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July 2006

This Month:
Wilderness Safaris News - Info and updates from Wilderness Safaris

• North Island Dive Report from the Seychelles.
• Monthly update from Mvuu in Malawi.
• Monthly update from Busanga Camp in Kafue National Park, Zambia.
• Monthly update from Kapinga Camp in Kafue National Park, Zambia.
Linyanti Explorations updates from Botswana.

Kwando Safaris game reports.

• Update on the 2006 Okavango Delta flood

• Monthly update from Mombo Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jao Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Little Vumbura Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Ongava Lodge in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Doro Nawas Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in South Africa.

Wilderness Safaris Updates - July 2006
Greetings from Wilderness Safaris in Namibia!
We’re humbled to be the recipients of a particularly wonderful and unsolicited accolade – congratulations Skeleton Coast Camp the first ever destination to achieve five out of five flowers in the Namibian National Eco-Awards ratings.  We are enormously proud to have earned this award and full credit must go to our Environmental Team.

Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia
Skeleton Coast Camp

Baby Rhino at Ongava, NamibiaThe good summer rains have meant a sea of grass across the Palmwag Concession and an abundance of plains game “hundreds of mountain zebra, thousands of springbok and plenty of oryx” and occasional sightings of lions which have colonised the area. Yet another new white rhino calf born at Ongava. This one was photographed by Riaan Compaan.

Desert Elephant and Rhino ExpeditionThe Desert Elephant and Rhino Expedition in the Palmwag Concession is winning new fans. This unique Exploration follows a camel train across the concession, ending at the new Discoverer Hoanib Camp. On the latest expedition guests walked 90km in 4 days and saw no less than 11 black rhino as well as plenty of desert-adapted elephant, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and other game.


The annual travel awards of the US magazine ‘Travel & Leisure’ has voted Wilderness Safaris the second best tour operator & safari outfitter in the world (top ranked safari operator).

For a few days in June, North Island closed its doors to paying guests to give a group of 36 disadvantaged Seychellois children the time of their lives. It was the first ever Children in the Wilderness on North Island and hopefully the beginning of many more! North Island staff teamed up with The National Council for Children, an organization on Mahe, to run the program, the only project of its kind in the Seychelles.

Children in the Wilderness - North Island, SeychellesThe mission statement was “through love, commitment and exposure to our environment make these broken children whole again” and as a councilor said, “it was 3½ days filled with laughter, the most incredible energy and endless learning for the kids and all involved.” The camp was opened by the First Lady of the Seychelles who stated: “North Island’s environmental philosophy and the National Council for Children’s living values program come together today to give us all an opportunity to reflect a bit more on what we want for our children and what our children want from us.”

It was the children, however, who put it best: “I thank you with love and happiness. Thank you for keeping me safe from danger and sharing your kindness with me. I am glad for me the friends I made on this island.”

Kafue National Park safari campOur two existing camps in northern Kafue National Park, Busanga Camp and Lunga River Lodge, both opened for the season at the beginning of June and have hosted guests while we put the finishing touches on Shumba and Kapinga Camps – both due to open at the beginning of July.



Kafue National Park safari campDespite the challenges experienced at the beginning of the construction process, the plains have dried out progressively and building has become easier. The camps are essentially finished and the game around the camps has settled down and adjusted to our presence. We are proud to say that negligible impact has been had on the environment of the two camp sites and we are confident that this is a special product.


Wilderness Safaris has employed eight scouts for active anti-poaching work in the areas around our camps and has also employed some 40 men from the communities north of the park (many ex-poachers) for the construction project. The attraction of employment has been such that some have walked several days to the park boundary before boating in makeshift craft down the channels of the northern Kafue River to arrive on site and ask for work. Such commitment deserves reward and we employed all those who arrived. The “boats” used were very original – one a piece of tree bark that supported three men for a two-day trip along hippo-inhabited channels!

Game viewing is impressive with large numbers of puku on the Busanga Plains complemented by healthy numbers of zebra, wildebeest and red lechwe. Hippo are numerous both here and in the Lunga and Lufupa rivers. More unusual species such as oribi, roan, sable and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest are seen regularly as are herds of buffalo. Leopard, lion and elephant are also being seen at Lunga, while recently a 3-hour drive between sites saw two wild dog packs (11 & 14), 3 cheetah on a kill and a female leopard!

Child policies (Botswana):
Abu Camp: Children 8 years and over are welcome at normal adult rates and are able to participate in all normal activities.
Abu Private Villa: Children of all ages are welcome and participate in all activities available at the Private Villa. The price is per villa regardless of whether guests are adults or children.
Seba Camp: Children of all ages are welcome at adult rates and are able to participate in all activities.
Jack’s and San Camps: Children from 4 years (no longer 8 years) and over are now accepted at both Jack's and San Camps with immediate effect. Please note however that a Private Vehicle and Guide must always be booked and paid for on all bookings where children between 4 and 8 years are included. Jack's will offer a 33% discount to children between 4 and 8 years if they are traveling in November, December, January or February (from March to October children pay the same rates as adults). Children at San Camp pay the same rates as adults.

Changes to Chitabe Trails:
- No walking trails may overlap
- The trails will operate 01 May to 30 September only
- The Trails can accommodate a maximum of 4 guests
- As before no children less than 12 years old may be accommodated on the Trails

Wilderness Safaris camps have been the recipients of various accolades: Rocktail Bay made the 12th position in The Observer’s list of the World’s 20 best deserted beaches; Vumbura Plains made it onto the Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot List for Africa and the world for 2006; and finally the quality and uniqueness of Pafuri within the greater Kruger National Park has been recognized by the UK’s Guardian newspaper who voted the camp in the Top Five Best Camps for the area.

Pafuri Wilderness Trails               Jump to Pafuri Camp
Pafuri Walking TrailThe Makuleke Concession in the north of Kruger is perfect for Wilderness Trails and last week saw the first trail being run in the concession for journalists and operators. It was a great success with highlights being 30 elephants seen from above while on a kopje, following a honeyguide to a beehive, nightly relaxed bushpig in camp, a Pel’s Fishing Owl along the Limpopo and an exceptional sense of wilderness.

