Madikwe is a great example of local conservation ideas that really work. Previously, this area of northwest South Africa had fallen into a situation where the farming & ranching had become less and less productive and the region fell into dire poverty. The South African government purchased more than 75,000 hectares and restocked it with indigenous animals that has been rendered locally extinct due to the agricultural nature of the region.
The government allowed local groups to set up a series of game lodges in the park with the stipulation that the vast majority of their employees would be local residents. There was also the establishment of a fund that takes a small fee from every nightly visitor to one of the lodges. This fund goes to support the local population who now have a real reason to support wildlife rather than poach it to make ends meet!
As a result Madikwe is a great place to go on safari where you can see the "Big Five" (lion, rhino, leopard, Cape buffalo, and elephants). The area is also known as one of the places you can have a chance to see highly endangered and elusive African Wild Dogs.
There "Watchful Ladies" were on one of the jeep tracks in the reserve overlooking a water hole. They were particularly alert this day as there was a running territorial dispute between the pride these two belong to and a small herd of elephants that wanted access to the water. The reclining lion is a young female ( you can still see her juvenile spots) who was very interested in hunting the younger elephants which only added to the tensions around the water hole.
As the other images show, her inexperience and the alertness of the adult elephants prevented her from having a chance! I do love how she was in the middle of the road and still acted as if she was invisible in the tall grass as she "crawled" her way toward her "prey".
Stalking (in plain sight!)
After the Hunt
After giving up on the elephants, the mother lioness and her two yearlings spent the better part of an hour lounging around the water hole until some potential prey (zebras, wildebeests, and warthogs) came into view on the far side of the water hole. Here's a video I shot of mama lioness tying to get a wildebeest. I will not give away the ending .... :-) (FYI - the sound was removed from the video as all you'd be able to hear would be the "whoosh" of the wind!)