PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT
The partners of Horizon Horseback love the bushveld; it is our home, and as such we are committed to preserving the environment in its pristine condition and transferring disturbed land back to its natural state.
Historically the farm was used for agriculture; a mixture of crops and cattle. Fortunately most of the intensive agricultre was restricted to small irrigated areas. There are still large tracts of virgin, undisturbed bush and about 2000 hectares of this land has been transferred back to its original wild state. Three of the largest dams on the property are within the reserve area and one sits on the Melk river. A number of species of antelope and predators still occurred across the farm naturally when the reserve was established, including, kudu, bushbuck, reedbuck, common duiker, klipspringer, jackal, civet, genets, wild cats, brown hyena, caracal, and occasionally leopard. In 2000, a number of other species were re-introduced, namely zebra, giraffe, impala, red hartebeest, waterbuck and eland. Since then the numbers have multiplied considerably and so has the predator population! Both leopard and cubs and brown hyena and cubs have been seen in the reserve this year. We have also witnessed the diversity and number of species of bird increase. Although Shane saw spoor of a crocodile some years ago at the dam, it has taken many years to actually see it...but now they are seen regularly on a ride, basking in the sun on the dam wall.
THE STORY OF MOTOMOTO (THE HIPPO) AND HIS FAMILY
The year 2000, was one of torrential rain in the Waterberg, and during this time we were fortunate enough to see the first hippopotami arrive down the river from the free roaming population in the Palala river. At first one large bull (later named 'Motomoto' by our children, Leo and Johnathan, after the male hippo in the film Madagascar!) and his female partner arrived. They were free in our river system and dam and roamed around as they pleased, eating large areas of wheat. Shortly after arriving, they had a calf and over time, other hippo arrived and more babies were born until the pod reached over 12 in number. The pod continued to move around freely between our farm and neighboring farms. However, this led to various challenges. Firstly, at night the hippo would march through a small village on the farm, terrifying the locals. They wandered onto the road, and sadly one pregnant female was hit by a car and killed. We also have had two young males killed by Motomoto himelf. Four hippo wandered off to a nearby reserve and stayed there, and one wandered into farming country and was shot. Finally one of our neighbours where they frequently roamed, became tired of the hippo destroying his gates and he got a permit to capture the remaining 5 hippo. One was caught and sold at auction locally. We campaigned hard with nature conservation and received a two week reprieve to get the hippo back to the reserve, so we could protect them in their environment that they had been enjoying freely for over 10 years. Fortunately, Motomoto and his then wife had moved back to the safety of our dams already. We managed to get the remaining hippo back and moved the game fence to incorporate all of our dams within the reserve. Since then it has been a constant battle to look after the hippo and make sure they haven't broken the electric fence that protects them! We now enjoy the smaller pod within the reserve and are thrilled to have a new baby for 2012. These animals are truly magnificent and wild as only Africa is. There is nothing better than hearing the honking in the dam whilst having a sundowner; they provide the true sounds of Africa.
ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AT THE LODGE
We endeavour to minimise the impact of the lodge on the immediate environment, and are striving to minimise our carbon footprint. Eco-friendly practices adopted at the Signature Safari lodge on the farm include:
- All organic waste from the kitchen and manure from the yards are used in the farmís wormery and the vermicompost is used as fertiliser for the essential oil crop on the farm.
- Dead wood is collected across the entire farm for firewood as a heating source for the main lodge instead of electric or gas fires. The farm is part of the South African Working on Water Project, which is striving to eradicate exotic tree species (that drink precious water resource) from our water systems.
- Our water is pumped from underground boreholes and so is restricted to household usage only. The gardens are only irrigated using dam water. Most rooms are equipped with showers and guests are encouraged to shower instead of bath, to prevent excess water wastage.
- Where possible our food ingredients are sourced locally. Salad and herbs are grown at the lodge, all meat is locally produced and some dairy products come from neighboring farms. Occasionally, fish from the dam is included on the menu!
- Our waste is recycled: Glass and metal materials are sorted and recycled.