Sue & Gordon's Notebook March 2016
The last three months (December 2015 to February 2016) have seen a boom in the animal and bird populations in Madikwe, as being Summer time and in theory the height of our rainy season, this is when most of the herbivores produce their offspring. It is a great time of the year with so much new life around - playing and cavorting, adding many great photo opportunities out on game drive.
This year, many of the herbivores delivered their offspring late. The theory is that they wait as long as possible and delay giving birth until good rains have come. Some articles suggest that this delay tactic is not medically possible, and is a myth. Whatever the truth, nature as always is wonderful, and who are we to argue! We love seeing the newborns at the Lodge waterhole, and it is always a great event when the "firsts" of each species are seen. Some examples……
The baby wildebeest (gnu), with his face pushed into the water, is not confused believing he is a Zebra as the picture might suggest. Mother wildebeest was not far behind!
The female warthog was taking a well deserved dip in the waterhole to cool off on a hot Summer's day, while her four very young piglets play close by. Three Impala ewe's with their youngsters, all probably less than a week old.
Our proud Egyptian Geese parents with the largest brood they have ever produced over the years at Bush House - a total of ten goslings.
Whilst predators are not specifically seasonal breeders, it sometimes makes sense as a predator to have offspring at a time of the year when easy prey is bountiful. Brown Hyenas have denned close to the Lodge and have a young family. One of the adults took the opportunity to cool off in the waterhole, right in front of the Underground Hide.
Lions too show off their young at the waterhole, and the wild dog teenagers have often been seen here.
Interestingly, in the wild dog picture, neither the warthog nor the Egyptian Geese are particularly concerned about the wild dogs. They would seem to realise that these dogs are still youngsters, and for that reason, not much of a threat. At the time, the older members of the pack were off hunting close by, so were not in the immediate vicinity.
Parks Management have done a lot of work over recent years to rationalise the numbers of predators in the Reserve, especially the apex predator - Lions. (Don't be concerned, we still have many great Lion sightings). This has resulted in two very significant gains for Madikwe. Firstly, prey species such as Impala, Wildebeest, Kudu and Zebra are all increasing in numbers, with the ultimate goal being that they will be self-sustaining in numbers, indicating that the balance between predators and prey species is good. Secondly, smaller predator species such as Jackals, Hyena, Civets, Genets and others are also on the increase, meaning that sightings of these animals have greatly improved.
Occasionally, we are privileged to get visits at the waterhole from some of the more rare species in Madikwe that do not come by all that often. As we do always advise our guests, please keep one eye on the waterhole when in camp - you never know who may pop in for a quick drink.
This Black Rhino bull came down for a drink at night while guests were enjoying dinner in camp, and the two white rhino were well aware of the brown hyena passing by the Underground Hide on the opposite side of the waterhole.
Unusually, and for the first time ever that we know of, these two male bushbuck were spotted enjoying some green grass in the gulley between the Lodge and the waterhole. Bushbuck are one of the prettiest small antelope species to be found in Southern Africa.
Lastly from us in this newsletter, the picture below of a dark and menacing sky in the early evening is "music to our ears" as the thunder and lightning roll in and bring much needed rain to this arid part of the planet. Who says that Climate Change is not happening …… just as other parts of the World have had to deal with damaging floods, we have had the exact opposite. Please keep a little thought for us all in Southern Africa in the back of your minds for some more much needed rain, which we still desperately need in the next few months.
Take great care, and we all look forward to your next visit to the Bush House.
Gordon & Sue.