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Written by Francois van Heerden (photographic guide)

The Madikwe Africa Geographic photographic trip is always a highlight for me as Madikwe is a special place with such a high diversity of animals that one just never knows what’s in store for the photography group.

And yet again Madikwe produced the goods. On our very first drive we set out eagerly to see what the reserve had to offer and fortune smiled upon us as we found the elusive wild dogs!

wild dogs, Madikwe, South Africa
“Leopard Rock was excellent, extremely homely and friendly. Francois was brilliant, offering great photographic advice and really doing his best to show us as much as possible. Incredibly knowledgeable.” ~ comment and photograph by Bruce Braithwaite

Earlier that morning the pack managed to corner a big bull kudu, but this kudu did not back down and fought for his life literally the whole day. In the end the kudu and the dogs were just so exhausted that there was almost a stalemate. We thought that the kudu might get away as the dogs moved off later that afternoon. We left the sighting with heavy hearts, wondering what would happen.

kudu, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

The next morning we found out that the wild dogs’ persistence was just too much and they had managed to overpower the kudu.

On the next two drives we managed to see two separate male lion coalitions, brown hyena (which is always a highlight), and loads of general game, including herds of elephant at the lodge waterhole, which gave us some perfect photographic opportunities.

brown hyena, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

Our plan for the second afternoon was to head to the river and see if we could do some bird photography. But any good plan can be turned on its head and we found ourselves watching herd after herd of elephant coming down to the river for a drink.

elephant, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

With lovely back-lit conditions, we ended up staying with the elephants practicing our photography skills with often tricky back-lit shots.

elephant, Madikwe, South Africa
“We had a fantastic time in Madikwe and Francois is an amazing guide. Everything there was absolutely perfect, also our involuntary encounter with a black mamba.”~ comment and photograph by Robert Leder

The next morning as the sun was rising we set out to find the wild dogs again, and luckily we managed to find them! Eventually we worked out that they were heading back to where the kudu kill was and had been informed that spotted hyena were already there cleaning up the carcass. Realising we might see some predator interaction we followed the pack with anticipation.

We positioned ourselves in a good spot close to the hyenas and waited for the dogs. At first they just stood a distance away building up the courage and then, with a high pitched chatter, the dogs came running in, trying to intimidate the hyenas off the carcass.

wild dogs, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

The dogs managed to corner one hyena but the rest just stood their ground close to the kill. The hyenas had the upper hand as they had numbers on their side, and eventually the dogs realised they were losing the battle and left the hyenas with the carcass.

wild dogs and hyena, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

After that, we decided to continue following the dogs until we lost sight of them in some very thick bush. In awe and very full memory cards, we stopped for a mug of warm coffee.

As if we couldn’t get any luckier, after coffee we managed to see two cheetah posing nicely on top of a termite mound. We took the opportunity to photograph them from various angles and compositions.

cheetah, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

The last evening was spent with a lovely braai under a star-lit evening, reminiscing about our exciting week of photography and game viewing, and celebrating the forming of new friendships and creating long-lasting memories.

Travel with Africa Geographic

Read more about Francois van Heerden and view his magnificent photographs in our online magazine issueMadikwe Moments‘.

Experience the thrills of wildlife photography by joining him in the bush on the next Madikwe photographic safari. Contact Africa Geographic Travel to secure the your spot or enquire about our future Madikwe departures.

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