Newsletter May 2015

By gavintonkinson on May 31, 2015

Welcome to a very dry and crispy cool Madikwe…….

This month has been a month of fresh new changes in the wildlife department as well as at the lodge.

We were closed for a maintenance week where we tackled the arduous job of refurbishing the swimming pool at the main lodge, and combing the thatch roofs throughout the lodge, and giving the kitchen a facelift by tiling out the entire kitchen, as well as oiling all the decks, this all in a week !!!

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After all the hard work it was well worth all the effort as the lodge is looking really stunning, and better than ever.


As far as the wildlife is concerned, we kick off with the new changes in our local male lion coalition, the Kwandwe boys. They have officially now taken over from the Naledi male who reigned here on the ridge for than 8 years, but is now been forced into nomadism and is fearing for his life as he is still been pursued by the Kwandwe males who want to finish off the task of eliminating him for good as they had done to his brother about a year ago !!

This is not all bad news, as it is nature’s way of making sure that the strongest genetics are going through to strengthen the population.

Twilight Roaring 1

The females on the ridge have also accepted the change, and were even seen mating with the new force on the ridge, and we hope that we will have cubs in three months from now. So for the time being, until the dust all settles down I am sure that we will get back to having some awesome sightings of our local pride in the close future.

lions at inkwe pan 1 Kwandwes on diperoro 7 Kwandwes on diperoro 5

These boys were even responsible for taking down a full grown giraffe during our maintenance week, so we don’t have any images of them on the carcass, but we did have some amazing sightings of vultures, jackals and hyenas finishing off the carcass for another week after the lions had moved off.

giraafe kill on reservoir 1 giraafe kill on reservoir 2 HYENAS ON GIRAFFE CARCASS 1 giraafe kill on reservoir 3


The presence of these scavengers is a very important part of the safety of the ecosystem as they are able to eliminate all the disease that generates from the rotting carcass by digesting and neutralizing any pathogens that could create an outbreak of disease.


Tsala, our resident leopardess who we reported had cubs a couple months ago, seems to have lost them once again, and is proving to be an extremely unlucky or bad mother as she has in my time here never successfully raised her cubs to adulthood. She is however looking stunning as ever and has been giving us some really awesome sightings this month, with the highlight been one morning when she was hunting impala around our vehicles, and we watched as she narrowly missed.

Tsala on Kampa 2 Tsala on Kampa 1 Tsala on Kampa 4 Tsala on Kampa 12


The female cheetah which was in the holding facility has been released this month, and is doing extremely well, and she is starting to explore her new home, much to the confusion to the 4 males who are still returning to the holding facility to see if she is still in there, but I am sure it will not be long before they latch on to her scent, and track her down and introduce themselves to her.

Hopefully she will be coming into her first estrus cycle in about 4 months from now, and if those boys are worth their salt, we will have cubs early next year which will be amazing, as we will not have had this happen in the park for about 13 years now !!!

Cheetahs at Tau dam 3-2 Cheetahs at Tau dam 2


There was also one special afternoon when Cornelius was following the 4 cheetah brothers in the north when they were hunting, and this is what happened according to Cornelius……


” Late one afternoon the four male cheetahs were found around the middle of Madikwe. As I was close enough I got a spot to join the sighting and the middle of the action.

The one male walked past us as we drove in and the other 3 was looking at some Red hartebeest in the distance. We knew the one that left was setting up the ambush. Now we just had to wait.

After a short while we saw dust where the hartebeest were and the cheetahs were gone. We tried to keep up with them, but man they quick. We caught up with them and we had no words. All four cheetahs were hanging from a fully grown male Red hartebeest. It took them a while to get it down and kill it, but in the end they won.

It was a true fight for life and death. ”

Speechless Speechless-3 Speechless-2


Another special morning unfolded as were trying photograph bee-eaters at Inkwe Pan , when suddenly the ridge pride appeared out of nowhere for a drink, and all was clam until a parade of elephants showed up with the same idea…. Well the jumbos took offence to the apex predators drinking their precious liquid, and duly dispatched them from the prime position at the waters edge.

Little Bee Eaters 5 Little Bee Eaters 1

eles at inkwe pan 1 lions at inkwe pan 3 lions at inkwe pan 2


So… as far as the rest of the game sightings goes.. …well the waterholes are cooking, especially at the lodge as we are have large of elephants every day at around lunch time, and they are entertaining guests non-stop. General game every morning as you are enjoying your breakfast come down to quench their thirsts, and the odd buffalo giving you the beady eye all happens on a daily basis. The bigger waterholes throughout the park are also amazing this time of the year, as the dusty arenas create some exquisite photographic opportunities as the sun sets.

Rhinos at Inkwe Pan JOURNEY OF GIRAFFE 2 JOURNEY OF GIRAFFE 1 buff at tlou dam 1 buff at tlou dam 2


So there you have the highlights for the month …..

We hope to welcome you next month as we turn up the heat in the fireplaces all over the lodge, as you sip on some homemade Gluwein, listening to the distant roar of the Ridge Pride under a sky full of jewels as you enjoy a scrumptious dinner under candlelight…… Sounds good hey ?

Book now to avoid disappointment…..

Wishing you all the best from the bush…


Gavin and the T-Team !!

Sunrise from vaalboom 1