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    The Game Conservator Zululand's annual report for 1934 mentions that a 12-bed unfurnished cottage had been established for visitors to Mkhuze. The exact location of the cottage is unknown, but an early photograph of it and later references to it would suggest that it might have been built near the survey beacon which was later known as Denyer's Beacon. I have tried to locate the exact position where this cottage was built but have not been successful in doing so. All trace of it has unfortunately disappeared.

    The first visitor accommodation erected in the reserve in 1934.

    The cottage, built 22 years after the establishment of the game reserve, was erected to accommodate the Governor General at the time and Lady Clarendon who, together with their staff visited Mkhuze for two days in August 1934. Twenty kilometres of new track through the reserve had also been constructed during the year, presumably to enable Their Excellencies to see something of the reserve. They were possibly only the second group of visitors, other than staff and their friends to visit the reserve - the previous year Potter had reported that the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, the Hon. Senator C.F. Clarkson, had visited the reserve. The facilities available in this cottage must have been rather primitive at the time, with water having to be carted to the camp in drums and no electricity. Entrance to the reserve in those years was via a rough bush track over the Lebombo Mountains and across the Mkhuze drift below Mantuma. The Game Conservator's report unfortunately does not elaborate on the visit of Their Excellencies, so we have no idea of what they saw or what their impressions of the reserve were. An earlier report from Symons' diary for 3 June 1929 records
    " returned to Lambamude and found four cars had been into reserve. Followed spoor back to Nxwala, found that Game Guard Nogwaga had turned them back from reserve. Eventually found them at Nsumu pan. Warned them about fever as they had women folk". Adventurous folk indeed! There is very little else on record of other early visitors to the reserve until the commencement of the Nagana campaign in October 1939, when the reserve was placed under the control of the Division of Veterinary Services. One brief statement in Captain Potter's annual report for 1938 mentions that "owing to the difficulty of access, very few visitors ever come to the Mkhuze Reserve". Twenty-six years after the reserve was established, only four visitors other than officials had entered the reserve during the year. During the time that the Veterinary Department controlled the reserve it was, of course, closed to casual tourists, although various staff members and their friends were regular visitors. One thing that did happen during this period was that a new road into the reserve was cleared. To avoid having to travel via Ubombo and cross into the reserve on the drift below Mantuma, the new road now branched off the old main road. It crossed the Lebombo Mountains at Mission Hill, where the Nhlonhlela stream cut through he Lebombo Mountains - the route of the present access road.

    It was only after the Board regained control of the area from the Veterinary Department in 1954 that consideration was given to the provision of some form of facilities for general visitors. On the 6th of June 1955, a meeting of the Zululand Reserves Committee recommended that the roads in the reserve be improved and that a small hutted camp be established. Three years were to pass though before the idea became a reality

    By May 1956, day visitors had started entering the reserve and Singie records in his monthly report for the month that "some daylight visitors from Underberg and some locals entered the reserve and expressed high delight with their visit. Both parties stated quite frankly that never had they seen game to such advantage and in such profusion. Even rhino obliged". However not all these early visitors found their visits as satisfactory. "Digger" Sinclair, a professional photographer who was a frequent visitor to the Zululand reserves and who, over the years, took many photographs for the Board recorded that he was "disappointed with his results".

    During 1957 it became obvious that the need for some form of overnight accommodation had become a matter of urgency. The rustic cottage built in 1934 had long since disappeared and the reserve was starting to attract regular visitors. Singie could report to the Director that there were constant enquiries as to whether rest huts were going to be made available in the near future. He recorded that "many visitors say they would like to return to stay in the reserve, as one day is not enough to view all that the reserve has to offer." 

    A site was chosen in the Qakweni area, in March 1957 as a campsite for a tour of the Scientific Advisory Council, but this site was not available to the general public. As the Board continued to receive an ever-increasing number of requests for accommodation and permission to camp in the reserve, it became apparent that urgent action in this regard was now required. A party of students from the University of Natal, accompanied by Mrs W.H. Hulett and Ian Garland arrived to camp in the reserve during April 1958. They joined Ranger Tony Pooley and guards on patrols in the reserve and, while out with Game Guard Khonjwayo Ndhlovu, the party had an excellent view a black rhino and her two-day old calf. A report had come in from the guards that a young black rhino calf had been seen suckling, whilst the cow lay on her side. A similar incident had been reported some years earlier and the students set out the following day to try to find the rhino and her calf. They were anxious to substantiate the fact that, when very young, the calf adopts this method of sucking. Although they did not locate the rhino and her calf, the walk however was not without excitement as they had an encounter at close quarters with a group of 4 adult black rhino, in an area almost completely devoid of climbable trees!

