A day in Pilanesberg: Before we set out.

Our day trip to Pilanesberg National Park on Tuesday (06 October, 2020) was just so full of exciting and beautiful sights and experiences that we’ve decided to do a series of posts over the next two weeks to tell you all about it.

The trip has been a few weeks in the planning, and finally a week or so ago we identified an opportunity to visit the Park on the 6th of October. As the date got closer and closer the weather forecasts for the day grew ever more rainy, until the evening before it was clear and certain that the first decent rainfall of spring arrived in northern South Africa – very welcome indeed. Not being the sort to let a little wet weather dampen our exploring spirits we were not deterred, although wet weather usually doesn’t bode well for good sightings of animals or birds.

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, South Africans are not presently allowed on the roads before 04:00 am unless to provide or receive an “essential service”. This meant that we couldn’t leave Pretoria earlier, which we would’ve preferred to do given the 160km of wet roads ahead following good overnight rainfall. Thankfully there was very little traffic on the road, and with ten minutes left before the gates opened at 06:00 am, we pulled into the parking area at Kwa Maritane Gate on the south-east border of the Pilanesberg National Park. That’s just enough time to fit lenses to cameras and pay our entrance fee.

It is 06:02 when we drive through the gate into the Park along the gravel Tshepe Drive.

If you’d like to follow along over the next few days, a map may come in handy (for a large format version click here)

Oh, before we drive further and I forget: Pilanesberg National Park is home to healthy populations of both black and white rhinos, but due to the continued threat posed by armed poachers we are sharing the photos we got of them on this trip to Pilanesberg here in the opening post, so that we don’t give away the location of our sightings (even if their horns have been removed by rangers to deter the poachers).

21 thoughts on “A day in Pilanesberg: Before we set out.

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Trophy hunting is also beyond my understanding, Tracy, but sadly what’s happening to our rhinos are even worse. They’re being killed, often in horrendous fashion, for their horns to be ground up as “traditional medicine” and “tokens of esteem” in certain parts of the world.

      The Pilanesberg is an extinct volcano and very rocky in most places. Winter is also fire season in the savannas, and large tracts of veld burn annually. But nature is resilient and the green shoots appear as soon as the first rains wet the African dust.

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  1. H.J. for avian101

    These giants are going to live longer by removing the horns. The poachers were almost getting them to be extinct. I’m glad that the rhinos will live for the future generations. Great post, D. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Removing the horn in this fashion is as painless as clipping your nails, Lois, and the rhinos are first sedated by qualified vets. Like nails, the horns do grow back so it has to be an ongoing process to keep trimming the horns back so that there’s too little remaining to be worth the poacher’s effort. Sad that it is even necessary.

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