Sitting in front of a gate and having to speak through a handheld radio to gain access to the reserve was a first for me. Movie scenes with code words like ‘copy’ and ‘over’ went through my mind as I called in to announce my arrival at Dronfield Nature Reserve.
Shortly after entering, I spotted a few kudu browsing on green leaves while a shy steenbok darted off into the distance. Plains of yellow grass swayed in a light breeze while herds of giraffe stopped eating and looked over, as if to welcome me.
Dronfield is not your typical nature reserve. There is no grand entrance gate, nor do you report to a receptionist. You simply make your booking and arrive. While this might seem unusual, the concept works and someone checks up on you after your arrival.
This private reserve has been with the De Beers Group of Companies since 1888, when it was used for cattle. But this changed in 2004 when the property became a reserve. Today, it welcomes visitors who want to get away from the crowds. With six fully equipped self-catering chalets set out among camel thorn trees, plus a swimming pool, it is ideal for a break.
Wildlife at Dronfield Nature Reserve
The reserve’s conservation manager Charles Hall showed me around. In this part of the world, it is easy to spot game. Some graze lazily in the yellow Kalahari grasslands, while others run like the wind when startled. Species such as springbok, red hartebeest, gemsbok and blue wildebeest roam freely, while high value game like roan, sable and buffalo are kept in special breeding camps. Selling these species at auction is the reserve’s biggest income generator for conservation.
Highlights of Donfield Game Reserve
- Look for the flamingos at the Kamfers Dam across the road from the reserve
- Visit the vulture hide for an opportunity to see white-backed vultures in action
- Spot rare game such as sable and roan
- Relax at a water-hole as game come to drink
- Photography during golden hour is magnificent in this landscape
Vulture colony at Dronfield
Dronfield’s bird list stands at approximately 220 species. Hall pointed out numerous white-backed vultures on top of thorny trees. The reserve is home to a large breeding colony and the most recent survey in October recorded 113 active breeding pairs. The reserve also has a vulture hide where carcasses provide a safe food source for these critically endangered birds.
Our last stop was at the koppie on the property. While we walked up, Hall told me about its heritage. The koppie was a Boer vantage point during the Anglo-Boer war and some remnants can still be seen. But to me there was something far more beautiful – Kimberley in the distance, surrounded by a magnificent Kalahari landscape, red sand and scattered trees as far as the eye can see. I was already dreaming about my return, to feel that red sand under the soles of my feet once more.
Written by René de Klerk
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