MalaMala and the Big Cat Expose – a Guest Blog Post

Big Cats Expose, by Piper and Heath Travel

This week is a little different, and we love it! Why? For a change, we have someone else writing wonderful things about us!

We came upon this nugget of gold when we clapped eyes on an awesome video clip showcasing the ‘Big Cat Exposé’ produced by our friends over at Piper and Heath Travel in the U.S. of A. And, of course, we simply had to have it to share with you. Needless to say, they were most obliging. So obliging, in fact, that we got a lot more than we bargained for. Along with the video clip, we got a fabulous write up from Chris Liebenberg himself, owner of Piper and Heath Travel.

We have no doubt you will enjoy this as much as we did! THANKS AGAIN TO CHRIS & PIPER AND HEATH TRAVEL!

The Expose’ Safaris are about exposing potential travelers and all stakeholders in the industry to deserving eco-tourism features. For 2012 we chose the plights of Big Cats in Africa and asked questions regarding the conservation status of large carnivores in Africa. We asked these questions to experts in the field including Ian Michler of Africa Geographic Magazine, Nils Kure the author of Living with Leopards and Rebecca Klein the founding director of Cheetah Conservation Botswana.

We learned a great deal about the big cats from these experts and Nils Kure’s knowledge and exceptional history in the Sabi Sands offered some great insights into why MalaMala is so incredibly successful in viewing and conserving leopards.

MalaMala is the largest piece of protected land in the Sabi Sands and with its sole use traversing rights, also has one of the lowest visitor densities anywhere in the region, worth visiting. The habitat is so perfect for leopards it can only be described as an Eden for these felines.

Yet there are a number of areas with high leopards densities where sightings are rare or non-existent. Leopards are well known for being amongst the most elusive of cats and can live in very close proximity to humans in total secret. Why then is the leopard viewing in MalaMala so good? The secret lies with the way the guides interact with the individual animals. The training of guides at MalaMala focuses very heavily on protocol when in an animal sighting. If a leopard does not want to be seen it could very simply disappear in that terrain, but because the guides are so incredibly sensitive and respectful to the animals, the leopards not only tolerate our presence but in fact ignore us almost entirely.

The significance of MalaMala in large carnivore conservation cannot be underestimated. This is private land that could be used for any number of other uses but the role it plays as a buffer zone to the Kruger National Park is significant and as conservation and tourism get continually closer, success stories like MalaMala will be the poster child for private fund investment in conservation. As a representative of sound eco-tourism, MalaMala joins the ranks of the most significant champions of conservation through sustainable eco-tourism.

Chris Liebenberg
Owner – Piper & Heath Travel | Africa

4 thoughts on “MalaMala and the Big Cat Expose – a Guest Blog Post

  1. Wonderful! Have been to MalaMala about 7 times. Never disappointed. Want to reconnect with Nils. Were in touch for about 20(?) years but lost contact after he left MalaMala. Please help.

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