nature reserve

Why the crocodile and lion avoid preying on the Waterbuck

Worldwide confusion exists over the waterbuck’s name.  It is frequently and incorrectly used to refer to the lechwe and the sitatunga, two species that are considered aquatic in their behaviour.  The waterbuck, however, is not aquatic but terrestrial and is usually found in close vicinity to water rich environments.  Waterbuck have a reputation for smelly and unpalatable meat.  This is due to a musky oil secreted by glands found primarily in the skin of the flanks which forms a waterproof layer around the hair and protects the skin when the waterbuck enters water.  Many incidents have been reported where crocodile and lion have avoided preying on waterbuck because of their unpleasant smell.

 Mabalingwe Waterbuck standing  |    © Photography by Marthinus Duckitt

 Mabalingwe Waterbuck standing  |    © Photography by Marthinus Duckitt

Adult bulls are 20-25% heavier than adult cows.  Old bulls tend to become smelly as a result of the secretions of the subcutaneous oil glands. With a light breeze, experienced hunters claim they can smell them up to 500 m away.

 Mabalingwe Waterbuck   |    © Photography by Marthinus Duckitt

 Mabalingwe Waterbuck   |    © Photography by Marthinus Duckitt

Waterbuck are generally peaceful but can become highly aggressive when wounded, captured or under social stress when they do not hesitate to defend themselves.  When potential danger is detected they frequently retreat into water and submerge with only the nostrils above the surface.  Waterbuck are good swimmers and are capable of crossing flooded rivers.  They are known to swim to islands in lakes in order to graze.

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Mabalingwe boast over 250 bird species

The Limpopo Province, with its vast unexplored areas and diverse habitats, offers one of the most exciting birding destinations in Southern Africa.

Habitats range from vast tracts of montane grassland to afro-temperate forests, bushveld and wetlands. Over 600 bird species have been recorded in the province, of which 420 are resident.

Birdlife abounds in Limpopo and provides even the most discerning birder with boundless pleasure. The birds most frequently admired remain the raptors, some of which are the following: African Fish Eagle, Bateleur, Martial Eagle, Black Eagle, Crowned Eagle and the Giant Eagle Owl.

The De Wildt Shingwedzi Cheetah Ranch a must for Mabalingwe visitors

The De Wildt Shingwedzi Cheetah Ranch was established in 1998. Situated in the foothills of the majestic Waterberg Mountains, deep in the heart of the bushveld, the cheetah and wild dogs flourish in this unspoiled environment.

During a two hour tour, visitors have the opportunity to see and learn more about cheetah,
wild dogs, caracal, serval, African Wild Cat and vultures. Watch cheetahs running at high speed chasing a lure or engage in the rare opportunity to meet a cheetah up close and hear it purr.....

Nature lovers will enjoy the spectacular birdlife and abundant game, including hippo, kudu, impala, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, eland, waterbuck and other species such as ostrich and crocodile. A vulture restaurant for free flying vultures is also in operation and up to 140 vultures have been seen feasting on a carcass.

Malaria free and unspoiled by sophisticated development, the ranch is set in the heart of the magical Waterberg bushveld, a mere 160km from Pretoria.

A visit to the sanctuary promises to be an unforgettable experience.