October was an interesting month on the Madikwe Game Reserve. This season’s rains have been incredibly late, and up until the 31st of October, no rain has fallen. This has had a profound affect on the game, and has concentrated around what water sources still remain. The Elephants have been dominating the water sources, forcing all the other mammals to wait their turn. It has however made finding the large mammals quite easy, and the monthly statistics suggest this. The was an increase in Elephant and Buffalo sightings, due to the need for water. And the Lions have also been around the water sources, forcing the smaller predators away.
The statistics are calculated on the number of game drives that saw the different species during the month. So to simplify, anything around a 16% or more indicates a good chance that the species was seen during a 3 day safari during the month.
Lion sighting increased a fair amount over October, probably owing to the to them monopolizing the permanent water points, or being at least close to them. 71,67% of the game drives that went out saw Lions, compared to 62% for September. The Mahiwa males spent the entire month in the south, around Melorane pan and Vlei pan area’s and on a few occasions they went north to Jamala pan to the north, but always seemed to be close to the water.
The Chimbiro male Lions, spent all of their time in the far north. They spent a fair amount of time chasing the new Addo males around, and were never to far from the Matata pride in the far north.
The prides were also seen quite often, with the Kwena pride sticking to the Marico river, crossing back and forth very often. This is the pride that controls the area around the lodge, and on one particular sighting, the were found on a Wildebeest kill at the Fig Tree, to the south of the lodge. The was a lot of vocalizing by the Kwena’s around the lodge during October.
Leopard sightings took a bit of a dip in October, but I think that the likelihood is that it was because the Lions were dominating what little water there was. This probably forced the Leopards to move into the area’s that had less game drive vehicle activity. Only 7,22% of the game drives that went out saw Leopard, compared to 12% for September. FJ managed to get some fantastic images of the big male in the south, Munye.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with the Leopard sightings when the rains return and the movement patterns change again.
The Cheetah activity we’ve had in our area of the reserve has mostly been concentrated in the far northern parts, around the more open Kalahari Sandveld. Our guides have had to go quite far in order to get sightings of them. The Cheetah sightings have however been good quality sightings. Statistically there was a slight dip from 19% to 15% in October. We had some good news regarding one of the females being pregnant. So hopefully we’ll have some sightings of Cheetah cubs in a few months. But a lot can happen, especially with Cheetah.
The African Wild dogs were quite scarce in October. We managed to get our first sightings of the new pups early in October, but the have been moving from the Tweedepoort mountains to the eastern side of the Marico river during the month. Again this could be because of the Lions, they would be particularly careful with the pups. They were only seen by 3,33% of the game drives, compared to 17% in September.
Spotted and Brown Hyena
Both species of Hyena were seen quite frequently during October.
Brown Hyena 16,67% down from 39% in September. The majority of the sightings were in the south of the reserve, close to the water sources. We consider Brown Hyena’s to be one of Madikwe’s flagship species, so it was good to see them regularly during October.
Spotted Hyena’s were seen more frequently than the Brown’s. This seems to the case every month though. They are definitely more dominant than their relatives, and are therefore seen a lot more frequently. Their stats were also lower in October. 26,67% down from 43% in September. Still way above the 16% mark though, so they were seen by the majority of guests in October.
Buffalo and Elephant
We had numerous sightings of both over October. Almost every drive, according to the stats. This again was probably due to the water situation, and both species are highly water dependent. Buffalo stayed around the 49% mark, whilst Elephant sightings increased from 91% to 96%. We had some pretty incredible Elephant sightings in particular around the hide, with sometimes over 100 Elephants at the water.
General game and birds
It was a pretty big month for the Crocodile at the hide, who killed his first Impala towards the end of the month. We also had some really good Primate sightings, especially Baboons in the south.
Bird photography was really good along the Marico river, and produced some memorable moments whilst on photographic safari’s.
The discovery of a White fronted Bee-eater breeding colony on the Marico river, has definitely increased our time along the river during game drives.
Until next month
Darren and the Jaci’s guiding team.