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Relocation of 8 Leopard Tortoises from KZN to Limpopo

The Bateleurs recently facilitated the relocation of 8 Leopard Tortoises from FreeMe Wildlife in Pietermaritzburg to the Entabeni Game Reserve in Limpopo. The tortoises will initially reside in a 1-hectare enclosure and are scheduled for release into the 12,000-hectare reserve after the onset of the summer rains, typically in October.

Claude Parnell, our dedicated Bateleurs pilot, successfully completed this mission and provided the following report upon its conclusion:

"Departing later than anticipated due to a frantic search for an alternative, more aircraft-friendly runway, and the system's loss of my flight plan, the flight nevertheless proceeded smoothly. I met Wade and Elishia from FreeMe Wildlife, fueled up, and loaded the passengers. Space and weight were not issues, even with full tanks. I left Pietermaritzburg around 07:30, having requested flight level 095, and enjoyed tailwinds throughout the journey. After crossing over Middelburg FAMB, I headed for Entabeni FAEN and disengaged from the flight plan as I neared my destination. I performed three fly-pasts to allow ground personnel to clear the runway for my landing.


At the airfield, named NB SAFARIS, I was greeted by Steyn, who escorted the eight leopard tortoises and me to the lodge. There, I met Debbie, Steyn's superior and the owner of NB SAFARIS, who is also a certified fixed and rotor wing pilot. Victoria and Oom Jan arrived to transport the travelers back to Entabeni Game Reserve. After enjoying a cup of coffee, I was escorted back to the airstrip, where I conducted a pre-flight check and flew to Middelburg for refueling. Despite the tower being manned for a model aircraft competition, they readily accommodated my need for fuel.

The return flight to Pietermaritzburg was against headwinds at flight level 085, but I landed safely at 15:00."


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