Field Guides Diary Edition #1

Field Guides Diary Edition #1. Image credit: Supplied

Experience Madikwe: Field Guides Diary Edition #1

(Partner Content) Head Guide at Madikwe Safari Lodge, William Knight takes us through the past two weeks events in the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Field Guides Diary Edition #1

Field Guides Diary Edition #1. Image credit: Supplied

A tale of two brothers

There are two lion siblings who dominate the North East section of the Madikwe Game reserve. These lion brutes are the Mahiwe brothers, the largest lions in the reserve apart from their father Kondwe who is usually in the western section of the reserve. 

One of the brothers has a distinctive dark mane while the other has a much lighter blonde mane. The dark mane brother being the more dominant of the two.  

I had heard lions vocalizing in the early morning and I set out south of Madikwe Safari Lodge with the intention of tracking them. It wasn’t long before I found the dark mane Mahiwe brother accompanied by a beautiful lioness from the Keitumetse pride. With any luck, we may soon have a new litter to enjoy over the next few months. 

We caught up with his brother, Blondie, later that evening. He has been hanging around a recently sired group of four cubs who are now about 8 to 9 months old. Clearly, he’s an excellent father as he was “babysitting” the cubs while their mother was taking a breather. 

The Mahiwe brothers and Keitumetse pride have subsequently joined up again. For more watch the video below.  

Image credit: Supplied

A welcome surprise!

Leopards are notoriously elusive in Madikwe. There are many around, but they are shy and not as acclimatised to the vehicles because Madikwe does not see the heavy traffic that some of the lowveld public reserves do. Yet on this particular evening, en route back from an evening drive, I was delighted and excited to come across a young female leopard who was so focused on a hunt that she did not seem at all deterred by the vehicle. 

I switched to red-light which is far less harsh on the animals at night, and we waited patiently as she stalked a herd of impala, some 30 yards away. Leopards move incredibly slowly and silently to get as close to their prey as possible before they pounce. While we waited silently, we heard movement to our right and spotted a porcupine casually feasting on the undergrowth before it disappeared into the thick bush. 

Meanwhile, the leopard had managed to move within only a few yards of the impala and a kill seemed inevitable. Just then, out of nowhere, a white rhino came ambling down the road directly in the direction of the leopard. 

It was a case of now or never for the young leopard, before the rhino disturbed her target as she exploded out of the brush. The impala quickly dispersed, and she was unsuccessful in her chase. Unfortunately, the rhino had unwittingly cost her dinner. 

We had an additional welcome surprise on the way back, seeing an African Wild Cat just before we returned to camp. 

A kill not missed

After having narrowly missed witnessing a leopard kill. I was fortunate to see something a little smaller, but no less interesting in the form of a Pale Chanting Goshawk which swooped down to snatch a field mouse next to my vehicle. 

I always love seeing these small encounters as a reminder of just how incredible nature is and how you never know what you may witness on your next drive. 

Goshawks are frequently seen in Madikwe, we have two common species in the Pale Chanting Goshawk which you see enjoying it’s catch below, as well as the Gabar Goshawk where we have both the usual and melanistic form. A real treat for a birder like me!

Image credit: Supplied

Another highlight of the week was an African Rock Python spotted in the road while returning home from a bush walking safari. 

Join us again in two weeks’ time for an update and highlights on the activities in Madikwe Game Reserve.