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Magical Madikwe and Friends


lmSA84

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Marks

The Madikwe gods delivered indeed...what a great find!

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Magical Madikwe and Friends   It’s maybe worth me starting with a little bit of my background, as it sets some context for our trip.   I was fortunate enough to be born in South Africa, living mos

As I mentioned above, our trip to Pilansberg was about both wildlife and relaxing so we actually only made one afternoon excursion into the park. The afternoon we chose was on Jan 2nd and by 3pm it lo

Afternoon drive   That afternoon we would head out at about 15.00, in the blistering 42c heat!   We headed into the South West of the park towards the Tau Dam and unsurprisingly, given the heat, t

elefromoz

@@lmSA84, 57 degrees is ridiculous, I come from a hot place but cannot begin to imagine what that feels like. Those waterholes would be sheer bliss for the users. You have some lovely waterhole photos. Too many unique sightings, but for me, the Rhino in the mud and the Leopard, carefree and sound asleep on the ground are pretty special. Oh and the storm story, how bizarre.

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lmSA84

@@Tom Kellie - thank you for your kind words - they are always appreciated. I was pretty surprised that they had resident Klipspringer as well. Apparently the two just turned up one day and never left. Motswiri has a pack of spotted hyena very close to the camp so maybe they're seeking shelter.

 

I should mention that they also have a resident bushbuck. All be it that bushbuck are common throughout most of SA, they are rarely seen in Madikwe - so for the most part Motswiri is the only likely place to see them.

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lmSA84

@@Marks - thanks - I hope you get a chance to visit Madikwe. I think it's an excellent option, especially if the Wild Dog pack continues to recover.

 

@@elefromoz - thanks - I think Madikwe is excellent in all conditions but I think the weather made our trip a little bit out of the ordinary. That said I never want to experience that heat again. Even though it was a dry heat you could literally feel yourself shrivelling up like a raisin everytime you left the safety of the aircon.

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Atravelynn

You made a wise move in changing your safari plans. And it all worked out so well. I am focusing on your Madikwe section for personal interests. Great elephant action, I can almost feel the mud splatting on me. The genet is my fav. You did a great job in the dark of photographing it. It's good there is a paradise for rhino.

 

"Our hope was to try find anyone of Brown Hyena, African Wild Cat, Aardwolf or Aardvark - a reasonable list I know!!"

This has got my full attention.

 

That was some kind of weather. Scary and destructive. Had to be upsetting for guests and staff alike.

 

Correction--my new favorite is that BROWN HYENA. I actually think the setting is perfect as it often is nocturnal and your coloring accentuates its brown-ness. All your night shots are really good-lions, hyena, etc. Do you use an external flash?

 

Did you learn anything else about the population of brown hyena at Madikwe from either the staff or the Madikwe gods?

 

Thanks for this informative report.

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lmSA84

Extra bits

 

I called this report "Madikwe and friends" because whilst the focus was always going to be Madikwe, I wanted to share a few other sightings from our trip around SA.

 

I've already shared the highlights from Pilanesberg but they're a few other gems from our trip, starting with the Cape...

 

Cape Town

 

Any trip to the Cape isn't complete without a stop in the winelands...

 

gallery_47987_1480_139391.jpg

 

...which are fantastic for wine tasting and birdwatching....which I always recommend combining

 

Cape Sugarbird

 

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After Stellenbosch our next stop was Cape Point

 

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Cape Point is always good for walking, fynbos, Baboons...

 

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...seabirds,...

 

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,...seals and...

 

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...and a variety of antelope

 

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This a wild male Bontebok, which we saw very close to the park exit along the border fence

 

gallery_47987_1480_115662.jpg

 

I noticed in another thread that some safari talkers were commenting that they hadn't often seen Bontebok posted before, so I thought that I would both share this and compare against it's close relative / fellow sub speciies - the Blesbok - for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with these antelope.

 

The Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygarus) was actually at one point almost exterminated by over hunting across it's limited natural distribution which is confined to the coastal plain of South Africa's Western Province. The species is now considered of limited concern in part because it is good farming animal and as such is often found on game farms in South Africa's Western Cape and Free State.

 

It's fellow sub species is the Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi)

 

gallery_47987_1480_125578.jpg

 

The above are farmed animals - picture taken in Mooi River, Kwa-Zulu Natal. The Blesbok was similarly overhunted but it never quite reached the dire straits of the Bontebok in part owing to its much wider natural distribution which is across South Africa's highveld and parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

 

Similarly to the Bontebok the Blesbok is now a common farming animal and as such the population is very healthy.

