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Mashatu: elephants, lions and leopards


Bush dog

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Bush dog

This trip was made in October 2008. I took a flight from Joburg to Polokwane and went by road to Pont Drift. Before going to Mashatu, I visited another lodge in another area of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Nitani, located at ninety minutes drive from Mashatu and the border.

The lodge is almost only used by the owners but from time to time, they offer a few weeks to other visitors. It’s a beautiful lodge of only five rooms, built with timber and wood. Elevated walkways are connecting the common facilities to the rooms. A rather deep gully, where the Majali river flows, divides the camp in two and over it, the walkway becomes a footbridge. The food was excellent. When I was there, the river was dry and when elephants were in the camp, it was possible to watch them from the footbridge.

 

 

The area is semi-arid and quite pristine, very different compared to Mashatu. I did not see a lot of water, which probably explains the few animals seen. These are the species that I saw in small numbers : ostrich, jackal, giraffe, zebra, warthog, steenbok, impala and a serval. In the camp, it was mainly kudu and bushbuck, and six elephants. The only species that I saw in great numbers were hyena and at night scrubhare, springhare, genet and bush baby. African hawk eagle and giant eagle owl were the only raptors seen. Big cats were conspicuously absent but I was not really expecting to see them a lot. Indeed, the lodge website says that lion and cheetah are only accasionally seen.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the five nights I spent there because of its privacy and peace.

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This trip was made in October 2008. I took a flight from Joburg to Polokwane and went by road to Pont Drift. Before going to Mashatu, I visited another lodge in another area of the Northern Tuli Gam

Second day   Continued   Lesser masked weavers in the camp.     During the afternoon game drive, we found two leopards on an impala kill.     On the way back, elands and a lot of elepha

Second day   During the morning game drive, we mainly saw lions, elephants, kudus, giraffes, baboons, klipspringers, steenboks and a grey duiker, but also elands.     Also two leopards, one ru

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Soukous

@@Bush dog those are some of the best Serval photos I've seen in a long while. Gorgeous.

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Kitsafari

What a beautiful and relaxed serval @@Bush dog. Great job capturing it.

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offshorebirder

Yes indeed, superb Serval photos @@Bush dog - thanks for posting this TR.

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TonyQ

@@Bush dog

Wow - such a sighting of a serval made the visit worthwhile - great photos!

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Bush dog

@Soukous@Kitsafari@offshorebirder@TonyQ

 

There is no great merit in realizing those pictures. Indeed, I was about to tell the nice story of this serval as a preliminary of my second post, but further to your comments, it will be my second post.

 

One of the owners, who has a residence close to the lodge found this male and its sister when they were still very young. They had lost their mother. And thus, he sheltered and fed them. When they reached the sub-adult age, he decided to only give them food, and only a little, every two days, and released them in the hope they return to the wild. It worked very well. After a period of transition, the servals began to space out their visits and not come back until after 5 or 6 days. During my stay, I did not see the female, it was already absent for more than a week, perhaps it had found a mate. Zeus, the male was more often seen around the residence.

 

Zeus was wild again but it was still behaving like a domestic cat in the presence of humans. So, when I took those pictures I was out of the car and Zeus came to me until it was at my feet. I began to stroke it. It was close to touching the wild. It reminded me what Victor Hugo, the great French writer of the 19th century, said "Dieu a créé le chat pour que l’homme puisse caresser le tigre" which means "God created the cat so that man can stroke the tiger".

 

Anyway, thank you for your generous comments !

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madaboutcheetah

@@Bush dog - Look forward to this report. As you may already know, Spencer and Mr.Moe (Moeti) both started out at Mashatu back in the day! So, I'm sure it's a great area.

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SafariChick

@@Bush dog those are some of the best Serval photos I've seen in a long while. Gorgeous.

agree - maybe best I've ever seen actually! Fabulous! Even if it is slightly tame, still great.

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Bush dog

@@Bush dog - Look forward to this report. As you may already know, Spencer and Mr.Moe (Moeti) both started out at Mashatu back in the day! So, I'm sure it's a great area.

Well, Hari, I didn't know. Thanks a lot for the information.

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Bush dog

After a transfer at midway, I arrived at Mashatu Main Camp in time for lunch. My guide was Fish Maila, the best guide in the reserve, and the spotter, Oteng. Fish is at Mashatu what Kaniwe was at Selinda. Seventy-five % of the pictures will be of leopards, lions and elephants. A cheetah will only be seen during the last game drive and the wild dogs not at all.

 

First day

 

We spent some time to watch the elephants, in the dry bed of a river, digging for water. There were a few scattered ponds which were sufficient to quench the thirst of kudus, impalas and doves.

 

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To be continued

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Kitsafari

Love that picture of the impala and the dove (I think that is a dove?) drinking together, and the baby else twisting his head sideways.

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Bush dog

@@Kitsafari

 

Thanks a lot for your comments. It's indeed a ring-necked or Cape turtle dove.

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madaboutcheetah

Mike, how did you like Mashatu in terms of their flexibility? Did you get the same relaxed vibe? Thanks...

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Bush dog

@@madaboutcheetah

 

Hari,

 

Mashatu is, if I remember well, organized like South African camps. Everything is well scheduled and there is nothing fundamental to say against it. I think, flexibility is linked, like in a lot of places, to a private vehicle. As for relaxed vibe, It is certainly not reaching places like Selinda in the good old days, the Kwando camps, Masai Mara and Ndutu in May or Barranco Alto. The wildlife diversity is great. Mashatu is, at least for me, the best place to see leopards in normal conditions. I saw in 7 days at least six of them and several times. It was a great experience but I will not return because this place does not have the litthe extra that hooks you.

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Mike for the feedback -

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Bush dog

First day

 

Continued

 

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To be continued

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Superlative elephant photos thus far.

Even if the serval was willing to pose for you, it's still quite a nice series of photos. Also an interesting opportunity to experience successful rehabilitation.

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michael-ibk

Hey, @@Marks , is that you? Without sunglasses? And with a beard? Doesn´t seem right. ;)

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Bush dog

First day

 

Continued

 

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At the end of the game drive, we found two lions with one having a collar, well hidden by its mane.

 

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Soukous

Lovely images @@Bush dog you had some great light for your elephant shots.

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michael-ibk

Fantastic series of the little one! :-)

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Bush dog

Second day

 

During the morning game drive, we mainly saw lions, elephants, kudus, giraffes, baboons, klipspringers, steenboks and a grey duiker, but also elands.

 

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Also two leopards, one running away as soon as it spotted us and the other one, very relaxed on a big mashatu tree or nyala-berry tree (xanthocercis zambejiaca) that gives its name to the reserve.

 

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To be continued

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Zim Girl

Beautiful Eland pictures, I especially like the last one drinking.

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Kitsafari

Love the eland photos, bringing out the beauty in them. Were all The pictures of one eland or two, Mike?

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