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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

June 2006
Page 2 of 2

Page 1 Updates
Wilderness Safaris News - Info and updates from Wilderness Safaris

• North Island Dive Report from the Seychelles.
Kwando Safaris game reports.

• Update on the 2006 Okavango Delta flood

• Monthly update from Mombo Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Savuti Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in Botswana.

Page 2 Updates
• 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 Jack's Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Palmwag Rhino Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Serra Cafema Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Little Ongava in Namibia.

• Monthly update from Doro Nawas Camp in Namibia.

Monthly Dive report from Rocktail Bay in South Africa.

• Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in South Africa.


Tubu Tree Camp update - June 06                Jump to Tubu Tree Camp
Elephant sightings at Tubu over June were great; our sightings were mostly of breeding herds with plenty of young calves. Our guests have been fortunate to experience close encounters with these elephants on a regular basis, occasionally with a whole herd around the vehicle playing in the mud or having dust baths. There is a very young calf within one of these herds that is only a couple of weeks old and has already become accustomed to the vehicle. He has trouble using his trunk for normal elephant activities such as picking up branches or bringing water to his mouth - it flops around as if it has a life of its own. Fortunately he drinks milk from his mother using his mouth and not his trunk. There are also many bulls in the area that are often seen shaking the Mokolwane palm trees for the palm nuts which fall down. Inside these palm nuts is a hard substance known as vegetable ivory, which is traditionally used to carve necklaces and trinkets.

There have been several sightings of Cape buffalo on the fringes of the wooded areas where fair grazing can still be found. The buffalo can be spotted with the ubiquitous Cattle Egrets perched on their backs or in between the many hooves of the herd. These white egrets benefit from the buffalo by catching the insects which are disturbed in the grass while the buffalo graze.

Aardwolf © 2006 James WeisOne group of guests were fortunate to see a relaxed aardwolf in the late afternoon, with still enough light to take some photographs. These shy, striped members of the hyaena family are seldom seen.

James Weis' note:  It was our Eyes on Africa Digital Photography Group who were at this aardwolf sighting; the best aardwolf viewing I've ever had.  See photo at left.  Image © 2006 James Weis.

One could say the same for the prickly porcupine who was spotted on a night drive closely followed by her two babies. Another rare sighting was that of an aardvark, seen on a night drive after dinner. This is one of the most difficult species to see due to their nocturnal nature, however our guests had a very good sighting of it digging into the side of a large termite mound.

There is plenty of floodwater around (it is still rising) so we have therefore moved our mokoros very close to camp. Our guests can hop straight into them and enjoy their ride through the floodplains. The extended floodplains harbour numerous red lechwe, tsessebe, reedbuck, elephant and many bird species but there are also smaller interesting things to be seen like the tiny painted reed frogs that perch on the reeds. Some guests who have tried their hand at fishing have had successful catches of catfish, thinface bream and nembwe. There are many small pools in the backwaters that hold schools of bream and can be very productive in the late afternoon. Here at Tubu, we practice 'catch and release' fishing with barbless hooks, so one will not find local fish on the menu!

Surprisingly there are still a few big snakes around camp; guests have also seen python, snouted cobra and black mamba whilst out on game drives. Due to the good rains we had this season, there are many rodents in the vicinity feeding on the grass seeds, hence the larger snakes are enjoying a feast. The smaller snakes are less active although we had a decent sized, very venomous vine snake drop into the office one afternoon - fortunately he made a quick exit via the curio shop.

The leopards have been very accommodating over the last month and the guides have seen them many times. Some guests even managed to capture some exciting photos of one female crossing a water channel. The 'Boat Station' female has been seen often with her young male cub, resting up on the big trees along the tree line close to the old mokoro station. We have also spotted another female leopard in the area, who made an impressive kill of a large baboon at the airstrip. Baboons are usually very alert so are difficult to stalk successfully, particularly in areas where there is little or no cover available - such as the airstrip. The mature male baboons have very large canines and are very brave, especially when it comes to defending their troop. It was therefore a surprise to find the female leopard weighing only perhaps 40kg, taking on a large male baboon weighing approximately the same. We have named this female the 'Moselesele' female; Moselesele is the Setswana name for Sickle-Bush, which is a small spiky shrub found in abundance around the airstrip. She also has a notable marking over her right eye, in the shape of a sickle.

