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Wilderness Safaris News -
Info and updates from Wilderness Safaris
Monthly update from Zibalianja Camp in
Monthly update from Selinda Camp in
Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in
Kwando Safaris game reports.
Monthly update from Mombo Camp in
Page 2 Updates
update from Chitabe Camp in
Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in
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 Jack's Camp in
Monthly update from Palmwag Rhino Camp in
Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in
Monthly Dive report from Rocktail
Bay in South Africa.
Chitabe Camp update
- September 06 Jump
to Chitabe Camp
September is a month of
co lour, when the Sausage Trees burst into bloom with their ruby red
flowers in contrast to their electric green leaves, the Knobthorn Acacias
produce inflorescence's of brightest yellow, and just to brighten things
up the Lonchocarpus Trees come out with the most delightful lavender
flowers. The Imperata grasses take on their winter cloak of red, while
everywhere else the landscape is a lion-stalked dun. Along the channel
lines, as the water recedes, a bright green flush of couch grass pushes
As with last year, we had another
big bush fire threaten the camp, and this time it almost succeeded.
Driven by a strong headwind, the fire moved at an incredible speed
towards us, and it was only due to a supreme effort of our fire fighting
team and assistance from our Maun office that we were able to quell
the flames right upon our camp firebreak.
an integral part of the Okavango ecosystem, a natural method of removing
moribund plant debris and releasing nutrients back into the soils,
and with it occurring practically on our doorstep, we had an excellent
vantage point from which to observe the recovery rate. During the
fire itself, large numbers of predatory birds like Rollers and Bee-eaters
were attracted by the flames to snatch up fleeing insects, while
within hours of the fire's passage, Ground Hornbills and Secretary
birds were scouring the burnt areas for tidbits. Interestingly, the
channel in front of the camp became a temporary home after the burn
for a large flock of both species of Pelicans, as well as Sacred
Ibis, Egrets, Saddle-billed and Marabou Storks.
mammals were seen fleeing the area, but seemed to know where to go
to avoid being burnt. These included buffalo, impala, reedbuck, steenbok,
warthog and baboon. Within days, all these species where back in
the burnt area to feed on the nutrient-rich green shoots which emerged.
We even saw the wild dogs hunting these impala through a burnt island,
and while following the high-speed chase, came across a leopard out
on a hunt, perfectly camouflaged against the scorched vegetation.
After two weeks, the areas blackened by the fire were unrecognizably
concealed beneath a cloak of emerald green!
The sighting of the month must go to Lazarus
for Mosadi Mogolo, our all-time favourite Leopard female. Laz and
his guests were watching her resting in a Sausage Tree when a small
herd of impala approached to feed on the fallen flowers. Mosadi Mogolo
saw her opportunity and as soon as the impala were close enough,
she launched her diminutive body in an angled dive right onto the
back of an unsuspecting impala. It was a textbook kill, and Lazarus
just happened to be the lucky one to see it happen right before his
eyes! We have had other great leopard sightings this month, seeing
them interacting with hyaena as well as with cubs, as well as finding
the large Gomoti male leopard feeding on a baby wildebeest on another
day but this one certainly was the "top"?
The shy female who moved into the area with her two cubs has been
seen a few times, and her cubs are slowly becoming accustomed to vehicles.
Luke found them one afternoon feeding on an impala together, while
their mother had taken off. Phinley has also found another female with
two cubs in the Acacia Road area.
Two huge male lions have wandered into the territory, and seem to
like it enough to stay - Phinley watched them trailing a herd of buffalo
as they moved down to the Southern Boundary area. The Gomoti pride
of six have been seen several times as well, while the previous territory
males seem to have moved even further south.
Luke also deserves a mention for finding a serval out hunting one
night very close to the camp. To see one of these rare and secretive
cats is a real treat.
Large herds of buffalo are still in the area, and a herd in their
thousands came down the Gomoti Channel, across the woodland, along
River Road and into the floodplains surrounding the camp. Although
most have now moved on, a sizeable contingent has remained to take
advantage of the new grass shoots.
