April 2016 Newsletter

By gavintonkinson on May 2, 2016


A warm welcome to all our fans once again…..

So this month the season is changing leaving behind the sweaty foreheads and cold beers, for scarves, beanies and gluhwein.

Yip… winter has kicked in, and after all the flash floods of last month, some normality has returned to this beautiful place called Madikwe.

So we kick off with the most awesome news, in that we have acquired another female cheetah which is currently in the boma in the south undergoing a habituation process, and hopefully she will be released in the next week or so, which will no doubt create some excitement among the males which have now settled in their areas of the park with 2 males in the north and the other 2 hanging around the south.

Hopefully the males will pick up her scent shortly, and give us the gift we have all been waiting for so long…. A female cheetah which is pregnant !!

Female Cheetah 1 Female Cheetah 2 Female Cheetah 3 Female Cheetah 4

Talking about the male cheetahs, they have given us some great sightings this month, and the highlight being when we followed them on a hunt, and witnessing first hand their blistering speed to catch a young zebra before our very eyes !!

cheetahs kill zebra 1 cheetahs kill zebra 4 cheetahs kill zebra 2 cheetahs kill zebra 3

The rains of last month have also filled all the seasonal pans, which has got all the paciderms all happy, and giving them the chance to enjoy their favorite past time that is mud bathing.

The elephants also have enjoyed getting the weight off of their feet by indulging in a swim or two, and their playful antics seem to come to the fore around these mud spas.

ele at tumuga dam 2 ele at tumuga dam 1 eles swim at tau dam 5 eles swim at tau dam 2 eles swim at tau dam 1 eles swim at tau dam 4

After a cold front that rolled in one morning, the resulting mist also created a very moody atmosphere as we followed one of the Jamala females and the Bafefo male as they seemed to be on a serious mission intent on going somewhere quick….

They after about 2 hours of following them through the mist shrouded bush lead us to the cubs, which had anticipated their return, commencing with a greeting ceremony which will leave you speechless for the affection that the cubs have for their mother.

Chimbro in the mist 3 Chimbro in the mist 8 Chimbro in the mist 6 Chimbro in the mist 4 Chimbro in the mist 13 Jamala in the mist_

mica and jamala cubs 2 mica and jamala cubs 1 Jamala mica and cubs 1 Jamala and cubs 1

The other interesting news as far as the king of the jungle goes, is that a pride called the “Kwena Pride”, were found one morning in the south west of the park at Tau dam, which is completely opposite in direction to the prides original territory, and they seemed to be quite at home in the new space, as we watched them hunting zebra around Tau dam and unfortunately missing on two occasions.

kwena pride at tau dam 2 kwena pride at tau dam 1


The Kwandwe males which are the fathers of the cubs mothered by the Matlapa female have also had their paws full, as they are now having to travel north and south of the ridge to protect their offspring situated in the north west as well as here in the south west.

This has not gone unnoticed, as the Chimbro and Bafefo males have picked up on the cubs of late, and has forced the Matlapa females to abandon their native territory for now to seek asylum in the areas which the Kwandwe males are spending most of their time.

Kwandwe on grassowl 1 Roaring Kwandwe 1

The lion prides have also made many kills this month, and the resulting interaction between the scavengers at the carcasses has been welcome, as we don’t get to see many vultures at these kill sites, especially as they tussle with jackals to get the best of the remaining bits of red gold stuck to the bones…

Scavengers 1 Scavengers 2 Scavengers 3 Scavengers 4

The wild dogs have been pretty scarce again this month, and were seen at the lodge one afternoon, as they went about their business of finding food to feed their puppies, which are doing really well, and even helping in the hunting process.

The alpha female does not seem to have come into her annual estrus cycle as yet, so no efforts are being made by them to look for a suitable denning area. This could change, as they can fall pregnant anywhere up till the end of July, so we hold thumbs that she does get pregnant.

Wildogs at waterhole 1


The leopard sightings haven’t been as amazing as they should this month due to the heavy rains and over abundant growth of long grass, making spotting the elusive cats a little more difficult.

Tsala, has been seen a few times, and as was reported in February does not seem that her mating ritual with the big ridge male seems not to have ignited into a positive pregnancy, so maybe she will come into estrus again soon, and make sure of the connection this time….She has also showed us why leopards are the most comfortable in climbing tress, and made it look as if it is a piece of cake….

Tsala jumping into tree 1 Tsala jumping into tree 2 Tsala jumping into tree 3 Tsala jumping into tree 4 Tsala jumping into tree 5 Tsala jumping into tree 6 Tsala jumping into tree 7 Tsala jumping into tree 8 Tsala jumping into tree 9

However, a male leopard called “Munye”, who originally comes from the north east of the park has been spotted down here in the south west, much to our amazement, and he has grown into somewhat of a very handsome man, in that he has put on some serious bulk in the last year or so as we looked at some comparison images from 2 years ago.

He is extremely relaxed, and seems also to have what looks like a scratch from another leopard in a fight, which could be a territorial dispute with another male, or even a mating session with Tsala!!

That would be the best news, and we hope he stays for a little longer, but we fear that he may push Samson out of his comfort zone, and force him to leave the area.

Munye at salty pan 1 Munye at salty pan 4 Munye at salty pan 3 Munye at salty pan 5

We also had a very memorable experience on the airstrip one evening when the most amazing sunset and dusty air kicked up by zebras having a play fight created some awesome moments as the resulting images show….

Dusty zebra and wildebeest 5 Dusty zebra and wildebeest 4 Dusty zebra and wildebeest 3 Dusty zebra and wildebeest 2 Dusty zebra and wildebeest 1

So… why not plan your own most memorable safari in Africa, and book now at Tuningi to have the best time in our humble lodge we call home…..


Gavin and the T-Team

Rhino in grasslands 1 heron_ gemsbok on makanyane zebras at termite mound 1