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The Return to the Hunt in Madikwe, Klaserie, and Sabi Sands

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Video by DH of zebras getting along nicely at a waterhole until one decided another needed a good bite on the neck.

Edited by Terry
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The Return to the Hunt in Madikwe, Klaserie, and Sabi Sands   We cannot eat just one potato chip nor could we convince ourselves that just one safari to Africa was enough. The safari bug had bi

Our ranger for the first two days was Corinne. We had good sightings on our game drives even though the Bush House does not employ trackers. There is only one other lodge in the reserve that does. T

This rhino has a hunk of mud stuck on his horn. When we stopped for sundowners with the sun still high in the sky, Corinne told us her goal was to be driving into the Bush House


Those baby steps by the baby ele are just adorable. The hide offered you a wonderful angle to view everybody coming to drink.

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I think it's a green woodhoopoe, I don't the violet woodhoopoe has white spots in the tail. The grey heron is actually a black-headed heron.

About the sizes of lions. I would always take such claims with a grain of salt. Male lions are typically in the range of 180-250 kg. In Kruger there are definitely ones which are 220 an up. A third larger would put them around 310...Similarly for females, typically weighing around 125 kg, but it can vary from about 90kg to 140. It just varies, even within populations. Some claim that the subspecies found in South-West Africa (P. l. bleyenberghi) is larger than the one found in Kruger (P. l. krugeri), but there is a large overlap.


I think Madikwe, apart from birth control and selling off lions, also culled lions to control the lion population. They had to supplement ungulates (as predation pressure was too high to sustain their population), and re-introduce cheetahs as the lion killed them off too.

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I love the shadow stripes on the zebra. I wonder if these are more prevalent on zebras in southern Africa than east Africa?

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@PT123 According to THE SAFARI COMPANION book I have,


The mountain zebra (which includes the Hartmann's race in Angola, Nambia, and Iona NP) of the South West Arid Zone lacks the shadow stripes of the plains or Burchell's zebra.


The South West Arid Zone includes the Klahari sandveld and drier Karroo dwarf shrubland.


That's the only kinds of zebras the book mentions.


Thanks for asking about the shadow stripes. I learned something today.

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@egilio Thanks for the additional information about the Heron. You are correct. It is the Black-headed. The habitat for the black-headed includes grasslands and scrubland so this heron was right at home. We were able to add an additional bird to our life list because you took the time to write.


Actually, we were told the lions had to be culled in the end. I was trying to tell their story and avoid the "C" word - it carries so much baggage.


My bird book does show white spots on the tail for the violet wood-hoopoe, but the bird is in the wrong location for a violet according to the book named above.

I am still questioning which Wood-hoopoe it is.


I appreciate all your input and hope you continue to follow along. I welcome all the help I can get.

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The next morning drive started with a Go-Away-Bird.




Three Tree Squirrels. I was amazed how small these squirrels were.




We had planned our trip hoping to be on safari for at least the start of the birthing season of the impalas, but they were still delaying the birth of their young, waiting for the rains to bring green grass. Madikwe and the surrounding areas were suffering from a year-long drought. It hadn’t rained since the previous March and the Gaborone reservoir only had six percent of its capacity remaining.





This male impala is displaying aggression with the “Low Horn” threat, but the other one doesn’t appear to be too terrified.




A couple of wildebeests just had to run for the fun of it.





A Marico Sunbird was sitting overhead in a thorn tree as we had our morning coffee break.



Then Greg called Corrine and told her where to find a female leopard in a tree. It ended up being a tree which the leopard had used before. Not that a leopard can be picky about trees in the Madikwe reserve. Any tree where a leopard can get a kill up high enough off the ground to protect it is a is a tree to be remembered and to be returned to time and time again.



I would guess the guides used assigned names to identify the cats when they discussing a certain animal among themselves,but they never named the cats while we were on a game drive. That way the cats were supposed to seem "Truly Wild."



The leopard looked like we had given him indigestion or at least he burped up some of his breakfast. At any rate he soon decided to leave.




Corrine called out, “Black rhino with calf.” I saw the backs of two large animals running through the bushes – way out there. They were gone before I could lift my camera. I have now seen three black rhino and I have zero photographs to prove it. Even DH missed these last two.


The morning game drives started at 6 am which meant that by the time we got back for breakfast the heat was oppressive. We had all melted and ran down into our shoes. The afternoon drive began at 3:30 pm while the sun was still high in the sky. With no let up on the heat, we melted at the beginning of the drive and only recovered when sunset neared. The safari vehicle had a canvas top, so as the car turned corners, if we only had two to a row, we could slide back and forth across the seat to stay in the shade – not that it did much good. A half an hour earlier start in the morning and a half an hour later in the afternoon would have helped a lot.

