01 DECEMBER 2005

Hello again from a wet and warm Madikwe. We had a lot of rain the past month, enough to keep the grass and trees green for a wile. Some parts of the reserve were of course undrivable, but we have managed so far.

Most of the animals are giving birth this time of the year, and it’s just amazing to see all the new born running around, the beginning of a another circle of life has begun. The rain brings a lot of other living creatures with it like insects and the migrant bird species. When you on drive this time of the year you also see the beautiful different wild flowers coming up, which makes the bush look even more spectacular.
Animal sightings were also pretty good this month. Adolph and Dean have been very lucky with Leopard on one of the new roads that has been build recently. KK and I also saw one of the dominant male lions in the eastern side of the reserve mating with a female which was quite a sight to see. Other than that elephant and rhino were seen regularly.

From the guides and trackers we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sakkie
Field guide

01 OCTOBER 2005

Welcome back, it is good to see you again. The bush is still extremely dry and dusty with all the water points, being the focus of the game drives. No rain has fallen yet to cool the very hot days, with the temperature not dropping much at night.

On the animal front we have some good news, the lion numbers have increased by two as one of the Dipelo females has had two cubs. They are estimated at 8 – 10 weeks and are the main attraction of the pride at the moment. It is amazing to watch them learning and playing at the same time.

A very exciting month was had for the leopard enthusiast, as we had numerous sightings. What
made each sighting so special was that there was more than one leopard seen each time. Sakkie and K-K managed to see a female with an oldish cub on a kill and they were in a tree on the western side of the reserve. Later this month Adolph and I were fortunate to see a female leopard with two cubs on a rocky outcrop near Tshukudu dam. The following evening, after having quite a quiet drive, just as the sun was setting Adolph spotted something moving in the grass. It turned out to be a leopard which had just killed a warthog. We left the area to go for sundowners and returned after sunset. In the cover of darkness the leopard seemed to be much more relaxed, enough for her to reveal a cub to us. It was absolutely amazing.
Most of the waterholes have dried up. This has caused the buffalo to drink at the bigger water points. Due to this we have been seeing them on a daily basis. At times there have been three sightings of buffalo at the same time.

The wild dogs continue to do well, with the Madikwe pack spending most of its time in the west of the reserve and the Twasa pack spending most of there time in the east. It has been a long time since I saw the Massimo pack, but we hope that they are doing well.

It has been an incredible month for rhino sightings, both black and white. There has been a crash of four and sometimes five black rhino which has been seen on a regular basis close to the eastern fence line, north of the “Rant of Tweedepoort.” Some spectacular viewing was had by all.

Cheetahs have been quite scarce this month with only a few sightings around the Madikwe plains. Hopefully this will improve once the rains come!

As usual the elephant viewing has been great with a few tiny calves often accompanying the herds. Almost every night there are two or three herds that visit the camp water hole to quench their thirst.

We even had a Sable antelope which was spotted by one of the guests, whilst they were in the comfort of their room.

Until next time.

Dean Robinson
Head ranger

01 SEPTEMBER 2005

Good day, from a very warm and dry Madikwe, as we are still waiting patiently for the first rains to come. Luckily this dry weather ensures that we have more sightings of animals at our waterhole.

The lion sightings this month have been incredible. There have once again been many kills, mostly wildebeest (you start feeling sorry for them after a while). The two old Batia males are still doing incredibly well for their age and are always dominating at kills when they are in the vicinity.

One evening at the camp waterhole, the viewing was amazing. There were wild dogs, elephants, and hyena all interacting with each other. Each of them eventually getting a turn to quench their thirsts.

While on drive this month K.K and I had some excellent cheetah sightings. One where the animals got into a tree that had been pushed over, and with the other sighting we were about ten minutes late after three cheetahs had caught a yearling wildebeest right next to the road.

With the very dry veld, fires are eminent and twice this month we had to rush to the southern part of the reserve to give a hand with the fire fighting. We managed to stop it, but unfortunately large areas of veld were destroyed. Luckily on the other hand this means that with the first rain this area will look beautiful.

Until next month, a warm and dry farewell.

Sakkie.
(Ranger)

01 JULY 2005

It is cold, the sun and the moon are fighting to see whose turn it is. As we all sat on the deck one morning, listening to the call of francolin and guinefowl, waking the rest of the animal kingdom. Suddenly the roar of a king. Everything seemed to go quiet.

 

From the south – eastern corner appears a black mane out of a sickelbush thicket, and then the rest followed. One of the Batia males, seconds later a female lion also appears. As they make their way to the watering hole impala, wildebeest & warthog scatter away. After the lions have drunk water they disappear again. Dejavue; another lion at exactly the same spot as the other two, minutes before. This time it’s the Kitametsi female followed by her 4 cubs.

A giraffe is slowly spreading his legs, making himself ready to drink when 2 of the cubs jump away like 100m athletes after the giraffe. Kicking its legs into all directions, the giraffe quickly taught the cubs a valuable lesson & they returned to go and lie with the rest under the shade of a blue thorn tree.

