On my last trips to Africa (Kenya), we did not see the African Wild Dog … we saw them a few days ago Madikwe (South Africa) and it was a great sighting! The pack has an alpha male and an alpha female, and they hunt in packs of 6-20 or more dogs. They hunt small or medium sized wildebeest, warthogs, gazelle, etc and they form a “V”, surround their prey and take him down, then use their strong teeth to pull clamp onto the flesh and just start eating until they are done (you can find all the gore with a YouTube). They are the most successful hunters in Africa, as 80% of their hunts end in a kill (as opposed to lions success rate of only 20%). They are the 2nd-most endangered carnivore in the world, mostly due to habitat loss and disease (rabies, etc.).
Madikwe has just over a dozen wild dogs in a single pack, and we were lucky to spot them late on the 3rd day. We didn’t see them hunting but we watched them sleeping, then playing. Everyone loves pictures of cute baby elephants and lions, but these African Wild Dogs are truly an impressive sight!
Lions sleep most of the day, and they do their hunting at night. When they wake up and are ready to hunt, they usually roar.
“Lions use different calls when communicating with each other … The most famous of these calls is the roar. It is one of the loudest calls in the animal kingdom and can be heard from up to 8km away. The male’s roar is deeper and louder than the female’s. Lions roar to tell other lions where they are, to show how big they are and to warn lions from other prides to keep away from their home territory. They do this mostly just before sunrise and sunset when they are most active.” http://lionalert.org/page/how_do_lions_communicate
6:30pm finds us watching five lions sleep. A group of two males and one female are together. They do the usual sleep-wake-sleep-wake-etc. Eventually they started roaring. A spectacular sight to witness.
20 hours in airplanes brings us almost to our destination … Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, on the Botswana border. My traveling companions this trip are Dawn, my sister Beth, my cousin Gayle and another friend, Edee. Yep … 4 girls and (lucky) me! Morning, we climb into a rental car and I try and stay on the left side of the road and we make it from Johannesburg in just under 5 hours. Our home for the next 6 nights is Nkurru Lodge. Enough about the logistics, let’s get to why we are here …. WILD ANIMALS !!
After a nice cold beer and a yummy lunch, the five of us head out with our guide Grant, not knowing what to expect. I’m not sure how future entries of this blog will go, but I thought I would just start out with bringing you along on our first game drive …
We first come across a family of lions, and the 4 cubs begin nursing on the mom. Lots of growling … so interesting. Then they all fall asleep like lions usually do. We run across the male lions in the pride, also sleeping. They wake up (having a bad hair day) and get chased away by a bull elephant in musk. Then a family of elephants walk by within 2 feet of our vehicle. Back to the lodge for a great meal with wine, and we were treated to two white rhino and one black rhino drinking water just outside our lodge.
This is just a portion of what we saw in the 3 hours we were out on the first day … needless to say, Madikwe did not disappoint. This was just an appetizer, the best is yet to come.
Here are pictures and video … I left the audio in place so you can hear the growling of the lion and the commentary from our vehicle. How the cats can stand to lie so near elephant dung, I’ll never understand. 🙂