     The following month delegates from the Natal Agricultural Union also arrived and camped under the giant Sycamore fig trees at Sycamore Park for many years after this, a popular picnic shot next to the Mkhuze River, before it was inundated and all the fig trees destroyed by Cyclone Demoina. Around this time the press too started to take an interest in Mkhuze and on 22 May 1958 a reporter from the Daily News was met on the entrance road and shown around the reserve.

    An important event that occurred on 4 June 1958 was the arrival of a large party of Zululand residents to visit the reserve and be conducted around it by Bill Batchelor of Kwambonambi. The party breakfasted on the top of Gwambane Hill, with its commanding view to the east of a large section of the reserve. They then proceeded to Nsumu to view the prolific birdlife to be found there at the time and to view a large crocodile at Nkazeni pan. The visitors were loud in their praise of the abundance of game that they saw and, during lunch at Sycamore Park, discussed the possibility of forming a Zululand Branch of the Wildlife Protection Society. The decision to form the branch was made there and then, Mr Campbell McNellie of Monzi was elected Chairman and a committee chosen on the spot. The formation of this branch, which was inspired by the group's visit to Mkhuze, was later ratified at a public meeting held at Empangeni on 7 July 1958. The year was to become a watershed one in the provision of visitor facilities. At the time of the visit by this group of concerned Zululanders, the Board had already decided to proceed with the establishment of a small hutted camp in the reserve.

    The first rustic camp at Mantuma

    In May 1958, instructions were issued to Singie Denyer by Colonel Vincent to make a start on the collection of materials for the construction of a small rustic camp consisting of three huts and a toilet, to be built close to the spot where the tented camp stands today. The huts were to be very simple affairs, to be constructed from bush timber, reeds and thatching grass, all of which were available in the reserve. The three huts, which were to be named Bhejane (Black Rhino), Impala and Inyala, each had an area where cooking could be done over an outside fire. Each hut contained a couple of beds and mattresses and there was an outside table made from slabs of slate collected from the slate quarry in the western area of the reserve, near Ndunagazi.

    Work on the huts started in June 1958 and by August, two of the rustic huts were well advanced and work on the third had started.

    The Board had hoped to have the huts ready in time for the Christmas holidays but they were only completed towards the end of the year and they still had to be furnished. At the end of January 1959, permission was received to open the camp and its first visitors arrived on 2 February 1959. This first party of visitors was so delighted with this new facility that they decided to extend their stay for an extra night. The word soon got around that visitors could now overnight in Mkhuze and before long three parties of visitors had reserved the new huts. The charge levied for the rustic huts when the camp was first opened was 7 shillings per person per night and the cost of hiring a game guide was 4/- per day.

    The provision of the new camp did not solve all the visitors' problems. The road system in the reserve was very bad and getting into the reserve and around it was often not possible after heavy rain. In June 1959, 4 months after the camp had been opened; visitors had to turn back at Mission Hill, because heavy rain had made the road impassable. The road system inside the reserve also left a lot to be desired. An inheritance from the Nagana days, the tourist roads were little more than rough tracks and visitors regularly got bogged down on them in wet weather. There were no maps of the area and it was easy to lose one's way in the flat terrain, which covered most of the reserve. In September of the same year Ranger Tony Pooley came across a visitor who was hopelessly lost walking in the direction of Mbanyana pan, trying to find his way back to Mantuma.

    On 25 October 1959, John Kymdell, the Board's Roads Maintenance Officer, arrived in Mkhuze to do a survey of the tourist road network. He was shown around the reserve and the system of tourist roads was marked out on a map that Singie had acquired for the purpose. Most of the roads that he was to grade were existing tracks from the Nagana days, but some new roads were also mapped out.

