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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

September 2006
Page 1 of 2

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

• Monthly update from Zibalianja Camp in Botswana.

• Monthly update from Selinda Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in Botswana.
Kwando Safaris game reports.

• Monthly update from Mombo Camp in Botswana.

Page 2 Updates
• Monthly update from Chitabe Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jacana Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Vumbura Plains in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jack's Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Palmwag Rhino Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in South Africa.

Monthly Dive report from Rocktail Bay in South Africa.


Wilderness Safaris Updates - September 2006

NAMIBIA NEWS
Wilderness Safaris Ongava
Fire!
When a Namibian veld fire is so big that the smoke plume it develops alerts international satellite monitoring officials in the United States, Namibia knows it has a problem. Such was the alert generated in the first week of September 2006. In a flurry of activity involving media, government and Wilderness Safaris, a rapid plan of action to assess the burning situation was put together and with the input of all three, a Cessna 210 departed for the troubled north-western area of Namibia. On board were the Director of Parks and Wildlife from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), a senior government wildlife specialist, a photo journalist and myself, pilot, wildlife veterinarian and part of Wilderness Safaris' Environmental Division. It was to be a flight of immeasurable value as the intensity of the fire and its consequences to habitat and wildlife would have been immensely underestimated without it.

The western parts of Etosha National Park received almost three times their annual expected rainfall this year. It was this rainfall that transformed western Etosha and indeed the whole of western Namibia into a grassland so spectacular that such growth was last seen in 1978. It was also this grass that fueled the fire so visible from space. The flight revealed two disturbing situations: The burn was a high intensity hot fire that was total and that wildlife was severely affected. Over 300 000 hectares were completely burnt.

Of particular concern was the endangered species breeding camp of Kaross. This camp is an independent 40 000ha unit, entirely fenced and now completely burnt. To save the wildlife therein, including over a hundred roan antelope, black rhino and black-faced impala, would require immediate decisive action.

Actions involving large-scale capture, supplementary feeding and individual attention to burnt animals, in particular rhino is now underway. Wilderness Safaris, mainly through Ongava Game Reserve and the Environmental Division, are assisting in ways ranging from provision of food, supply of expertise and making available holding bomas and treatment facilities on Ongava. With this rapid response, all efforts are being made to make the best of a bad situation. However, by combining forces, we should be able to report on a much-improved situation for the wildlife in the near future. It is after all this shared wildlife treasure that is of most value to all.


Researching the Blue Crane in Namibia

The magnificent Blue Crane is a rare sight in Namibia. For tourists and birders alike, an encounter with a few of these birds is a sought-after highlight but one that is not so easily achieved, as they appear to inhabit only a small area in north-eastern and central Namibia. There is currently an active drive to understand the remaining cranes in Namibia, as it is feared that through habitat loss and disturbance, their continued existence is in doubt.

For a week in August, Basilia Shivute and Conrad Brain from Wilderness Safaris joined a group of other researchers to conduct an aerial survey of the known and suspected crane habitats to assess the dry season range of these elusive birds. Flying at 100 feet in a Cessna 206, we systematically searched the north-eastern fringes of the Etosha Pan and the wetlands of Etosha from Lake Oponono along the Ekuma River. An earlier wet season survey had yielded just over 60 cranes in these areas and as our dry season survey progressed we soon realized that we were only going to find a fraction of those encountered in the wet season. In the end we found less than 30 cranes, which begged the question of where the others had gone. The obvious next step is to track some birds using satellite transmitters and see if perhaps we are missing a new habitat completely, possibly in southern Angola.

One sighting of 17 birds was unforgettable. It occurred south of Lake Oponono in a wetland that was previously used by the South African Air Force as a bombing range. The rusted and burnt-out hulk of an armored vehicle lies surrounded by old bomb craters and there in the shade of the wreck, we found the biggest group of cranes of the entire survey. For us, this sight defined the concept of 'regeneration.' Our Cessna now replaced the mirages; our task was conservation and our mission to enrich lives in the future by being able to share them with animals like the majestic Blue Crane.


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BOTSWANA NEWS
The Duba Duma Challenge
THE WILDERNESS GUIDES TAKE ON THE DUBA DUMA WILDERNESS CHALLENGE (25th - 31st October, 2006)
A team of Wilderness Safaris guides will be crossing - on foot - the remote wilderness gap between the Okavango and the Linyanti. The objective of this challenge is to create further awareness of the Children in the Wilderness programme.

