012.

“We are proud to continuously be working towards achieving our long-term conservation vision of ensuring sensible and sustainable utilisation of natural resources as a foundation for eco-tourism and wildlife conservation. With the introduction of elephant and lion, we are one step closer to realising our vision” says son Iain Buchanan.

MORE ABOUT MOUNT CAMDEBOO: Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve lies just to the east of the town of Graaff-Reinet, in the heart of the malaria free Eastern Cape’s Great Karoo area. Accommodating only 28 guests in 3 luxurious boutique manor homesteads and 2 sumptuous safari tents on 14 000 hectares, Mount Camdeboo continues to ensure sensitive and sustainable utilisation of natural resources as a foundation for eco-tourism and wildlife conservation in this region.




Elephants have returned to Samara Private Game Reserve after a 200-year absence, marking a conservation milestone and entrenching Samara’s status as one of the leading conservation areas in the Karoo.

Samara is delighted and privileged to welcome these gentle giants back to the Plains of Camdeboo, as part of our vision of recreating a fully-functioning Great Karoo ecosystem. Thank you to everyone involved in this historic translocation.

Sarah and Mark Tompkins, owners of Samara Private Game Reserve, explain that when they first established the reserve in 1997, their aim was to restore the area to the wildlife haven it had been before species like cheetah, rhino, Cape lion, springbok and elephant were eradicated by early farmers and settlers. “This is an extremely important area from an ecological point of view,” Sarah explains, adding that the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Thicket, where Samara’s 27,000 hectares of scenic wilderness are located, has been designated as one of the world’s 36 Global Biodiversity Hotspots.

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