Two of Shamwari’s seven lodges have been open for nearly two months and are welcoming local visitors in steadily increasing numbers. One of the reasons may be Shamwari TV.
Shamwari TV started during the hard lockdown as a way of showcasing the reserve’s wildlife and helping some of its neighbouring communities.
Initially it was just Andrew Kearney, head ranger at the Eastern Cape private game reserve, going out onto the reserve armed with a rifle and cellphone and filming anything of interest he came across.
His enthusiasm and encyclopaedic knowledge of the bush soon resulted in his posts gaining followers. That’s when Shamwari and Andrew Barratt, co-owner of Hungry Bison Films, teamed up to start producing professionally filmed and edited episodes.
Nearly 30 episodes later and Shamwari TV has proved a huge success gaining thousands of followers around the world. It also encouraged viewers to make donations towards food parcels for families in the nearby towns of Alicedale and Paterson.
“There’s no doubt that Shamwari TV helped keep Shamwari top-of-mind during the lockdown,” says CEO Joe Cloete.
“This meant that when we reopened two of our lodges there was some pent-up demand. That and the special offers that we’ve introduced for South African guests has helped ensure that our bookings are gradually growing.”
The latest Shamwari TV episode is available on YouTube here and features a pride of young lions which come across the carcass of a young hippo bull. Sad as the death of the hippo may seem, Andrew describes how the carcass becomes a source of nutrition for a variety of animals. He also explains that the young lions frolicking and playing on around the carcass are at the same time learning the lessons that will make them successful apex predators.
Planned upcoming episodes include a special on birding as well as one on dung beetles. This will include the flightless dung beetle, a rare sub-species endemic to a few areas in Southern Africa, including Shamwari and the nearby Addo Elephant Park. The population of these large dung beetles, able to roll 50 times their own weight, is an indicator of the success of the 25-year conservation project that has transformed over-grazed farmland into a 250km2 private game reserve.
For more information visit: www.shamwari.com