01 DECEMBER 2011

And so the end of the year has arrived. For us in the Southern hemisphere it is the peak of the summer and here in Madikwe it means rainy season. So far this season we’ve received approximately 175mm (+- 7 inches) of rain whish is about average for this time of year. The bush is lush and beautifully green. Even though we can use more rain, most of the water holes are slowly starting to fill up whish makes life a bit easier for the animals. We’ve had a few days with temperatures reaching the mid 40’s (113’F) but rain every now and then helped to cool things down.

The game drives and animal sightings have been amazing. The 3 young Lenyalo male Lions that took over the territory from Dithaba and Sipedi, a couple of months ago have been seen on a regular basis. They are still trying to convince the females in the area that they are worthy but for most of the lionesses with young cubs it will take some time as normally new males to an area will kill all young cubs in their new territory.

Baby Impala and Wildebeest’s are seen on every game drive as most of these species have by now given birth. Rhino, big herds of Buffalo, Elephant are almost seen daily. We’ve even had a few very good Leopard sightings during the month. A few very rare species have also been ticked off by our guest, Porcupine, Aardwolf, Dwarf Mongoose, Banded Mongoose babies, Caracal and for the birders out there a very rare to the area “Greater Painted Snipe” have been spotted at a water hole in the centre of the park a few times.

Wild Dog sightings have been out of this world this month. We’ve seen them resting a few times, we’ve seen them hunt a number of times and we’ve even seen a couple of Impala kills from start to finish.

We here at Mateya Safari lodge wish you a very happy, joyful, successful, New Year to you and your family.

Until next time…

Werner

30 NOVEMBER 2011

The park has really delivered great drives this month, guest where treated to fantastic elephant, rhino, lion and leopard sightings, just to name a few! With the dramatic cumulus clouds that are associated with summer thunder storms late afternoon sightings and drink stops had some amazing backdrops to add to the ambiance. On one particular drive it was decided that we will head out to vleipan in the south east of the park seeing as it was a hot day this particular pan can sometimes produce great late afternoon sightings. When we arrived at the pan at least 3 different herds of elephant was busy mud bathing and drinking, what a sight! Just as one herd left another will appear from the thicket and so it went on the whole afternoon with herd after herd coming to drink and cool down. We spend over 2 hours at the waterhole watching elephants and rhino drinking and playing, just when I thought it’s time to head back seeing as it’s getting dark we heard a lion vocalizing in the distance I thought let’s just wait a bit to see if he vocalizes again so we can figure out which direction he was heading in. While we were still watching the elephants a few minutes later the impalas started alarm calling just south of the waterhole we went over to investigate and sure enough there was the beautiful male walking and vocalizing as he went! Perfect way to spend your afternoon in the African bush! Another great sighting was of a male leopard, the leopard was viewed while drinking at a waterhole! It’s always a magical feeling viewing these secretive cats and guest enjoyed every second of it! The Wild dogs where around the lodge area as well and we captured some footage of them on our trail cameras just before they chased a wildebeest into the camp! To see the trail camera footage go visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mateya-Safari-Lodge/170916626295574 Summer is always a great time of the year for game viewing the bush is buzzing with new live; the birdlife is amazing with all the migrants back for the summer and most of the antelope has started to give birth! Looking foward to some more fantastic viewing with you!

31 OCTOBER 2011

Dawn of a new era…

The dominant coalition of male lions in the north-east of the park has taken a huge blow after the death of one of the males. Sepedi was found dead with numerous injuries and bites. Sepedi and Dithaba was born in 1999 and is descendants from the Batia males, the very first males that were introduced into the reserve in 1997, they lived up to the age of 16 and 17 years which is on average very old for male lions in the wild.

A male lions life is quiet a strenuous and hard lived life, when they reach maturity around 2.5 years of age the dominant male of the pride they were born in will push them out of his territory. If there are two or more males of around the same age they might leave the pride together and form a coalition. The theory behind male lion coalitions is that when they are pushed out of the pride they become nomadic males and staying together enhances their chance of surviving, hunting is easier, taking over a pride eventually will be easier and also maintaining a territory for longer periods is possible.

With Dithaba and Sepedi getting older, three younger males called the Lenyalo males from the north west started pushing deeper and deeper into the old boys territory, all the guides knew what inevitably will happen; either the younger males will chase off the older males and again the role will reverse for the older males and they become nomadic for the rest of their days or they will not stand for the younger males encroaching into their area and fight them off. We think the latter happened with tragic consequences for Sepedi one of the older males. Dithaba is still in the territory that they held for so many years but he too will be pushed out of the area very quickly, especially without his brother by his side.

Dithaba and Sepedi have had a full live, fathering numerous offspring and protecting their territory and females with up most dominance and pride! These two males are and were two of Madikwe’s gems entertaining many guests from all over the world. For us emotional humans to witness these events be it on television or first hand, it always seems cruel and sad. But this is mother nature’s way of ensuring new life and blood lines being strengthened.

