Saturday, September 6, 2014

Travels Abroad: South Africa Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve

Earlier this week, I returned from a two and a half week trip in South Africa.  The nature of the trip was primarily business, so I was in Johannesburg most of the time.  During our weekend in Jo'burg, my colleagues and I wanted to experience a little bit of the African wildlife, so we headed just outside of the city to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve where we went on a mini-safari and got a chance to play with some big cats!

The game drive started with a quick stop at the "Neck and Deck" restaurant, where we were able to feed the giraffe!

Next, we started the game drive where we saw many different species of antelope and other creatures living in harmony.  The reserve keeps the predators fenced away from the prey, so there were no National Geographic moments of any cats chasing and catching prey.


Ostrich, Gemsbok or Oryx Gazelle, and Wildebeest

Wildebeest getting on his knees to nibble on some grass clippings.

A beautiful profile of the sable antelope.

Warthog (aka "Pumba" for your Lion King fans) also getting on his knees to nibble the grass.

Then, it was time to move onto the cat feedings.  Once a week, the reserve feeds their eight white lions a full HORSE!  They always know when feeding time is and gather in the feeding circle for their tasty treat.

Digging in. It will take these eight lions about a day to completely devour the horse.

This cheetah was given a nice rack of ribs, which he apparently enjoyed.

Then, it was onto the precious rhinos.  The rhinos we saw were white or wide-mouth rhinos.  They are a threatened species, with about 20,000 left in the wild.  Poachers are the biggest threat for the rhino, who kill the beast for their horn, which is sold on the black market in Asia, primarily Vietnam.  The ground up horns, which are made of keratin (the same material as hair and fingernails), is purchased at the same price as gold and is consumed by those that believe it has medical properties, particularly aphrodisiac properties.  It is such a shame that these creatures have been hunted to nearly extinction for such a greedy and ridiculous purpose.  Thankfully, the reserves and sanctuaries are helping keep their numbers from dwindling further.

This guy had his horn cut off by poachers.  Thankfully, he survived the attack.

Baby Rhino - just a couple months old

Baby Cheetah

My favorite moment of the whole experience - getting to pet Eddy, a 12 year-old cheetah.  He wasn't sedated like other large animals you may find in zoos before they let tourists anywhere near the wild creatures.  Eddy had been raised in captivity his whole life, so he acted more like a dog.  He had a full belly, so he was just lounging around.  As I pet him, he even purred!  Even though Eddy was very tame, my heart was racing being so close to him...after all, he still was a wild animal.  What an amazing experience!

There were also some serval kittens I got to play with.  And finally, the lion cubs.  This "little" guy was just four months old and already the size of a lab.  He even liked tussling around like a dog would, and especially loved the belly rub.

Baby Brown Lion

The reserve had a few animals that were not native to Africa, but found sanctuary on the reserve, including this cloud leopard and white tiger.

And what better way to conclude a wild African experience than by wrapping a python around your neck? (*note sarcasm)  Notice the placement of my right hand...I wanted to make sure I had a way out in case this guy got a little too cozy.

What a great day in Africa.


  1. Amazing photos - you are obviously having more fun with your side trips than most business travelers do. Well played!

  2. Haha, thanks. Work hard, play hard ;-)

  3. Wow. These are amazing photos. Ty so much for sharing.

  4. Wow! What an experience--great photos, thanks for sharing.