South Africa – The Land of Termite Mounds

Everywhere I look, I see massive termite mounds. They are the size of a large ottoman and fill the landscapes. It’s impressive. That said, I’ve not particularly captured these well in pictures as they quickly become old news. “Oh! Is that a lion?! Oh… no… it’s a termite mound.”

(Actually a lion… Not a termite mound.)

(Also, not termite mounds.)

(So here you see a few termite mounds in the foreground. But all of those beige specks on the back ridge are also termite mounds. It’s nuts, but the view is stunning!)

Anyway… this week at Kwantu we’ve done quite a bit of manual labor. It takes a lot to keep a reserve like this going. The staff here is plentiful and so we’re used for basic things that don’t require much skill. 

We’ve releveled roads out in the reserve, breaking down the middle mound and filling in the side divots. This also included breaking down some termite mounds to use the dirt to help fill the gaps. 

It’s important to maintain these roads. You see, the reserve is an entire ecosystem. Kwantu is not only interested in maintaining the animals but the plants and microorganisms as well. Having well kept roads keeps the vehicles off the grass, maintaining these natural areas. 

(Fixin’ roads… I wish I had daddy’s backhoe for this!)

Also, all of the fence clearing is done manually, without chemicals. You can just imagine how much fencing is required for 6000 hectares. It’s a big job and Kwantu seems very dedicated to doing that job well. 

Tree chopping is also an activity that the volunteers fill their time with. In keeping with the want to maintain an African wilderness, all nonindigenous plants (mostly originating in Australia) must be removed. This is a big job, and we try to catch these trees when they’re small to make it easier. What I appreciate most, is that Kwantu uses the collected timber to make things like shutters and such for the camp. Nothing is wasted, even if it’s not wanted. 

(South African sunrise… worth the 4am wake up call!)

One job I could not bring myself to participate in, was the predator feeding. Kwantu receives donated whole cows from local farms, which then must be divvied up for all of the big cats who are currently residing in the rehabilitation camp. I completely understand why this happens this way and that it’s a necessity for the furthering of these big cats. However, I just couldn’t manage to participate. The smell alone will turn your stomach. 

In addition, the whole scene just reeks of how we’ve completely disrupted the balance in nature. These predators should be able to hunt for their own meals without fear of humans overtaking their homelands. They shouldn’t have to be in a rehabilitation center waiting for someone to bring them part of a dead cow. But alas, here we are. 

(I don’t know what these are, but they’re beautiful!)

The staff here at Kwantu are very friendly and helpful. I enjoy speaking with them about the animals and digging into their knowledge on how to best care and preserve them.