Undertaking the challenge at the hottest and most difficult time of the year, with daily temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius, this will be a true test of endurance. October is the last month before the summer rains, bringing relief to the hot, dry and dusty interior. The four guides will walk 20km per day through swamp, arid woodlands and an area with possibly the densest free-roaming elephant populations in Africa. Tony, Gavin, Richard and Ant will commence their challenge from Duba Plains, Wilderness Safaris' most isolated camp in the Okavango Delta. The grueling 5-day walk will finish at DumaTau, 120 km to the north-east in the Linyanti.

The guides will be roughing it, sleeping under the stars, using their guiding abilities to steer clear of predators, scorpions and snakes which are at their most prevalent during this time of the year. Emergency water supplies, dehydrated food and medical supplies will be carried with the guides. As a result of the extreme temperatures, the group will only be able to move in the early hours of the morning as walking at night will be too dangerous. All four guides have had extensive trail experience in big game areas and are excited at the prospect of hiking through one of the wildest and most remote places in Botswana.

Children in the Wilderness is a non-profit environmental educational program based in Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa and the Seychelles. The programme aims to create a network of learning sanctuaries that uplifts, conserves and cares for our children and our planet. Since its inception in 2001, Children in the Wilderness Botswana, in conjunction with Wilderness Safaris and Ngamiland Adventure Safaris have hosted 700 children, in 4147 "children in camp days". Through "edutainment" we aim to provide Batswana children with the opportunity to learn more about the wildlife and environment around them, whilst at the same time developing their life skills and leadership capabilities.

There are very few true wilderness regions left in Africa. The focus of Children in the Wilderness is to expose the children to these unique environments and, together with environmental education, to inspire our next generation of wildlife rangers, researchers, conservationists and guides.


FIRE AT CHITABE
During mid September this year a fire swept into the Chitabe concession from the south and south west, or, from the Gorokwe concession area of NG 32. Due to the efforts of all staff and the availability of equipment, the fire was prevented from injuring any personnel or damaging any property. This despite fairly strong winds during the day.

Chitabe - Sep 19
 
Chitabe - Sep 29

I visited the concession on the 27th and 28th September, 2006 to carry out an on the ground assessment of the severity and extent of the fire, and the possible effects on habitat and wildlife in the concession.

Firstly, it must be recognized that, following rainfall of the past season being well above average, two things were evident.
1) The fuel load was higher than normal, leading to the fire spreading a lot easier, especially if fanned by brisk winds.
2) That many floodplains have been or are still flooded, and that the groundwater level is still very high in the area, especially in dry floodplains and around inland pans.

The effects of the first are that much of this fire may be referred to as a "cool" burn. In other words the fire moved very quickly and caused very little damage to standing trees. In fact, it was evident that even dry bark, low on tree trunks, had not been scorched.

Secondly, due to the high water table and availability of moisture close to the root zone of grass types, there has been an almost instantaneous green "flush" of grass, which has reached up to 8cm in as little as a week. This has been aided by the increases in temperature associated with the onset of our summer months.

I have also estimated that only about a fifth of the concession was affected by the fire at all, and this consisted of the extreme south and south western areas. The remaining four fifths in fact comprise the main safari area and have not been affected at all.

Of the area burnt, about two thirds consists of an elevated dry land area dominated by loose Kgalagadi sands. The vegetation type is typically acacia species, with dotted stands of Lonchocarpus, scrub mopane and young leadwood. The under story is very dominated by wild sage, which forms pure stands in some areas. It is a low productivity area at this time of year, except for the newly sprouting mopane scrub which will attract elephant and giraffe.

The effect of fire on this area is minimal, although the grass rooting zone is above the water table due to the loose sands. This grass will only recover after the first rains which can come during October or November.

The rest of the area burnt was floodplain, heavily dominated by the grass Imperata cylindrica or woolly topped grass. This particular grass, well known to Okavango dwellers, can become very pure stands on floodplains alongside channels. It is not grazed by any mammals once it reaches a height of above 30cm, due to the high content of silica in the leaves. However it is highly sought after by many species of mammals once it is burnt and flushes green as it has done at Chitabe.

Despite the negatives surrounding the near loss of the camp, the post fire effects on this particular habitat, will actually improve the concession enormously. Already, impala, tsessebe, zebra, warthog and elephant are using it as a chosen feeding area. Added to the fresh, nutritious grasses, is the factor of visibility. These animals are able to feed on this resource without being easily approached by predators, although these will no doubt be attracted by the numbers of animals on those floodplains.

