SAFARI CAMP UPDATES
The first baby rhino has been born to one of the re-introduced Mombo
Continuing our updates on the 2004 Okavango
Delta flood - a great one indeed.
Kwando Safaris game reports for
Lots of news from Wilderness Safaris on
their current projects and camp changes.
Dive report from Rocktail Bay on South
Africa's Eastern coast.
Mombo Rhino Project Announces
Birth of First Calf! Jump
to Mombo Camp
two-and-a-half years after the first re-introduction of white rhinos
into the Moremi Game Reserve we can celebrate a very special occasion – the
birth of our first white rhino calf, quite possibly the first rhino born
in the wilds of Botswana in over a decade! This is the ultimate seal
of approval on the project from the rhinos themselves.
When first seen earlier
this month the calf was approximately two weeks old – mothers are
often very secretive at first but we have now had several
opportunities to observe mother and calf together. The calf,
a female, was probably born in early July and has been named
Dimpho, or “many gifts” – exactly
the gift we have all been waiting for! She was born to Mmamatimpani,
our oldest female, and the first one to be released back in
November 2001. The gestation period for white rhinos
is 16 months, so Dimpho would have been conceived in early
March last year. Her birth brings the white rhino population
in the Mombo area of Chief’s
Island to 28.
Mmamatimpani was acquired by Wilderness
Safaris from Mokolodi Nature Reserve near Gaborone, and is
approximately 24 years old. She is believed to have originally
come from Natal in South Africa. Dimpho is Mmamatimpani's second
calf - she previously had one calf at Mokolodi but unusually
this calf, a male, remained with her until she was moved from
Mokolodi. By this stage the male calf was over ten years old
and still together with his mother, this frustrated any further
attempts by other male rhinos at Mokolodiat to mate with Mmamatimpani.
Therefore when Mmamatimpani arrived at Mombo, she had not had
a calf in over a decade, and we were concerned that she might
have become infertile. She has certainly proved us wrong on
Dimpho was first
seen on July 21st, and at that stage was estimated to
be 2 to 3 weeks old. Female rhinos are understandably very
secretive just prior to and after giving birth. In fact we had not
seen Mmamatimpani since June 6th, so the baby was obviously
born after this date. At this time she was with another
female rhino, "Maun".
She presumably chased Maun away at some point prior to
We have looked back at our sightings
records for February and March last year to determine which
of our males is Dimpho's father. February and March 2003 were
a particularly interesting time here. Serondela, the male from
Zimbabwe, moved from the area during this time, out to the
East of Chief's Camp, up to to the area around the Anti Poaching
Unit's camp. Kgosi meanwhile moved from the boma (release)
area across to the APU camp area. It was during late February
that these two males had the fight or fights which resulted
in Kgosi's death. We found him dead on March 04. We can therefore
rule out either of these two males as Dimpho's father. This
leaves Sergeant, the third mature male. He was seen on 11 occasions
in this two month period, on each occasion with Mmamatimpani.
They were also out to the East of Chief's Camp, but further
South than Serondela. We can very safely say that Dimpho was
therefore fathered by Sergeant. Sergeant is also an ex-Mokolodi
(and ex-Natal) rhino, but had never previously mated with Mmamatimpani.
So it seems that the change of scene was good for both of them!
The birth of our first calf is excellent
news - especially as we now know that the rhinos were established
enough to start breeding just 16 months after first being released.
Meanwhile we are continuing to regularly track the other white
rhinos and the four black rhinos released last year. The floodwaters
are at last starting to recede making the monitoring easier.
We strongly suspect that several of our other female rhinos
are pregnant, we look forward to more births in the future.
Okavango Flood Update - August 2004
This year has been an incredible
year in the Delta with floods that are just perfect and guests
enjoying a great experience out there. We usually send out graphs
measuring the flood levels each month, but we have discontinued
them because we believe they have recently become inaccurate.
The reasons for the inaccuracies are that (i) the measuring post
in the Okavango River near the Namibian border got washed away
twice and we do not believe that it has been put back in the
same place (we’ve
seen dramatic rises and drops in water levels that are not reflected
in their graphs); and (ii) a lot of water ended up flowing behind
an island and away from the measuring point – this water
was not included in the calculations.
The water levels at the top of the Delta
are starting to drop slowly, but there is still a lot of water
coming into the Delta. A lot of the water has rushed down the
western side of the Okavango and has now reached Lake Ngami,
which is now rapidly filling up for the first time in nearly
twenty years. The birdlife is spectacular. The water flowing
down the Boro River to Maun has not been as high as anticipated.
