01 FEBRUARY 2014
Total rainfall for the month: 19mm.
Average daytime temperature: 36’C. (86’F)
Maximum Daytime temperature: 42’C. (108’F)
Average night time temperature: 18’C. (64’F)
Minimum night time temperature: 14’C. (57’F)
January has been a very hot and dry month here in the Madikwe. With only a few months to go in the rainy season we are all getting a little nervous with less than half the average rainfall fallen to date.
Game viewing however has been great like always.
One specific sighting that stood out for me during the month has been an incredible encounter with an amazing female leopard. On our afternoon drive we went past Tshukudu dam, a beautiful body of water quite close to the lodge. As we drove up the dam wall we spotted a young female leopard wrestling an impala to the ground. We didn’t want to interfere so I switched the vehicle off and we watched with our binoculars how she suffocated the last bit of life out of this quite large male impala. When it was all done we watched her struggle to get her pray into the shade out of the open, away from scavenging eyes. She was obviously exhausted having just killed an animal twice her own size so we decided to leave her in peace and go check on her later on during the drive. We spent our entire drive no more than 2 kilometres from camp viewing elephant, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, impala, baboon, wildebeest, leopard tortoise and a nice variety of birds. On our way back to the lodge we went past the dam to check on the female leopard and her kill just to find close to fifty elephant drinking at Tshukudu dam and no sign of the leopard. She was most probably chased off by the elephant as they approached the waterhole.
During dinner my guests and I was discussing and wondering if the leopard we saw earlier managed to hold on to her kill or did she go hungry. We finished dinner quite early and while we enjoyed our Crème brûlée we decided to go check on her after we were done.
As we approached the dam we saw a set of eye reflecting back at us and I was sure we found her. But as we got closer we realised it was a spotted hyena that stole the kill from her. We watched the hyena feeding franticly with a couple of black backed jackals hanging around him hoping for some scraps to come their way.
Still no sign of the leopard. While we sat there watching the hyena a herd of approximately 200 buffalo came to drink behind us. When they left a herd of elephant came in to drink. We could not believe our luck. After twenty minutes the hyena had enough and walked off. The jackals approached cautiously, having earned their time at the table. Two minutes after they started feeding they stopped abruptly, sniffed the air and started making soft alarm calls. Something I’ve never heard them do. We pointed the spotlight in the direction they were looking in and sure enough, there she was, our beautiful leopard approaching through the long grass. She took a few bites and then started to drag the carcass to safety. She was aiming for a large Tamboti tree east of us. She struggled, having to rest every few meters as the carcass probably still weighed the same as she does. Moments before she got to the tree another spotted hyena came charging in and she fled up the tree without the carcass barely escaping the hyena jaws. The huge female hyena picked up the carcass effortlessly and walked off with it. We felt sorry for our leopard having just worked so hard to get her kill back.
We sat a few more minutes watching her groom herself in the tree before she leapt out the tree and walked off into the darkness.
We drove back in silence reflecting on the amazing things we witnesses during the afternoon.
Until next time…
The Mateya team.