 

The two can be quite difficult to tell apart but the main two ways to distinguish them are 1. Colour - the Blesbok is lighter and typically does not have dark purple covering a significant portion of its flanks and 2. the white blaze on the face of the Blesbok is not continuous - it's separated by a small brown patch.

 

If you look at the below photo of the Bontebok you can see the dark colouration and that the white blaze is continuous

 

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In the below photo of the Blesbok you can see that the colouration is typically lighter and that the white blazes on their faces are not continuous

 

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Cape Point wasn't just good to us because of the Bontebok...it also delivered a new lifer for me - Grey Rhebok!

 

Male

 

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Accompanying herd of females

 

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The Grey Rhebok similar to the Bontebok and Blesbok is endemic to South Africa.

 

gallery_47987_1480_212002.jpg

 

gallery_47987_1480_171126.jpg

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lmSA84

@@Atravelynn - thanks for following along and I'm glad you have enjoyed it.

 

We got lucky with the night photography, because with the exception of the Caracal most were very close i.e. within 6-10m. Most are taken with only the assistance of the spotlight and a few with help of the built-in flash - no external flash.

 

None of the wildlife that we encountered seemed very bothered by our presence whether it be at night or day. The only ones that ever seemed to move away from us were the Steenbok, Grey Duiker, Kori Bustard and the spotted hyena with the impala kill. It maybe because all the vehicles are allowed off road that they are used to the close proximity with humans.

 

For me the brown hyena is a real highlight of Madikwe particularly if you consider that is one of the few parks where the distribution of the brown and spotted overlap - with meaningful chances of seeing both.

 

Zebe and I didn't discuss the state of the population but we did discuss the frequency of sightings. Zebe felt that he would see them roughly 1 out of every 4-6 drives and this tallied quite well with our experiences. We saw the one after 6 drives - all be it at a kill - and another one was sighted by another car from Motswiri in the early morning of day 4.

 

One other point worth noting though is that Zebe said they were typically very skittish - this was the experience of the car which saw the hyena in the morning and for us when we saw one during our late night stakeout.

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Marks

@@Marks - thanks - I hope you get a chance to visit Madikwe. I think it's an excellent option, especially if the Wild Dog pack continues to recover.

 

Will definitely keep this mind - just gotta try to find somewhere to monitor the dog info.

 

Lovely pics from the Cape!

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Peter Connan

@@lmSA84, good post regarding the bles and bontebok.

 

Unfortunately, the facial markings are not always correct. I have certainly seen Blesbok with continuous blazes.

 

Apparently the safest indicator is that the Bontebok has white socks. This is very well indicated in your photos above.

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michael-ibk

Very cool Brown Hyena sighting. You really had a lot of specials showing up, great! Love the Bee-Eater in the bar and he resident Klippspringers. Also enjoyed the CT pics a lot, fantastic you found Rhebok there - also high on my list!

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FlyTraveler

What a fantastic trip @ImSA84! Great Brown hyena sighting and photos. Thanks for posting the Bontebok photo, I didn't even know that these species exist. I saw Blesbok for a first time last year at Entabeni Private Reserve and a few days later was surprised to see a few just next to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. Thanks for posting this excellent TR!

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Atravelynn

@@Atravelynn - thanks for following along and I'm glad you have enjoyed it.

 

We got lucky with the night photography, because with the exception of the Caracal most were very close i.e. within 6-10m. Most are taken with only the assistance of the spotlight and a few with help of the built-in flash - no external flash. It worked well then. Even without a clear photo, a caracal sighting is a highlight.

For me the brown hyena is a real highlight of Madikwe And it should be! particularly if you consider that is one of the few parks where the distribution of the brown and spotted overlap - with meaningful chances of seeing both.

 

Zebe and I didn't discuss the state of the population but we did discuss the frequency of sightings. Zebe felt that he would see them roughly 1 out of every 4-6 drives and this tallied quite well with our experiences. We saw the one after 6 drives - all be it at a kill - and another one was sighted by another car from Motswiri in the early morning of day 4. So 3 nts Madikwe would be about as few as you'd want to book if you were hopeful for brown hyena.

 

One other point worth noting though is that Zebe said they were typically very skittish - this was the experience of the car which saw the hyena in the morning and for us when we saw one during our late night stakeout. Yes, that's what I thought. Thanks!

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