The Gondwana Canyon Park game count, which takes place annually in June or July, was held on 8 July this year. On Friday the 7th a bus full of Windhoek based Gondwana employees embarked on an exciting journey to the far south. A whopping 650 km and 8 hours later they arrived in the Canyons. Together with participants from MEFT and NWR, a warm welcome was received from the Canyon Village team.
Once everyone checked into their rooms and settled down the Environmental and Social Impact team welcomed all the participants with a pre-game count presentation. The presentation shared all the information about what the participants can expect for the following day’s count, including past game count trends in the park. We were happy to have some guests also interested in participating. After the presentation all participants were treated to a delicious buffet.
Departure from Canyon Village early in the morning.
The morning of the game count arrived, and Canyon Village was a buzz of activity as the last things were loaded into the vehicles. To our surprise a massive cold front from the Cape was moving up and resulted in freezing cold and wet conditions in the park. Apparently, the first time in the last 14 years that these weather conditions were experienced during the park’s annual game count! Luckily the Canyons teams were prepared with flasks of warm drinks, some OBS (the cold called for something a bit stronger) and plenty of blankets on each vehicle.
All bundled up in the icy cold and rainy weather, but all smiles!
Excitement was in the air as the first game count teams departed from Village around 7 AM to reach their respective route starting points. The count started at 8 AM once all count vehicles with the participants reached their routes. It was a long day driving through the vast open landscape.
Driving into the rain along one of the routes.
Then the cold really hit the park with the southern routes even receiving rain. Our participants handled it like champs and counted numerous oryx, mountain zebra, springbok, ostrich, kudu, klipspringer and steenbok despite the weather. There were even sightings of giraffes, jackal, and vulture. Spirits remained high upon returning after the count with Canyon Village providing everyone with hot chocolate and cappuccinos, and later another buffet with amazing food. The results of the count were also presented that evening, and everyone was thanked for participating.
We made it! Reaching the end of the route.
The experiences and cold weather were the discussion for the rest of the night while participants dined on another amazing buffet. We are happy to report another successful annual game count in the Gondwana Canyon Park and look forward to next year!
Author and images: Michelle Rogers