Dive Report from beautiful North Island in
Mumbo and Domwe Islands
join Wilderness Safaris in Malawi.
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North Island in the Seychelles
North Island Dive Report - Oct 05 Jump
to North Island
It’s an amazing thing when
a bunch of guys get together and start planning a bit of adventure.
Decisions are made very fast and, before you know it, out come
charts and instruments to plot courses and plan distances.
All this happened at the beginning
of October and, to cut a long story short, the Activities Team
at North Island, against all odds and perils, found Bird Island
in the north-west! Just two hours away, the island’s positioning is the closest we get to the “Drop
Offs” in the inner Seychelles Islands. For a diver, this
is just about as good as it gets! Underwater cliffs like mountainsides
descend to unbelievable depths and, of course, life is bigger here!
Needless to say, the dive was spectacular
and the fishing is good too! A very large Marlin decided to come
and play a little, struck a few times, was even raised to the
surface but, after some time, let itself go. Surfing, I was told,
is also very good there and, after seeing a little footage taken
around the island, I believe it. Waves about two to three metres
high with perfect “point
breaks” could be seen out on some of the shallower reefs.
After having a bite to eat on the island, the guys made their two-hour
trip back north. After this recce (reconnaissance) we will return
in future months – this time with guests!
Other exciting sightings for the month of October included that
of a Bull Shark, which swam in close enough for four snorkellers
to see, and an impressive number of Grey Reef sharks, seen off
the south side of North Island on three dives. Then there were
the turtles! There is a dramatic increase in turtle numbers all
around the island with tracks being seen almost every day.
A new dive site off the north-east point of North Island has officially
been added to our dive site list and is well positioned for long
drift dives. Various kinds of reef rays are always seen there,
as it is quite flat on the bottom with large gaps of pure white
coral sand. Further on, huge coral heads scatter the seabed, attracting
interesting creatures. Some of these corals measure three to four
metres high and are home to many different kinds of reef fish,
eels, softer corals and small sharks.
Mumbo and Domwe Islands - Oct 05 Jump
to The Great Malawian
Mumbo Island and Domwe Island
join the Wilderness portfolio
Domwe Island camps, the two most exquisite camps in the south
of Lake Malawi, have just joined Mvuu Lodge and Kaya Mawa as
part of the Wilderness Safaris Group. Established in 1995 by
Kayak Africa, these camps are each situated on two uninhabited
islands within Lake Malawi National Park, surrounded by pristine
forest and unsurpassed beauty.
Both have just five tents situated on wooden platforms overlooking
the clear waters of Lake Malawi. Planned for Mumbo Island for late
2006 are three new luxury chalets, each recessed subtly into the
rocky contours of the island.
Both Mumbo and Domwe Island camps offer an exceptional wilderness
experience and a wide range of activity options. Just a short,
scenic drive from Liwonde National Park, the camps form a great
travel combination with Mvuu Lodge and cater both for action junkies
and for those simply wanting to relax in one of Africa's most magical
Chikwenya update - Oct 05 Jump
to Chikwenya Camp
|It's October! As predicted
in previous newsletters it is hot, dry and food is scarce. In
the words of one of our guides, “devastation has hit the
Zambezi Valley like a ton of cobblestones.” Weak animals
pass away in the night, leaving the hyaenas and vultures to feast.
Within days, the carcasses are entirely consumed. For months
we predicted that October would be a trying time, but no one
thought it would be this trying. Amongst those who struggle are
impala, hippo, buffalo and baby elephant.
As difficult as it is to describe these graphic
scenes without becoming emotional, one has to bear in mind that
this is a fact of life. Mother Nature can't always be fair and
the harsh reality is that the weak are sifted out, leaving the
stronger animals with good genes and the ability to survive the
tough season and produce healthy young in the rains. We watch “survival
of the fittest” happen right before our eyes and those
that die ensure that there is an ecosystem that remains in place
to sustain those who survive.
The predators of course revel in times like these.
Food is in abundance, inadvertently resulting in excellent sightings
for guests. The glut of sightings has ensured that the animals
become more and more accustomed to the vehicle and our presence
and guests are often astounded at the lack of impact of a vehicle
at a sighting has on a predator like lion or leopard.
We took full advantage of this phenomenon and
informed Norman Monks (the senior warden and lion researcher
of Mana Pools) about our relaxed lions. He has been waiting for
months to dart one of the young males in our area in order to
place a telemetry collar on him, thus enabling Norman to study
the pride’s movements. He jumped at the opportunity to
spend a night at Chikwenya and kindly invited staff and guests
to witness a "once-in-a-lifetime" event. Nobody hesitated
and we all piled into our vehicles and ventured out eagerly to
find a suitable candidate for a collar.
Once in position, Norman sent the dart home and
ten minutes later, the young lion had a "three o'clock in
the morning" stagger before he peacefully dropped off to
sleep. Once he was down, our small team set to work measuring
and recording (paws, teeth, and head to tail), taking blood samples
and fitting the collar. When an animal is darted, two types of
drug are injected. The first sedates the animal while the second
is a drug that causes some degree of amnesia. In other words
the creature will not remember a thing. This latter effect was
immediately obvious once the lion began to come round: his nose
had started twitching and gradually he began to waken and immediately
began feeding on a fresh piece of meat, almost as if he had simply
nodded off in front of this good food and now he was hungry.
It was a great experience and one we will never forget.
Also exciting has been the realisation that one
of the lionesses in the local pride has separated herself from
her pride mates and, as is evident from the signs of lactation,
has given birth to an unknown number of cubs. She is keeping
them well hidden and we do not expect to see the cubs until the
end of November, at about which time it is likely that she will
introduce them to the pride. The pride has been taking advantage
of the weakened animals and our frequent sightings of them over
October more often than not found the lions almost dragging their
stomachs on the floor as they gorged themselves. Occasionally
we have had the opportunity to watch them hunt or stalk species
like kudu, warthog and buffalo and even, as graphic as it sounds,
The end of September brought a very light shower
through late evening and early morning which thankfully dampened
the road and settled the dust. It has been dry since then, although
the rains are due in less than a month and the transformation
will be spectacular.
The lack of rain has meant a hot month though
and in the heat of the day everything stands still. The occasional
patch of Hyacinth drifts aimlessly down the river past a pod
of lazy hippos, baboons listlessly sift though elephant droppings
on the floodplain looking for any undigested nutrient rich seeds,
and a warm breeze serves no purpose in cooling anything down
at all. The pool at camp has become the guests’ best friend,
as they spend siesta wallowing in it and keeping cool. Any fantasies
of a quick dunk in the exotic Zambezi River are rapidly banished
as a large Nile crocodile spies a waterbuck innocently feeding
on the banks. There is a huge splash and within seconds the powerful
beast lunges forward and snatches the startled antelope. There
is no struggle, no fight, the antelope has disappeared, and the
crocodile too - all that remains are the few ripples in the water
as they stretch out and splash up against the banks.
A single wild dog was found feeding on a fresh
impala carcass in the sun's early morning rays. Although we didn't
see the mottled creature hunting, we are confident that he brought
down the animal by himself and we watched him struggle as he
tore though the tough skin and ripped at the flesh beneath. He
was completely unfazed by our presence and continued feeding
as we drove away.
During the month of October an annual, private
fishing competition is held by a group of Zimbabweans. They stay
at Chikwenya and fish, almost solidly, though the heat of the
day. This tradition has continued for seven years and this year
they had something huge to celebrate. The winner of the tournament
caught himself a record Tigerfish weighing 8,22kg (18,2lbs).
This is the biggest fish ever caught at Chikwenya (that we know
of) and of course, because we have a strict catch-and-release
policy, the fish was revived and placed back in the water for
someone else to catch!
Makalolo update - Oct
to Makalolo Camp
|October has lived up to its
name of "suicide month", with temperatures sitting
consistently around 37° Celsius with a maximum for the month
of 40° Celsius. We have however been blessed with a little
respite during the nights with temperatures dropping down to
around 19° Celsius, and for this we have been very grateful.
Towards the end of the month the clouds have
been building up in the afternoons, teasing us with the promise
of rain. However not until the 26th October did our first rains
come - to much jubilation. It was a spectacular sight to witness,
the afternoon game drives were sitting at the Front Pan, the
guides having just successfully pulled an adult female sable
out of the mud. First we smelt the enticing smell of rain, and
then it came racing towards us from the east. It was a great
relief, even if it was only 1mm - just enough to settle the dust.
We have great hopes for the rains to come next month and put
the animals out of their misery.
With the lack of rain this month it is obvious
that the trees and shrubs rely on day length as opposed to water
levels to start producing their new leaves. The Ordeal trees
add much respite to the dry bush with their splashes of inviting
green - just a pity they are unpalatable to most of the fauna.
The Jackalberries are just starting to push out their striking
new red leaves. The Large-leaved False Mopane trees are dropping
their seeds, leaving a red carpet on the ground; we wonder why
the baboons are not capitalising more on this cache of food.
The waterholes are struggling to keep up with
the incessant demand for water. The elephants are monopolising
the inlet pipes - just putting their trunks right over the ends
of the pipe so the water is not getting to the pans and they
are rapidly drying up. This has forced guides to take a new approach
to game drives, one of which is to park the vehicle right over
the inlet pipe to discourage the elephants from drinking there
and give the other game a chance to get a drink. This has led
to some very close-up viewing - mostly of elephant, as the youngsters
are completely undeterred and come right up to the vehicles,
practically placing their trunks under the vehicle to get at
A couple of game drives have been hands-on experience
for our guests, including pulling the sable out of the mud as
described earlier. Then a couple of days after that we had to
pull a sub-adult female giraffe out the mud that had also got
stuck in the Front Pan. After a few false starts we eventually
managed to get her out, and she stood up to find a ring of guides
with their hands in the air, trying to prevent her from going
back into the mud. Certainly the closest any of our guides have
ever been to a giraffe and it's a good thing the giraffe did
not decide to kick out! Having successfully convinced the giraffe
to head for dry land, she then galloped off, clearly relieved.