It has been quite chilly recently with temperatures ranging from a minimum of 6°C to a maximum of 27°C with no rain and clear skies - perfect for star gazing!

Hope to see you soon!
Tubu greetings
Anton, Carrie, Moa, Salani and the team

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Jao Camp update - June 06                Jump to Jao Camp
This month has been cold but exciting as the temperatures have dropped and the game viewing increased twofold. It has been a breeze in every sense of the word as happy and excited guests arrived back from their game drives with word of sightings of leopard on a daily basis and lions in between; seeing them either making a kill or just after the kill was made.

This last month has definitely been the windiest of the year so far and this is an element that always surprises visitors to Botswana at this time of year. The rush of elephant bulls onto the Jao Island has been both exciting and frustrating as we sometimes take up to forty minutes to get guests from their room to the main area but then we also manage to squeeze in a great elephant behavioural session before breakfast. A leopard has been sighted on the Island very often as well and then there are the resident impala, warthog and huge group of banded mongoose that cover the Island from corner to corner visiting guests at their rooms. The elephants have been feeding on the fan palms making so much noise at night and keeping guests up through the evening.

The Jao concession has been getting more and more water by the day as the floods have come in and the waters are still rising. The majority of our drives are through the water but with good sightings of larger bird species. The grasses are drying very fast but in general the area around Jao Island is nice and green compared to other areas at the moment, making it a little paradise in the delta. The Jackalberry trees and the Sycamore Figs are dropping fruit at the moment and this brings us an array of smaller birds into the camp environment. The temperatures for June have been a low 10°C and a high of 29°C. No rain for June as expected (although we had reports of rain in the Moremi during the middle of the month).

Our highlights of the month have revolved around the resident leopard and cub ('Beauty' and 'Tumo'). We were lucky enough to have almost daily sightings of this pair, sometimes without even leaving the lodge.

The territorial lionesses have also provided much interest: One female ('Broken Nose', a lioness without a pride) lost all her cubs this month - two drowned when the mother tried to cross a deep channel while being watched by guests and the remaining cub simply disappeared.

Elephants have also been a large part of game viewing as they have remained in the area around camp for much of the month, sometimes being so close to the walkway that guests had to wait quite a while to get to breakfast. We have four bull elephants residing on the Island at the moment and were thrilled when a male leopard spent three days devouring his steenbok kill on the island close to one of the manager's houses. We have had some regular sightings of a warthog in and around the camp, even being spotted by guests at night sleeping in the downstairs library!

We had several sightings of Western Banded Snake-eagle around Jao Island this month and the shallows on the island fringe have played host to species like Saddle-billed Stork, Wattled Crane, Spurwing Goose and Yellow-billed Duck.

A honeymoon couple, while lying on their deck one day, heard a rustle on the ground and there was a young leopard sniffing through the leaves; luckily our rooms are high above the ground. Another couple from the US and first time on safari, were driving into Jao over the bridge and saw a male leopard carrying his kill in his mouth coming into camp - what a start to an African safari!

"The whole experience was great, but especially the attention given to us by the staff adds to it." - KG
"The staff make the entire stay superior as they cared for our kids!" - Mr. & Mrs. H
"Wonderful experience. Awesome, keep it up. Best day at work cannot match a bad day at Jao!" - JD
"We cannot wait to come back again and again. We will miss you. Thank you." - L&MD


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Kwetsani Camp update - June 06                Jump to Kwetsani Camp
"Nature is its own worst enemy"

June has been a really great month. The floodwaters have not yet reached their peak but the flood is a good one, a little above the average. Each day you see the water creeping a little further into the floodplains. This wonderful water also plays its part in the story that unfolds daily.

