Sanctuary Lodges & Camps general
Dive Report from beautiful North Island in
Monthly update from Linkwasha in
Monthly update from Makalolo Plains in
Kwando Safaris game reports for
Monthly update from Savuti Camp in
Monthly update from Mombo and Little Mombo
Camps in Botswana.
Mombo Rhino Trust update.
Monthly update from DumaTau Camps in
Monthly update from Chitabe Camp in
The new Rattray's at MalaMala in
South Africa set to open ahead of schedule.
Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in
Monthly update from Ongava Lodge in
Monthly update from Ongava Tented Camp in
Lodges & Camps Updates
Sibanda, one of our longest serving guides at Chobe Chilwero, experienced
difficulty with his eyesight and required a medical procedure called "Phaco
emulsification". Warm hearted guests, a doctor included,
who stayed at Chobe Chilwero in August 2004 decided to open their
hearts, homes and pockets to ensure that Rodgers regained his eyesight – imperative
in his profession! The guests in question organised that
Rodgers travel to France, received the necessary operation and
treatment as well as stay on for some touring. Rodgers departed
for Paris on 22 October 2004 and returned to South African
soil on 24th November 2004.
Whilst travelling, Rodgers saw the magnificent Eiffel Tower,
toured Paris and visited their beautiful vineyards.
Rodgers has now regained his eyesight for long distance and will
have to utilise reading glasses. Rodgers and his family expressed
their gratitude to all concerned and thanked everyone for their assistance
as well as the wonderful opportunity to travel abroad, which was
a first for Rodgers. “My health is now the best. Life
is now much easier for me because of their effort and love, which
they had. May God bless them. Their offer was of fundamental importance
to my future and life.”
A big thank you from Sanctuary Lodges and Camps to our kind hearted
guests who chose to remain anonymous.
Alan Groves (pictured with Sandi, Jabu, Thembi and Marula) has
been working with and studying elephants since 1972. Before
coming to Africa in 1987 to work on a film project involving elephants,
Doug worked with elephants in zoological and wildlife parks on
the west coast of the USA for 15 years.
Once in Africa his attachment to and passion for elephants deepened
and he decided to commit the rest of his life to studying them and
their needs as well as teaching everyone about these beautiful animals. Doug
has since been involved in numerous research, educational, film and
eco-tourism projects involving African Elephants. He is also
full-time caregiver to three orphaned African elephants whom he adopted
shortly after arriving in Africa. The moments in life he finds the
most fulfilling are when, with an elephant trunk gently resting in
his hand, he walks the elephants single file into the bush to find
their food for the day and shares his knowledge with visitors walking
Baines' Camp - Botswana Jump
continues in front of the camp with hippos bobbing in and out of
the water exclaiming in sheer delight. A recent highlight
has been sightings of various lions mating as well as viewing some
cute lion cubs, with a number of lions viewed at an elephant carcass! An
interesting occurrence has been of a beautiful, small female leopard
frequenting the camp on various exploration activities. A
few guests, whilst on a walk, experienced a particularly good sighting
of leopard. General game viewing has been fruitful.
Sanctuary Lodges and Camps recently hosted a press group from the
The group experienced the delights at Chobe Chilwero, Chief’s
Camp as well as Baines’ Camp with its glorious skybeds! The
group experienced the magnificence of the Okavango Delta and Chobe
National Park and enjoyed various educational game drives, walking
safaris as well as night game drives. A highlight of the trip was
the unique elephant interaction with three gentle giants Jabu, Thambi
and Marula! Each magnificent in presence and yet so different
in charm, the group learnt about elephants and were able to touch
and ‘hold hands’ with the elephants – a wonderful
“Less than a year old, this intimate lodge, with just five
thatched-roof suites, offers “romance in the wild,” as
guests can sleep under the stars in mobile four poster beds wheeled
out on the suite’s terrace.” [Jonathan Siskin, Luxury
Chief's Camp - Botswana Jump
|The floods have arrived and filled
the pans in the interior and periphery of the island. Interestingly,
with the combination of the grasses and the full pans, game have
been moving from the west to Chief’s Island.
Water has also been pushing into the Boro flats and Lethaka
hippo pool mainly due to the climatic conditions over the Gumare
fault line. Another rhino calf, number 5, was sighted at the
end of the Paigo channel and indicates that the rhino population
seems to be flourishing!
A truly interesting sighting was that of two honey badgers attacking
and killing an African Rock Python! These two honey badgers
wasted no time in attacking the python and then devouring it! Wildogs
Guests were treated to a sighting of 14 wild dogs in front
of the camp – a treat indeed to see them make their kill! Impala,
tsesebe and elephant have also been quite active around camp during
the day with lions and hyenas roaming the camp at night. A
magnificent male leopard has been seen moving towards the camp while
the two male cheetahs are back in the area providing spectaular game
An upgrade to Chief’s Camps main area was successfully completed
in June 2005. The refurbishment includes new furnishings in
the reception and lounge area with new artwork. The main deck
area also received a ‘face lift’ with complete new furnishings,
while the bedrooms have been equipped with mini-bars.
Stanley's Camp - Botswana Jump
was a spectacular evening drive where guests were delighted to see leopard,
two female lions with five cubs, a herd of about 100 buffalos, as well
as a herd of over 20 elephants with their little ones. Various lions
were seen mating and 13 wild dogs were spotted just outside the camp near
the staff village on the way to the elephant picnic. A male elephant
died very close to camp and guests were able to see a number of lions feasting
on the giant.
We are glad to report that the unique and educational elephant activity continues
to be the highlight of visiting Stanley’s Camp (also available at Baines’ Camp).
Chobe Chilwero - Botswana Jump
A family of lions has been frequenting
the camp and a number of unsuccessful hunting occasions have been seen. Lofty giraffes have also been in
the area with 11 being spotted together! There have also been a number
of elephant, leopard, antelope, sable and zebra sightings, hence game viewing
has been quite impressive. A highlight was a sighting of some majestic
lions killing a young elephant.
The park has also included a new road which is approximately 12 kilometres long
providing an additional route for game viewing.
North Island in the Seychelles
North Island Dive Report - August 05 Jump to North Island
good month! Lots of diving, more than was expected by the Activities
team. We did quite a number of courses even though the sea conditions
were not the greatest. The visibility has been low, averaging
8 metres or so, but the life on the reefs is still fantastic.
Reef-ray and stingray sightings have been especially high this
past month and it seems to be the same individuals seen on the
Two Hammerhead sharks were seen out at sea
on two different trips which is good news for all, as this
means the numbers must be increasing slowly. The fishing industry,
as many know, has had a huge negative affect on shark numbers
in the past so news like this is definitely good!The weather
conditions have not been too bad with the south-east monsoon
only really showing us its “stuff” towards the
end of August – this of course meaning “SURF’S
UP!” On a very good note, I am happy to say that in this
past year 100 staff members have blown bubbles under water.
This means over 60% of all North Island staff are now qualified
FISH CATCH STATISTICS (All
catch and release): Sailfish: 1; Bonito: 6; Yellow
Fin Tuna: 7
Linkwasha update - August 05 Jump
to Linkwasha Camp
has been a comfortable month as far as temperature is concerned. In the
first half of the month it still had the bite in the early morning, but
the cold from July has gone and signs of the hotter months are clearly
here. The maximum this month reached around 32°C and the lowest in
the morning has been 15°C. It has almost been like a switch had been
flipped as the August winds arrived right on time, blowing a lot of leaves
off the trees and leaving them bare. Warmer days have brought on a lot
of haze in the sky and on a few days we did experience some cloud but these
disappeared as soon as they came!
Linkwasha is getting drier and drier by the day. In a lot of patches where
there had been some dried grass on the plains this has turned to sand.