    Nineteen sixty was to be another watershed year for the reserve although It was again under the threat of deproclamation, this time as a result of the proposed building of the Jozini Dam.  By April of that year the re-building and hardening of the roads in the reserve was progressing well. There were, however, differences of opinion as to what should be done to the fragile entrance road. The Chief Conservator Zululand, Peter Potter gave instruction that this road should be straightened and hardened.  Singie disagreed and wanted more curves and bends in the road to slow the tourists down. Should the road be straightened and hardened, he said, it could well be named the "Stirling Moss Highway", after the leading Formula 1 motor racing champion of the time.

    The rustic camp had become so popular that the Board decided to continue with its plans for the construction of a six-unit hutted camp, with separate ablution block and kitchen. This decision was especially commendable in the light of constant and renewed rumours that the reserve was soon to be deproclaimed. The first consignment of building materials for the new camp was sent to the reserve in April 1960 and builder Henry Smith's arrival in the Mkhuze in May 1960, coincided with mine. Work was immediately started on a new pump house next to the Mkuze River, the first project in the new development. This was to contain the two Climax water pumps required to serve the expanded hutted camp, and staff quarters and also to provide an additional water supply to Bube Pan. New staff quarters were in the planning stage and were to be built on sites selected by Singie and Peter Potter.

    So persistent were the rumours flying around of the deproclamation of the reserve though, that it was decided, in December 1960, to suspend further work on the camp. The only work undertaken during that month was the construction and fencing of the entrance gate at Msthopi, to allow for better control of visitors to the reserve. Another gate was put up at Singie's house to stop visitors driving straight into the reserve, as had often happened in the past.

    In March 1961, the Board again discussed the question of the new hutted camp and it reaffirmed its decision to continue with its construction. The staff of the reserve was delighted with this decision and Singie sent a minute of appreciation from all of us to the Director. Support from visitors for the prospective facilities was also a heartening factor in this matter and we received many letters urging the Board to persist in its mission and complete the new camp.

    On 25 August 1961, nine months after work on the new camp had come to a stop, the Chief Conservator Zululand arrived in the reserve with Mr Fred Snyman, who had been employed to assist in the building of the new camp. The positions of the six huts and kitchen block were pegged out and work on the huts started immediately. By the end of September the huts were up to window level. While construction of the camp was progressing, John Kymdell and his labour force were hard at work grading and hardening the existing roads and constructing several new ones, a task that was to take them through to the end of the year. We all felt that the year, which had started in such a depressing fashion, ended on a high note.

    While John and his equipment were in the reserve, Singie suggested that it would be a good idea to build three additional surface dams at suitable sites next to the tourist roads and these were duly completed. While he was grading and hardening the access road over Mission Hill, John was approached by some of the local residents living along the entrance road near the Nhlonhlela Stream. He was asked whether he could assist with the widening and deepening of a shallow dam next to the diptank, which was regularly used for watering their cattle.  This John gladly did at no cost to them and the dam is still in use today.

    The staff got the New Year off to an enthusiastic start and undertook the beautification of the area around the new camp and the establishment of a garden. Interesting rocks and plants were collected from the western section of the reserve for use in the rockeries that we had planned for the area and slate from the quarry at Ndunagazi was collected for the paving around the huts. The finishing touches were done and once the required furniture ordered. This arrived and after installation, the new camp was proudly opened to the public in September 1962. Other visitor facilities had also been in the pipeline for some time and the next project to be tackled was the establishment of a small camping site next to the Mtshopi entrance gate. Work on this site started on 13 February 1963 and involved building a pit latrine from bush timber, reeds, and thatch, much along the lines of the one that than been erected in the rustic camp, and the fencing off of the area.

    My own involvement in the establishment of this campsite was not particularly pleasant! February is traditionally the hottest and most uncomfortable month of the year, with searing temperatures often in excess of 40 degrees Celsius. This particular February was no exception and the heat hammered down on us as we worked. The first thing we tackled was the toilet. Having marked its measurements on the ground before we started, I studied the rectangle that I had drawn and decided that it looked a little small, so I enlarged the measurements, and then enlarged them again. A pit first had to be dug for the 3 sawn-off 44-gallon drums, placed one on top of the other, then the bush timber poles were placed into position, covered with a woven latticework of saplings to form the basis for the walls and plastered. The walls were lime-washed, a concrete screed was cast for the floor and a door and toilet seat were fitted. When the building was completed it looked very good but there was one small problem! Dimensions drawn on the ground are obviously deceiving for, after the holes were dug, the uprights planted and the framework for the walls fitted, it became obvious to me that we were going to have the largest latrine in Africa! It was small comfort to me to be told by my colleagues that the structure could comfortably be used as a storage area for all the campsite equipment as well.