A lioness has returned to some of her old and familiar hunting grounds here on the floodplains but unfortunately not at the right season. The cries were heard from a long distance by the guide, who rushed off to go and see the wonderful sighting of a lioness swimming through the water with her 2 new cubs following in hot pursuit but not really enjoying the water. All of a sudden the cubs were getting further and further behind. The cries from the cubs then made the mother turn around from the small dry island. Then silence, the little bodies not even moving any more, they had drowned. Everybody was thinking that she had gone all the way back to help them. What was she doing? Was she trying to revive them or pick them up? No she slowly tears into one of the cubs and takes it across to the island where there is a noise of another cub which has obviously made the dangerous crossing. She gives it to the wet and cold cub and it immediately starts to feed on the remains. The mother returns to the other drowned cub and does exactly the same thing and moves off onto the island where the other cub is busy feeding. We have seen the lioness but there has not been another glimpse of the last cub since the afternoon of that fateful day.

As the animals are busy with the new waters so too is the lodge as the high season really comes into its own. Many visitors from all over the world: some for the first time and others with the African dust still on their shoes from the last time they visited Botswana. It has been a month of many 'newlyweds' as well, congratulations!

The evenings are filled with the sounds of lions calling the night away. The night skies are just breathtaking. Winter is here to stay but each day is different and is definitely the time of layers. So bring the warm cloths so that you can put them on and then take them off from the icy fingers of winter, reaching as low as 10°C in the evenings. The days are great but only reach the lower 20's°C, so find your spot in the sun.

The 3 cubs from the resident pride of lions have also been reduced to 2. No one knows exactly what happened but the water has played a role, as the last time the little one was seen she was very wet and shivering. The other 2 cub have survived and are doing fantastically well, both providing great fun around the mother and even with the father. They have even been seen by our taking some meat for the first time with a kill that was made right in front of camp. The males were so busy fighting over the small red lechwe that pieces were left all over the place and therefore safe for the young ones to eat the scraps. The pride has made the Kwetsani floodplains their home and we see them around the camp as well as the nearby area.

The leopardess with her 2 cubs we have not seen recently (due possibly to the presence of the lions) but presume that they are doing well. The Jao leopard cub however is getting bigger by the day. The cub and his mother are doing really well and seem to be able to stay out of trouble. We have not seen them on so many kills but maybe the mother is catching smaller prey so that the cub is able to learn the skills necessary for its future. Both can be seen often in the trees together in the classic leopard position draped on a branch. There are not so many elephant bulls in the camp area but we have been seeing more breeding herds around the concession.
In general birdlife has been fantastic and we have been able to get out on the motor boats. Driving has been almost as wet and sometimes we forget that a 4.5 engine is not as good as the 60 horse power in the water... the water flowing over the land river bonnet soon reminding us of this fact though!

Hope that we will see you in this amazing water paradise!
Kwetsani Camp


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Duba Plains Camp update - June 06                Jump to Duba Plains Camp
19-25 June
The past week has been another great period at Duba. The Tsaro Pride has been seen almost every day. The pride remains fragmented however, as at least two females are lactating and we believe that they have newly born cubs that have not yet been introduced to the rest of the pride. Two weeks ago, we found some of the pride feeding on a dead elephant bull that had died of old age.

Lions and Buffalo at Duba Plains Camp, Botswana

The young male, sole survivor of 53 cubs produced by the Tsaro Pride over the last few years, is doing well and at 7 months should make it to adulthood if his fathers, the dominant male 'Duba Boys', are not evicted before the end of this year. Although we have not witnessed any male intruders into the Duba Boys' territory, both Boys have been heard making territorial calls to the east of the concession in the early morning. We know that a Pantry male, now 4 years old, uses this area together with two surviving lionesses and there is also a possibility that the Kwedi Pride (13 strong) are interested in obtaining access to the ~1000 strong buffalo herd that comprises the bulk of the territorial lions' prey.

The Skimmer Pride has not been seen this week, though we hear calls to the north of camp in the early morning. Perhaps this is the Skimmer Pride or the remnants of the Pantry Pride.

The buffalo herd have split into three kinship groups. This is to be expected at this time of year, especially as the flood is high and available grazing is limited.

