Madikwe Safari Diary
Day 2 – Morning drive
Where are the dogs?
If there is one thing that Madikwe is renowned for it is African Wild Dogs. It is supposed to be the park where visitors stand the best chance of seeing these amazing predators because there are 2 resident packs. This was certainly one of the primary reasons why we were in Madikwe but so far we hadn’t had a sniff.
Yesterday’s radio chatter had told us that no-one had seen either pack for a couple of days, although tracks had been spotted. Maybe we’d get lucky today.
Within minutes of leaving the lodge we came upon 3 white rhinoceros grazing about 30 metres from the road. 2 males and a female. The smaller (younger) male was apparently a calf that had not yet left home.
While we were watching the rhinos JP got some exciting news on the radio. A pack of wild dogs had been sighted.
Bye bye rhinos, love you, but wild dogs are what we came here for
As we drove towards where the dogs had been seen JP told us that this was the large pack, 18 dogs in all with 6 pups.
There was one other vehicle watching them when we arrived and we could see that the dogs were active, running backwards and forwards.
A couple of them just flopped down on the ground behind our Land Rover and began rolling around in the grass.
We quickly saw that they were covered in blood which mean that they had recently made a kill.
We deduced that they were running between the spot where they had made the kill and the place where the pups had been left in safety.
Obviously we would love to have seen them actually hunting but it was still a thrill to see them at all.
After a while what appeared to be the Alpha male went to where the pups had been hidden and led them out into the open.
For the next 20 minutes we watched as the pups played and wrestled with each other whilst the pack adults kept watch.
Awesome. Just awesome.
It was great to have seen the wild dogs so early as it meant that we still had plenty of game viewing time left.
We started making our way towards where 2 large male lions were feeding on an elephant carcass.
The elephant, an old matriarch had died of old age and her carcass had been lying in the bush for a few days. Last time we looked the only animal we saw nearby was a silver backed jackal, but this morning’s diners were a lot more impressive.
Two huge male lions had taken control of the carcass and were taking it in turns to feed. Whilst one fed, the other relaxed in the shade.
JP told us that there had been 3 male lions in this coalition but one of them had been killed by poachers.
These 2 were magnificent though; one with a golden mane, the other with a black mane.
2 great sightings and the morning was not over yet.
Another pride of lions
As we made our way to the lodge we pulled off the road to look at a small pride of lions resting in the shade. This pride comprised 6 females and 2 young males.
The young males looked to be in absolute top condition and one in particular kept a very careful watch on us.
and a Rhinoceros
No sooner had we left the lions resting under their tree than we heard that a male rhino had been seen making his way towards Tshukudu Dam. The rhino had been sighted just to the right of our position and Tshukudu Dam was just to our left. That meant that the rhino was heading our way.
Sure enough we soon saw him moving lazily through the bushes. A large white rhino. We waited, expecting him to cross in front of us but instead he chose to find a shady spot and rest.
We left him in peace and returned to the lodge feeling very satisfied with our morning.
Day 2 – Afternoon drive
Before we set out for the afternoon JP and Kenneth, the other ranger at our lodge, had agreed that they would work together to try and locate the cheetah that had proved so elusive so far. The latest reports they had suggested tracks had been seen down in the south east corner of the park.
Mindful that we only had just over an hour before the sun set, we headed straight for the area where we hoped to find the cheetahs.
Cheetahs at last!
Despite our best efforts – and those of other rangers – they were only located shortly before sunset.
We’d heard that one of the rangers had found them and we were making our way to the location when we saw one standing in the middle of the road ahead of us.
He was soon joined by a second and they trotted down towards the river.
We knew that there were four of them in this group, all of them males.
The two we were following stopped on the river crossing and called to the others.
The light was almost completely gone when the other 2 cheetahs came down the track, passing us to rejoin their brothers. The light was so dark by this time that that it was hard to get any colour in the photo, so I opted to make this one black and white.
Once all four of them were together it was clear that they were about to hunt so we pulled out and left them to it.
Extra interest at Sundowners
Usually once the sun has gone down we find a suitable spot and pull over for sundowners.
This evening though, JP seemed to be in a hurry and we figured he must have a reason. He turned off the track and there, in a clearing, a table had been set up for us with drinks and snacks. Behind the table with a big grin on his face was Godfrey, waiting to take our drinks orders.
As we got out of the vehicle we heard a familiar sound and looked across to where a herd of about 100 buffalo were grazing, 100 metres away. Godfrey told us they had showed up about half an hour earlier.
They seemed untroubled by our presence and while we nibbled and drank, they munched their way closer to us, then circling around.
As darkness fell we could still hear them snorting and chewing contentedly.
What a great day in Madikwe