A large herd of buffalo is already feeding on the green flush on the north western section of the burn.

Probably coincidental, but worth noting, is the presence of large numbers of birds along the waterways, despite one or both banks having been burned. Pelicans, Yellow Billed Storks, Ibis's, (or is it ibi?), and many species of Egret and Heron are evident.

In summation - despite the extreme dangers to the camp and personnel at the time, the Chitabe concession has actually been improved by the fire. Much moribund and non palatable species have been removed and have been replaced by emergent, highly palatable shoots. As mentioned before, the game viewing etc will be better than ever.

Remaining water in the floodplains is now evaporating, creating large fields of green grass, which is also attracting herds of zebra and large flocks of birds.

Map Ives
Environmental Manager
Wilderness Safaris, Botswana.


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CAMP / GENERAL UPDATES
ZAMBIA
Please note that our Kafue camps will be closed from November 2006 to May 2007 (not April 2007 as previously reported).

Helicopter transfers are now available within Kafue National Park between the various camps. This 20-minute flight offers a unique opportunity to see the area from the air, greatly enhancing guest experience of the Kafue. Helicopters seat two people with luggage and there are helipads at Lunga, Moshi and a new one called Shumba, located 15 minutes’ drive from all three of the Busanga Plains camps.

NAMIBIA
Ongava camps
are now offering a sundowner drive instead of night drives, as the dense bush makes spotting nocturnal animals difficult. In this way, sundowners will be enjoyed on Ongava Reserve, a short drive back will give guests a chance to see a little early evening activity, after which they can relax at the waterholes in front of the camps where more animal activity takes place in the evening.

BOTSWANA
Chitabe Walking Trails
are now for one night only and not two as previously. Walking Trails should have a 3-night minimum stay in the Chitabe concession, with the first night being booked in either Main or Trails camp, the 2nd night on the Walking Trail and the 3rd night back at Main or Trails camps. They will operate from 01 May to 30 September only, as the wetter summer months make it too hot or the grass too high to walk safely. A maximum of four guests are accommodated on the trail at one time.

Eye of the Leopard

   

Dereck and Beverly Joubert have just released another superb production: Eye of the Leopard, the story of LEgadima and Tortilis, two very special leopards that live near Mombo Camp in the Okavango Delta. The film, again in HD format, was screened on National Geographic Channels.

Eye of the Leopard, narrated by Jeremy Irons, is the result of three years filming in Mombo of the two leopards. Described by Dereck and Beverly as “a unique view of life as a young leopard as she grows up in one of the best leopard regions of the world, a place called Mombo in Botswana. It is an intimate view of her life.”

ZIMBABWE
At Makalolo Plains, a young female leopard killed and ate a banded mongoose in front of camp during the earlier part of the day and was seen later that same evening at Little Somavundla, sprawled out on a termite mound. A black-backed jackal happened to trot on to the scene and on discovering the leopard, started to chase after the much larger animal! 

A few days later, the same leopard was seen in front of camp again – this time carrying an African wildcat in her mouth, which she had killed and was about to start eating. Suddenly a little black-backed jackal ambushed her from out of nowhere and chased her up a Leadwood tree, with the wildcat still hanging from her mouth! We can’t help thinking that this angry little jackal may be trying to avenge the death of his mate, whom the leopard had killed and dragged up a tree last month.

SOUTH AFRICA
Pafuri Camp recently hosted a watershed meeting of the Leadership for Conservation in Africa initiative in the north of Kruger. The conference, which was instigated by Goldfield and SANParks, hosted conservation leaders from business, government and conservation agencies from all over Africa.

On a good note, pilfering at Johannesburg International Airport is being curtailed and given highest priority by Airports Company South Africa, with 22 arrests so far and the number of survey analysts watching CC TV camera footage doubled. However, please continue to avoid putting valuables in your check-in luggage.


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Botswana Camps
Zibalianja Camp Update - September 06               Jump to Zibalianja Camps

Zibalianja Camp has been blessed with a number of rare sightings. The best, and possibly rarest, was the appearance of a pangolin! This fine specimen casually strolled through the camp one evening, unfazed by the excited fuss he caused. According to local custom and beliefs the camp is now endowed with good fortune as the pangolin is a harbinger of good luck.