Edited by Terry
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Since the distribution of the violet wood hoopoes is far away from Madikwe I think it's safe to say it's a green wood hoopoe. They all live in similar habitats.

About the 'c' word, it's part of reality. They tried to move them to other parks, but nobody had place for them. When you think of that, then why are there operations who take lion cubs from their mothers, walk them, train them how to hunt, breed them and then want to reintroduce the second or third generation somewhere? If even no place can be found for perfectly wild born, wild raised, well trained, human shy lions?


I'm loving those low-angle drinking shots!

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The lawn at the Bush House really is an inviting place to spend the mid-day break with several little ponds, groups of bushes, flowering trees and green grass.


Jacaranda Tree









The Bush house staff puts out food for the birds very discreetly, no bird feeders, just apples stuck on nails or grain scattered on a log in the shade to attract them.


Go-Away Birds



Red-winged Starling


Egyptian Goose Duck



Yellow-Billed Hornbill




We watched the male hornbill go with an insect in his mouth to a hole in a tree on the lawn where his mate is incubating their eggs. She was building a wall over the opening with her droppings and will keep at it until only a small slit for her mate to bring her food is left.

A herd of Kudu came to the Bush House waterhole.




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The low angle drinking shots are fantastic, those elephants with the clouds behind them : epic!
Also hugely envious of the brown hyaena...

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Must agree with what's been said - the little ele video is a real treat.

Also appreciate the details on Madikwe's lion management, as I always find that kind of info interesting.

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That afternoon Corinne went on leave and we transferred to Greg’s car. The afternoon drive began with a Greater Blue-eared Starling.






Dark-capped Bulbul





Much of the western side of Madikwe with its short, stubby bushes would starve giraffes, but this one has found what must be a spot of Eden to him.




This male Kudu has been around for a while and has a set of horns to prove it.




When we were at Madikwe reserve, there were four cheetah brothers that stayed together and with their long legs and great speed formed a coalition that Greg called a “Killing-Machine”. The reserve previously had brought in two females for them, but the brothers saw them as competition and killed one and the other drowned in a water hole. The brothers were not entirely innocent in the second death either.


A ranger from another lodge called with the news he had spotted the tracks of the cheetahs. Greg joined the other ranger and the two of them took off on foot following the tracks. After a short time they came back and we drove toward the tree where the cheetahs were spending the afternoon asleep.





This is our first sighting of the cheetah and the most desired animal of our trip.




We definitely disturbed their nap.




First they had to stretch.




This was followed by a big yawn.






Time to look over their territory.




Could supper be passing by?








One by one the cheetahs woke up and wandered off and thus ended the last public viewing of the famous Madikwe cheetah coalition. We were pleased and lucky and so was Greg. He wanted a last look at the brothers because they were to be shipped out shortly to other reserves with the hope a new environment and splitting them up might allow them to consider that a female cheetahs could have a role in their lives besides as competitors.


The reserve had plans for two different male cheetahs and two totally unrelated female cheetahs to be transferred there. On one of the drives Corinne had driven by a large fenced area where new animals are held for a few months after arrival to calm down and to recover from the trauma of their transfer before being released into the reserve at large. The new cheetahs were to go there first.

Edited by Terry
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@@elefromoz @Dio @@TonyQ @@Atravelynn @Big-Dog @@Marks @@egilio


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Hearing from you all makes it so much more fun.


One last picture to end our third day at Madikwe.




Greg did work magic!

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Glad you found your most desired animals - Cheetah for a lot of us indeed. Still enjoying this very much, the Giraffe silhouette is magic, too.

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Great for you (and us) to see the cheetah. And interesting to hear about how they are being managed.

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Glad you found your most desired animals - Cheetah for a lot of us indeed. Still enjoying this very much, the Giraffe silhouette is magic, too.


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Next morning the resident pride of lions was first on the agenda - one sleeping and one on guard duty. At least she had her eyes open, but you could see that she was thinking, “Boring, boring people, again”!






Pied Crow





Kori Bustard - Our first sighting - We were pleased to see this bird.




One thing I learned on safari, we call these animals “Zee-bras” and most everyone else it seemed called them “Zeb-ras.”










This male lion lives alone, is a good hunter and eats well, but Greg called him a coward. At eight years of age, he still has a baby face with no scars. His beauty routine consists of always running away instead of fighting and to keep moving, never staying in one place longer than three hours.




Coffee Break on the game drive.






Everything about the Bush House was great, top notch - even the game drive vehicle. Yes, the roof gave us the some shade, but those extra poles did have a way of jumping into my photographs if I wasn’t careful.


We appreciated the easy access to the first row. Three weeks before we left home, DH developed a severe pain in his hip and started to use a quad cane to get around. His doctor armed him with pain pills, and told him to go on vacation. At the Bush house, the ranger placed the cooler at the side of the vehicle to be used as a step stool on the drives and DH did fine. The open side of the front row where we sat was nice because when I needed to shoot around DH and the roof bars, I could kneel on the floor and use the opening.


