Located roughly 2.5 hours drive from Port Elizabeth lies the beautiful and serene Kuzuko Lodge home to not only the big 5 – but also the world famous Sylvester The Lion.
Sneaky Sylvester escaped from the Karoo National Park twice (yes, twice) in 2016 before being captured and relocated to Kuzuko Lodge where he happily resides with his partner, Angel and their twin 6-month-old cubs (very cute by the way).
From its inception – the vision for Kuzuko Lodge was to create a world-class game lodge that would create an interdependent relationship between conservation, job creation and social transformation.
Beautiful chalets (24 of them to be precise) sit atop the hills (in a 15 000ha private game reserve situated in the Malaria free greater Addo area which is situated in the Eastern Cape) and the views are beyond breathtaking – not to mention the infinity pool that makes you feel like you are swimming in the air.
All rooms offer guests a secluded balcony, an en suite bathroom with bath and walk-in shower, a hairdryer, direct dialling telephones, wireless connectivity, international adaptors, an electronic safe, air conditioning, television with a variety of digital satellite channels, a mini bar and tea and coffee making facilities.
Double or twin room chalets are available. Each chalet is furnished with sleeper couch perfect for children under 12. Children under 12 sleep and dine free of charge when sharing with an adult, at a maximum of two children per chalet.
Twice daily game depart at 05h00 or 06h00 (depending on the season) and again at 16h00 or 17h00. We spotted elephant, lions and many other incredible animals (I cannot remember them all to be honest) and I learnt a ton about the bush – the Head Ranger, whose name is CF was incredible and so informative – I learnt so much that I had never heard before.
I really love that Kuzuko is heavily invested in their staff and their families, helping with education and school supplies, and much of the lodge’s fresh produce is purchased from local farmers or is grown by the staff themselves.
Another great project that they have commenced on-site is their Cheetah Rewilding Project, which saw its very first captive cheetah successfully being released into the wild in a several step process in August 2018.
Her name is Jasmin and her fitness and hunting instincts kicked in almost immediately. In the space of days, she had made her first kill and has been successfully hunting ever since.
Within this area of close to 600ha (there are no lions, leopards or other predators in here) where several captive-born cats are now able to hunt, mate and give birth in the wild. This area allows close monitoring of adult animals and pregnant females as well as their future offspring.
According to both parties involved, the innovative set-up is designed to lower the major threats cheetah cubs face in the wild, and considerably increase their survival rate, all the while being raised and “educated” by their mother. The protective instinct of the mothers should also kick in leading the cubs away from lions patrolling the fence, thus sensitising the cubs to bigger predators.
Jasmin has just given birth two twin cubs, who once fully grown and able to hunt by themselves will be released into the full wild – monitored by tracking collars of course. All the alpha males and prides are collared to allow the rangers to track their movements.
Kuzuko’s Breeding and Wilding Sections are at the moment home to six cheetahs, consisting of three adult females, one adult male and two adolescent siblings.
“All adult cats made their first kill a mere 6-10 days after being released onto the Wilding and Breeding Section. They are doing exceptionally well, and their personality, behaviour and physical condition changed surprisingly fast. We are in uncharted waters and may experience set-backs but we are convinced it is a very promising way to go forward in cheetah conservation,” states Gerhard de Lange from Kuzuko.