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Page 1 Updates
Wilderness Safaris News -
Info and updates from Wilderness Safaris
Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in
Monthly update from Savuti Camp in
Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in
Kwando Safaris game reports.
Monthly update from Mombo Camp in
update from Chitabe Camp in
Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in
Monthly update from Jao Camp in Botswana.
Monthly update from Jacana Camp in
Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in
Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in
Monthly update from Vumbura Plains in
Monthly update from Little Vumbura
Camp in Botswana.
Monthly update from Palmwag Rhino Camp in
Monthly update from Sossusvlei Wilderness
Camp in Namibia.
Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in
Turtle news from Rocktail
Bay in South Africa.
Monthly Dive report from Rocktail
Bay in South Africa.
Safaris Updates - October 2006
Damaraland wins Imvelo Award
Camp is a winner once again, this
time at the 2006 Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards,
for Best single resource management program – Energy.
The Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards recognise
operations in tourism and hospitality that make
a “real, measurable and sustained contribution
to responsible tourism.”
The category of which Damaraland
was a winner – Best
single resource management program – judges
entrants on “operational efforts made
to reduce and manage water, energy or waste”.
Damaraland Camp uses uncontaminated water from
a borehole five kilometers away, and once used,
this water is disposed of in an environmentally-friendly
manner. “Gray water” from showers
and basins waters natural vegetation while
waste water is contained in a two-chamber tank
to allow for biological activity. Waste is
trucked from the camp to Windhoek for proper
recycling, and energy for light and hot water
is obtained via solar power. Gas is used for
cooking and refrigeration.
The Duba Duma Challenge
DUBA DUMA WILDERNESS CHALLENGE
days in October, the Duba-Duma team
of four intrepid guides - Tony Reumerman,
Gavin McCabe, Anthony Bennet and Richard
Coke - made their way across some of
the wildest areas in Botswana, renowned
for its swamps, crocodiles, hippo,
lion and buffalo, to raise money for
Children in the Wilderness. Each day,
Wilderness staff throughout the region
waited with bated breath to see how
our "Duba-Duma boys" were
Unfortunately, an unexpected
heat wave hit Southern Africa, making
the race even more difficult and on
Day 2, a severely dehydrated Gavin
was airlifted to Maun for treatment.
Thanks goes out to Sefofane air charters,
Okavango Helicopters - Greg Potter,
the Vumbura Plains management team
- Grant and staff for getting Gavin
Finally, on the sixth
night, the last message from the team
while out in the wild: "S 18 34.579
E 23 32.562: Arrived at Savuti Channel
in late afternoon and were welcomed
by two different herds of elephant.
After a huge thunderstorm and blistering
heat we arrived at Zibalianja Lagoon
with a pod of hippo to serenade us
through the night."
On the last
day the team set off for DumaTau Camp
where a huge welcome team was ready
and waiting, cheering them in on what
marked the end of the most gruelling
120km walk these men have ever done.
team managed to survive six days of the
hottest and driest climate that this
part of Africa experiences; extreme ground
temperatures; constant exposure to the
sun with many leafless trees, but most
importantly, the lack of surface water
for drinking and the constant interaction
with wildlife and its obvious risks for
this time of the year. Well done to all
of them - they are a true inspiration
to all of us!
As we are all committed
in our various ways to guiding and conservation
it means a lot to know that we are contributing
towards a cause that positively alters
a child's perception towards conservation
and the environment. It puts meaning
into this challenge that we are undertaking
knowing that our goal of BWP100 000.00
will allow 32 disadvantaged children
to attend camp, including a follow-up'.
you to all sponsors whom have gotten
us to our goal."
Wilderness Challenge Team
features in National Geographic ADVENTURE
new Zambian camps in Kafue
National Park were included
as one of National Geographic
ADVENTURE's 25 Best New Trips
for 2007 in its November issue.
One of National Geographic’s
most popular features, this
is an annual report “on
innovative trips that will
broaden your perspective, push
your limits, and reignite your
sense of possibility.”
Their report on the
new camps states: "The
first two days are spent on game drives,
hikes, and canoe trips from Lunga's thatch-roof
bungalows set in the Miombo woodland;
the next three are based at Busanga in
the heart of 290 square miles (751 square
kilometres) of wildlife-filled wetlands
reserve. Busanga's three posh tents give
you front-row seats for spotting herds
of puku and antelope crossing the plains
in front of the camp. In the evening
you'll head out on nocturnal safari drives
in search of big predators that stalk
Island on Green List
Island is on Condé Nast Traveler’s
Green List! Travelers today are increasingly
searching for places to go that combine
luxury with care for the planet, and Condé Nast
Traveler’s 12th Annual Green List
brings twelve top destinations that celebrate “one
of the best ways to preserve the environments
and cultures that make this planet worth
The List covered destinations from every
continent, where the panel of judges
scored candidates on environmental initiative,
contributions to local communities and
quality of the guest experience.
North Island garnered
a high score thanks to its “Noah’s Ark” concept
of rehabilitating the Island by reintroducing
native plants and animals that had been
driven out by alien species, combined
with “11 butler-tended villas with
Robinson Crusoe privacy and five-star
luxury”, as well as the Children
in the Wilderness program run on the
Island this year.
/ GENERAL UPDATES
We have been advised that, with
immediate effect, American passport
holders traveling to Zambia will have
to pay a US$100 visa fee.