All natural waterholes have dried up and the pumped waterholes are the
only ones remaining, supporting the large numbers of elephant and buffalo
that have been flocking to the precious liquid. In the latter part
of August some new leaves started to show and we are very sure that
they have been welcomed by the browsers in the area! The Camelthorn
(Acacia erioloba) forests have started bringing out new shoots and
look absolutely beautiful with bright green colours in an area that
looks quite desolate. Some of these trees have also started to bring
out their beautiful yellow flowers. Blue bushes have also started greening
up and will not only provide some food but will also provide good shady
cover for the animals, especially predators. A lot of the large False
Mopane trees still stand shady and green … an oasis in this
month has definitely been a month for big game! We have had an awesome
time and the wildlife viewing has been excellent, with more and more
elephants every day. A month ago the waterholes were visited mostly
during the afternoons but as the month progressed and it has gradually
gotten warmer and warmer, these large animals have been marching to
water at all times of the day. It is quite ironic how these animals
always seem to locate mineral-rich areas in the ground right where
the roads go and although it serves us with some nice up close and
personal experiences it can also be a little difficult to pass these
areas with all our guests on board!
the water holes are dominated by the elephants we have also had a nice
variety of other game. We have been seeing more and more roan antelope
in the Scott's Pan area as they frequent there mostly at midday. Our
Front pan here at the camp has been very productive and quite often
some of our guests that have chosen to stay in and enjoy the camp have
been entertained by animals coming and going in large herds. On one
particular morning we had four large herds of buffalo come drink here.
Ostrich Pan has been the area where we have had rhino sightings on
the few occasions that our resident bull has been spotted, if not having
a wallow in the pan, lying asleep in the shade of the large False Mopane
and lion sightings have been very good this month. The four male lions
that are often called “the Ngamo Boys” have been around
quite a bit, putting on quite a show. We have been lucky to have been
in the right place at the right time to watch these cats hunt. On one
occasion in the early morning they had attempted to pull down a young
elephant that was wandering around alone, chasing him and jumping on
his back! Inexperience made them lose their breakfast as this young
elephant engaged low gear and headed for the trees! Some of the guests
got some nice footage as others just looked on in amazement. On another
occasion at Scott's Pan they tried to get a buffalo but failed as well.
Once again being able to share this with folks from the other side
of the planet was very rewarding.
have also been seen on a number of occasions, lying up on a termite
mound, drinking at a waterhole, hunting, mating in the car park in
camp and also in a tree with a steenbok it had killed. On one particular
day we had an incredible vista that included 10 different species of
large mammals. What more can we say!
month has also been good for some of the smaller and rarer animals
such as the aardwolf, wild dog, striped polecats and red hartebeest,
with bat-eared foxes always a regular sighting.
here at Linkwasha has been very good this month. With many of our guests
also being very keen birders we have had an enjoyable time, although
nothing too unusual this month other than the Rock Pigeons seen near
camp. Some of the 116 different species we saw this month included
some of the more colourful birds such as Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters,
Violet-eared Waxbills, Crimson-breasted Shrikes and the ever present
Lilac-breasted Rollers. On the raptor side, a Tawny Eagle and a Fish
Eagle were seen fighting and tumbling out of the sky, almost hitting
the ground before they let go! African Hawk Eagle has been seen a few
times. Rock and Dickinson’s Kestrels were also a daily
Makalolo update - August
to Makalolo Camp
Summer has arrived in the vast Hwange National Park, with a minimum
temperature of 6 and a maximum of 34 degrees Celsius. The August
winds are now sweeping out the cold air and bringing in the warm
dry heat. The Makalolo staff can often be seen rushing for cover
as sand storms approach the camp and canvas blinds are awoken
from their long sleep, having been drawn up in tight rolls since
the end of the rainy season. However, a glimpse of winter is
still hanging over us, with the chilly nights bringing relief
from the hot days. Ponchos are still a common item of fashion
in Makalolo, as the guests huddle tightly in them on their evening
winter disappearing behind the hazy clouds of dust and smoke
and with the short rainy season this year, the vegetation
is reflecting late summer in September. The vast golden grassland
that usually covers the Makalolo Plains is now nothing but
dry silver Kalahari sands and stunted roots, all that’s
left over from the grazing wildlife. Most of the trees in
the area have lost their leaves. However, the Majestic Teak
trees that surround camp are still holding on to their last
reminisces of burgundy and yellow withered leaves. Our evergreen
False Mopanes sprinkle the dry earth with their crimson seeds
and sport emerald butterfly-shaped leaves, which are electrifying
in the parched environment. These trees still offer peace
and tranquillity in this harsh season under their shady canopies.
There is however some relief with the Acacia Erilobas starting
to come into new leaf and brilliant yellow flowers. The Ordeal,
Red Syringa and Okna Pulchra are also starting to rejuvenate
with new shoots. Our lone Sausage tree, close to the Ilala
Palm area of Mbiza, is radiant with new velvet maroon flowers.
With the rainy season still 3 months away, we are all watching
in anguish as day by day leaves fall, the grassland dries
up and the water starts to subside.
month of August has shown a dramatic increase of game. With
the vegetation thinning out, the animals seek food and water,
largely concentrating on the pans in the area. We have had
spectacular sightings of plains game this month as well as
mammals of the rarer kind.
elephants are flooding the plains with different shades of
grey. Scanning across the terrain, as far as the eye can
see, great rows of dark grey materialise from the thickets;
these ghostly appearances make one wonder how these giants
can emerge from out of nowhere. As the herds amble slowly
out of the undergrowth, they head towards the oasis nestled
in the plains. They lift their trunks and breathe in fresh
air - then speed their awkward tree-trunk legs as fast as
their urge for water can take them. As they arrive at the
banks of the pans, they become children again and churn up
the waters, creating a muddy pool with which to cover their
great bodies. After they have finished, they step aside and
dip their trunks into the water to drink, probably wondering
why it doesn't taste quite as clean as it should! At this
thought, they turn and start to saunter towards greener pastures
- the Makalolo Swimming Pool! This tale is appearing daily
in the Guests’ African Journals and on a couple of
occasions inspired individuals have climbed into the swimming
pool and watched closely as the great grey giants suck happily
at the transparent cool water of the pool.
the tree lines, other billowing walls of dust can be seen
coming from the bush. Smaller dark shapes come into view
from the undergrowth and on closer inspection it is clear
that these are giant herds of buffalo, measuring up to one
thousand individuals at times. They too are drawn towards
the pans and as they reach within a few metres, throwing
their heads backwards and putting a spring in their steps,
they start to race!
two great African creatures often meet on the plains and
join forces to quench their thirst. A memorable day at Makalolo
took place in August, when on a hot summer's day, the view
of the Makalolo Plains took everyone's breath away. There,
in front of camp, were approximately five hundred buffalo,
and fifty elephants all spread out over the vast terrain
and, slowly, moving towards the swimming pool with great
anticipation. A few of the buffalo huddled at the foot of
the pool wall, longingly waiting for a helpful elephant to
come along and empty a mouthful onto the ground, to satisfy
their need for water. We sat on the benches surrounding the
pool, not even noticed by the individuals who had come to
another unforgettable afternoon, while seated at Little Somavundla
Pan, the vehicles lined up in an orderly fashion to witness
an elephant performance, along with our attentive guides,
Sacha and Belinda. The stage was set, with the sun going
down, African cocktails in hand and the sound effects of
a wallowing hippo. The two main actors walked onto the stage
to perform a spectacular show. These towering elephant bulls
decided to display their strength and power a few metres
away from their audience. The two titans clashed as they
threw their mighty heads up high, bringing them down with
thuds, curling and twisting their trunks in circular motions
around their gigantic tusks. The younger of the two then
backed off behind the vehicle and, on realising that he was
no match against one much bigger and more powerful than himself,
decided to rather take his anger out on an innocent termite
hill, kneeling down and digging his tusks into it and pushing
his forehead against it. Then, he stood up and walked away,
keeping an eagle eye on his competitor following close behind
him. At this, the stage went quiet, with only the last shadows
of the pink dust and the silent herds of giants sipping calmly
at the waters edge, leaving all astonished and mesmerised.
