Rangers Report - Jan 2011 - Madikwe Hills Menu

Rangers Report – Jan 2011

By Jaco on January 3, 2011

Get an update of what has been going on!!!!

The Madikwe Game Reserve is a place of peace, tranquility, and breath taking beauty. Here nature is still doing what it does, as it did for millions of years. The cycles of life and death are played out on the vast landscapes choreographed by weather, climate and circumstance. The circle completed itself once again and we have now entered a new year, 2011. Towards the end of last year we were very concerned with regards to rain. A big part of the reserve was burned during the winter and we did not receive adequate rain for the grass and trees to recover. It was very dry and every day was sweltering hot. Then early in December we woke up one morning to a cool and overcast day. It looked promising for rain, finally. During the day it rained about 30mm in spells of 5mm to 6mm at a time. This continued on for two more days until the fourth day. As the sun went down we saw how the grey clouds turned to blue and almost black towards the horizon. Early in the evening a very large thunder storm hit us but was over in a short while. Later that night it happened.

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At first you could only hear the soft rumblings in the distance and soon I was fast asleep as this is like music to my ears. Then all of a sudden an almighty clap followed by the most thunderous roar. Lightning hit right next to the lodge and was at an instant followed by the eardrum shattering thunder. It almost sounded like a large bomb going off while a enormous freight train sped by at tremendous speed. I got such a fright that I nearly clung to the ceiling of my room like a cat would. Then I could hear how the rain started to fall on the roof. It was the most intense downpour I have ever experienced. Looking out my window I could not see the pathway light 20m away. It bucketed down for almost an hour before it subsided a bit but not stopping. It kept on raining for hours afterwards until the early hours of the morning. It finally stopped at 4 in the morning when I got up to get ready for game drive. When I looked at the rain gauge I was astounded to see that it was overflowing (it can hold 4 inches of rain), and for a while too because I could see the hole the overflowing water drilled in the soft ground beneath it. Everything was soaked and water was laying everywhere. On our game drive I drove from one spectacle to the next. Drainage lines turned into rivers, dry dams filled to the brim with water and waterfalls running from the mountains.

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And it kept coming, for not long on game drive another storm hit us and absolutely soaked us for another 20 minutes and after that another, and another after that until the last one late in the morning. It was incredible to watch all this water at one moment in time. Most of the big dams on the reserve were dry as a bone the day before and now they are all filled in one night. One of our dams is almost 6 hectares in size and the wall at least 8m high and it went from dry to filled to the brim in one night. I have never seen anything like this. It was difficult to estimate but we think that we got about 10 inches of rain that night.

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All this rain resulted in the most prolific frog population explosion you could imagine. Absolutely everywhere you looked there were frogs. From bull frogs to banded rubber frogs, every species emerged to take advantage of the bountiful water. Their calls echoed through the bush and in some places it was deafening and you had to cover your ears. This was a great opportunity for me to exercise one of my passions, frogging. We drove that afternoon from puddle to puddle and explored the waters to see what kinds of frogs we could find. We found African Bull frogs, bubbling cassina?s, banded rubber frogs, caco?s, guttural toads, red backed toads, and ornate frogs to name but a few.

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A short time after the rain it was noticeable how the impala lambs increased along with wildebeest and zebra youngsters. Flowers popped up everywhere and some of them I have never seen before in Madikwe. It is like this amazing night of rain has flipped the proverbial bush switch to the on position. It looks like the Madikwe plains will be covered again in a blanket of yellow. Last year we had a population explosion of the small forb called Nirodella spp. It looks like this year is going to be the same thing and if it is anything again like last year it will be spectacular.

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Bird and insect life on this reserve astonishes me every day. The astonishing diversity is almost too much to handle. At first glance it may not seem that much is going on out there. But, let me assure you, the bush is infinitely alive. The trick to seeing your smaller less obscure animals is to go to a place of common interest (water, food, etc.) and sit still there for a respectable amount of time. When you stop moving and blend in they start moving around again thinking that you?re part of the environment and not a threat to them. This includes birds and insects alike. At first nothing seems to be going on, maybe the odd familiar we all know. After sitting a while and observing the less obvious start to become obvious. After a while you leave the area with a more than impressive list of species that you have seen. And I will guarantee that at least a couple of them, especially concerning insects and birds, you never before saw in your life.

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In conclusion I hope that everybody had a very merry Christmas and may God bless you in the coming year of 2011.

Regards

Jaco Becker
Head Ranger
Madikwe Hills

5 thoughts on “Rangers Report – Jan 2011

  1. Jaco, I’m happy how you tell the rain arrived at Madikwe Hills Lodge …
    It’s wonderful how you describe the life that the drought had so slowed or stopped, then suddenly the rain comes and all the fauna and flora live again, as thousands of frogs singing to meet a new partner and perpetuate life, flowers are reborn into a multicolored carpet, new born animals of all species appear as if by miracle, it’s heaven in Madikwe … It makes me want to go again to Madikwe!
    Remember that the Masai say that God is born in Africa because it is the most beautiful country in the world, there are miracles all time!
    I understand from these words how much ,the water is a precious good for you African guys, we, Europeans, we do not know this, water is not lacking here,
    it’s a great lesson for us!!!

    Regards…

  2. Super nice report Jaco!
    Thank you very much ? I love all pics, unbelievable, everything looks so different than during the winter season ? I have to come next summer!:D And cheetah was around ? fantastic! And what a green landscape! Don?t you think sometimes your life is too good to be true;)

  3. Rain, rain, rain, beautiful rain.
    We in So Cal also appreciate every drop and this December we were also, inundated! I thought we might lose our hillside again, but, thanks to engineering and acacias, all is well.

    How happy for you all and the animals who suffered so with the draught and fire. May Madikwe live and prosper.

    God bless!

    Joy in Camarillo CA USA

  4. Dear Jaco, Thank you for this very beautiful descriptive and exciting update!!I just read it! I don’t know how I missed it! I still need to take a closer look at your collection of fantastic pictures!! I still dream about the wonderful visit we had @ Madwicke in 2010! This report just transports me back in a heartbeat! Love to come back soon! All the best to everyone @ Madwicke for a very Happy 2011! From our family.

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