We were just celebrating our good work, when we looked up to
see a very angry male buffalo or "dagga-boy" chasing
that same giraffe across the plain at top speed. It was very
amusing to watch, but what an ordeal for the poor giraffe, who
fortunately managed to keep out of the buffalo's way. A memorable
comment from one of our guests: "But buffalo don't even
The dry season is certainly taking its toll out there and as
a result the concentration of game at the waterholes is just
staggering. With this we are witnessing interactions among
species that would not usually interact at all. Similar to
last month’s zebra and buffalo episode, the other day
we witnessed another awesome sight - a male sable was drinking
from the trough, unable to believe his luck that he finally
had something other than mud to drink, when this very grumpy
male buffalo came up and gave the sable a left hook - the sable
went flying into the air and for a little while was stuck on
top of the buffalo's head. Poor thing, he eventually came off,
but limped off looking very sore and forlorn. Fortunately he
had not been gored, but no doubt was pretty bruised.
We have been seeing many newborn elephants around
the pans. It is a delight to witness these pink, 120kg-babies
with snow-white feet taking their first few unsteady steps, trying
to find the right end of their mother to suckle from, and to
watch them experiencing a mud bath for the first time.
We have been incredibly fortunate this month,
with cheetah and leopard sightings topping the charts. On one
occasion, two separate game drives were watching three cheetahs
at different waterholes, only 5km apart from each other. The
guides were incredulous "six different cheetah in one day!" A
pair of leopards has taken up residence on the Makalolo Plain,
much to the delight of a few lucky guests who got to see them.
However the duiker population is probably not quite so ecstatic,
as they definitely seem to be the preferred food on the leopard's
menu at present. The female leopard is still very shy and takes
off immediately on seeing a vehicle, but the male is slowly starting
to relax. On a night drive the male leopard was seen on the bunker
and the guide drove forward for a closer look. On arriving at
the bunker the guide could not see the leopard anywhere, until
she looked inside the bunker (the door had not been closed),
and there the leopard was cowering at the bottom. Anxious that
in the next instant there may have been a rather unwelcome visitor
in the vehicle, she had to quickly leave the scene. Walking safaris
have gained enormously in popularity since Dickson and his three
French guests spotted a leopard on their morning walk.
The "Spice Girls" are back and the
pride now numbers 20. The four adult lionesses have joined forces
again, and have 16 cubs between them, varying in age from five
to fourteen months. One morning two game drives came across the
pride lying next to a waterhole, feeding on the last remnants
of four duikers that they had killed the previous night. The
lions looked very relaxed and seemed to have settled in for the
day. Then, one lioness got up and arrogantly moved over towards
the waterhole and seconds later she had brought down a sub-adult
male sable. The lions soon discovered that snacking on the edge
of a busy waterhole is not the best place as they were constantly
being chased off by elephant and buffalo coming to drink. A couple
of days later we woke up to find the "Spice pride" feeding
on a female eland that they had killed right in front of the
camp. We are thrilled to have them back on the Makalolo Plains
BIRDS & BIRDING
A total of 113 different bird species were seen in October. The
most productive birding spot is right alongside the dining
room, and guests at brunch-time are often treated to a stunning
array of colourful birds playing in the birdbaths.
It is always with great excitement that we see
the first summer migrants for the season: Paradise Flycatcher,
Pygmy Kingfisher, Eurasian Bee-eater, Broad-billed Roller, African
Cuckoo and Abdim's Stork have all arrived.
Some of the birds have been capitalising on the
lack of water. The large pan in front of camp is drying up fast,
resulting in a seething mass of catfish trying to wriggle back
under the mud to escape the harsh, drying sun. Early one morning
we watched our resident Saddle-billed Stork leisurely help himself
to one of these catfish. No sooner had he got its bounty in his
large bill when an African Fish Eagle flew up and snatched it
from him. However before the Fish Eagle was able to fly off to
safety with his stolen meal, a Marabou Stork stole the fish from
him, only to be pursued by five other Marabou Storks. To end
the saga, a second Fish Eagle flew up, stole the fish and made
of with it. I'm still convinced that it would have been a whole
lot easier for the birds just to get their own dinner as the
Pan was literally boiling with catfish!
"One of the most interesting places I have ever visited and I have been
travelling the world the past 50 years." - SL, USA.
"WOW! It's been magical. Wonderful staff and guides. An animal kingdom!
Thanks for making it so special! P.S. And great food too!" - KD, USA.
"Sometimes when you look forward to a dream
for several months, the "real thing" does not meet
your expectations. That is not the case at Makalolo. You have
more than met my expectations, - you have surpassed them. The
night we slept in the tree house afforded a magnificent view
of the stars and our guide Tendai ensured our safety by posting
himself under the next tree. What fun! You will always be in
my heart!" - ML, USA
"What an enriching experience
- being here during a dry spell - watching scenes of desolation,
survival, but great beauty also. Thanks to Belinda for being
a partner to us in our Zimbabwe experience, and most of all
- dream for RAIN! Thanks also to Laura for being a constant
welcoming presence." - JB & MH, San Francisco, USA.
Camps Update - Oct 05
Lagoon camp Jump
• BREAKING NEWS – the
female African Wild Dog that guide OB though was pregnant.......was
found late last week deep into the mopane.......at
her den with FIVE x 6-week old puppies. This is 3-4
months later in the season than normal, and after last
years decimation they have chosen an area far away
from lion concentrations.
• The other pack of 24 wild dogs was also seen moving
around and hunting – they were last seen moving
at pace west into the mopane.
• A couple of male lions killed a buffalo bull, a week
later they killed another bull with the assistance
of a lioness but were robbed by the dominant pair of
• The dominant pair of males was found a few days later
on another buffalo kill. Several other sightings of
lions in the area over the period as well, including
2 adult male lions feeding on the carcass of an adult
• A couple of leopard sightings over the last while including
a relaxed adult female leopard hunting impala.
• The coalition of 2 male cheetah has been seen again
and were followed hunting – they killed a young
kudu, and later in the week killed a lechwe. They moved
north and were later found with full bellies resting
close to room 6.
• Large numbers of elephants seen all throughout each
day moving to and from the river – largest herd
counted at about 200 strong.
• Several herds of buffalo varying from small bachelor
herds to a breeding herd of 1500 seen daily.
• A clan of 6 hyena were found feeding on the remains
of a kill.
• General game including zebra, kudu, sable (herd of
12) and roan antelope, giraffe, tsessebe, impala, reedbuck
• Smaller game includes both jackal species, porcupines,
a family of 12 banded mongooses, yellow and dwarf mongoose,
wild cats, honey badger, civet and caracal.
• Various excellent bird seen as well as a rare sighting
of a juvenile cuckoo-hawk
Kwara camp Jump
• A pride of 23 lions was
seen several times - they pulled down and killed a
buffalo bull – 2 days later they killed an adult
giraffe bull which they finished off in 2 days.
• A number of other lion sightings – coalition
of 2 males, another group of 3, and a group of 3 males
with a lioness - she was showing signs of coming into
• A couple of leopard sightings including a female with
her male cub feeding on an impala in a tree.
• A lactating female cheetah was seen several times – eventually
her two 6 week old cubs were seen but were a little
shy – they were later seen interacting with a
trio of very aggressive male cheetah, the guides later
reported one of the cubs to be missing.
• The coalition of 3 male cheetah was seen hunting a
few times – once unsuccessfully chasing warthogs.
• A single female wild dogs was found limping – there
was no sign of any other dogs near her.
• A few sightings of breeding herds of elephants in the
north, most elephant sightings are bachelor herds all
around the concession, seen daily bathing in the channels
and coming into the camp at night to feed.
• Large herds of buffalo are seen daily –up to
800 strong, and occasionally being followed by male
• Lots of hyena have been seen around the camp – a
prolonged interaction between a clan and a couple of
male lions was witnessed around the lagoon in front
of camp late one night.
• One of the hyena dens moved to a new site possibly
due to lion density.
• Good general game often seen at the front of the camp – tsessebe,
zebra, giraffe, impala, baboon, reedbuck, kudu and
• Smaller game seen includes slender, banded, dwarf and
yellow mongoose, caracal (including one sighting of
a pair), serval, civet, honeybadger,, African wild
cat, both species of jackal and genet.
• The heronry continues to be productive – the
yellow-billed stork and sacred ibis chicks now about
2 weeks old
Lebala camp Jump
• A nomadic lioness robbed
a leopard of its impala kill in the early hours of
• A pride of 4 lionesses killed and fed on a buffalo
bull – they were robbed of their kill by a
clan of hyena, and then tried to bring down another
buffalo amongst a herd of 2000 just north of the
• A pride of 2 lionesses and 2 males caught and killed
buffalo calves on two different occasions, several
days later they were found feeding on an adult buffalo
• A number of other lion sightings during the period
• Plenty of leopard activity – a number of sightings
of leopards during the day found resting in sausage
trees escaping the heat, and followed A female leopard
with 2 cubs, an adult male killed a young kudu cow,
but lost it to hyena.
• A female cheetah with a pair of sub-adult cubs, a
pair of male cheetah and a female cheetah on her
own all seen during the last short while. The adult
female with the 2 cubs killed an impala and fed for
an hour before being robbed by a clan of seven hyena;
the 2 male cheetah caught and killed a young male
kudu near water-cut, the single female was found
feeding on an impala a few days ago.