lion population is still in our midst. One warm evening at
sunset, the baboons started warning everyone that a predator
was present. Suddenly out of the bush next to camp came a
lioness. On informing the game drives, they asked how many
were present. We counted: "1, 2, 3…" - they
kept on coming... "4, 5, 6, 7, 8..." and coming… Eventually
we radioed our valiant guide, Tendai, "many" and
continued to count as felines of all different shapes and
sizes emerged one by one. On several occasions, a couple
of youngsters would pause to tackle each other. This pride
of sixteen, comprising three adult females and 13 cubs of
different ages, rested at the pan and, all in a line, lapped
loudly at the water’s edge and then continued on in
search of an evening meal. The four "Ngamo Boys",
majestic male lions with hefty manes, have also arrived,
entering the Makalolo concession in search of females. They
call with all their might, proving that this is now their
territory and, with this new coalition present, the females
have had to flee, in order to protect their young.
rarer predators have been sighted this month. A couple of
unforgettable views of a family of cheetah have been seen,
sitting comfortably on top of a termite hill. The family
of three tried their luck in catching a waterbuck for dinner
but failed and turned back to take refuge on the top of their
warthog family is still gracing the plains, mincing along
muddily after their noontime wallows. We have lost a family
of hogs to the jaws of the lion and hyaena, but remain with
one family on the plains, strutting their stuff, heads held
high but unfortunately majestic tails no longer - a reminder
of a close encounter with death.
a sadder side of Mother Nature, a young two-year-old impala
ram was found one morning under the shade of the dining room.
It was very weak and had obviously eaten poisonous vegetation
by accident. Holding it in our hands and trying to recuperate
it with salt water, its eyes looked longingly into ours and,
with a silent prayer and a whisper of compassion, this small
creature closed its eyes and fell into a permanent deep rest.
We were thus reminded of true nature and the hard lives of
the animals around us.
total of 101 different species of birds was recorded at Makalolo
this month. Most of the summer birds have returned to the
floodplains and ancient forests, bringing their bright colours
back to the blue skies. The golden tints of the African and
Black-headed Orioles are seen, singing their jovial songs
while fluttering amongst the young Kuduberry trees, while
the White-helmeted, Grey-headed Bush and White-Crowned Shrikes
whistle their sweet melodies as they dance and sing. Our
resident Red-billed Francolins still greet us every morning
and evening with their quirky chirps, while their cousins,
the rarer Crested Francolins, have heard through the 'bush
telegraph' that there is a possibility of delicious muesli
crumbs to be had! Two little Black-eyed Bulbuls sit like
porcelain ornaments and give the occasional chirrup, in case
that they have been forgotten and thus are handed their afternoon
tea, much to everyone's amazement! The Red-breasted Swallows
have arrived from their European journey, and on one morning
at Broken Rifle Pan, our resident birder and guide, Sacha,
and his guests saw them collecting mud in their beaks and
flying off in search of a safe haven in which to build their
sightings of our feathered friends this month have included
the elusive Red-eyed Bulbuls bathing in the birdbaths in
camp. The 'three blind mice' call of the Chinspot Batis has
marked the start of summer. The displays of the proud and
majestic Crowned Cranes and White Storks, Meyer’s Parrots,
Golden-breasted Buntings, Plum-coloured Starlings and Yellow-eyed
Canaries, Pygmy and Striped Kingfishers, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters
as well as the Racket-tailed Rollers bring out colours of
brilliant purple, yellow, blue and green to our surroundings.
Birds of prey, seen swooping in the skies in search of tasty
morsels, include the Greater Kestrel, Yellow-billed Kites,
Booted Eagle, Lanner Falcon and Vultures, including the White-backed,
White-headed, Hooded and Lappet-faced.
one occasion while sitting in front of camp, guide Themba
noticed a silvery-grey bird of prey soaring in the skies
and, on closer inspection, realised that it was a Gymnogene
in search of a flavoursome rodent! The summer birds that
have been seen are the Little Stint and the Common and Wood
Sandpiper. These birds have arrived back in full force and
are bringing joy to all those keen birders our there. A good
pair of binoculars is a must for special sightings of our
a different note, we would like to welcome back our friends,
the busy, regal dung beetles. The end of August marked summer
with our little metallic friends bustling along in the warm
air, in search of a kind elephant that may have left them
a nice fresh parcel of dung!
time of the year is a truly remarkable one, with mammals,
reptiles, insects and birds of all shapes and sizes merging
on the Makalolo floodplains.
Kwando Safari Camps Update -
to Lagoon Camp
2 male lions that have been seen in the area over
the past short while seem to have established themselves
as the new territorial males. They spent a week mating
with a pair of nomadic females, and were then seen
for the next week nightly, calling and marking their
• They pulled down and killed a buffalo close to camp.
• The resident Lagoon pride of 12 had moved northwards to avoid the 2
new males, but were seen hunting later in the period close to the the airstrip.
• A fairly relaxed female leopard was seen “hunting” in the
midst of a spread-out herd of buffalo.
• Another female leopard was seen scavenging on a buffalo carcass remains
of a lion kill.
• A clan of 4 hyena were also seen scavenging the buffalo carcass that
the female leopard was feeding upon.
• Another relaxed leopard was followed hunting on a morning game-drive – she
chased and missed a francolin.
• A couple of sightings of a female cheetah and her 2 cubs – she
was also found feeding on a lechwe kill.
• A pack of 3 wild dogs (2 males and a female) were followed – they
may be the foundation of a new pack next winter.
• Breeding herds of elephant - up to 100 in a herd have been seen as
well as big herds of bulls. They are seen visiting the river throughout the
day – excellent sightings all day from the new deck overlooking the river
• Large herds of buffalo are being seen daily both north and south of
the camp – it is dry enough now that they can visit the river twice daily.
• Interesting bird sightings – Hamerkop killing a frog, secretary
birds, a large number of white-backed vultures bathing along the wetlands,
a pair of giant eagle owls and their 2 chicks, as well as excellent sightings
of slaty egrets fishing.
• Night sightings – chameleons, black-backed jackal, clans of hyenas,
African wild cats, honey-badger, civet, and the guides highlight – a
group of 3 caracal at Zebra Pan – a male and 2 females.
• The general game was excellent all along the river areas, also a couple
of sightings of both Roan and Sable antelope.
|Lagoon Camp Improvements
is still a 12 bed bush camp in the most remote
piece of southern African bush in the massive 232,000
ha Kwando river concession famous for large herds
of elephant and buffalo and predator action.
They have added a wonderful
deck in front of the camp out over the lagoon water,
right under the shady trees in front of the lounge.
Why you may ask? - as always a picture tells a story! The
new deck is integrated with the boat landing and
new fire place overlooking the lagoon. So now, in
addition to the famous game viewing, which is still
amazing, we now can add spectacular dinners on the
The rest of the improvements
include a larger area around the pool for a more convivial
atmosphere and new floors in the lounge, bar and dining
Kwara camp Jump
to Kwara Camp
Pride of 13 (5 lionesses and their 8 sub adult cubs)
were followed hunting several times – they chased
a herds of zebra, tsessebe and impala but missed. 3
adult males were found on a buffalo kill. Also pride
of 5 – 4 lionesses and a young male followed
a couple of times killed a zebra – they later
moved through the camp between rooms 7 & 8.
• The 2 males were also seen – marking their territory. They chased
one of the nomadic males off a buffalo kill. One of the 2 males is showing
a lot of signs of having been in a pretty serious fight and appears to have
been blinded in one eye – probably in a territorial dispute with the
3 nomadic males.
• Several sightings of leopards – a very relaxed female killed
a reedbuck and was seen feeding for a few days, another relaxed female was
chased up a tree by a pack of wild dogs, while another leopard was seen drinking
at the lagoon in front of the veranda at midday.
