SAFARI CAMP UPDATES
Monthly update from Xigera
Camp in Botswana.
Exciting sighting at Savuti
Camp in Botswana.
Kwando Safaris game reports for
Monthly update with baby rhinos from Mombo
Camp in Botswana.
Monthly report from Rocktail Bay on
South Africa's East coast.
Monthly report from Skeleton Coast in
Monthly report from Serra Cafema
Camp in remote northern Namibia.
Newsletter - Nov 04 Jump
Yet another month has sped past, bringing us within an inch to
the end of the year. November has been a month full of excitement with
more and more animals moving back into our area due to the continual
ebbing of the flood waters. More dry land means increased grazing areas,
which attract prey species and predators alike.
Our lion and leopard sightings have definitely increased during the
last month, with more sightings recorded than in the past few months.
We have seen lion and leopard cross the camp bridge more often, and
hyaena too are now more plentiful.
The "camp's" Pel's Owl has put in a few appearances during
the last month and even took to his old hunting spot on the bridge
occasionally. Some guests were treated to a real wildlife feast on
the afternoon of the 23’rd - whilst on their way back from
their game drive they encountered mating lions, which did not have
a care in the world and just kept doing what they did best (not
sleeping for a change). Later that night, whilst sitting around
the camp fire they, were treated to another surprise when a big
male leopard crossed the camp bridge, a mere 15 meters away. Now
one would think that would be enough excitement, but to add to
all of this, a hippo came to graze next to the main deck area,
a hyaena walked across the bridge, and a Pels Owl made itself comfortable
on the bridge. A busy evening!
The abundance of fruit from the African Mangosteen trees did their
fair share in attracting herds of elephant to camp - hardly a day went
by without them in camp. Eating was the order of the day, but many
also took the time to rest up in the ample shade provided by the Mangosteen
and Knobthorn trees. Getting to and from the tents was quite a challenge,
and we spent most of the time helping guests to and from the walk ways.
Who said that we do not have traffic jams in the bush?
Bird lovers have had a great time during the month with lots of sightings
of Wattled Crane, Pels Owl, Slaty Egrets, African Skimmer, Pelicans
and a whole host of other birds. A few small fish traps have also been
formed due to the receding water levels and these of course are major
water bird magnets.
Weather-wise it has been a warm month the average high having been
32 degrees Celsius and the average low 21 degrees. The total rainfall
came to 28 mm, which mostly came in the form of late afternoon / early
evening thunder showers.
That's about all from us for now. We would just like to make use of
the opportunity to wish all of you and your loved ones a merry Christmas
and a happy new year. May it be filled with happiness, joy and love.
Bush regards from all the Xigerans
Savuti Camp sighting
- Nov 04 Jump
Early one morning, I woke up to an odd groaning sound. Half asleep,
I walked out of my room to see if I could hear it a little better.
It was the sound of death, death in the sense that it sounded
like something was dying, but I could not deduce what it was.
The sound continued for about an hour coming from the east behind
After morning tea we left for a game drive with the guests.
We had only driven 500 metres when we found 2 lionesses with
a fresh wildebeest kill. We watched this impressive scene for
the day, and that evening the hyaena came in their dozens,
when the lions decided to leave for a drink of water at the
waterhole in front of camp. The night was very vocal with a
lot of interaction between lion and hyaena.
The next morning we left very
early to check the kill site, and to our surprise, very little
was left of the wildebeest bull. The lion were not there;
instead, on the site was a young male leopard who had obviously
just arrived and was scanning
the scene, so that he could sneak in. He made a move and hesitantly
started feeding. He only managed three mouthfuls when we noticed
two lionesses low on their bellies crawling towards the spotted
cat. They got within 5 m of the kill before the leopard noticed
the change of scene. At lightning speed he shot up the nearest
Combretum imberbe tree to safety. In retaliation the lion dragged
the kill under the same tree for shade, since it is October
the suicide month here in Botswana where temperatures during
the day range around 40 degrees Celsius. At this point, the
leopard was now trapped up the tree but lay there as if it
wasn’t a problem.
Later that afternoon when we got back for the afternoon drive,
the leopard was still in his cell, desperate to get down because
of the heat. The lion lay there, like prison guards, while
they feasted and dozed off from time to time. We had only been
there 30 minutes when we started noticing that the leopard
was restless, climbing up and down the tree and sizing distances.
