Well… the festive season is but a memory and life in the bush continues in its vibrant and action packed ways here in the Madikwe game reserve.
This month has provided us with some awesome sightings, and is a photographers dream with all the saturated greens and blues of the bush and sunny skies, intermissioned by the odd thunderstorm adding a little drama to the backdrop of this splendid reserve we call home.
Lets start off with the Hyena den that has given us some enjoyable moments as the 4 cubs came out every morning and afternoon to get some fresh air and feed off their amazingly caring mother just meters from the vehicles. Hyenas utilize old aardvark or warthog burrows, and will raise their cubs in the dens safety until they are around 4 months old, while the rest of the clan members will go off hunting, and bring back parts of their kills to the den where the cubs will feed.
The lion prides in the area are feeling some serious pressure from the Kwandwe males who are now really asserting their presence in the territory of the Old boy… the Naledi male and is feeling underpowered without his brother that the Kwandwe males had killed 2 months ago. This is causing the females to run far into the west, and they have been giving us grey hairs trying to figure out their new walking patterns. This is probably because they are scared of the fact that the Kwandwe males could kill their cubs, but this is how it works in the lion world… any cubs less than around 6 months old will be killed in a pride takeover, which brings the females back into oestrus as soon as possible, so that the newer stronger males can get their genes into the system as soon as possible before been forced out again by newcomers.
The Mica pride consisting of 2 adult females and 3 sub-adults are not feeling the pressure as much as the Jamal, or Bulaya prides, and one of the Mica femles has been seen mating with one of the Kwandwe males, so the new boys have succeeded in their mission of gaining access to females, and the newborn cubs are to be expected 110 days from now, which is exciting news.
The Wild Dogs are as usual creating large amounts of carnage in the south of the park, as they go about their highly efficient means of hunting, and are killing regularly. Their favorite prey item at the moment seems to be the poor old wildebeest, and we witnessed no less than 8 kills this month. This is what Madikwe is very famous for, and it is great to have them bring out the emotions as we chase them on the hunt everyday. Hopefully the alpha pair will be bonding shortly, as the mating time is around the corner, and then it is going to be a painful wait, as we will have to once again try to locate their lair when it is time to give birth to the next generation.
The 5 male Cheetahs in the park now have promise of a female !!
Yes, we have acquired a female for the boys, and she has been put into a holding facility for a while, as we need to habituate her. She was found in the surrounding areas outside of the park, and was captured and brought into Madikwe. This is great news, and it seems as if she was sent by the Cheetah gods, because I think our boys are starting to look at each other in a funny way, if you know what I mean…
We have even seen the single male a couple of times this month, and on one occasion he was located on a freshly killed waterbuck in the north of the park. He seems to be doing fine without his brother which we think was killed by lions or the other 4 males.
The 4 cheetah brothers have been spending a lot of time here in the south west, w here we do most of our safaris, and they have not disappointed us. They are a supreme force to be reckoned with, and they are doing very well for themselves, killing very regularly, and even been harassing the other smaller predators.
They do however seem to think that they are very good at tree climbing, as we witnessed on one occasion when they all tried to climb into a tree pretending to be leopards.
We also had an amazing sighting of a serval that was hunting, and we actually bumped into her as we were busy approaching a buffalo sighting. She was pretty relaxed, and she was listening intently to something in the grass, but as soon as the prey had gone, she took off with a massive speed and disappeared. This was the best sighting I have had of one of these very rare animals in a long time, and this has made my year to now. !!
The leopards have been rather shy this month, maybe to do with the bush been very thick, and the grasses long with the good rains we have had recently. However, the young boy that made an appearance a couple months ago, has shown his face on a few occasions, and is becoming somewhat of a superstar, as he loves the cameras.
Tsala… our resident female was also very scarce this month, but she did bedazzle us with her extreme beauty and elegance, and there are still no signs of her been pregnant, we cannot wait for her to have some cubs, so that we can share her amazing life with our guests.
As for the rest of the animals and birds in the park, they are so abundant at the moment, and it is awesome to have a large variety of different plains game species to see while we are looking for the “Big Ones”. The migrant bird species are also here in full swing now, and are adding some splendid color to the air…..
Untill next month… hope you enjoy the news….