Tuningi Newsletter May 2007

By gavintonkinson on May 1, 2007


A slightly chilly hello to all of you out there in the big cities of the world.

A few days ago I walked out of my front door and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step that I took. The noises of this season are different from all the others, and it sounds, no matter how hushed, as crisp as the autumn air!! With the unusually late rains we had this year, it was still green and ‘Summary’ in the bush until just the other day, but then a tremendous cold spell hit our country and turned the whole landscape into an autumn splendor.

Everywhere you look crunchy, yellow, red and brown leaves are falling to the ground and the grasslands have turned into golden fields. The cold spell has passed for now, but we are taking the scarves and beanies and blankets out of their hiding places to be on stand by for next month when Winter will be here in full swing. This is the perfect time to come and visit us, as this is the time of year we sit around the cozy, wood fireplaces in the lodge, sipping gluwein or sherry; waiting to taste the mouthwatering pots of slow cooked, comfort food that the chefs have prepared.

This time of the year, game viewing is also at its best. The bush is thinning out, and thus enables us to spot the wild life much more easily. the animals have to constantly visit the water holes of the park to quench their thirst so the viewing at waterholes is brilliant. The best thing to do in the winter months is to put on your beanie, scarf and woolen socks, wrap yourself in a nice thick blanket and sit quietly in the hide at the water hole and watch Nature’s drama unfold in front of your very own eyes…..

We are once again extremely aware of the role this game reserve is playing in helping to conserve countless animal and plant species that could well have been extinct by now. By planning and managing the Madikwe game reserve on a sound ecological basis, there is no doubt in our minds that we form part of an indispensable corner stone of southern African conservation. Our black rhino are doing so well, that we have already had to start swapping some of them with other reserve’s rhinos in order to diversify the gene pool. One of our wild dogs is highly pregnant and looking for a den as we speak. She can produce up to 14 pups if we are lucky! Even the tsessebe, which are officially as endangered as the black rhino, sable and the wild dog, are reproducing rapidly. The best news is that we have counted more than 350 disease free (TB free) buffalo in our recent head count.After only introducing 66 of them ten years ago!

Buffalo used to be found throughout Africa, from Cape to Cairo, but as a result of habitat loss to domestic stocks and hunting they are now confined to formal game reserves. With the spread of the debilitating bacterial disease, Tuberculosis, as well as foot and mouth disease over the past twenty years, buffalo populations have been further decimated. In Kruger Park alone, some 50% buffalo are affected with TB. Effective vaccines and adequate preventative measures are still being tested and developed but in the meantime hoards of buffalo are spreading the disease at a rapid rate and once infected they can live for years with few symptoms or may die within weeks or months. Here in Madikwe our buffalo are all clean of disease and when we have enough animals we can help to re-populate some of our country’s other reserves with healthy animals, thus going some way to re-balancing nature. What a privilege to be able to play a small part in conserving our heritage.

May is also the month that everybody in the travel industry trek down to Durban for the huge, yearly South African Travel Indaba. It is here, amongst 12 000 other delegates that you realize once again, just how many destinations, just like your own lodge, there are in Africa. This is why we have to re-confirm that : THE PEOPLE MAKETH THE PLACE!!!

If it was not for the enthusiasm, knowledge and total dedication of our game rangers, the passion of our chefs, the eye for detail of our housekeepers, the alertness and warm personalities of our waiters, the super service of our barman, the knack for preventative maintenance of the maintenance men and the skills of the management team to keep everybody positive and proud of their lodge, Tuningi could well have been just another destination. We, however, refuse to become part of the crowds.

Please come and visit us during the next couple of winter months and come and bask in the warmth of Tuningi Safari Lodge!

Till the next time
Kind regards
The T-team

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