Cango Wildlife Ranch and Buffelsdrift Game Reserve
As if to
further soften the disappointment of missing out on the mornings Meerkat visit,
we headed for the Cango Wildlife Ranch, which was a small zoo by any other
name, but having a core breeding programme of indigenous species as its primary
aim. Part of the therapy was unexpected, coming in the guise of 5 Meerkats in
one of the first enclosures, and although unnatural and against many personal
principles, we just had to sit and watch them for some time. Among the pens
within the park were numerous Cape Wagtails, with a regular Cape Robin-chat
appearing at various points within the premises. Just as we were about the
leave the car park, a female African Paradise-flycatcher passed by in the trees
in front of us.
A short drive further out of Oudtshoorn, passing the numerous Ostrich farms which are a feature of the area, we reached the Buffelsdrift Game Reserve ( www.buffelsdrift.com ), which in itself is only about 8km from town. As with many of the South African reserves, this is a large fenced in area, which contains replenished stocks of only originally indigenous species to the locale. The property is actually a game lodge and reserve, and so accommodation packages can be arranged, which would make it an alternative place to stay (yet a lot more expensive) than B&B’s within Oudtshoorn, with the addition of included wildlife packages. The purist naturalists limitations of this are obvious when looked at from the perspective of the wildness of the animals encountered, but as we approached the reception the lure of a safari drive encountering now free roaming wildlife was far too tempting. We spent a highly enjoyable 2½ hours in an open back 4x4, with only 2 others for company, watching an interesting and healthy population of animals and a small selection of birds. One of the pair of resident rhinos even approached the side of the vehicle to give us a cursory checking out. Stocks here included the Red variety of Hartebeeste, good numbers of Beisa Oryx, Springbok, a pair of Giraffe with a calf, Black Wildebeeste, etc. We initiated the visit with a sit on the reception / dining room veranda overlooking the lake, taking in the site of 7 Hippos on the opposite shore. 2-3 White-throated Swallows were not only flying around here, but also landing on the fencing of the decking. A pair of Familiar Chats were almost as obliging just around the corner, again on the fencing. A Giant Kingfisher was spotted flying over the lake twice, the second directly in front of us. The small garden area beneath the walkway to the reception held a nesting pair of Karoo Scrub-robins, a small collection of Karoo Prinias, and a flying male Orange-breasted Sunbird. The nearby car park was host to a singing trio of Red-headed Cisticolas, conducting vertical song flights. The first Pied Starlings here proved to be quite numerous throughout the whole of the reserve, with the largest flock also including Wattled Starlings. The most obvious birds throughout were Mousebirds, most of which were specifically unidentified, but the rump of White-backed and a trio of Red-faced Mousebirds were picked up. A pair of Pale Chanting-goshawks were circling over our second encounter with the White Rhinos. Only the olive back and distinctive yellow tipped tail of Bokmakerie was seen.