Spring has eluded us the past few years as we went straight from Winter into Summer, but this year nature seems to be on track.
The bush is slow to change colour, however a few blossoms have appeared to announce the changing season.
The Wild Pear tree (Dombeya rotundifolia) is usually one of the first trees in Madikwe Game Reserve to bloom. Small clusters of creamy white flowers spread all over the branches.
The gorgeous purple flower has most of us scratching our heads. It looks like a Wild Sweet Pea, but then also similar to Tephrosia Lupinifolia
The Common Wild Fig tree (Ficus thonningii) is one of the most spectacular trees in Madikwe.
The leaves change colour only after winter and within 2 – 3 weeks it has gone from turning brown to red and back to green. Flowers and fruit can appear all year round but tend to peak in October.
Although winter is known for grey, dull colours – they do serve a purpose.
like Lions, Cheetah and Leopards – rely on camouflage for survival and the one-tone colour of Winter provide them with the perfect camouflage to hunt during a time when prey is scarce.
Being able to blend in with your surroundings, give you an element of surprise – especially as the Bush is generally very open in Winter and stalking your prey is not that easy.
Winter is also about hibernating and reptiles are high on Madikwe’s list of hibernating creatures.
Snakes – like this Puffadder – go into hibernation in late April to beginning May. They tend to find thick bush or holes in the ground or even rocky outcrops where they can hibernate for the winter without being disturbed by other animals.
We would not have known that the Puffadder was under this dead tree if it weren’t for the birds in the area making a huge noise.
Birds are nature’s sirens – they tend to spot a threat (like a snake) long before anyone else and by making a noise while staying in the same spot, they show everyone else exactly where the threat is.
This puffadder was curled up, laying deadly still and had a hazy layer over his eyes.
Animals tracks in the sand…… the African bush’s daily newspaper.
By looking in the sand, you can see who was there and – sometimes – what they did, like fighting Elephants dragging their feet backwards and forwards or all the nighttime critters – like the Small spotted Genet, Honeybadger or African Civet – that walked down the road searching for prey during the midnight hours. Antelope tracks are also interesting to look at as you notice, not just the different sizes, but the difference in hoof shapes and this gives you a clear indication of which antelope was there.
The Wild Dogs were denning during the past few months up in one of the mountains and we only got to see the adult dogs when they were hunting.
Finally – the puppies are out of the den and big enough to join the adults on daily excursions, like patrolling the area and hunting.
They are still very shy and rather hesitant of all the new smells and sounds out there, but like all kids – they are very brave when all the siblings are together in a group, trying out new things.
Lions are always a favourite with our guests – whether it is a Lioness stalking through the tall grass, the cutest cubs playing with each other or the big male Lion catching a afternoon nap in the shade of a thorntree.
Most guests – however – do not understand why Lions sleep most of the time as Television programs always have them stalking or walking somewhere.
Lions love to sleep though and spend the bigger part of their day resting.
We have lost one of our dominant male Lions recently to old age and are now waiting in anticipation to see what some of the younger male coalition will do with this open territory and the females living in this area.
As our guides see these animals on a regular basis, it was quite an emotional moment when the old boy moved on to the next life.
Our Cheetah cubs are all grown up now and just about ready to face the world on their own.
Savanna – the amazing mother Cheetah that she is – is still keeping an eye on these youngsters and still showing them the ways of Cheetah life in the wild.
General game like Kudu, Impala and Zebra don’t fade into the background, but become fun topics on game drive.
Our guides tell guest about the antelope eating old bones to get necessary minerals – called Osteaphagy.
Animals have to find their minerals from different places in nature, sometimes from old bones and sometimes from the ground.
Or they ask guests whether a Zebra is white with black stripes or black with white stripes….
Our guides find creative ways to make every animal into a fun concept on game drive.
And sometimes it is necessary to see the little things to appreciate the greatness of Nature…..
Dung Beetles might seem small and insignificant, but if you pay attention to the amazing art of rolling their dung ball, laying their egg inside and thus providing their offspring with food upon birth – it makes you look at them in a completely different light.
Then you start noticing the birds, who would normally just blend into the background of your trip and you see that Nature has amazing beauty……the Kori Bustard, who is Africa’s heaviest flying bird or the Little Bee-eater, who do not migrate out of Madikwe during Winter like most of the other Bee-eaters. They like to perch low to the ground waiting to catch insects, preferably close to water.
Elephants have always hold our fascination – their large pre-historic looking bodies, their tusks and of course their trunk with its multiple uses.
Whether it is the large bull Elephant just exuding dominance with his huge body, large tusks and his massive head or the female Elephant lifting her body and opening her ears to make herself look bigger in an effort to protect her very young baby, they capture our attention (and multiple photos of course).
Very little things in life grab your attention like a herd of Elephants splashing in a muddy watering hole – little ones trying to stay afloat, bigger ones covering themselves in mud and obviously that one teenager that just have to splash everyone else.
Our waterhole here at the lodge seems to attract herd after herd of Elephants and you can hear the splashing and slurping from your room.
Otherwise, you can walk to our Sunset Deck and have a close-up with the Elephants.
Impalas and Buffaloes are just a few of the animals that visit our waterhole during the Winter months.
Although we have a fence around our lodge, we do have a few antelopes in camp, like our resident Bushbuck herd and the Klipspringer couple.
As we go into Spring, the warmer weather allow us to eat out in our Boma area again.
Fire is the mesmerizing centre of warm, family-style dinner under the stars and sometimes a full moon.
“Close your eyes and listen with your soul……
you will hear the African winds calling the animals
to return, to find their home unspoiled as before.
We want you to come and experience the thrills of
the great African Bush where there is something
new to learn every day.
Think of Motswiri as your home away from home.
All the staff are looking forward to treating you to
an unforgettable experience.
We are here to take special care of you and to ensure
that you relax & unwind, to allow the African spirit
to flow through your veins.”
As we have all settled into the new way of COVID life, we at Motwiri are proud to keep to all the rules and do our best to keep all our guests safe.