Other rare sightings at Zib waterhole have been caracal cat and reedbuck. The latter was once a common resident of the area, but after so many years of poor floods and rains they had all but disappeared. The recently improved conditions bode well for a resurgence in their numbers.

The wild dogs have also spent quite a bit of time around Zibalianja Camp as they once again use it as a favourite watering point. The small pan seems to double as a playground as they enjoy running, bathing and frolicking in the water.

The western spillway (fed from the Okavango) has now flooded so far along its length that it is less than 26km from the headwaters of the eastern spillway (fed from the Kwando). The eastern spillway has also started to creep west again as the lower reaches of the Kwando River swell from the Angolan rains.

The wild dogs have provided the bulk of predator viewing this month and we have almost lost count of the number of kills they've made. One particular happy story is the survival of a kudu cow. She had been hounded and bitten by the pack in a protracted chase before seeking refuge outside the CMU office. Visibly shaken and tired, she managed to avoid further harassment and after recovering wandered off back into the woodland.

Although we await confirmation, it seems that at long last Amber, our star leopard, has her first litter of cubs. A very relaxed female was seen with two little cubs in tow right in the middle of Amber's core territory. Not long after this, she was seen again on an impala kill with a fleeting glimpse of a cub.

On the subject of cubs, it looks like there may be more lion cubs in hiding. Two lactating lionesses of the Selinda Pride are restricting their activities to the floodplains between Zibalianja Camp and the airstrip. We suspect they have their charges safely tucked away somewhere in the area.

How's this for an hour's night drive? A fight between a jackal and an African wildcat as she defended the lives of her three kittens; an aardwolf sauntering along; an aardvark diving for cover in its burrow, and finally, a half hour with a male leopard as he called and marked territory!

One of our maintenance crew had a problem fixing a puncture recently whilst on an airstrip errand. He was about to get out of the vehicle to attend to the flat when a lioness came charging out the sage bush in hot pursuit of a zebra! She caught and killed it right in front of the vehicle!


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Selinda Camp update - September 06                Jump to Selinda Camp

Once again, Selinda has left us speechless. The Camp is looking spectacular as the renovations near the end, and the renovated "Tents" are definitely getting their fair share of "Oohs and Aahs".

I woke up the other morning and thought I was in a barn. The soft melodious lowing of cattle echoed all around me. I thought I was delusional after another long night of campfire stories, so I sat up and peered out the side of my tent. What I saw was a veritable oil slick of buffalo as far as the eye could see - which is pretty far in these parts. It was a seething mass of black bovines, the number of which I had never laid eyes on before.

The time of the buffalo has definitely arrived and with individual herds of thousands it's no wonder we are seeing them all the time. Our lion prides are however still in serious disarray after the disappearance of the three Brothers. Consequently, the killing of buffalo by lions is not something we are witnessing on as regular a basis as we used to. There are two young males who have recently moved into the area and are displaying signs of interest in claiming it as their territory. They have been marking extensively and were even seen chasing off and fighting a younger male who wondered into the area. One member of the coalition has an opaque eye, probably due to a childhood squabble of sorts, and this adds a whole new dimension to the "look" he gives you. Hopefully they will be the new rulers of this domain we share and bring about a new pride which can take on the buffalo.

A young bull elephant has been frequenting the camp and strutting around here as if he owns the place, so we have named him DJ after our owner of the camp - Dereck Joubert. He doesn't much appreciate the manicured look our gardener has painstakingly created and has taken it upon himself to redecorate. The palm trees and baobabs have proven to be a favourite.

The game drives have been producing regular sightings of elephant, buffalo and lion, for obvious reasons. The wild dogs have not graced us with their den this year but have been seen regularly hunting in the CMU and Zibalianja Lagoon area. The pups are apparently near the age of mobility and so the dogs will hopefully be spending more time in our area as they hunt as a pack. The two cheetah brothers have not been seen for a while. We hope they are still in good shape wherever they may be. A young female has been making a regular appearance though. Amber, our young female leopard, who is now a proud mother, has been seen quite often with cub in tow, and occasionally with her boyfriend as well. The night drives have been very fruitful with regular sightings of African wildcats, serval, genets and even caracal.

The water has not begun to recede yet, and a brief chat with the Water Affairs Department revealed that they expect the water levels to rise even more as they remove some blockages upstream on the Kwando River. They are even preparing to build a new bridge over the Savuti Channel which has been dry for a number of years now and is flowing quite strongly as the water pushes in. This is a phenomenon that I have not witnessed in the six years of my association with this magical part of Botswana and I am holding my breath in anticipation of what may develop over the months to come.