Jack’s and San – the wet Kalahari
               Jump to Jack's & San Camps
Summer rains at Jack's Camp, BotswanaThe summer rains have ensured that there is plenty of water still lying in the pans and this has resulted in the presence of hundreds of thousands of flamingos and plenty of other waterbirds breeding. The zebra migration is still in the Jack’s area in full force and, due to the abundance of water, is expected to stay until at least August or even September.

The alpha female in the Mowana meerkat troop is heavily pregnant and there have been regular sightings of aardvark, aardwolf and caracal. Best news of all is the discovery of a brown hyena den site close to camp where the cubs are rapidly becoming habituated to game drives!


Seychelles / North Island
North Island Dive Report - July 06               Jump to North Island

July saw a slight drop in wind strength compared to last month, although the ocean has remained unsettled and at times very choppy. Strangely though, the visibility has gone from 8m to 15m, despite a constant wind, and even more strange has been the presence of a reverse current, which means that the current has been going in an opposite direction to that of the wind! Usually the wind blows from the south-east and the current is in a south to north direction, but of late we have had a north to south current. Water temperature has remained at a chilly 24°C. Some of the dive team who dive on a regular basis have been diving with a chicken vest and hood and we have had guests diving in a full suit with a short suit over it for extra warmth.

We have had some exciting sightings: a sea grass ghost pipefish on 'Sprat City', incredibly well spotted by one of our divers, the first flounder (sole) spotted floating across the sand at 'Twin Anchors' dive site and more nudibranches than usual. In addition, on one of our recent dive outings to 'Sprat City', as the divers descended, the skipper and deckhand on the dive boat noticed a local fishing boat hook a Tiger Shark not 10 metres away from where the divers had descended. The shark was pulled up to the boat and it came off the hook. The size was estimated to be 1.5 metres. From our point of view, it is hugely encouraging to know that a member of this species is on the plateau region, as the Seychelles has an active shark fishing and shark finning industry and this species has been forced into the drop off regions of Aldabra and Farquahr Islands. On the same topic, our boat maintenance contractor saw a tiger shark off Mahé recently, which is again exciting. White tip reef sharks are still regular sightings and continue to be highly active amongst the sprat shoals.

'Sprat City' is still the site to dive, with the active little sprats all over the place, the ever-excited blue spot kingfish giving constant chase, never letting the little sprats rest for a second. This in turn encourages the white tip reef sharks to move in closer and the entire region bursts with life at the blink of an eye. Three giant sleepy sharks have been hiding off North East Point and have surprisingly not shown their faces in the sprat action.

Whilst on a dive at 'Sprat City', a massive fulvie kingfish was spotted, tipping the 35kg mark. It was, by far, the largest kingfish that we have seen to date and it clearly commanded huge respect from the others in the shoal. An impressive-sized napoleon wrasse was also seen out and about on this dive site recently, which confirms our theory that 'Sprat City' rocks with life in the south-east monsoon season. The predator fish have been wild and yet again getting back to the kingfish family, it has been a common sighting to be surrounded by a massive shoal of these fish and on closer inspection, there have been four species of kingfish, the likes of fulvie, big eye, blue spot and golden kingfish, within the same shoal, all spending time together and all ranging in size. Surface action has been exciting all around the island, with fish chases everywhere, sailfish jumping clean out of the water, excited couta chasing this way and that and large shoals of milkfish just skimming the surface, in a hurry to be where the food is.

Along with all of this life, we have experienced the arrival of the seasonal jellyfish. In addition, plankton has been thick in the water and because plankton is weak, it uses the ocean current to drift. Some of this plankton is of the stinging variety, so we have had a little stinging here and there whilst out diving or snorkelling.

Spotted eagle rays have also been a huge attraction in front of the dive centre, playing in the shallows, floating and then leaping clear out of the water and splashing back down again. Sting rays have also been more frequently sighted, as have porcupine rays in the shallows off main beach.

Debbie Smith


Malawi Camps
Mvuu Newsletter - July 06               Jump to Mvuu Camp and Mvuu Wilderness Lodge
Apart from the usual course of events here, such as elephant creating havoc around the camp and lodge, and hippo keeping guests awake by eating near the rooms, there have also been a few very interesting incidents and sightings here in Liwonde National Park.

Sunset at Mvuu in MalawiMay officially marks the beginning of the dry season; it means different bird species, more elephant encounters, change in animal behaviour and a scenic metamorphosis of nature. Impala Lilies blooming in the dry season with absolutely no leaves are a good example. Over the last three months the river has receded about 70cm or so, and no rain in the rest of the park means concentrations of animals close to the water with lush green vegetation restricted to this area. It's here where most of the sightings have been seen: next to the watercourses.

Some of the new bird species that have started to show themselves only in the last months include the following: African Skimmers, Pink-backed Pelican, Grey-headed Gulls, Black-winged Stilt, Spur-winged Lapwing, Half-collared Kingfisher, Miombo Blue-eared Starling, African Spoonbill, Crested Francolin and Livingston's Flycatcher. As a newcomer, I've seen about 10 new species - quite a change from working in Namibia. Apart from these species some of the other guides have had a few very rare sightings: Southern-banded Snake-eagle, Brown-breasted Barbet, Allen's Gallinule, Green Malkoha and Narina Trogon.

This excludes the 'usual' specials like Pel's Fishing-owl, Böhm's Bee-eater, Lillian's Lovebird, Grey-headed Parrot and Black Egret. There was one particular incident, where a Pel's was perched very close to the Lodge boma with a fish in his talons, while the guests were having dinner. Quite special to have dinner with a Pel's - enough to create a birder out of a non-birder. Another special sighting was a Giant Eagle-owl taking a Guineafowl, and also a Bat-Hawk catching bats.

Elephant at Mvuu Camp, MalawiWith the water going down, it creates these big open sandbanks. The crocs and hippo love the sunbathing and some huge individuals have been seen, one large male in particular estimated at 5m! Because the weather is cooler the hippo spend much of their time outside the water. On the early morning walks you can see quite a few hippo on the way to the water. Some other interesting water-related sightings include the following: a group of about 70 elephant crossing the river, two crocodiles mating in front of the lodge dining area and incredibly, a waterbuck crossing the river, swimming forward with back-bent horns like a grey-hound about to catch the rabbit! It was quite spectacular to witness the two crocs mating, the series of grunts and roars followed by blowing bubbles madly. The show ended with the male swimming off after about 2-3 minutes, as if nothing at all had happened.