The bush telegraph seemed to have some
gremlins in it in our previous newsletter,
where we said that there were no night
drives at Ongava. This is untrue: there
is a night drive after the sundowner activity,
where guests drive back to the Camp or
Lodge after sundown, stopping along the
way to view interesting nocturnal life
coming out. This can take two hours or
longer depending on the interest of the
sightings that they come across.
is served at the Camp / Lodge upon arrival
back from the Reserve activity. There
is no night drive after dinner, but
the earlier drives are popular and
usually provide wonderful surprises,
such as chameleons or, as was spotted
on a recent excursion, a hedgehog!
speculation that Jao
warthog’s mate might have been leopard
lunch, all are pleased to see they’re
both alive and well. They now share the
same space under the library at the main
lodge (the two warthogs, not the leopard);
camp staff presume they have given up reading
as they are not seen in the library any
more. Yet another strange sighting was
seeing some impala lie down in the shade,
when a troop of banded mongoose arrived
and groomed them for about half an hour – never
seen before by any guide here!
Kings Pool Camp
update - October 06 Jump
to Kings Pool Camp
October has been a dramatic month
of the year in Kings Pool. The temperature continued
to rise and at times it was very humid. The Linyanti
floodwaters have been receding since last month.
A light downpour was also experienced around the
20 of October. This lasted for 3 days with overcast
However, the game viewing has been fantastic at
Kings Pool for the whole month. Sightings of lions,
leopards, African wildcat and African civet became
prominent. Various lions including the Kings Pool
territorial males, and border boys were seen. Nonetheless,
only three males were seen mostly on the north-eastern
side of the camp. Three of the males have not been
seen but they were heard on the Namibian side.
Their prime prey species - hippos and elephants
- have not featured in their diet this month. In
sharp contrast, they continued to target large
buffalo herds along the river. This has been accentuated
by the fact that the palatable grasses in the woodland
have collapsed. As a consequence, hippos have been
reluctant to leave the river for the woodland as
is normally the case when there are good grasses
available. This in turn also compelled the buffalo
to hang around the river in seek of fresh grasses
The Selinda lioness and her two cubs were seen
mostly on the south-western side of the camp. She
hangs around Kings Pool airstrip and Chobe 1, mostly
along the riverine woodland. She has been thrilling
everyone with her hunting skills as she successfully
raises her cubs alone. She has mostly settled for
smaller prey species such as warthogs, impalas
and baboons as no reinforcement form the rest of
the pride is needed.
The Selinda female comes from
a pride called Selinda which hangs around Savuti
channel and Selinda concession. It seems like
the female has been happy to go solo in order
to raise her cubs "peacefully".
One major obstacle that restricts her from rejoining
the pride is that new males have taken over; therefore
they might kill her five-month-old cubs. We are
waiting to see when she will decide to return back
to the pride - probably, when the cubs are old
enough to hunt on their own or escape any threat.
Surprisingly, the female and the Savuti males
get along without any friction. However, the cubs
do not play with the Savuti boys.
We had a surprise sighting of two lionesses with
three cubs. They belong to the Linyanti pride which
we last saw six months ago.
We had frequent sightings of the following leopards;
Boscia and Motopi, Thonningii female, Thonningii
male and Calcrete, with Boscia and Motopi, also
mother and daughter, seen most often. They hunted
and shared kills together. Instances of separation
were recorded but they always found each other
within 24 hours. Between the 25th and 26th of October
Boscia spent the whole night calling around the
camp in search of her daughter. This experience
was wholeheartedly appreciated by all the guests
in camp. Some of the guests explained that they
have been on a safari before, but had never heard
a leopard call.
Another leopard, named Calcrete, showed signs
that she was lactating but we haven't seen a cub
as yet. We are working around the clock and hope
luck doesn't elude us so that we can get a chance
to see her cub.
The elephant sightings have been spectacular.
More elephants showed up this month compared to
last month. Although a light downpour that we had
around the 20th had an impact on the elephants'
movement, it is worthwhile to note that they have
made a comeback. This is further exacerbated by
the fact that there is still no water in the mud
holes in the woodland. As a result, the only source
of water is the Linyanti River.
Compared to last year, elephant numbers are fewer.
However, the water level was lower last year. This
October has seen more food available as compared
to last year. Mopane trees have quickly bloomed
and the Linyanti Concession is already green and
attractive. The sound of the cicadas is the Linyanti
The birdlife in Linyanti has been excellent with
some great views of the endangered species such
as Slaty Egrets, Wattled Cranes, Ground Hornbills,
and Lappet-faced Vultures. Most of the migratory
birds have arrived from different corners of the
world. It is common to see the following summer
visitors: Barn (Eurasian) Swallow, Wahlberg's Eagle,
Southern Carmine Bee-eaters, Yellow-billed Kite,
Broad-billed Roller, Greater Painted Snipe, Cuckoos
and the Woodland Kingfishers. The Southern Carmine
Bee-eater colonies are the best in Linyanti especially
the one at Cub Corner.
This combined experience of wildlife and birdlife
has made Kings Pool an unbeatable place to visit.
The most sought after carnivores on a safari -
the wild dogs - were sighted for the whole month
in Kings Pool. Wild dogs are the second most endangered
carnivore in Africa. Their sightings can be very
remote and unpredictable as they cover a wide area.
The DumaTau pack which is made up of 10 adults
and 6 pups can cover 30 km north-east of Kings
Pool and an amazing 100km south-west .This explains
why their sightings are a special treat.
To quote one guest "I can't wait to be back
to enjoy all the wildlife sightings and see how
the hippo that stays around the camp is doing.
This is a true and unspoilt wilderness experience".
YOU will always have a room in Kings Pool, and
it will be a pleasure to see you back.
KINGS POOL TEAM
update - October 06 Jump
to Savuti Camp
Temperature averages for the month: Minimum of
10 and high of 39.