• A nervous adult male leopard was seen briefly, another was seen close
to a herd of buffalo at night.
• An adult male cheetah as well as a coalition of 3 males seen several
times – they were found feeding on an impala, and were seen again 2 days
later hunting and feeding on another impala. A few days later they chased and
killed a reedbuck – but were relieved of their kill by a hyena. The single
male was followed – he chased and killed an impala at sunset – he
was chased off by a couple of wild dogs that ate for a while and then left
the carcass to the cheetah.
• A pack of wild dogs – 4 adults and 6 pups (approx 3 months old)
spent a few days around the camp – they chased and killed an impala in
front of the camp, and caught a reedbuck in some swampy terrain a few days
• A couple of elephant bulls were seen around, they often came onto the
camp to feed at night.
• One very large herd of buffalo (est. 2000) was seen – they came
to drink a couple of time in front of the camp.
• Night sightings – a hyena scavenging a lion kill, a couple of
side-striped and black-backed jackal, also a relaxed aardvark, a couple of
civets, serval, African wild cat, honey-badgers, and hippo feeding in front
of the camp.
• General game - a herd of 150 zebra, tsessebe, impala, lechwe and a
few warthogs – all seen from the deck at camp.
• A herd of 6 sable was seen several times.
• The flock of pelicans in front of camp has gradually diminished from
a peak of over 100 down to 6 as the water has dried up – with the floodwater
still rising we expect the lagoon to be replenished in the next few days.
Lebala camp Jump
to Lebala Camp
pride a 4 lionesses hunting in the late afternoon
near Old Hippo Pools managed to catch and kill
• Several other groups of lions seen – a single male marking his
territory, a pride of 2 lionesses with one adult male and a young male, as
well as a group of 6 lionesses from the pride of 14 were seen with a male lion;
another group of 8 lionesses, one youngster and an adult male also seen together.
• A very relaxed male leopard was followed hunting lechwe during the
day at Twin Pools. A relaxed young female was seen a couple of times between
the airstrip and the camp. Another relaxed adult female was seen as well as
sightings of several shy individuals.
• A female cheetah and her 2 cubs were seen regularly – she chased
a steenbok and missed, chased an impala which she caught but then it escaped.
She later caught and killed a lechwe which she and her cubs fed on.
• A pack of 3 wild dogs – 2 males and a female were seen several
times – the female is showing signs of pregnancy causing some excitement – it
would be fairly late in the season if this is indeed so.
• Large concentrations of elephant seen all over the concession, seen
all along the river drinking and bathing all during the day and night-time,
moving back and forth between the river and the mopane, also seen in and around
the camp during the day and at night.
• Large herds of buffalo seen all along the floodplains moving down to
the river at midmorning and in the evening.
• Night sightings include clans of hyena, porcupine, both side-striped
and black-backed jackal, black-footed cat, civet, serval, honey-badger, African
wild cat, caracal, hippo out of the water grazing.
• The caracal was seen from the camp following the channel that runs
along the front of the lounge!
• The general game still excellent along the floodplains, a large herd
of roan antelope, some sable, giraffe, impala, warthogs, zebra, tsessebe, wildebeest,
• A flock of 52 pelican seen as well as wattled cranes, osprey, marshal
eagle, both black-breasted and brown snake eagles, Bateleur, Gymnogene, pratincoles,
both swallow-tailed and carmine bee-eaters and several types of owls including
Savuti Camp monthly
update - August 05 Jump
to Savuti Camp
are in the middle of our dry season in the Savuti Channel,
which is evident from the amount of wildlife that has
started to utilise the waterholes.
have been treated to some spectacular wildlife encounters
this month. The camp waterhole has been a hive of activity
and sightings of over 800 elephant moving to drink and bathe
is absolutely mind-blowing. Being able to get down to the
same level of these large animals in the log pile hide has
been the highlight of most of our guests’ stay. We
have seen elephant bulls fighting, small elephant calves
trying to control that “impossible” trunk as
they learn to drink, and the almost silent understanding
of who drinks first. This must be one of the only places
you are able to get this close to truly wild African elephants!
if sitting in camp and watching the daily comings and goings
at the waterhole was not enough, the game drives have been
delivering some unbelievable sightings.
two cheetah males put in an appearance during the month,
spending most of their time to the east of Savuti Camp. We
were lucky enough to watch them hunt and kill a young kudu
female. After gorging themselves, the activity of the kill
brought some more visitors: three African wild dogs moved
in and a short altercation between the two occurred with
the cheetah simply leaving the remainder of the kill. The
wild dogs in the meantime were chased off the carcass by
spotted hyaena who ate just about everything during the course
of the evening. Returning to the kill site in the morning
we found only scraps of hair and a hoof.
guides were in the Zibalianja area late in the month when
they spotted a visitor to these parts: A female cheetah with
two sub–adult male cubs. They looked hungry and the
guides decided to wait and see what would happen and were
rewarded for their patience when the female took down an
impala ewe. Her cubs are at a stage were they must learn
to hunt for themselves and the mother cheetah did not immediately
kill the impala, allowing the cubs to learn from the prey.
They were unable to properly dispatch it and after a few
tense moments the female came in and killed the impala. They
were seen again later that day, full and contented, lying
in the shade of some low bushes. It would be an added bonus
if they start to utilise this area more readily.
sightings this month have been good and sightings of the
Manchwe female in camp, hunting baboons, was a real highlight!
Another highlight was seeing a female and her sub-adult cub
feeding on an impala carcass. This female is very nervous
and offers only fleeting glimpses, her cub however is extremely
confident and allowed us some memorable photographic opportunities
as she “posed” on a dead stump and fed on the
lion have been concentrating around the Kubu Lagoon area
with at least two of the dominant males mating with females
from the Savuti pride. We did have three lion walk through
the camp during breakfast one morning and, on following,
found them moving quite quickly through the mopane woodland.
We kept up with them and on entering the channel found four
jackals baying at a few spotted hyaenas feeding on an impala.
These disappeared as the lions charged in, which also sent
a female leopard up a tree to escape the lions. Only at Savuti!
exceptional sighting has been a small herd of eland, the
largest antelope in Africa, around the Manchwe Pan area.
This is the first time in more than a year that we have seen
these antelope. Late one afternoon the guides picked up a
caracal as it rested in the shade. This very relaxed individual
moved off and started to stalk some impala. This was quite
surprising as a caracal is a small cat of around 15kg (30lbs),
so trying to hunt impala which weigh about 60kg (120 lbs)
is quite unusual.
again a month filled with some wonderful memories, the weather
has been superb with a couple of windy days as is expected
in August, with minimum temperatures of around 12°C and
maximums around the 28°C mark.
it gets drier we expect even more exciting things to occur
around the waterholes and can’t wait to tell you about
them next month - or for you to come and see for yourself!
Mombo and Little Mombo monthly update
- August 05 Jump
to Mombo and Little
is, according to local tradition, the windiest
month in Botswana and this month has been no
exception. Although the cool winter mornings
are now only memories, the regular breezes blowing
in from the floodplains take the edge of the
midday heat in the most refreshing way. It is
awe-inspiring to watch the wind race across the
dry plains, pushing clouds of white dust before
it, and coating the patient zebra with a faint
grey patina as they trek in long lines towards
the channels which hold the key to their survival,
the waters of the Okavango flood.
year's flood has already turned however, and begun to recede.
