September 2015 Newsletter

By gavintonkinson on October 1, 2015

Springtime !!

Yes, the little bit of rain we had earlier in the month has sent the bush into maximum growth phase, and flowers, grass shoots and new leaves are breathing life back into the rather dry and harsh Madikwe bushveld.

rainbow 1


The browsers and grazers of the savannas, are enjoying some fresh food, and seem to be converting it into putting their undernourished bodies back into prime condition.

September was also the month to show our support for the rhinos of Africa, as we got involved with the very first “WALK FOR RHINOS” fundraising event held here in Madikwe. The fun walk was attended by more than 250 people from lodge staff, guests, and sponsors including several radio stations, and many more big companies.

10 7 6 5 4 3 1

There still seems to be no end to the needless slaughter of our rhinos in South Africa, and at a rate of 3 rhinos been poached every day in the country.

When are we going to realize that without the help from generous people from the private sector, rhinos may go extinct before we know it.



So… please !!!

Do the right thing… help our rhinos for our future generations to someday be able to go into wild areas such as Madikwe and enjoy the precious rhinos that we have roaming here.

Red Rhino 1

Now… As far as the animals that live here, well, it has been a great month of some interesting sightings.

Here we go…..

We kick off with the lions, and the old boy “Naledi” is enjoying the company of his new friend “Monomogolo”, and they seem to be settling down in the south western section of the park, hunting very successfully, and have even been showing signs that they are intent on taking back the territory from the “Kwandwe” males who have been making regular incursions into the south and actively pursuing the two older males.

monomogolo and naledi 2 monomogolo and naledi 1This happened one morning when we found the Monomogolo male looking rather bewildered and foaming at the mouth with wide eyes, and then not far from him, the Kwandwe males were roaring at full tilt. The Naledi male was nowhere to be found, and we presume they got split up during the fight, and we are still looking for the two old boys to join up again.


This is very interesting behavior, and at the moment seems as if the two younger Kwandwe males seem to have the edge.

The local female pride have been very elusive this month, and they also seem to not be enjoying the skirmishes that are going on between the males. Thus making them tough to find, and I am sure they will settle down again once we have a definite winner of the territory.

Matlapa females on sepedi 11


In the meantime, one of the younger females has had cubs somewhere west of the lodge, as her teats are very dirty, which is very good news for us, but she will have to bring up these cubs with all this testosterone in the air. Hopefully in the next month or so she will show us her first born cubs.

matlapa teats

The pride to the north have also had 2 new editions, and seem to be following the adults as they go hunting.So this means now that the Kwandwe males are now running two different prides, and they will have their hands full if they are going to keep both prides safe from any other male attacks in the future.

The Wild Dogs have moved their puppies deep into the Dwarsberg mountains, much to our disappointment, and we have now changed our game plan at trying to find them, as we have to intercept them when they leave the den site and go hunting . This has been proving to be very difficult, as we have had very few sightings of them this month. The good news is that they are still hunting, and going straight back to the mountains every time, so hopefully they will show the puppies soon again.

Dogs kill kud at vleis 1 Dogs kill kud at vleis 2

Sadly, we located on a dead elephant which seems to have died from natural causes close to the airstrip and over the last month has provided us with some really good hyena and jackal sightings. The tensions between all these scavengers boiled to a point when the Naledi and Monomogolo male lions pitched up there creating a blur of hyenas and jackals scattering in all directions avoiding the wrath of the apex predator in full flight.

They did not however seem to enjoy the rancid maggot dripping meal they had just discovered, and had a couple of sniffs around the carcass, and then left with much disappointment in their faces.

naledi and mono  eat elephant 1

The hyenas on the other are really enjoying the free meal, and have been seen climbing right into the carcass, and even rolling around in the rotting juices coming out of the giant slab of meat.

hyenas eat elephant 1 hyena eat ele 1 hyena in elephant juice Stink ding


The 4 cheetahs are still moving large distances throughout the park, and are doing extremely well even though they are still looking for any signs of females which unfortunately are no longer to found in Madikwe at the moment.

cheetahs on termite mound 2


For those of you who don’t know… the 2 females we introduced into the park at the beginning of the year have died. One died of complications in the holding facility before release, while the other female was successfully released, and for 3 months seemed to do really well until we found her collar in the south of the park with no signs of skin, bones or fur in the area. We think that the male cheetahs may have had something to do with this, and as she was a very inexperienced female, she probably did not know how to deal with the aggressive interactions of the males.

There are currently plans in the pipeline to locate more females for our boys, and we hope that they come soon, so that we can get the ball rolling again to have cheetah cubs in Madikwe again.


Leopard sightings have been off the charts !!

Yip, Samson and Tsala have been making regular appearances, and looking supreme.

Tsala, the resident female is an absolute gem, and she has such a soft nature, and we hope that after losing her cubs at the beginning of the year will fall pregnant again soon, and maybe she will raise them to adulthood with some luck this time.

Tsala on Sepedi


Samson on the other hand, is a killing machine, and has had several kills this month, including wildebeest, kudu and impala. He is growing stronger every day, and is starting to fill out into the adolescent skin of his. Once he is confident enough, I am sure he will defeat the big male in the area, and start running his own territory, which he knows so well.

Samson on Peltophorum 11 Samson on Peltophorum 9 Samson on Peltophorum 15 Samson

Samson on Peltophorum 7


The waterhole at the lodge has also been very busy with elephants making an appearance almost every day, and enjoying the cool effects of the mud on their skin while quenching their big thirsts at the same time.

eles at lodge 2 eles at lodge 1


The Kwandwe males are also using the valley past the lodge on a regular basis to get to the northern areas of the park, so don’t fall out of your bed when they let rip with a powerful earsplitting roar on their way past.

The general game has not been shabby either… loads of “safari fillers “ to keep everyone happy while we looking for the big guns !!

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Well… that’s it from the bush grapevine for this month….

We hope to see you soon at Tuningi, so that YOU can experience the day to day lives of our superstars that we love soooooo much.

Wishing you all the best,


Gavin and the T-TEAM !!

sunset from phiri link 1







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