• A pack of 23 wild dogs (11 puppies) was found resting – later
followed and made 2 kills with the hyenas scrambling
for the leftovers.
• The same pack close to camp chased and killed an
impala, the other impala ran into the water but was
taken by a huge croc, the third impala was caught
and killed by a pair of cheetah that were then robbed
by hyenas! (this amazing episode is taken verbatim
from Lebala guide SteveK)
• An active hyena den with 5 pups was found as well
• Large herds of elephant seen throughout the area – up
to 1000 elephant seen both north and south of the
camp on a gamedrive.
• Large herds of buffalo seen throughout the concession
on virtually every gamedrive – moving to and
from the river daily.
• Good general game – roan and sable herds seen
frequently, tsessebe, giraffe and zebra
other sightings include aardvark, several different
species of mongoose, honeybadger, African wildcats,
genets, caracal, serval and a 2,5 metre African Rock
update - Oct 05 Jump
to Mombo Camp
has roared in like a lion at Mombo this year. The heat is stalking the
dry and dusty plains and only the spectral promise of rain borne on the
mild winds whirling through the still air offers any chance of relief.
We have yet to have our first summer rains here, but with the thunder rolling
across the parched savannah and the gasping floodplains each afternoon,
it can only be a matter of time. There is an incredible air of expectancy
everywhere, in the hopeful glances we all cast at the clouds to the resolve
of the zebras trudging towards the few channels which still have water.
These last emerald jewels in the dust have a magnetic draw on all the animals
here, a pull which they must obey, or perish.
But the Okavango has a way of defying death in the sheer
exuberance of life here. Even as the last grasses of winter wither and
curl up under the acacia trees, the promise of rebirth is everywhere,
from the swelling curves of the bellies of the female impalas, who will
begin to give birth in just a few weeks, to the exploding green leaf
buds on Baobab Bob. As he prepares to come into leaf and to stand guardian
over another of the countless hundreds of summers he has lived through,
Bob is providing shelter to a brood of young Meyer's Parrots, who themselves
will go on to propagate other trees as they drop seeds during feeding.
The concentrations of game around the major channels,
particularly in the Simbira and Moporota areas, are quite outstanding,
with the stripes of hundreds, even thousands of zebra shimmering in the
heat waves, and the massive shapes of elephant herds appearing like mirages
of lost cities as they follow the ancient paths that only they know to
As channels dry up into disconnected pools, like a diamond
necklace snapped and spilled on the ground, the hapless barbel and other
fish that did not manage to escape are pursued mercilessly by many birds,
which systematically clear each fish trap of its besieged residents.
Most spectacular among the birds are the giant, unwieldy pelicans, which
retire to roost each evening in the Mokolwane Palm trees, lending a prehistoric
aspect to the timeless Delta sunsets with their hunched pterodactyl-like
October is hot, and there's no denying it. However there
are many ways of coping with and enjoying the summer heat - many of which
we have learnt from observing nature around us. While we haven't yet
tried wallowing in mud, hippo-style, we know how refreshing a dip in
the cool plunge pool can be, and we have taught many guests the trick
with the wet kikoi, which makes for a very relaxing mid-afternoon siesta.
As November's temperatures are often reduced by the eventual
onset of the rains, October is perhaps our hottest month. Daytime temperatures
reached from 35°C to 39°C (100°F to 108°F) while nights
were warm, from 13°C to 22°C (56°F to 74°F). Despite
the recent timpani sounds of thunder - answered by echoing applause from
us - we did not experience any rainfall at Mombo in October. Watch this
In every sense Mombo is an oasis away from the cares and worries of the
worlds, and the lush green grasses on the floodplains surrounding Little
Mombo in particular have played host to several breeding herds of elephant;
it is easy to be lulled into a state of extreme relaxation watching
the gentle swishing of their trunks as they pluck bunches of grass
and then slap it against their legs to shake off any sand (so that
it doesn't cause wear on their teeth). Some of the herds have tiny
calves - on a game drive at the very beginning of the month we just
missed seeing the miracle of birth but got to see a calf's first teetering
steps into the world outside the womb.
Mombo is of course a fantastic place to be born an elephant,
but even here there are serpents in the grass, hidden dangers about which
a young elephant knows nothing. One evening the air was rent by the distressed
trumpeting of a female elephant, and then shattered by the diabolical
giggling of hyaena - a noise usually heard when they are excited at a
kill or in danger. We only learned the true, terrible story the next
day: a cow elephant had left the herd to give birth, and had then become
separated from them. Her newborn calf was seized by several hyaena and
she was unable to chase them all away.
Thankfully the merciful cloak of night hid this event
from us - it would have been a very harrowing scene to witness. Elephants
are one of the few animals thought to grieve in a similar way to us,
so we could see the sadness of the mother who had lost her calf for days
The elephants have shared the Mombo floodplains with
a great many zebra, lechwe, and occasionally, huge herds of buffalo.
Sometimes in the evenings a stately parade of giraffes will leave the
shade of an island treeline, and make their graceful progress down to
the water to drink. As the sun sets, our resident porcupine emerges from
his palm island to gorge on palm fruits, and perhaps a nervous herd of
impala too, spooked by the real or imagined shape of a hyaena. And over
their heads, the rhythmic swoosh as Spur-winged Geese flap their way
to their roosts, and the occasional soft whistle when one of them is
missing a feather.
So much game of course means a real concentration of
predators at Mombo. Mombo's legendary cheetah coalition, the two grizzled
brothers known as the Steroid Boys, have been much in evidence again
this month. Although they range over huge areas of Chief's Island in
the heart of the Moremi Game Reserve, they return time and again to this
one special corner of the reserve, drawn here by the prevalence of their
preferred prey, impala.
Their sudden transformation from being stationary - although
watchful - on a termite mound into a blur of spots streaking across the
tawny savannah never fails to thrill anyone who has the privilege of
watching these speed merchants in action. The Steroid Boys have long
been known for unusual behaviour, and they have rewritten the rulebooks
several times - not least when they mastered the technique of chasing
red lechwe into water, and drowning them.
Confrontations between leopard and cheetah are rare,
which is probably a good thing for the slighter cheetah, as they invariably
come off second-best and are forced to rely on their speed to keep them
out of trouble. This month however we watched a fascinating episode when
they succeeded in chasing off a male leopard which was attempting to
pirate their kill. The leopard beat an ignominious retreat into the nearest
tree, and to the victors the spoils - the two brothers were then able
to continue feeding on the impala carcass.
We are watching every development with our new pack of
wild dogs with bated breath, as it seems they may be on the verge of
establishing themselves in this area again. Perhaps this may be the start
of a return to the dog days of the late 1990s when wild dogs were one
of the most visible predators at Mombo. The three adults we have been
seeing all year had three puppies which began accompanying them on their
hunts, although during this month one of the half-grown puppies has disappeared.
Despite this tragedy, and their reduction in strength,
these champion survivors have clung onto their foothold at Mombo undaunted,
and we have had some fantastic sightings of the pack this month. One
of the best was actually from the deck of Camp, late one afternoon when
they came trotting across the floodplain, their multi-coloured coats
striking fear into the hearts of the antelope, and their brilliant white
tail tips streaming out behind them in the rosy evening light. One of
those African moments that remains with you always.
The wild dogs too have had to dispute with leopards over
kills on at least one occasion, and even our fearless young Far Eastern
Pan Male, was obliged to jump into a tree to escape the snapping jaws
of the indignant dogs. Nearby, a much larger leopard in a Jackalberry
watched the incident with perhaps a measure of interest - this was the
young male's father, the wily old Burnt Ebony Male.
As their roars echo through the Camp, the Mombo lions are very difficult
to ignore. Whether it is the young cubs, growing up fast and getting
into new mischief each day, or the old male who has formed a coalition
with two younger, nomadic males, the lions here are a constant source
of awe and excitement.
The evening meal is always a highlight of the safari
day: great food and excellent wines to accompany reliving the day's adventures,
but sometimes even highlights have to be postponed. As we were collecting
the guests from their tents for dinner one evening, the sharp ears of
one of our guides, Francis, picked up the distinctive sounds of lions
arguing over a kill, and we soon realised that one of the guest tents
offered the best vantage point, so we all trooped onto the deck to watch
an impala kill change hands, from the six young lions who had killed
it, to the coalition of three males.
The strongest of the three took, well, the lion's share
and refused to let his companions join him as he crunched through the
ribs just a few metres below us. No honour among thieves! We watched
the whole drama, spellbound, and when it was all over, and the disappointed
hyaenas had slipped away into the darkness, we finally returned to the
dining room. I think a lot of our guests ordered the vegetarian option
October is in many ways a month of waiting: waiting for new leaves to
sprout, for new impala lambs to take their first ungainly steps, for
the first scarlet flash of a Carmine Bee-eater swooping alongside the
vehicle to snap up an unfortunate grasshopper. Some animals just can't
seem to wait, however, and with a gestation period of sixteen months,
you can understand a white rhino female getting impatient to give birth.
And so it was this month that we found yet another new
white rhino calf - our seventh since we started our joint rhino reintroduction
project with the Botswana government just four years ago. This was the
smallest calf we have yet found on our monitoring patrols - only three
or four days old and still too small for us to know if it is a male or
a female. The mother is Kabelo, one of the first rhinos to be released
at Mombo in November 2001. In fact, by a happy coincidence, we discovered
this latest calf on October 19th, the fourth anniversary of rhino returning
to Mombo after an absence of perhaps two decades: a perfect way to celebrate
this conservation milestone.