Slowly the waters evaporate and the green flush begins to
retreat across the plains to the channels, almost imperceptibly
at first, and this retreat exerts an irresistible magnetic
pull on the animals, many of which have little choice other
than to follow the cloak of life as it is withdrawn.
have been noticeably higher this month than in July, we are
into spring now and you can feel the sense of anticipation
as well as the warmth. This year's winter has been unusually
mild so we are all curious to see how that will affect the
rains in summer. As you would expect at this time of year,
we've had no rainfall at all again this month. There have
however been some unusually cloudy days, but these merely
serve to give advance notice of the rains to come in November.
this time of year, many fires are lit by farmers in the Caprivi
Strip in neighbouring Namibia, to ensure fresh green grass
for cattle in the summer. Although these fires are a long
way from us, the haze they produce sometimes hangs in the
air, giving the light a curious softness, and filtering out
the harshness of the sun. As the sun sinks in the west it
becomes a hazy red drop of molten liquid as it dips into
the distant wreaths of smoke ¡V and the effect is repeated
at dawn as it climbs above the horizon, greeting us each
day with a ruby red sun climbing the trunks of the mokolwane
palm trees, and for a few magical moments, it hangs motionless,
surveying the wonders of the day anew.
then there are those moments when the whole balance of the
universe is revealed, with the rising sun mirroring the setting
moon, day and night in perfect harmony, and the inner mechanisms
of the celestial clock are visible. This perfect symmetry
reflects the precise, finely honed balance of life in the
bush, each species fitting into its niche, and each essential
if the ecosystem is to flourish.
occasional hint of smoke on the breeze is easily overpowered
by the deceptively subtle fragrances of the first trees to
bear flowers. The distinctive white and yellow flowers of
the Candlepod Acacia are particularly heaven-scented. The
towering sausage trees are newly green, cloaked in vivid
leaves, and the flower stems are already growing, soon to
burst open to reveal stunning indigo blooms which will be
fertilised by bats during the warm spring evenings.
As winter yields to spring we are seeing something of a changing
of the guard amongst our predators, with some of the older
territorial male lions and leopards seemingly entering the
twilight of their reigns at Mombo.
regard to lions, only three of the Wheatfield Boys still
survive, and they look rather sorry for themselves now. These
four magnificent male lions were once the undisputed rulers
of Mombo, but as they grew older, more nomadic male lions
pushed at the boundaries of their territory, and finally
a few months ago they were toppled in a mostly bloodless
coup by a new coalition, four dreadlocked vagabonds who inevitably
were christened Bob Marley and the Wailers. Their offspring
continue to flourish (the 17 cubs in the Mathatha Pride are
now aged between 5 and 9 months old) even as the Wheatfield
Boys decline, with no territory of their own now they have
been pushed into marginal areas and, without lionesses to
provide for them, they are often going hungry. A sad ending
for these former monarchs, but it is all part of the endless
cycle of life: the old giving way to the new and successive
generations replacing those who have gone before.
cubs are an absolute joy to watch. As they grow older, their
play becomes more focused on the skills they will need to
hunt: stalking, pouncing, wrestling and dragging "kills" are
among their favourite games. If only the adults would join
in sometimes instead of just lounging around in the shade!
A sighting of this pride now has three lion generations:
the old "Gogo" or grandmother, her daughters, and
even the prospect of lions is not quite enough to entertain
some of our younger guests, and one evening we even managed
to rig up a small "cinema" here for perhaps the
most authentic ever screening of 'The Lion King', the songs
in the movie were regularly punctuated by lions roaring not
far from Camp. Cinema of course is an exaggeration, but in
keeping with the bush philosophy of "making a plan" we
learned just what can be achieved with a sheet and a few
nails! The younger members of the family were raring to go
the next morning and were rewarded with a fantastic sighting
of "Simba" and his sixteen siblings!
Wailers will need to keep a careful eye on their territory,
as we now have two new nomadic males in the Mombo area, and
they are already mating with the Moporota Pride, the wall-eyed
lioness and her sisters.
Fantastic news today, our wild dog pack, which was little
more than a twinkle in our eyes two months ago, has become
a reality. Guests on their morning game drive had the first
sighting of Mombo's very newest arrivals and very welcome
ones at that - unless of course you're an impala: wild
dog puppies! The
two males and single female have succeeded through, what else,
dogged persistence, in achieving what we feared was impossible
in an area with so many lion and hyaena. The three puppies
are wonderful evidence of their triumph over the odds.
course it will be a struggle to raise these puppies successfully,
at most they are only two months old now, which is rather
young for them to have left the den where they were born.
Hopefully they have not been disturbed.
difficult to convey just how exciting this event is, it is
the icing on the cake for us this month, and it had already
been a pretty awesome month!
Mombo is justly renowned for its leopards, and a great leopard
sighting is hard to beat. Our young female leopard, Logadima,
is becoming a more skilled hunter, and succeeded this month
in killing a side-striped jackal out on the floodplains,
and then caching it in a tree. Jackals are a favourite
prey of leopards, although jackals are usually clever and
fast enough to ensure that they are rarely caught by their
spotted enemies. In fact leopards seem to enjoy eating
all types of dogs; leopards on the outskirts of towns in
Africa are notorious for eating domestic pets in an interesting
twist on the age-old cats vs. dogs enmity.
fortunes seem inextricably intertwined with those of her
age-mate, the Far Eastern Pan Male. She regularly crosses
paths with this leopard from the wrong side of the tracks
(okay, acacia woodland!) and she was seen one afternoon snarling
down at him from a tree very close to Camp. He was giving
as good as he got, and snarling back, perhaps he was in an
ugly mood after missing a warthog piglet only a few minutes
earlier. We saw him watching the piglets from the shadow
of a termite mound, crouched close to the ground and tensed
to spring, with just the rapid flicking of the tip of his
tail betraying his impatience. Perhaps his hunger got the
better of him as he launched himself into the midst of the
warthog family just a fraction of a second too soon, and
the startled pigs were just able to escape.
Logadima and this young male will mate eventually, as close
to a Romeo and Juliet story as is possible in the bush. They
are half-brother and sister, though.
more deadly drama also seems to be being played out among
our leopards at present, however ¡V and yet another
example perhaps of an established territorial cat being pushed
out by a newcomer. A few weeks ago we started getting occasional
glimpses of a new, large leopard in this area, a male we'd
never seen before. This interloper seems to be on a collision
course with the wily old Burnt Ebony Male, a leopard who
truly does seem to have nine lives. He may be running out
of lives however, as this week we found him very badly injured,
and the nature of his injuries suggests that they were inflicted
by another leopard ¡V most likely this new male, challenging
for dominance. Of course leopards don't have it all their
own way, one leopard who had seized a young baboon had to
retreat ignominiously ¡V dropping the shocked but otherwise
uninjured, and very lucky, baboon, when one of the huge dog
baboons rushed to the rescue.
The re-introduced rhino continue to provide some great game
drive moments, and are certainly one of the best Mombo
stories; a truly successful conservation project. The new
calf we saw for the first time in June proved to be a female,
as we thought, and she is now three months old. Her mother
has moved with her a little further east, and indeed several
of our female rhino are currently on the boundary of the
territories of our two dominant bulls, so there will be
quite a contest over these females. This could explain
the agitated behaviour of our resident bull, Serondela,
who suddenly dashed into the road just ahead of a game
drive vehicle, giving the guests the ideal opportunity
to get some close-up pictures of one of these magnificent
several occasions this month we saw fresh tracks of a female
black rhino, one of only four in the wild in Botswana, but
she managed to elude us. Our dedicated rhino monitoring team,
a joint project with the Department of Wildlife and National
Parks, managed to follow the spoor for some 10km (6 miles)
before she gave them the slip. It is very good news, though,
to know that she is alive and well, and that she is spending
much of her time in the Mombo area. A sighting of a black
rhino is a special moment, they are far and away the rarest
animal in Botswana, and this is the only place where they
can be seen in the wild.
And when you tear yourself away from the bush, the delights
of Mombo and Little Mombo await you, from the delicious food
(with new spring menu items appearing each day!) to siestas
on the outdoor salas. The Camps are truly gleaming in the sunshine,
although you would be forgiven for not noticing the glow of
the wooden walkways as you stroll along, looking down on the
many bird species wading in the water, or out at the buffalo
grazing on the floodplains.
Rhino Trust update - August 05 Jump
to Mombo and Little
in July, we have tried to devote more time to
looking for some of our more elusive rhinos,
and we have had some great results this way.
