01 JANUARY 2009

January really is a pleasant month out here. There is some rain here and there and the days are hot, hot, hot. My kind of weather really.

It is still very wet here. There are continual onslaughts of African storms separated from each other by a couple of sunny days. There are the most amazing flowers popping up everywhere and new seedlings have sprouted. The reserve looks amazing and all the animals are happy… especially the predators. All the new young that have been born the past couple of weeks have provided an almost continual feast for all the predators. The best survival strategy of the predators is to pick off the weak, sick, injured and young animals. They provide less of a challenge to kill and the likelihood of getting injured from the prey fighting back is minimal. I haven’t seen a skinny lion in weeks now and I have also not seen many carcasses. The bones of the young are soft, nutritious and are therefore not to be found. Despite the carnivorous feast, there will be enough young that make it to adulthood to replenish the population… or so it should be.

It always amazes me how animals can live, survive and even flourish right underneath our noses and remain un-seen. Miraculously, and I really mean miraculously, three cheetahs have broken into the reserve and made themselves at home. Firstly, Madikwe Game Reserve has one of the best predator proof fences in Africa. How did they get in? Secondly, where did they come from? There is nothing but farms and community land surrounding the reserve. So yes, it is a miracle and yes there are a couple of questions that need to be answered, but in the meanwhile I’ll just enjoy these majestic animals.

Some of the other arrivals to the reserve have been traveling here from far, far away. They will stay for a while and then turn around and go back to where they came from. Yes, they are guests, but of the feathered kind. I am still gob smacked when I think of how far these creatures travel. I sometimes catch myself trying to imagine what they could have seen on their somewhat perilous journey. Now with Google earth, I can better perceive the journey they have taken, but it is still mind blowing how they can travel these enormous distances, how they could navigate the best route to where they are going and how they know when to start traveling to arrive at the optimal time at their destination. (I hope that came out right). The other day I saw a flamingo!!!!! This is an arid savannah for crying out loud??!!? Look, I’m not going to complain but it sure does bring up some interesting questions. There must be a reasonable explanation for this but I’ll have to do a little extra studying and I will let you know when I answer my (for the moment) nemesis question. Nightjars, some of the bee-eaters, coursers, cuckoos and many more birds are arriving daily so birding is great at the moment. And on that note, I need to get back to birding now so I’ll update you again next month.