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Aby and Neil – Our 1st Year in review

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Aby umphafaWhat an incredible place UmPhafa is! It is an honour and privilege to work here and we can honestly say that this past year has been one of the most enjoyable of our lives! We arrived with anticipation and excitement in our hearts.  A year on and we look forward to each day, new challenges and discoveries in our lives.

Our love for the reserve and all its biodiversity has grown, as we start to recognize individual animals and learn about their lives and families. The connection to our natural world has deepened as we spend more time immersed in the stunning surroundings. Our love for each other as well, has strengthened. We challenge each other to be the best we can be and to ensure that UmPhafa reaches its potential.

We also have to mention the amazing interns that have passed through UmPhafa and the team of staff that support us every day. We both love working with the interns to broaden their knowledge and their love for the natural world and we hope to welcome many more to this little slice of heaven throughout 2018!

The staff have been very welcoming and understanding as we found our feet in the first couple of months. Throughout the year they have been very supportive of the changes and structures we have implemented. Lastly, but certainly not least is the massive amount of support from our Directors and the Action for the Wild staff at Colchester Zoo.

Neil and interns

Check out just a few of Aby & Neil's favourite things about UmPhafa: 

Neil's favourite experience: The aerial game count, spending six hours in a helicopter trying to count every animal on UmPhafa and seeing two leopard while up there!

Aby's favourite experience: Me too!

Neil's biggest challenge: Learning that a difference in opinion is not a bad thing.

Aby's biggest challenge: Organising the men!

Neil's favourite animals: The wild dogs we have from time to time as part of the Meta-population project in South Africa, the Leopard and Billy (our lone spotted hyena).

Aby's favourite animals: The interns!

Neil's favourite place on UmPhafa: Paradise valley and Leopard gorge.

Aby's favourite place on UmPhafa: The top of Itala, looking over the reserve.

Neil's favourite time of the year: Spring, the vegetation comes to life, the majority of animals give birth, the smell of the rains on the dry earth and new life abounds everywhere.

Aby's favourite time of the year: Not Winter, too cold! Spring as well I think, as Neil says, new life everywhere!

Neil's favourite sound: The nocturnal call of a Fiery-necked Nightjar.

Aby's favourite sound: The territorial call of our elusive Leopard.

We’ve had such a great time over the past year and are really looking forward to the next!

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Since its first conception, UmPhafa has seen the return of two large carnivores to the site through free migration; leopard and spotted hyena

Number of species offically recorded on Umphafa

Mammals 49
Birds 186
Reptiles 24
Amphibians 10
Trees 62