Game drive sightings while at The Last Word Madikwe Bush House

It is believed that elephants are the divine guardians of waterholes. There is an African myth that speaks of a great drought when the water sources dwindled. The elephants, in a majestic procession, brought forth rain by trumpeting to the skies.




Although I did spend a LOT of time hunkered down in the photographic hide at The Last Word Madikwe Bush House, there were a couple of occasions where I forced myself to head out with field guide Jodi to see what might be found outside of the camp fence.

Giving up game drives does not come naturally to me as I have a definite fear of missing out on sightings, however, given the amount of all-day activity at the waterhole, my decision to stay in camp (and specifically in the hide) turned out to be a wise choice.




This is a Lilac Breasted Roller and it used to be the national bird of Botswana. Usually these are plentiful and are easily spotted. On this trip, this is the only one that I saw.

Did you know? The lilac-breasted roller is Kenya’s national bird because of the wide array of colours on its feather coat. In total there are 8 colours: green, white, black, yellow, turquoise, dark blue, reddish-brown, and lilac.

Interestingly enough, both females and males are equally as stunning and it is hard to tell the difference between the two.

Their fearlessness is also exhibited in one of their hunting techniques. They swoop down on their prey and, if the prey is too big to be consumed whole, they beat it with their wings until it is safe to eat.




We drove past a small herd of elephants where one of the females was enjoying a dust bath. This female reminded me of a human vaping as they too are usually engulfed in a cloud of smoke (or in this case, dust).

As an aside, I noticed when the herds came to drink at the camp waterhole, they neither got into the water nor used the surrounding area to dust-bath. They came, drank, then left.




Little did we know that our route was about to be changed by not one but three herds of elephants that had claimed the road we had chosen as THEIR highway. And seeing that these pachyderms were perambulating at their own African pace, it was quicker for us to retrace our steps and head off in a different direction.




If the elephant roadblocks were not enough, this Black backed jackal decided to get in on the act and blocked the road.

It looked so relaxed that we once again changed direction so as not to disturb it.

Jackals are also extremely intelligent animals. They know that by following predators, chances are that they will get some leftovers from kills. As a result, wherever you find predators, you will often find jackals relatively close by.




This tiny elephant looked almost forlorn, even though its mother was close by. That being said, she virtually ignored it as it wandered around virtually blending in with the mud an dust near Tlou Dam.

Did you know? Elephant calves can weigh about 114 kgs at birth and stand about 1m tall. Calves can’t see very well at first, but they recognize their mothers by touch, scent, and sound. Calves stay close to their mothers for the first couple of months.

Much like humans might suck their thumbs for security, a young elephant calf may suck its trunk to help it relax when it’s not feeding. Young elephants only start to learn how to use their trunks when they are around 8 months old.




This was ‘mom’ enjoying spa time while her youngster was left to its own devices.

Why do elephants throw mud on themselves? They utilize their trunks like a hose to spray water/mud across their body. This helps protect the skin from parasites and biting insects, and once the mud dries, elephants scratch themselves on a rock or a tree to remove parasites.




The boys are back in town.

This trio of old Buffalo males strode purposefully to the waterhole , with seemingly not a care in the world.

These cantankerous males can be extremely dangerous and will attack without being provoked.

As a group they are referred to as Dagga Boys. In South Africa, the word ‘dagga’ means mud in one of the vernacular languages.




Looking much the worse for wear…he could do with a new coat.

The older males invariably leave the safety of the herd when they can no longer keep up or are ousted by younger males.




This young bull walked almost the entire length of the dam just to roll around in THIS particular puddle of mud.




Three of the Big 5 in a single image.

Elephant, buffalo as well as a female white rhino with an inquisitive calf.




“Come children, its time to leave”.

Often the elephants will chase away others from the water, but in this case the adult believed that discretion was the better part of valour and no sooner had the buffalo and the rhino arrived this female decided to head off back into the bush.




Just another African sunset that casts an enchanting spell as the sun bids farewell. The sky ignites with hues of burning amber, molten gold, and fiery crimson, painting a celestial masterpiece. As the sun disappears behind the distant mountain range, a kaleidoscope of colors dances upon the horizon, leaving those who gaze upon this spectacle captivated by nature’s breathtaking beauty.




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