Mammal-wise, there were many very special experiences. One evening, the lodge manager walked the guests to the room, with the last person being a lady that had come to Malawi especially to see elephant. She told the manager, "It's my last night here at Mvuu and I still haven't seen any elephant..." The words weren't even out of her mouth when the manager whispered an excited reply of, "Here they are!" Right in front of them there was a big female enjoying the trees, truly a memory that will stay with the guest for the rest of her life.

The black rhino have also not been hiding away with 6 sightings recently. Hopefully it's going to be an even more successful year for rhino sightings; it looks like two of the females in the sanctuary are pregnant according to Mr. Zimba, our rhino tracker. This will put our numbers at 10 rhinos - very exciting indeed.

The smaller mammals have also been exciting. Some of the specials have been a few civet sightings, porcupine, striped polecat and a lot of side striped jackal. The sighting of the year thus far was a pangolin. The first pangolin sighting in 6 years was a very memorable moment and one that was repeated on 27 July when on one drive we saw sable, Lichtenstein's hartebeest, buffalo, lots of birds... and another pangolin that we had an exceptional look at. A sad but rare sighting was a baboon that took a bushbuck lamb; the baboon had to run for its life to get away from the others who wanted a piece, but the poor lamb didn't stand a chance. We also have a few warthogs around the camp who consider themselves as resident. They behave like vacuum cleaners, picking up the jackalberry fruits that the monkeys drop down, and trimming grass like lawnmowers on feet - very useful.

So that's life at Mvuu, interesting, fascinating, intriguing - and wonderful!

Wikus Swanepoel


Zambia Camps
Busanga Camp Newsletter - July 06
(Busanga is one of Wilderness Safaris' new camps in Kafue National Park, Zambia)
Lions, lions, lions, lions... it's been all lion this month - and what a fantastic month it's been! 'Big John' and his pride have been all over the camp, almost daily we've been waking up to the sound of lions not far away; and on three occasions, they actually made kills within the camp itself! One being between our tents in the staff accommodation - that was awesome! They also decided it would be amusing to join us in camp for the day when a family arrived with four young (and very active) children! Needless to say, everyone was extremely well behaved that day...

Unfortunately, the enormous presence of lion recently seems to have silenced the cheetah. Yet, one moonlit evening while sitting around the campfire, we heard a short burst of alarm calls from the puku and a surge of activity not far from the dining room, a quick scan with the torches revealed a lightning quick ewe with a cheetah in hot pursuit! Unfortunately, a second search with the vehicle proved to be in vain, as the cheetah had pulled her down in the long grass - and we didn't want to frighten the mother of two cubs off her hard-won dinner! Hopefully, as the water withdraws back into the earth, there will be more space for the cheetah to move in, without fear of the lions.

There have been great sightings of serval, porcupine and other small critters, not to mention a beautiful herd of over 300 buffalo moving up and down the Lufupa channels. Recent fires have given birth to fresh new grass, attracting the herds of wildebeest, which are almost set to drop their calves in September. The wonderfully relaxed roan antelope should also be dropping their comical looking young in the next few weeks!

Sadly, one of the lion cubs, a female - has been injured, and is looking very poorly. We don't think she'll make it. On the good news front, however, we recently discovered that one of the other females has given birth to cubs as well! Also, there has been a coalition of two adolescent males moving around the area. Big John, my boy, watch your back!

All the best,
Phil, Andrea, Lexon, Benson, Santos, Kapaipi, Winnard, Boston, Emmanuel and James


Kapinga Camp update - July 06
(Kapinga is one of Wilderness Safaris' new camps in Kafue National Park, Zambia)
Herewith some recent images of newly-opened Kapinga Camp.

Kim Nixon's recent trip yielded a sighting of a lion kill, a herd of 300 buffalo, good roan and Lichtenstein's hartebeest amongst other highlights.

Kapinga Camp. Kafue National Park, Zambia   Kapinga Camp. Kafue National Park, Zambia

Kapinga Camp. Kafue National Park, Zambia   Kapinga Camp. Kafue National Park, Zambia

Kapinga Camp. Kafue National Park, Zambia   Kapinga Camp. Kafue National Park, Zambia

Botswana Camps
Linyanti Explorations Update - July 06                Jump to Selinda Camp                Jump to Zibalianja Camps

• The Selinda pack of wild dog has been very active this last month. They are back to using the CMU camp as their catch net for impala. One poor individual was chased into and smashed, the office window before becoming breakfast. They also cornered the old wildebeest bull, who is practically a camp resident, in the car park. He was too wise for their tactics though & saw them off.

• The poor francolins at Zibalianja are at their wits end with a dwarf mongoose clan that has taken up residence in their camp. These little guys are prolific nest raiders & as fast as the hens lay, so the mongooses steal the eggs.

• The return of the buffalo herds has been particularly welcomed by the Selinda lions. They have been seen following the herds hoping for a straggler or a weak individual to be exposed. Beef is back on the menu, but you have to catch it first!

• We welcome a new couple to Zbalianja Camp! Stuart Bell& Tessa Campbell will be taking over from Sam & Sean who move over to our CMU camp. Stuart & Tessa join us from Islands Of Siankaba in Zambia where they have been for the last two years.

• Selinda also has an addition to the management team - taking it to full strength. Zane Volker, who is no stranger to The Selinda, joins us on a permanent basis. We wish him a hearty official welcome to the Linex family.

• Once again lions have dominated the predator viewing over the month. The cubs are doing well; the males are sticking around (roaring in & around the camps frequently), & the lionesses are providing hunting action.

• The Trails team seems to be getting all the leopard action. Chris & his following band were stalking some distressed francolins in a bush, hoping to see a snake or genet, when they flushed a large male leopard. It is unsure who got the bigger fright.

• Morning coffee at Mokoba Camp was all action when a leopard cornered a troop of baboons in the tree above one of the tents. Eventually, the baboons decided to exit their retreat, en masse, in a shower of leaves, twigs & copious amounts of poo!