Elephants are returning in numbers. During winter Duba hosts some of the most phenomenal elephant sightings in Southern Africa, as vast numbers of elephant graze the Couch grass on the open plains - an amazing sight. This week has been no exception and last Tuesday we saw a baby elephant, so small that it was still pink; probably no more than two weeks old.

Duba rocks! Come and visit soon!
by Paul de Thierry


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Jack's Camp update - June 06               Jump to Jack's Camp
ADD WATER AND STIR!

I have just returned from completing my annual stint of Guide Training in the Makgadikgadi.

One afternoon, Glyn Maude (the Brown Hyaena Researcher) came over with his laptop to show us a download that he had just received from a GPS collar of the main breeding female. On the screen, we could see where the female had been visiting the same spot for the last ten days. I know the area well and it is virtually impenetrable as it is a thicket of acacia - the perfect place to hide something...

We set out on foot with the Bushmen Trackers to recce the area. It was absolutely incredible. In the middle of the thicket, we found a huge disused aardvark burrow system. The surrounding area was strewn with bones, feathers and porcupine quills. At the entrance of one of the many holes, were the tell-tale miniature tracks of brown hyaena cubs! Thank you Glyn!

The only "problem" with the den site was that due to it being located in such a dense stand of acacia, it was completely inaccessible for game viewing purposes. We have therefore had to be patient because in our experience, the brown hyaena will then after a month or two move the cubs out to an abandoned aardvark den right on the edge of the salt pans which is obviously fantastic for all of us to visit.

Two weeks ago the female made the move and now after almost a year of absence, the browns are back in their main den site just a short drive from the camps.

They have two cubs that are rapidly becoming totally habituated to us and the great thing about the browns is that the cubs will remain at the den site for fifteen to seventeen months. The den site becomes the focal meeting place for the entire clan. Over the next few months, we will be able to observe the comings and goings of all the individuals which will really help us work out who is who in the zoo.

This year, rains have been exceptionally good in the area. We have recorded the second highest rainfall experienced in my lifetime. Visiting Jack's and San Camp is more like being in the Okavango Delta during the annual flood.

The pan in front of Jack's Camp is still wall to wall with water and we expect the water to remain until well into September. This is the most magical time in the Kalahari and it only occurs once every five or six years where it is dry enough to go out on the quad bikes and experience the enormity of the pans and, at the same time, to have the privilege of witnessing the last substantial migration to occur in Southern Africa: Tens of thousands of zebra and wildebeest and their attendant predators. One can drive for hours constantly surrounded by a 360-degree view of zebra extending all the way to the horizon and no sign of any other human life. And, if one averts one's gaze from this awe-inspiring annual wildlife spectacle, one will witness the extraordinary sight of the pans surrounding the camp filled with water and flocks of unusual migratory waterbirds and pockets of preening pink flamingo that arrive by the hundreds of thousands to gorge on the fleeting feast of brine shrimps and red algae.

The Mowana troop of meerkats is really happy to have once more have some dry land underfoot! During the rains, we actually saw them swimming - the first time that this has ever been observed. Not that they really wanted to but they had no choice in the matter! The alpha female is again pregnant and is as round as a little furry barrel. We'll keep you posted on her developments - our very own 24:7 "Meerkat Manor"!

One of the highlights of anybody's visits to the area is learning about the Kalahari from the true experts. A walk through the bush with the Joan/hoasi San Bushmen is a real privilege. There is absolutely nothing that they don't know about this primeval environment. This is "Survivor" but the authentic and ancient version thereof...

Environment
After the great summer rains, the Kalahari grasslands are reverting to their classic winter shades of gold and silver.

Climate
Typical desert conditions of lovely sunny days and crisp nights. Minimums have been as low as 3°C during the nights and a maximum of 30°C during the day.

Mammals
This month has had great with consistent sightings of aardvark, caracal and aardwolf. The brown hyaena are back at their den site. The zebra and wildebeest migration is still out in full force and will be until well into August/September. A lot of lion activity - particularly with regard to the heavy concentrations of zebra and wildebeest. Meerkats all performing well and the alpha female pregnant.