Zane Volker


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Kings Pool Camp update - September 06                Jump to Kings Pool Camp

The month started off still chilly in the mornings with cooler days. Not so now! Approaching the end of month, the average temperature was 36°C, hot days dry up the waterholes and as the floodwaters recede the game concentrates at water areas. Guests have loved watching large elephant herds coming down to drink and splash about during the midday heat. Interestingly this year the elephant do not seem nearly as stressed as they were same time last year thanks to the good rains we had during our summer, a welcomed relief for the camp as our boardwalks have remained intact, minimal damage caused by the wildlife so far! We are still waiting for the hippo to move into the hippo pool in front of camp, which means peaceful sleep for guests without the very loud hippo chorus at night. The hippo are still spread out, enjoying the privacy of pools that would have otherwise been dried up in past years but we have had terrific sightings of hippo out of the water, eating during the day.

An interesting elephant bull has moved into camp with a back left leg appearing to be fused many years ago impairing his walking dramatically. The spine slopes down to his left hand side but apart from his injury it does not appear to hinder his wellbeing as he is fully grown and otherwise appears strong.

The camp still has the injured sub-adult hippo seeking refuge from the neighbouring male. Most sightings we have of him are with fresh scars from a recent fight.

Another 'refugee' who has moved into the camp area is one female lion. She is mature female who was in very bad condition, but reports have been that she is getting better. She has been seen near camp feeding on a baboon kill. Her lethargy and extremely bad condition alarmed us and we thought she did not have long to live, ahead of her natural mortality. At one stage our guides were unhappy to show her to guests, as she was looking so bad but we hope that she will improve. She used to hang around another Kings Pool female with 3 cubs but the Border Boys moved in and had an interaction whereby the mother and cubs were scared off and now this Kings Pool pride female survives on her own.

Regularly seen are the Chobe Boys, sharing food and often around the Selinda female and her two young cubs, an indication that one of Chobe Boys is the father.

The Tshaba Male, who used to belong to Savuti Pride, was chased off together with his brother, by the Border Boys several months back but has now been seen alone when usually seen with his brother. No one can be sure where or what has happened to his brother.

The Border Boys, four big male lions, have been seen a lot. They recently killed a buffalo with a wonderful sighting of the other buffalo chasing the lions off the carcass. This pride are famed for killing hippo but the buffalo kills indicate that they have switched their diet due to hippo not moving as far enough away from the water as the grazing is so bad making it too challenging to catch and the buffalo are plentiful.

This month an impressive number of buffalo have been seen. One specific sighting saw two different herds of about 500 individuals each, coming from different areas congregating at one sighting. The following day they went their separate ways.

Leopard sightings have been frequent. The Boscia female with her daughter, Motopi, (the father is Thonningii) and the Thonningii female has also been seen during the month. She was usually seen with her daughter named Moumomo; however the daughter was last seen pregnant in late June but no sightings since. Guides suspect they are seeing her tracks but are not sure. The Calcrete female has been seen lactating. The guides believe cubs are about, but no one has sighted them yet. A new male and big female leopard have been seen but are very shy and so have not been identified.

Cheetah sightings were quiet at the beginning of the month but at last a female cheetah was spotted! In previous years as water becomes limited we tend to have an increase in cheetah sightings, which are those moving up from the Savuti Marsh in the Chobe area.

The wild dogs have moved out of the den and guests have enjoyed hours watching the six pups playing amongst the twelve adults. The pack is easily mobile now and moves between DumaTau and Kings Pool areas. Another male and female have also been seen on separate sightings, which are thought to be part of this same pack, a potential short term split, but we are not sure.

A sighting of sable and another of roan were a delight!
A few unusual or rarer sightings have been the bat-eared foxes, white-tailed mongoose, civet near camp and very exciting sighting of five honey badgers in one game drive, a family of three and a pair.

On the feathery front best sightings have been 2 large nesting colonies of Carmine Bee-eaters, the larger colony consisted of several hundred and the other of about 100 birds. Some rare bird sightings are 4 Coqui Franklin and 2 Burchell's Sandgrouse. Moving into the concession last month were 3 Western Banded Snake Eagles as well as the three Wahlberg's Eagles, seen by our guides. The Long-crested Eagle that has been seen all winter has now left the concession and numerous White-backed and Hooded Vulture nests are seen around Strangler Fig junction.