Kwando Safari Camps Update - July 06

Lagoon camp               Jump to Lagoon Camp
• The Lagoon Pride pride (currently made up by 4 lionesses and a young male) has been spending a bit of time further north. They returned south and killed a buffalo and few for a few days, and were subsequently seen closer to the camp for several days.
• A couple of nomadic male lions have been seen in the area, one of them was mating with a collared lioness. They were later seen hunting buffalo in the mopane woodland.
• A pair of male cheetah were seen south of the camp at Water-cut where they appear to have taken up residence over the last few weeks – in excellent shape successfully preying on the smaller antelope that rely on the floodplains and the water supply in that area.
• An adult female cheetah and her litter were found on the floodplains south of the camp and appeared to be making their way slowly northwards.
• The Lagoon wild dog pack of 3 adults and 3 year-old youngsters have been seen frequently hunting and killing impala – the Alpha female was heavily pregnant. The pack seemed to vanish sometime during the last week, and the guides suspect they have denned in the area somewhere – probably deep into the mopane woodland as they did last year.
• Good numbers of elephants in decent sized herds inundating the woodlands and floodplains with excellent sightings as usual to be had from the deck overhanging the lagoon.
• Herds of buffalo are widespread both north and south of the camp moving to and from the river daily, lots of activity - mating, fighting, and a birth was seen as well.
• Birding – good winter species still seen –secretary birds, several egrets species, Egyptian, spur-winged and pygmy geese, and various large raptors.
• General game has been excellent – giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, impala, kudu, steenbuck, impala, reedbuck, baboons and vervets.
• Night sightings include several porcupines, genets, honey badgers, serval, African wild cats, caracal, as well as both jackal species and hyenas.

Kwara camp               Jump to Kwara Camp
• A pride of five – 4 lionesses and an adult male killed an adult male buffalo and was viewed by guests for several days from the boat on the Delta cruise.
• A couple of nomadic male lions seen as well resting on a termite mound.
• A pair of lionesses and their 3 cubs were seen feeding at an elephant carcass.
• 2 male lions killed a buffalo at the boat station – an excellent sighting had by all.
• A young reedbuck was killed by a leopard, another relaxed leopard was found and viewed for some time.
• A shy adult female leopard was seen – she appeared to be lactating.
• A pair of adult male cheetah were found and followed – they killed an adult impala. They were subsequently seen for most of the past 3 weeks moving up and down hunting across the floodplains.
• A pack of 3 adult wild dogs were found at their den with 8 puppies - they relocated their den a few days later.
• A couple of small breeding herds of elephants were seen in the Kwara area – most elephant sightings however have been bachelor herds throughout the area as well as moving through the camps. A herd of seven bulls was seen swimming across the channel.
• A couple of bachelor herds of buffalo as well as a herd of about 150 seen close to the camp.
• Smaller game sightings include serval, civet, springhares, genets, various mongoose species (including Selous mongoose), both side-striped and black-backed jackals.
• General game – lots of zebra and tsessebe, a herd of 16 sable, small herds of wildebeest, as well as giraffe, impala, reedbuck, waterbuck and lechwe as well as the usual groups of hippo in front of the camp and along the delta waterways.
• Birds seen – Ground hornbill, wattled cranes, brown snake eagle and various other raptors active due to the abundance of rodents.
• Also unusual sightings of an African rock python swimming as well as a brown water snake seen from the boat on the cruise.

Lebala camp               Jump to Lebala Camp
• An adult male lion was found resting in the shade – he had been feeding on a buffalo carcass.
• The Lagoon pride came south and spend some time harassing – they were later found feeding on a buffalo.
• A pair of male lions were followed several times hunting buffalo.
• A shy lion cub (5 mo old) was seen close to the airstrip.
• 4 lionesses and a lion found hunting at half-way pan.
• A very relaxed female leopard was found hunting in the late afternoon – she got a few mice for her troubles.
• A relaxed and very large adult male leopard was found relaxing in the shade – he was seen over a period of several days (and at night).
• A couple of other leopards were seen - some of which were quite shy.
• 2 adult male cheetahs were found resting in the morning sun – they were followed hunting in the afternoon.
• Good numbers of elephants seen daily - mostly in large breeding herds up to 200 strong moving across the floodplains from the woodlands.
• Herds of buffalo seen – the largest of about 1,500 seen on most game drives moving between the floodplains, the river and the woodlands.
• The general game still good including wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, a herd of about 20 sable antelope, kudu, impala, warthogs, waterbuck, lechwe, reedbuck.
• Smaller game including porcupines, honey-badgers, Selous, slender and yellow mongooses, genets, African wild cats, serval, civets – a highlight was an African wild cat and her litter of kittens.
• Hyenas and jackals seen hunting and patrolling most night drives – a clan of hyena pulled down an adult buffalo 5 min from the camp.
• Excellent bird sightings – Kori bustard, southern ground hornbills, secretary birds, long-crested eagle, African hawk eagles and other various raptors – large numbers of queleas, and good viewing of water-fowl along the edges of the floodplains.

Little Kwara camp
• 2 male lions and a lioness were found feeding on an elephant carcass – the female appeared to be coming into estrus. They were later joined by another lioness with cubs 4-5 months old.
• A pair of lionesses and a young male killed a warthog close to the boat station, and were seen in the area for several days thereafter.
• 2 male lions were followed for a couple of days, on day 3 they killed a buffalo but were chased off by another 2 males who took over the carcass.
• A female leopard was found resting and then and followed hunting for a couple of hours.
• 3 cheetah – a pair of males and a female were found resting – they were well-fed.
• Three male cheetah were found resting on a mound, and were found later having just fed on an impala.
• A bachelor herd of elephant was seen crossing the vlei area in front of the camp – a few other bachelor herds were seen in the area on game drive and from the boat.
• 2 big buffalo bulls were seen lying on the lagoon bank in front of the camp. A small herd of buffalo about 150 strong – mixed males and females were seen close to the airstrip for several days.
• Night drives yielded lots of hyenas patrolling their territory, black-backed jackal foraging, side-striped jackals, several genets including a large spotted genet feeding on a mouse, a civet feeding on a mouse, serval, African wild cat and porcupines.
• General game included sable antelope, giraffe, impala, warthogs, reedbuck, kudu, zebra, tsessebe and steenbuck as well as slender and dwarf mongooses, scrub hares, springhares and baboons.


Okavango Flood update - July 10, 2006
After the heavy rains, which occured throughout northern Botswana in 2006, the water levels in the Delta are presently far above average.  This is because the flood water arriving from Angola has supplemented the above average rains over the Delta.  The result is that pans and channels which would typically have dried by now, still have water.

