With 15 km of Zambezi River frontage, and 16 strategically placed waterholes, despite another month with no rain, Matetsi Private Game Reserve remains a haven for wildlife in the region and is holding the populations well. Due to the huge numbers of elephant moving through, some areas of the concession look like an alien landscape, but we know once the rains come, the vegetation will spring back to life. We are all looking to the heavens, waiting, praying, for the rains (even this lioness and her cub).
There continues to be plenty of lion activity, with regular sightings of the large pride of 10, as well as the lioness with 2 young cubs. She seems to have taken residence in a northern block, and she and her cubs have often been seen drinking at December pan. The other large pride seems to have split into smaller groups for now – possibly due to the harsh conditions in the bush. There is another pride of 5 females that move along the old Katombora Road (that lies East to West, just south of the lodge), and the pair of younger adult male lions have been roaming in the South through Mabooza Vlei and into Chamabondo Vlei, on the boundary with Zambezi National Park.
Despite the lion activity, there were some nice sightings of leopard. One large male in particular, identified by his necklace like markings, who resides in the north-eastern section of the property, seems particularly relaxed.
With the intense heat, hitting over 40 degrees Celsius for days on end, it seems some wildlife are feeling particularly lazy and lethargic too, black-backed jackal usually quite active have been lazing around, and wild dog are enjoying bathing in the water holes.
Large herds of buffalos move through the property, almost flowing from one waterhole to another, favouring the vlei systems. The small herd of dugga-boy buffalos don’t stray too far from camp, and the larger group of males continue to be sighted in the North East – in a similar territory to that large male leopard.
Breeding herds of elephants, as well as large bull elephants with their askari, are moving throughout the property, continuously feeding on the dry vegetation, and frequently seen enjoying a drink at the waterholes and on the banks of the Zambezi River. Many guests have said they have never seen so many elephant (or buffalo) as they have within Matetsi Private Game Reserve, as October proves itself as an excellent time of the year for game viewing.
The dry conditions continue to bring a whole variety of wildlife to water sources, with excellent sightings of kudu, wildebeest, sable, impala, zebra, giraffe (etc).
And along the river banks, crocodiles are often seen basking, and there is still a pod of hippos hanging out near the jetty site, as well as a pair that have adopted the area in front of the guests’ suites – and on occasion have been seen out of the water grazing during the day.
In contrast to September, when a python had been the victim, in October, our team had an excellent sighting of a well-fed African Rock Python. They arrived after the meal had been ingested and so suspect from the shape and size that the python had eaten a Sharpe’s Grysbok.
Nocturnal sightings include active and vocal hyenas, elusive African Wild Cat, elegant Serval, Civets, (huge!) Porcupine…
A caracal! Over the last few years, there have been just a handful of sightings of caracals. And with October, we can add to the count. The sightings of caracal seem to be becoming more frequent, another subtle sign that our conservation efforts are having a positive effect within the area.
Many thanks to our team and guests for the photo contributions this month. Particularly, Crawford, Simba, Brian, Sangweni, Ophious, Selwin, Jono, Josh and Tom.