The shortest month has come and gone and yet again we are left speechless by the splendour of nature. The rain has finally settled in and the bush is marvellously green and lush, which can make it a bit more difficult to spot game, but Madikwe being Madikwe, you can be assured that a stunning sighting might just be around the next corner.
That is of course what happened with this one particular sighting we had. It was a rather quiet afternoon, well with saying that I have to admit that we did see 3 of the Big 5 together (Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo), but the sightings were a bit few and far between. So we were happily bumbling along when I noticed some zebra in the road ahead and one zebra looked a bit strange. It was only when we got a bit closer that we could see what was the matter. She had just given birth, and the placenta was still attached to the mare and draped over the new born laying next to mom.
In all my time spent in the bush, I have only managed to see animals give birth once. It was also a zebra but she was in amongst some bushes, this mare had given birth right next to the road in the open. Well this was of course a great opportunity to show the guests just how quick new-borns are to their feet and this little one I suspect is a bit of a record breaker. We only sat for a few minutes before he started to struggle to his feet, apparently for the first time as previous attempts would have freed him from the placenta. Amazingly this determined little zebra managed to get to his feet in the first wobbly attempt and even stood for a while before he tumbled back to the ground. Three more attempts and he was rather securely on his feet, this little chap must have the balance of a ninja as the previous birth I witnessed, the new zebbie took about 40min and many disastrous attempts before he found his feet.
Well mom wasn’t too fazed by the miracle of live that had just happened and was happily back to feeding after she cleaned the youngster up a bit. An inquisitive young zebra then came over to inspect what exactly has happened and almost introduced himself to the new youngster, with mom keeping a watchful eye and not letting the curious youngster to close to her new baby.
Well while we are on the topic of babies, another great sighting was when we went to the Amphitheatre (a rock formation in the Enselbergs) as we had reports that the Brown Hyenas that den there occasionally had new cubs. When we arrived the excitement ran high as we could see one of the previous year’s cubs posing on the rocks for us. Brown Hyenas are rather scares animals and is not often seen; never mind during the day posing nonchalantly on rocks.
We couldn’t believe our luck when mom then appeared from further down the road and came strolling towards the den site. It was late in the afternoon and she probably decided to come and feed the new cubs before her nightly foraging escapades. Unfortunately we could not see the cubs suckling but luckily with their bellies full and the reinsurance that mom is close at hand the youngsters started exploring and became a bit more curious about the strange vehicle looking animal. Babies are cute make no mistake, but I personally think one would have to look far and wide to find babies as cute as brown hyena cubs.
As per usual our Lion sightings have been out of this world, one would certainly be excused for thinking these Lions are circus Lions and do these performances for tasty rewards we give them after the tourists leave. Especially the cubs can be great entertainment, as we experienced one morning when we found the 5 Bulaya cubs by themselves as the females had left to go hunt and left the cubs to their own devises. It was also a nice cool morning and that suited the cubs even better, we were left hysterical by their antics and mock hunting, or when they believe themselves to be leopards and start climbing trees and only realises their predicament when it is time to get down again. That is to say if one spiteful sibling hasn’t brought them crashing to the ground already. At least through all their antics they will remember the tasty treats they get when the tourists leave and thus still strike a pose or two. (Wink Wink)
In another spectacular sighting we found the same pride after they brought down a Wildebeest, unfortunately for them the Naledi Male was in the area and probably heard the commotion and knew that his ladies had laid a table especially for him, well at least in his mind. He found the pride and it wasn’t long before he had chased the females and cubs off the kill, but what happened next came to me of a bit of a surprise. One of the females realised that they stand a good chance of losing the whole kill and that her cubs are going to be left hungry so she’ll better have to make a plan. With a sly glint in her eye she approached the feeding male, swaying her body from side to side and flicking her tail seductively up and down. The old Naledi couldn’t believe his luck and dropped the wildebeest in mid bite to pursue the voluptuous female, just to be led away from the kill. The cubs sensing their chance rushed in and settled on the kill once again. This made me realise again that we men are suckers for punishment when it comes to women.
The big female Elephant herds have made their way back to the south of the park giving us some great elephant sightings.
This is also the time of the year that more butterflies make their appearance, especially the Broad Bordered Grass Yellow (try saying that after a bit of time spent in Tuningi’s bar) can be seen everywhere these days.
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Christo and The T-Team