Later in the month I was also lucky enough to have spotted some other rarely seen species like Black Rhino and Sable, both big old bulls. Then there was the Wild dog den. It was amazing to see how ten little puppies play around and terrorise all the older dogs in the pack.

There were still many interesting things that happened during the month, but unfortunately I’ll have to stop somewhere… Bush greetings
Sakkie (Field guide)

01 JUNE 2005

Hello again, the Madikwe winters have definitely arrived. Water has become sparse in the reserve and with that many of the sightings this month were around various water points.

In the reserve all the lions have identifying brand marks and this month we had some fun trying to find a specific pride that needed to have this done. After many long hours spent on foot, we eventually located the pride we were after. It was a lioness with three +/- 20 month old males (The Lebala Bontle’s). The ecologist darted them and we waited for them to fall asleep, when it was safe we carried them to where they had prepared the branding irons. The areas where the branding was to be put was shaved and the entire pride was branded with the same shape, this is so that even if we see one member of the pride, we know which pride they belong to. The animals were then observed until the drugs wore off, and have since been seen and are doing very well.
We were spoilt this month with lion sightings as many of them involved a little action, either advertising their presence (roaring or marking territory) or feeding. Again the wildebeest formed a major part of the prey species. We witnessed the Dipelo females and Bulaya youngsters on one wildebeest, the Lebala Bontle’s on two wildebeest kills and a really interesting sighting of one Batia with the Bulaya youngsters on a gemsbok kill.

Last month also seemed to start the ball rolling with regard to leopard sightings, as the middle of the month had a few opportunities of seeing them. We did manage to get a distant view of a female with her cub on an Inselberg in the north-western corner of the reserve. There was much activity in the reserve as numerous kills were observed, but the leopards lived up to there elusive reputation.

With the drying out of many water points, the buffalo have been sighted more than usual, especially around the camp waterhole and Tshukudu dam.

Elephant and rhino sighting have been great all month, including a few sightings of the rarer black rhino. The cheetahs from around the plains have increased their area of operation and sightings have been recorded in all parts of the reserve. One highlight was a Sable antelope seen drinking with a herd of zebra at Kolobeng dam.

The wild dogs have been scarce this month with the Twasa pack having their den on a neighboring property and the Madikwe pack having spent much of their time in the western side of the reserve, visiting the east on a few occasions.

01 MAY 2005

Good day, from an autumn covered Madikwe. Well, as you know, our winter season has started and one can clearly see how the trees, grasses and all the other plants are changing into their beautiful red, orange and browns.

Look at it positively; in the winter you are able to see the animals with much more ease. This is due to most of the trees in our area loosing their leaves. Therefore one can see much further into the bush.

The past month we had some spectacular animal viewing. It started off with the first guests of the month. We left late in the afternoon and I thought it might be a good idea to go and do some sight seeing first and also stand a chance of seeing one of the illusive leopards.

 

The past month we had some spectacular animal viewing. It started off with the first guests of the month. We left late in the afternoon and I thought it might be a good idea to go and do some sight seeing first and also stand a chance of seeing one of the illusive leopards. After we had sundowners at the bat caves we decided to head for the plains, when we got there, K.K. the tracker, spotted the coalition of male cheetahs. Just as we got moving again, K.K. moved the spotlight up and down, which means that I must stop. I stopped and to our amazement a male and female lion appeared out of nowhere and were heading straight towards the cheetahs. When the lions were about 5 metres away, the cheetahs jumped up and ran away. What a magnificent experience it was.
On another occasion the staff and I went out on a night drive to go and look for a leopard. As we all know that rarely happens, so it would be a real treat. Instead we saw something even more rare, an aardvark, only my second time to have seen one.

At last the luck turned when Dean and Adolph went on drive one morning and were at the right place at the right time. In a weeping wattle tree, there it was. The spotted cat with its prize, a young zebra, caught the previous night.

Definitely a perfect month and we all hope that next month will be even more rewarding.

Kind regards.

Sakkie.(Field guide)

01 APRIL 2005

Hello again from a much colder Madikwe Game Reserve, winter is definitely on its way. We have been quite fortunate this month with some last minute rains. Some of our guests had a real treat during their stay and some spectacular viewing.

Most of the action this month took place amongst most peoples favourites – the BIG cats. Lions are extremely territorial, and the two old Batia males are no exception ( They have been dominant in the area for a long time). One morning they discovered some trespassers in their territory, three younger males known as the Kgakala – Etali’s. The Etali male has since been relocated to a reserve in the Waterberg Biosphere. The Batia brothers chased these younger males all the way from Eastern River Road to Mooigenoeg Base, a distance of approximately 10 kilometers.

 

Later this month the two Batia brothers had some competition between themselves as one of the Dipelo females came into oestrus. There was on and off viewing, due to the thickness of the surrounding vegetation, of the honeymoon couple for about 4 days. If the mating was successful she will give birth after approximately 110 days, which is the gestation period for lions.

