"Spitting Cobra"

Game Reserves, KwaZulu-Natal


The KwaZulu-Natal Game Parks and Reserves
visited during filming.

KwaZulu-Natal is a major safari destination with numerous large and small nature and game reserves and accompanying game lodges. We visited and filmed in five.

Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Game Reserves
Two large game reserves combined into one, Hluhluwe / Umfolozi was established in 1895 and is the oldest game park in South Africa and the oldest game reserve in Africa. Covering 96,000 hectares, the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) are all present in the reserve. Our crew visited Hluhluwe early one morning to film big game but we did not chase cobras in the reserve.

Intibane Game Lodge
Intibane is a privately owned 2300 hectare game lodge located on the edge of the Lebombo Mts, near Ulundi and bordering the eMakhosini Ophathe Game Reserve. Intibane was our base when filming in Hluhluwe, Thanda and Abu Madi Reserves. We spent two nights at Intibane Game Lodge but the only reptile recorded was the Southern tree agama (Acanthocercus atricollis atricollis) which lurked on the agaves near the accommodation.


Intibane Game Lodge.


Southern tree agama, Acanthocercus atricollis atricollis


Thula Thula Game Reserve
Thula Thula is an exclusive private game reserve inland from Richards Bay and Empangeni. We filmed African elephants (Loxodonta africana) or rather we included them in filming. We had been about to film in a ravine when a herd of five elephants arrived, led by a large bull who, by his body posture and actions, made it perfectly clear we were not welcome. When the elephants did not back off, we did.

Thula Thula Game Reserve.
Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis
Stand-off with African elephant, Loxodonta africana

Thula Thula and also used the reserve as the location for "The Mannikin Test" where we tested whether spitting cobras aimed for eye shape or eye shine. This involved me presenting the top half of a mannikin, obtained from a clothes shop in Eshowe to the amusement of passers by (we carried it naked across a zebra crossing Abbey Road style), to a spitting cobra presented by Donald. We tested whether the cobra spat at cloth eyes in eye colours, reflective metal eyes or eyes placed on different parts of the body. Hardly real science, but a bit of fun

We spent two nights in the luxury of the reserve accomodation and used it as our base when filming in Empangeni.

"The Mannikin Test"
Mark and Donald test a spitting cobra's ability to select between
eye shape and eye shine.


Abu Madi Game Ranch
Abu Madi is a 23,000 hectare private reserve, within the Zululand Rhino Reserve near Mkuze, that supplies game animals to other wildlife parks around KwaZulu Natal. We visited in the late afternoon to film a nocturnal nyala capture. On Sunday 25th May we drove around the reserve for several hours with lanterns, in the company of game wardens Chris and Dirk, and vet Sid, sighting a large amount of game, including greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), nyala (T.angasi), southern reedbuck (Redunca arundinum), blue duiker (Cephalophus monticola), red duiker (C.natalensis), impala (Aepyceros melampus), blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), bontebok or blesbok (Damaliscus dorcas), steinbuck (Raphiceros campestris), common zebra (Equus quagga), warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) and blotched genet (Genetta tigrina), but the wily nyala evaded capture and we gave up, getting back to Intibane Game Lodge at midnight before travelling to Thanda Game Reserve early the next morning.

Thanda Private Game Reserve
We visited the 7800 hecture Thanda Game Reserve shortly after 04:00 on Monday 26th May to film a cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) release with biologist Kirsten Cantor. The cheetah, a mother and the daughter she had been killing cattle for, had been in captivity for six months and were due for release into the reserve where it was hoped they would take natural rather than domesticated prey. Tempting the two cats to leave the compound took some time, even with two haunches of antelope as inducement, but it was eventually accomplished successfully.