In addition to cool, wet kikois, we've been helping our guests cool off
with iced drinks around the pool, and to make the most of sunny days
in the bush with picnics under shady umbrella trees - featuring Craig's
infamous chocolate Amarula sauce pancakes. We’ve been sampling
the dishes on the new summer menu with delight - everything from Jerusalem
artichoke soup with extra virgin olive oil, through yellow fin tuna
tartare with avocado and tomato salsa and fresh lime and ginger dressing,
to mango-yogurt ice cream with wild berry syrup. A glass of homemade
lemonade to wash it all down and waiting for the first rain shower
of summer really isn't too arduous at all!
As always, we will leave the last word on the wonders of Mombo and Little
Mombo in October to the guests who shared them with us:
- Our guide Brooks was outstanding - as was the hospitality!
- Lee was an extremely intelligent and sensitive guide
- All was fantastic and the staff were excellent
- Lee, Tlamelo, and the rest of the staff were phenomenal.
We can't forget Caitlin either - she was terrific!
- The best safari Camp in Botswana!
- The highlight was the lions and leopards up close and
- It is the experience of a lifetime and we especially
hope our daughters get to enjoy it - we will spread the
word! We would not change a thing!
- Keep up the good work - you do not need to change a thing!
That's all from your Mombo and
Little Mombo team for October: Steve & Caitlin, Pete & Sharon,
Noreen, One, Craig, Siobhan, and Nick. Oh, except that we had a real
moment of bush romance at Little Mombo this month, when Lee the guide
proposed to his (unsuspecting) girlfriend, who we had flown in specially.
Did she accept? Well, you'll just have to read this newsletter next
month, or better yet, visit us here and find out in person!
- Oct 05 Jump
to Duba Plains Camp
Weather-wise, strong winds normally experienced
in August/September, have kept the temperature below average for this
time of year, though the last few days have been sweltering with daytime
temperatures in excess of 40°C (110°F) in the shade. Cumulus
clouds, sporadic for most of the month, are becoming larger and building
rapidly into Cumulonimbus clouds that herald the initial onset of thunderstorms.
Meteorologists are predicting above average rainfall this year in Angola
and Botswana as El Nino reaches a more neutral phase. If this does
happen, we could be in for a flood similar to that of 2004.
General game over the last couple of months has been outstanding. Elephant
herds continue to move into the area as they search for greener aquatic
vegetation in the swamp areas that border the southern and western
fringes of our concession. Out on the Duba plains, herds in excess
of seventy browse the Tsaro Palm islands and kick up tufts of couch
grass to eat. At this time of year, Duba is the ideal place to see
elephants as an abundance of water leads to lower stress levels and
greater ease in the vicinity of game drive vehicles. During the heat
of the day, breeding herds bathe in the muddy pool in front of camp
providing plenty of entertainment for guests. We saw our first tsessebe
calf on October 19th, a sighting that usually indicates the imminent
arrival of the first rains. The annual wildebeest migration also
took place at the end of the month, when ten females ran across the
floodplain in front of camp and crossed the channel. As a spectacle,
it doesn’t quite rival the Serengeti migration, but it’s
wonderful to watch the same animals, year after year returning to
their favourite breeding area. Giraffe have also journeyed across
to Duba from the east as the floodwaters recede and have been seen
browsing near the airstrip. If they can brave the channel crossing
to the south of camp, giraffe could become a year-round feature in
the acacia islands near to Shade Pan. Large herds of kudu are to
be found browsing on the islands close to camp. These wonderful antelope,
in particular the males which are normally skittish, have provided
great close-up viewing.
As the floodwaters evaporate we will
start to explore the northern part of our concession over the coming
months. From the air, the area is teeming with good plains game, zebra,
tsessebe, wildebeest and sable antelope. This area is also home to
a second big herd of buffalo that split from our herd a few years ago.
Night-drives have been very exciting,
particularly for bat-eared fox lovers. These small jackal-like creatures
with huge ears are producing pups and we have found six different dens
around the concession. They seem relaxed around our vehicles as they
forage for harvester termites, their favourite food. Some of the pups
are so small that they resemble chicks following a mother hen! Another
feeder on harvester termites, the aardwolf has been seen near Molokowne
Island. Other sightings include serval, African civet and African wildcat
kittens. However, the “sighting of the month award” goes
to Chief for spotting a Temminck’s pangolin near Shade Pan. This
is only the second sighting in twelve months and a good one as, instead
of rolling into a ball as pangolins tend to do when threatened, it
moved around on its hind legs searching for ants and termites.
Birding remains tremendous as summer migrants, including the colourful
Carmine Bee-eaters, return for the summer. Yellow-billed Kites fly
low around the camp collecting nesting material. Moporo Crossing
still has water and plays host to Saddle-billed and Yellow-billed
Storks, Black-crowned Night Herons, Rufous-bellied and Squacco Herons,
Sacred, Glossy and Hadeda Ibises, Pied and Malachite Kingfishers,
Little, Great White, Cattle and Slaty Egrets. The rare Rosy-throated
Longclaw has been seen regularly at Acacia Island and African Skimmers
rest on the sandbanks at Eden.
Duba’s buffalo and lions
The buffalo herd, in good shape despite the dryness of the grass, now
numbers around 800, having split last month. Possibly in response
to pressure from the Tsaro pride, the buffalo seem to have changed
their feeding behaviour and stay lying down in an open area of the
floodplain until mid-morning before moving off to feed and drink,
by which time the lions are too hot to hunt unless extremely hungry.
Duba’s lions remain a big attraction
for guests and we’ve seen them on most days since June. The Tsaro
Pride has provided much entertainment and bewilderment. As of June
this year, nine cubs had died after the loss of all 22 last year. Since
then another nine cubs have disappeared, five in the last month, bringing
total losses this year to 18. After such a high cub success rate of
85% from 2000 – 2003, losing 40 cubs in two years is dramatic
reversal of fortunes. Part of this year’s loss had been attributed
to one young adult female in the pride that is intolerant and aggressive
towards the cubs. It now appears that two females, “Milky Eye,” an
older female and this young female are responsible for killing most
of the cubs. After observation we reckon that last year’s heavy
losses are not solely attributable to hyaena predation exacerbated
by high flood levels but also a result of the behaviour we are currently
witnessing. One distressing event took place when we found the pride
close to Python Island keeping an eye on the sleeping herd of buffalo.
As the buffalo started to get up, Milky Eye hid her cub so she could
get ready to hunt and then moved off with the rest of the pride. However,
the younger female held back and as soon as the others were a distance
away she chased the cub into the open and with one swipe of her paw
broke its back. Milky Eye and the Duba Boys both rushed in to defend
the cub but when it couldn’t get up abandoned it. The poor cub,
still alive though unable to move in the sun, died of heat exhaustion
a few hours later.
Why this is happening is pure speculation
and could be a combination of factors. One possible theory is that
continued mating with the Duba Boys, especially by their daughters,
is producing deformities in the cubs caused by genetic imperfections.
The Duba Boys have been dominant for more than six years, a very long
time. However, this doesn’t explain why all the cubs are dying
as only five of the nine females are daughters to these males. Another
theory revolves around the size of the pride and its ability to hunt
successfully. One adult buffalo is a quick meal for nine adult female
and two male lions with little else to go round. Following the eviction
of the five Tsaro males and the increasing adeptness of the buffalo
in self defence, it’s possible that self preservation is a greater
priority than pride growth. This may explain why many of the cub kills
that we have witnessed have taken place whilst feeding on a buffalo
kill. Two females are currently lactating and we expect new cubs to
be introduced into the pride shortly. What chances of survival these
cubs have is anyone’s guess but recent events don’t make
October was an unusually quiet month
for lion/buffalo interaction with only three kills (all by the Tasro
Pride) witnessed. Unfortunately the buffalo spent some time in the
marshy area to the south of Buffalo Point, a region we affectionately
call “never-never land” after some epic drives spent digging
ourselves out of holes. The Tsaro Pride also spent time there and we
presume that they hunted successfully having seen them on a number
of occasions with full bellies. A feature of this year is the abundance
of red lechwe in the Eden area (Tsaro Pride territory). If chased through
muddy water, young lechwe can get stuck and make easy pickings for
hungry lions. Whilst watching the Tsaro Pride near the buffalo one
morning, we saw all the lions lift their heads and turn east on full
alert. They then ran nearly two kilometres before killing a lechwe
that had a broken leg. The lions must have heard the distress call
which was enough to abandon the buffalo watch. Three more lechwe kills
have been seen since September.
The Skimmer Pride has been seen only
occasionally since September as the buffalo have stayed mainly to the
east of its territory. The pride is healthy though, and consists of
four adult females, three sub-adult females and five sub-adult males.
These sub-adults males are over two years old and should soon start
to play a very active role in hunting. However, because of infrequent
visits by the main buffalo herd to the Paradise area, the Skimmer Pride
are adapting their hunting strategy and have been seen feeding regularly
on hippopotamus. Groups of “Dagga Boys” also frequent this
The Pantry Pride still survives, albeit
with three members, two adult females and a sub-adult male. We saw
the tracks of the two females back in September and they have been
heard calling to the north of camp. The sub-adult male has been sighted
regularly in Tsaro territory attempting to feed with the Tsaro pride
by making a very submissive display and then moving onto the carcass.
This provoked an angry response from the females and he bears a big
scar across his back as a result. The Duba Boys, one of them being
his father, are more accepting though it seems unlikely that this young
male will stay around for long.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert have now finished
an exciting two-year project documenting the lions and buffalo at Duba.
They feel that the forthcoming book and film encapsulate the most thrilling
lion viewing and filming they have experienced in their time studying,
filming and photographing lions. They have this to say: “It is
a rare opportunity that comes at a moment in time when lions are slowly
losing ground in the larger game of life. We have fewer lions today
than ever before. We hope that their magnificence and their iconic
symbolism come through in these projects, enough to reinforce the need
for us to take lion conservation extremely seriously.”
