We’re at the end of the dry season in Mashatu Game reserve and temperatures have soared but the rains haven’t arrived yet.
This is a tough time for the herbivores and water dependent species. The land is barren and there’s very little to eat. Most of the water pools have dried up. If you’re looking for game, simply find a water source and wait patiently, they will arrive.
Mashatu’s photographic hides are the place to be this time of the year. From early morning there is a non-stop stream of activity. Impalas, kudu, eland, wildebeest, zebra, warthog and baboons are daily visitors. They arrive and approach the water carelessly in desperate need of a drink. So carelessly that a group of impalas recently walked in for a drink and didn’t even notice the big male lion lying only a few meters away in the shade.
Fortunately for these impalas, this is a time of plenty for the predators and he showed no interest in them. With so much weak prey around, and little scrub for them to take cover in, the lions are well fed. A good thing, as they have five young cubs that need caring for.
The cheetahs on the reserve also have a few cubs, ranging from newborns to sub adults. These mothers who raise their young alone need all the help they get and an easy catch certainly helps.
There is a lethargic feeling on Mashatu Game Reserve as the heat affects us all, but there’s also a great sense of anticipation as we wait for the first rains of the seasons, after which the balance will change. Almost overnight the land will transform and it will be the herbivores that get to enjoy an abundance of food and the predators that have to work harder to feed themselves and their offspring.
Every season brings a new dynamic to Mashatu Game Reserve and it’s a privilege to be here throughout the year to witness the seasonal transition.
Images and text by Janet Kleyn