Also, we have had some very interesting “near
misses”, especially with black rhinos.
This means that we perhaps see fewer rhinos per
patrol, as well as across the month as a whole,
but it does give us a more comprehensive picture
of the rhinos’ current movements.
of the rhinos we are regularly able to locate have shown
only limited movements this month. There have been some notable
exceptions, however – especially Mmabontsho and Mathathane
and Maitobolo. Many areas of Chiefs Island are now very dry
and the floodwaters are beginning to recede in many areas.
This year’s flood was definitely below average, at
least in this area, and is evaporating quickly. If the rains
are late again this year, or patchy, we could see a decline
in the condition of some of the animals here as food and
water become scarce. This has not previously been a problem
for rhinos in the Moremi Game Reserve, but we will have to
monitor their condition carefully as we move into summer.
both the Mombo and rhino HQ areas, we have seen something
of a movement eastwards by “resident” rhinos – moving
towards channels and other flooded areas. The best grazing
is to be found in these areas; many other areas are extremely
dry already, and it is only the end of August. There has
been, to an extent, a reversal of the trend we had begun
to see of rhinos in the Rhino HQ area in particular, beginning
to move west.
further east the Mombo area rhinos move, the less likely
they are to be seen by Mombo guests, as they are all now
at or beyond the edges of the areas we usually cover on game
seems that this year’s (rather mild) winter is largely
behind us. August is, according to traditional wisdom, the
windiest month in Botswana, and this month has been no exception.
Although in general, temperatures are climbing again, the
regular breezes (and occasional strong winds) certainly play
a role in making it seem cooler (the wind-chill factor).
in August have been noticeably higher this month than in
July – we are coming into the brief Botswana spring
now. Daytime temperatures this month have varied between
27-34°C (84– 98°F), with an average of 24.5°C
(89°F). The nights are of course somewhat cooler, with
temperatures ranging from 19°C (68°F) down to 8°C
(46°F). As expected at this time of year, no rainfall
was experienced during August. We have had some cloudy and
hazy days, but it seems that these may be largely due to
the annual phenomenon of controlled burning for agricultural
purposes in the Caprivi Strip.
effect of the winds this month has been, as noted above,
to produce lower temperatures, so rhino behaviour has been
similar to the colder months of June and July. Rhinos are
quite susceptible to changes in temperature, and do not seem
to enjoy either very low or very high temperatures. Although
typically they are more active in the cooler parts of the
day, and at night, they are tending to become more active
later in the day – once temperatures have risen a little – and
to remain active until much later in the day, with a shorter
rest period during the day. They then become active again
much earlier in the afternoons. All of which actually means
that we are more likely to see rhinos without needing to
track them, and to come across more spoor, which we can track.
previous years, we have seen a definite trend of white rhinos
moving out into the floodplains, following the receding flood
to feed on grass species which grow particularly well on
recently inundated areas. As this year’s flood was
low, and is already in retreat, it will be interesting to
see if the rhinos start to move off Chiefs Island earlier
than they have done in previous years. As yet, however, we
have seen no concrete evidence of this.
it seems that the movements of the resident rhinos are tied
to water availability, and they are concentrated now close
to the major channels and flooded areas to the east, particularly
the channel which runs past the Anti-Poaching Unit and then
down the eastern side of Chiefs Island. Channels and other
flooded areas are, of course, the only sources of water at
present. In most areas away from the channels the grass is
now very dry and presumably less palatable and nutritious,
although we know that rhinos can, and do, eat drier grasses.
understanding of rhino movements in the areas we most frequently
patrol – Serondela and Sergeant’s territories – remains
very good, but within these areas we have to take into account
rhino social behaviour which does, of course, have a significant
effect on the movements of individual rhinos, although this
month it really does seem that water is exerting the most
magnetic pull on the rhinos.
month in general, “resident” rhinos (that is,
those that tend to stay within a certain area, have done
for some time, and do not tend to make significant movements)
have been moving in fairly restricted areas. If anything,
there has been a general shift to the more eastern parts
of home ranges and territories – i.e., towards water.
This has made our job a little easier, but as ever, there
are a few rhinos that seem to have pronounced cases of wanderlust.
last month, we have had a few surprises and a few learning
experiences: we now have a much better understanding of the
movements of Mmabontsho (black rhino female) and the sheer
distances she regularly covers. Also further evidence of
Mathanthane and Maitobolo’s pronounced movements. Big
Joe, it seems, has returned to more familiar areas, that
is, Sergeant’s territory.
of the breakthroughs in understanding we have made this month
have been due to intensive tracking efforts by Poster and
the APU trackers (the current Mathathane team includes some
excellent trackers), and some long walks on spoor.
have also been able to finally confirm that our newest calf,
Lonetree II (Warona’s calf, now approximately three
months old) is a female. This means that of our six known
calves, three are female (Maitobolo, Dimpho, Lonetree II),
two are male (Valentine and Lesego) and one is still unknown,
despite being now +/- one year old (Lebogang). We believe
that there may be at least one more calf that we have been
unable, as yet, to locate (with Moremi being the mother).
We suspect that in fact, the seventh calf may already have
been born (to Moremi) although this is merely a hypothesis,
and we have no actual evidence of this, beyond the behaviour
of previous expectant mothers. There are very good indications
that one of the adult females in Sergeant’s territory,
Piajio, is about to give birth. However, this has been the
position with her for some time, so we may be mistaken here.
of our calves are now over a year old, and in two cases,
the mothers are almost certainly ready to come into oestrus
again – Mamatimpani and Dimpho - so it is not impossible
that by the end of next year, we may see females having their
second Mombo calves. By the end of 2010 or thereabouts, we
could start to see the first calves born at Mombo to rhinos
which themselves were born here….
no further births being recorded this month, and no deaths,
the known population stands at a constant 33 white rhinos
and 4 black rhinos, with male : female : unknown ratios being
10:22:1 and 2:2:0 respectively. No deaths have been recorded
in nearly two years and the population of white rhinos is
growing at a very healthy rate. The next calf to be born
(which will be our seventh) will mean that the Mombo Re-Introduction
Project will, in addition to its many other achievements,
have contributed a net gain to the world’s white rhino
Nick Galpine – Mombo – August 2005
DumaTau Camp update - August 05 Jump
to DumaTau Camp
month of August heralded a definite change in season with the
cold winter months making way for much warmer days and evenings.
Average temperatures were recorded as 13 and 32 degrees Celsius
with 39 reached towards the end of the month. The first of
the Carmine Bee-eaters have arrived in our area. We now start
bracing ourselves for October - the hottest and driest period
in Botswana and can already note the increased stress among
the elephants as they struggle to cope with the scarcity of
food and water resources. However, this is indeed the ebb and
flow of nature and as onlookers one should not pity wildlife's
daily battle for survival but instead rejoice in the knowledge
of Nature’s promise of the times of plenty soon to come.
As the dry season approaches its peak, wildlife in the Linyanti
is concentrated around the permanent waters of the Linyanti
River and lagoon system - creating a wildlife spectacle of
awesome intensity and species diversity. As DumaTau camp is
situated on these waterways, most of our wildlife sightings
take place in and around the proximity of the camp making for
relatively short distances being travelled on our daily game
incredible month of wildlife sightings was experienced
at DumaTau which, among others, included the following:
roan, elephant, zebra, civet, lion, cheetah, hippo, giraffe,
leopard, genet, wild dog, buffalo, kudu, red lechwe, bat-eared
fox, black-backed jackal, spotted hyaena, wildebeest, baboon,
serval, steenbok, honey badger, tsessebe, warthog, African
wild cat, Selous’s mongoose, sable, impala, waterbuck.
wildlife sighting for the month has to be watching a Saddle-billed
Stork first kill and then devour a 1.5-metre black mamba!