This October was very different to previous years as we experienced
many days of cloud cover and in some parts of northern Botswana
substantial amounts of rainfall was recorded. The heat only really
set in towards the end of the month but even still, we did not
experience the temperatures we experienced last year.
resident leopard, also known as the DumaTau Male as his territory
ranges from Savuti all the way up to DumaTau, injured his right
front leg and spent most of the month in the Dish Pan, Bottleneck,
Rock Pan areas, obviously not wanting to move too much as he
really struggled to walk with the injury. He managed to steal
a warthog kill from the two cheetah boys with his injured leg;
he took the kill up into a Sausage Tree away from scavenging
hyaenas. We are not sure what the cause of the injury was but
when last seen he was looking healthy and walking a lot better.
note: I spoke with
Tony Ruemerman, head guide trainer for Wilderness and
he described what transpired when the DumaTau male was
injured (Tony was guiding two guests and witnessed the
following incredible drama)...
Tony and his guests
were out early from camp and found some
lionesses in the treeline along the Savuti channel, right
near Savuti camp early one morning. The
lions had killed a zebra in the hours before sunrise,
after, some hyenas showed up, as they often do with
their amazing sense of smell, and chased the lions off
the kill. The
hyenas fed a while until the sun got a bit warm and they
moved off in the heat of mid-morning.
As Tony was ready to leave the sighting,
a lovely leopard strolled in nonchalantly. It
was a 20-month-old female (the offspring of
a resident leopard known as the "Mmantshwe
and she began feeding on the zebra carcass. Tony and
his guests took pictures and watched with anticipation
to see whether the hyenas or lions might reappear. They
watched for about an hour and chatted and took lots of
they continued to admire the lovely young leopard, suddenly
and with no warning, a second leopard exploded onto the
scene like a blur and attacked the young female as she
fed. She was taken completely unaware and the attacking
leopard was none other than the huge DumaTau male. What
ensued must have been difficult to watch as the much bigger
and stronger male began killing the younger female,
who was nonetheless fighting back with intense fury. It
was so quick and so shocking, that none of the group managed
to photograph this part.
As one might imagine, two
leopards locked in mortal combat is not a quiet affair,
and the sounds of their snarls and growls attracted the
lionesses from their nearby resting position and they
charged into the chaos as well. One
lioness determinedly went straight for the DumaTau
male and he dashed for the nearest tree, narrowly escaping
the lioness. He
was so intent on his attack on the female leopard, that
he almost lost his own life.
The DumaTau male looked down snarling
from his perch 10 meters up the tree, while the lioness
stood below watching him. Somehow, in the commotion,
none of the lions had noticed the injured female leopard
lying only 10 meters away in the dirt. The lions
moved off to the periphery and head-rubbed and then lay
down again, satisfied for the moment. Sadly, it
became immediately apparent that the female leopard was
horribly wounded. Tony
and his guests, who were extremely distressed now, watched
with amazement as the DumaTau male looked down with fire
in his eyes at the dying female, saliva running down
from his mouth in streams.
The three sat and watched now, speechless
for the next 30 minutes. After a bit, Tony looked
back to check on the DumaTau male in his tree, but he
was now nowhere to be seen! What the ...? Where
was he now? The lionesses were still in sight only
30 meters away and not sleeping either. Had he
risked a descent and escaped to fight another day? As
Tony scanned the bush, he saw a slight movement in his
side mirror and, to his utter amazement, he saw the DumaTau
male, creeping along the ground in a full stalk as only
leopards can manage, only 10 meters behind the Land Rover
and moving slowly forward toward the vehicle. This
bugger was actually stalking in for another attack on
the female, who still had not moved from her position
15 meters directly in front of Tony's vehicle, and who
was still unnoticed by any of the lions.
Tony said nothing to his guests, thinking
that this was truly a potentially dangerous situation,
with the clearly enraged, full grown male using their
vehicle for cover. For all he knew, the leopard
might jump into the vehicle, as it was now lying right
alongside the rear wheel of the vehicle and clearly intent
on his mission, eyes still ablaze and saliva dripping
from his lower lip. Leopards
can be very unpredictable and this situation was now
making Tony more than a little uneasy. He very
slowly removed his long knife from its holster on his
belt and held it silently in his lap, ready if needed.
Suddenly, the DumaTau male attacked again,
moving so quickly it was hard to believe. If anyone
has ever watched a leopard explode from a motionless
position to full sprint in attack, you will know how
fast it is. There is no predator faster over the
initial 25 meters than a leopard and it's something that
is hard to believe, even when you witness it with your
own eyes. The female jumped up at the last instant,
but her hind quarters were clearly damaged and she could
only somersault head over tail, with her front quarters
sprinting, but hear hear legs only flailing without effect. The
DumaTau male was once again attacking her viciously,
but this time, the lions were there in an instant and
he could only manage a few seconds of attack before he
was forced to run for cover, into the trees
and out of sight.
The lions had now seen the mortally wounded
female leopard, and one of them attacked her. As
leopards will do when fighting or in full defense mode,
the leopardess rolled onto her back and went to work
with paws, claws and fangs. Even without full use
of her hind legs, she raked at the lioness's face with
all her claws and the lioness sustained some certain
damage and quickly retreated. Tony
and his guests were of course all sitting with mouths
agape, especially the guests, who had not even seen the
DumaTau male's approach alongside the vehicle and were
caught again by surprise.
Amazingly, in the next minute, three lion
cubs emerged from the bushes where the lions had
been resting... no one had seen the little ones throughout
all this action. The cubs were clearly curious about
the prone form of the female leopard, but after seeing
what it could dish out, they would dare move no closer
than about 20 meters. Finally, after what seemed
an eternity, with everyone holding their breath, a second
lioness, possibly the mother of the young cubs, ran in
and dispatched the young leopard without much trouble.
Well, this was now more than the two guests
(both ladies) could take. Even Tony
was a bit stunned and could hardly believe all that had
had been at the initial sighting now for about 5 hours
and had only driven about 10 minutes out of camp.
