Tuningi Newsletter July 2008

By gavintonkinson on July 1, 2008

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A warm hallo to you all once again!

We have had a fantastic month out here in the wonderful Madikwe Game Reserve.

We all love the bright, warm, sunny Winter days in the middle of the year. The evenings are still extremely chilly but create a great opportunity for our guests to sit in front of the cozy fires in the lodge after game drive and sip on a glass of luxurious South African red wine before going through to dinner and feasting on our chef’s fantastic creations.

Game viewing is at its best this time of the year as the bush is dry and has thinned out and all the animals have to visit the water holes on a daily basis to quench their thirst. The dry and dusty conditions in July also create amazing photographic scenes, especially the dramatic sunsets!

As a new feature in our newsletter, we are introducing some extracts from our ranger’s diaries for you. This month we took a page from Gavin’s diary as was written on the 10th of July. We hope you enjoy it as in this way, you will be able to get a better insight into the thrilling experiences of the rangers out there in the field on a daily basis.

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10 July 2008
Last week we experienced one of those unforgettable days in the bush when out on the afternoon safari everything just fell into place….

Firstly, the Diperoro leopardess that has been making her presence known more and more regularly, popped out into the road in front of us, to be greeted by my guests with massive excitement and awe as this majestic cat strutted her stuff in true cat fashion before disappearing into the thick undergrowth.

After the euphoria of sighting one of the most elusive creatures in the Madikwe Reserve, we continued the safari with countless sightings of general game, and a plethora of bird species entertaining us with a splash of color every now and then.

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Not long after the leopard sighting, we bumped into the Tshaba Lioness on her own looking intent on finding something to hunt, with a serious glint in her eye which had that “I mean business” look. There were some wildebeest in the area which she pursued and then also vanished into the thickets, only to return a half hour later with all her youngsters greeting her with hopes that she had caught something, but alas, it was not to be…..

Then elephants at Tlou dam, quenching the days thirst with white rhino as the backdrop.

Then a quick visit to one of the Tsholo-Mateya lion. This guy seemed to be badly beaten up in a fight with, we presume, the Batia males, who by now you know are now getting very old, and are feeling the pressure from these younger boys from the south.

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This was all happening as the sun was setting, but wait that wasn’t all…..
As we were about halfway through our drinks break, Ryno (one of the other Guides) was approaching us when he suddenly shouted from about 80 meters away “PANGOLIN!!”, and I said, “WHAT !?”….”PANGOLIN!!”. Needless to say I shouted to the guests to get in the vehicle, and the cooler box with snacks and all was in the vehicle in about 3 and ½ seconds flat. The following images, are, unfortunately not the best quality, but this is only the third time in 9 years of my guiding career that I have seen a pangolin. Here is some info on these secretive creatures…..

Near Threatened (IUCN 2.3)[2]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Pholidota
Family: Manidae
Genus: Manis
Species: M. temminckii

The Ground Pangolin (Manis temminckii), also known as Temminck’s Pangolin or the Cape Pangolin, is one of four species of pangolin which can be found in Africa and the only one in southern and eastern Africa. Although it is present over quite a large area, it is rare throughout it and notoriously difficult to spot. Its scarcity is partly because it is hunted by humans for its scales, which are used in love charms, and partly because it is often burnt in bush fires. The IUCN only lists it as “near threatened” on its Red list. With the exception of the underside, it is covered in extremely hard scales. When threatened, it will usually roll up into a ball to protect the vulnerable belly. The scales on the tail can also be used as blades to slash at attackers.

The Ground Pangolin can grow to a length of about 1 meter, with the tail typically between 30 and 50 cm. It has a disproportionately small head, powerful hind legs, and small forelegs. Like other pangolin species, it is largely nocturnal, although it is also entirely terrestrial and usually found in savanna or open woodland, generally feeding on termites or ants. It is well adapted to this, with a very long (up to 50 cm) sticky tongue which is stored inside a pocket in the mouth until needed. Although it is capable of digging its own burrow, it prefers to occupy disused holes dug by Warthog or Aardvark or to lie in dense vegetation, making it even more difficult to observe. This animal was named by the Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck. Pangolins lack teeth and the ability to chew. Instead, they tear open anthills or termite mounds with their powerful front claws and probe deep into them with their very long tongues. Pangolins have an enormous salivary gland in their chests to lubricate the tongue with sticky, ant-catching saliva.

Cheers for now,

Well, it is time to say goodbye again. We are ready for our last month of Winter and expecting Spring in September.

Please do not hesitate to make that phone call and book your life changing holiday at Tuningi. We can’t wait to meet you!

Kindest regards
The T- Team

P.S. Do not forget to check out the kids gallery that has been updated again! We love sharing these works of art with you!!!.

For enquiries please contact :

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