A warm hello once again to all our fans.
This month has been a month of sadness and happiness.
Lets get the sad out of the way first. It seems as if the Legend that is Tsala, our resident female leopard has passed on to a better place, as we have not had any tracks or sightings of her for the last 2 months. She will leave a huge hole in our hearts and will be sorely missed as she exuded a presence here on the ridge around the lodge for the last 13 years. We hope that her vacant territory will be filled by another female soon, so that we can start getting to now her.
The happy news is that we have a new female cheetah, which is going to be joining our other 2 males and the other female in the park.She has been in a holding BOMA for the last 2 weeks or so now, and is responding well to the habituation process and is very calm around the vehicles, and has even killed her own scrub hare inside the enclosure. She should be good for release shortly, and we will be following her movements closely to see how she fares out there in the big bad world, which is Madikwe.
The male that was killed by the 2 from the north has been removed from Madikwe, and is on his way to a reserve in Malawi, and we wish him well on his journey there.
There are also plans to introduce 2 more male cheetahs in the near future, and we really hope that these females will produce some cubs shortly.
We have also acquired 2 new male lions from the Addo National Park which will bolster our genetics within the park, and are also currently in a holding BOMA for habituation, and should be due for release in the next month or so.
As far as the lion politics is going in the park, it is all stable in the north west, as the Kwandwe and Monomoholo males seem to have now settled into the task of running two different prides, as the females from the south have been seen interacting with them on a few occasions, but not always favorably, as some of the 2 older Jamala females don’t seem to want to accept the new change, and still have been hissing and slapping the new males as they approach their new family to set their rule of the new territory.
The 3 Mahiwa males which have now left their mother, are also starting to create a few waves in the male lion hierarchal society as they also seem to be becoming more vocal and even challenged the Lenyalo males from the east to a duel which the youngsters had won. So it will be very interesting to see where they settle, and which pride they will be taking over in the near future.
There is also another form of chaos going on in the park at the moment. That comes in the form of the annual impala rutting season, which is very loud and at times very amusing as the male impalas are all challenging each other to earn the rights to real estate and females.
Every year around the month of May adult male impalas transform from being very calm and relaxed looking antelope to fierce ego driven maniacs as they try to gather a harem of about 20-30 females, where they will try and mate with all of them as the estrus levels of the females reaches a fever pitch which drives the males to protect his territory against other intruders which all have the same idea.
In this melee of mating, the males seem to forget to eat, which results in them losing condition, which ultimately results in a new male ousting the current one, where the whole saga starts all over again. The females don’t become receptive until the last week of the rutting period, and the ram which has endured this harsh mating routine will be the father of the lambs when they are born in December. This is what makes impalas so resilient, as they seem to have the right recipe for success in terms of rooting out the weak genes amongst their ranks.
We have had some very good photographic opportunities this month as the light from the early and late afternoon safaris envelopes our subjects. We have had some awesome sightings of elephants at the waterholes as they run towards the life-giving liquid, and in the process chasing all smaller sized beings out of the way with force. Once they have had their thirsts satisfied, they will often get involved in a bout of mud bathing, which cools the large pachyderms from overheating, but then they will also go and dust bathe to seal in that moisture on their skin. This gives us great scenes as the dust gets backlit by the warm sun, and just creates some magic times to create amazing images.
We have also had some very good sightings of rhinos, and its very satisfying to know that their numbers are doing very well here in Madikwe, with only 3 rhinos lost this year so far to poaching.
Which is also a constant threat to these awesome beasts. Be sure to join our annual “WALK FOR RHINOS” event which will be held in September, and all proceeds go towards the protection of our rhinos here in Madikwe.
Talking about warm sun on a chilly morning, we also came across a mob of Dwarf Mongoose as they sat at the entrance to an excavated termite mound, which brought out a few “ooohss” and “aahhhs” as the cute factor went through the roof.
There has as always been awesome sightings of a plethora of general game species you can see in between the big ones on safari, and as always the giraffe always remains to be a firm favorite amongst our guests.
Munye, our resident male leopard has been scarce this month, and we think that he has his hands full, trying to maintain his territory boundaries which are quiet large, and also in pursuit of the female that has come into oestrus down in the south west of the park.
The wild dog packs are also doing very well, and we have had them around the lodge on a few occasions this month, and seem to be looking for denning locations, as the alpha females are now very heavily pregnant and should be settling down to give birth to a new generation of Africa’s second most endangered carnivore. We cannot wait for this, so that we can locate the dens and hopefully be able to access the sites this year. If we locate the den sites in an accessible area, we will be showing you some amazing images in the next month or so.
So that’s it for this month…
Stay warm through the winter, and be safe…
Lotsa bush regards from
Gavin and the T-Team