Ranger Report - July 2012 - Madikwe Hills Menu

Ranger Report – July 2012

By Jaco on July 2, 2012

Get the latest update from Madikwe……

We are now in the middle of winter and it is pretty cold and dry here in Madikwe. Luckily the really cold times are limited to the early mornings and evenings. During the day temperatures regularly get close to 30?C except when the cape sends us a nice cold front to deal with. There has been no rain for the last 4 months and the bush is exceptionally dry at the moment. The bush lost all its summer colours and was replaced by a dull grey of the trees and a most spectacular golden yellow colour of the grass. The roads have been reduced to dust powder by all the vehicles and needless to say that in the early morning and late afternoon the dust the vehicles kick up in the glare of the sun turns it into the most spectacular site on earth. It?s like being on another planet all of a sudden.

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The other day I was sitting on the large rocky outcrop which is the highest point in the middle of the lodge enjoying the afternoon off and the lovely sunset. At first the sound came through very faintly and I was not too sure what it was but it sounded like the crackle of a large bushfire. I was worried at first but then I saw dust starting to filter through the trees like some strange earth born cloud. It rose higher and higher until it started to blot out the setting sun. The colour changed from the golden glow of dusk to a most ominous red. I realized that the sound I was hearing was actually the hooves of hundreds of buffalo marching like a medieval army towards the water hole in front of the lodge. A few minutes later the first of the ranks broke the tree line into the clearing in front of the lodge and they kept pouring out for what felt like hours. The earth in front of the lodge was black with buffalo while a dark red shine from the sun illuminated their backs. I counted more than 300 buffalo in the herd and while some were leaving the water back to the bush others were still arriving. It was one of the most amazing sites I have seen in a long time.

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There are a lot of positive things happening on the reserve this year. By the end of August this year Madikwe would have introduced almost 4000 head of animals to the reserve. Species range from eland to zebra to wildebeest and many more. We are also anticipating the arrival of at least 8 cheetahs and a coalition of two new male lions on the reserve. We are bringing in the lions to replenish the current genetic population and the introduction of the cheetahs will reinstate us as a true ?Super 7? reserve and along with all the other species of mammals as one of the most diverse reserves in the country if not the most diverse . All the lionesses on the reserve are either pregnant or have cubs of a few months old. We have been seeing six of the new cubs regularly and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the others.

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Our leopard population have been doing awesome since the reduction of the massive lion population last year. At least 10 different animals are seen on a regular basis including massive male we call the Twane male close to the lodge. Recently a young female found a fancy to our lodge and we have seen her close by a couple of times now including 2 or 3 times inside the lodge. She is incredibly relaxed and we suspect that she is pregnant and might just decide to have her cubs in the little hill our lodge is build on. That would be one of the most amazing privileges ever having such a skittish and illusive animal trusting and choosing us as a sanctuary for her new born cubs.

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All that said the biggest news was probably the arrival of our new wild dog puppies. They only recently came out of the den for the first time and it looks like the alpha female gave birth to at least 12 puppies this year. We are hoping that most of them will survive to adult hood so that this highly endangered species can have a better chance at survival. The current number of wild dogs on the reserve, including the new puppies, stand at 36 individuals.

It looks like we have some exciting times ahead and we cannot wait to share it with everyone.
Until next time

Jaco and the Madikwe Hills Team

2 thoughts on “Ranger Report – July 2012

  1. Hi Jaco
    from my window I can see a heavy traffic and many people hurrying up: I still have a lot of work to do before the end the day ; outside ,the heat is oppressive and your lines have been an amazing relief: for a few minutes I was able to see the buffalos and the wonderful sunset from the terrace of the lodge and the noise of the cars on the road have been replaced by the silence full of sounds of Madikwe hills: thank you for sharing images and feelings : it has been great

  2. Jaco,

    You make the waiting until our return almost unbearable…But the eloquent manner in which you describe it just brings back the memories and next time Cheetah!!

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