Again the wildebeest were being picked on by the lions and during one of the downpours one was killed. We witnessed it being eaten by one of the Dipelo females, a couple of youngsters and a Batia male. As usual the male was very dominant at the kill and didn’t want to share any of his meal. There were paws flying, much growling and snarling by all parties involved – an amazing sighting.
There have been some really good cheetah sightings this month. A female with two sub-adults has been seen around the Tshukudu dam area and was even seen at the camp waterhole. The four brothers were also seen a few times this month, but due to the rains most of the roads in their core territory were closed.

Again there have been a few black rhino sightings, which are highly prized by the guides as well as the guests. One relaxed male in particular was seen in the same area twice in three days.

The wild dogs have been pretty active at the beginning of the month as once again the Massimo pack killed an impala up against the fence that surrounds the lodge, this all happened as the guests were getting ready to sit down for breakfast. As you can imagine breakfast was put on
hold, everyone got back onto the vehicles and went to get a better view.

Just a few days later it was the turn of the Madikwe pack, but they were not happy to be on the outside of the camp and chased an impala into the back of the camp around the staff quarters before killing it (Next time they will be charged for their stay ). Some bad news is that the Massimo pack is going to be caught and put in the boma as the reserve can only sustain two packs of wild dogs, so hopefully they stay on our side of the river.

Until next time.

Dean Robinson
Head ranger

01 MARCH 2005

Dumela, ( the Tswana word for hello ) from a much wetter Madikwe Game Reserve. We have come to the end of another fabulous month in the bush, which provided us with some excellent game viewing and some much needed rain towards the end of the month.

I will start off with some really exciting news for all the big cat fans, there was a new addition to the Madikwe family a couple of months ago. We saw this at Tshukudu dam where a lioness had killed an adult wildebeest and brought her four +/- two month old cubs for one of there first solid meals. Unfortunately the cubs were quite skittish, but still provided us with some awesome viewing. Later the same lioness killed another wildebeest in the sickle bush thickets just behind the camp waterhole. Another great sighting was had by all.

 

The coalition of four male cheetahs has also been doing very well this month. During one of the drives we managed to witness the four of them feeding on a sub-adult wildebeest ( poor wildebeest, everything seems to get them ). We must have missed the actual kill by just minutes.

This month has provided us with a greater opportunity of seeing one of Africa’s endangered animals, the Cape Hunting Dog. The Madikwe pack has split into two separate packs, the new pack has been called the Massimo pack and is numbering seven animals at the moment. Some really good sightings have been had of all three packs this month, even though they have spent some of there time in the southern side of the park.
Another highlight was a black rhino sighting of two females and a very young calf. At first they were quite weary of the vehicle, but as time went on they all relaxed and started moving towards the vehicle. They finally stopped approximately thirty metres from the vehicle. An amazing sighting!!!!
Dean Robinson
Head Ranger

01 FEBRUARY 2005

Dumela, ( the Tswana word for hello ) from a much wetter Madikwe Game Reserve. We have come to the end of another fabulous month in the bush, which provided us with some excellent game viewing and some much needed rain towards the end of the month.

I will start off with some really exciting news for all the big cat fans, there was a new addition to the Madikwe family a couple of months ago. We saw this at Tshukudu dam where a lioness had killed an adult wildebeest and brought her four +/- two month old cubs for one of there first solid meals. Unfortunately the cubs were quite skittish, but still provided us with some awesome viewing. Later the same lioness killed another wildebeest in the sickle bush thickets just behind the camp waterhole. Another great sighting was had by all.

 

The coalition of four male cheetahs has also been doing very well this month. During one of the drives we managed to witness the four of them feeding on a sub-adult wildebeest ( poor wildebeest, everything seems to get them ). We must have missed the actual kill by just minutes.

This month has provided us with a greater opportunity of seeing one of Africa’s endangered animals, the Cape Hunting Dog. The Madikwe pack has split into two separate packs, the new pack has been called the Massimo pack and is numbering seven animals at the moment. Some really good sightings have been had of all three packs this month, even though they have spent some of there time in the southern side of the park.
Another highlight was a black rhino sighting of two females and a very young calf. At first they were quite weary of the vehicle, but as time went on they all relaxed and started moving towards the vehicle. They finally stopped approximately thirty metres from the vehicle. An amazing sighting!!!!
Dean Robinson
Head Ranger

01 JANUARY 2005

January was an amazing month for the whole of Madikwe Game Reserve.

The experience of dull and dry fields, transforming into the most beautiful lush green and blooming flowers all due to a few drops of rain, the smell of new creation that no words can translate, was spectacular.
All the impala lambs and blue wildebeest calves that were born in November and December, to see them grow week by week jumping and running in the rain and get stronger every day, makes you just appreciate nature all over again.
Probably the most exiting moment of the month was the afternoon of the 16th. Without any warning, 28 wild dogs caught an impala ewe about 10 meters from our herb garden and within minutes there was nothing left. They were all still hungry and tried to out maneuver a herd of wildebeest with a calf, but the wildebeest kept on charging the dogs as soon as they tried to come close. While this cat and mouse game was going on, a buffalo herd of about a 100 came out of the thickets in single file to the water hole. Each one quenched their thirst and off they went in the same organized fashion. As dawn set upon us the wild dogs gave up and the wildebeest were victorious! How amazing!

Charel Faurie
Field guide