As always, the Okavango Delta is truly a dynamic ecosystem and this year's rains have made it a very interesting place indeed.  The Savuti Channel actually "flowed" for the first time in over 20 years (over 6 kilometers down the channel).

Okavango flood chart - July 10, 2006

Mombo Camp update - July 06                Jump to Mombo Camp

The August winds have arrived early this year gusting from the east, creating a dark haze on the horizon perfect for sunsets. Afternoons this month have been warm, temperatures reaching 27C but dropping to 8C towards the early morning.

Many of the plains game have gathered, forming large herds relying on the lush grasses that are being provided by the reseeding floodwaters. Water levels around Mombo are dropping seeming that we reached our peak a few weeks ago. This does not mean that the flood regime has stopped; we still are observing flood waters creeping into the remaining depressions of the island. These still waters create a mirror image of the beauty above, reflecting the palms and enhancing the winter sunlight.

The acacia nigrescens have started to flower, the first signs that summer is on its way. These flowering trees create a canopy of activity, attracting birds, monkeys and insects as well as a beautiful backdrop against the winter landscape.

Our developing wilddog pack was sighted a few times this month, they are looking healthy and it’s believed that the alpha female could still be pregnant. On one occasion we found the pack close to camp with three hyenas trailing them. All the dogs and hyenas had bloody faces; the hyenas had stolen the wilddogs kill. Whilst observing the dogs two nomadic male lions arrived on the seen, alerting the dogs which ran into the safety of the thick acacia. Not more than a few hundred meters down the road the giggling antics of the spotted hyena were heard; we sighted seven hyenas, presumably feeding on the remains of the dogs kill.

Interestingly the five wilddogs returned to their kill hoping to pick up a few scraps but the seven hyenas were too much of a challenge for them. Then, out of nowhere the nomadic male lions arrived on the scene asserting their dominance and power over the kill. The hyenas dispersed from the lions, disturbing a curious leopard who quickly took to the trees. So there you have it, mombo magic, five wilddogs, ten hyenas, two male lions and one leopard all in one scene!

The Moporota pride has two more additions to this ever increasing pride, now attaining a total of 15 cubs. These new additions to the pride total the pride to 24 lions. This pride still frequents the northern tip of the island, which is home to large concentrations of game, thus giving the lionesses the ease in raising fifteen cubs.

Many of the giraffe have gathered into temporary aggregations, thus giving the lions an opportunity to spook them into thicker vegetation, causing the giraffes to fall and slip. During the last week of July four giraffe were killed by lions.

Giraffes at Mombo Camp

The picture below shows one of the Mathata pride males feeding on an adult bull giraffe, picture two taken on the same day shows a lionesses from the old trails pride feeding on a giraffe.

Lion with dead giraffe at Mombo Camp     Lions feeding on a giraffe at Mombo

All our guests that have visited us in the last few years, have without fail, been introduced to Jimmy, the female hyena. This “famous” hyena has starred in the Mombo cookbook and was known for her persistence in breakng into the Mombo Kitchen. A few months back she was evidently mauled by lions which left her with a broken paw, making life a little more complicated than usual in surviving out in the wild. In addition to this she had two cubs to look after. Due to these conditions Jimmy decided that her only way to survive and sire two cubs was to depend on the kitchen, the office, the laundry, water pipes, electric cables, doors, books, chairs and many more items. It was thus decided that it was time to relocate Jimmy and her cubs to a better place.

The wildlife department was called in along with Map Ives, Wilderness Safaris environmentalist, deciding that she be relocated. So…….Jimmy and her cubs were darted and flown off Chiefs Island to a Botswana Defence Force training facility close to the capital, Gaborone. We bid farewell to Jimmy whose stories will remain a great part of Mombo forever.

Relocating hyenas at Mombo Camp     Relocating hyenas at Mombo Camp

Jimmy the hyena at Mombo Camp     Jimmy the hyena and her cubs at Mombo Camp

Just to give you a quick update on our leopard cubs: At present the Tortillis female has been seen with two cubs and the far-eastern pan remains with her one cub. Both leopards are doing very well considering the hyena, lion and baboon density at Mombo.

Leopard at Mombo Camp, Botswana

Two individual male cheetahs have been seen this month, frequenting the floodplains of our concession. We still await the arrival of a female cheetah into our area, although in order to raise a litter in the paradise of Mombo you would need a medal.

Cheetah at Mombo Camp

The August winds have arrived early this year gusting from the east, creating a dark haze on the horizon perfect for sunsets. Afternoons this month have been warm, temperatures reaching 27C but dropping to 8C towards the early morning.

We leave the month of July with Scorpio above our heads, as Jupiter sets to the call of the goliath heron.

“I will always tell everyone that Mombo is not the camp to miss”
“Just keep up the wonderful work everyone is doing”
“You seemed to have covered everything to make our stay unforgettable”
“leopard, lions, rhinos, cheetahs and lots more”
“this is a very special place”
“all was fantastic and the staff were excellent”
“the highlights were the leopards, up close and personal”

Cheers from the Mombo team


Tubu Tree Camp update - July 06                Jump to Tubu Tree Camp

Although the floodwaters are receding fast, the floodplain viewed from the camp is a picture of grazing lechwe, zebra and impala. The green canopy of Marula, Jackal-berry, Fig and Sausage trees shading the main lodge are a beehive of activity, with vervet monkeys and baboons competing with a wide variety of noisy birds and chattering squirrels for tasty fruits.

Mekoro race at Tubu Tree CampTemperatures this month have been very moderate and cool morning game drives turned into warm afternoons for lazing by the pool. Evenings around the campfire turned into late nights under the clear winter skies, reliving the day's activities or just relaxing and enjoying the night sounds. The warm afternoons enticed the guests from their siesta time to enjoy the lodge and great fun was had by all with mokoro races on the floodplain in front of camp. (see photo at left)

Leopards were the main attraction this month at Tubu. Three different females with cubs were spotted. In fact, one of the July highlights was a leopard (Boat Station female), in a tree above unsuspecting grazing Impala which made for great photos until they spotted her and scattered. Another encounter with the same female saw her meet up with a second female we call 'Moselesele', and a territorial dispute ensued with much growling.

Our resident female lion 'Brown Sugar' who was heavily pregnant at last sight has been spotted briefly twice and she seems to be hiding her cubs on an island on the west side. Our male 'Monati' has also been spotted twice although looking a bit worse for wear with a nose injury. A nomadic male was seen passing through from the south heading north through the water.