After everyone calmed down a bit and Tony
did his best to try to explain what might cause a male
leopard to attack a young, but not completely immature
female, they decided to drive off and see if they could
relocate the DumaTau male. So they went off-roading
in the direction the leopard had run. Eventually
they found him again, lying at the base of a tree at
a pan and licking a clearly injured front paw. He
had obviously sustained a bad bite from the female in
their fight. As Tony and his guests sat and watched
him and talked more about the drama they had witnessed,
the big leopard went to the pan for a drink and then
returned to the base of the tree, where he promptly fell
Tony asked his guests if they wanted to
go back to camp, as it was now into the afternoon
siesta time and they had eaten all their morning snacks,
as well as a lunch that the camp had driven out to them
to eat on the vehicle. As
they were getting ready to leave, Tony saw one of the
lionesses, the same female who had killed the already
dying female leopard earlier, stalking the sleeping male
leopard from the trees at the edge of the pan. The
DumaTau male slept on, completely unaware. Hearts
were again thudding and everyone grabbed their camera
in anticipation and held their breath to see what would
As expected, the lioness crept in to about
30 meters and sprung then launched her attack... Tony
thought, this is it, the leopard is dead for sure, but
he woke up just as the lioness was nearly on him. With
almost supernatural agility, he leapt off all four paws
in a straight vertical bounce, grabbed hold of the tree
trunk (which he was fortunate to be lying directly beneath)
and again escaped the lioness's reaching claws by what
looked like mere inches, as he bounded up the tall
trunk of the tree.
The whole drama was now feeling more like
something more out of a dream than reality, and Tony
and his guests were feeling a bit giddy as the lionesses
paced beneath the tree in agitation whilst the leopard
glared down at them in defiance. I'm sure by now
you're saying "Wow",
as I was when Tony related this to me on the Air Botswana
flight into Maun. I had actually thought the story
was over on three occasions, but he kept on saying, "Wait,
The lions eventually walked off and all
was again quiet. The DumaTau leopard saw his chance
and this time he descended his tree and quickly retreated
in the opposite direction from the lions.
After another 20 minutes, the sounds of
hyenas whooping and yipping could be heard back towards
the spot where the initial drama had taken place. They
waited as the sounds seemed to get a bit louder and to
add the final bit of unreality to it all, they watched
as a huge female hyena came trotting into the clearing
at the pan. She had the body of the young female
leopard in her jaws and was running along with it suspended,
completely off the ground, with two more hyenas trailing
her and obviously wanting to take it, but not daring
to do so. All three hyenas ran by without a glance
and then all was again quiet.
It was nearly 4pm. Tony drove back
The two cheetah boys spent quite a bit of time in the Channel
this month and on one afternoon came to drink from the waterhole
in front of camp. The sight from camp was truly incredible with
elephants drinking with the cheetah, a hyaena lying nearby keeping
a close eye on the cheetah, and in the background a herd of zebra
were grazing and all this could be seen from camp. This place
The wild dogs were seen up along the Linyanti River feeding
on a female impala. It seems that the pack has split since only
sixteen dogs were seen together. We all hope that this is the
case and that they are doing okay. The pups are growing fast
and are doing well.
The Savuti male lions provided some great sightings this month
and we have had many a night where we have woken up to the roar
of the lions marking their territories. On one morning all four
males were seen together on Dennis Road, not far from camp. They
all looked in good condition. They were on a patrol of their
territory, heading east of camp. Two male lions were seen east
of camp a few times this month but were very shy of the vehicles.
They are impressive looking males with dark manes.
The black-backed jackal and bat-eared fox pups are all doing
well and have given guests some value added viewing.
The sad point of the month was when Nick the pilot found a serval
sleeping in front of his tent one afternoon. This caused great
excitement in camp as we were able to get up close and get some
great pictures, but then we realised there must be a problem
as it is very rare to see these creatures during the day let
alone be allowed to get so close. On closer inspection we noticed
that the serval had an injury on his front right leg and also
around his neck. He unfortunately passed away that night.
Other game seen this month: hippo, roan antelope seen along
the airstrip road, Ostriches, Martial Eagle, striped polecat
(zorilla) to name a few. The impala have started dropping their
young and with coming rains there should be a whole lot of young
antelope running around.
"Peaceful, relaxing, wonderful! Thanks for conserving our
natural habitat." G&P W
"One of the most beautiful places on earth" LW
Well that's it for now; look out for next month's letter as
we have had some wonderful things happen already this month and
we can't wait to let you know.
From all at Savuti
update - October 06 Jump
Wow! What a fantastic month!
Things have really heated up in the Linyanti
now. The midday temperatures are in the region of 38°C, and that is in the
shade. Even during the night the temperature has rarely dropped
below 20°C. The beginning of the month was quite windy and
on the afternoon of the 5th we experienced quite a dust storm
along the Linyanti River. The elephants crossing the river as
the sun set in a pink, dusty haze will be an image that remains
etched in my memory. For the first two weeks the wind brought
in the clouds and there was a sense that it could rain. Then
finally on the 15th it started to rain lightly in the afternoon.
The next day it drizzled again and then on the twentieth 4 mm
fell. The total for the month was in the region of 9mm.
Many of the plants have reacted immediately to the few drops.
In the riverine woodland all the Feverberry Crotons and quite
a lot of the Knobbly Combretums have new leaves. The Mangosteens
have been in full fruit in the camp this last month. The fruit
is like a small apricot in shape and colour and is quite tart
to the taste (if you can get to the fruit before the baboons).
It has high vitamin C content and the birds, squirrels, kudu,
monkeys and a wide variety of other animals are also feasting
on the banquet of fallen fruits. In the Mopane woodlands the
scrub remained leafless for most of the month, but now at the
end there are quite a few new leaves emerging from the scraggly
With the increase in temperatures and the few drops of rain
that fell, the insects have popped out of their hiding places.
