Greetings once again from my self and all of us here at The Bush House.
Well, what an eventful few months it has been on Madikwe in terms of animals, weather, game viewing and the excitement which followed.
It most definitely seems that we have received the bulk of our summer rain fall during this last month of April as approximately 200mm has already fallen and this has happened on two occasions. One morning early April we witnessed how the water was flowing over the cliff situated behind the lodge after about 100mm of rain, this is a rare occasion.
Of course, also as a result of the heavy downpours is all the seasonal pans and dams filling up with water and one dam in particular which some of you might be familiar with is “Thlou Dam” which is easily recognized by the lead wood tree with all the birds nests in, almost in the center of the dam. As the image with the buffalo shows how empty the area is without rain and then after a few months of rain one can hardly believe it is the same place. Seems as though we might have a repeat of last years late rains taking us into the winter.
In the last newsletter, I spoke about the lioness with the three cubs who we suspected had lost one of them. As time passed on and the cubs grew older it turned out that that lioness is one of three sisters from the Tchaba pride in the north. All three sisters fell pregnant more or less at the same time and after the period of mother and cub isolation, they have all come together again which certainly did clear things up for us. It was a great sight to see the meeting and interacting behavior between the cubs from the different mothers. This brings the cub total to eight in number.
The one lioness had killed a wildebeest the night before quiet close by and upon stopping over with my guests that afternoon we had seen the original three cubs which we previously knew about feeding on the carcass.
Lion cubs start chewing on meat from about three months old and it was clear that these four month old cubs had developed a strong taste for meat as they eagerly attempted to pull meat from the carcass.
Wild dogs, wild dogs, they keep coming and keep going and the idea when trying to get a sighting of the dogs is to see them when they are hunting which is usually after sunrise and before sunset.
One afternoon in March we had set out to find the dogs which had been seen close to the North central boundary of the reserve. We were about the 6th vehicle to get to the sighting and the dogs had started moving towards the boundary just as the sun was going down. They suddenly dashed off into the bush whereby two other vehicles followed them off the road but I decided to head straight to the boundary when suddenly two and then sixteen dogs appeared chasing a full grown male Kudu. They surrounded the kudu and forced it into the electric fence. The kudu’s only way out was to jump into the fence and to all of our amazement his weight and momentum has caused him to jump a hole straight through the fence leaving the dogs disappointed on the other side. What a sighting!
Unfortunately this happened so fast that I was unable to take any photographs. A few days later the dogs had been wandering around the lodge and killed an impala just next to our waterhole and decided to rest there for the rest of the day until a large herd of elephant came to drink and not surprisingly chased the dogs off with much aggression and very dramatic behavior.
There is a place called “Maokeng dam” up towards the north western corner of the reserve where a young male leopard of roughly 2yrs old has been roaming around very relaxed for about three months now. Sightings of him have been quiet spectacular when rangers have managed to find him. But there have been many a time when we have gone up there and have found lots of tracks and nothing else. When a leopard is at rest in the grass where they often like to lie down it is almost if not impossible to see them.
We arrived in the area one afternoon about two weeks ago when another ranger had found the leopard walking very relaxed across the road and into the grasses where he had followed it off road and we were the second vehicle to arrive and when we got there the leopard was lying down about four meters from the vehicle and we could not see anything. Makes a person wonder how may times that we actually drive past these sneaky elusive cats.
A few days later he had killed a big male impala and pulled it into a shepherd’s tree where the visibility was touch and go. We saw him on both drives that day and other rangers had come all the way from the east to see him and this carried on for another two days. Amazing!
Around mid-April Madikwe management had released one hundred Eland antelope into the south eastern corner where lion densities around there are a lot less. The eland came from one of Madikwe’s sister reserves belonging to North - West Parks Board. For those of you that are unfamiliar about eland antelope, they are the largest antelope in Africa and have a wide range in habitat as they are nomadic animals a lot like buffalo but live in smaller herds.
Lastly to finish off, a young spotted hyena greeted us with much curiosity early one morning and of course not forgetting the smaller creatures of the bush, this young chameleon was taking his time getting across the road where we took the opportunity to photograph him. A lot of fun!
Well everyone, that’s it from my side and from Madikwe, hope to see you soon.
Take care now.