A large amount of water is backed up at the Buffalo Fence fault
line waiting to come down the Boro to Maun and we anticipate
that the waters will push well past Maun - about halfway to
Kwando Safari Camps Update - August
Lagoon camp Jump
The Lagoon pride (5 females and their cubs = 14) pulled down an adult
Buffalo bull after struggling with him for almost an hour. They were accosted
by a large number of hyenas attracted by the bellowing and growling but were
all chased off by 2 subadult male lions – not without a fights – one
of the males was injured by the pride.
The Lagoon pride pride pulled down another adult buffalo the following
Good sightings of genet, African Wild cat and white-tailed mongoose.
A female cheetah spotted close to the Wild Dog den. Another sighting of
cheetah – a male was confronted by the pack of 4 adult Wild Dogs.
The wild dog puppies are growing fast and are spending more time out of
The adult dogs have been hunting at night during the last week with the
full moon, and killed an impala close to the camp, but were robbed by hyena.
Good general game including zebra, giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest.
Also good sightings of water-birds feeding on receding floodplains, as
well as excellent sightings of Marabou feeding in the pans drying on the mopane
herd of buffalo (500-1000 strong) moved up from Moremi
tagged by a pride of 18 lions.
pride of 5 was later spotted following and harassing
the same herd of buffalo at the same time but on a
smaller herd of buffalo was seen daily
nomadic male lions killed a reedbuck and were found
feeding in the early morning.
“A Thousand” vultures and a hyena seen feeding
on a giraffe carcass – probably killed by the
sighting of a young male leopard as well as other sightings
of leopard including an adult male attempting to kill
couple of hyenas visited one of the vehicles whilst
stopped for sundowners – both parties were surprised!
drives have been fairly quiet apart from the sightings
of smaller nocturnal mammals – it has been very
cold and the full moon hindering the success of larger
heronry at Godikwe is providing excellent sightings
of breeding water-birds including resident Yellow-billed
Lebala camp Jump
Very cold last week and large game
in Lebala area seems to have dispersed a bit.
Couple of sightings of small breeding herds of
elephant no more than 10
Also only small groups of buffalo in the southern
section of the concession – larger
herds are all north.
Reasonable general game – zebra, wildebeest,
giraffe and red Lechwe with the odd sighting of Sitatunga as well on the drying
Leopard sightings have been excellent though,
at least one sighting each day including an adult female killing an African Wild
cat – very unusual.
nocturnal sightings of several African Wild cats,
as well as other smaller nocturnal mammals including Caracal.
A pride of 5 (4 subadult males and an adult female)
Daily drives up North to view the Lagoon pride
and visit the Wild dog den.
The Lagoon Pride has been hitting the buffalo hard.
Large numbers of hyenas seen around the camp and
southwards towards their dens.
Spectacular sighting of 3 adult male cheetah pulling
down an adult wildebeest.
Large numbers of Spurwinged geese and other aquatic
birds on the exposed/drying floodplains.
Important updates from Wilderness
Safaris on their current and planned projects...
Vumbura camp Jump
Plans for a new Vumbura, in 2005,
is a brand new 12-roomed lodge to be built on a beautiful, pristine
location and at the same levels of Jao, Mombo and Kings Pool.
Nearby Mombo is often completely booked up, so we felt we needed
an alternative – another
superb Okavango game viewing camp what will rival the Mombo experience.
We chose Vumbura because the game there is outstanding – especially
around the new site – and
we can also do night drives, walks and boating there. This new
Premier quality camp will open at the end of April 2005 and will
be located in a totally new area to the east of the present camp.
Bookings for the existing Vumbura continue right up until the
new Premier camp opens (at which time the old Vumbura closes),
so bookings at the current Vumbura up until April will not
be affected at all. The new camp is to have 10 Twins, two of
which being Honeymoon tents, and we will probably divide this
camp into four small and intimate sets of 6-bedded camps so that
we maintain that small and exclusive atmosphere.
Little Vumbura will continue on as is with six rooms.
and Chitabe Trails camps Jump
to Chitabe & Chitabe
Plans for Chitabe and Chitabe Trails are for
both camps to be linked in future by a common raised wooden walkway.
This will allow us to create a “Camp within a Camp” theme
similar to that which presently exists at Mombo and Little Mombo.
Chitabe and Chitabe Trails can then be expanded and contracted
for groups and private parties, so that we can offer a more flexible
Mombo and Little Mombo camps Jump
to Mombo & Little Mombo Camps
Speaking of Mombo - Mombo will be undergoing a major refurbishment
to make the rooms more comfortable and functional. New roofs
have been ordered and there will be a fresh internal configuration
within the rooms with new furniture, which will result in an
even better experience for Mombo's guests. The game has been
truly incredible at Mombo this year - with this being the year
of the leopard! Some guests have been seeing up to four different
leopards in one day! One group of guests even saw the (dreaded)
Big Five in 15 minutes!
