31 DECEMBER 2010

We are approximately half way into summer here in Madikwe. Those of you that have only been here in the winter will not recognize the bush; it is beautifully lush and green. We have had around 250mm (9.4inc) of rain to date and all the water holes and dams are nice and full. It’s time of plenty for all the animals as food and water is available everywhere. All the migratory birds are also back by now and it’s a “birder’s” paradise at the moment. There are also a lot of baby herbivores running around this time of year that we all love to watch.

The sightings during this month are reflecting the good times. Between Philip, Francois, myself and our guests we’ve managed to get 10 Leopard sighting, 9 Wild Dogs sightings and Black Rhino 3 times. Like always Madikwe’s Lion and Elephant sighting was off the charts. We even saw Buffalo at the lodge’s waterhole quite a few times. Jan, Daniel, Emma, Petro, Natalie, Jaco, the Demelbauer and Budge family were some of our guests lucky enough to sit next to the dominant male Lions while they were roaring. It’s an experience you can not explain to someone that’s never heard it. Even after all the years in the bush it still gives me goose bumps every time it happens. Jan, Daniel and Emma also saw the small pack of Wild Dogs feeding on a Impala lamb that they killed seconds before we managed to catch up to them. It is quite gruesome to see, but at the same time amazing to see nature in action. I hope these guests feel as privileged as us to have experienced this.

Those of you that view our website regularly will know how much success we’ve had with our “Camera traps” that are strategically placed around camp for us to monitor or at least try to get an idea what’s going on around camp at night when we are all fast asleep. Leopard, Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, White and Black Rhino, Honey Badger, Giraffe, Zebra, Impala, Grey Duiker, Warthog and even the very rare Aardvark is just some of the animals we’ve managed to photograph.

A giraffe died at Tshukudu dam close to the lodge a few days ago and at the moment the nights are filled with the sounds off Hyenas and Lions calling. At the kill itself Lion, Brown Hyena, Spotted Hyena, Black Back Jackal and plenty Vultures are to be seen.

The Mateya team wishes you all a happy and prosperous New Year and can not wait to see what the new year holds in for us and our guests alike here in the bush.

Until next time…

Werner

24 DECEMBER 2010

Two of the biggest cats in the African bush graced us with their presence on the “trail cams” this week.

19 DECEMBER 2010

I thought I’ll share this amazing sight with you guys. On Thursday the 16th we’ve had over 100mm of rain in 24 hours. Those guests that have been to Mateya will remember the big dam close to the camp. I’ve attached a picture from this dam from a few weeks ago when buffalo came to drink at the last bit of water at the end of the season. The other picture is how the dam looks like now. Even the rangers that have been in the park for many years were amazed to see the dam as full.

Until next time,

Werner

14 DECEMBER 2010

Here’s a few pictures from the trail cam again… We’ve been blessed with very good rain for the last 4 days. It brought the rainfall for the season up to 140mm. Just what the bush needed…

31 NOVEMBER 2010

The summer is in full swing, some rain has fallen but still much is needed, for its going to be a long and harsh summer. Most of the migrant birds are back from their travels abroad and the bush in the reserve is teeming with new life. Going on drive at this time is really a special experience.

One afternoon Richard and I were on our way to the western airstrip to welcome our new guests, Suzie and Matthew when we saw a beautiful female leopard. Naturally we where very exited, hoping that she will still be there when we return with our new guests. As luck would have it we spotted her in a large Weeping wattle staring down at us on the way back to the lodge. It was real special seeing her so close up and what a way to start of your safari experience. Not even checked into the lodge and leopard was already ticked off the list.

The very next day my plan was to go to a dam well known for good elephant activity this time of year. Arriving at the dam we were disappointed to see that it was dead quiet with no animal activity. At that moment another ranger called in a leopard just a bit further west from our position. Right there and then I planned our route and went off to the sighting hoping that the animal will still be there when we get there. The timing was perfect, when we arrived at the sighting all the other game drive vehicles has left and we could enjoy our second leopard sighting in two days all by ourselves!