He then showered one lioness in urine, as if to say: 'I got
you'. He squatted on a main fork of the tree 6 m off the ground
and waited, the atmosphere tense as all the cameras were wielded
in the direction of the spotted cat. A 10-minute wait was enough
and he sprang into the air, a free-fall landing with a thud,
then took off at speed. The two lionesses who where now snoozing
jumped up in fright, and took off in the opposite direction
wondering what had gone wrong.
Later on we noticed that the leopard had cleared 7 m horizontal
height from the base of the tree to where he landed. Now a
bit of geometry: vertical height up the tree is 6 m, so assuming
this is a 90-degree angle find the missing side of the triangle?
Kwando Safari Camps Update
- Nov 04
Lagoon camp Jump
A pangolin was seen about 4 days ago – a rare thing!
* A pack of 3 wild dogs (2 males and a female) were viewed
for a few days – first seen feeding on an impala
* A pack of 17 wild dogs (10 adults and 7 pups) have
been seen over the
last couple of days – also seen feeding on an impala
* A male cheetah was seen hunting – not successful.
* A pride of 13 lions killed 2 buffalo at the same spot,
and then went on
to kill a giraffe that they finished off 2 days ago.
* Good number of breeding herds of elephants all over
the concession and
spending time around the camp as well.
* A couple of small herds of buffalo – max c.100
being seen daily.
* Night drives have yielded a couple of African wild
cats, genets as well
as a striped polecat.
* Good general game throughout the northern part of the
* 3 cheetah sightings over the last few days – a
female with her 2 cubs
seen a couple of times, once feeding on an impala lamb,
female hunting as well.
* The two male lions have been seen every day over the
* Late last week they killed a buffalo close to camp.
* A pride of 18 lions was seen feeding on a buffalo,
night before last the
2 adult males were seen pulling down a buffalo cow and
* An adult (very relaxed) female leopard was followed
for an hour.
* Elephant bulls are still frequenting the camp an a
* Excellent sightings of buffalo – one herd of
* 3 sightings of sable – the biggest group was
* A pack of 5 wild dogs have been followed over the last
few days – they
were found finishing off an impala – one adult
has a radio collar.
* A serval, and a couple of sightings of genets seen
Lebala camp Jump
* General game has been excellent – young impala,
wildebeest and tsessebe.
* excellent sighting of a herd of roan antelope.
* Large numbers of elephants visiting the Kwando river
mornings and late
* Scattered herds of buffalo have been seen throughout
the southern Kwando
* A pack of 17 wild dogs (10 adults and 7 youngsters)
have been followed to
the north of Lebala over the last couple of days.
* Another pack of 3 dogs was followed today as it moved
south towards the
* The sick lioness that killed a honey-badger last week
is showing no signs
* The 3 territorial male lions have been spending some
time close to Lebala
camp – have been calling frequently.
* Night drives yielded caracal, civet and serval as well
as a number of
* Large numbers of hyenas are still dominating the southern
Mombo Newsletter - Nov 04 Jump
November at Mombo has been a real month of contrasts - the contrast
between the first bright green flush after the rains and the
golden grasses left behind by the retreating floodwaters; and
between the electric blue of an Woodland Kingfisher's mating
display against the grey rain clouds building up over Camp.
No other time of year leaves you with such a keen awareness
of the timeless cycles of life and death, as November with
so much evidence of rebirth and regeneration everywhere.
November can be a stressful month as waterholes dry up,
and the vegetation dries out. Elephant in particular can
struggle to satisfy their gargantuan appetites for food
and water, and we have frequently been visited by some
of the older bull elephants, instinctively drawn to the
surviving wet areas around the Camp.
Set against the daily
struggle for life is the explosion of new life which
erupts at this time of year: suddenly the woodlands are full
of wobbly, impossibly curious new impala youngsters, and
equally unsteady young wildebeest dot the plains… Many
of our resident bird species, and newly-arrived migrant
species are busy building nests for their chicks, and the
air rings with the calls of kingfishers, Wood Hoopoes and
Giant Eagle owls.
Game sightings this month have been phenomenal - we really
are spoilt here! We have had regular sightings of all the wonderful
animals that make Mombo such a special area to visit, and the
light after the rain showers has been just perfect for capturing
stunning images of wild animals in incredible Okavango scenery.
Mating leopards and very young lion cubs have provided many
of our guests with fantastic memories of felines, and the nomadic
male lions who are slowly but surely carving out a territory
for themselves here never fail to impress - on many evenings
we have fallen asleep to thunderous crescendos of roaring,
sometimes so close to Camp that it felt as though the tents
Wild dog have begun to make a welcome return to Mombo. We
have had numerous sightings of various groups recently, including
two dogs reclining luxuriously in front of Camp at breakfast
time one Sunday morning - much to the delight of the only guest
who had chosen to stay in and spend a leisurely morning on
the deck overlooking the floodplains.
