Tuningi Newsletter July 2011

By gavintonkinson on July 1, 2011

Hallo all!
I can’t believe it is already time to chat again. Although it is still very cold at night we are not stressing about it as we know that it is now only one month away from Spring when the dust will be blown away and little fresh green buds will be pushing through the dead foliage everywhere. Can’t wait!

Good news is that we are now connected to the world via WiFi in the main lodge area. We have done this especially for those of you who have always wanted to stay longer, but could not leave your business behind. Now there are no more excuses. Just pack your laptop and family and get here soonest!


Although Madikwe has not been hit yet, this last month was dominated by all kinds of new statistics about the terrible topic of rhino poaching. Despite the awareness caused when it was announced that 333 rhinos were killed illegally last year in SA alone, the slaughter rate remains around one animal every 20 hours! As Peter Borchert put it, “ Those of us who bang on about such things, citing our moral responsibility to nature and our duty to future generations, must continue to do so and we must never give up. But, conservation based on charity and the conscience-tweaking rantings of a few is not sustainable. If even remnants of Africa’s natural landscapes are to survive, we need to embrace their economic value not as trophies and dead things ground into powders and pastes of spurious medicinal value, but as living icons of African prosperity. The crude maxim promoting the economic value of wild animals in their natural habitat has been ‘if it pays it stays’, but what if you and I can help to turn this around and instead argue ‘if it stays, it will pay FOREVER!’”

Well, while we are all trying to conserve and protect Africa’s natural assets with all our might, we are also trying to look after the people that live around it. This month on 18 July, the T-team celebrated Madiba (Nelson Mandela)’s birthday and also did our 67 minutes of GOOD! We love to spoil the little kids in our local village just outside the Game Reserve, so we went on a little round trip, first playing a game of football with the grade R’s at the primary school, and of course supplying the refreshments. After this we popped in at the local clinic, donating a beautiful bath and changing cabinet for the new born babies and some pretty baby clothes – thanks to Peter Channing from Head office. Lastly, we dropped a new ball and basket game at the pre-school to help the little ones tweak their co-ordination skills. What a beautiful day we all had!

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I know that you are sitting on the edge of you chair by now, wanting to know what we saw out in the bush again this month! I asked Christo to tell you all about it. Birders and Twitchers, best you read on!

Greetings from a chilly Madikwe.
But never will cold weather keep us from some great sightings, with blankets and warm water bottles at hand, we set out to go and find the best Madikwe has to offer and this past month… yip Madikwe delivered!

The colder weather also meant that we were able to go and do day drives and go and explore areas of the park we do not often get to visit. Like the Groot Marico River in the East where we normally set off to if we want to see hippo and that was exactly what we did. We would have been content with some hippo in the water, where they usually spend their time during the day to avoid sunburn, but we were extremely lucky to find a mother and her calf outside the water basking in the midday sun. Seeing them out of the water is really special as you can then get a real idea of this colossal animal’s size.

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As it is getting drier and drier the animals are forced to the bigger watering holes and dams and that means great sightings for us. As usual in the winter Tlou dam is responsible for a world of entertainment, with huge elephant herds coming to drink from the dam on a daily bases. Big news at Tlou dam is that there is also a very relaxed female leopard with a cub hanging around the area and we get to see her every now and again.

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It is always sad to find an elephant carcass in the bush. With them being so enormous and seeming to be indestructible, it just feels wrong when you see them dead! Well as things are in nature nothing goes to waste, and even though predators would never think of trying to kill a full grown elephant they would certainly feed on it if it is available. In a little open clearing we found the three lion mothers with their eight young cubs not giving up an opportunity to tuck in to some free food. This provided us with some amazing sightings, and when they had their fill it was time for the Spotted and very shy Brown hyenas to join the party.


Then for the big news this month, news that will give our birding friends heart palpitations. We have discovered a…. (Drum roll)….. A Yellow Morph, Crimson Breasted Shrike close to Tholo dam way in the North of the park. Color morphs are a type of plumage abnormality in that the bird is born with a certain different feather color to the norm for that species. A more technical term for this is Xanthochroism or Flavism. In xanthochroistic birds, either there is excessive yellow pigment in the feathers or yellow replaces another color, typically red. This resulted in the yellow throat, chest and belly with the normal red pigment failing to develop. In other words, a very rare and special sighting indeed.

Well that is it from me for this month, hope to see you here very soon. Keep it on the wild side!!

And that is all from me too!
Please always try to spread the word of the importance of conservation! If we as the human race stop caring, not only will the rhino’s disappear, but so would the elephants, lions, wild dogs and hyenas. And I am only talking about Africa here…..

Come back and visit us soon and experience the true wonder of all things wild, while you still can…….Guaranteed, our visit will urge you to make a difference every day of you life.

Until next month when Spring has sprung!
Kindest regards

Heidi and the fabulous T-team

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