Birds
Birdlife has been fantastic. We had the Botswana rarities expert come in to have a look at all the birds that were attracted by the huge amounts of standing water in the area. There is exceptional nesting of waterbirds including White-backed and Maccoa Ducks, Great Crested Grebe etc, too many to mention and of course, hundreds of thousands of flamingo.

Regards
Ralph Bousfield

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Namibia camps
Palmwag Rhino Camp Newsletter - June 06                  Jump to Palmwag Rhino Camp
After a week of running the Children in the Wilderness programme at the end of May it took us a day or two to get camp ready for the first guests. We still pick up the odd forgotten bead or piece of string around camp and are instantly transported back to the fun-filled camps and exceptional children that we hosted.

The east wind also started early in June, it usually starts very early in the morning - blows the whole day and dies down at night, making for pleasant evenings. It can be unpleasant at times and taxing on guests, guides and animals alike. As soon as the east wind stops and the west wind blows in from the coast it gets very cold again - resulting in temperatures as low as 3°C. This windy weather (which makes tracking animals difficult) and the fact that the very good summer rains have dispersed all the game away from their normal permanent springs, have meant that rhino sightings have been difficult to come by. We did however get good sightings in the eastern hills of the Agab River valley of Tina and calf. Ben the dominant bull was occasionally seen. Des and her four month old calf were also seen along the Agab-Uniab confluence. Takamitha, Diana's previous calf was seen wandering with Ben in close proximity. The highlight of the month, of course, was seeing Diana with her new calf, less that a week old. After that sighting we stopped tracking Diana so that no unnecessary stress was put on her and her calf. The bull, known as Speedy, seems to have moved east through the veterinary fence after a radio transmitter was implanted in his horn in April.

We also had good lion sightings. Two male lions were seen at Abba Agab Spring while two females were seen on the plains to the south-east of camp. A lioness with 3 cubs was also seen between Salvadora Spring and Groot Agab spring. An old lone elephant bull was frequently seen moving up the Agab River while a breeding herd of five elephants including two adult females was once seen in the Uniab close to the Aub junction. The area around Wereldsend Spring and Zebra Spring is abounding with plains game: hundreds of zebra, thousands of springbok and plenty of gemsbok. There is also a herd of nine kudu around camp and we were excited to flush an aardwolf while tracking the elephant breeding herd on foot.

Hundreds of Sandgrouse chicks, some as small as the circle your thumb and 2nd finger makes are seen often along the road, very well disguised. Small horned adders were also seen on a frequent basis.

Sandgrouse Chick at Palmwag Rhino CampHorned Adder at Palmwag Rhino Camp

Our staff village and kitchen has been upgraded. The kitchen is slightly bigger and also on a deck now so we will be safe next year from rivers through the kitchen. There are also proper doors now, whereas previously we had a meru-style tent with only the normal flaps - so the doors will now keep out the small spotted genet, favouring the breakfast muffins. We are also in the process of building a guides unit and another store room.

New kitchen at Palmwag

We also had the privilege of hosting the Minister of Environment and Tourism and his party for one night in Camp. We were lucky to find old Ben on the way out so we could show the Minister what we do and how we do it.

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Serra Cafema Camp Newsletter - June 06                  Jump to Serra Cafema Camp
Our winter has really only started now. Night time temperatures are around 13ºC while the warmth of the sun brings day time temperatures up to 30ºC. The mornings are truly spectacular now, with the most amazing sight of mist covering our whole valley. As the sun starts to break through, the mist looks like steam coming off the Kunene River.

We have built an additional room, overlooking the river and situated just next to the rapids, and have converted two of our other rooms into a family unit. The unit consists of two rooms in close proximity with connecting balconies, which now allows us to accommodate families with ease. We are also giving the camp a facelift by re-sanding and re-varnishing the wooden decks. The greenness of the vegetation into which Serra Cafema has been built gives the whole camp the atmosphere of an oasis.