    My mind had not been fully on my work though as I had developed an abscess in the inner ear a day or two before we started on the campsite. I could not open my mouth without feeling a stab of pain in my inner ear and chewing was virtually impossible. This, combined with the heat, had perhaps affected my concentration on the project! As soon as I could get away, I went to see Dr Turner at Ubombo who gave me an antibiotic for the infection, which soon cleared up. The campsite was completed early in April 1963 and this site too became so popular that it soon had to be enlarged and a new ablution block built in 1965. 

    With the completion of the rustic camp and later of the hutted camp and campsite, visitor figures to Mkhuze showed a dramatic increase. When I first arrived in the reserve, if we had four cars a month through the reserve we thought that we had been quite busy. In 1963, the year following the opening of the camp and campsite, 3008 people in 893 cars visited Mkhuze. By July 1965 the visitor figure for that month alone was 1549, two of whom were the then Prime Minister, John Vorster and his wife, who were shown around the reserve and served lunch at Bube Hide. The tourist figure for that month alone was double what it had been for the whole of 1963. In March 1966 the old rustic camp was demolished, to be replaced by a new rustic camp which was ready for occupation in December 1968. This second camp was also later demolished to make way for the popular new tented camp, with its self-contained units.

    Not all visitors in the reserve were there to enjoy themselves though. On 16 October 1968 a message was sent to Mantuma from one of the game guard camps to say that an old, mentally disturbed black woman was lost in the game reserve. She had apparently been seen entering the reserve late in the evening the day before, but the residents who saw her cross the river only reported the matter to the guards the following morning. They said that they had been afraid to enter the reserve to report what was happening because of the presence of black rhino. Ranger John Tinley and guards were sent out to try to find her and picked up her footprints early the following morning. They followed them to a spot near the Nkazeni Pan.

    The woman, who was over 80 years old, was eventually found asleep in the early morning sunshine, near a large thorn bush. Less than six paces from where she lay sleeping, fresh tracks of a black rhino, that had passed during the night or the early hours of the morning, were clearly visible. The remains of a blue wildebeest that had recently been eaten by vultures and surrounded by spoor of jackal and hyena also lay nearby. When John Tinley called out to wake her up, she murmured "Leave me, I'm sleeping in the sun". Her brother, who had accompanied the search party, took her by the shoulder and eventually got her to stand up. She had been without food or water for over 48 hours and after being given a drink, protested that she wanted to be taken back to the place where her husband had died. Apparently, the woman's husband had died near this pan 8 years previously without his remains ever having been recovered. Only his stick was found. The old woman had been trying for some time to find the place where her husband had died, as she wished to die there herself. Her relatives had always thwarted her previous attempts but on this occasion she had managed to evade them and get into the reserve. John drove her by Landrover to the nearest accessible point to the Mkhuze River, from where her relatives carried her home.

    Over the years the hutted camp has been enlarged and in 1979 bungalow accommodation was built and plans were passed for the Nhlonhlela bush camp. New cottages went up in 1980 and the opening of the new camp reception centre followed shortly after this. As early as May 1962, Ranger John Dixon had recommended in his monthly report that wilderness trails, along the lines of those being conducted in the Umfolozi Game Reserve, be started at Mkhuze. In December of the following year Hugh Dent the Wilderness Trails Officer from Umfolozi, visited Mkhuze to investigate the feasibility of conducting trails in the reserve. Thirteen years were to pass before the trails became a reality and it was not until 1976 that Bushveld Trails were started. Over the years these have strangely enough met with mixed reception. It was perhaps as a result of the intense heat in Mkhuze during the summer months, that the trails were not more popular. The months of April to August are pleasant enough ones to walk through the reserve but for the rest of the year the heat is often intense. An attempt to privatise the trails in the eighties was not a success and this was later abandoned.

    The Board has again undertaken the running of walking  trails in Mkhuze and these are well supported. Other popular tourist initiatives to be started were day trails in the Magebugane and Nhlonhlela areas in 1974 and the introduction of the now very popular night drives, the first of which was attempted as far back as 1964.