To order the book and DVD, please contact Lorna, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information go to www.wildlifeconservationfilms.com
I leave you with some comments from recent
visitors. Come and visit us at Duba soon!
Fantastic experience, great staff,
food and entertainment, especially Danny Boy! Watching the lions
chase the buffalo was almost as good as watching the buffalo chase
the lions! SG, UK
What joy to experience such wildlife
and such joyous singing. We will be back! J & PP, USA
The overall quality of game viewing,
guide, staff, tent AND … our lovely impromptu engagement party.
Keep up the great work! BA & SR, USA
Chief our guide was my “all-time” favourite
of all the camps. He is very knowledgeable about conservation and
has a wonderful way of expressing himself. His enthusiasm is catching.
Tubu Tree Camp update
- Oct 05 Jump
to Tubu Tree Camp
first promise of rain came at the end of October with impressive storm
clouds, thunder and even lightning but only a few drops fell and the rain
passed us by. Not having had rain for almost eight months, we were excited
at the prospect of a shower.
Tubu’s average minimum and maximum temperatures
for October were 22° and 35°C respectively. It is traditionally
the hottest month and the swimming pool was often filled with guests
at midday. Cold outdoor showers, room fans and copious amounts of iced
tea have helped us through the month.
The night drives have produced some very interesting
sightings, such as Marsh Owls, civets and Selous’ mongoose. This
is only the second time this species has been recorded at Tubu. A serval
was seen hunting rodents on the edge of a rapidly drying pan; the serval
uses its oversized ears to locate its prey and then pounces from heights
of a metre. Rodents make up the majority of its diet along with invertebrates
and small lizards.
Guests standing on the deck of Tent 2 before breakfast
one morning, looking out over the floodplain, were lucky enough to notice
a pair of aardvark disappearing into a palm island. It seemed to be a
mother and her young judging by the size difference between the two animals.
This is one of the hardest animals to see due to their secretive habits
and the unsociable hours they keep, often only beginning a night’s
foraging around 22h00 or 23h00.
Another great sighting was the congregation of more than
a thousand zebra on a floodplain south of camp, accompanied by wildebeest
and tsessebe. The first zebra foals have been seen among the herds, staying
very close to their mothers, apart from when the excitement of four new
legs becomes too much.
For the birders we had many exciting events this month,
with “fishing parties” at the top of the list. As the floodwaters
recede, many fish are trapped in small pools providing an easy meal for
many bird species. The small pool creates a feeding frenzy as many bird
species, including Pink-backed and White Pelicans, Marabou, Saddle-billed
and Yellow-billed Storks chase the fish into the shallows, squabbling
and fighting over their catches. Great photographic opportunities!
The first summer migrants have arrived and none more
noticeable than the Woodland Kingfisher. This beautiful turquoise kingfisher,
which eats small frogs and insects, not fish, inhabits the woodland where
it can be heard making its unmistakable call. Other colourful migrants
making their first appearances are European and Carmine Bee-eaters, Wahlberg’s
Eagles and Yellow-billed Kites. Recent sightings include Marico Sunbirds,
Palm Swifts, Broad-billed Rollers, Scaly-feathered Finches and, along
the water’s edge, White-browed and Black Coucals, Slaty Egrets
and Black-crowned Night Herons.
Six new lions arrived in the area this week – great
news for Moa’s Lion Monitoring Programme. Whisker patterns are
used to identify individuals, and comparisons with animals on records
confirmed that these lions had never been seen before at Tubu. The first
pride of three females - one adult and two sub-adults - were found sleeping
one morning in the southern part of the concession; later that night
they brought down a young wildebeest. The excited guests watched in fascination
as a male lion appeared out of the darkness followed by two adult females.
The late arrivals chased off the three females, the male declaring his
rights to the kill with loud roars. We hope to see more of these lions
in the months to come.
We look forward to having you here with us at Tubu.
Anton and Carrie
Jacana Camp update
- Oct 05 Jump
to Jacana Camp
water…still everywhere, but boats cannot be driven. The
floodwaters have receded rapidly this month, with the effect that within
the first week, all the motorised boats have had to be taken out. The
water was at that stage where boating is not possible and driving is
difficult. The crossings over to Jacana have now settled and we are no
longer ‘submarining’ our Land Rovers to get there. Luckily
no-one got stuck as lots of sand has filtered into the deeper spots.
Mokoro trips are of course still very busy, with hundreds of birds moving
into the ever-increasing shallows around camp. A large flock of Spur-winged
Geese has been camping in front of the lodge and can be seen feeding
madly in the shallows. On one occasion, an African Fish Eagle almost
collided with one as he tried to swoop down and catch a fish, much to
the fright of the goose! A couple of Striped Kingfishers and lots of
Little Bee-eaters are hanging around as well. A treat for now is the
sighting of sitatunga on several occasions. This will be more frequent
as the water drops and they become more mobile. Pel's Fishing Owl is
also around and has been sighted right here in camp a few times.
Elephants are ever frequent in camp, but it seems Jack has moved south
to better food. He did eat everything here after all. A few new chaps
are hanging around. One little guy is really cheeky and snapped off a
Tikki Lantern at ground level, right in front of us. He did it out of
Lions have been seen sleeping, mating, sleeping, mating, and more sleeping.
Two new big males have been camping on the Jao and Kwetsani floodplains.
The more dominant one has enjoyed the attentions of the lady that frequents
the area. This must be very tiring, as he is mostly seen sleeping. Leopard
have been calling near to camp and have been seen occasionally out on
drive. One female seems to be heavy with milk and quite possibly has
cubs hidden in a thicket. A very special cat sighting was that of an
African wildcat carrying a kitten in broad daylight to a more secluded
spot. She obviously thought the helicopter landing area was a little
close for comfort.
Out on the plains, the numbers of lechwe are diminishing as they follow
the water. Many are arriving at Jacana and will provide awesome viewing
in the next months. A few giraffe are ambling about and more and more
big buffalo bulls are wallowing in the muddy areas or grazing in the
shallows. The usual residents: zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe and impala
can be seen lazily grazing and herding on the plains
Temperatures are soaring up to 40° Celsius
and the humidity is increasing slightly. The last week has delighted
everybody with a few clouds sprouting up in the afternoon sky.
November is here and we look forward to Bana Ba Naga (Children in the
Wilderness) at the end of the month.
Vonan & Chez
The Jacana Management Team
update - Oct 05 Jump
to Chitabe Camp
In October the landscapes alter dramatically as you traverse the concession
- the woodlands to the east are tinder dry, the gnarled branches of the
Acacias lifted to the sky as if in supplication for rain. In contrast,
Marula, Sausage and Knobthorn trees are starting to show new leaves in
anticipation of summer. To the west nearer the Santantadibe River, a
greener picture emerges, as the waters have not fully retreated. In the
area that burned last month, a vast swathe of new grass shoots spreads
out towards the channel.
As to be expected, there was a lot of animal activity on the fringes
of the retreating channel systems - the only place where water is available,
although it is fast dwindling.
The pools of water in the channel west of the camp have been a focal
point for thirsty elephants, and every day we saw dozens of them coming
down to drink, bathe and have a dust bath before setting off in their
eternal quest to satisfy their enormous appetites. The plunge pool in
the camp has been a favourite watering hole for our resident baboon troop,
and their antics have been extremely amusing to watch in the afternoons,
as the youngsters tussle amongst each other, carefully watched by their
mothers and the large male guardians.
Seven female lions and their nine cubs killed an impala ram close to
the camp one night, and then a couple of nights later killed a zebra
on the open area within sight of Chitabe Trails. Ebs had anticipated
them ambushing a herd of zebra heading for the water, and true to form,
it happened right in front of him and his guests.
We also had some wonderful wild dog sightings - one afternoon they caught
and killed an impala, and while their attention was diverted as they
called their cubs to the kill, a hyaena arrived on the scene to try his
luck. When confronting a large but lone opponent like a hyaena, the dogs
use their superior speed and numbers to harass the intruder - biting
at the hindquarters and keeping up the chase until it eventually gives
up - in this case, across a water channel. In another instance, the wild
dogs were relaxing after a morning hunt when a male lion picked up their
scent. He burst out of the woodland where he had been lying and ran after
the pack, but fortunately they had heard his approach and made off at
top speed with no injuries sustained. They must still remember their
last run-in with the lions that left two of them injured - one without
Out in the dry Acacia woodland on the way to the Gomoti Channel, a dead
elephant was the scene of many other interactions between two prides
of lions, a clan of hyaena and of course jackals and vultures.
One afternoon, Ben found a leopard in a compromising position up a skinny
tree as a herd of elephants browsed casually around it. The leopard had
rushed up the nearest tree to avoid the elephants - unfortunately it
wasn't the sturdiest tree, and as the giant pachyderms obliviously browsed
away, the cat struggled to maintain a dignified position above them!
Ebs found a shy male leopard with a kill in the Maun Road area - and
we believe he is a newcomer to the territory. Phinley found a leopard
female on an impala kill, and we have the feeling that she might be hiding
a cub somewhere in the Maun road area.
Cheetah sightings have been scarce this month,
considering the extreme dryness and lack of vegetation, but Phinley
found a family group of four one morning, hunting near the Gomoti.
Closer in from there, Ebs found two in the Balance Plant area. At the
beginning of the month, Relax and his guests were fortunate enough
to observe an entire hunt, from stalk to kill, as a female cheetah
brought down an Impala in a cloud of dust … the
only actual kill sequence seen over the course of the month.
The weather has been typical for October, which
is extremely hot and dry, although the maximum temperatures recorded
were not as high as in previous years. The average highs stayed around
35°C, while the lows
hovered around the 21° mark. On some days we had cloud cover bringing
welcome relief from the heat, and some clouds even appeared to be bearing
rain, although this must have been deposited elsewhere.
