Tau Game Lodge Blog

Tau Game Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve

Fresh footprints in Madikwe- By Steph Hornsey

Fresh footprints in Madikwe – Steph Hornsey


                                                                 

Being a new Ranger at Tau Game Lodge has been an extraordinary and challenging experience, which has built a sense of accomplishment within myself, and given me a new confidence in my abilities. My short time at Tau has only proven to me that I can achieve greatness. First days are always a bit nerve racking, but when you are being taught and driven to achieve things you never thought were possible I think it awakens your mind and soul.

I’ve been guiding here for over a month and so I have left my first footprints behind in untamed Madikwe as a Tau Ranger!

                                                              

As most would know, Madikwe covers a vast space of land and we have approximately 1000 kilometers of road we can explore, therefore learning roads is a must!

As most will know being a ranger is a rewarding yet challenging job as we are focused on giving our guests the best experience. My first day driving a vehicle full to the brim with eager guests waiting to be blown away by the variety of animals we have situated in our reserve made me fill up with excitement and nerves – “ so many roads to choose from, so many things to see, the question is. . . what first”. As I have learnt from the other rangers it is important to have an idea of which direction you’ll be going to, but as we all know this place is untamed and anything can pop up at any time.

     

My head ranger Mike Rae and fellow colleague Stuart Buy joined me one afternoon so that they could teach me roads and we could do some wildlife and bird photography. We relocated a small pride of lions earlier in the drive and spent most of our time snapping away to see who could get the best shot. Daylight was running out so we decided to leave the lions to carry on working on the roads and our bird photography. It was quiet a successful birding afternoon so we decided to head back to camp as it was almost dark. We were coming down Adelaide and noticed a massive flock of Helmeted Guinea fowl. We carried on driving cause we were determined to get back to camp as the temperatures were dropping at a fast pace. Out of nowhere the Guinea fowl burst into the air like a firework and we noticed this red blur jumping almost 3 meters into the air. We all sat there not realizing that we had just witnessed a Caracal trying to take down one of the Guinea fowls. After the shell shock wore off we realized that all our cameras were still on our laps and not one photograph had been taken.  We all had a good chuckle and hurried to the camp to spread the news of our sighting.


                                          

I have obviously experienced many amazing sighting whilst being here at Tau and if I had to type it all out I think e would be sitting here for a while. But now my first cycle has come to an end, and my last drive this morning was a absolute treat. We were lucky enough to see a leopard in a tree and sat with him for a little while until he disappeared into the long grass, just after we noticed a male lion approaching the same area, he passed our vehicle and started contact calling which sent shivers down our spines. Such an amazing way to end off a cycle I would say.

So then Dear Reader, visit us here at Tau Game Lodge so you too can leave your footprints here in Untamed Madikwe.

There's dust in the air- April 2017 By- Mike Rae

There's dust in the air...


April brings about a certain dryness that starts to linger like a bad taste in your mouth as the nights get longer and colder. This last wet season brought about double our annual average rainfall and nature’s response to this has been an epic transformation, almost performance like, as if Mother Nature herself is showing us what she is capable of. Intense light shows of colour as the sun pours its rays onto the dramatic and ancient landscape we call home.

This six week work cycle has been an incredible time for me at Tau as some may know, Dylan Smith and Murray Hay have moved on to their next adventures at other lodges. I’m slowly but surely learning my new role as Head Ranger. Our team has been very supportive and positive about the change; I value every minute working with this powerful, productive team. We are all very excited to have welcomed Stephanie and Kyle to our Rangers team; they have both had a chaotic start but have handled the deep end like absolute champions. Their knowledge and personalities have been a refreshing addition to our Tau team.

This autumn period in Madikwe has been incredibly thrilling! One night, on my way home from drive with a lovely American group I was fortunate enough to come across our two young resident lionesses hunting a herd of zebra. I first noticed very nervous zebra trotting across the road maybe 200 yards from my vehicle, I swung the spot light right, in the direction they were running from, and picked up two sets of eyes moving low through the grass, I then knew something was about to go down.