The area around Serra Cafema is looking spectacular. On the Namibian side, red dunes, covered with the annual golden grass and on the Angolan side, dark brown mountain tops covered with the same grass make the combination of colours a phenomenal sight. This year's seemingly never-ending rainy season did wonders for our environment.

Increasing numbers of healthy, well-fed animals, such as springbok and gemsbok, can be seen in the area, a herd of springbok being generally the first sighting guests are treated to on their way from the airfield to the lodge. A phenomenal experience is waking up to baboons shouting and moving noisily along the dunes just above the camp, with the juveniles playing like kids in the dunes.

Some of the regular activities by guests over June yielded the following:
· Good bird watching on the Kunene River boat cruises including sightings of White-breasted Cormorant, White-browed Coucal and Goliath Herons.
· Scattered herds of oryx and springbok in the relatively verdant Hartmann's Valley.
· Klipspringer at Bogenfels and the waterfall on the Kunene River.
· Good raptor viewing including a Tawny Eagle and pair of Black (Verreauxs') Eagles at Lion River canyon.
· And of course, a constant reminder why we do not engage in a refreshing bath in the river, the ever-present, dark green shapes, floating just under the surface or resting on the banks, our Nile crocodiles, which you will be able to observe on one of our lazy sundowner boat trips, with our newly upgraded alu-boat.

We have recently added 2 new game drive vehicles and 12 fully automatic quad bikes to our fleet and continued to host a series of guests during their life-changing journey with Wilderness Safaris.

Some comments form our guests:
"If heaven is like Serra Cafema, it's worthwhile getting there."
"Wow! Paradise - heaven - extraordinary."
"I have never experienced anything so incredible."
"Serra Cafema is truly the 'Gem' of Namibia."
"Wonderful, exceptional, awesome, simply a superb stay."
"We have had one of the most exciting experiences."

Regards,
Johan Snyders

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Little Ongava update - June 06                  Jump to Little Ongava
June has been fantastic with winter just arriving now. In the mornings the weather is great, dropping to about 9-10°C in the early hours but then warming up in the sunshine. During the evenings, temperatures drop again to about 15°C.

In this drier time of the year, game viewing at Ongava has been outstanding and we have given our guests a unique experience in enjoying a truly wild destination in one of the finest and well managed private game reserves in the country. Most of the rain-filled ponds are drying up and this has led to huge concentrations of game at waterholes. The most noticeable one is the waterhole in front of the camp, where large numbers of eland, kudu, gemsbok, waterbuck, black-faced impala, plains zebra, red hartebeest, blue wildebeest and many more are being viewed every day. Black rhino are back almost every single night at the waterhole and the hide is providing a closer look at this rare species.

A highlight in this regard was viewing the territorial fight between two dominant bulls, 'Lloyd' and 'Etosha', which happened just before dinner and it took almost 20 minutes before the loud grunting, squirming and blood spilling stopped. Guests were amazed and gained a new respect and understanding of the intensity of territorial conflicts in this huge species that can lead to death. Good news though, is that both rhinos are okay and the wounds they got are not life threatening.

Lions sightings have been great, with the 'Etosha Pride' still controlling the Sonop and Alan Dam area and 'Stompie's Pride' the area between Ongava Tented Camp and Little Ongava. We suspect that one of the young lionesses in the latter pride has given birth to cubs in the Talcum Powder area and the competition is on to see which guide and his guests will be the lucky first viewers of the new arrivals.

White rhino are still viewed frequently in the Sonop area but the drying of water points has meant that some have moved into the Alan Dam area with some still living at Baboon Dam. Etosha is also thriving at the moment with large concentrations of game at the water points and the return of the huge breeding herds of elephant. From an environmental point of view "there is nothing better than combining Ongava and Etosha wildlife's viewing".

For birdwatchers, thousands of Red-billed Queleas covering the whole sky has probably been the highlight of the month. Ongava Research Centre has also now officially opened. It is headed by Dr. Ken Stratford and we are all excited that it will support us with important and valuable information.

Finally I would like to leave you with the quote of the month from some of our American guests: "We cannot believe that the rest of Africa will be as beautiful as this. Your lodge is beautiful and comfortable and the staff is beyond compare."

