01 MARCH 2010

We have had a lot of rain this month and all the animals are happy, the bush is looking lovely and all the waterholes are full. Nevertheless we have had awesome sightings, the bush Gods have been good to us!

It was a cold and cloudy morning with a fine mist in the air, and it was quite. It seemed like all the animals have disappeared or slept in late. Even the abundant Impala and Blue wildebeest were nowhere to be seen, so we decided to stop for a cup of coffee and stretched our legs. Just as we started up after our coffee break the call came in on the radio Cheetah and we were just around the corner, what luck! We rushed to get down there and oh boy was it worth our time. As we drove up we saw the cheetah cross the road, how amazingly graceful and elegant the animal is. Completely relaxed he allowed us into his world & we could follow him at a respectful distance as he walked across the road into the brush scouting for the best place to have a rest for a while. We left him there sitting in the shade of a tree. Driving back we could not believe the unpredictability of the bush one moment quite and the next moment it opens up and lets you in to a world rarely seen. The quite morning was forgotten and we were buzzing from excitement by the time we got to the lodge.

We also got lucky with not one but two leopards, both very relaxed for Madikwe. The first was a young female at night & as we got into the sighting she was sitting in a dead leadwood but quiqly retreated down into the grass behind a thicket and we couldn’t see her. As we drove around the bush my tracker saw her and she calmly sat and looked at us. The view was not the greatest but just to see the Ghost of the bush is enough. As we left her she decided to move off ready to find some food for.

The second leopard we saw was pure luck we decided to go and explore the southern side of the reserve and again it quite. As we came around the corner in the clearing we saw a nice herd of zebra and blue wildebeest so we stoped to have a look. As we sat there my always vigelint tracker looked to west and said “Look in the tree!”. As i looked I could see the unmistakable shape of a leopard in the tree just relaxing. She was far off so we decided to sneak closer. As we got to her she jumped down and I thought I might have disturbed the poor animal. How wrong I was she walked right past us paying no intention to us…….. in hunting mode. How lucky we where to see this young female showing us exactly why they are one of the top predator. Skulking soundlessly around taking cover in the tall grass my tracker saw her target, a steenbuck laying in the grass., We all waited silently and then suddenly the steenbuck jumped up and ran away, who knows why. Maybe it was his sixth sense that told him to run. We all felt happy for the steenbuck but sad for the leopard, and left her still hunting for the next victim.

Eugene Bothma.

PS. A big thank you to the Alex Moghtader for suppling the leopard photo!

01 FEBRUARY 2010

We are coming to the end of summer now, daily we can see that the sun is coming up later and setting a bit earlier every evening. The unfamiliar chill that we haven’t experienced since October is back and we find ourselves wearing fleeces again. It doesn’t really matter to the animals, they have no choice in the matter and must continue to survive no matter what!

This month the lions went on a killing spree, maybe they are building up fat supplies for the long winter ahead and the poor herbivores are the unfortunate victims of their rampage.

The one lioness pulled down a blue wildebeest and we were fortunate enough to find her just as they started eating what a humbling sight it was to see this lioness and her two 6 month old cubs digging into this huge animal. Although there was more than enough to eat for all the lions they were typically aggressive with teeth and nails flying all over the place and being vocal as normal. It’s good to know that even thou it looked and sounded aggressive all 3 got their fair share and had overfull bellies with lots of the poor wildebeest left for later.

Then there were the two adult males, who are always considered to be lazy that proved us wrong again. Coming around the corner we saw this magnificent male busy devouring another blue wildebeest as we watched my tracker, Richard noticed something in the bush! When we looked we were amazed and shocked to see another male the first one’s brother with another blue wildebeest. How shocking, this coalition wasn’t your normal lazy males! They each wanted a buffet of their own but not greedy at all. We sat there for at least an hour watching as they ate and then swap to have a taste of the others menu with no aggression at all witch is very strange for males, but nature is unpredictable!
The most amazing thing of all was when one of them decided that the blue wildebeest in the road was too much in the open for his liking. With one show of power he picked up the 200kg animal by the neck and drug it into the bush. The power is uncanny like a body builder, we could clearly see every vein on his body as he drug the kill about 50 metres into the bush. Needless to say we all felt very humbled to have seen the power of the king of the jungle with our own eyes.
Until next month

01 JANUARY 2010

What a start to the New Year! We’ve had a couple of big rainstorms, which rejuvenates the bush. After the big rainstorms have gone all the animals come out of hiding and we have real busy game drives, but probably the most impressive of all are the insects. Every evening we are treated to sights of Giant Longhorn beetles, Giant Katydids’ and Giant Stick insects they are all impressive and amazingly large for insects. At least there’s more than insects out this time of the year because creepy crawlies are not everyone’s cup of tea, but they do bring some very interesting Insectivore’s out of the woodwork which we never see in winter like the awe inspiring Chameleon.
Every evening we are treated to seeing the white body of Chameleons sticking out at the point of the branches waiting for their next victim. Although Chameleons are quite common this time of the year you always get the one sighting that sticks out. The other night we went out on a night drive and there perched on the outer branches of a Sickle bush was this minute Chameleon barely the size of my thumb about an inch long. What a privilege it was to hold this little carnivore in my hands, barely 3weeks old and already completely equipped for its lifestyle of camouflage and hunting. Although we had a good drive that evening the little Chameleon just couldn’t be forgotten.
For the rest Madikwe is still brilliant with lots of Lion’s, Elephant’s, Rhino’s and Buffalo we even had the privilege of seeing a Cheetah which is quite a sight in every game reserve.
The last and probably the most exiting sighting were the Wild dogs. One morning a pack of 14 Wild dogs decided they like Mateya’s waterhole for their siesta. How nice it was to have them here for the whole day sleeping, playing and grooming to re-establish personal bonds.
Well that’s that for this month can’t wait to see what the bush has instore for next month!!!