Elephant visits to camp and encounters during game drives were special, as a very relaxed breeding herd allowed for incredible photo opportunities at very close range. Large spotted genets, civets and hyaenas made for great night drives.

Bird lovers were not disappointed either; our day and night drives produced spectacular sights: hundreds of African Open Bill Storks taking off and obscuring the sun; a lone Tawny Eagle feasting on a mouse; a beautiful Lilac-breasted Roller doing an aerial display and a pair of Ostriches feeding on the grassland and performing an impressive mating dance.

he friendliness of our staff and the delicious meals received constant compliments from all our guests and all left with the promise of a swift return.

Tubu Greetings,
Dave, Leigh, Moa, Moyo and the GREAT Tubu Team


Jao Camp update - July 06                Jump to Jao Camp
July has been milder than June was, with temperatures above 10°C and the maximum on some days already up to the mid-30s. The nights have been clear with some great opportunities for star gazing when hosting bush dinners out in the open. The wind has not been bad: a brief breeze as the sun rises in the mornings soon dying down to be followed by beautifully still days. We wouldn't be surprised by one more little cold snap before the advent of spring though. There has been no rain in July.

The water levels have been dropping considerably and compared to last year it seems as though the floodwaters will not persist as long. Our game drives are still traversing wet areas with some guests commenting that we are currently driving in more water with the cars at the moment than with the boats! The grass is drying out rapidly and the contrast between this and the greenery along the channels has become so much more evident than months before. The fig trees are shedding their final load of fruits that keep the baboons, monkeys and an array of birds within the vicinity of the camp. The Mopane trees are getting deep green leaves contrasting to the harsh dry grasses in the area which makes for fabulous photo opportunities when an elephant or any other animal for that matter, is spotted amongst them.

Our leopards 'Beauty' and her cub 'Tumo' have once again been a highlight at Jao this last month, even though they largely eluded us for the last two weeks of the month. Some of the sightings have been overwhelming to say the least. Late one evening, while I was taking a group to their rooms for orientation I walked up towards our furthest room (tent 9) when suddenly Beauty and the cub jumped out of a dead tree five metres from us onto the walkway we were on. We froze in amazement and Beauty jumped off the walkway to the ground while Tumo decided to hang around on the walkway and lie down staring at us for about five minutes. Another great sighting of this mother and cub was when the mother dragged down and killed a male lechwe right next to the parking apron at the airstrip. Seeing an animal dragging something more than twice her size was amazing. She managed to drag this kill about 50 metres into a palm thicket and spent the next two days feeding on it until a hyaena picked up the scent and stole the remains from them on day three.

The lioness known as 'Broken Nose' has been frequenting the area just beyond camp and around the airstrip. This has probably been due to the loss of all her cubs and she has been seen wandering aimlessly around the concession. There have been nice sightings of the resident pride lionesses and two surviving cubs towards the area of Kwetsani. On one occasion the lions were seen feeding on a wildebeest. Sightings of the males have been seen few and far between this month with just two sightings.

Elephant bulls continue to forage in and around camp both delighting and alarming guests. The camp warthog and the island banded mongoose troop continue to frequent the lodge surroundings. One of the highlights of the month on the drives must surely have been our guests going out one morning and as they came around the corner, about 30 minutes into the drive, they stumbled onto a male leopard just starting to cross quite a deep channel and then proceeding to swim all the way through to get to another nearby island - who said leopards do not swim?

We had a second influx of birds into the camp to benefit from the ripening Sycamore Figs: from the beautiful Green Pigeons, Babblers, Starlings, Bulbuls, Doves and Orioles eating the fruit to the Woodpeckers and Hoopoes eating the bugs that eat the fruit. A Giant Eagle Owl has made its presence known on a couple of nights this month and we found a single Pel's Fishing Owl from the walkway in camp. The birds of the month must surely be the big flocks of Red-billed Queleas that sit and rise so often in enormous numbers around the concession, making such huge clouds of birds that you can almost not see the sun through them. This is indeed a spectacular sight every year and seems much more intense than last year.

Some of the feedback from our guests this last month:

"Loved it, loved it, and loved it! Will be back. With hugs and thanks." - J&PM (USA).

"Thank you to all staff especially management. The great example you set for general staff shines through in everything at Jao. We had a fantastic time. Thank you once again." - LC.

"We enjoyed a lot and we saw many animals and the food was excellent especially the tea. We loved the soccer time and going fishing, it was great. Also all the people we met were very friendly and kind to us." - PG (Mexico).

"Thank you very much, two wonderful days. The staff is very professional and polite. We will return!" - R&YK (Germany).


Kwetsani update - July 06                Jump to Kwetsani Camp
Well the floodwaters have reached their maximum height and slowly but surely as the days come to an end, the waters are receding. The days are getting longer and the nights shorter as summer approaches with every sunset and sunrise. The temperatures this winter have been great with an average of 14°C in the mornings and evenings, and a balmy 25°C during the day. As July comes to an end and August draws closer, we have started experiencing some very windy days.

The lion have been living very close to camp this month, with regular sightings from all the rooms. The two cubs are growing (5 months old now) and are nursing many times throughout the day. One of the lionesses is very pregnant, by the looks of things at the end of August we should have new cubs to welcome. The depredation on the area's wildlife have meant that we sadly lost the lone wildebeest to the lions this month. This meant that the cubs had their first taste of meat. They played with the meat, as it is not on their diet yet. It seems that another pride is in the area, during the nights they call back and forth to each other. The father has a lot of interaction with the cubs and they are seen often with him alone while the lionesses are away hunting. The surviving cub has been missing now for the month of July, with no sightings.

The leopard cub is still in its growing years and stays close to mom, not wandering off too far. There have been some really spectacular sightings of them. The female leopard is killing very successfully; the hunting area is becoming larger now that the water is receding.

The winter visitors in the bird world have started moving back home and soon we will see an influx of the European birds flocking our way. Having said that, the bird watching has been amazing here this July. A pair of Giant Eagle Owls have made their home here on the island with a taste for the banded mongoose. We also have a pair of Bateleur Eagles sharing the island. As the water recedes, the Storks are feeding in front of the lodge on the smaller insects and frogs that get left behind, with great sightings of Saddle Billed Storks and Marabou Storks. In addition, large numbers of Open Bill Storks have also started flocking to the flood plains for the same reason.

