We all know by now that the month of January is known to last for what feels like an entire year! The first month of the new year has been partly wrapping up the past, partly new beginnings, and plenty of festivities among the late holiday makers. We've had a hot and happy month at Tshukudu, but we've started the year off with the sobering event of de-horning our rhino. If you read our recent post or followed along on social media, you'll be aware that we made the decision to de-horn our rhino to protect them from potential poachers. It's nothing less than devastating that this is the reality for the rhinos on Earth, but if this is what it takes to keep them safe, that's what we'll do. Read the whole story and see some of the photos from this event in our blog post here.
And then it was on to the aspects of abundance of the new year at Tshukudu. Plenty of baby animals around, which in turn means plenty of food for the cheetahs, and especially Ntombi who hunts on her own, unlike the brothers who are capable of taking down larger prey as a team. On the topic of baby animals, we made the heart-warming discovery of a newborn lion on the reserve, hiding out in the thicket with its mother. Find out more about this and other newsworthy information below in this month's newsletter.
Tshukudu's newest addition!
Earlier this month, we were thrilled to see that a lioness who had been hiding out on her own for a couple of weeks had given birth to a little cub. This surprise sighting revealed that there was indeed one bundle of fur that we could see, but there was a chance that there could have been more out of sight. Since this precious photo of one cub and its mother was taken by one of our guests, Chris has seen a second cub. However, the babies are still too young to be introduced to the pride and the lioness is keeping them safe for the time being. If all goes well and the youngsters survive the first few weeks of life, she will bring them to meet the pride and we will begin to see more of her and her cubs on game drive as she becomes more relaxed in our presence. Watch this space - we hope to get many more sightings of these cubs, but as we know, lion cubs face many threats and there is no guarantee that they will survive at this crucial stage.
As an added element of excitement, we suspect that these cubs were sired by Mike, but we can't be sure becuase it could also easily have happened when the pride escaped through the fence to the neighbouring Balule Nature Reserve. Both instances could be true considering a lion's gestation period. So, we'll never know, but we certainly have supporters in Mike's corner!
Vultures scuffle over a carcass
From lion cubs to creatures somewhat less endearing, but interesting and awesome all the same: the scavengers of the skies. Vultures might not be beautiful or adorable, but the role they play in the natural ecosystem is critically important to the health of the environment as a whole. Chavonne and Alister spent some time out observing the bush recently and were in the right place at the right time to see the arrival of plenty of white-backed vultures, Cape vultures, and a lappet-faced vulture as they descended on the earth to tuck into the remains of an impala carcass left behind by the cheetahs.
Watch the videos below - the first one being the initial arrival of the white-backed vultures, which are the most abundant greyish-brown ones, and a few Cape vultures, which are the larger, paler birds among the masses. The second video shows the arrival of the largest vulture of all: the lappet-faced vulture. When this big, dark bird comes swooping in and landing with its powerful talons outstretched and its pink, bald head and heavy beak extended, the smaller vultures give it some room. The lappet-faced vulture clearly dominates the carcass as it pushes every other bird out the way, not taking lightly to the smaller scavengers trying to share in the feast. Then we see a bold, Cape vulture interfering and getting into a scuffle with the village bully before managing to chase the lappet-faced vulture off the carcass entirely.
Later on in the clip we see the vultures begin to flee, some running away from their meal and others taking off completely. They might have sensed a threat which made them retreat - perhaps the predators were still nearby and wanted to claim their kill back. In the end, it looked like the perfect opportunity for the lappet-faced vulture to move back in and eat some more!
Community support - Pack for a Purpose
In a bid help support the rural communities that surround our wonderful wildlife areas, Tshukudu has partnered up with Pack for a Purpose, which is an organisation that helps develop education, healthcare, socio-economic development, and child and animal welfare in 60 developing countries around the world. We are honoured to be affiliated with Pack for a Purpose and to play our part in aiding communities in need through our role in tourism. As our guests, you will have the opportunity to "pack for a purpose" by saving a small space in your suitcase to bring something as a donation to one of the two charities Tshukudu Game Lodge supports. We will have more information on this on our website soon, so look out on our social media channels for the launch and learn about how you can play a role in making the lives of underprivileged communities a little more comfortable.
Booking.com Guest Review Awards
Tshukudu Game Lodge is the proud recipient of the Booking.com Guest Review Awards 2018! Thank you to our guests who take the time to review their stay with us and give us the opportunity to shine online! We look forward to 2019 being another year of excellent guest experiences with us. What's made our heart's sing even more is hearing the feedback from many guests who believe that Tshukudu could have received an even higher rating! We are delighted and proud to be listed in this category already, and are very grateful for the kind words and excellent reviews we receive regularly from guests who spend their holidays with us.
"You guys deserved. The days that my wife and I were at Tshukudu were some of the best moments in our lives"
"Absolutely well deserved, well done. Definitely be back for another visit."
"Well done! You deserve more!"
"I just spent 6 days at this fantastic place. Our guide, Alister, is the best. He managed to juggle between wishes of seeing the big five and all the small things such as termites and dwarf mongoose. He has so much knowledge and is very funny. The staff in general has a very friendly and accommodating attitude. They make you feel so much at home. The food is top notch. From luscious breakfast to delicious dinner. Hope for their bobotie. The animals are beautiful. Look forward to seeing Ntombi, Floppy and Hunter."
Sunsets and sundowners
At the end of every afternoon game drive, as is tradition on safari, our guides pull up at a scenic spot on the reserve and unpack the snacks and drinks that have been prepared beforehand for this very moment. It's time to disembark the vehicle and stretch those legs while sipping on a chilled and tangy gin & tonic, or a beverage of your choice. The sunset is one of those things that makes you stop what you're doing and watch in awe-struck silence as it metamorphasises into differnt bursts of colour and cloud. This African sky is unforgettable, and January has given us our fair share of stellar performances. See for yourself...