01 FEBRUARY 2013

Total rainfall for the month: 155mm (6 inc)
Average daytime temperature: 36’C (97’F)
Maximum daytime temperature: 45’C (113’F)
Average nighttime temperature: 22’C (71’F)
Minimum nighttime temperature: 16’C (61’F)
Sunrise: 05:45 am
Sunset: 19:05 pm

And so the first month of the new year has come and gone. It was a fairly wet month here in Madikwe and it can be seen on the dense vegetation and the good condition of the animals. For the herbivores and insectivores alike it’s a time of plenty. All the migratory birds are still very happy to be in the southern sections of Africa as the weather is nice and hot and food is plentiful. Due to the nice rain we’ve had some amazing looking clouds that made for some spectacular sunset and sunrises.

The month of January has once again made for good game viewing. Even the very shy Leopard has been ticked off the list for no less than 8 sets of guests. As always Lions sightings in Madikwe are amazing and the two prides in the North East of the park has small cubs again. Elephant were seen abundantly around the lodge. Buffalo and Wild Dog have also been seen on a regular basis. Francois and his guests were lucky enough to see them interacting one morning. The pack of Wild Dogs chasing the heard of Buffalo until they realised they are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, then they would turn and chase the dogs again. This game went on for half an hour to the amusement of Francois and his guests. We are happy to announce the release of 4 new male Cheetah and 2 new male Lion into the park.

For herbivores like the Impala the shorter days at the end of January, beginning February trigger the increase of testosterone in the males and they start to separate out of their bachelor groups and begin the demanding task of setting op territories. Ideally a good territory needs to have sufficient water access and food. Impala are classified as “mixed feeders” and that is another reason why they are found so plentiful throughout the African savanna. They can utilize a wide variety of food sources unlike some herbivores that specialize in only a few, either grazing or browsing, and therefore are limited to certain areas only. Impala are water dependant and are generally found within a 5 km radius of a water source where they drink daily. Most of the Impala ewes have by now given birth and little Impala can be seen in their breeding herds on almost every corner. Hence the phrase “bush Mc Donald’s” as they are sometimes referred to by guides and guests alike. This sudden influx of Impala lambs provides a surplus of pray during this time for predators but even they can’t eat them all. This strategy makes more sense for the survival of this abundant species then spreading the births out over many months. Impala have a gestation period of 6.5 months, and they average a lifespan of 12 years in the wild. Even though we see so many of them on our daily game drives I think Impala are still one of the most superbly adapted antelopes in Africa.

A little bad news… The month of January has already seen the slaughter of at least 57 Rhino throughout South Africa due to poaching. Madikwe unfortunately also making up part of those statistics. The good news is that Madikwe started off the new year with an even stronger anti-poaching team. And thanks to very generous sponsors we also received “sniffer dogs” to help the fight again this senseless crime.

Until next time…

The Mateya team.

01 JANUARY 2013

The last few days in December was extremely hot, with the humidity on a couple of days reaching as high as 85%, which is very unusual for this part of South Africa, as we are in a Semi-Arid region.

Although the high temperatures also had the same affect on the animals as on us humans, nature still provided us with some extremely good wildlife sightings. The wild dogs have provided us yet again with top class sightings, one that comes to mind is witnessing the big pack make no less that 5 kills in a short span of 24 hours, 4 kills in 30 minutes, followed with the puppies running around and being up to their normal mischief!

One of the highlights of December was that Francois and myself were fortunate to have had a great sighting of the newly release male cheetahs, 2, into Madikwe Game Reserve. Although this meant that we had to drive 2 hours to the most South Eastern Corner of the reserve it was well worth the effort when we got there as they are extremely relaxed with the game drive vehicles. Even the butterflies came in to greet the new arrivals!

With all the rain and abundant food around the wildebeest seems to be in high spirit as well, with the adults joining in the fun with the youngsters stretching their legs.

With the very high humidity in the last week of December we have had a few big rain storms building in the afternoons and brining a welcome relieve from the heat of the day but also made for very nice and dramatic sunset photos.

Hope all will have an excellent New Year!!

Philip Hattingh