Some great photos were taken by our guests of this spectacular
and fascinating sighting.
five lion cubs in our area are all doing just great and
have provided many hours of exciting entertainment for
our guests as they go about their playful routine between
nursing sessions with their two mothers. A cheetah with
her two adolescent cubs also moved into our area for the
first time, resulting in some spectacular hunts and kills
being witnessed as she provided food for herself and her
wild dog pups have not as yet emerged from the den but
we expect this to happen soon. Leopard sightings continue
to be plentiful in our area including that of mother and
cub. The most awesome leopard sighting for the month was
in camp at full moon with a leopard jumping from a tree
onto the thatch roof of one of our rooms and then onto
the balustrade in front of the room's deck, creating a
wonderful silhouette in the bright moonlight and viewed
from the comfort of the bed situated a few metres away
with only the shade cloth of the front doors between – unforgettable!
DumaTau chorus was very vocal this month and I can only
recall about four days out of the whole month when I did
not wake up to the call of lions close by - that is certainly
the spirit and charm of DumaTau - indeed the one place
you have to visit at least once!
Ian and the DumaTau team
Camp update - August 05 Jump
to Chitabe Camp
has been an exciting month at Chitabe - one of those "you
should have been here" months, when the incredible bounty
of nature and its interactions presented itself in an incomparable
Jackalberry trees around the island have been fruiting,
providing a valuable food resource for many birds and our
resident vervet monkeys and baboons, who often shatter
the peace of the afternoons with their shrieking and yelling!
The Sausage trees have taken on their springtime electric
green hues, and their red flowers litter the ground like
fallen hearts. Impala feed on them, and leopard often lurk
concealed in their branches, awaiting unsuspecting prey
below. The Knobbly Combretums are also flowering, which
gives an impression of a million firecrackers exploding
around the island. In the surrounding floodplains, the
Cottonwool grasses have taken on their seasonal reddish
colour, and coupled with the smoke from distant bush fires
in the drylands, sunsets have been a spectacle of colour.
Walking Trails have been in full swing, and guests have
been out there enjoying the peace and solitude of being
on foot in the bush, learning of the smaller, more easily
missed things and tucking into meals cooked on the fire
before settling into well-earned sleep lulled by the tinkling
of frogs, the distant howls of the hyaena and the chortling
of hippo in the channels.
two weeks, Chitabe Trails had our pride of 15 lion stationed
across the channel from the camp. Every morning we were
treated to the sight of the cubs playing with the adults
and each other in the light of the rising sun, and in the
afternoons we sat on the pool deck and watched as they
lazed in the shade under the trees, ever watchful for any
unsuspecting prey animals coming down to drink. Some afternoons
our "game drives" were spent watching out from
the deck with bated breath as warthogs, impala, kudu and
even elephant came to the water – before they were
warned of the lions' presence by the baboons. One morning
we even saw a young bull elephant being chased by a frisky
but frivolous lioness - we kept track of the chase by the
trees and bushes being bashed over and aside by his flight!
Eventually one night the lions’ patience was rewarded.
We had just finished dinner when a bellowing shattered
the quiet night air - Newman brought his vehicle around
and we drove out to find the pride on top of a buffalo
bull. From start to finish, the kill lasted all of five
minutes, before the adults and cubs were feasting on the
carcass. The bull was one of a pair that had left the herd
and had come down to drink at the channel. At time of writing,
the other bull is still lurking on the large island across
from the camp, and the lions, after an absence of a fortnight,
are not far away….
one morning, we were treated to the sight of wild dogs
killing a pregnant duiker in front of the pool deck - a
sight that some people wait a lifetime to see played out
right in front of us in the crisp clear light of dawn.
The Alpha pair ate their share first and as soon as they
had had their fill, they dashed off back to the den. Phinley
had anticipated this, and was in position with his guests
to watch them return to their puppies and regurgitate fresh
meat for their breakfast. On another late evening, just
as the sun was setting, they killed an impala ram right
in the camp. They ate as much as they could, and as darkness
fell they headed back to their den. The carcass still had
a lot of meat on it, and our resident male leopard took
the remains and dragged it into the cover of the palm scrub
to finish it off.
another evening, this same leopard made an attempt at killing
a kudu, which we heard bleating in the darkness. The kudu
escaped his clutches, but a hyaena took up the chase, running
straight through the camp and continued across the channel
and into the trees!
clan of spotted hyaena on our concession have also denned.
Their site was spotted by Newman while on a walk and on
a subsequent follow-up he confirmed the den at the base
of a tree with two young cubs emerging in the late evenings
to play in the moonlight. We think that they have now abandoned
that den as the cubs are old enough to join their clan
cheetah in the area have been doing well - and apart from
the seven of which we are aware, two newcomers have been
sighted in the east. They have been found on kills several
times this month, but so far no-one has been lucky enough
to witness the actual event.
herds of elephant - breeding herds and bachelors alike
- have been coming down to drink and bathe in the pools
in the channel to the west of camp. Many a siesta time
has been spent watching these magnificent beasts cavorting
in the water - babies frolicking with their near-uncontrollable
trunks, mothers disciplining young bulls who get too boisterous
play-fighting with each other, and older bulls enjoying
the water in silent contemplation. They often come onto
the island to scratch themselves against the trees before
feeding on the thinning vegetation. Guests are lulled to
sleep (or kept awake!) by their gentle rumblings and soft,
Gomoti Channel on our eastern boundary with the Moremi
Wildlife reserve is still holding water, and the adjacent
plains have been teeming with wildebeest, kudu, zebra,
giraffe, baboon and impala. Large pods of hippo are still
hanging around in the deeper sections, and one of them
was killed by the two resident lion (a male and a female)
before it could reach the safety of the water. They kept
guard over the bloated carcass for over a week until they
lost interest and the crocodiles dragged it into the water.
weather was unusually warm for August, when we would usually
expect at least one frosty morning, none occurred. The
average high temperature was 30°C, the average low
13°, with some days cooled by a gentle easterly breeze.
We are expecting the coming summer to be a hot one!
regards from Chitabe and Chitabe Trails
South Africa camps
Rattray's on MalaMala
|We are delighted to advise
that the completion of Rattray's on MalaMala is ahead
Reservations are being accepted as from 01 November 2005. The
buildings are completed and the decorators are in the process
of installing the soft furnishings.
The main building is almost complete, whilst the 8 double
bedrooms (Khaya's) will be finished within the next two
weeks. The rubble clean up and landscaping of the camp
surrounds is well under way and they are welcoming the
onset of spring to hasten the growth of the wonderful indigenous
Staff selection and training will begin shortly and a few "dummy" runs
will take place during the latter half of October. This
will enable them to rectify any gremlins which inevitably
occur in a building operation of this size prior to them
manifesting as inconveniences to their valued clientele.
Peter Dros has been appointed as the Manager of Rattray's
on MalaMala and will commence employment on the 1st September
2005. Many of you will remember Peter since he was previously
the manager at Kirkman's Kamp. He resigned in 2003 and
has since been residing in Pretoria.
|Rattray's on MalaMala
is a culmination of 40 years of bushveld experience. This
elegant camp embodies an "Into Africa" character
with eight luxury suites, each with 'his' and 'hers'
en-suite bathrooms, a private verandah with a filtered
plunge pool, and an outdoor shower, all within the sanctuary
of a private garden area on the banks of the Sand River. Each
guest has the choice of remaining connected to the outside
world from the sanctuary of their room via continuous
internet connectivity and satellite television which
facilities will not be available in the main public areas.
Facilities within the elegant main building incorporate
a viewing deck, complete with telescope, an air-conditioned
library, an attractive bar showcasing the history of the
area and an adjoining wine cellar stocked with a wide range
of South Africa's best wines.
|The focus of the Rattray's
safari will continue to reflect the ethos of the MalaMala
Game Reserve over the past forty years which is game
viewing. A maximum of 4 guests per safari vehicle further
enhances the Rattray Experience.