“I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself, a bird will fall frozen dead from a bow, without ever, feeling sorry for itself.”

Exiting times are ahead with the Lenyalo males coming into the area…they will be a force to be reckoned with, already being big brutes like Kalahari lions normally are, with light manes at a younger age which will darken with age. There is an older male amongst the three which might be a cousin to the other two which is probably six months or so younger. They will be stunning males and great lions to view for future guests.

RIP Sepedi…

(Lone male lion in picture one is Sepedi)

(Three young males in picture 2 are the Lenyalo males)

24 OCTOBER 2011

Some pictures from the trail cameras, a honey badger and a leopard staring straight into the camera.

16 OCTOBER 2011

Nice rarities caught on camera, fantastic shot of an African-Wild cat and a Brown hyena with a leg of an Impala passing the camera.

30 SEPTEMBER 2011

Yet another month has flown by and with that, it is officially summer here in the African bush. We’ve already started to see those temperatures heading towards the mid thirties but luckily the nights here in Madikwe are very pleasant because of a very low humidity.

The month of September has been very eventful as far as game drives are concerned. During the cold winter months the Wild Dogs generally den and we’ve not been seeing too much of them. But that all change during this month… We’ve seen them on drive at least a half a dozen times, we’ve seen them outside camp coming to drink twice more, the small pack even killed an Impala against Mateya’s fence one night. But my most favorite Wild Dog sighting for the month was when the big pack spend the entire day at Tshukudu dam very close to camp. It was my first time this season seeing the puppies, all eleven of them. We sat with them at sunset and I’ll never forget seeing those youngsters running up and down the dam wall silhouetted against the setting sun. The adults eventually got up and chased some Waterbuck into the dam. There was a bit of a stand off before the pack decided to head off in a northerly direction. What an amazing sighting…

There has also been a lot of action on the Lion front. We’ve seen some Lion cubs on drive a few times, tree male Lions feeding on a Giraffe carcass, a huge battle between the two dominant males and three younger male Lions that lasted an entire morning drive. We even had the two dominant males roar a couple of meters away from the vehicle on a few occasions.

The spring time month of September also proved to deliver a few very decent sightings of the shy and elusive Leopard. Even on the trail cameras placed around camp we managed to photograph and identify three different Leopards. We were also very excited to see Aardvark, Porcupine and Honey Badger show themselves a few times on the trail cams.

One late afternoon a loose cloud blew over Madikwe and lightning set the southern sections of the park alight in three different places. But in typical Madikwe fashion, people from all over the park quickly came together and the fire was under control in a couple of hours. Now almost two weeks later green grass shouts are visible everywhere in the south of the park and herbivores are starting to flock there for the new nutrient rich grass.

Most of the migratory birds will return during the month of October and we are all waiting in anticipation for these colorful wonders.

Until next time…

Werner

25 SEPTEMBER 2011

Some very rarely seen visitors passing by the “trail cam” this week.

Top picture : Porcupine
Bottom picture: Aardvark

18 SEPTEMBER 2011

Some big cats passing by the “trail cam” on the way to the Mateya water hole.

09 SEPTEMBER 2011

Some pictures from the trail camera…

31 AUGUST 2011

Summer is coming fast and all of the smaller waterholes have dried up with the larger water sources holding the only available water.

The past month our guests were treated to some great sightings; with four different leopards in two days. On a rather quiet drive one afternoon we were slowly making our way back to camp when we spotted something up in a tree. Richard told me it looked like an old leopard kill. So I took my binoculars out and sure, it was a leopard kill but to my amazement the leopard was still in the tree as well feeding on the Impala carcass!

After a while of viewing it from the road to give it a chance to get use to our presence I thought it’s time to try and get a closer look at the beautiful animal. As we approached the tree the leopard came down and to our amazement there were in fact three leopards, a female with her two cubs! Unfortunately the cubs were very shy and made for the thick bush and the mother slowly followed them. I told the guests we will go have our sun downer stop and then come back maybe by then the cats will be back! On our return we searched for another 15minutes and just before I wanted to give up we spotted the female crossing the road in front of us! We continued to view her for another 40 minutes or so before she slipped off into the dark night!

The very next day on an afternoon drive we where fortunate enough to find another female leopard in the south of the park! I could not believe the luck we had. We spend over an hour with her before she moved into terrain that was inaccessible for us with a vehicle.

The two Naledi male Lions and the Jamala females with their five new cubs also gave us great viewing recently. We viewed these cats whilst feeding from a giraffe kill! The cubs really kept us entertained, climbing all over the giraffe showing no interest in the vast amount of food to their exposal. These cubs are only around 8-10 weeks old and are still on a milk diet but will soon start showing interest in meat as soon as they are weaned at around two and a half to three months of age.

Until next time…

Francois