22 April 2019

Although we can never guarantee a sighting of any specific animal, it is safe to say that no safari in Madikwe would be complete without a giraffe encounter. And fortunately Mateya lies within a Senegalia and Vechellia rich biome, and we have several perennial water sources which means giraffes flourish here. There has been a scientific, and somewhat of a semantic debate, over the speciation of giraffe for a long time mainly due to insufficient research. Until a recent study conducted by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, it was commonly accepted that giraffe consist of one specie and arguably nine subspecies. But said study, focusing purely on genetic material, strongly suggests that there are four distinct species, namely the Southern, Masai, Reticulated and Northern giraffes. Where the semantics come in is with the the definition of the word “specie”, being a group of organisms that can exchange genetic material and interbreed. Although the four suggested species can interbreed under captive conditions, they do not do so in nature where their respective distribution overlaps. Thus the argument has not been concluded yet.
In Madikwe we see the Southern giraffe, and although it is a common sight, the specie as a whole is listed as vulnerable, with a 30% drop in numbers in only the last thirty years.

Mahiwa Brothers

This image is of one of the three Mahiwa brothers, a young and upcoming coalition which we are privileged to view more frequently around Mateya. Male lions born within roughly two years of each other, in the same pride, will almost always stay together for life. And although these three boys are only four years old, at least two years away from their prime, they are displaying stoic character as they explore the sphere of their influence. But, as always with the ebb and flow of nature, this new found success comes at a price to others. The legendary two Linjalo males are retreating in front of the youthful advance, signalling the end of their long and exciting reign.

For interest’s sake, Mahiwa means to give, in Tswana, as they are truly a gift to us guides and our guests. It is not often that three brothers survive into their prime. And Linjalo means wedding, as they, as subadults, curiously joined a wedding held out in the bush years ago, to much excitement and unnecessary panic from the wedding guests. We do not name the animals in Madikwe, out of respect for their wild nature, but we do name coalitions for practical reasons, like tracking and monitoring.