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AFRICAN SAFARI CAMP UPDATES
October 2003

This Month:
• The new cheetah capital of Southern Africa - Vumbura & Little Vumbura?
• Wilderness Safaris takes over management of Jack's and San Camps in Botswana's Makgadikgadi Pans.


Botswana Camps
Cheetahs at Vumbura & Little Vumbura Camps                Jump to Vumbura & Little Vumbura
Before Vumbura describes the month of October, we need to share with you our new champions of the Kwedi, our Cheetah's. All our guests have been used to the siting of our four year old male, Patrick, whose brother was killed by lions a couple of years ago. Things have dramatically changed this year. The following groups have been sited this month:

1. Male cheetah, 4 year old.
2. Mother with three juvenile cubs.
3. Mother with two eighteen-month-old sub-adult male youngsters.
4. Mother with two sub-adult male and female youngsters.
5. Young male, perhaps two years old.
6. Young female, about two years old.
7. Mother with three very young cubs on the eastern boundary.
That is sixteen Cheetahs. The other day guests saw five cheetahs on a morning game drive all within the radius of a couple of kilometres. We hope that they will all survive and remain here, as they provide exciting viewing for our guests, especially the sub adults who cannot sit still and are full of fun and drama.

October has started in style. We are really excited that our three cheetah cubs are still alive and with their mother, killed an impala. The vultures landed and a small group attempted to invade the carcass, whereupon (as they say in Africa), the mother charged the birds and they backed off only to regroup as a mass who then charged in and took over. This action reminded me of that old poster with two vultures perched on a tree and one says to the other "patience my arse, I'm going to kill something."

The month progresses and as is normal (as October is our hottest month) the temperatures are rising; 39 degrees Celsius is the order of the day, typically October and Africa. No complaints though as it's a dry heat.

Our new family of cheetahs, the mother and three sub adults are spectacular. Another impala taken down. This time the hyenas came in and took it away from the family. Guests have been enthralled with the playful cubs, today romping on a dead tree made for great photo opportunities. Today the guests were all 'Cheetahred out.' Having spent time with this young family, a couple of hundred metres down the road was the old man, (cheetah that is), relaxing on a termite mound.

The buffalo herds never cease. We have two massive herds coming through, followed closely by the vumbura lion pride, who had another buffalo kill last night, this one robbed by thirteen hyenas.

The sub adult males of the Vumbura pride are causing some concern for the older females in that there is no respect or discipline shown in the strategy of ambushing their prey. Instead of following the game plan these males are consistently breaking cover before the prey is close enough to kill. Again the thought here with the experts is that they will soon be forced from the pride.

Marius, our community projects organiser, came to camp to tell us of a herd of over a thousand elephants moving through a deserted village (old Gombo) on the other side of the buffalo fence. The ele's were moving towards the delta. No wonder the village was deserted!!

Back to the weather, our local experts predict that the mokoro channel will dry up by the end of next month. We will move the activity to the boat station should this happen.

Cheetahs have definitely stolen the show this month. Guests are virtually guaranteed to see one of our groups on a game drive. Where they have come from is of interest and whether they will stay remains to be seen.

Our summer visitors are returning, the carmine bee-eaters perch on the stumps in the savannah, waiting to give the land rovers an aerial escort in order to catch the rising insects in front of the vehicle, the yellowbilled and black kites swooping down on lions hoping to chase them off the kill, and this morning we heard the first woodland kingfisher. Other migrants include the black cuckoo, Jacobin cuckoo, and blackheaded oriole to mention a few.

Well it's the 27th and I have been down playing our lions this month for the benefit of the cheetah, however, I take it all back following today's activities. A group from England are in camp and at the end of the day, Geoff a guest who is on his sixteenth African safari said, quote "today has been the best day in my sixteen African safari trips" unquote. Why? You might well ask! The day proceeded as follows: First you must understand that the general game is phenomenal, the plains are covered with Zebra, Wildebeest, massive herds of Buffalo and the water birds. The guests were treated to a cheetah. Then on their way, Dux, who is helping us for this group, heard vervet monkey alarm calls. On investigation, the guests saw a young male leopard killing a vervet monkey. Brunch was not far away, so they thought, and started driving towards camp where they came across the Vumbura lion pride with a large herd of buffalo. The match was on and the lions attacked but the buffalo defence was too strong and was followed by the buffalo counter attacking. The rest of the guest group arrived to eventually witness the pride take down a large cow. Of interest was that the three sub adult males were not so hungry and spent the time play fighting in a water hole next to the carcass. Great footage was taken on video. Brunch eventually happened at about 13h00.

The afternoon drive started with Big Red (one of our male lions), his masadi (wife) and two young offspring, having killed a buffalo, drinking water at Spurwing Pan. As the guests enjoyed this siting, the radio call informed all vehicles that the Kubu pride had just taken down a buffalo near Kaporota lagoon. While all this is happening, the sunset with the clouds produce the most beautiful array of colours adding to the mood of the day. So... one can understand as to why the 27th was Geoff's best day ever on African safari!

That's all for a busy October. November is looking just as busy.

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Wilderness Safaris managing Jack's and San Camps in Makgadikgadi
Wilderness Safaris is now handling the management, marketing and reservation side of things for Jack's and San Camps in Botswana.

For those of you who are not familiar with these camps, here is a summary of what your guests can look forward to:

At Jack's Camp guests can spend time exploring the Kalahari and Makgadigadi National Park. A visit to this area is essential for anyone interested in evolution and the origins and explanation of the Okavango Delta.

San Camp is located on a grass covered bay that overlooks the endless white salt sea of the extinct Makgadikagadi super lake, directly adjoining the National Park.

San Camp and Jack's Camps are the only permanent camps that offer a chance to investigate and understand the Kalahari. This desert experience focuses on species such as Gemsbok, Brown Hyena and Springbok. In addition, guests can enjoy learning more about the geology, archaeology and anthropology of the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi. Many of the guides at both camps are fully qualified Zoologists/Geologists, often working on PhD research.

The Makgadigadi is one of the most important wetland sites remaining in Africa. It is a relic of one of the world's largest lakes which dried up thousands of years ago as a result of the continued shifting of the earth's crust. In the wet season, the Pans fill with water which attracts huge flocks of Flamingos and other wading birds. The area is also the only place in Southern Africa where one is often able to see migration herds of tens of thousands of Wildebeest and Zebra, followed by predators. Although the migrations do occur in other areas of Botswana, the tree cover prohibits a view of the magnitude that you are able to see at Jack's Camp because of the exposed nature of the surrounding grassland.

When the Pans are dry, four wheeler quad bikes are used to explore remote archaeological sites, some, such as fossil beds of extinct giant Zebra and Hippo, never before documented.

The style of these luxury tented camps reflect an authentic, classic safari - but each has its own very special and individual stamp. Each camp offers an experience in itself and one which most adventurous and sophisticated guests will appreciate and enjoy.

Jack's and San Camps are a great addition to the Wilderness Safaris portfolio and they are pleased to be able to offer their guests a taste of these unique camps.

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