Tuningi Newsletter April 2007

By gavintonkinson on April 1, 2007


Warmest greetings to all of you once again!

We just could not wait another minute to bring you the GOOD news!
Those clouds that were teasing us last month, finally burst open and rain poured to the ground in buckets full! How incredibly thankful we all are. In a matter of three days we had three thunder storms that brought almost 40 ml of rain. One week later, we were blessed with another amazing 16 ml. Although this was not nearly enough to fill the dams and water holes, it has changed Madikwe Game Reserve from dry, yellow aridness in March, to lush, green dust free beauty, once again!

We are not worried about the dams so much, as all of them have borehole pumps that can keep up the water levels sufficiently through the dry winter months. If the grass and trees stay as dry as they already were last month, the animals would not have had enough food to carry them through until November. But thanks to this rain the future seems brighter.

In fact, we are looking forward to a wonderful winter period. We can already feel the crispness in the air on the early morning drives. It is also clear that autumn has arrived by the sudden absence of all the migratory birds. It is amazing how you wake up on a certain day and suddenly realize that there is not a single Bee eater, European swallow, Red backed shrike or even a Diederick cuckoo to be seen. This is when you once again stand in awe of the greatness of it all. Just to think that a little bird knows the calendar better than you; a clever human being….

We had a fabulous Easter weekend at Tuningi, full of families with lots of kids. This called for exciting Easter egg hunts, very creative egg painting competitions, and needless to say, a complete overindulgence in chocolate of any shape or size!

On the game viewing front, we can easily call April the month of the lion and wild dog.

We have been seeing lions of all shapes and sizes on a daily basis, and sometimes guests were able to count six or seven different groups or prides seen during their three or four day stay at the lodge.

This morning, for example, we went to see Ditaba and Sipedi (the two huge, resident males) in the early hours of the morning. From there we proceeded to bump into the Mica pride busy stalking a wildebeest. (This pride consists of an adult female, three young males and two young females). To our great surprise, a female leopard suddenly appeared from the bushes next to us and also started stalking the wildebeest. Needless to say, the wildebeest got totally spooked by the smell of two different predators on its tail and ran off in a great cloud of dust. And then the leopard realized there was a big pride of lion lurking around far too close for comfort and also disappeared in a great hurry.

The lion were still on a mission to catch something and not ten minutes later, we found them around the corner busy devouring a Hartebeest. This is not much food for six lions and we saw how quickly they finished their kill! In fact it took them less than an hour.

Then as we were off to see the wild dogs another ranger called to say that we must come and see the Etali female and her three cubs if we had time. What ‘lion luck’ we have been having!

Everything seems to be against Africa’s wild dogs as they struggle to survive the antipathy of man; the loss of their habitat and heavy reductions in the numbers of their natural prey; their never-ending conflict with powerful hyena clans and prides of lion and the ravages of a variety of epidemic diseases. Madikwe is renowned for the success of the breeding programs and we are fortunate to have amazing sightings of them.

Wild dogs have been typecast by man as cruel, wanton killers. In many parts of Africa they are still poisoned and shot by farmers who view them as a menace to livestock. These prejudices conceal much that is to be admired about these gorgeous animals. Members of a pack help in rearing puppies, cooperate in hunting, share food, defend their kills from hyenas and rally to the aid of a relative attacked by a lion.
They are gifted with extraordinary staying powers and once on the track of an animal its living hours are few. Although their methods of feeding on a animal before it is dead are cruel in the extreme, it is an experience of a life time and definitely an indelible one, to see this happen in front of your own eyes.

We really hope that you will come and visit us soon and promise to share with you all of these wonderful experiences we keep telling you about in our newsletters. Why don’t you try and break free from your normal routine and come and soar with the eagles here at Tuningi.

Phone our bookings office right now, and book your holiday of a life time.
We can’t wait to see you!

Till the next time
Kind regards
The T-team

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