I spent two days in the concession (PTY) area of Marakele to witness the capture of black rhinos in the adjacent breeding centre, also part of PTY. Being African Correspondent is a tough job, but someone's has got to do it.
First the bad news.
After the release of the wild dogs into the park earlier this year, they broke out twice. According to the people from PTY the SANParks fieldrangers aren't managing to patrol the fences enough to prevent them from escaping. Outside the park there's some east prey (sheep & cattle) and wild dogs are used to cover great distances which are not available in Marakele. According to the PTY guys, the dogs escaped through the same hole the second time - another indication for the lack of resources of SANParks fieldrangers...
Anyway, the dogs have been captured again and are currently in the boma. The alpha female gave birth in the boma - which means the population is now 9 adults and 9 pups. According to my source they will be sold/translocated to Mashatu Game Reserve in the Tuli Block in Botswana. Hopefully Fhatuwani can shed some light on this?
Pix of the dogs being fed in the boma:
Good news as well! Ten (male) roans have been released in the park a few months ago, donated by the PTY breeding centre. One of them has been killed by a lion and two other ones have disappeared of the 'radar' but the seven others seem to be surviving. If the males are doing ok, more roans might be released into the park. When I was there, the animals were very much sticking to the fence - it apparently gives them a (false) sense of safety after being brought up in a breeding centre. Hopefully they´ll start to move around a bit more, otherwise they´ll become too easy prey...
Speaking of lions, earlier this year three more have been released - the Marakele population is now 4 males & 2 females. They are mostly active in the flatter concession area but are seen in the generally accesible area too. I saw one of the - possibly pregnant females and witnessed an incredible hunt: we were right behind her when she went into stalking mode, accelerated, jumped into the reeds and when we had a visual again (after hearing some loud protesting sounds), she had managed to kill an adult male kudu. The prey never knew what happened to him - so quick and efficiently the lioness worked - incredible!
No pix of the kill. This was just before...
I must say game viewing is very rewarding in the consession side, althought I believe most ellies and buffaloes are currently in the SANParks side. I also saw bat-eared fox, blue wildebeest, black-backed jackal, aardvark (!),
zebra, impala, red hartebeest, tsessebe, giraffe, elephant, eland, lots of black & white rhino evidence, warthog, steenbok, monitor lizzard and much more. Apparently there are frequent aardwolf and pangolin sightings too. The concession is currently only accesible for guests of the expensive Marataba Lodge. Hope this will one day change!