At night one can hear the termites, busy repairing their termite
heaps and gathering up the last of the dead vegetation lying
around. At night we often come across at least one African Rock
Python in the riverine forest nearby the river. We have started
to see Leopard Tortoises again, slowly plodding along in the
The birds this month have been spectacular. Our bird count for
the month was 218 species and that was only up until the 25th
of the month! Many of the migrants have now returned and on the
30th we started hearing the Woodland Kingfishers calling in the
camp again. This is truly a sign that summer has arrived. Other
migrants that have returned include the Carmine Bee-eaters ,
Ruffs, Wahlberg's Eagles, Yellow-billed Kites (we have a pair
building a nest in the camp), Barn Swallows, Common Swifts, Broad-billed
Rollers, Willow Warblers, Black Cuckoos to mention a few.
Ban was out on drive one evening when he saw something very
strange flying in front of the vehicle over the grassland in
the Savuti Channel. It had long white wing-feathers trailing
behind flapping like flags blowing in the wind. It was a magnificent
male Pennant-winged Nightjar. Ban was quite excited when he returned
back to camp. We do not often have views of these incredible
birds, as they are quite scarce summer visitors to the area.
Other rare bird sightings this month include an Osprey that
was seen near Osprey Lagoon (how fitting), a Black-tailed Godwit
(a rare vagrant to Southern Africa) that was seen probing in
the mud in the Savuti Channel, two groups of Wattled Cranes seen
foraging in the moist floodplains and a few Slaty Egrets that
have been seen in shallow waters.
As the floodplains and the Savuti Channel dry up, small fish
traps are being formed and numerous birds are gathering to take
advantage of the easy pickings. There are quite a few egrets,
herons and storks at these small pools. We are now getting very
good views of Black Egrets as they go about trying to catch the
small fish trapped in these puddles. These birds have a very
unusual manner of fishing that is quite amusing to watch. With
their bright yellow feet they disturb the mud causing the small
fish to flee and seek cover. The birds then extend their wings,
looking like an umbrella. The fish, mistaking the shade caused
by the wings for the shade caused by water vegetation such as
water lily leaves, flee into the trap only to be speared or caught
by the patient egret.
Another bit of excitement this month has been caused by the
resident pair of Wood Owls who have started breeding and have
picked a low fork in a tree right next to the boardwalk going
to Tent No 5 in which to nest. Grant was the first guide to get
hit on the back of the head while doing the early morning wake-ups.
We all thought this was quite amusing until Lawrence also got
smacked by the protective parents. Lawrence, in fact got hit
on two occasions. On the second occasion the owl managed to graze
the back of his head. We then decided it would be better to do
the wake-up calls and escort the guests back to the tent with
an umbrella covering our heads. This has not stopped the owl
from attacking, but at least protects one's head from the sharp
talons. Many of the guides thought this was a bit ludicrous and
the guests also seem quite amused by the fact that they need
umbrellas, even on evenings with clear skies, until Ban also
got hit on the back of the head. Now all the guides carry umbrellas
at night and in the early morning when going down the path to
tent no 5. The owls seem to be quite relaxed when the sun is
up, but become very protective after dark.
Game viewing has been superb this month. Most of the seasonal
waterholes in the mopane woodlands have dried up by now and a
lot of animals have been coming down to the water in the heat
of the day and in the afternoon. We have seen many large herds
of elephants along the Linyanti River on afternoon drives. One
morning we came down to the front area to find a large bull elephant
flat on his side, fast asleep, right next to tent 2. We left
him there resting as the rest of the camp staff worked around
him and later he woke up and ambled off again. Another bull elephant
was seen on many occasions right after brunch at the main lounge
area, resting his head on the thatch and testing the strength
of all the wooden structures. We have had to replace quite a
few balustrades along the boardwalks this month, as the elephants
have removed them so as to gingerly step over the boardwalks
to get to the other side.
The zebra and the buffalo have started moving away from the
river now, although we are still seeing a few small herds of
each on the game-drives. These two species are pretty migratory
in the area and will soon be heading away from the Linyanti Swamps
and the Linyanti River as the rains begin to fall.
There are numerous giraffe around and the red lechwe population
at Zibadianja Lagoon is doing well. We are seeing warthogs, baboons,
monkeys, impala, kudu, wildebeest, elephant, hippo, crocodile
and a host of smaller animals on most game drives. Special antelope
sightings this month include seeing a small herd of roan antelope
and a bull sable in the mopane woodlands. A pair of tsessebe
was also seen near the airstrip on at least one occasion. A small
herd of southern reedbuck have also been seen in the grasslands
near Croc Island.
Leopard sightings have been reliable; the DumaTau
Male has been especially prominent this month. On the 6th and
again on the 11th he was seen lying up in a large Sausage Tree
overlooking the Savuti Channel. The second time, we saw that
he had a small injury on the belly and that his right front
paw and leg were swollen. He attempted to move around in the
tree and we could see that his paw was causing great discomfort.
He was not able to put any weight on the leg. Probably because
of this injury he has not been moving any considerable distances
and with Kane's great skill at tracking him down we saw this
cat on quite a few occasions this month. He seems to have taken
a preference for large, shady Sausage Trees and has been seen
mainly in the area between Dish Pan and Rock Pan (i.e. the "Bottleneck").
Although it is quite obvious that the hunting ability of this
leopard is seriously jeopardised because of the injury, he is
still looking in a fairly good condition. We are hoping that
his injury will heal soon as he is one of the more relaxed leopards
in the area and has provided some great sightings in the past.