Savuti Camp update
- Oct 05 Jump
to Savuti Camp
Hot, dry and dusty is the best description
for Savuti this month. Temperatures have soared and the average maximum
has been around the 40°C mark. The pool has been a very popular spot
during the afternoon siesta period.
Game however has been unbelievable with sightings of
all the predators being regularly recorded and elephant numbers still
as abundant as usual. The waterhole has provided some spectacular sundowner
opportunities in the hide, when gin and tonics are shared with hundreds
of elephants drinking, bathing and splashing within a stone’s throw.
Well over 1000 elephants are drinking at the waterhole
during the course of the day at the moment. We have been lucky enough
to have had an elephant birth near Tent # 6, and the young calf was seen
stumbling around following its mother near the waterhole. We have also
had a number of visits from our blind elephant bull “Ray Charles”,
who keeps us all busy by utilising any plumbing pipe that he can find
for his watering needs!
The elephants have also been watched by other animals
in the Savuti area and we have been witness to three elephant calves
that have been killed by spotted hyaena in the last month. The first
sighting was on the first of the month when the Camp Clan pulled down
a small elephant calf in the early hours of the morning, at the camp
One of the most dramatic sightings this month was the
rescue of an elephant calf by a herd after it was attacked by a hyaena
clan numbering around 20. The guides found a lone elephant cow trying
to protect her calf which was being held down by the hyaenas. The elephant
cow could not make any headway, because as she would chase one away there
would be another to come in and take hold of the calf. During this incident
the noise levels were astounding with the elephant cow screaming and
trumpeting in anger and the little calf squealing with fear. As the guides
watched, a herd, attracted by the commotion, approached; then as a unit
they ran in chasing off the hyaenas. The cow and calf were then kept
protected in the middle of the group as they all moved into the woodland
away from the scene. The guests and guides sat there amazed at the how
the herd had come in and saved the calf from certain death and had done
so, so quickly.
The leopard sightings this month have been amazing. The
most common sightings have been of the Manchwe Female and her 7-month-old
cub, who have their territory centred around Savuti Camp. During the
month the only large trees that have had a good leaf covering have been
the Sausage Trees (Kigelia africana). This has also been the tree around
which we have the majority of our sightings: the female leopard utilises
the tree as hunting platform. With the dark red flowers falling to the
ground and attracting impala she patiently waits while the prey come
to her, before dropping out of the tree onto the selected victim. The
hunting method seems to be one that is employed all over the Delta, with
reports from other camps of leopards doing the same thing. We have also
been seeing the Rock Pan Female to the east of camp and the Chobe 1 Female
and cub up near the river.
The Savuti lion pride has been concentrating its activities
along the Linyanti River with the best sighting being of the pride feeding
on a giraffe that they chased into the water. The three cubs are all
still healthy and the females taking good care of them. We also had a
sighting of two new males who killed a buffalo calf just north of the
airstrip, one of them being very nervous and moving off almost immediately.
The wild dog packs have also been a regular sighting
this month with the Savuti trio being seen around the camp and waterhole
quite regularly, often entertaining guests in the hide when they come
to drink in the late afternoon. The larger pack has been seen patrolling
the riverine area and they seem to be doing very well, being seen on
a number of kills ranging from warthog to impala and red lechwe. They
have managed to keep all the pups for the month and the pack now numbers
23, with twelve adult dogs and eleven pups.
General game has been fantastic with large herds of zebra
visiting the waterhole in the morning along with kudu, wildebeest, impala,
warthog and baboon. We have also been lucky enough to have had regular
sightings of the herd of roan antelope which frequent the road from the
airstrip. Early one morning the guests were treated to a small herd of
eland, which are the largest antelope species in Botswana, come down
to drink at the waterhole. These antelope are not often seen in the Savuti
area but the dry season has forced them to come in search of water.
Birding is always good and a large number of raptors
are being seen in the Channel. We have also had some new arrivals with
the Ostrich pairs all running around with clutches of new chicks. There
has also been the return of some of the migratory species with sightings
of Broad-billed Roller, European Bee-eater, Wahlberg’s Eagle and
the stunning Carmine Bee-eaters.
Well, we have seen the first traces of the rainy season
approaching, with huge cloud banks building up on the eastern horizon
and all of us at Savuti waiting expectantly for the first big drops of
rain to signal the end of a long hot dry season and the beginning of
Thuto, Kane and Emmanuel, Matthew, Cristeen, Thuto and Canius.
Kwetsani update -
Oct 05 Jump
to Kwetsani Camp
This month at Kwetsani we received the
most amazing guest. She did not arrive for a visit - it seems she intends
to stay. She has made her home in a termite mound under the walkways,
and on really hot days we get to see her basking her body at the entrance
to the hole. Yes you have guessed correctly we have a beautiful Southern
African Python living on the camp island.
The resident lioness seems to have settled
down with the two brother lions that have moved into the territory.
She has been mating with both but seems to favour the larger one. The
slightly smaller male has taken quite a beating from his brother and
carries some impressive battle scars. If the mating was a success then
we should hopefully see lion cubs around beginning of February. Let’s
hope that the males hang around and these babies may have a chance
Other notable mammal happenings have
been very good sightings of a particularity beautiful female leopard
around the Jao floodplains and tracks of a male have been seen close
to Kwetsani Island. The big herds of zebra are returning to the area,
as well as the wildebeest, providing some fantastic photo opportunities.
We have also been fortunate to see buffalo on many of the night drives;
they are moving around the outskirts of Kwetsani Island. Giraffe sightings
have also been good, with a baby as well.
In the fig tree above the Kwetsani camp
deck, two Meyer’s Parrots have settled and look like they will
be nesting in one of the cavities here. The male weavers are in full
swing getting their nests ready for the females. The only time they
stop for a break is to steal the bread from the brunch buffet table.
Many of the baboons have very small babies
at the moment and we never tire of seeing the small ones learning how
to feed, climb and play with the other babies. The 1-year-old youngsters,
born last year, are having a hard time as some of the older males in
the troop are teaching them baboon manners and their mothers are not
around to protect them any more. They have learned how to open the
taps in the outdoor showers and visit regularly for a cool drink of
water. They unfortunately do not know how to switch the taps off…
As far as temperatures are concerned,
we are hitting the low 40°C (early 100s Fahrenheit) and many hours
are spent in the swimming pool. At the end of the month we had our
first few drops of much-needed rain. Great excitement!
The staff at Kwetsani are in full practice
for the Christmas party that is coming up at the end of November; we
have our costumes for the choir competition. We are also practicing
every afternoon for the soccer game and are sure that we will win the
match. Will let you know how it goes…
Regards from Kwetsani pool!
Kings Pool update
- Oct 05 Jump
to Kings Pool Camp
is traditionally the hottest month of the year but also one of the best
for game viewing. The reason is not that the temperatures are higher than
the other summer months, but that we don't have the clouds and rain relief
that is experienced later in the summer. Consider that we are now at our
driest and then add in the heat, you will understand that the wildlife
starts to experience difficulties with regards to finding enough food and
relief from the heat. This results in the animals concentrating closer
to the water and not venturing as far afield during cooler days.
Seeing a mature elephant lying down is fairly unusual
in most parts of their range but up here in the Linyanti, at this time
of the year, it is a daily event. When returning from the morning game
drives you will see these huge animals clustered together in the shade
of trees, with some in the horizontal position!
There also seems to be an increase in the amount of elephant
births taking place, with one being witnessed by a very fortunate group
of guests. Unfortunately with the added burden of feeding their young,
some of the female elephants are not coping and as quickly as some of
the babies are entering the world they are departing. However sad this
may seem, it is providing the predators and scavengers with easy meals.
Whether there is a link or not, I am not sure, but we
are also seeing an increase in young from the predators and for example,
on one game drive, the Kings Pool guests were treated to lions with cubs,
a cheetah and cub, as well as a leopard with her cub. While on the subject
of elephants and predators there have been some unusual sightings, such
as when a mature bull elephant died in the river and we witnessed as
many as 20 crocodiles, some in excess of 16 feet, make short work of
the carcass. There was also a young elephant that died near the sunken
hide and, instead of the guests watching elephants coming down to drink,
they watched eight hyaena clean up the carcass to the point where all
that was left was a dark stain on the ground. Another indicator of the
heat is seeing up to 12 hyaena wallowing in the pan at the sunken hide,
during the middle of the day.
We have been very fortunate this month as far as sightings
of the high profile animals are concerned with totals of 45 lion sightings,
42 sightings of leopard (sometime 3 different leopards seen on a single
game drive) and 14 sightings of wild dogs, all occurring between the
25th of September and the 25th of October. One of the special leopard
sightings was on the 24th of this month when a female leopard, known
as the Boscia Female, introduced her new cub to us and our guests.
The 23rd of October was a big day
for us as we had our first raindrops fall from the heavens. It was
not enough to wet the ground but it certainly was a hint of the relief
and rejuvenation to come. The next report will HOPEFULLY be about
the good rains that we in the Linyanti are experiencing.
DumaTau update -
Oct 05 Jump
to DumaTau Camp
we were bracing ourselves for the hottest and driest month of the year,
the heat was somewhat less than what we expected with an average max/min
of 37°C and 20°C. However, the dryness is relentless
with the last rains having fallen in April this year and even at the
time of writing - early November - we still eagerly await our first rains.
However nature continues her course and even without any rains, the Mopane
scrub that looked like it would never grow again has just started sprouting
its new leaves.