Lots of hyaena been seen around the sunken hide enjoying wallowing in the water as the temperatures continue to rise. And their paw marks appear regularly in the sandy pathways in camp.

Perhaps the most emotional sighting enjoyed by guests was the birth of an elephant. They were deeply moved as they watched the interaction amongst the herd, as they helped the baby stand up, gently supporting it with their trunks, so gentle and loving, with each one seemingly introducing themselves to their newest member of the family.

To quote from a guest staying with us this month, "it is hard to pick a highlight, Kings Pool is a charm and we can only hope to come back to see it again!"

See you soon,
The Kings Pool Team


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Kwando Safari Camps Update - September 06

Lagoon camp               Jump to Lagoon Camp
• A pair of dominant male lions accompanied by a pair of lionesses were found hunting on an island, and followed for some time.
• A mating pair of lions were found and the process was seen over a period of a few days.
• 2 male lions were found on a buffalo kill, while 2 lionesses and another male were found on another kill.
• A pride of 5 lions wandered past the camp a few mornings ago.
• An adult female leopard managed to kill a buffalo calf, and was found feeding on it with her pair of 8 week-old cubs. They were initially nervous but became more relaxed providing excellent viewing over a few days.
• A pair of male cheetah were followed hunting but were not seen making a kill.
• The Lagoon pack of 6 wild dogs was seen several times, resting as well as hunting but were not seem making any kills.
• Excellent numbers of elephant seen in the area – larger numbers of both breeding and bachelor herds as all the pans dry up. Some of the breeding herds are quite aggressive – an indication of stress at the end of the very long dry season.
• Large numbers of buffalo are seen daily in several herds both north and south of the camp – usually moving to and from watering holes and resting up at night in open woodlands (a few times right next to the camp).
• Night sightings include hyenas, jackal (both species), African wild cat, civet, lesser bushbaby, white-tailed mongoose, caracal (seen every night last week), springhares, scrub-hares, serval, porcupine, and numerous chameleon sightings.
• General game has been good including sable and roan antelope, impala, warthogs, giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, kudu, waterbuck, lechwe, wildebeest as well as chacma baboons and vervet monkeys.
• The birding has been good with ground hornbills, ostrich, both oxpecker species, large numbers of carmines, rosy-throated longclaw, 6 owl species, as well as excellent sightings of both water-birds and raptors.

Kwara camp               Jump to Kwara Camp
• 2 adult male lions were found and followed moving around marking their territory.
• Another 2 adult male lions were found resting close to the boat station (small surprise for guests disembarking).
• 4 lionesses together with 2 three-month old cube were found feeding on an impala.
• A pride of 7 lionesses was followed hunting as well as a pride of 8 – both without making a kill.
• An adult female leopards was followed hunting and marking her territory – she was very relaxed and provided an excellent sighting. There were several other sightings of leopards, moving around and hunting.
• 3 Male cheetah were found hunting – they missed their quarry.
• A number of different elephant bulls were seen feeding around the lush channels, and still are frequenting the camp daily as well as making good use of the expanse of water in from of the camp.
• A couple of small breeding herds of elephants were also seen.
• Several small herds of buffalo (max 200) were seen throughout the concession, moving down to water in the morning.
• Carmine bee-eaters were found nesting at 4-rivers. Another highlight was a rare sighting of a Bat hawk. Guests also had good sightings of various raptor and vulture species, ground hornbills, and excellent water-birds both at the pan in front of the camp and at the heronry.
• Night drives yielded aardwolf, both jackal species, hyenas, African wild cat, civet, as well as several serval and honey badger sightings.
• General game good – including baboons, zebra, tsessebe, giraffe, red lechwe, impala, kudu, warthog, waterbuck as well as a rare sitatunga seen from the air close to the airstrip.


