31 JULY 2011
A few drops of rain fell during the month of July, but in general it is still very dry. We had two cold fronts moving through the area that made us all reach for our beanies and gloves, but the sightings were out of this world.
We had three different Leopard sightings during the month, a big heard of Buffalo has been seen on average every third day. Elephant, White Rhino, Zebra, Impala, and Giraffe came drinking at the lodge water hole in front of camp on a daily basis. We also managed to spend some time again with the young Brown Hyenas at their den and it is just as amazing seeing them now as the first time. But there were a few sightings that stood out head and shoulders above the rest.
A few mornings ago the Wild dogs were seen close to camp. We followed them running down Mateya’s access road when they saw some Kudu’s and the chase was on. They eventually caught up and killed a young female Kudu just outside the Staff Village. We sat for thirty minutes watching them feed. Halfway through the meal they all jumped up and chased a Spotted Hyena out of the area. On their return they showed us their very social side as the pack greeted each other like it’s been hours since they’ve been together. It is always brutal to see a kill happen in front of you, but amazing at the same time to see nature in action.
One afternoon drive just before the sun went down a couple a Caracals were found by another ranger close to where we were and I asked to join. Although I have seen Caracal before in the park, they were always very skittish. These two however had no care in the world. We were stopped no more then 10 meters from them and sat for 30 minutes watching them play with a half dead Crested Francolin they just caught. Definitely a first for me…
Paul and I sat with the White family and Ms. Page one afternoon at Tlou dam taking pictures of the sunset when a herd of Elephants came to drink. It was just after sunset and the sky was beautiful shades of orange and purple. We sat without any words spoken, the only sounds came from the Elephants slurping water, crickets, a few birds singing their last song before the long night and a lone Nightjar looking for a friend in the cold winter evening. I’m sure the others will agree, this picture was painted in my mind forever.
Until next time…
24 JULY 2011
It is getting very dry in the Madikwe bush. With very little water left out there we find more and more animals coming to drink at the lodge water hole. I changed the “Trail camera’s” memory cards in the morning just to find plus minus 5000 photos taken between the three cameras in 6 days. One of my most favorite animals, the Honey Badger was amongst them.
12 JULY 2011
We had a great Spotted Hyena sighting in front of one of our trail cameras. Ruth and Pat were the lucky guests getting their picture taken with one of Africa’s top predators.
08 JULY 2011
Once again our trail cameras managed to capture amazing action around camp while we were not around.
30 JUNE 2011
The turn of the winter has come and despite the cold weather our guests were treated to some amazing sightings and animal behavior.
As always the lion sightings in Madikwe were incredible, going out for an afternoon drive we found a pride of seven lions. We noticed their thin bellies and realized they haven’t had anything to eat, we decided to follow them for a while before going for our sundowners. With the lions cutting through the thicket we decided to go around and hopefully relocate them on the other side of the block. Arriving there we were surrounded by loads of general game. We positioned ourselves and started the waiting game. After about 20 min we had clear sight of the three females stalking the big herd of zebra. One lion went straight up the middle while the other two flanked around the herd on either side. All the guests and I were poised in anticipation. The one female leading the hunt was in clear view and probably around 40m from her target. Looking at her you could see every muscle coiled up like a spring just waiting to erupt. With the tension at its peak the lion jumped ahead with leaps and bounds. We chased after them and when the dust cleared we realized that they missed. Just another day in a lion’s life, taking into consideration that they only have a success rate of around 30% when hunting. It was truly fascinating seeing these icons of Africa in action!
The very next morning we heard that they took down a zebra around the same area where we saw them the previous night.
A few lucky guests were also treated to a few rarities, bat-eared fox, honey badger and a big male leopard in one afternoon drive.
For a guide it’s hard to put down a particular favorite animal or sighting he or she has had but for me the recent sighting we had with two brown hyena cubs and their mother was filed in my head as one of the best. Seeing the cubs suckle and playing around was truly amazing! Just getting the opportunity to have a quick glimpse of these rare and shy animals is a privilege and we were very fortunate to see a mother with her two cubs around ten weeks of age. We sat around watching them for over an hour, suckling, playing and just being baby Hyenas.
With an abundance of water still available on the reserve we are looking forward to more great sightings and animal behavior.
We here at Mateya hope you have a good month and hope to see you soon!
Francois van Heerden
10 JUNE 2011
A few “cats” on the trail cameras.
Picture 1: Male Leopard
Picture 2: Very shy and rarely seen Serval.
31 MAY 2011
Winter is here and in full swing. We’ve had a little cold front come through and we are all wearing our winter clothing.
The bush has a certain charm to it this time of year. Beautiful blue skies with amazing yellow grass most days and amazing light for photography lasting for a while longer every morning and evening. The night skies are also just a little more magnificent during the cold winter months.
Animal sighting are good as always. Most of the smaller water holes in the bush have dried up and more and more animals are seen every day coming to the lodge water hole.
A Lion pride made a kill just east of the camp a few days ago and the nights were filled with Lions calling around Mateya. On the afternoon game drive we sat with the pride for more then an hour, watching the cubs play while some of the adults started feeding again. We only drove off a little way to go have our “sundowners” just to return again thirty minutes later. After the sun went down they were much more active and vocal. Brown and spotted Hyena came in to investigate a few times but one female made it her business to keep them at bay. This all happened with us sitting ten meters from the pride, with the lodge just over our shoulders.
It looks like the big pack of Wild dogs started “denning” in the western side of the park. So hopefully we’ll have some Wild Dog puppies running around again soon. So far it doesn’t look the Alpha female of the smaller Wild Dog pack is pregnant. So they are out and about like normal.
We are very excited about the Leopard pictures we’ve been getting during the day time on the “trail cameras” around camp making the identification of these magical animals a little easier. We even got a few picture of the very shy Serval walking past the water hole 8:30 in the morning.
I can not wait to see what the rest of the winter offers.
Until next time…
23 MAY 2011
Here’s a few more picture the “trail camera” took of animals coming in close to have a better look at the camera.
Top picture : Lioness
Bottom picture: Spotted Hyena
16 MAY 2011
Here’s some pictures taken of a female leopard scent marking as she walks past the camera. Minutes later a young Elephant bull comes charging down the game path, obviously smelling the fresh Leopard scent.
06 MAY 2011
Here’s a few more pictures from the “trail Cameras”. The first pictures is a Brown Hyena that came in nice and close for a better look at the camera. The second is the very rare Black Rhino also coming to investigate this foreign object.