Regards
Management, Guide and Staff of Little Ongava

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Doro Nawas Camp update - June 06                  Jump to Doro Nawas Camp
As of July, we've been open for one year, and as a proud team of Doro Nawas, we have the following to share about our camp, the newest Wilderness Safaris camp in Namibia.

Over the past few months, we had received quite heavy rainfall by the area's standards, and the result is that the vegetation surrounding the low rugged knoll on which the camp is situated is good: the grass has grown so tall that you hardly see the baby ostriches at their mothers' heels, the middle of the plain is characterised by the abundant yellow flowers of the devil's thorn and interspersed with vast mats of Zygophlum simplex and an as yet unidentified greeny-yellow succulent.

This vegetation and the change in season (winter has started now and the wind blows during the day while night-time temperatures have dropped and on some mornings mist is visible) have meant that the desert-adapted elephants have moved back into the area and are being seen on a regular basis. We estimate that we see these animals on 85% of our game drive activities. There is even an animal among them that carries a radio transmitter and has moved into the area from further north. Other species seen on the game drive excursions lately have been springbok, gemsbok, ostrich, brown hyaena, black-backed jackal and bat-eared fox. It is Namibia's endemic birds that attract some of our guests of course and we're proud to boast the following regularly seen endemic species: Rüppell's Korhaan, Monteiro's Hornbill and Benquela Long-billed Lark.

Aside from game drives out onto the plains and into the Huab and Ab-Huab Riverbeds, and the outings to Twyfelfontein, we have also developed a short walking trail. The Sandstone Ridge trail has started well and guests enjoy the trail, especially in the afternoon when the weather is pleasant. It is a moderately strenuous guided walk, which encourages guests to stop frequently and enjoy the endless vistas of the desert wilderness in a truly remote part of Namibia. Other exciting news is that the mountain biking activities will be starting quite soon; all the guides are thrilled about this activity. Doro Nawas and our neighbouring Damaraland Camp are the only camps within Wilderness Safaris Namibia that can explore their unique areas by bike.

Some other news from Doro Nawas concerns our guides. Rosalia Haraes, the head guide here, has been a guide with Wilderness for the past ten years. She is motivated, always passionate about nature and loves her work. She is a great example to all Namibian women and has recently been employed as an Explorations guide to be based in Windhoek. Well done! Rosie, all the best for your new job, and for your future.

Rosta Janik has replaced Rosie in her position as a guide and will be helping out through the high season at our Camp. Welcome on board, Rosta!

As the busy season is starting now, we will, as a team put in our outmost best to fulfil the values and principles of Wilderness Safaris and provide the best service possible for our guests.

Cheers from the heart of Damaraland,
Doro Nawas Camp

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South Africa camps
Rocktail Bay Dive Newsletter - June 06                  Jump to Rocktail Bay Lodge
June began wonderfully with water temperatures at 24° Celsius, warm, sunny days and great sea conditions. Sightings of humpback whales increased and bottlenose and spinner dolphins were seen. Then the weather seemed to fall out of sync with the divers - just as the divers arrived at the lodge, so did the cold fronts from the Cape. These cold fronts lasted between two to three days each time they arrived and played havoc with the sea, causing big swells which resulted in sand being churned up on most of the dives. Then as the divers left, the fair weather returned, until the next group of divers and cold fronts arrived simultaneously. This pattern unfortunately persisted right throughout the month. One diver who didn't seem to be bothered in the least was 14-year-old Charlotte Stewart, who recently qualified here as a PADI Junior Open Water diver and was back to see more fish. Diving in 2.5-metre swells, with lots of surge for the first time, Charlotte was a great dive buddy to her dad and made sure to stay with Clive who was divemaster for the dive. She even had the longest dive time of the group! Well done Charlotte, keep up the good diving!

