October has been full of ups and downs. It was with a heavy heart that we delivered the news of Elphas Monareng's passing on the 2nd of this month, and we continue to send our deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time. We have written something about Elphas below to describe the role he played in our lives here at Tshukudu.
Last week we rushed to the rescue of our dominant male lion who was caught in a fight on the other side of our fence in the Greater Kruger. Thanks to Provet Veterinary Services for their expert work as usual. You can read more on this incident in the newsletter below.
During the month we were very pleased to receive the safe delivery of new animals on Tshukudu. And another highlight has been the arrival of our newly canopied game viewers, which will offer even more comfort to our guests during their summer safaris.
Read on for our October thoughts and reports...
A Final Farewell to Elphas Monareng
On Tuesday, 2 October, our hearts were heavy as we received the news that Elphas Monareng had passed away at Tintswalo Hospital at the age of 54. His wife and four children have lost a husband and father, and we have lost a valued member of staff we have had the privilege of knowing since 2015.
Elphas was initially employed by Lolly and Ala Sussens and started working for Tshukudu Game Lodge on 28 April 2005 in the maintenance department. With the passing of Ala and Lolly in 2010 and 2012 respectively, Elphas loyally stayed with Tshukudu through the numerous changes that took place until February 2016 when Tshukudu Game Lodge eventually became Tshukudu Safaris Pty Ltd. Elphas was a valued member of our staff and fulfilled a huge role in the day to day operations of the Lodge. He was trained in both First Aid and Fire Fighting and also served on the Health and Safety Committee of Tshukudu. Although Elphas never received any formal FGASA training, he was an excellent tracker and was always willing to assist our Field Guides whenever he was needed. Elphas became ill in early 2018 and passed away while in Tintswalo Hospital in Acornhoek earlier this month. His pleasant personality and bright smile will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege to work alongside him. Our sincere condolences continue to go out to his family during this difficult time.
Wildebeest and Zebra Released on Tshukudu
During October, we received some new residents on Tshukudu Game Reserve: a herd of 23 blue wildebeest and a group of 6 Burchell's zebra. This operation went off without a hitch and we are very pleased that all animals were transported and off-loaded on the reserve healthy and unharmed. There is an incredible amount of skill, effort, and co-ordination that goes into animals translocations, so a flawless procedure is always considered a great success. Once the truck was correctly positioned in an open area and the animals were ready to be released, we started rolling to capture the moment they stepped foot on new soil. Take a look at the video below showing the moments of release, and a photo of our guests enjoying sundowners with the new residents.
Farewell to Mike, our male lion
We had to call in the professionals at Provet Veterinary Services a week ago when a brutal battle left our dominant male lion (often called Mike) worse for wear. Mike chased his sons out of his territory, which is typical treatment for young males still in their maternal prides, and managed to break through the fence and into the Greater Kruger Balule Nature Reserve. Once on the other side, Mike came across three territorial males from Kruger, and a fight broke out causing serious injury to our male. He survived, but was in poor condition, so when Chris Sussens found him by tracking his GPS collar, he called Dr Peter Rogers who arrived with his team to sedate the lion, transport him back to Tshukudu, and treat his wounds.
In a sad turn of events a few days later on Tuesday 30 October, Mike passed away. He was 18 years old, which is much older than most lions live in the wild, and the injuries he sustained in the fight proved too much to overcome. We did as much as we could to treat him and save his life, and we remained optimistic during his slow recovery, but Dr Rogers had said that he only stood a 30% chance of survival due to the severity of his wounds. It took a great amount of co-ordination between multiple parties to recover Mike and treat his injuries. Despite our greatest efforts and highest hopes, this old lion could not pull through. His life was good and long and we know he has an incredible number of admirers out there who got to hear him roar! We will certainly miss him.
In other news, we have managed to recover the rest of the pride from the Greater Kruger and returned them to Tshukudu. Thank you to every team and individual who worked with us to make this happen, and thank you to our guests for their support and understanding during this unexpected event.
Sibling rivalry reared its head early in October while our guests were on a morning bush walk with guide, Juluka. This incident between our two male cheetahs and their sister was not serious and all the cheetahs are fine, but we know it's not easy to see beloved Ntombi getting a hiding from her brothers! Juluka was conducting a bush walk and found all three cheetahs within close proximity of one another, which is unusual as they generally stay apart. Males and females do not live together naturally and males tend to stick together and are known to court females quite aggressively when they come into contact. Our cheetahs will not mate and they are of course related, but it is only natural for the males to pick on a female in this way. Listen to the amazing sounds they make, during their brief altercation. We could not have expected to see this on our morning walk, but there goes nature being unpredictable again! It would not have been safe for anyone to intervene and the scuffle was over quickly. Quite an amazing sighting for our guests Karel and Lizelle Bezuidenhout, who shared the footage with us.
Happy Birthday from Roots of Rhythm
A birthday to remember for our young guest who got a special celebration during an evening in the boma with Roots of Rhythm! These talented performers from Nyani Cultural Village in Mpumualanga occasionally come out to Tshukudu to give our guests some energising fireside entertainment, Africa style. These traditional dancers are fantastic and put on an excellent show, inviting guests to join them if they would like to learn a move or two and take part in the performance. This birthday boy got some one-on-one lessons and showed off his new moves before he was serenaded by the whole dance crew!
New Safari Vehicles
With summer well on the way now, we couldn't be more pleased to offer our guests added protection from the sun while out on game drive. All five of our game viewers are now equipped with canopies, which will offer some extra shade during the hot afternoons. As the season changes, the sun rises earlier and come December, it will already be cooking by 08h00. In the afternoons, the sun sets later so we have more time later in the day to explore the bush, but all the more reason to enjoy the shade provided by our new canopies.
Panorama Route Day Trip
Tshukudu is situated ideally just outside the popular safari town of Hoedspruit, on the border of the Greater Kruger Park, and within short driving distance of some of Mpumalanga's most scenic natural areas, including the Panorama Route, Blyde River Canyon, and Kruger National Park. As a result, we're perfectly located to offer our guests even more than the classic safari experience they receive at Tshukudu, and can arrange for trips to see some of the spectacular views, waterfalls, canyons, and other wildlife areas. This month, a group of guests booked a day trip to the Panorama Route, and they had perfect weather which made the views from the iconic Drakensberg Mountains even more breath-taking.
Lost and Found: Apple iPad
Lastly, we would like to metion here that we are looking to return a missing Apple iPad to its owner. An iPad was found in the safe of room 14 at Tshukudu Game Lodge a few months ago, and our attempts to find its owner have not yet been successful. We have directly contacted all guests who stayed in room 14 at that time and we have made an announcement on our Facebook page, but as we are yet to find out whose it is. If you or someone you know left their Apple iPad in the bedroom safe, please do let us know so we can return it. Proof of ownership will be required! We hope to return this item to the person who lost it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any information.