The last 2 months have seen some interesting changes in the Lion dynamics in the eastern parts of the Madikwe Game Reserve. The Mahiwa’s have continued their charge to dominance, and have now started putting pressure on the remaining Chimbiro male and Mahiwa male. This has forced the Kwena pride to spend a lot of time east of the Marico river, whilst the 2 older males have spent more time in the south east. Tempers have been frayed between the older males, particularly when Lionesses are around. The Matata pride have been around the Tswane koppies, where they are hiding the cubs in the mountains.
There has been good news and bad news regarding the Cheetah. Towards the end of July, we received the news that the Red Tag female had died. She had a hair line fracture on one of her front legs and sadly succumbed to her injuries. However, the Yellow tag female gave birth to 4 cubs in the Southern parts of the reserve. So now we wait and hoe that she does a good job with the cubs, and the population of Cheetah, increases by 3. The 2 males have kept to the western parts of the reserve.
The 2 packs of African Wild dogs have been playing territorial tango, and have been slipping past one another over the last 2 months. We can sadly confirm that none of the pups survived, from the new pack. Both packs have been favoring the eastern parts of the reserve, and have moved back and forth across the Marico river. This area presents them with many food options, with a very healthy Impala population.
The general game has been very good, with plenty of fantastic sightings. The favorite area’s have been the southern pans, and Tlou Dam in the west, which has produced some incredible Elephant sightings. Brown Hyena sightings have been really good with numerous sightings around Vlei pan, as well as around the airstrip. Other area’s that have produced really good sightings have been the mineral hotspots dotted around the reserve. Many general game species have flocked to the natural salt licks.
The birds have also started making a comeback, with several migratory species returning from their winter playgrounds. We have noticed Wood’s Sandpiper, Red-breasted Swallow and even heard a cuckoo or 2. On one particular safari, we located 122 species on a four day safari. Not bad for winter birding! A nice surprise visitor was a Lesser Flamingo at Tshukudu Dam.
All in all, the game viewing and birding have been really good during the cold winter months, producing some remarkable moments. You just have to be patient and know where to look, and mother nature will take care of the rest.
Images and text by Darren Donovan