Over the last few weeks we had some amazing wildlife encounters with rhino and elephant on almost every drive and an amazing lion sighting with two big male lions roaring right next to the vehicle making every bone in your body rattle!

Another great highlight for me was finding the pack of 15 wild dogs one morning 20 minutes into the drive. And to make it even better they were on the hunt and was highly mobile. Naturally I followed them and went ahead of them down the road to see if there was any potential prey, so we can position ourselves in anticipation for the hunt. Ahead of them was a herd of impala and some wildebeest… The dogs got sight of them and half the pack went for the impala and the other half stayed behind and mocked the wildebeest that couldn’t care less about the dog’s presence. The dogs missed the impala but it was still a sight to see these awesome animals in full flight and really nice to see their bonding rituals when the other half of the pack returned.
These animals are amongst my most favorite to see as they are also one of the most endangered predators in Africa, numbering around 3500 in the wild. There is various reasons for their low numbers the biggest being habitat loss. They where also seen as pests in the early days and was shot on sight even in protected areas. Wardens and conservationist could not see the value of these animals and they were seen as ruthless killers. Luckily all of that has changed and their value as an African predator is appreciated today, keeping the smaller game species like Duiker, Steenbok, impala etc. in check.

The last few weeks have been an incredible experience for all the rangers and guests at Mateya. Newly born Impala, Red Hartebeest, Springbuck, Blue Wildebeest and various other species to be seen everywhere. We’re all looking forward to sharing these wonderful sightings and experiences with you.

May everyone have a wonderful festive season. We hope to see you soon.

Regards,

Francois van Heerden and the Mateya team.

06 NOVEMBER 2010

It’s nice to see a big male lion walk by the “trail cam”. We found out the next morning that they made a kill not far from camp and both he and his brother came to drink at the camp water hole during the night.

And off course it’s always nice to see Black Rhino on the pictures again. Philip and I both have been very fortunate to also see them on drive on two different occasions in the last week. Still very special sightings…

03 NOVEMBER 2010

At long last we’ve received some rain. On the afternoon of the 31st of October some very dark clouds moved in and along with high winds and a spectacular lightning storm typical to the first rain of the season, 22mm of rain poured down on us.

31 OCTOBER 2010

Going out on your first guiding experience at a new lodge is always exciting, with four guests eager and ready for anything non of us expected to find an amazing sight like we did!

After seeing lion and some general game we were driving and just soaking in the fresh bushveld air, we spotted some vultures in the distance. Vultures is not a common sight in Madikwe so I had to go and investigate thinking this had to be a big kill of some sort. Arriving at the sighting I was totally flabbergasted at the sight in front of me. A pride of eight lion gorging themselves on a elephant carcass!

We suspected that the elephant died of natural causes; lion in Madikwe are no elephant hunters and will more likely hunt more abundant and easier prey like wildebeest or zebra. Just like hyenas, lions are also opportunist and will scavenge or steal form other predators to satisfy their needs, and here where they have a four-ton elephant all to themselves. The amount of wildlife activity around the sighting was astonishing from spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, pied crows and various species of vultures all waiting their turn, off course the lions made sure that the other animals obey the food chain and constantly had to chase off the jackal or vulture that dared to get to close! An incident like this ripples through the African bush and one life especially of this magnitude will support and provide others with life and that’s how the endless cycle has been going for millennia!

After some good photographic opportunities and great viewing that these wonderful creatures gave us we started up and headed back to the lodge, driving back with the sun setting behind us, I could not help thinking how each and every person on that vehicles life have changed for there was a earry quietness on the vehicle, each person in his own thoughts trying to unravel the wonders of the African bush!

Hope to see you all soon,

Warm Mateya greetings.

Francois van Heerden

24 OCTOBER 2010

Brown Hyena in the day time and another Leopard captured on the “trail cam”

19 OCTOBER 2010

Another two very special sightings captured on the “trail cam” was a pair of Honey Badgers and a big male Leopard