    During the last nine years the reserve has had over 156 000 visitors. The tourist facilities to be found in the reserve today, range from camp sites to luxury bush camps and a swimming pool, a far cry from the Board's early efforts in this regard.  The accommodation provided, from the very first rustic camp to the bush camps has undergone great changes over the years but it has all been very successful. Quite a number of Mkhuze's older visitors though have a great affection for the original camp with its six huts and outside ablutions and often choose this accommodation above any other on offer.

    Running in tandem with the development of the hutted camps and camping site was the installation of the pipeline to Bube Pan, and the construction of the game viewing hides at Bube and other pans, a visit to which have become synonymous with a visit to Mkhuze. In September 1954, shortly after regaining control of the reserve, the Board resolved to extend the water pipeline and take it to a small pan which was to be built roughly halfway between Mantuma and Bube Pan. At the same time the principle was accepted that the reserve should be opened to the public as soon as possible, although it was to be 18 months before the first trickle of day visitors started arriving. By early January 1955, the extension of the pipeline was completed and shortly after that work started on the small pan.

     About three metres in diameter, it was constructed from slate quarried locally from the Mtshopi slate quarry. The pan was completed and filled for the first time early in 1955. It soon became known as the "Vulture Pan". It had not taken long for Vultures of various species to discover that it was the ideal size and depth to bathe in. It was a common site to see anything up to fifteen vultures sitting around the pan, drying their half-open wings in the sun, after they had splashed around in the water. Whitebacked vultures were the most common species usually seen at the pan but lappetfaced and whiteheaded vultures were also regular visitors to this site. The pan, with its attraction of birds, could be considered the forerunner of the popular game viewing hides which were to follow later.

    In May 1958 Board approval was obtained to extend the pipeline from the Vulture Pan to Bube Pan itself. Piping for the extension of the line to Bube was delivered to the reserve in July 1958 and the pipes were transported and stored at intervals along the route of the new line. A start was made with the laying of the new line in the same month, as soon as the burning of the firebreaks had been completed. To ensure that the Vulture Pan continued to receive a supply of water a T-piece was fitted onto the galvanised pipe crossing the pan, and this in turn was fitted with a bung from a 44-gallon petrol drum, into which a small hole had been drilled. Whenever water was being pumped to Bube, a small amount squirted through the bunghole into the Vulture Pan.

    The progression of the pipeline to Bube caused many problems. Variations in the day and night-time temperatures caused the galvanised pipes that had already been laid, to bend and twist. This, in turn, caused some of the sockets that had already been laid, to "creep", breaking the connection. These problems were especially frustrating, as the line had almost been completed before these mishaps occurred. The steel piping was obviously unsuitable for laying above ground and there was no alternative but to dismantle the entire pipeline and start again. This time, the piping was buried 30cm underground and concrete anchors were created to stop the "creeping" of the line.

    The first test pumping to Bube was done on Sunday, 9 November 1958, and it was then discovered that there were various leaks in the pipeline, which needed attention. The pipeline was completed just in time to assist in the provision of an extra watering point in the reserve when it was most needed. The Mkuze River had stopped flowing in October and Singie wrote that, with the completion of the line to Bube "the large number of inyala that frequent this area will now be seen to best advantage". This was certainly to be the case for there is no finer place to view these beautiful animals than from the hides at the Bube and Msinga Pans. Singie did also warn however that the animals would not visit the pan as regularly, once good rains had fallen in the reserve.

    Not only did the laying of the pipeline give trouble but the transmission of water to the pan did also not initially go smoothly; the pumps gave constant trouble. This was to be an ongoing problem for many years to come. A further complication was caused by the sandy nature of the soil, which formed the base of Bube Pan, as much of the water pumped to it, seeped away as Bube and Msinga were both seasonal pans. To counteract this seepage, black mud was carted to the pan to "puddle" it. Normally, ducks would have assisted in this task, but as we did not have any, nature was left to take its course. The pan was also stocked with tilapia which were netted in the Pongola River and transported to Mkhuze.  

    Early in 1960, a small hide was constructed on the side of the pan, directly opposite to where the present hide stands today. The construction was little more than an excavation dug into a sandbank bordering the pan, covered with a low reed roof, with a screen of reeds in front of it. The staff regularly used to visit this small hide and I spent some happy hours in it, watching game come down to drink in the evening. It was not open to the public, but it was to be the forerunner of the larger Bube Hide that was to follow two years later.