Other leopard seen this last month include the Zib Female and
her cub, the Boscia Female, The Kubu Male, the Rock Pan Female,
an unidentified female near Chobe 1 and an unknown sub-adult
male near Big Bend. Early in the afternoon of the 20th we were
heading towards the Kings Pool Sunken Hide with the hopes of
seeing the DumaTau pack of wild dog that had been reported seen
in the area in the morning. It was a fairly warm afternoon and
we had driven quite a way through the Mopane woodlands without
having seen much in the way of animals when we came across a
steenbok browsing in the scrub. We stopped to look at the small
antelope and only then noticed the leopard that was stalking
the steenbok using the mopane scrub as cover. It was the Boscia
Female. This is a very relaxed female leopard often sighted by
the Kings Pool guides. The steenbok caught wind of the leopard
and took off into the bush. The leopard then climbed up a tree
to try and find her prey again but obviously could not see the
steenbok anymore. She then came down the tree and proceeded to
chase squirrels in the woodland.
Right at the beginning of the month Zoot was walking down the
pathway towards the office when he looked across and saw a large
male leopard dragging a dead baboon through the camp. The leopard
looked up at Zoot and immediately dropped the dead baboon and
disappeared into a thicket. Zoot came down to the office with
very wide eyes that morning! We returned to the carcass and saw
that the leopard was not around now and decided to move the carcass
out of camp. We attached a rope to the carcass and dragged it
to a large tree outside of camp, where the leopard later tracked
it down and ate the rest of it.
An unidentified female (possibly the Chobe 1
Female) has been seen on a few occasions this month, at night
in the riverine forest near the old "Weather Station".
On the evening of the 8th we were busy watching the Savuti
lion pride stalking a group of 8 buffalo bulls in the Savuti
Channel near Letsumo Sign. The hunt did not go well as one
of the sub-adult males got a bit carried away with enthusiasm
and rushed in too early. The buffalo all stampeded away and
the lions were all scattered in the bush at the edge of the
Lion sightings have also been good, with the Selinda female
and her two cubs being the stars this month. At the end of last
month she and her two cubs headed along the river towards Kings
Pool and have been seen regularly in the area between the Calcrete
Patch and Cheetah Flats. She and her cubs are all well. These
lions are very relaxed with the vehicles and have provided some
memorable sightings. She and the cubs have also been seen on
one or two occasions with two large male lions (the males we
know as Savuti 1 and 3). These two male lions have been seen
on a few occasions this month and have travelled quite a distance.
They have been seen at Dish Pan Clearing near Kings Pool and
all the way down to Kubu Lagoon, a large distance to have covered.
After denning in August the DumaTau wild dog pack took their
six puppies and headed out of the concession towards Selinda
and Kwando. These dogs have an extremely large home range. While
they were denning there were 14 or 15 adults and six tiny puppies.
On the morning of the 12th we found the pack entering the concession
near Zibadianja Lagoon. This time there were only ten adults
and all six puppies were still alive. We assume, or hope, that
the adults that are missing left in order to start up a new pack.
The dogs were playing in the open floodplains near Zib Hide.
They had obviously recently killed something as the adults' faces
were all covered in blood. The adults rested as the pups were
playing with each other nearby. Every once in a while an adult
would get up and amid huge excitement from the pups the adult
regurgitated for the pups, who scrambled to get as much as possible
to eat. It was an awesome sighting. Because they were lying in
an open area with little shade some of the adults realised that
the game viewers were producing a cool shadow and came to lie
right in the shade of the vehicles. They were not in the least
concerned about the people who were gawking at them from above.
On the 14th the DumaTau Pack were seen near Kubu Lagoon. In
the late afternoon they roused from their slumber and started
trotting along the floodplains. The pups chased some hooded vultures
that had landed nearby (they were feeding on the dogs' faeces).
In the distance one of the adult dogs noticed some impala standing
in the grasslands. He immediately gave chase and the rest of
the dogs followed on behind, heading towards DumaTau Camp. In
the camp Zoot was busy looking at some of the path-lights that
were not working and as he looked up an impala brushed past him,
followed shortly by a wild dog. Two guests were sitting having
sundowners on the main deck when the impala came hurtling through
the main entrance down towards the fireplace. The dog followed
right behind. The dog finally caught up with the terrified impala
and killed it right in front of everyone at the bar. A few seconds
after the impala's expiry the rest of the pack came down to feed.
Soon after the dogs had left a hyaena or two appeared to scavenge
any scraps from the kill, and in the torchlight we could also
see a crocodile's eyes shining back as he made his way closer
to the water's edge to see if there was anything left over. For
the rest of the week we had great sightings of the dogs as they
made their way along the river, even once appearing near Savuti
Cheetah-wise, we saw the two Savuti Boys on
two occasions this month. On the 10th the two boys appeared
near Savuti Camp, where Kane found them lying on the bank overlooking
the grasslands of the Savuti Channel. On the 12th they were
seen resting in the shade near "the Backflow". They
were quite full and nearby lay the remains of a carcass of
an unfortunate warthog. Two White-headed Vultures were picking
the bones clean. We did not see them again this last month
and assume that they headed back towards Selinda.
One of the highlights this month was welcoming
Anthony, Tony and Richard as they ended their 127-kilometre
hike from Duba Plains Camp to DumaTau. This gruelling journey
was undertaken to raise funds for the "Children in the Wilderness Programme" (Bana
ba Naga), where under-privileged children from Botswana are brought
on an educational and fun-filled camp to some of the Wilderness
Safaris Lodges, where they are shown the value of tourism and
conservation to the country. It is the children today that will
be the custodians of the natural areas in future years. Well
done to Tony, Anthony and Richard for their incredible achievement.
Also well done to Gavin, who had to pull out on the second day
due to medical reasons. Your spirit was with the other three
and helped them complete the journey. Angela, Justin, Geoffrey,
Helen, and a whole crew of journalists were also in camp to meet
the three journeymen. The staff at DumaTau welcomed them with
singing and dancing and then a feast was laid out for them. After
eating and doing interviews with the press the guys were then
flown back to Maun, obviously tired and yet exhilarated by their
amazing journey through one of Africa's wildest areas.
