January 2017 Ranger's Letter
After a long dry spell the rains have finally arrived, leaving Madikwe wet, muddy and beautifully green. The dams are filling up and although the bush is much thicker and spotting game is more challenging, our drives are lovely and scenic.
We have been lucky enough to have a fantastic few months with regards to game sightings!
Guests have been fortunate enough to see one of our beautiful female leopards, Tsala. At the end of November we were able to sit with her for almost an hour while she finished off a klipspringer carcass in a large Maroela tree. Not only did she pose for some beautiful pictures, but she stayed in the tree for a couple of days afterwards, giving us a few days of very special sightings. She was spotted last week again, and this time it appears as if she is suckling cubs. Hopefully Madikwe will be home to a few leopard cubs for the next while!
As if one leopard in the area is not enough of a treat, a big male named Spooko was spotted last week as well. He lived up to his name, which means “Ghost” in Tswana, and was only seen for a brief time before he moved on.
From one predator to the next. The wild dogs have been in the West of the park quite a bit lately. We were fortunate to spot them right outside our fence line where the whole pack was taking a nap under a tree. Usually these animals are on the move and very difficult to keep up with, so a bit of stillness was appreciated! Guests were also fortunate to watch them on a carcass in the north of the park. But the best sighting of these animals happened right by our water hole. About five minutes before guests were woken up in the morning, the pack killed a kudu at the water hole. Instead of going on their morning game drive our guests grabbed a cup of coffee and sat in the hide watching the action.
For the first time in a few weeks guests were treated to a black rhino sighting. Although usually brief, these rare encounters are always special.
These beautiful young lion cubs are one of the new additions to Madikwe. They are about three and a half months old by now and we have been lucky enough to see them on numerous occasions very near to the lodge. At the beginning of November the cubs were tiny bundles of fur and guests were delighted to be able to watch them falling over themselves and playing in the rocks outside our fence. As they’ve gotten a bit older, one of the cubs has become much bolder and more curious and we were able to watch it approaching the game viewer as he tried to figure out what the strange object was. As with most youngsters, he soon got bored and turned his attention to climbing up a broken tree stump.
Sightings of our beautiful male lions have been abundant. The Kwandwe male has been roaming around in the area around the Bush House. What a treat to wake up in the morning to the sound of him roaring! Our adrenaline was sent sky rocketing when we were sitting in a sighting with him and realized that the cruiser had a flat tire. Stefan to the rescue while a sharp eye was kept on the lion and we were back up and running in no time.
There’s no better start to a morning that spotting a cheetah in a tree! Although they are not one of the cat species that is best at climbing, they will occasionally climb up a fallen over tree or log to gain a vantage and survey their surroundings. Being able to watch them do this as well as mark their territory was a real treat and we spent about an hour with the two beautiful boys until they came to a stop and decided to take a nap on a termite mound.
This is the time of year for babies. And not just for the bigger animals. A crowned lapwing made her nest in the middle of the road, and as the eggs are so well camouflaged a ring of logs was built around her to prevent any vehicles from driving over them. I am happy to report that all three eggs hatched into very cute baby lapwings.
While the animals are the main event in the bush, the beautiful sunsets and weather phenomena like these mammatus clouds are not to be forgotten.
Until next time!