April brought with it the quarter-year holiday season. Children were on school holidays over Easter and plenty of public holidays and long weekends made for the perfect opportunity to take some time out on safari; plus, the subtle changes in season mean we have passed the boiling point of the summer months and are transitioning into Autumn. Late rains at the end of March transformed the bush into a green paradise so we've enjoyed a longer green season than usual with the environment only really blossoming a little later than usual. It's been a characteristically busy month at Tshukudu as we have welcomed holiday goers making the most of those short weeks and long weekends! We hope you enjoy this summary of our April highlights, which include competition entries, lucky leopard sightings, cheetah antics, motorcycle gangs, and shutterbugs.
We are so pleased to have entered the Lilizela Tourism Awards this year among only 6 others in the category of Wildlife Encounters! Our friends and past guests will know the special relationship we have with some of the animals on our reserve, with a handful of them being rescued as orphans and subsequently hand-reared by members of the Sussens family who have spent their lives living closely with wildlife. What makes our wildlife encounter experiences stand out from the rest is the fact that the animals that have been reared by human hand (the three cheetahs, a caracal, and an elephant) is that they have been successfully reintroduced to the wild and live and roam freely on the Tshukudu reserve alongside the Big 5 and plenty of species that have been raised naturally in the wild. We are very lucky and grateful to have been able to find this balance with our animals, and our guests can now benefit from the extraordinary experiences we offer. Walking safaris and game drives involve the classic 'wild' experience with untamed animals, but we can also add to this experience with the special presence of cheetahs Floppy, Hunter, and Ntombi who love to get some physical attention like a scratch behind the ears!
If you think we should win the Lilzela Award in our category, please show your support by voting for us! It is a simple process that takes no time at all, and we would so appreciate you casting your vote. You have until the 18th of June to make your mark - follow the steps below to make your voice heard:
Choose your rating by selecting an option in the right hand panel and click 'Next'
Enter your name and email address (or connect with Facebook) and click 'Submit'
That's it - your vote has been counted! Thank you.
SPOTTED! LEOPARDS SEEN ON TSHUKUDU
Early in April, our guests and guides were lucky enough to spot a couple of leopards on the reserve. These slinky cats move wherever they like, as they are incredibly agile and are solitary by nature, moving around mostly under the cover of darkness. The fences surrounding our reserve border the Greater Kruger Park, so it is not uncommon to see unfamiliar faces on the reserve, such as hyena, elephant, leopard, even lion. This month, we managed to capture a quick moment with a young leopard after sundowners once it was dark. Guide, Alister, spotted the little one in the bush and watched it for about 10 minutes under the beam of a spotlight as it crept through the vegetation, and then all of a sudden its mother emerged and called her cub to her before the pair of them disappeared into the night.
The second sighting in April was of an adult male leopard and he was spotted during daylight, making for some excellent visuals. The tom was spotted through the pretty greenery of the trees, lying down in a sandy clearing, obviously quite relaxed and taking it easy. Leopards like to rest up during the heat of the day, becoming active at night when their expert night vision will serve them well in a hunt.
BMW BIKERS CRUISE THROUGH TSHUKUDU
We were the esteemed escorts of a BMW motorbike group who stopped over here at Tshukudu Game Lodge during a road trip early in April, and it was quite the performance to have two of our vehicles guide the bikers through the reserve to the lodge. We hosted the group for one night and had a fantastic time before they set off again the next day to continue on their journey to their next destination.
CHEETAHS GET THEIR CLOSE UP
We were visited by the shutterbugs recently as a group of passionate photographers visited us with their impressive gear! Lenses of every shape and size boarded the game drive vehicle, carefully in the hands of their owners who were out to capture the magic of the bush. From the spectacular image of the colourful lilac-breasted roller, to the cracks and patterns of an elephants trunk or spindly long eyelashes, the elegance of a giraffe surrounded by fluttering red-billed oxpeckers, and of course, those amber eyes of our photogenic cheetahs. There was so much to show our creative guests and it was an amazing experience to watch them take to the ground, lying flat on their bellies to get that perfect low-angle shot. A basking crocodile also featured on the day and once again, our eager photogs flattened themselves on the ground to met the croc at eye level through their lenses.
APRIL'S WILDLIFE HIGHLIGHTS
The month has flown by in a whirlwind of wildlife sightings, which we share regularly through our Instagram and Facebook pages. We've mentioned the special leopard luck we had this month, but there are more than a few things left to mention about our time spent on safari! The male cheetahs, which are always seen together grooming, hunting, feasting, napping, or just admiring their surroundings, were seen this month feasting on separate kills, which is a little unusual. Cheetah brothers have a coalition dynamic and work together to land their kills, while females are solitary, so we were surprised to catch Floppy and Hunter busily tucking into an animal each! Funnily enough, Floppy decided things just weren't right and he gave up on his kill and joined his brother on his. The images below show each cat on his own kill, and the video shows them both feasting away on one. Unbreakable brotherly bond!
We also enjoyed a very special sighting of a mother rhino and her young calf, as well as a couple of great and mighty elephants, a crocodile with a full toothy display in place, a lion with an equally toothy display, a dung beetle in action with its ball, a baboon spider, and an entertaining sighting of a rhino in the middle of a buffalo herd. This modern-day unicorn was entirely comfortable in his surroundings, and chewed on his mouthful of grass extraordinarily loudly, giving us something to giggle about on the game viewer. Watch the video below and see if you can spot the odd one out (you'll hear him, that's for sure)!
CATCH US AT INDABA!
It's that time of year again, and Vicky and Christine Sussens are packing their bags and putting on their game faces as they head down to Durban for the tourism event of the year: Africa's Travel Indaba 2018. From the 8th to the 10th of May, the Durban International Convention Centre will be buzzing with conversation around South African tourism, and we will be there, represented by Vicky and Christine, answering questions and providing information about what it is that makes us what we are. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet and chat to our colleagues in tourism and to network within our industry as the Indaba showcases the widest variety of Southern Africa's best tourism products and attracts international buyers and media from across the world. If you're in Durban, pop in and see us - we hope to see you there!
Find us at stand ICCC19, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre (Durban ICC), Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC), KwaZulu-Natal.