CyberDiary – 28 July 2011

Mashatu Game Reserve - Winter landscape
Winter landscape by Andrei Snyman

Cold fronts and winter woolies

As the cold front makes its steady way across South Africa, we’re definitely starting to feel it here in Mashatu as well. With very windy days and bitterly cold mornings and evenings, we’re all well layered in winter woolies. Rumour has it that warmer weather is definitely on the way, but until it actually gets here this cold front is doing its utmost to make its presence known.

Fortunately the icy cold conditions haven’t affected our game viewing too much. Animals are not immune to the cold, and will often move into thickets and dense vegetation where the wind is less and its perhaps slightly warmer than the wide open spaces. We also see less of our raptor friends when it’s nippy, and true to form here haven’t been that many vultures riding the warm thermal air currents lately.

In which a wily young raptor bags a monitor

Mashatu Game Reserve - Martial eagle
Martial eagle catching a Tree monitor by Andrei Snyman

We did however come across a juvenile Martial eagle while out on drive late one afternoon. Having just caught a Tree monitor, the youngster then made a rookie mistake and flew into an Acacia tree where it promptly got stuck. It took some time for the bird to free itself again, but once it did the guests were astounded by the sheer size and power of the eagle. What a special sighting.

On a more concerning note

Mashatu Game Reserve - Lion
Matswane and a friend by Andrei Snyman

It’s no secret that human encroachment on protected areas results in far worse effects that just the killing or poaching of wildlife on the borders. Due to human induced mortalities (anthropogenic disturbances) our lion population is going the same route as most other large carnivores in small to medium sized reserves. Matswane – our only adult male lion on Mashatu – has been seen mating with one of his daughters. This in-breeding will no doubt have serious side effects in itself, and will most certainly have a negative effect on the long term genetic viability of the population as a whole. Recent sonar tests conducted on Matswane revealed that he in fact already has a heart defect. This is apparently one of the first signs of genetic side-effects within a closed ecosystem. Further research will enable us to identify any problems within the existing population in order to better manage and protect them. Starting by addressing human induced issues such as illegal hunting around the reserve.

Visit our Facebook and Flikr albums to see more photos.

See you out there,


PLEASE NOTE: This blog is still in it’s infancy stages so the Sightings maps, Predator maps and CyberDiary Archives aren’t up and running just yet. The Pete’s Pond is live however, so make sure to wander over there and see what the animals are up to.


2 Responses to “ “CyberDiary – 28 July 2011”

  1. Denise says:

    Hi there Andrei – read your bolt and loved the posted photos – thanks

    The link to Pete’s Pond is old and needs to go to
    or anywhere else that people can follow the live action.

    Keep up the good work
    Cheers from Switzerland – our national day and a holiday – yippee !
    Best regards,

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