Anysberg Nature Reserve

Around 60 000 hectares in size, this CapeNature reserve in the Little Karoo of the Western Cape is one of the most remote in the region, lying between two low-lying mountain ranges in a long, wide valley. There’s a surprising amount of large fauna here, including relatively large populations of eland, red hartebeest and Cape mountain zebra. Leopard are also seen on infra-red cameras, but don’t bet on seeing them anytime soon – they are extremely wary of people, given their long persecution in the area by farmers. The 62 000 hectare reserve’s isolation means that stargazing is among the best in the country, with zero light pollution, while there are thousands of succulent plant species, many rare and endemic.

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YITW 2013-14 – Anysberg Nature Reserve – The mademoiselle, the Karoo farmers and jackals in the night

A lilting French accent broke the silence of the Karoo dusk in Anysberg Nature Reserve.

“I really feel at home here,” said zoologist Marine Drouilly, as we sat on the stoep of one of the cottages in the remote reserve, located between Laingsburg and Montagu. A jackal howled nearby and the Magellanic Clouds hung like blazing chandeliers in the ink-black sky.

Marine told me she’s from a small village in the Champagne region of northeastern France, where plentiful rainfall and gentle sunshine coax vineyards from fecund soils.

What is a 27 year-old French mademoiselle doing here, in a semi-desert at the bottom of Africa, where the preferred beverage is not Moët et Read more »

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