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July 2010 - Ranger's Letter

I would like to start this off by introducing myself. My name is Jason Van Zyl and I am the new head guide at The Bush House and started here at the beginning of March. I have been a field guide for four years now up to date and can honestly say that I am still loving it with true passion. My special interests would be in the field of tracking, birding and more specifically wild animal behaviour.



I am also new to Madikwe game reserve and all I can say is Wow! What a gem in every way, and for those of you who have already been here before will hopefully agree with me.


With the winter now nicely set in, one can really feel the chills whilst out on drive but it is only just a small sacrifice and a huge compensation for those that brave the cold.


Also, being the dry season, the water holes have provided a fair amount of activity especially here at the bush house. A huge herd of buffalo of about 100 plus come around now more regularly in the early evenings and cover the whole water hole, along with “Hansa”, the local male black rhino and company.




A big surprise for me was the lone sable bull strutting his good looks around the water and even the young warthogs kept staring and sniffing with curiosity.
The bush truly has many surprises at the most unexpected of times, and this proved to be true in the form of very timid female leopard we came across one afternoon. What a privilege it was to be in her presence. It almost seems as if the animals have stepped out to show themselves to our world cup soccer guests.




In the previous newsletter Stefan mentioned the Mica pride of lions that occupy the southern territory with thirteen in total including the territory males. We have recently seen the presence of what we think is four new arrivals; the mother of the cubs is still very weary of the vehicles so she keeps herself and the cubs in the thickets.


lions cubs


The wild dogs and spotted hyenas have used our fence line to their advantage by trapping prey between the fence and the bush thickets, very exciting stuff!



 Wild Dogs


Another added benefit of the winter bush is being able to see the colorful bird species on display as the bush is not as thick. The bush type on the lower lying areas is classified as thornveld and is the habitat to some attractive species which are easily hidden by the leaves in the rainy season. These include crimson breasted shrikes, violet eared and blue waxbills and pied babblers.


We have just witnessed the annual impala rutting season, usually between April and June where mating rights within the breeding groups are established. This always provides for good entertaining action with the mature rams highly vocal roaring and chasing about.


Well everyone that is it from my side until next time.
Take care