The wild dogs are doing well,
and the seven of them have been seen several times this month, and
OT saw them right in the middle of a hunt, when an opportunistic
hyaena tried to make off with their kill while the hunter had gone
off to get the rest of the pack. They returned to find the hyaena
in a compromising position, and saw him off in characteristic fashion
- using their superior speed and agility, they attack the far larger
aggressor's rump where he has no defense but to run!
After a long absence, Ebs has found two cheetah in the Broken Palm
Temperatures have been relatively mild for September,
the hottest usually being around the 30°C mark, with cool evenings.
October will bring much warmer and drier weather in the build-up
to the advent of the rains.
Tree Camp update - September 06 Jump
to Tubu Tree
We have already had the first few drops of rain for the season
although it was barely enough to wet the ground, the plant life
is responding and green shoots are appearing all over Hunda Island.
The average temperatures have been a minimum of 14 and maximum
28 degrees Celsius. We have had to pull the boat out of the water
and have stopped all mokoro activities, except necessary transfers
to other camps in the concession, due to the dropping floodwaters.
One particular deep pool of water remains between
Tubu Camp and Hunda airstrip and has attracted four large crocodiles
that have made it their home. There are many catfish congregating
in this pool as the waters recede, thus providing plenty of food
for them. Guests witnessed a crocodile taking down a red lechwe
as it tried to cross the channel next to the pool. The croc grabbed
hold of the antelope's front leg as it reached the middle of
the shallow channel. A vicious struggle ensued with the croc
trying to pull the lechwe towards the deeper part of the pool
and the lechwe desperately trying to make it to the other side.
Eventually the sheer power of the crocodile was no match for
the lechwe and it disappeared under the
water. This was a good meal for the crocodile and the other three
smaller crocs would probably have also fed off it. A good meal
will sustain a crocodile for several weeks and they often do not
feed at all during the colder months.
The guides found a new pride of lion in the south of our concession
this month. There were three lionesses with six cubs accompanied
by a big male. The male is the local resident male on Hunda, but
the females and cubs have not been seen before in this area. The
cubs were a little skittish and eventually moved off into a thicket
followed by the females. We hope to see more of them in the future.
Tsessebe antelope have returned to the floodplains accompanied
by a couple of small calves. As the floodplains dry up the lechwe
are moving out of the area to be replaced by zebra, tsessebe and
The beautiful Chobe bushbuck are a common sight within the camp
and are quite accustomed to people, they even let guests walk past
them on the pathway, seemingly unafraid.
Herds of kudu and giraffe are also a regular sight in the wooded
areas of our big island with two very young giraffe being a popular
sighting with guests. The giraffe calves are very curious about
game drive vehicles and stare fascinated at the guests taking their
More and more pelicans are seen along the water channels and pools.
Both species, the Pink-backed and the bigger Eastern White Pelicans
are taking advantage of trapped fish in the pools along with many
Great White Egrets, Yellow-billed Egrets, Little Egrets, Black
Herons, Pied Kingfishers, Hamerkops, Marabou Storks all cashing
in on the plentiful food supply.
Other interesting bird sightings include the Ovambo
Sparrowhawk, Brown Snake Eagle, a Pearl-spotted Owlet feeding
its chick in little hole in a tree trunk, Gabar Goshawk, Orange-breasted
Bush shrike, Crimson-breasted Boubou, Black Cuckooshrike and
a pair of Ostrich with eighteen small chicks!
Looking forward to seeing you out here!
Anton, Carrie, Moa, Moyo, Salani and the Tubu Team
Jacana Camp update
- September 06 Jump
to Jacana Camp
has finally arrived to Jacana with some very hot and humid days, temperatures
reaching 37 degrees and bright sunshine casting glimmering reflections
in the clear Delta water which surrounds camp.
The water levels are still receding at a great rate and boating into
camp is now proving a challenge. We have since had to boat a different
route to reach our little island which is actually a highlight for all
the guests as it is decorated with numerous African Fish Eagles, red
lechwe, hippos and sometimes crocodile.
Our first sighting of sitatunga this season excited all with this very
special antelope standing calm and in the open at the water's edge.
