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TELPERION

Telperion is a private nature reserve about 40km East of Bronkhorstspruit and 45km from Emalahleni - Witbank in Mpumalanga.

The reserve falls under the eMalahleni district. The property is predominant Bankenveld – Highevld Grassland, with the Wilge River, the western border of Telperion, forming beautiful gorges and valleys of colourful Red Standstone.

The Bankenveld is regarded as fire-climax grassland, in that it would develop into savanna if fires (predominantly from lightning strikes) did not occur. Thus, fires and winter frosts dictate the distribution of woody elements in this transitional zone. Lack of fire can be detrimental to non-grassy forbs, as well as bulbous plants which are easily smothered by moribund grass. Excessive burning and over grazing, on the other hand, can have a profound effect on the species composition of various grass communities, often upsetting the balance between sweet and sour grasses. Read More...

A striking feature of many flowering plants in the biome is their perennial underground storage organs. These include bulbs, tubers and rhizomes, and they enable the plants to survive fire, spells of summer drought and the cold, arid winters. Savanna influences are characterized by a greater abundance of tree, forb and grass species. These areas are also more rocky and mountainous with rivers and tributaries, often forming the reserve’s beautiful rocky gorges. This, then, is a transitional vegetation type, falling between the grasslands of the high inland plateau and the bushveld of the lower land plateau. A relatively high summer rainfall, and dry winters, severe night frosts and marked diurnal temperature variations are unfavourable for tree growth, while most of the grasses and other herbs in the grassland die back during winter.

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CONSERVATION

The diversity of grass species and flowering plants on Telperion is huge and the wooded outcrops contrast with the surrounding grassy areas. Suikerbos, Lavender trees and Lavender fever berry are common. The streams that dissect the Telperion are bordered by lush vegetation and usually home to trees such as the River Bushwillow and Sweet Thorn. Most of the woody plants grow in rocky areas, particularly on hillsides and in sheltered ravines, where a sparser grass layer offers less competition to their seedlings and decreases the effects of fires. Telperion is hugely important from a conservation perspective, with only 2% officially under conservation protection. The continued existence of the Bankenveld is threatened by mining, agriculture and human development. Much of the grassland suffers heavily from overutilization, large areas having been destroyed for the cultivation of crops, particularly maize and sunflowers, and for the development of urban housing and industry. Read More...

The grassland and bushy river valleys of Telperion are home to high diversity of animal and birdlife attracted to this ecotone between the grassland and savanna biomes. Fauna in the area has been undisturbed for many years and most is accordingly very relaxed: excellent game viewing and photographic opportunities are experienced. Large herds of Eland, Zebra, Blue wildebeest, Blesbuck and Red Hartebeest are common on the plains. Kudu are commonly seen at dusk and dawn when they feed on the grassland forbs. The wetland areas are home to ever-increasing numbers of Common Reedbuck, which are shy and seldom seen, their presence usually noted by their whistling alarm calls. Baboons occur in large troops, and Vervet monkeys frequent the riverine vegetation. Grassland mammals include Springhare, Aardvark and Aardwolf, with the predator list including Yellow, Water and Slender mongoose, Black-footed Cat, Cape Clawless and Spotted-necked Otter, Serval, Leopard, Caracal, Black-backed Jackal and Brown Hyaena.

With over 280 bird species recorded, Bohlokwa is rated as one of South Africa’s finest localities for grassland birding. Little Brown Jobs (LBJ’s) are common with a variety of Larks, Pipits and Cisticola’s present. The property is well-known for its raptors, with African Fish Eagle, Martial Eagle, Brown and Black-chested Snake Eagles and breeding populations of Verreaux's Eagle. The property is a truly a birder’s paradise.

The Wilge River and its tributaries offers are home to a variety of fish species as well as aquatic invertebrates, including a wonderful diversity of dragonflies and damselflies.

ACCOMMODATION

There is a variety of self-catering accommodation facilities available on the reserve. These include Telperion House and the Rondawel. Telperion House is a fully equipped, self-catering house which can accommodate eight visitors in four bedrooms. The facility has a pool and entertainment area that is shared with Rondawel guests. The Rondawel is approximately 200 m from Telperion House, and sleeps six people in three bedrooms. Both Telperion House and the Rondawel have fully equipped kitchens and braai facilities.

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The reserve has a research facility on the property, with a standing MOU in place between UNISA and the property. National and international researchers provided with endless opportunities for the initiation of new research projects.

ACTIVITIES

Telperion is the perfect location for nature based activities, including wildlife photography, self-guided nature walks and bird-watching.

There is a rock art site on the property, however visits to the site need to be arranged in advance, as only guided visits are permitted.

HISTORY

Telperion has been owned by the Oppenheimer family for over 40 years.

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