    In February 1962, John Geddes Page arrived in the reserve with Peter Potter for a short visit, to photograph the birdlife at Nsumu pan. They also wanted to get some animal pictures and they were taken to Bube Pan to spend a day in our small hide. John Page was so impressed with what he had experienced that, on his return to Head Office, he wrote to Singie, suggesting that a larger hide be constructed for use by the public.

    The staff of the reserve accepted the idea enthusiastically and the necessary materials for the construction of the hide were ordered immediately. On the 23rd June 1962, Peter Potter and Builder Henry Smith arrived in the reserve to lay out the hide and start work on it. The project had to be started during this dry mid-winter period when the pan had the minimum amount of water in it and pumping to it stopped while the work was in progress. Staff working on the construction, reported that there was a constant arrival and departure of animals coming down to drink and that they ignored the noise and disturbance caused by the building operations.

    The hide was completed as rapidly as possible to minimise disturbance to the game and it was officially open to the public in 1962. The problems associated with getting water to it continued for some time however. The pumps at the Mkuze River kept giving trouble. When they were working they were kept running throughout the night, which resulted in problems of a different kind. The pressure in the pipeline to Bube caused hammering in the water pipes in the newly opened hutted camp at Mantuma, much to the annoyance of the camp visitors trying to sleep. Attempts were made to tie the pipes down in the camp and this did help to a certain degree. The nocturnal disturbance to camp visitors was, however, more than compensated for by their experiences at the hide during the day.

    The Mkhuze Game Reserve, with its limited water and profusion of wildlife was the ideal Zululand reserve to have a game-viewing hide. Bube became an instant success. Up until the time of its establishment game reserve visitors could only view game from their vehicles and the concept of sitting concealed in a hide, watching animals come down to drink around you was a unique one. By 1964, Adriaan Erasmus had to report that Bube Hide had become so popular that it could not cope with the tourist pressure. He wrote in his report that " Bube Hide is the number 1 attraction and it seldom has seating room for all". With all seats in the hide usually being taken by 07h00 during the winter months when game viewing was at its best, he recommended that a second hide be built at Msinga Pan, just above Bube.

    Construction on the Msinga Hide started in January 1966, but the work was delayed due to the scarcity of thatching grass. Valuable lessons had been learnt from the construction of the first hide and the basic design of the hide was improved upon. It was designed to seat 50 people and was built partially over the pan, thereby bringing the animals closer to the viewers. The Vaal Reefs Mining Company kindly donated rubber conveyor belting, to cover the floor and deaden the sound of visitors arriving and departing and the viewing hatches were redesigned to facilitate photography. The new hide was completed in April 1966 but was only officially opened by the Board's Chairman Mr A.M. Wood, during the course of a Board tour for Provincial Councillors on 31 August 1966. Wildlife photographers and game lovers in general had enthusiastically endorsed the building of the original Bube hide and the new hide at Msinga was to become even more popular.

    The reserve's water pumping system was placed under more strain than ever before as it tried to cope with supplying water to two hides instead of one and meet the needs of the staff and camp as well. The overloaded pumping system regularly gave trouble and needed constant attention. On servicing one of the water pumps Ranger John Tinley was horrified to find a sludge in the oil wells so thick that it had to be scooped out like jam. To make matters worse, the summer of 1966 was an extremely dry one and the demand for water at the pans was so great that it could not be adequately met. By December 1966, the Mkuze River had already been dry for seven weeks and the total water requirements for the hutted camps, the staff quarters and both hides had to be pumped through well points sunk into the riverbed.

    As a result of the small amount of water being delivered by the pumping plant, John Tinley arranged for a small concrete pan to be built at the edge of Bube Pan to ensure that the animals at least had something to drink. Water had to be carted from the Mkuze River by tractor and 500-gallon tanker and emptied into this small pan. John records in his report for December 1966 that "no sooner had the water begun spilling into the cement pan than birds of all descriptions, bees and hornets arrived and literally dive-bombed the water. Bees were seen stinging one another while the wasps seemed to be quite happy floating and circling around on the water, before managing to pull themselves out at the edge of the pan".

