Look what has been happening!!!
Winter is starting to fade and slowly but surely spring is starting here in Madikwe. Animals and plants alike are tensed up in anticipation and among the humans the anticipation is even tangible sometimes. Everyone is waiting for the first rains. Hopefully the rains won?t be late or sparse since everything over here is dry and dusty. A dry year is predicted for Madikwe but we all hope that it is not the truth. While waiting for the rain life is going on and sightings have been even better than ever. Every morning on game drive we are welcomed to the new day by the most beautiful sunrises although still a bit chilly.
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But soon the temperature rise and before too long it is time for the jackets and jersey?s to come off. Temperatures are then very comfortable and we can enjoy every amazing sighting and as usual the rhino?s never disappoint.
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Some smaller creatures featured the last couple of days and not at all less interesting. We had a very good sighting of a group of Banded mongoose not too long ago. These little mammals were very used to people and vehicles so we could get really close and observe them as they set out looking for food. No stone was left unturned and even less holes and crevasses were left unexplored. Banded mongoose is found in groups and can be very numerous looking for their food. They feed on a variety of arthropods from scorpions to insects but their real speciality is snakes and their delicacy is eggs. They are notorious snake killers because of their speed and agility and razor sharp teeth. Even snakes as ferocious as the Mozambique Spitting Cobra or Cape Cobra do not stand a chance as these animals nip and bite only to dodge before the snake could strike. Pretty soon they will end up overpowering their quarry, biting of the head and feast on a very well deserved meal.
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Earlier we also came across a very nice bird sighting. It is rare to see the Spotted Dikkop or Thick knee during daylight hours since it is a nocturnal species. This one was sitting right next to the road for us to take some pictures and enjoy the beauty of this bird. He was still sleepy but we didn?t bother him long.
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Also I would like to welcome three new members to the lion population here at Madikwe. We were busy following two big male lions we call the Naledi brothers when they swerved of the road and headed into the bush with a very determined pace. We followed them of the road and before long we saw the reason for their interest. They headed straight to two females that just finished a kill they made earlier in the morning. It was a small kill and nothing was left for the big boys to take for themselves. Soon the females got bored with the males and left them, heading north deeper into their territory. One female drew my attention and it looked like she was lactating, but I wasn?t too sure about it. We followed them intensely and it did not take long for us to realise the reason for the condition of the one female. Out of the bushes three young cubs came running out towards her calls. We were astonished and at the same time amazed at the sight. They are probably between 8 and 10 weeks old and are the newest arrivals here in Madikwe.
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Lions are not the only ones that can give a good show. Elephants can keep you entertained just as well. One afternoon we arrived at one of the big dams on the reserve. The dam is almost dry and only fed by a small stream of water that we pump from a bore hole. This was the focus of attention for hundreds of elephants. Everyone was standing around this small water outlet fighting for the best position and when one didn?t get what it wanted it screamed its frustration at the others followed by a big shove. Normally the bigger elephants got to drink first followed by the younger ones. The ones that finished went on to their next activity, mud bathing. Rolling around and splashing mud in every direction until every inch of their bodies were covered in a nice thick layer of mud. The joy and playfulness was concrete and we just sat there looking at this spectacle as one herd after the other came to the dam for this daily ritual. Even one of the big bulls wanted to play a bit with one of the game drive vehicles. While he kept everyone at nerves end two smaller bulls were wrestling right behind us trying to see who is the stronger of the two. Seeing behaviour like this can very easily be taken for granted. But I can tell you that we enjoyed every second of it and pictures of it still roam in my mind and in my camera.
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