We will continue to post photographs of Rattray's on MalaMala
as they progress. Please do not hesitate to contact us
should you require any additional information and be assured
the camp will be ready as promised on the 1st November
Camp (northern Kruger) Newsletter - August 05 Jump
to Pafuri Camp
It’s hard to believe
a month has passed already since my wife, Colleen, and I joined
the management team here at Pafuri Camp. I still pinch myself
every now and again just to remind myself that this wild and
rugged but beautiful landscape that surrounds me every day is
real and not some crazy dream.
had a very light scattering of rain at the beginning of the
month, and although it wasn’t enough to settle the
dust, it did however allow the tiny new shoots of grass to
surface for a short time. There has been no rain recorded
since and at the time of writing, the area is still very
dry with daily temperatures averaging about 33°C.
viewing in our concession of the Makuleke / Pafuri area of
Kruger National Park has been quite remarkable, with regular
sightings of large breeding herds of elephant along the Luvuvhu
River as well as in the Fever Tree Forest. There have also
been wonderful sightings of buffalo and eland.
have also had phenomenal sightings of lion. A large male
and a separate female with cubs have been seen regularly
out to our west, near Mangala, with a second female and cubs
being quite active close to the eastern boundary of the camp.
We have also been very fortunate with the number of leopard
sightings we have had in the past month. There have been
regular sightings outside the old Pafuri ranger’s house
where we now live and also along the Luvuvhu River as you
head towards Lanner Gorge. Colleen also got very excited
as she was coming up our driveway one evening she had four
porcupine walking casually down towards her, and later that
same evening we had a beautiful sighting of a honey badger
just strolling along the road in front of our vehicle.
month of August also saw the dropping of the fences around
the rhino boma, allowing the six white rhino, which have
just been recently introduced back into the Pafuri area,
to walk out and explore their new home. I am happy to report
that they seem to be doing very well.
as usual has been excellent throughout the region. While
standing on the main deck, two guests having tea before their
afternoon game drive were witnesses to our first kill just
in front of the camp. A Brown Snake Eagle in all its glory
took on a fairly large black mamba and after a lengthy battle
carried it away in victory. We have had regular sightings
of Brown-headed Parrot, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, also Pied
and Giant kingfisher and even a Bat Hawk. Our guests have
also been waking up to the magnificent call of the African
Fish Eagle as it flies along the Luvuvhu River in front of
the camp just about every morning in search of breakfast.
And while on game drive my guests and I were fortunate to
come across a beautiful Martial Eagle eating its prey while
perched on a branch of an Umbrella Thorn tree.
were two very special highlights for me here during my first
month at Pafuri camp.
The first was a trip to Lanner Gorge. With its rugged beauty
and breathtaking views this must surely be one of the most
beautiful places in the world that one could have the privilege
second highlight for me was a visit to one of the archaeological
sites that we have in the area. It was amazing walking around
the site picking up different shapes of stone and rock and
letting my mind drift back thousands of years to the Stone
Age period. It was fascinating just to imagine what all the
different tools that I held in my hand would have been used
for and how they were used. I couldn’t help but wonder,
as I continued to explore the area, what day-to-day life
must have been like in those times for the hunter gatherers.
Camp had the pleasure of hosting the first-ever Tour de Kruger
mountain bike challenge. All 105 riders and all the support
teams spent the last night of the tour as guests of our camp.
It was a chance for the riders and everybody else who had
been involved in this gruelling bike ride to unwind and relax,
after what promises to continue to be one of the most challenging
mountain bike tours out. The funds raised by the riders went
in support of two charities: Children in the Wilderness and
a closing note, as I continue to explore the Pafuri Region
with all its history, wildlife and natural beauty, I can’t
help but wonder why I had not visited this section of the
Kruger Park sooner!
Lodge update - August 05 Jump
to Ongava Lodge
August is supposed to be our windy month, but
while there were some chilly mornings and evenings, there was
very little wind. The evenings especially were very pleasant,
bringing a distant haziness to the skies, adding red to the sunsets.
the activities side, for the last two to three weeks, many
sightings of large elephant herds have been experienced in
Etosha. These have mostly been in the Olifantsbad and Aus
areas, but also Okaukuejo waterhole and Neubronni. These
herds have a high percentage of youngsters, some still very
small, travelling with them.
sightings, both black and white, have as usual been numerous.
At the Lodge waterhole, up to five black rhino at a time
have been seen regularly. These types of numbers would be
exceptional anywhere else and this makes our hide, placed
right next to the waterhole, legendary. Some of the most
stupendous photos of rhino, both black and white, have come
from this location.
have also always been photographed regularly at the Ongava
waterhole. The way they have to crane their necks down to
drink water makes for great photo studies!
Etosha, as with the elephant, lion are seen on a regular
basis. For example, seven lion and 90 elephant drank at the
same waterhole at the same time! This of course took place
on opposite sides, as far as possible from each other and
also keeping a wary eye on each other throughout.
the 22nd of August, guides and guests found a pride of eleven
lions lolling around in the shade of the big trees at Allan
Dam. There were two big males, three young males, four females
and two youngish cubs. They spent the whole time just posing
for us, but that is to be expected from the king of the beasts.
the last week of this month we had a visit by a group of
five young male lions from Etosha. We think they come from
the Ombika area. Most mornings we’ll find a variety
of lions that are similar looking and of about the same age
on our way into Etosha.
a nature walk, not far from the Lodge, we surprised an aardwolf,
which ran away in typical aardwolf style, shaggy coat waving
and looking over its shoulder.
Etosha, on the last day of August, we came upon a really
big monitor lizard, swallowing a good-sized puff adder. He
was doing this in great gulps, swallowing the puff adder
grand finale to a great month at Ongava.
The Ongava Team
Camp update - August 05 Jump
to Ongava Tented Camp
The idyllic hues of the
winter season have disappeared. The late winter breezes have
stripped the trees of the last of their leaves, leaving branches
barren and open to the sun’s rays, scorching them to grey and black. Along the
river courses, die-hard Mopane trees still maintain vestiges of green and brown
foliage. The cold nip in the air has been replaced by the tepid annual August
winds, lifting the fine, talcum powder-like, white limestone dust, smothering
everything in its wake. Cream-coloured grasses bend, defying the wind’s
The Acacia newbronii trees
have come into blossom with their vibrant yellow pom-pom
flowers breaking the bleak landscape of the Etosha Pan.
Giraffe and springbok in numbers gather around, gently
picking off the blooms amongst the sharp thorns.
Plains animals abound at
the waterholes, riveting everyone by their sheer numbers
and the antics of the “swimming” springbok
as they wade in belly deep, in search of cleaner water.
The natural waterholes and dams have completely dried up,
forcing the animals to scatter in search of better grazing
and consistent water. Rhino, both black and white, are
frequenting the waterholes in and around the camp, making
the guides’ jobs that much easier in finding them.
The frequent roar of the
lions leaves a reminder that their food source is closer
and easier to prey on. Stompie (one of our notorious lionesses
known for her aggressive nature and mock charges on us
on numerous occasions), together with her pride, keep everyone
captivated as they frequent the waterhole opposite our
lapa for their nightly drink before heading off. Leopard
have been seen in camp and on the way to the airfield,
two cheetah were observed chasing a scrub hare before being
thwarted at the last moment by the fence surrounding the
Black-chested Snake Eagles,
Tawny Eagles and Pale Chanting Goshawks have been easy
to spot as they perch in the bare Mopane branches, seeking
out some unsuspecting reptile. Sparrow Weavers are enthusiastically
building new nests indicating spring is just around the
corner. The colourful Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters beautify
the bare trees as do the Lilac-breasted Rollers.
The dust in the air reminds
one of a smoggy day in London, but lends itself to providing
a red orb as the sun sets in the west framed by barren
branches. Absolutely stunning.
The campfire lit, smoke wafting
through the barren trees, as the crickets start their evensong
ends another perfect month in the paradise that is Ongava.