And that's all from DumaTau. We are looking forward to see the
area greening up and the rains arriving - but more of that next
Brian and all the staff at DumaTau
P.S. Some comments from the guests
Peter and Christina- "A wonderful end to a three week safari
in Africa. Great hospitality and fantastic guiding."
Alison and Richard - "Our first visit to
this magical country - we have seen and experienced so much
more than we expected - even 2 kills! Thanks to all.
Michel - "Wonderful lodge; top end for
staff and drives. Thank you very much. Bravo!"
Camps Update - October 06
Lagoon camp Jump
• Two pairs of
lions were found mating during the week,
while another two males was seen moving
through the area. A single lioness was
also found feeding on a elephant carcass.
• A female leopard seen twice hunting impala
along the river.
• Two male cheetahs seen making their way
towards Lebala. The tracks of a female
cheetah with cubs found and followed but
• The Lagoon wild dog pack consisting of
three adults and three pups was found relaxing
and hunting close to camp.
• Breeding herds of elephant now becoming
a regular sighting throughout the area.
• Big herds of buffalo moving from the Mopane
forest to the river almost every day.
• Good sightings of birds of prey including
African Hawk eagle, Brown Snake eagle and
African Fish eagle.
• Hyena found killing a newborn elephant
• Regular sightings of Black backed
• Herds of Zebra, Tsessebe and Impala as
well as Roan and Sable antelope has been
• Caracal and Honey badger as well as large
spotted genet and Civet has been seen on
the night drives
Kwara camp Jump
• A pride of
lions consisting of four adult females,
two cubs and a three year old male was
seen hunting. They were being followed
by two one year old males.
• Female leopard with her four month old
cub seen regularly. They are both very
relaxed and a very good sighting of them
relaxing in a dead tree was reported. She
later managed to kill a reedbuck and was
found feeding on the kill with her cub.
• A pack of three wild dogs passed through
the area. They were well fed and therefore
was unfortunately not seen hunting.
• A lot of single bulls spotted from the
boat as well as a few small breeding herds
on the floodplains.
• A big herd of about 200 buffalo was seen
in the area and later on a even bigger
herd of around 1800. This was one of the
biggest herds seen in this area.
• The heronry is very active at the moment
with lots of yellow billed storks, sacred
ibis and many other small herons breeding.
Good sightings of martial eagle, brown
snake eagle and black breasted snake eagle
roaming the skies.
• Lots of hyena activity around the camp
every night. The guides suspect a den nearby,
but yet have to locate it.
• Herds of zebra feeding on the plains, as
well as small herds of wildebeest and tsessebe
is seen regularly. Lots of warthogs found
on almost every drive.
• Very good serval sightings both in the
morning and afternoon and very relaxed
African wild cat seen on the night drives.
Lebala camp Jump
• Three young male
lions were hunting in the area around camp
for almost a week. They later joined up with
another injured male and managed to kill
a baboon. A solitary lioness was also seen
hunting buffalo close to camp.
• Four female lions
killed a wildebeest but ten hyenas managed
to steal their kill. Two male lions were
also seen following a buffalo herd while a single lioness
managed to kill a warthog close to camp.
• A very shy leopard was located close to John’s
pan. Another two male leopards found in different
locations resting in sausage trees.
• After being gone for nearly a month,
the two cheetah brothers were seen hunting
impala down old Lebala road.
• Good sightings of breeding herds of elephant
almost everyday, some of them very close
to camp. Some solitary bulls feeding in camp
• Big herds of buffalo found moving through
the area and feeding on the floodplains,
almost on a daily basis.
• Birding is very good at the moment
with lots of the summer migrants and breeders
arriving. Eight wattled cranes spotted feeding
• Frogs and snakes are being seen, including
a boomslang and black mamba.
• Lots of hyena being seen following lions
and trying to take over the kills. Black
backed as well as side striped jackal being
seen feeding regularly.
• A pack of wild dogs consisting of ten adults
and six pups seen resting and hunting impala
in the area.
• Very good general game including roan and
sable antelope as well as herds of zebra,
wildebeest, tsessebe and kudu bulls being
seen. Herds of giraffe also frequently found
feeding on the edges of the woodlands.
• Lots of sightings of African wildcats
as well as a few serval being seen. A mating
pair of honey badgers were also found at
night. Very good mongoose sightings, with
slender, yellow, dwarf and banded mongoose
Little Kwara camp
• A pride of
eight lions, consisting of three males and five
females were found hunting buffalo but they did
not manage to kill. Two big males found feeding
on a buffalo kill, while another pride consisting
of two adult females, two cubs and a young male
was also seen hunting buffalo.
• A female leopard and her cub was found resting
in the shade of a tree. They were both very relaxed
with the mother spending time grooming her cub.
• Three young male cheetah were found. They
looked very well fed, but was still looking around
for another possible meal.
• A few very persistent elephant bulls visiting camp to pick up the jackal
berry fruits which are scattered thick on the ground this time of the year.
• A large herd of buffalo seen, with some of the bulls mating with receptive females.
These buffalo herds are constantly followed and harassed by various lion prides.
• Broad billed rollers and carmine bee-eaters are back, and wattled cranes,
as well as saddle billed storks has been seen.
• Lots of Hyena activity around camp. Very good sightings of black-backed
as well as side-striped jackals on the drives.
• Giraffes, zebra, kudu and tsessebe were seen in abundance on the plains.