Of course the dry conditions have resulted in some awesome game viewing,
with wildlife concentrated around the permanent waters of the Linyanti
river/lagoon system situated in front of our camp. The species diversity
of our wildlife sightings remain spectacular and for the month have included
the following: lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, African wildcat, wild
dogs, spotted hyaena, elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, blue wildebeest,
roan antelope, sable, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, porcupine,
greater kudu, red lechwe, impala, crocodile, warthog, eland, ostrich,
baboon, tsessebe, Wattled Crane, Martial Eagle, Giant Eagle Owl, Kori
Bustard, vervet monkey, lesser bushbaby, southern African python, snouted
cobra, black mamba, and variegated bush snake.
The sheer number of elephant in our area remain awesome and their stress
levels are clearly visible as a result of their depleted food resources,
however the rains are expected any day now, upon which the breeding herds
would head out into the Mopane forests, no longer dependant upon the
permanent Linyanti waters as the rains will bring long awaited relief
in the form of surface water to the many pans in the area.
During October, we enjoyed spectacular and numerous wild dog sightings
of the now awesome pack of 23 dogs (12 adults and 11 pups). The pups
are now old enough to actively participate in the hunt and with such
a large pack, they often kill twice a day, providing for a feast of sightings
for our overwhelmed guests. Probably the wildlife sighting for the month
was seeing the dogs in camp during early morning breakfast chasing an
impala, which ran underneath the boardwalk of our dinning room with the
dogs in hot pursuit. The impala was then chased into the lagoon in front
of our camp and whilst the dogs were pondering their next move on the
bank, two crocodiles suddenly appeared out of nowhere to grab and drown
the rather unfortunate antelope before devouring it. The dogs were not
at all impressed but our guests were totally amazed - what an incredible
sighting. Our guests have also witnessed some very interesting interactions
between wild dogs and hyaena as well as wild dogs and leopard - all competing
for the same tasty food resource of usually impala or kudu.
The three remaining lion cubs are doing well and are regularly seen
together with the two lionesses taking care of them (two of the cubs
perished with one being taken by a leopard). The four dominant male lions
in our area might soon face a tough challenge with the news that a coalition
of 6 young males has just entered our area. A major showdown is therefore
imminent. The fantastic and well known brotherhood of two cheetah (the
3rd perished some months ago of suspected snake bite) are looking awesome
and are also regularly seen in our area. Our leopard sightings for the
month have also been phenomenal with good sightings virtually every day.
As we now anxiously await the coming rains, the familiar and most beautiful
sound of the Woodland Kingfisher has again suddenly arrived - a sure
sign of the changing seasons at DumaTau. Regardless of season, this truly
remains an amazing place to be.
IAN & THE DUMATAU TEAM
Jack's and San Camps update
- Oct 05 Jump
to Jack's and San Camps
October is sky-watching month
- not the usual night star-watch, but daytime cloud watch! Soaring temperatures
and a parched earth make us all look forward to the first thunderstorms,
and the rumbles of thunder, although threatening, are so welcome.
Mid?month and the seriously nocturnal witnessed an exciting battle between
a lioness and a porcupine in our kitchen! While we can only speculate
as to what actually happened, the scattered quills tell a tale of a wounded
lion. We suspect the tracks belong to the lioness regularly seen at the
Jack's waterhole during the latter part of September and early October.
During the month on more than one occasion guides met up with cattle
post owners looking for lion. Armed and accompanied by tracker dogs,
the cattle post owners are understandably irate at the loss of their
cows, and intent on shooting the culprit. While fences in Botswana remain
an emotive topic, we hope that the thoughtful positioning of the fence
around the Makgadikgadi will prevent this sort of thing happening, and
satisfy both the cattle owners and those of us interested in the preservation
of wildlife and the environment. For unexplained reasons the case against
the person accused of gin-trapping and killing two lionesses with cubs
in July was dropped and his gin traps returned to him. Not only two reproductive
females, but the cubs, too young to survive on their own, are now no
longer part of the already small Makgadikgadi lion population.
Glyn Maude, busy with a brown hyaena project in the Makgadikgadi,
estimates that at least 5 browns are caught for every lion - a serious
impact on two carnivore populations already challenged by the harsh environment.
This month saw an exciting first for Glyn ? Randall Moore of Elephant
Back Safaris very generously allowed Hal Bowker to fly his light aircraft
to the Makgadikgadi and Hal and Glyn did the first moonlight flights
tracking browns! The reflection at full moon being so luminous off the
pans, the two took off at around 11pm and flew till the early hours of
the morning, both of them just blown away by the experience!
No rain yet, although the cloud build-up is promising.
Raptor sightings in September were very good ? Martial Eagles, Pale
and Dark Chanting Goshawks and Black-shouldered Kites were regularly
sighted, and the birding guests at Jack?s at the time shared our excitement
at the first Yellow-billed Kites of the season. The spectacular flight
of the Bateleur Eagle is a sight that has thrilled many, and this September,
it was as though the species had arranged an air show in front of our
mess tent. Graham had an excellent sighting of a Black-chested Snake
Eagle ? the still-bare trees enabling really good photographs. It is
always gratifying when guests return from a game drive with good shots,
and particularly now that digital enables them to share with those of
us in camp.
Quad biking remained a very popular activity and it always gains a special
position in our guiding as we realise the first clouds signify the season
drawing to a close. As Jack?s has become busier, we have had to become
even more conscious of the need to preserve the incredibly fragile environment
to which we are lucky enough to have access. With the onset of the rains,
as we have to stop quadding, the pans can have a well-earned rest. However,
as with so many things, new possibilities appear on the horizon and our
thoughts turn to zebras and the Makgadikgadi National Park - 4 900 square
kilometres of pristine pan and grassland we are fortunate enough to have
on our doorstep.
Rocktail Bay Dive Report - Oct 05 Jump
to Rocktail Bay Lodge
The first ragged tooth
sharks of the season have been sighted! On the morning of the 2nd October,
Maria and Alistair were enjoying a wonderful dive at Regal Reef when they
briefly spotted the first raggie, although there was much debate over breakfast
as to whether it was a raggie or not. The second dive of the day was at
Pineapple Reef and we all gathered to watch the potato bass. I pulled on
the buoy line, making a sharp noise, which gets these curious fish very
interested in what is happening. We were watching a couple of bass on one
side and as I turned to my right I saw a big smile looking right at me – it
was the unmistakable smile of a raggie! I stopped pulling the line and
we all hovered motionless as she slowly swam past. There was then a flurry
of excited “shark” hand signals exchanged between us all. Alistair
was right, after seeing this raggie up close and personal, he confirmed
that they had seen a raggie on the first dive!
Another first of the season – a leatherback
nest! While we were diving at Aerial, Darryl saw the tracks
on the shore from the boat and when we got back to the beach
we went to have a closer look. These turtles can grow up
to 2 metres in length and can weigh up to 1 ton. This female
was definitely a good size judging by the width of her tracks
on the beach. We saw her nest site on the morning of the
15th October, which is the ‘official’ start of
the nesting season. The following day was also very exciting
as we saw a leatherback turtle swimming on the surface; this
does not happen often as they are very secretive and normally
live at depths of up to 1000 metres, only coming back to
the same beach to lay their eggs. Could it be the same female
whose nest we had seen the day before?
The female loggerhead turtles also lay their
eggs on these beaches. As predicted, the male turtles start
to become more interested in females at this time of year – they
don’t even seem to mind if the females are not of the
turtle variety! Leza had a very close encounter midmonth.
She had surfaced with a diver and still had a lot of time
left to dive, so decided to descend and join the rest of
the dive group. As she was making her way down the reef she
got that feeling that something was behind her, she turned
and sure enough there was a very large loggerhead turtle.
She stopped and watched it come closer and closer, quite
intrigued she started to stroke its shell, and then advanced
to tickling its neck as it snuggled in closer seeming to
love the attention. Leza then noticed that it was a male
and upon seeing the glint in his eyes, was suddenly not so
sure of his intentions! The turtle then did its best to get
behind her, as she did her best to keep him at bay! An awkward
situation was avoided as the rest of the divers interrupted
their romantic interlude! Leza … no more stroking
the male turtles!
The potato bass also try to get as much attention
as possible - especially the gang at Pineapple Reef. The
Naeser family were all doing their PADI Advanced Course and
had split up into teams to do their navigation, where part
of the training is to ensure that one can follow a compass
bearing. Wendy had her eyes down on the compass and Glynn
was looking ahead for any obstacles. Little did he realise
that a potato bass could become an obstacle - they certainly
can! Not wanting to be left out of the fun and games, one
of the middle-sized potato bass had decided to join in! We
kept swimming forward as he back-pedalled, trying to see
what Wendy was watching so intently on her wrist! Very well
done to Glynn, Wendy, Alice, Devon and Claude for completing
your Advanced course, despite the obstacles! Congratulations
also go out to Wayee and Ethan, who completed their PADI
Open Water course here at Rocktail, with the same crazy potato
The 22nd October was a day not to be forgotten.
The first dive site was Yellowfin Drop. We saw a big school
of blue banded snappers, huge painted crayfish, anemones,
potato bass and a big green turtle sleeping under a ledge.
Kate and Steven ascended first and got a special treat. Darryl
had seen a whale shark and told them to get fins and masks
on. Steven had never seen a whale shark before and after
hearing that they are harmless, plankton feeders, he bravely
got in to snorkel with this 8-metre giant. As more of the
divers ascended and heard the news, the excitement grew.
The last divers up were Andrew and Clive, who had just seen
a blacktip shark at the end of the dive. On hearing that
there was a whale shark around, they quickly clambered on
the boat, getting ready for the chance to snorkel with it.
We drove a short distance when Darryl signalled for everyone
to get ready. In we went and everyone got the chance to see
the whale shark! Back on the boat we realised that it was
not the same one Steven had seen as this one had a big bite
out of the top of its caudal (tail) fin.
