Another year has raced by and, gratefully, it seems as though the long dry years have been broken as we have been blessed with the most wonderful spring rains, which have transformed the bush into a green wonderland!
2019 has been a busy year here at The Ant Collection! There have been many new changes, exciting highs, and sad farewells. It was time to give our website a totally new look with fresh photos and videos. The Riding South Africa website, which is targeted at riders, is up and operational, and the Waterberg website, which is more general, will be online soon.
I have always believed that the people are the most important factor of our operation, and it is a very sad farewell to a number of people who have spent many dedicated and loyal years in helping us mold and develop Ants Nest and Hill. Amelia, who has done our marketing, is with her husband and daughter, farming near Upington. Michelle, our accountant for many years, has retired. Fred, who touched so many people’s lives has moved on to an exciting challenge, running a top-notch lodge in Botswana. And last but not least, Chase and Jess, who were married in a beautiful service in the hills near Clarens, have embarked on their own venture together. Wiehahn and Leanne have moved closer to home in Kwazulu-Natal, and are working at Three Trees Hill, near Spioenkop. All we can do is say a massive thank you for so much that you have contributed to us over the years and we wish them the greatest success.
Seven years ago, the tragic event of having three rhinos poached, led to us establishing the ‘Save the Waterberg Rhino’ foundation, with the help of Mark Knophler. This was done to create awareness of the rhino poaching crisis and to raise funds to help protect the rhino in the Waterberg area. Driven by Tess and Jess, and with the help of friends such as William Asprey, who let us use his amazing venue in London, and an array of artists, three successful fundraising events have been held over the past seven years. These events have also been supplemented by the Charity Horse Ride, which is now called ‘Ride for Rhinos’. The success of the combined eﬀorts has made the Waterberg one of the safest areas for rhinos in Africa!
Sadly, however, we have become the victim of our own success. The Waterberg now holds the second largest rhino population in South Africa, as the Hluhluwe-uMfolozi Game Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal has had its rhino population decimated by poaching. The poaching syndicates have taken notice and suddenly all across our area there has been a rash of poaching incidents, despite our best eﬀorts.
Tragically, we lost a young rhino bull on a very dark and windy night, when poachers took advantage of key personnel being away at the time. I was in London, ironically at the Save The Waterberg Rhino Fundraising event in London, on the same night the rhino was being poached back home.
It is little solace that we have caught and arrested the poachers, as it is so devastating losing an animal one knows and loves, and has brought so much pleasure to so many people! However, we are very fortunate that the game scouts were present with some of the other rhino that night, particularly old “Skew Horn” with her little calf, who was with “Erwin” our old gentleman rhino bull that night.
Our key message is to thank all of you, who as guests and friends, have contributed to our eﬀorts with the Conservation Levy, and many kind generous donations to STWR over the years. With your help we will continue to ﬁght this war in protecting these iconic animals here in the Waterberg!
We would like thank our dedicated team for all their hard work, an amazing herd of horses, and most of all , you, with whom we have the privilege of sharing our passion for Africa and its wildlife!
May the sand of the Waterberg linger in your shoes! Have the happiest Christmas and New Year.
All the best,
Ant Baber, The Ant Collection