• Night drives were good, with porcupines, civet, serval and African wild cats
Mombo Camp update
- October 06 Jump
to Mombo Camp
October ends as we watch Scorpio's heart dipping
behind the western horizon. Summer is here, and rain has fallen,
giving us 11mm for the month, interpreted by many people as early
rains, little rain - well, we await. The water levels in front
of Mombo have dropped, trapping many fish in shallow pools. This
phenomenon of the Delta known as a fish trap ensures continuous
action seen from the tents of the camp. When waking up at and
looking out from your tent at the contrasting colours that fill
the floodplains, the thought crosses one's mind that this must
be the Garden of Eden.
Many animals have given birth, driven by the early rains and
food availability. Impala, tsessebe and warthog youngsters have
been seen during this month. Interestingly, huge female crocodiles
were seen guarding their nests west along Hippo Hide Channel.
These crocs will be incubating a well-protected clutch of about
twenty-plus eggs, hatching in three months' time. The black-backed
jackal pups have provided great entertainment for photographers
as they play and fight with the parents for food.
The warm nights of this month have brought us the return of
many species that have been absent throughout the winter months.
Leopard tortoises have come out from hibernation, followed by
other reptiles and many invertebrates. Creature of many myths,
the chameleon, has been seen a few times swaying slowly across
Every day, this time the of year at Mombo brings
us a new migrant bird, from Black Cuckoos, Paradise Flycatchers,
Carmine Bee-eaters, Yellow-billed Kites and Wahlberg's Eagles
to name a few. We still await the famous Woodland Kingfisher
and the fashionably late Red-backed Shrikes. One of the birding
highlights for the month is definitely that of the African
Skimmers. These birds have been seen gliding over the still
waters of the Okavango Channel, frequently at the hippo hide.
Cheetah sightings at Mombo this month were spectacular and consisted
of one female with three young cubs and two nomadic males that
brief the concession from time to time. The mother cheetah has
settled in the floodplains north of Mombo Camp. These floodplains
are rich in game such as medium-sized antelope as well as a mosaic
of Candlepod Acacia belts, perfect for hiding the cubs.
There were a few newcomers to the Mombo team this month, including
a pack of wild dogs that have moved in from the southern part
of the Okavango Delta. Presently we are curious to see how this
pack is going to interact with our resident pack and what materialises
from the situation.
We look forward to a good summer here in paradise.
Greetings from the Mombo Team
update - October 06 Jump
to Chitabe Camp
October is traditionally the hottest and driest
month of the year here - the scorching end of the dry season, when
the Delta waters recede, leaving only a memory of their passage.
It is a time of waiting, of anxious looks at the sky, of a heat
that sucks the moisture from the body, a stillness as if the whole
earth is holding its breath in anticipation of the rains. This
year they came early, an advance guard, perhaps a forerunner of
the deluge to come - on the 7th, a shower produced palpable relief
from the sun, and then again on the 15th, a storm blew up from
the south and violently threw down 9mm in a few hours. To date,
we have received 18mm for the month - unusual but a blissful panacea
for the parched lands. The rain pushed up a volley of Fireball
Lilies like the first firecracker fusillade of summer, and already
the first newborn impala have been seen.
The clouds building up on most afternoons have provided a spectacular
backdrop to the sunsets out there, and the first summer visitors
from the bird kingdom have arrived - Yellow-billed Kites swoop
in the heights, and the riverine forest echoes with the shrill
call of the Striped Cuckoo. When the Woodland Kingfishers arrive
to belt out their thrilling trills, then we will know that summer
has truly arrived.
Huge concentrations of elephant have been crossing the concession
towards the north, no doubt heading for the bounty of the Mopane
woodlands, and one herd seen from the air numbered more than
Cape buffalo have been here in great numbers - most likely attracted
by the regrowth of grasses after the fire, and several herds
have remained around the camp to feed on the succulent, nutritious
new shoots, and keeping us awake at night with their plaintive
lowing as the herd moves around the camp.
Looking out from the main deck one can sometimes see several
species of mammal at once - a herd of waterbuck have moved in,
red lechwe, warthog, reedbuck, tsessebe, bushbuck and elephants,
sometimes even giraffe.
As is typical for October, a number of great game sightings
have also been recorded.
At dusk one evening we watched the pack of wild dogs playfully
take on a herd of cantankerous buffalo right across the channel
from the camp - we could almost see grins of delight on the dogs'
faces as they nimbly skipped around the buffalo before setting
off again in search of impala, their more usual prey. They killed
an impala in front of Trails camp one evening, and when they
returned for it the next morning, a leopard had already found
the carcass and placed it in a tree!
One young male cheetah has been seen a few times this month
- we think he was part of the Old Chitabe Female's family, now
grown and on his own. His mother and sister have not been seen
for some time, and may have left the area.
Leopard sightings have once again been very good this month
- OT found a pair mating on Mokutshomo island, not far from the
camp, and on Acacia road Phinley found Mosadi Mogolo up a tree
having been chased there by a troop of baboons. He also saw her
a few days later with an impala kill, obviously unfazed by her
run-in with the baboons. Apart from that, several others have
been seen out there, mostly escaping the heat up in the trees.
One morning's coffee was interrupted by a large male lion walking
across the floodplain in front of camp, OT found two lionesses
with five cubs near the Gomoti channel, and the rest scattered
around the concession. Phinley found the two new male lions with
two females on a buffalo kill out near the Santantadibe, and
this morning, across the eastern floodplain from camp, OT found
one of the females feeding on a zebra calf and seeing off an
inquisitive spotted hyaena, despite the fact that her belly was
so full it practically dragged on the ground!
As mentioned before, the month has had some high temperatures,
averaging about 32 degrees Celsius with the highest recorded
at 37 degrees, and the average low at 19, the lowest recorded
at 8 degrees. 18mm of rain thus far for the month, and hopefully
November will bring us plenty more.
Regards from Chitabe
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