"Thanks to the dive team, I had a great time. I swam in the wonderland that is known as the sea. It was great to be back. When I get home everyone will hear about my adventures!" - Charlotte Stewart, Johannesburg, South Africa

We have seen quite a lot of rays at the surface this month: A graceful manta ray, turning from side to side, sticking first his left wing out of the water, then his right; groups of devil rays have been entertaining us with their backward summersaults, jumping clear out of the water, as they often do. Quite surprisingly, Darryl saw a spotted eagle ray jumping out of the waves and belly-flopping back down. These rays are normally seen gliding along the reef, not jumping out of the water. Perhaps, as with the humpback whales, it could be a mating ritual or a way to tickle one's belly, or just plain jumping for joy!

This time of year everyone is listening out for news regarding the Sardine Run - dubbed the 'greatest shoal on earth' and rightly so. Millions of sardines travel northwards from the Hout Bay area in the Cape, as far up as Durban, during their annual spawning ritual. There are so many of them that if viewed from the sky it literally looks as if a black river is winding its way through the sea. This is an easy feast for many creatures, including dolphins, whales, sharks, game fish, seals, various birds and humans of course. Although the sardine run does not stretch as far up as where we are, we have certainly noticed a lot of juvenile and adult Cape Gannets around our area, looking for food. Reports so far are not positive as to whether the sardine run will happen this year or not, one reason they say could be that the water temperatures are still too high for these fish and that this will hold them back.

Can't win them all, looking forward to getting Neptune on our side next month for some better diving conditions!

Darryl, Clive, Michelle
The Rocktail Bay Dive Team

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Pafuri Camp (northern Kruger) Newsletter - June 06                  Jump to Pafuri Camp
It seems as though the mid-winter rains have brought a small bit of greenery back onto the concession, although the area has been pretty dry in places so I am not sure how long it will last. On the 8th June we had 4mm; 21 June we had 10mm and on the 30th of the month 8mm. Unusual for this time of the year but at least the grazers may have a little more food before the main dry season hits us. This however has not dampened our game viewing.

Here are some of our special sightings for the month of June.
4 June - no fewer than 28 crocodiles seen on a sandbank in the drying Limpopo River.
16 June - a medium-sized crocodile was seen feeding on a python from main deck (the python had tried to swim across the Luvuvhu River and was caught by the croc)
22 June - a Martial Eagle was seen pursuing and catching a Crested Guineafowl along the riverbank opposite the main deck.
25 June - 2 sable bulls were seen crossing the Pafuri main road by Simon. We are not yet sure of the total population of this antelope species in the concession area, but numbers in Kruger have dwindled in recent years and any sighting is special.
27 June - a Pel's Fishing Owl was seen on a stump in the river from the main deck during dinner.
Elephant sightings almost daily across the concession - the herds have definitely moved back into the area. Six elephant bulls are frequently around camp during the warmer parts of the day.
Three aardvark sightings, two from the boardwalk in camp which passes above a currently occupied burrow.
26 June - Another interesting one was a group of Great White Pelicans flying east along the Luvuvhu River.

Birding
We recorded a total of 129 species this month. They included: Pel's Fishing Owl, Malachite Kingfisher, Horus Swift, Great White Pelican, Groundscraper Thrush, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Mocking Cliff Chat and Striped Pipit. Just to whet your appetite!

Mammals
It is great once again to be having regular sightings of elephant and one of the best ways of viewing them, for me anyway, is watching them from our main deck as they drink from or bathe in the Luvuvhu River. They can entertain you for hours. We are still seeing large herds of buffalo with many of the herds seen this month consisting of 100+ individuals.

Other sightings during the month of June include: Aardvark, aardwolf, honey badger, spotted hyaena, black-backed jackal, bush pig, sable, eland, porcupine, as well as some of our regulars such as impala, nyala, kudu, bushbuck, warthog, waterbuck, chacma baboon, just to name a few. Leopard and lion sightings were surprisingly fewer than during May with the Pafuri lion pride seen approximately every third day and leopard on a weekly basis.

Climate
Rainfall for the month, unseasonal as it was, was measured as 22mm. Our minimum temperature was 11.4°C, while the maximum temperature recorded was 29.7°C.

Thanks
Geoff Mullen

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