Elephants with calf at Kwetsani Camp, BotswanaWith the palm trees fruiting now, the elephants around the island have been plentiful and breeding herds from Hunda Island have crossed over with all the baby elephants following. It is so interesting to watch as they all have their individual personality and show a lot of bravery, especially with mom around to protect them.

What a wonderful month we have had, with visitors from all over this amazing globe that we live in. Our guests that pass through Kwetsani leave here with memories for life, and there has been plenty of romance with many honeymooners visiting this month. What a place to begin a new married life together.

The delta is the place to be at the moment, with the days and seasons changing.

"The least movement is of importance to nature, the entire ocean is affected by a pebble"

See you all soon
The Kwetsani Team

Duba Plains Camp update - July 06               Jump to Duba Plains Camp

01-10 July
After three months of rising levels, the floodwaters of the Okavango are at last beginning to subside. This has been confirmed by the latest flood statistics from Mohembo (situated at the top of the pan handle) that shows flow levels peaking a month ago. Due to the cold weather at this time of year, evaporation is minimal and therefore we don't expect the flood levels to drop significantly before September. Our bridge is still out of action which means that our game drive activities are being spiced up by a mokoro ride from the camp to the vehicles. This has not proved an inconvenience and means that everybody gets to experience this traditional and wonderful mode of transport.

Buffalo at Duba Plains CampThe Tsaro Pride has been seen every day this week, with the pride ranging in number from 3 to 8 lionesses. "Silver Eye", a 7-year-old female is lactating heavily and she has spent much time away from the pride, most likely tending to a newly born litter. It is usually a month or two before new cubs are introduced to the pride and Silver Eye will be very wary about one of her sisters who, bizarrely, has been recorded killing cubs produced by the other lionesses.

Three buffalo were killed by the Tsaro Pride this past week. The first, an adult bull was killed near Hyaena Den in the early hours of last Monday morning. The carcass was cleaned within two days and as we followed eight Tsaro females on Thursday they surrounded a group of buffalo bulls at Sausage Point and managed to catch a straggler as the group headed towards the safety of the main herd. The male Tsaro cub, now nine months old, is being allowed to feed with the rest of the pride and the Duba Boys. This is an encouraging sign that the pride is willing to tolerate his presence and raises hope that this one may survive.

On Saturday, three Tsaro females caught a buffalo calf that they managed to separate from its mother to the north of Lion Pan. One of the Duba Boys snatched the calf immediately from the females.

We continue to have remarkable aardwolf sightings in the sandy habitat close to Baobab Island and for nearly an hour on Wednesday we watched two aardwolf hunting for rodents. Birding here is always superb and flocks of Open-billed Stork have been seen nearly every day close to camp.

11-17 July
This July is a special celebration for four staff members who are celebrating 10 years at Duba. They are James 007, Smiley (Housekeeping), Kenny (Barman), and Celia (Chef). I would like to thank them all on behalf of the Duba team and Wilderness Safaris for their dedicated and loyal service and we look forward to their continued service for many more years to come.

Elephants at Duba Plains CampAt the beginning of the week, the three kinship buffalo groups came together to form a larger herd on the plains close to Mtosi road. Over the following days, they moved east from Sausage point to Kabule Pan, later crossing the channel to the airstrip by Thursday. This gave the Pantry Pride (two adult females and an adult male) a rare chance to hunt bulkier prey and although we didn't see a kill, we heard distress calls of a buffalo to the north of camp. At the moment, flood conditions prevent us from getting to this area and I was unable to find evidence of a kill from an aerial survey. The herd then settled near Phala Island before moving back south-west across the channel to Munye Molokwane and into our game drive area.

We await the floodwaters to fall further before looking in earnest for the Pantry Pride. The adult male is very wary of the Duba Boys and it's roar is a muted one since he does not wish to attract their attention. The presence of this Pantry adult male explains why the Duba Boys have been seen patrolling the area to the north of the airstrip. Along with the young Skimmer males and the Paradise male, the Pantry male provides the main threat to the continued dominance of the Duba Boys.

The Tsaro Pride was seen on six days of this week. On Tuesday, six females and the male cub killed a female buffalo to the west of Kabule Pan, having followed the herd for two days. Both Duba Boys come into feed, though not to the exclusion of the others. During the hunt a Warthog, oblivious to the lions presence, trotted to within 20 meters of the pride. The young cub picked up the scent and flattened itself in the grass before making a hopeless attempt to chase it down. It's all a learning process!!

Elephants are now here in good numbers and the bush around camp is beginning to resemble a war-zone as a couple of males spend most nights peeling bark off the umbrella thorns. If you don't know what's happening, the noise can be a little disconcerting!

Another great month at Duba! Paul de Thierry


Little Vumbura update - July 06               Jump to Vumbura Camp
1st week of July 2006
As far as game drives, walks, boating and mokoro outings are concerned, this week has been superb. The sightings highlight of the week was on the 4th of July when the guests on game drive saw lions trying to kill a buffalo. The Kubu Pride was on a mission to make a kill in the morning and on coming across the buffalo, one of the lionesses leapt onto the bull's back. She had clearly been expecting the help of the heavier and stronger pride male, but he simply lay watching the struggle. Eventually the lioness admitted the overwhelming odds and relinquished her hold on the buffalo allowing it to escape.

Cheetah sightings have been recorded on several occasions. Most of the sightings were concentrated in an area called Shumba Island. The cheetah prefer this area because of the short grass. A 'new' leopard was seen two days ago and it seemed very shy, probably because it is not used to see the vehicles (the resident cats of the area do not walk away or hide when they see vehicles). 'Big Boy', the resident territorial male, on the other hand, was seen in relaxed pose on several occasions, as were a female and her cub.

The progressive drying out of the pans away from the permanent channels means that our little island, which stays green and verdant all year round, is now attracting elephants. Two big bull elephants came onto the island and spent about two days without moving away. They left evidence as some trees were pushed down. Zebra, impala, kudu, red lechwe, giraffe, buffalo and a rather large herd of sable were also spotted in the area. Some excitement was also caused by the sighting of a large python that was seen on a termite mound.

Birdlife has been spectacular as usual and we were happy to have seen pelicans arrive in our concession.

