South Africa has a wide array of game parks, game reserves, animal sanctuaries and zoos to choose from. Some have a variety of animals while others focus on one specific species. Some have a large area of land while others have a small plot to work with. Some parks allow the animals to roam freely while others keep them in separate, secure areas. Some allow for hunting expeditions while others do not. Some have a hiking option while others are strictly driving. Some offer restaurants or concessions on the property while others do not. Some are operated and maintained by the government while others are privately owned. Each park has its own layout and style allowing for a unique experience no matter which facility you visit.
After my visit to Hazyview, I went back to my friend’s house in Krugersdorp to assist as they moved homes. After a few long days of hauling boxes and furniture, we took a break to visit the nearby Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. Do not be fooled by the name, the reserve houses far more animals than just rhino and lion.
In our own vehicle, we drove through the large park to different areas of animals. This reserve has the predatory animals divided into large, fenced sections by species. One of my favorite happens to be the Wild Dog.
African Wild Dog has similar coloring to a hyena but is shaped more like a canine. Compared to the hyena, it has rounder ears and a flat back. They are a very social animal but only the alpha male and female will breed. While hyenas scavenge for food, a pack of dogs will hunt for their own food and work together to quickly take down their prey. Wild dog is one of Africa’s most endangered species due to disease and persecution from humans. Efforts are being made to keep them from extinction but unfortunately at this point, the dogs have to be in captivity to be preserved.
One great feature of this specific park is the ability to interact with different cubs for a small fee. Lion cubs, cheetah cubs, leopard cubs…All available to see up close and personal. Since the animals are constantly exposed to humans throughout the park, they try to introduce them at a young age with the goal of helping to prevent harmful acts in the future between man and beast. We decided to visit the sleepy, white lion cubs.
White lions are rare. Their color comes from a unique recessive gene which limits the number of white lions in the wild. Therefore, efforts are being made to preserve and boost the white lion numbers in captivity. The common brown lion can give birth to a white cubs but white lions cannot birth brown cubs.
During our drive, we also were able to see cheetah. Was there ever a more mesmerizing cat? With the black lines down its face, the slim body made to run and the beautiful spotted pattern from head to toe, even in captivity, the cheetah is a delight to watch.
The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve also has a zoo component to the property. Birds like the red-headed, Marabou Stork (photo above) roam freely. Baby rhinoceros and pygmy hippopotamus are kept safe. Different types of fox and rabbit meander about. A variety of African snakes and lizards can be viewed in the reptile house.
Take a drive. Watch the animals. Take a close-up photo. Enjoy the moment.
Next stop: Capetown