It’s Monday 5th December 2011 and a rhino stand-off

This week we’ll hear from Mark from Mkulumadzi Lodge about the happenings down at Majete .

“Much is said and written of the transformation of the bush from the harsh dry to the lush green season. The metamorphosis is as dramatic at Majete as anywhere else but the effect does seem to be multiplied by the sheer number of trees that make up Majete’s woodlands.

As the vegetation thickens around Mkulumadzi all traces of the not so long ago building phase have been covered by greenery, the camp is looking very settled and has become part of the riverbank environment. The two old buffalo who seldom leave the vicinity of camp have taken to spending much of the day lolling in the Mkulumadzi River just upstream of the footbridge. They seem to be a permanent feature now and are in danger of being named!

The two veteran buffalocooling off

Black Rhino have been the focus for the past few weeks and although sightings are still sporadic this has been our best period yet for rhino viewing. Most sightings are at or near the Nsepete waterhole which is still a popular drinking point for several rhino. With the latest rains many natural pans are holding water but these quickly become mud wallows. Rhino, warthog and buffalo bulls enjoy nothing more than a roll in a mud pool during the midday heat.

The rhino in these pictures goes by, but doesn’t answer to, the name of “Lundu”. He was on his way to Nsepete when he came across our vehicle and decided to investigate. At about fifteen paces he stopped, flared his nostrils noisily and inspected us as best he could with his inadequate eyesight. When the breeze shifted, his nose told him what we were and he trotted off to wait behind a knobthorn thicket until we left.

Encounters like this one are becoming more possible as the rhinos grow accustomed to our vehicles.

Rhino!Aware of us

Coming towards us!Warthogs backing away

Tracking rhino on foot can also be productive and is a very rewarding experience, particularly if the rhino has led you on a difficult track and made one work for the privilege of viewing him/her. The best sightings are usually through eyes stinging with sweat, legs bloody from thorn scratches and a parched throat relieved by sips from a now warm water bottle!

Majete holds 12 rhino with a few more calves expected soon according to observation records on mating activity. In light of the incredible surge in rhino poaching in Africa these rhino are the parks most valuable wildlife asset and their continued protection and breeding success will be high on the priority list for the African Parks management plan.

Sniffing aroundGetting up close

StandoffRetreating

If you read my last “It’s Monday” , the two leopards that were released into Majete last month have moved away from the Shire River and are currently spending much of their time in the central and south central region respectively. The young female has found a small, thickly vegetated tributary to the Mwembedzi River and this is forming the centre of her territory. The male has wandered further afield and is currently in a wildlife rich area in the vicinity of a pumped waterhole. He has been tracked by the African Parks monitoring team and although only sighted once, his daytime lie ups have been found and are often in the shade of large boulders within a rocky outcrop.

The next introduction of two leopards should be later this month.

Some quiet days this week afforded us the opportunity to do some refresher training with the guides; Robert, Justice and Sam. There is no shortage of subject matter at this time of year with trees in flower and fruit, migratory birds present and the bush alive with insects to identify and study.

Coffee breakTrees in flower

The smaller wonders of nature are intriguing, but it was still the crashing through the undergrowth of a mother rhino and her calf, meters ahead of us on this morning’s training walk that was the highlight of today’s lessons.”

Thanks for sharing this with us Mark!

A final reminder about our guest photo competition. The last day to submit your entries is the 11th of December Please send all your photos to: photos@robinpopesafaris.net. For full competition details please click here.

Well that’s all for now! Have a great week!

Emily

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