    "One sight in particular caught my attention was of a slender mongoose that dashed to the water's edge, wading in until almost fully submerged. It frantically bit at the water in its haste to quench its thirst. While it was doing this, a little-banded goshawk suddenly became interested in the mongoose, which dashed out of the water and dived under the water tanker, where the goshawk could not reach it. However, the sound of the water spilling from the tanker and the fact that it had only managed to have a couple of gulps itself, was too much for the mongoose and it dashed back to continue its drink. The goshawk again attacked it and this "cat and mouse" game carried on for some ten minutes, before the goshawk flew off in disgust to a tree on the far side of the pan" 

    Baboons have always been regular visitors to the pans, not only to drink, but also to wade into the water to feed on waterlily corms. I have personally seen them do this on a number of occasions at Msinga. In July 1972 several visitors in the Msinga Hide witnessed a dramatic incident, when a baboon had a narrow escape from being killed by a crocodile, after it had waded into the water to retrieve and feed on waterlily corms. Around mid-day a very big dog baboon came swaggering down to the water's edge, trailed by a troop of about 10 members of varying sexes and ages. After drinking at the water's edge, he waded into the water until he was chest deep and started pulling up waterlilies and feeding on them.

    A crocodile about a metre and a half long, lying on a bank close to the water's edge, quietly slipped into the water and made its way slowly towards the baboon. At first, it took no notice of the crocodile, until it was a little too close for comfort and then it seemed to wave it away. The crocodile lunged for the baboon's hand and hung on. With much screaming and waving of its free hand, the animal dragged the crocodile to the edge of the pan and tried to shake it off. The rest of the troop had, by then, all joined in the clamour. With much screaming, barking and jumping up and down, they managed to distract the crocodile to such a degree, that the victim could tear its hand away. The crocodile retreating into the pan with half the baboon's hand in its jaw while the injured animal, looking very sorry for itself, hobbled off, stopping every now and then to lick the remains of its bloodied hand.  

    Pumping water to the pans brought a new set of problems as well. The constant traffic of animals to and from the water caused the land around the hides to become very overgrazed and trampled. As early as 1968, two years after completion of the Msinga Hide, consideration was given to the establishment of additional water points, particularly in the west, but also in other areas of the reserve. By 1976, two bird-viewing hides had been built at Nsumu pan and the Malibali Hide, just off the entrance road, was started in September 1978 and the Mahlala Hide was erected in April 1980.

    Access to all the game-viewing hides was through corridors, initially fenced on either side with reeds cut in the reserve. The inadequacy of this choice of screening was graphically demonstrated when an inyala bull injured a visitor to Bube Hide in May 1974. The visitor had returned to her car to smoke a cigarette and, on returning to the hide down the reed passage, met up with an adult inyala male. The animal, having forced its way through the reed fence, could not find its way out again. Feeling itself trapped, it attacked the visitor and rammed its horn through her thigh. The incident was reported to the Camp Superintendent and Ranger Drummond Densham went to investigate.  Drummond found the inyala in the corridor leading to the hide and managed to chase it out and destroy it. When examining the carcass it was found that part of the scrotum sack had been torn away, suggesting that the animal had been attacked by jackals. To prevent a reoccurrence of similar incidents, the reed fence was removed and replaced with one made of sisal poles and a gate was fitted at the entrance to the corridor. This has now become standard practice on all new hides constructed. Despite the construction of the other hides around Mkhuze and in other Zululand game reserves, Msinga remains one of the best and most popular hides with visitors.

     Due to the continued pressure on the sensitive sand forest surrounding the Bube and Msinga pans, further drastic steps had to be taken by the Board to preserve this fragile Eco-system. It was decided some time ago as an experiment to stop pumping water to these two central hides, in an attempt to ensure the more equitable distribution of game in the reserve. The two hides had to rely on the supply of runoff rainwater only for a while, but limited pumping has been resumed.

     The Natal Parks Board's farsightedness in its decision to go ahead with the building of the small hutted camp in 1960 and the game viewing hides which were to follow, has been fully vindicated: this despite the fact that the reserve was in danger of being deproclaimed at any moment. Mkhuze remains one of the most popular reserves in KwaZulu-Natal and I have often heard people remark "Mkhuze is our favourite reserve". This is largely due to the attraction of the hides. It would indeed have been a sad day for conservation in general and for the world as a whole, if the political expediency of the sixties had led to the deproclamation and disappearance of this magnificent reserve.