Ornithologists and enthusiasts alike can be confident of recording a good score when visiting Shamwari Private Game Reserve this Birding Big Day, on November 27.
- Shamwari Private Game Reserve is a malaria-free premier destination in an ecologically and culturally significant area of the Eastern Cape.
- Long Lee Manor and Sarili Private Lodge, were refurbished as part of a US$25-million investment to transform the visitor experience.
- Families with children staying at Long Lee Manor or Sarili also have access to Riverdene Lodge’s vast adventure playground.
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The Shamwari Big Birding Day 2021 provides South African birders with an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy a three-day ornithological safari at one of Africa’s top private game reserves for R4’150 per person per night sharing. Having recently opened two more of its lodges, Shamwari Private Game Reserve has done well in hosting themed weekends such as the Banquet in the Bush, in association with a leading chef and winemaker, and Safari Unplugged, with Watershed frontman Craig Hinds, have helped grow Shamwari’s domestic profile.
The newly refurbished Long Lee Manor has drawn domestic visitors with a significant discount on the pre-pandemic rate including meals with the only additional costs being the conservation levy, beverages, spa treatments, and laundry.
Sindile, the newest lodge, and flagship tented camp is ideal for couples wanting a luxury break or romantic getaway, with great domestic rates including meals and selected beverages. Bayethe tented lodge will re-open in December. The Shamwari Big Birding Day 2021 exposes bird watchers to six of South Africa’s eight biomes which occur at Shamwari, providing incredible biodiversity. This, in turn, attracts a lot of bird species – as many as 275 species on the reserve’s official bird list. But it is believed that probably more than 300 bird species visit Shamwari including good numbers of LBJ’s as well as raptors such as Martial Eagles and Secretary birds.
The forests on the reserve are filled with the splendid colours of Knysna Turacos, Narina Trogons, and Crowned Eagles, whilst the woodlands hold the ruddy morph of Olive Bushshrikes and enigmatic Knysna Woodpecker. Mountains towards the north of the reserve also have pockets of fynbos, where the proteas attract Cape Sugarbirds and Malachite Sunbird. One of the highlights to look forward to is the Red-billed Oxpecker. Before the Shamwari conservation project began, 25 years ago, the oxpeckers were wiped out in the area as a result of arsenic-based dips, which local farmers used to keep parasites off their cattle.
After meeting with farmers, explaining the consequences of the practice, and reaching an agreement they would stop using these dips, the birds were reintroduced. Dr. Johan Joubert, Shamwari’s wildlife vet, recalls how when they first landed on the reserve’s rhinos and started pecking the ticks, the big animals stampeded because they’d never before encountered oxpeckers.
Jéan Taute, an experienced birder, who also happens to be a senior ranger at Shamwari Private Game Reserve will be hosting the birding weekend.
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