The Sabi Sabi Game Reserve occupies an area of many thousands of hectares within the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, a recognised hotspot of animal diversity. But as impressive is the vastness of Sabi Sabi, it is in reality also part of a much greater conservation area – a tract of land spanning a massive 5-million hectares. This expanse, known as the Greater Kruger area, which is only fenced on its outer perimeters –– encompasses the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, Kruger National Park and the Trans-frontier National Park. Here, watched over and controlled by strict conservation practices, nature exists as it has for centuries – unspoilt and undisturbed.
The sheer size of this protected land is bigger than some countries – crossing two South African Provinces and National borders. There is huge biodiversity which is capable of sustaining an astonishing variety of animals, birds and plants. From North to South and East to West, the terrain changes dramatically. There are open plains and rocky outcrops, riverine areas, thickets, wetlands and small mountain ranges – much the same variety of environment found within the Sabi Sabi Reserve. Having no internal fences between the reserves means there is a constant flow of animals crossing into and out of Sabi Sabi. So, except for the territorial animals (mainly predators) which make Sabi Sabi part of their permanent home range, guests (and rangers) never know what may make its surprising appearance on a game drive.
Another benefit of such a large expanse of safeguarded game reserve is that it is big enough to sustain huge numbers of herbivorous animals such as buffalo, elephant, wildebeest and zebra, many of which follow eons old migration routes. And as these herds move, so do the predators which follow them. These migrations are born of necessity. If one takes a herd of 1000 buffalo as an example, the animals consume vast amounts of food, decimating the nutritious grasses in a particular area in a short space of time. The herd then keeps moving to find more grazing, thus allowing the already eaten vegetation to recover. And of course they need to keep moving to reduce the constant threat from the lions which trail them. Sabi Sabi is fortunate to be on the natural migration routes of many species.
In open eco-systems such as the Greater Kruger area, animals have the ability to be widely spread, not concentrated in one area. This lessens the chances of devastating animal diseases being spread within particular groups. Being able to move across vast tracts of land also ensures that the ratio of hunter to prey remains naturally balanced.
A rich diversity of game makes for exhilarating viewing. While being able to see the Big 5 is highly prized, there are many other wonders to be experienced on safari. A glance through the Sabi Sabi visitors’ books reveals the myriad amazing and unusual sights guests have had the privilege of seeing. Even those visitors who come back to Sabi Sabi time and time again encounter something new and exciting every time they visit.
Constant monitoring and implementation of best practice conservation policies throughout the region ensures that these protected areas remain well managed and sustainable. Natural factors such as fire, flood and drought are monitored and managed with little to no interference at all. We are part of a natural wilderness environment and these influencing factors add to the exciting dynamics that makes this area such a popular and successful safari region. The Greater Kruger area, including Sabi Sabi, will continue to be a vital tourism resource for South Africa, its peoples of today and for future generations.
This week we introduce you to one of our expert field guides – Assistant Head Ranger, Mike Palmer. Mike has a wealth of knowledge about the world he lives in and takes absolute pleasure in sharing this with his guests from all over the world.