One more harrowing sighting occurred when a pack of wild dog
were attacked by lion - there is little love lost between Africa's
super predators. The main power struggle here however is between
lion and the hyaena, and we regularly debate just who is in
charge at Mombo - hyaena are particularly numerous at the moment,
and have now established a new den near Camp in an abandoned
The young hyaena seem to have a keen interest in all things
mechanical, happily spending time investigating the game drive
vehicles drawn up at a respectful distance from their den.
Meanwhile, in Camp the young warthogs and tiny baby banded
mongooses are starting to explore the incredible world they
have been born into. The young piglets in particular are full
of beans - just watching them can make you feel tired! Their
favourite game seems to be chasing each other around in ever-decreasing
circles until they fall over in an exhausted heap.
baby status this month has however been effortlessly taken
by the third white rhino calf to be discovered - taking the
total population of white rhino roaming free in the Delta as
a result of our ambitious re-introduction project to 30. This
month has also seen the third anniversary of the first release
of rhinos back into the Moremi Game Reserve. Just over three
years ago, there were no wild rhino in Botswana.
Today, as a
result of our joint project with the Botswana Government,
there are 34, including a pioneer population of four black
rhinos released last year. This third calf brings to a happy
ending the tale of one of our first rhinos, Kgosi, who established
himself as our first dominant bull in this area. He was
killed in a territorial fight with a younger male rhino last
year (a very common occurrence in wild rhino populations)
but looking back through the records of our monitoring programme,
it is almost certain that before he died, he fathered this
calf - so his line will live on here at Mombo.
As we often like to, we saved the very
best until last this November. Fittingly for a month
so full of new life and promise, it was crowned with a Mombo
wedding and we put on quite a show for the happy couple, who
cannot have suspected quite what a celebration their special
day would become…
Our staff really went to town with preparations
and we secretly set everything up for our guests by the hippo
pool - one of the most beautiful spots at Mombo, especially
with the late afternoon sunshine filtering through the trees,
and the calls of fish eagles echoing across the water. We have
staged several memorable weddings here before - some of the
hippos have now been witnesses at a number of bush nuptials
- if only they could sign the register as witnesses!
a priest in from Maun to officiate at the ceremony, and our
staff serenaded the couple with traditional songs of good
wishes for lifelong happiness and blessings. They presented
the guests with traditional wedding gifts made of reeds and
palm branches - bracelets and brooms to symbolically sweep
clear the path of the newlyweds to future happiness. Much
rice was thrown over them, too, to ensure fertility!
The choir then escorted the married couple to the tree hide
overlooking the hippo pool, and with a view across the water
to herds of zebra and an elephant or two ambling past, the
register was signed by the human witnesses, and the champagne
corks popped. An incredibly happy day for everyone here - we
can never resist a good excuse for a celebration! With much
applause and still more happy singing, the cake made its grand
entrance, the traditional white icing crowned with porcupine
quills and baobab flowers. As for who caught the bouquet -
well that's a secret, but we may just be having a another Mombo
wedding before too much longer! Watch this space...
This celebration of love and happiness was the perfect way
to end November here at Mombo - a month of change and transformation,
of new life and new hope for the future - we can't wait for
December to begin now!
Bay Turtle Report - Nov 04 Jump
is no questioning it! The
2004-2005 turtle season is in full swing.
The Rocktail Team is ecstatic to report that we have seen an impressive total
of 76 Loggerhead nests, as well as 34 Leatherback nests over the course of
the month. This is almost three times as many turtles as the 2003-2004 season.
The viewing has been tremendous, with up to six turtles being spotted on one
The first drive of the month proved to be successful,
with the first Leatherback of the season making her appearance on Manzengwenya
beach. The Wilson family, who had made the two day drive from Knysna,
were determined to see a turtle before they left Rocktail. After many nights
of walking our beaches and going on other unsuccessful drives, their persistence
finally paid off. They first caught sight of her at eleven o’clock making her way up the dune, and
they sat with her for almost two hours whilst she went through the grueling
task of digging her flask-shaped hole, laying her eggs, disguising the nest,
and making her way back down the beach to the Indian Ocean. They felt such
a connection with her that they decided to adopt her. She was christened “Midnight”.
We will be sure to let the Wilson’s know when we see her again.