Lebala camp               Jump to Lebala Camp
• A single lioness was found hunting wildebeest on Crane road – she was then followed pursuing a herd of buffalo, and a couple of days later found feeding on a buffalo calf for 3 days.
• A pride of 4 lionesses was found feeding on a buffalo close to Twin Pools while the single lioness took a stroll through the camp past tent 8. The pride of 4 later killed another buffalo calf near to Skimmer pan, and a week later were found sharing an adult buffalo with a pair of male lions.
• 4 young male lions were found watching and following a herd of buffalo for several days being repulsed by the buffalo numerous times. They later chased a warthog without success. Finally they were found feeding on a buffalo bull just north of Baobab road.
• A very relaxed male leopard was found and followed hunting along Vlei rd, while a relaxed female leopard was followed hunting just south of the camp a couple of times – she caught and ate two mice while hunting through the long grass.
• An adult female cheetah was found several days in a row hunting around the camp areas.
• A pair of male cheetah was found resting in the shade of a tree just north of the camp – they were later found feeding on a warthog piglet, and then seen heading off west moving through their home range.
• Large numbers of elephants spread across the floodplains – guides estimate them numbering over a thousand made up of several smaller herds together. Breeding herds of elephants have been moving through the camp nightly as well, disturbing the hippo’s nightly foray’s as well as some guests rest.
• Huge herds of buffalo – largest c.1500 seen crossing the floodplains north and south of the camp, as well as giving guests and guides a few surprises in the camp at night.
• Excellent bird-watching with most of the summer migrants already in full attendance – yellow-billed kites, carmine bee-eaters, ruffs, sandpipers, and other water-birds as well as saddle-billed storks, kori bustards, secretary birds and ground hornbills. Aggressive bird behavior is also often giving away positions of snakes including mambas, a boomslang, and a mole-snake.
• Good general game including zebra, wildebeest, impala, waterbuck and reedbuck as well as giraffe, grey duiker, sable (herd of 10) and roan antelope, kudu, warthogs, and tsessebe as well as lots of hippo and a bonus of honey-badgers hunting during the day.
• Night drives yielded civet, serval, selous mongoose, aardvark, African wild cats every night, and a wonderful black-backed jackal den with 4 puppies seen with both adults. An interesting highlight was a pack of hyena chasing an elephant calf around a thick woodland with its mother frantically warding them off – the following morning guides found a dead hyena in the vicinity – it was being cannibalized by other hyenas.


Little Kwara camp
• Two large male lions was found and followed for a while – then guides found a pride of four lionesses out hunting with their two cubs.
• A pride of three adult male lions, four lionesses and (accompanied by two 3 week-old cubs) were seen taking down an adult buffalo bull. Later one of the lions was seen mating with one of the lionesses.
• This pride of seven adults were also seen killing an impala just west of the camp.
• Five other lions, three adult lionesses and two cubs were found hunting in the far eastern part of the traverse area.
• A big female leopard killed a reedbuck just west of Main Kwara, while a shy male was located near Poison crossing.
• An adult female and her suckling cub were found and watched for some time – there were several other sightings of relaxed female leopards.
• A coalition of three adult male cheetah were found relaxing under a large baobab – they were well-fed. Later they were found again having moved and were hunting across the Tsum tsum floodplains – they chased a reedbuck but were not successful.
• A pack of three male wild dogs was found feeding on an impala.
• Breeding herds of elephants are now being more frequently in the southern concession moving across the floodplains to the delta channels.
• Bachelor herds of elephants still seen frequently in and around the camp day and night.
• A herd of buffalo numbering around 200 strong has been in the Kwara area over the last month.
• Guests continue to have excellent bird sightings on game drive, as well as from the mekoros, boat trips and walks – the summer migrants are seen on full force and there have been numerous interesting sightings of snakes and frogs as well.
• The general game is good especially along the receding water-edges of the floodplains – include zebra, giraffe, impala, baboon, kudu as well as sable antelope.
• Interesting nocturnal species include serval, civet, African wild cat, genets, and porcupine while guests saw a honey badger kill and eat a snake.

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Mombo Camp update - September 06                Jump to Mombo Camp

Spring weather began this month, with the windy weather continuing from August almost throughout September. The average minimum temperature was 12.5°C and maximum was 29.7°C. The month's average temperature was about 21°C. The coldest min recorded was on the 6th of September and was 10°C and the hottest was 32°C which was recorded on the 16th and a couple of days after. The first week of this month has been a little cooler and pleasant .In the mid-weeks of the month, we experienced much warmer temperatures and the last week of the month there has been a few clouds in the sky justifying September as one of the transitional month of the seasons.

ENVIRONMENT
The water in all the floodplains has disappeared which is a true reflection of the flood moving further away from us filling the Thamalekane River south of us. All the water pans in the area, Honeymoon Pan, Lethlaka Pan and many others are completely dry. Trees are showing new shoots awaiting the summer rains. Some trees like Acacias, Sausage trees and Rain trees are flowering already, so that the pleasant smell from the flowers is everywhere. The Palm trees are on their last stock of palm nuts since the elephants are making sure that every nut is fully utilized!

