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March 2018 News Blog

March was a month of action in terms of wildlife interactions, a highlight being a single sighting that included a pride of lion, a herd of buffalo, and a herd of elephant! How is that for a powerful trio? More on that later... In other news, we were thrilled to receive a visit from a special member of the Tshukudu family: Nuri, the caracal. We spent hours on foot with the three cheetah on our reserve who remain firm favourites among our guests, and we bore witness to a curious young lion getting a bit too close to a lurking crocodile. Our featured team for the month of March is the talented, hard-working and endlessly impressive kitchen unit, which as you can imagine, plays a very important role! We are excited to share the highlights of the month with you in this edition of the news blog. Here we go!


This action-packed sighting was one for the books, and our guides and guests watched in awe from their front row seats. Three of the famous Big 5 colliding in a noisy and heart-stopping argument over territory, ego, and power. It is well known that a lion is everywild animal's enemy, so when both buffalo and elephant had the opportunity to show their distate, they did! A pride of lion was hungrily feasting away in the thicket until a handful of formidable and unimpressed buffalo picked up their scent and moved intimidatingly closer until there was a true showdown at play. Just when the lions lost their nerve and made a move, a herd of elephant made their presence known and joined in on the action. Who would have thought the largest predators in Africa would be bullied by two other members of the Big 5? Well, here you have it. 


Our guests and friends will know that we have a special relationship with animals, and the Sussens family has been taking in orphaned and injured animals for many years. Tshukudu has a few members that have been nursed back to health or hand-raised from infancy and are now living alongside the wild animals in the rest of the reserve. Every so often, they pay us a visit and our guests get a first-hand experience of the special bond we have with the rescued animals. One of these creatures is Nuri, the caracal, who was rescued and raised at Tshukudu Bush Camp, and a few weeks ago he sauntered into the lodge reception much to the delight of our staff and guests! Caracals are not seen very frequently in the wild in the Lowveld, so it is incredibly lucky to have Nuri around. He loved all the attention and invited plenty of scratches and head rubs. All in a day at Tshukudu! 


Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every single day. Our kitchen crew deserves a round-the-world cruise, never mind a round of applause! Fortunately for us, we have an incredible team both making fires and putting them out in the heart of the house.

Here they are:

Front row, left to right: Lydia Monareng, Matimba Mathebula, Mavis Mahlo, Nikiwe Ngwenya (chef), Clerence Mabuza (head chef), Hazel Masiye (chef)

Back row left to right: Casey Jones, Timothy Mashele, Tiyani Mdhlovu, Egnes Ndlovu, Pheladi Hlabolwa (hotel student), Lynnet Tlou (hotel student)

Absent: Dolly Mathebula

In a nutshell, these are our chefs' duties: preparation of meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service; menu planning; high tea and conference/function catering; bar snacks; hygiene maintenance; quality and portion control; stock control assistance; waste management and stock takes. The kitchen is always a hive of activity as these busy bees see to the requirements of each meal service, not only in providing delicious and beautifully plated meals, desserts, and snacks, but also ensuring guest satisfaction through quality food and beverage delivery while taking into account special preferences and dietry requirements. 

Dinner plates scraped clean at the end of a meal, and each dessert dish coming back to the kitchen without so much as a crumb left is an indication of just how well our kitchen team does the job. Often, the men and women in the kitchen are hidden from sight and don't hear about how much guests are enjoying eating their food, so seeing those empty plates is what puts big smiles on their faces at the end of a long day. If you've had a particularly great dish here at Tshukudu, you're welcome to meet the chefs and tell them how you feel! “The show must go on!” is most certainly very applicable in the Food & Beverage Department.


We've had a lot of lion excitement this month with some hair-raising lion-elephant-buffalo quarrels, plenty of game drive sightings, and then this interesting "conversation" between a lion and a crocodile... Nuria started filming with her mobile phone when a young male lion noticed a large croc in the middle of a dam and began showing some interest in it. These two would usually stay out of each other's way, but this cat was clearly in an inquisitive mood and decided to get a closer look. Just when we thought he had lost interest and was going to walk on by, the disgruntled crocodile leapt towards the lion in a powerful surge, eliciting a gutteral growl in return! 


Not all siblings share, and the three cheetahs on our reserve - Floppy, Hunter, and Ntombi - are no different. The boys share with one another naturally, as male cheetahs bond with their brothers and form coalitions in the wild; while female cheetahs, like Ntombi, are naturally solitary. At Tshukudu, she sticks to herself and is often spotted in her favourite places, and the brothers are always seen together. On this occasion, we were all taken by surprise when we got to see all three siblings sharing a meal! Ntombi made a kill and just when she got nicely tucked in, her two brothers approached with the intention of getting a free meal. Luckily for them, Ntombi was only too obliging, and we had the absolute pleasure of seeing the trio come together over a meal. 


Elephant games: This is always such a lucky sighting, and we are so glad we caught it on camera: two young elephants testing their strength against one another in a mock battle while the rest of the herd feeds around them and we sit and watch, completely entertained by this playful and interactive animal behaviour in the wild. That is until an aunt steps in and breaks it up!

Little giants: Now that's a snail! Duty manager, Chavonne, shows us just how big this giant African land snail really is when she spotted it crawling across her verandah recently. These sluggish creatures are rather prolific, but they are most active at night so we don't see them all too often. We share this planet with weird and wonderful creatures!



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