 The two lionesses moved straight towards us as the zebra had run around the other side of the vehicle, basically using the vehicle as cover. At this point I stopped the cruiser and the older lioness bolted across the road behind the vehicle chasing a mare and foal. The mare turned and led the foal back across the road in front of us. The larger lioness caught and sunk her claws into the foal and took it down. At this point I was right behind the lioness and put my light on the action once the chase was over. It all happened very quickly, the lioness was on the zebra foal for no more than 3-5 seconds. Out of no-where the mare burst into the ring of light attacking the lioness and saving her foal, the lioness in this insane moment then gripped onto the large mare. The lioness immediately began to bite at her snout and throat looking for a good grip to suffocate it, while the Matsumi female did what she could to tire out the strong mare. It was a painstaking 30 minutes struggle for survival between predator and prey. The older lioness has two cubs and is also supporting her younger sister the Matsumi female. The Matsumi was one of the cubs I was lucky enough to find, I wrote about her in the August 2015 blog. Great to see young lionesses that have captured my passionate attention for the last 3 years finally pulling down big game and raising cubs of their own.

Ernie also witnessed an amazing kill this month. Another of our resident lionesses, the much older and larger Bolokega female, managed to take down a very large kudu bull on her own. Ernie also picked up on the nervous behavior of the prey species first, took his time in the area and his patience paid off. Unfortunately I was not on drive that morning but according to Ernie’s guests it was an astounding hunt to witness as it is very rare for a single lioness to take down an animal of that size.

      

There is so much to take in when on safari, it is often hard to realize how much you miss around every corner. Apart from the lion kills a few of our guides, myself included, also saw cheetah chases and kills, Kyle was on the scene to witness the successful hunt by our Pinda Cheetah coalition, well done Kyle!!

To every one reading this, stop wasting time, action is happening out here this very second, hurry to book your stay with us at Tau and let our guides blow you away!

Aug\Sept Blog

Green winter

After Madikwe was drenched in floods earlier this year it almost feels like I’ve been guiding in a different place. This winter has been lush and pleasant in the bush, the animals have received enough green feed through the winter and are all still looking energetic with their shining coats. Nature’s true unpredictability has really been obvious here over the last two years, from paradise green to a sea of dust, raging veld fires to dam bursting floods. I feel extremely fortunate to witness and experience such interesting weather changes in the Marico area. Along with our green winter came so many unbelievable sightings that left us craving and at times pulsing with adrenaline.

I had a spectacular sighting of our Cheetah coalition in mid- August that left my guests in awe. I had positioned my vehicle near to a large dead tree and to my surprise each cheetah male took their turn to mark and climb onto the tree trunk about a meter away from my door. Having these Majestic spotted cats both pose above eye level for me and my guests is probably going to be one of my most memorable cheetah sightings ever. Claus Rettig and his family were on my vehicle at the time and managed to get amazing footage, well done Claus and thanks again! Winter in Madikwe can be very productive game viewing wise. We had several good leopard sightings which are rather an uncommon event as well as many caracal, serval, brown hyena, wildcat and rather amazing wild dog sightings.

With the great diversity of predators in this splendid corner of the North West, you are bound to be blown away by endless excitement. Hope to see you soon for more adventure.

……………Ranger Mike Rae……………………….

A Leopard in August

August produced many spectacular Leopard sightings despite the thick green cover. One of the many sightings we had was of a beautiful leopardess in the Southern section of the park. The elusive cat was lying in a large African Wattle Tree surrounded by the trees bloom of small flowers, next to her in the top of the canopy hung a half eaten impala . I was lucky enough to share this amazing experience with the Gilbert family from Canada. Although Leopards are normally very elusive and nervous in nature, this particular female was undisturbed by our presence giving us the rare opportunity for close up photography on this beautiful specimen. It adds a certain flare to a sighting when you are surrounded by rolling dolomite hills and green Marula tress.

 Madikwe has a vast range of fauna and flora giving guests the opportunity to gaze upon a convergence of wildlife rarely seen elsewhere. Come to Tau and experience it for yourself …..

…………….  Ranger Derek McBride …………..

 


An owl among the spots

After an already amazing morning we were called into a serval sighting, the serval was a very relaxed female. The ranger that found the animal mentioned that it was carrying a meal in its jaws. After a while in the sighting we discover that it was a Grass Owl, it is rare enough to see a serval let alone with a rare owl as its meal. This amazing sighting was a first for most of the rangers that managed to see it. As it was carrying its meal along it finally found a comfortable spot and started to devour its meal, as it was plucking the feathers it stopped and looked at the vehicle and then started grooming itself.

A fantastic drive was had by all that morning, it just shows us that are here in the bush how privileged we are to work in such beautiful wilderness areas. We would love you to join us at Tau Game Lodge to share the amazing sights that make up Madikwe.

………….. Ranger Marc Grové……………