Here at Bushmans Kloof, we are well aware of our extraordinary environment, and feel ourselves beholden to the land that sustains a plethora of plants and creatures, including ourselves.
That’s why Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat is the proud winner of a host of ecological awards, including the Condé Nast World Savers Award for Wildlife and Conservation Programmes, and the coveted Relais and Chateaux Environment Trophy. We are proud to be within the Cederberg wilderness area within the Cape Floral Kingdom.
The TreadRight Foundation, a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, has partnered with leading active conservation organizations Cheetah Outreach and The Cape Leopard Trust to ensure local communities can protect themselves and their livestock from top predators responsibly and sustainably, while also helping protect one of Africa’s most endangered wild animals.
The Cape leopard is one of the few predators at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat and its surrounding region in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa. As local human populations have grown over the past several decades, so too have the number of encounters and conflicts between the rare Cape leopards, people, and their livestock. This has led to an increase in instances of Cape leopards attacking domestic livestock, risking not only depletion of essential domestic animal populations, but also significant, irrecoverable damage to the economic and social well-being of local communities. Consequentially, this has caused a sharp increase in the number of Cape leopards killed by farmers.
Recognizing the need to urgently address the crisis, Bushmans Kloof and TreadRight, working with neighboring farmers, have led the way in finding and funding a natural resolution. Partnering with Cheetah Outreach and The Cape Leopard Trust to adopt and adapt community protection and predator management solutions with the support of TreadRight, three Anatolian Shepherd dogs have come to Bushmans Kloof as livestock guardian dogs (LGDs), with more to follow.
Originating in the hills of central Turkey, for generations these animals have used their strong and sturdy anatomy, sharp eyesight and hearing, and exceptional speed and agility to protect livestock at risk of becoming prey to local predators. As born and bred guardians, Anatolian Shepherds offer a perfect of solution for Bushmans Kloof and the surrounding region.
“We at Bushmans Kloof feel an innate sense of responsibility for not only our guests and our staff, but for the communities with which we share this magnificent part of the Cape and South Africa,” says Rory du Plessis, general manager of Bushmans Kloof. “Finding natural solutions to problems in nature is a must. The TreadRight Foundation’s efforts in finding a responsible solution to protection of local livestock, and at the same time helping the Cape Leopard community continue to grow and thrive, is appreciated more than words can express. Not only will these canine caretakers keep indigenous wildlife alive, they keep alive the spirit of living in balance – an ethos central to Bushmans Kloof – which is important for us all to learn from.”
The TreadRight Foundation is supporting the placement of the Anatolian Shepherds with local farmers, providing the cost of raising the dogs through their first year. The dogs are regularly monitored by Cheetah Outreach to oversee proper training and help ensure the dogs reach their full potential as an LGD.
The Cape Leopard Trust is an exceptional organisation dedicated to the preservation of the Cape’s predator diversity. Though Bushmans Kloof is predator-free, we are deeply committed the protection and preservation of all indigenous wildlife in South Africa. The partnership between Bushmans Kloof and the Cape Leopard Trust provides invaluable information pertaining to Leopard ecology in the area.
Bushmans Kloof is one of the main sponsors of the Trust’s GPS collaring project, as the Leopard is the top predator within the Cederberg Mountains. It was in August 2005 that the first GPS collar was fitted to a Leopard for monitoring and research purposes, a first in Leopard research, allowing biologists to determine Leopard behaviour and movements in the Cederberg Mountains.
The Cape Mountain Zebra has a population of just 1200 animals worldwide. This number, though small, is a vast improvement on the 400 animals recorded in 1984. It is considered the largest mammal in South Africa ever to face extinction, a fate that its cousin, the Quagga, succumbed to at the turn of the century. Bushmans Kloof is the proud owner of one of the world’s largest privately owned herds, and we are wholeheartedly committed to the proliferation of this beautiful animal.
A project currently undertaken is to photograph and document each zebra on the property for a ‘studbook’, a valuable tool used to determine the reproductive success of individual zebras. This ‘family tree’ allows us to better understand the conditions needed for the continued success of this wildlife treasure.
On the Reserve with Celine Cousteau
Once the Olifants River system of the Cederberg Mountains was teeming with these golden beauties, but since the 1940s the population has seen a rapid decline. This is due to the introduction of Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass from the United States to improve sport fishing in the area. These species wrought huge devastation, devouring the eggs and juvenile populations of indigenous aquatic species, including the Clanwilliam Yellowfish.
Bushmans Kloof have initiated a project to prioritise the conservation of this highly endangered creature. We’re lucky to be a catchment area and nursery for the young fry (juvenile fish) and the project involves restocking the dams with Yellowfish fry. Gravel beds are laid at the mouth of the Boontjies River to assist Yellowfish to swim upstream for the spring spawning season.
To add to this endeavour, we have also re-introduced the Clanwilliam Redfin and Sawfin, also endemic to the Olifants River system. During the summer, this results in excellent catch-and-release fly-fishing in the gorgeous rock pools of the Boontjies and Perdekraal tributaries near the Bushmans Kloof lodge.
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, together with the Botanical Society and Western Cape Nature Conservation, has given its commitment to support the Clanwilliam Cedar Tree Project.
Bushmans Kloof grows saplings in its nursery and hosts an annual tree and seed planting ceremony in an effort to reintroduce this highly endangered tree into its natural habitat, and specifically around Bushmans Kloof.
The Cederberg mountains are named after the Clanwilliam Cedars (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) that were once abundant on the upper slopes, and are now faced with possible extinction. The number of trees has declined dramatically over the past two centuries, partly due to unsustainable exploitation, and partly due to an increase in fire frequency.
The Clanwilliam Cedar is listed as endangered on the Red Data List, and has been short-listed onto a global list of 43 conifer species that are worthy of special conservation attention.