Once again, WE are writing to bring you some good news. WildEarth has partnered with Tswalu and will be bringing you a new live feed, Tswalu Live, direct from the southern Kalahari. WE are beyond excited to add this unique habitat in South Africa to our shows. Not only is this protected area one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but Tswalu is also home to a number of elusive, rare or endangered species such as pangolin, aardvark, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, brown hyena, black-maned Kalahari lion and wild dog. Expect many sightings that cannot be experienced anywhere else. This reserve – the largest private reserve in South Africa – is unquestionably one of the best places in the whole of Southern Africa to see cheetah in the wild due to its wide, open spaces.
WE are also looking forward to meeting Tswalu’s meerkats. Their gregarious nature and amusing antics – think early morning sunbathing and playing chicken with scorpions – are going to make you all fall in love with them. Tswalu has two habituated colonies who have accepted the presence of humans without letting it disrupt the important business of grooming and foraging. WE are excited to meet them by name and follow their daily antics in real-time.
Tswalu has been a labour of love for the Oppenheimer family for over 20 years. They have been custodians of this remarkable reserve since 1998, fulfilling the late Stephen Boler’s dream of facilitating the ecological recovery of the land, undoing years of neglect, and developing it into a conservation area of great significance. Tswalu is first and foremost a conservation project, informed by on-going research. Indigenous species have been reintroduced and measurable strides have been made towards the restoration of the southern Kalahari.
In the local dialect, Tswalu means a ‘new beginning’ and the Oppenheimers are aiming to deliver exactly that: a fresh era of hope for the people and wildlife of one of South Africa’s last great wilderness areas.
The wide, open spaces, dramatic landscapes and diverse habitats will be a great addition to WildEarth’s other locations, which collectively offer a diverse and wonderfully varied experience of South Africa’s flora and fauna. The camera operator for WildEarth will be none other than the great Jeandre Gerding who is currently on location at Tswalu assisting the Tech Team to prepare for the launch on Sunday, May 24th.
Please join us in welcoming two field guides, who will be part of the new Tswalu EcoCam Live team working in close collaboration with WildEarth.
An experienced, qualified field guide, Dylan Smith heads up the Dedeben Research Centre at Tswalu. Dylan has been at Tswalu for 15 years, working first as a field guide before moving into conservation. You could say he knows the reserve like the back of his hand. For the past three years, he has been working closely with the Tswalu Foundation, managing the research centre, vetting and establishing new research projects, and overseeing the various projects on the ground. Research is of primary importance on a reserve like Tswalu where every conservation decision that is taken is based on accurate scientific data. Dylan has a passion for anything related to nature and takes every opportunity to get outdoors.
Growing up on the coast in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Kyle’s formative years revolved around the ocean from fishing to surfing – his first job was as a fishing guide in Mozambique. After qualifying as a field guide in 2011 he worked at private game reserves close to home, trained other guides and furthered his own education, including his FGASA Advanced Birding and Tracks and Signs Level 2 certificates. In 2016 he was given the opportunity to join the team at Tswalu where he has been guiding ever since. What attracted him to the southern Kalahari was the vast expanse of the reserve, unlimited traversing and exclusive guest interaction. Tswalu has allowed him to make a deeper connection with nature through exploring on foot, understanding tracks and signs, birding, being part of on-going research, and working with great mentors, such as Gus Van Dyk.