Comment from one of our guests in camp this week: "We loved our trip and Matt was fabulous. Is there anywhere else you can have elephant encounters just outside your tent? This was a great addition to out trip."

Kind regards Little Vumbura Camp

Namibia camps
Ongava Lodge update - July 06               Jump to Ongava Lodge
Guest satisfaction makes Ongava Lodge tick and we are pleased to report that we wave departing guests goodbye knowing that they would like to come back to again enjoy the experiences we provide in the camp, on the reserve and in neighbouring Etosha National Park. From the first welcoming smiles through to the scrumptious meals, to a clean and cosy bed, our guests experience hospitality of a very high standard.

Mother Nature also assists greatly in making the guest experience wonderful by providing the backdrop to a perfect stay. During July 2006 we enjoyed some great leopard sightings - one very relaxed individual for a whopping 30 minutes - and lions assist us in our daily wake-up calls by starting theirs at 04h00.

At the moment black rhino sightings are exceptional with almost nightly visits to our camp's waterhole. The cow named Ombika with her three-month-old male calf, and the female, Etosha, and her one-month-old female keep our guests at the lookout deck for hours at a time.

The days are getting a bit warmer and longer and the water acacias have started blooming in Etosha! Simply the best time of the year to be in the best place on earth.



Doro Nawas update - July 06               Jump to Doro Nawas Camp
This month we are doing it a little differently and letting a new addition to our staff (Rosta Janik) tell of his impressions of Doro Nawas...

This season Wilderness Safaris Namibia brought me to the "Heart of Damaraland..."

Before I arrived into this "wilderness" I had completely different feeling about this place out here. I did not expect that it would be so unspoiled and beautiful and fascinating at all. Oh my goodness, I cannot believe how lucky (I do not know how many times I have already been luck with Wilderness Safaris) I am again to "explore" an area new to me. I knew very little about this area before - just basic general knowledge about Twyfelfontein, Burnt Mountains, Organ Pipes or Petrified Forest which I had visited in the past. I've now been here a month. Oh my goodness, I am happy to be here...!

The chances of seeing desert-adapted elephants are quite high in the winter season and to me these are the "top dogs"! Absolutely amazing! Going out and seeing the elephants hanging around their favourite places and also to come across so many new things like birds, trees, plants and especially geology... These things - the little ones - make the trips even more special and the dam in Twyfelfontein area is "real birds' paradise" with millions of Red-billed Queleas coming down to drink there every day and many other species besides. Like yesterday I saw my first Damara Hornbill and was also very lucky to see a Gabar Goshawk trying to hunt down the Queleas while they were drinking!

On our drives we see gemsbok, springbok, steenbok and other game regularly... also black-backed jackal and bat-eared fox as well. But what happened yesterday was fascinating! Something I will never expect! A few days ago we had cheetah sightings on one of our game drives... But what happened yesterday was absolutely mind blowing - we had a cheetah sighting in the camp!

In front of Room 16 were spotted two cheetah and then after they hung around the room they decided to move on. As they moved on they passed room 17 and then passed the guides' rooms and disappeared into the distance... what a show here in Doro Nawas - absolutely amazing!

I was in my room and they just passed me few metres away while I had my door open - what bad luck... But I must say I am very happy for our guests and our staff that they saw the show!

Scenery wise, the place out here is still like after the rains we had few months ago... Beautiful golden grass and all the beautiful desert flowers areas are still here and especially late afternoon with the winter African sun I feel like being in the most beautiful desert garden on earth!

Last but not least I am just loving it here!

South Africa camps
Pafuri Camp (northern Kruger) Newsletter - July 06                  Jump to Pafuri Camp
If this does not blow people away, particularly birders, then I acknowledge I might be a little different. I did not make this up. These are the sightings I have had with guests the last few days. Make sure you are seated! 4 night guest stay leaving Friday morning (14 July).

Impala at Pafuri Camp

Monday pm - Drive to Mangala: Black Eagles on nest site at Hutwini cliff face and the below Impala.

Tuesday am - Drive Luvuhu East to Crooks' Corner and back. Saw 17 hippos at Crooks (see below). During the day I birded in camp with my guests for an hour. Saw black-throated wattle-eye and yellow white eye. There was also two buffalo in front of camp and an elephant bull came down to drink at the river.

Hammerkop and Hippos at Pafuri Camp

Tuesday pm - Big Baobab stone tool site. The highlight was seeing three-banded courser.

Wednesday am - Mutale Gorge. Saw 2 big herds of buffalo on the way to the gorge. Found black stork nest at the gorge. (Nest just above all the white wash in pic below left).

Mutale Gorge at Pafuri Camp Mutale Gorge at Pafuri Camp

Wednesday pm - Went to Limpopo River at Mangeba. On way back to Middle road heard impala alarm calling on Middle Road east of Mangeba. Went there and saw where the impala were looking. They were about 50 metres off the road, but they were looking behind a small mound. We waited for about 30 minutes as they continued to call. Next thing we saw a male leopard emerge carrying an impala in his mouth. We watched him for about 5 minutes as he slowly dragged the kill away into the bush.

Thursday am - While having morning tea on the main deck we saw a bat hawk catch a bat right in front of the deck. It flew off south of the river carrying it in its talons. We then left for the drive to Lanner Gorge. On the drive we saw a cuckoo hawk and an eastern nicator. Black eagle at the gorge.

Thursday pm - Spent 2 hours at Nwambi Pan in the middle of the day. Stacks of game. Herd of buffalo, nyala, impala, kudu, baboon, monkeys. Drive to Mangeba-Middle road to Spokonyolo Pan on the Limpopo River. Saw 2 eland on the way. Probably the finest sundowner spot on the property. On the way back we saw porcupine, 3 black-backed jackals and a large spotted genet as well as a spotted eagle owl.

Thursday dinner - As I am driving big birders I went to check for Pel's fishing owl in front of camp during dinner. There he was on a log right in front of the deck. We checked a bit later and there were 2. While we were watching them the one caught a fish. Yes, Pels and Bat Hawk both seen from the deck making a kill on the same day!

Basically that was my week. I have not put in the usual stuff. Stacks of nyala, impala, crocs, baboon, monkeys, buffalo, kudu, bushbuck etc.

Simon "Lucky to be working at Pafuri" Stobbs


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