WILDLIFE
Around the camp itself, we have had unbelievable successive sightings of lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard, porcupine and sometimes hippo.

LION
There were about 40 lion sightings this month recorded by guides on game drive. This included the 10 sightings of the famous Matatha Pride which consists of 28 adults, a couple of sub-adults and four dominant males which justify the size of this pride. The pride's territory borders that of another well-known pride - the 24 strong Maporota Pride. This pride has young cubs which are about 4 months old.

In addition, there are other prides which hang around the borders of the two big prides and have been wandering around camp. There was a lioness with her 2 sub-adult male cubs. An early morning sighting of these three lying on the beautiful flood plains formed the view from the Mombo main area on a couple of occasions. We have also had two nomadic males which were sighted in camp about three times this month. On one evening, they walked across the floodplain in front of the dining area, roaring and this was just after guests had returned back from their drive, some were in their room and some were by the bar area being witness to this magical moment at Mombo.

Mombo, being an area well known for its predators, still has a lot of unknown lions passing through the area (nomads) some sightings of them in anticipation of increasing their population by mating with the resident females.

LEOPARD
After a long time, a leopard known as Legadima who was born and bred in the territory which included the camp area in it, has been spotted in camp almost every week. The first time she was recorded in September was when she killed a monkey behind the camp and pulled her kill to Little Mombo Camp, where she stayed for about three days; after feeding on her monkey she then disappeared into the rest of her territory.

It did not even take a week and Legadima was hungry again and she was seen on the afternoon of the 5th killing an impala on the floodplain behind Tent 3 closer to the management houses. She then dragged this male impala for about 100 metres across the open floodplain to a nice shady Jackalberry tree where she then took it up the tree - none of us thought that she was going to succeed in pulling this impala up the tree .We had good views of her for about three days. This was really a highlight since this was of her first big kill recorded in Mombo and all the guests who stayed with us got a chance to see her in action. Adding to the above sightings, the guides spotted a couple more leopards in the area.

HYAENA
Jimmy the hyaena which was relocated in July after she was rated one of the problem animals by the Botswana Wildlife Department seems to have groomed her successor since we are experiencing more or less the same damages in camp thanks to another hyaena! A lot more hyaena were spotted, especially on lion kills.

CHEETAH
Regardless of the lion population growing bigger, thereby keeping down the numbers of other predators such as cheetah, a total of 10 nomadic cheetah sightings were recorded this month and these included two solitary males and one female with three cubs. The guides are convinced that this female cheetah had more than three and she might have lost the rest to hyaena - this is because on different occasions she was seen with hyaena wandering around her hunting grounds. In the last week of the month, the game has been unbelievable, one of the male cheetah was found chasing and killing a big red lechwe ram.

WILD DOG
There have been a number of good wild dog sightings. The guides were also under the impression that the Alfa female in the resident pack of dogs was nursing young ones. After a couple of days they found out that she probably had lost the pups to an unknown predator since she was seen moving around on her own in search of the other pack members. She was also spotted on a very successful hunt when she took down an impala which she chased across one of the shallow channels of the Delta close to the famous Mombo hippo hide.

The guides also tracked a pack of five dogs which were collared; apparently the wild dog researcher at Chitabe said these came from Chitabe area. It is wonderful to have dogs coming into the area once again.

RHINO
There were about ten rhino sightings this month. These included the newly-born rhino which Poster, Mombo's rhino tracker found about two weeks ago. This sighting was a proof of the success of the whole rhino reintroduction within the area that first began five years ago. Most of the rhino have settled into their favourite feeding grounds and have been monitored by the anti-poaching unit of Botswana with Wilderness Safaris' "rhino man" Poster. Magee and Jacky, the two biggest bulls, have been showing up in the area called Sand Valley in the Mombo concession with the other two females and their cubs and have been relaxed with vehicle around them.

GENERAL GAME
This month has been an amazing one where by big herds of elephants were recorded, also big herds buffalo were seen close to the camp. Giraffe, impala, kudu, wildebeest, red lechwe etc.

These are just a few comments from the guests.
-The excellence of game viewing and all the camp staff and guides
-We can not speak highly enough of Mombo - a magical place

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