It has been communally voted that the drive of the month
was the 23rd. The vehicle departed the lodge at seven o’clock and
only arrived back at camp at midnight. During those four hours, thirteen
different nests were spotted and six turtles were seen in different stages
of the laying process. On arrival back at camp, Gugu, our researcher,
and the guests on board could hardly contain themselves, and could not
stop talking about it for the next two days.
All in all, it has been an outstanding month, and if the sightings of turtles
have already tripled, one can only imagine what December will bring us.
We wish all of you a joyous festive season, and we will be looking out for
the Christmas turtle.
Coast Newsletter - Nov 04 Jump
death, feeding, fighting and mating … every spectrum of
“The most awesome activity
we’ve ever witnessed … and that includes the
“Wherever you look, there’s
activity: bulls fighting, mothers carrying their pups away
to protect them as jackals sweep on dead pups.”
are three of many thrilled comments Skeleton Coast’s
guests made after visiting the Cape Frio fur seal colony
in November. Newborn pups lie scattered about the colony,
which has swelled to well over 30,000: a raucous mass
of bodies spanning more than 3 km of beach! The colony
has been on the boil as seal bulls clash over territory,
often flattening pups in the process. Cows appear just
as frenetic, carrying pups like handbags, tossing aside
other cow’s pups. They have also been observed
teaching youngsters discipline in no uncertain terms:
a bite on the rump usually being the method of education.
Whereas earlier in
the year jackals fought over carcases, now hundreds
of dead seal pups litter the beaches, picked through
by Kelp gulls, Pied crows and the odd Lappet-faced
vulture. Jackal pups have sprung up all over the
coastline, remarkably coinciding with the glut of
baby seals. Guests have regularly viewed pups amid
the rocks on the beach: presumably one pair of jackals
opting to den right next to the colony.
To the south of camp,
the Hoaraseb River has flooded, ebbing and flowing
over the past few weeks but finally reaching the
ocean. BBC cameramen captured the river seemingly “sneaking” up
on a herd of desert-adapted elephant, catching them
unaware. Sightings of elephants lessened as the water
crept in; however recent safaris have seen several
small herds in the Purros area.
The pride of lions
at the Hoaraseb were seen several times in November,
with the flood not appearing to daunt them. They
were last sighted wading in the muddy riverbed, although
without the territorial male.
Brown Hyaena sightings
have, as always, been frequent in the Khumib riverbed.
However, the most evocative sighting of the month
was a single male Brown Hyaena atop Agate Mountain:
the volcanic crater close to Cape Frio. With mist
whirling around, it was a sight reminiscent of something
out of “The Lord of the Rings”.
desert-adapted Giraffe, which normal only obtain
water from dew, were recently seen drinking from
the flooded Hoaraseb River. Bulls continue to thrive
in the same riverbed and continue to fight constantly,
while females and youngsters in the Khumib are now
scarcer than in winter.
Fresh green sward has
covered many parts of the Skeleton Coast hinterland,
providing fresh graze for Springbok and Oryx, many
of which have streamed back from further inland.
Hartman’s Mountain Zebra have also reappeared,
presumably drawn by the new grasses.
Fishing at Rocky Point
has yielded some massive Kabeljou with one German
visitor reeling in three monsters. However, with
the recent flooding of the Hoaraseb the water has
turned muddy and angling has proved challenging.
Skeleton Coast Camp
looks forward to another month of great sightings,
and wishes everyone a merry festive season.
Serra Cafema Newletter - Nov 04 Jump
to Serra Cafema
month is over and we are closing in on Christmas. November was
a good month regarding the rains.
We know that Angola must have had great rains as the
level is up with about 500cm. Some of the well-known rocks that the
crocodiles use to bask on are now covered with water. This month, however,
the clouds did not just come up to make us all glad and then disappear
into thin air in the afternoons, it actually rained. We had two days
of very good rain for this area. Even in the Hartman’s Valley
you can see that green grass is coming up everywhere. What a pretty
It seems that all this rain has resulted in some of
the animals returning to the area and some leaving. The oryx definitely
moved off after the rains, but the springbok and ostriches are coming
back. We are seeing more and more springbok in the valley as well.
A few days ago one of the guides spotted a brown hyaena
on one of the scenic drives. This was quite an exciting event as
it was in the early morning and not one of those sightings where
you are limited to looking for the animal through your binoculars.
As the river is higher and it is time for crocodiles
to look after their eggs in their nests, we haven’t been seeing
them that much. We only get to see the smaller ones around.
Guest-wise we had loads of agents coming through camp and we hope
that they will send their guests in the hundreds to come and experience
this beautiful area in the north west of Namibia.