September 2016 Newsletter

By gavintonkinson on September 29, 2016

Welcome to all our bush loving fans once again….

This month has been hectic !!

So here goes….

We will Kick off with the annual “WALK FOR RHINO’S DAY”, the second of its kind in Madikwe.

This fundraising event , focuses on the rhinos, and with the current state of affairs of rhino poaching statistics whereby we are still losing almost 3 rhino per day in South Africa due to illegal poaching, these magnificent creatures need all the support they can get.

The day starts with an opening ceremony held by the park management, and then all who attended continue on to do a 5km walk for the rhinos of Madikwe. Walking through the bush with our Counter poaching unit making the area safe, with many drinks stations on route, our guests even managed to bump into a black rhino and her calf along the way which was extremely fitting to the occasion.

Once you reach the end of the walk, there are many food and drink stalls available to quench the thirst and kill the hunger after some good exercise. A display by the counter poaching unit was also put on for some light entertainment and the neighboring community members also adding to this amazing vibe by singing traditional songs all the way through.

All the funds raised through the auctions, and donations from guests and the participation fees all go straight into the trust fund which has been created for Madikwe specifically, and will be most needed to acquire some equipment for our own counter poaching unit who spend most of their days out in the bush day and night, risking their lives to protect our natural heritage !!


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So lets get into the bush grapevine…

The lion prides here in the south are doing extremely well.

The Matlapa female and her 3 male cubs seem to be past the most vulnerable stage of their young lives, and mom seems to be feeding them on a regular basis, as she is very successful in providing for her cubs.She did however come into contact with one of the nomadic males called the Cabo males, as you can see on her right cheek. This happened one morning as she tried to defend her zebra kill from him, but to no avail, as he stole her prize breakfast. This turned out to be a good thing, as he was more interested in the kill than going after the young cubs.


There is a bit of sad news, in that the old Mica female from the south east pride seems to have lost her cubs as reported last month. We are not sure how, but I would guess that being very old now, that she seems to not be overly motivated to care for which could possibly be her last set of cubs in her lifetime. She has raised many cubs successfully over the years, and is still a legend in her own right !!

The best news is that we recently have located the daughter of the old girl…the Jamala female with 2 brand new cubs that are around 1 month old now, and are super cute. The Chimbro male has been on guard around the den site, and he seems very chuffed with his new arrivals.

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The other Jamala female is also doing very well, and is raising her 2 cubs very nicely, and have been on many kills this month including a big buffalo kill.

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So the report last month from the situation with the Kwandwe male from the north who lost his brother in a fight a couple months ago seems to be getting over his injuries too, and even killed a young buffalo all on his own one morning. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to the 2 Bakgatla males that killed his brother when he gets back to full power…..


We also had a very interesting sighting with the Bafefo male, and a paralyzed wildebeest one morning…..We came across the drag marks for this wildebeest in the south, and decided to track it to see where it ended, and to our huge surprise the poor thing had dragged itself for about 2 kilometers to water and then back to the rest of the herd. But as we tracked the wildebeest we also noticed that there was a male lion track on top of the drag marks !!

Yip, as we located the wildebeest, the Bafefo male was sitting there with the wildebeest and they were giving each other a good stare down…

You would think that the lion would take the gift on offer without even thinking, but as it turned out this went on for the whole day. As soon as the wildebeest turned and dragged itself towards the rest of the herd, the lion gave chase, but the wildebeest then turned around to face the lion, and he stopped… !!Again and again this played out, and after a few hours of waiting for the kill, the same actions repeated themselves, and we soon had to get back to the lodge. The next morning we followed up and the inevitable had happened and Bafefo was enjoying his meal. This was a very rare exhibition from this massively powerful male lion !!

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We also came across a pair of ostriches on the plains, that had successfully raised 3 chicks to a reasonable sub-adult size, and this was a first for me in Madikwe, as you do find the adults with a bunch of chicks as they have hatched, but to see 3 of them making it to this size was pretty impressive. Ostrich chicks get predated on by various predators, and like a have said, I have never seen them get to this size which is awesome news !!

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Tsala, our resident leopardess has been rather scarce this month, but she did display her agility in the trees one morning as she was found on one of her territory patrolling missions. She is looking good, and we are still awaiting for her to become pregnant and show us some cubs again !!

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The wild dogs and cheetahs have also been very scarce this month, spending most of their time in the east of the park, making us drive long distances to see them, but we did have our share of some good hyena action, and them calling around the lodge on most nights !!

Hopefully next month we can have a few more sightings of them.

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I am going to conclude this months newsletter with some images of the wedding of Chris and Melanie, which was an absolute blast, and what an amazing group of people which opened up their hearts and pockets by donating a lot of toys, equipment and clothes to the local village’s pre-primary school which brought out many a smile to the youngsters who must have thought that Christmas had come early !!

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Ok…. So that’s it….

We hope to see you at Tuningi soon….

All the best…

Gavin and the T-Team !!