Madikwe also suffered hugely from a lack of rainfall throughout the year. I distinctly remember being on one game drive where, unless our game vehicle traversed the bush at 30 kph. we were engulfed by own dust cloud, most unpleasant and not good at all for either camera equipment or game viewing. I an fact, by the time late October arrived many of the camps in the reserve were having to rely on water being ferried into them via water tankers, as most of their boreholes had dried up completely.
Madikwe is very different experience in many ways, not just in sheer numbers of plains game available, but also with the accommodation we use. Mosetlha Bush Camp has been named the best Eco camp in South Africa several times and not without good reason. The accommodation is in log cabins and the food cooked is supplied via the traditional fire method, no mod cons available in this camp, but it is extremely welcoming, very well run and encourages new friendships via the sharing of all meals round one central table for all guests. There is no electricity at Mosetlha and the use of a donkey boiler for hot showers and the private long drop bathroom facilities help to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. The camp originally started as a rangers training camp when Madikwe was first introduced as a new game reserve in the early 1990’s. It has come a long way since those days, so please don’t be put off by the word “eco camp”, Mosetlha is lovely and very homely, and nestles discreetly in the middle of the Madikwe bush unprotected from any wildlife, unless they happen to be tall giraffe or large elephant when the 2 meter high electric fence acts as a good meaningful deterrent.
All of the staff go out of their way to assist making our stays true bush experiences to remember. Our sincere thanks go out to Gregg and Caroline and all of their support staff for being such fantastic hosts and going way beyond what would be expected to make our visits so enjoyable. Special mention should also be made to our dedicated ranger Jonny, he is also an experienced photographer and without his tracking and bush knowledge we would be lost, so thank you most sincerely Jonny for all your support on our trips throughout the year. Love the newly thatched cabins by the way, they all look absolutely stunning, well done Chris.
As previously touched upon, Madikwe also suffered hugely from the extreme drought conditions experienced in 2015, but somehow the wildlife in the area didn’t suffer, but thrived in such adverse conditions. Early in 2015 saw the main wild dog pack contracting rabies from somewhere, which wiped out the whole pack of 28 very quickly, a really sad loss I must say. As luck would have it, before this tragedy, a splinter group had broken away from the main pack and somehow managed to steer clear of this deadly disease. This splinter groups make up was also extremely fragile, comprising of four males and just one female, so potentially if anything happened to the female then that would be the end of the wild dog in Madikwe. I am pleased to report that the female not only survived, but along with her alpha male counterpart, produced 9 pups around May. As at the time of writing this newsletter I have been advised that all nine pups survived and are now hunting with the pack of five. So in no time at all, the new group more than doubled in size. Let us all hope their success story continues and that they multiply year on year from now on. We were extremely lucky to be one of the first at the packs den to see these 9 furry bearlike cubs, what a thrill to view them interacting with the adults and amongst themselves, very rare and very special.