Abu's Elephant Back Safaris Jump
Alistair Rankin, an old friend of Wilderness Safaris, has,
along with his partner Murray Collins, bought Abu’s Camp and Elephant Back Safaris
in Botswana. The sale has just gone through. Randall Moore will no longer be
and Alistair will be the person on site looking after the guests and making sure
that things happen. We believe that there will be some exciting new developments
here and for next year, we believe that there will be a new 3-night programme!
Wild Dogs in the Linyanti
2004 looks to be the year of wild dog sightings in the Linyanti Wildlife
Reserve and from all indications it seems we have three dens in the area. Guests
staying at Kings Pool, Duma
Tau and Savuti are
all enjoying fantastic wild dog experiences and interaction.
Xigera camp expanding? Jump
We are also debating whether to increase the number of beds at Xigera
and open an additional camp known as 'Little Xigera' during the course of next
year - again linked and a similar concept to Mombo/Little Mombo and Chitabe/Chitabe
Maun - Cape Town direct flights
Air Botswana will be flying direct from Cape Town to Maun (and back) three times
per week as from mid-October 2004. This is now an excellent and efficient way
of moving guests from the Delta to the Mother City.
Caravans and larger luggage allowances in Botswana by 2005
We have two extra Cessna Caravans joining our fleet of aircraft in Botswana
by the end of July this year - and for 2005 we are striving to have guests only
fly in these beautiful aircraft. We are looking into the feasibility of having
an all-Caravan fleet of aircraft next year with the added benefit that guests
would then be able to travel with 20kg worth of luggage instead of the present
12kg restriction. No promises at this stage, but this is what we are hoping to
achieve in 2005. We will keep you updated on all this as we progress.
Pafuri camp in the Kruger National Park, South Africa
The building schedule for Pafuri Camp in the Kruger National Park is looking
good with the expected opening date moved slightly out to the 23rd December this
year. We are building a tented camp here, using tents that will look similar
to Duba Plains, raised off the ground. We believe that this will be the best
value camp in all of Kruger!
New sea-facing rooms at Rocktail Bay Lodge Jump
to Rocktail Bay Lodge
Exciting news is that we have been given permission to built new Luxury, sea-facing
rooms at Rocktail Bay next year. More details to follow.
Mkambati development in South Africa
Colin, Mike and Peter Anderson recently went down to Mkambati
to experience the “Greatest
Shoal on Earth” (the Sardine Run) first-hand.
All have returned raving about the fact that they were swimming, snorkelling
and diving all day with innumerable whales, sharks, dolphins, birds - and even
manta rays! The dolphins and sharks follow sardines that are on their annual
migration along this coastline. We are currently finalising the EIA's (Environmental
Impact Assessments) for the new Mkambati development and, once concluded, construction
will begin in earnest. Expected opening early to mid-2005.
North Island featured in new movie Jump
to North Island, Seychelles
North Island features as the location shoot in the upcoming
movie Thunderbirds, which is due to be released this month. North Island remains
on top of guests’ Wish
lists for Seychelles and Island getaways.
Namibia expansion Jump
Namibia sees expansion next year too with the planned opening of an additional
camp in the Damarland area in partnership with the local communities. It will
be called Dara Nawas.
Vic Falls Tours
We have acquired six new sprinter buses in Vic Falls for tours and transfers
and will be moving two of these to the Zambian side where we will be able to
offer our own tours and transfers.
Bay Dive Report Jump
ever said that South Africa’s coastline was too cold was obviously not
at Rocktail Bay recently. June saw average temperatures of around 21-23 degrees
Celsius! The marine life sightings are now gearing up for the rest of the year.
Firstly divers and those guests that head out on the shore-launched boat got
to see the beginnings of our humpback whale migration. These magnificent creatures
spend our summer months in the Antarctic and then migrate northward toward Mozambique
during the winter months, with Rocktail receiving them as visitors from June
through early October.
Then from mid-October to mid-January we have the turtles’ egg-laying season
on the beaches of northern KwaZulu-Natal, with Rocktail guests able to experience
the research we conduct firsthand every evening. Mid-January to mid-March sees
the hatchlings emerging from their nests and scurrying toward the ocean. Only
one or two out of every thousand of the little guys that were laid will return
once mature to start the cycle of life again.
While the diving has been unbelievable at Rocktail this month, the snorkelling
off the boat has been excellent. Guests have seen green, hawksbill and loggerhead
turtles, big schools of fusiliers, surgeonfish and spadefish, a 1.5m spotted
eagle ray and of course everyone’s favourite – the dolphins! Sightings
include bottlenose and shyer and more rare for our area, humpback dolphins.