At the entrance to the bush house is a dry cactus garden surrounding an acacia tree which was home to little birds partially hidden in the middle branches. I could not photograph or identify the birds while standing at the outer edge of the tree. Crouching down to miss the thorns, I made my way into the middle and then stood up to get my picture and forgot about the thorns – until I tried to get out. I was caught, pinned to the tree branches, but for the aggravation of digging tips of thorns from my hide for at least a week, I was rewarded with belly-up photos of a Burnt-necked Eremonela, a small, short-tailed warbler, a common resident in acacia woodland and dry riverbeds.




I am showing two pictures of these birds just in case someone wants to vote for a name change.


Crimson-breasted Shrike




Edited by Terry
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It must be a North America thing as everyone I know says Zee-bra. That lion has a solid beauty plan!

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Beautiful Crimson-breasted Shrike, and I never tire of seeing zee-bras!

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When we were at the Bush House, all the other guests lived in South Africa and had been to Kruger many times. They now all preferred Madikwe, returning time after time. One of the men suggested that on our next safari, we should just stay in the Madikwe Reserve and not go back to Kruger. That way we would not lose the day in between to travel. The eastern side with the river has very different terrain than the western side and we should visit both sides. Then his wife spoke up, “Every time we visit a different lodge though, we end up feeling like we are wasting our money so now we always come back to the Bush House.”


One of my original safari dreams which I gave up when we decided to stay again in South Africa was to see a baobab tree. Officially there are no baobab trees in Madikwe, but I found one – inside the boma at the bush house. It was planted in 1928 by one of the early settlers on the land. When the home was converted to a safari lodge, a cement boma was built around the baobab tree including a cement serving area right in front of the trunk. All the cement was painted orange to match the soil, I guess.



At first it seemed like quite an affront to the eyes if one expected inspiration or beauty from this baobab tree, but then I looked up and I saw a beautiful, blooming baobab.




The boma was not used for dinner when we were at the bush house, but it is designed so that we could have eaten there and still watched the waterhole.








Back in the hide -


If anything happens to this old tree trunk, elephants are going to be so sad. After they get a drink of water and throw mud on themselves, they scratch themselves on this old tree trunk, the front of their trunk, behind the ears, on the sides, on the backside, and everywhere else they can manipulate into position.




This elephant needs to use his trunk to do a little clean up on his muddy eye.



These little African Quailfinches were right at the edge of the waterhole and could easily have been crushed by elephant feet.



It is a good thing so many of the mammals of Africa have adapted to eating thorns, it didn’t seem like the browsers had much choice at Madikwe.





Cute “thumbs!”



Temminck’s Courser



Red Rhino


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Glad you found your most desired animals - Cheetah for a lot of us indeed. Agreed! Still enjoying this very much, the Giraffe silhouette is magic, too. Also agree on the magic!

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It must be a North America thing as everyone I know says Zee-bra. That lion has a solid beauty plan!

One thing I learned on safari, we call these animals “Zee-bras” and most everyone else it seemed called them “Zeb-ras.” I find it funny that those that say Zee-bra usually say Ken (like the guy's name) ya. Those that say Zeb (rhymes with web) ra usually say Keen-ya. When I'm with others who say Zebra or Kenya a different way from me, I get nervous about saying it the way I'm used to. But then it seems weird and not genuine for me to pronounce it differently.


Admirable Crimson Breasted Shrike, showing off that crimson breast.


Your weeks leading up to the safari must have been worrisome with newly developed hip pain. I hope it did not interfere with your safari enjoyment.


'Then his wife spoke up, “Every time we visit a different lodge though, we end up feeling like we are wasting our money so now we always come back to the Bush House.”' I was going to ask why you chose Bush House. This might sum it up. That waterhole would be a big plus for the place.


Way to go on finding a baobab. Those blossoms are exquisite.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Here are a couple of short videos by DH. Both of them were shot at the Bush House waterhole and the theme for both is "Scratching on the old tree trunk."


First up are the warthogs.



The second is an elephant. If you have the sound turned on, you can hear him scratching.



Edited by Terry
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The elephant video is great! (The first video is the rhino video you posted earlier - no warthogs :) )

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@@Terry really enjoying this report - love the photos, especially the ones of the eles from the hide, and the videos - the baby ele one and these last two. @@TonyQ I do see warthogs in the first one.


I know what you and @@Atravelynn mean about the pronunciation of zee-bra - being from California that is how I say it but when I've been in Africa a few days around others who say zeh-brah, I tend to start saying it that way too! And Lynn I hadn't thought about that before but you are right about those who say Zeh-bra saying Keen-ya while I say Ken-ya like the men's name also. Interesting.

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