The second dive was at Elusive where we got
to watch a green turtle munching away on seaweed, without
even taking notice of us; we hovered for ages watching it.
There were also honeycomb eels, devil firefish, scorpion
fish, clown triggerfish, paperfish and Homer, the potato
bass to keep everyone enthused. Upon surfacing Clive told
us that he had seen yet another whale shark – that’s
3 in one day! But he had also been watching humpback whales
and we had the chance to see them as well. As we were heading
back towards Island Rock we could see the splashes of white
water. We stopped the boat and watched in awe as 3 humpback
whales put on a performance of note. The biggest of the three
was tail-slapping the water and performing ‘backward
breaches’ if one can call them that. It would flick
its tail out of the water, followed by half its body, flinging
itself sideways before crashing down. In amongst all of this
we also saw a pod of bottlenose dolphins, which seemed to
be hanging around the whales. What a day! Everyone joked
and wondered what else they could see to top such an incredible
day - perhaps a couple of rays would be nice! Well, surprise,
surprise, the following day delivered exactly that! The morning
dive at Regal Reef produced countless rays and to round off
another special day a dive at Pineapple Reef gave all the
divers the chance to see a beautiful leopard shark.
“ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Thanks to all
for the great holiday. Great skipper, great crew, great
diving. Thanks.” -Andrew, Steven, Kate and 2 Dive
We wonder what next
month will bring!
Till then, kindest regards,
The Rocktail Bay Dive Team
Darryl, Clive, Michelle
Camp (northern Kruger) Newsletter - Oct 05 Jump
to Pafuri Camp
Although October has been
a very hot and mainly dry month, it has also been a very exciting
one. Over the last two months we have all watched with bated
breath as the Luvuvhu River slowly diminished, until in front
of camp it had completely disappeared, leaving only small shallow
pools here and there along its course and leaving the wildlife
it supports in despair. But that all changed on the 26th of the
month. We awoke to a cold overcast day with lots of drizzle in
the air and the beautiful Luvuvhu River flowing once again. Apparently
it had rained non-stop for two days in the Soutpansberg Mountains
and the Makhado area, bringing in the cooler weather and allowing
the waters of the Luvuvhu to flow our way. The atmosphere was
unbelievable as everything suddenly seemed to come back to life.
From the main deck we watched a breeding pair of Fish Eagles
calling excitedly as they hunted for the fish that came down
with the river. Nyala, impala, bushbuck and kudu drank peacefully
from the river bank. Two or three ellies couldn’t resist
getting into the river and spraying water over themselves.
Large breeding herds of elephant have moved back into the area
and are seen regularly in the Fever tree forest and to the
west of camp along the Luvuvhu. One breeding herd was estimated
at about 110 altogether including young bulls and some very
young babies. Breeding herds of buffalo are also seen regularly
throughout the region. A large herd of up to 300 animals
was recorded as well as some smaller ones ranging from about
60 to a 100 individuals in the herds.
We had three sightings of eland herds this month, one a herd
about 25 animals which were seen near Lanner Gorge. The second
sighting was of just two animals and in the third, 17 animals
The day-to-day sightings include large groups
of nyala, impala, kudu, waterbuck, chacma baboon and vervet
monkey, as well as bushbuck and warthog. Regular sightings
of Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest are being had
away from the river.
Spotted hyaena were surprisingly recorded only
twice in the area this month and a much less common carnivore
in the Kruger, the aardwolf, was also seen on two separate
occasions. African civet, large and small spotted genet, were
seen regularly throughout the area. Leopard sightings were
also scarce with just two individuals seen, although the presence
of tracks indicate the activities of a female with cub to the
west of the camp and another female to the east.
We were pleased to keep tabs on the local lion
population this month and had 13 sightings of lion. The largest
pride seen was west of the camp along the Luvuvhu River and
consisted of nine individuals: 2 males, 2 females, and 5 cubs
(3 of four months and 2 of six months). My wife, Colleen and
I had an unusual sighting when waking one morning to find a
large lioness and her three cubs lying not far from our bedroom
Once again birding throughout the area has been exceptional.
We recorded 217 different species this month. Those seen
for the first time this month are: Barn Swallow, Ayres’ and
Booted Eagle, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Black Sparrowhawk,
Lesser Moorhen, African Finfoot, Black-winged Stilt, White-fronted
Plover, Jacobin Cuckoo, as well as Red-chested and Great-spotted
Cuckoos, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Coqui Francolin and
We have also had some excellent sightings of
Pels’ Fishing Owls and other regional specials this month.
Min average temperature: 21.3°C (lowest 18°C)
Max average temperature: 42.8°C (highest 45°C)
Rain: 0.5mm which fell on one day of overcast weather on the
26th with lots of drizzle in the air.
Palmwag Rhino Camp
- Oct 05 Jump
to Palmwag Rhino
This month, things have heated up a bit, so the vegetation is drying
out rapidly. The general game is diminishing around camp as the last
grass is drying up and blowing away. Game sightings are still good as
the zebra, gemsbok and springbok are concentrating around the nearby
Salvadora Spring, the Camp Spring as well as Zebra Spring.
A pride of lions settled around Groot Achab Spring for two weeks, and
were seen regularly in the mornings and afternoons. There were at least
three males and two females. A cub of three months and a cub of three
weeks were also seen one evening, at the edge of a Tamarisk thicket at
the same (Groot Achab) spring.
Lion sightings and a leopard sighting were also had at Salvadora spring.
One cheetah sighting was made by Ernest Machengete, our temporary Zimbabwean
Rhino sightings remained good. ‘Tina’ and her calf were
seen regularly around Wereldsend spring as well as a young bull called ‘Micro’. ‘Dyana’ and
her calf were often encountered north-west of the Groot Achab spring.
The dominant black rhino bull ‘Ben’ was seen at both Groot
Achab, Koabes springs and the plains north-west of Rhino Camp. ‘Speedy’ the
bull was seen high up in the hills between camp and Koabes Spring. And
don’t worry, the old bull was seen east of Wereldsend spring. One
sighting was made of the Uniab bull, also known as ‘Getaway’,
at Groen Fontein.
Some elephant bulls were seen sporadically. There was the occasional
sighting of the broken-eared, one-eyed cow and her offspring at Koabes
Spring and Uniab River. The Koabes bull and the one tusker was also seen.
The Koabes bull, now teamed up with a young askari, was moving up and
down the Achab River. The bigger breeding herds were only seen once or
twice at Two Palms.
By Chris Bakkes
Camp update - Oct 05 Jump
to Ongava Tented
WOW, spring is here! The changes
are magnificent. The Mopane trees have burst into leaf, casting off
their drab winter look and changing the veld into a virtual garden
overnight. The grasses remain unchanged creating a gold coloured
lawn under the beautiful green Mopane trees. Time will come in January
when the big rains commence, when the grasses will change the landscape
into an English country garden (well, almost…).
The birds herald spring with song and
ensure that no one can get a late lie-in in the mornings. The hyraxes
seem to be full of vigour climbing the trees to get at the new, fresh,
succulent buds and leaves, gorging themselves until they resemble their
distant cousins, the elephants.
Big, puffy, cotton wool white-grey clouds
start filling the blue skies hinting that the first “small” rains
are on their way. Temperatures are soaring well into the 40s making
the swimming pool the place to be. Consumption of the local brews escalates
as the cold liquid bites the back of the throat in an attempt to quench
one’s thirst. Hot stuff this.
The waterhole in camp keeps surprising
us all with the amount of animals coming in to drink. Brown and spotted
hyaenas have made their appearances as have leopard and cheetah. ‘Stompie’,
our resident lioness and her pride made a kill of a waterbuck cow in
front of the waterhole before dinner one evening, scattering all the
guests as the cow, attempting to outrun the lioness, almost ploughed
into the barrier in front of the lapa where they were standing. The
cow was eventually ambushed by another lioness, two metres in front
of Tent 7, putting an end to the chase. Dinner was cold but the memories
will linger on.
Cheetahs with their kills on the plains
outside of camp keep one and all captivated: Truly magnificent animals
and excellent sightings indeed as they are rarely seen on Ongava. In
Etosha itself plains animals still abound at the waterholes in their
hundreds, only to be chased off by large herds of elephant in search
of relief from the unrelenting heat and thirst. Mud baths and mud splashing
change the elephants’ colour from grey to white as the limestone
mud dries on their wrinkled skin, creating an eerie ghostly atmosphere
as they silently move off in search of food and shade, thirst slaked.
A pride of lions near the Newbronni waterhole have made two road culverts
their den, only to come out in the early evening to hunt and to retreat
again by mid-morning to escape the heat of the day: Shade, plenty food
on the hoof and fresh water within 100 metres. Tough life indeed!
Marabou Storks, White-backed and Lappet-faced
Vultures circle the updrafts, eyeing out the latest feline kill. Martial
Eagles perch in the trees seeking out some unsuspecting prey as the
Black Eagles soar above the kopjes waiting for a hyrax to drop its
vigilance before swooping down. White-browed Sparrow Weavers are fervently
building new nests; previous year’s nests now hang dull brown
and derelict. Melba Finches hop amongst the grass whilst the Harvester
ants collect grass seeds, discarding the chaff outside of their nest.
Insects abound as the warmth heralds a new season. Truly magnificent.
The campfire crackles; smoke wafting
through the budding trees as the Double-banded Sandgrouse take their
last drink in the twilight of the evening ends another perfect month
in paradise … Ongava.
Some guest comments on our camp:
Excellent food, superb and friendly management team, top class guides,
very high standard, feels like home, dealt with our dietary needs
creatively, personal service excellent, we want to come back, we
do not want to leave, activities are very good with lots of interesting
little activities in between, wonderful camp food don’t know
how you can do it…