Jack and all of our roaming elephants have visited us many times and
have as usual been very welcome neighbors for our guests. They have now
depleted our supply of Real Date Palm nuts which they clearly find a
tasty treat but are happy to feed on all the lush palm fronds which are
in abundance on our island.
Jack is still the boss of Jacana and has proved that to several of the
younger bulls which arrive, battling head to head with Mosimane in our
boma area before dinner, eventually mock mounting him as a sign of dominance.
Needless to say we didn't sit by the fire on that evening but all our
guests enjoyed this close encounter with these beautiful creatures.
The low water levels are attracting many more species of birds to the
flood plain in front of camp, including Wattled Crane, Saddle-billed
Stork and Squacco Herons. We have also been very lucky to have several
sightings of African Jacana with chicks, the male carrying them under
his wings and these tiny fluffy birds walking across the lily pads in
the shadow of their father.
The baboons are now seen very close to the main area attracted by the
fruits of the flowering Sausage Tree. Several snakes have emerged on
the island, including African Rock Python, Puff Adder and Spotted Green
Bush Snake - a sure sign that the environment is healthy and has in turn
attracted many birds of prey including a pair of Yellow-billed Kites.
Great cat sightings, including leopard and lion have pleased our guests,
on one occasion our guests spotted a buffalo kill while they were enjoying
their sundowner by boat. The pride of lion led by Freddy and V had taken
this male buffalo on the water's edge and were seen feeding on him for
several days. They were accompanied by the two lioness and the two cubs
who had gorged themselves on the meat, walking with very round and full
The coming month will prove exciting with the changing seasons and new
species of birds, animals and insects providing surprises for us and
We would like to welcome Peter and Vashti to the Jacana team as they
will be relieving camp while we are away and hope they enjoy this paradise
island as much as we do!
Conrad & Katie
- September 06 Jump
to Kwetsani Camp
has all the water gone?" The Okavango Delta's flooding season is
reaching its end and the waters have dried up in the floodplains and
have receded back into the more permanent channels. The promise of rain
has been building everyday as there are more and more clouds rolling
in over the drier landscape. The clouds have however provided fantastic
sunsets with skies that are full of wonderful colors. The skies have
been quite hazy as there seems to have been many bush fires around the
area but not in our concession. The temperatures have been wonderful,
averaging at about 16 degrees Celsius (61 F) during the night and the
days have been quite warm at about 29 degrees Celsius (84 F).
Even though the water has disappeared it still has provided many visitors
with their first ever experience to be able to catch a fish or two. The
area is still very green and the spring time has allowed the trees to
show their first blossoms and the fruit is quiet abundant but is still
young and green. Watch out for the sticky flowers of the Real Fan Palm
and the Sausage trees. The bees have been very busy making honey and
the hive in front of room 1 is still very active. The bees even tried
to make a new nest in room 6's shower but we had to move them as bees
and humans in those numbers in a shower don't really mix.
The mokoros have to be done a little closer to the permanent channel
where the water is a little deeper but still gives you a great experience
of the Okavango Delta. There is still an abundance of waterfowl around
but you really need to look a bit harder to see them. While passing some
of the reeds and papyrus banks you can hear the grunting of the hippos.
It has really been a time for the lions and they have shown their potential
by killing a huge buffalo bull near the water edge. This has provided
some great viewing and interaction with the whole pride as well as some
full stomachs. Then as usual the sleeping and resting is inevitable which
lasts for at least 3 days. The pride still has been coming around the
camp frequently, mainly to hunt the red lechwe but as we found out this
month also to protect their territory. As we have been able to move further
and further north from the camp with the falling waters, we discovered
another 2 females with cubs, about the same age (5 months), as the ones
we see around the camp. What a find! There was a little bit of concern
about the wellbeing of one of the little cubs of our resident pride,
as its foot was hurt and was limping for a long time and was often even
left behind by the mother but it seems to have healed nicely. Looks like
it will be able to grow up without any problems and will be able to hunt
and run freely.
It was a hard month for the cubs as the mother has been weaning them
off her milk. So where they usually found love and a good meal, they
were met with a huge growl and would even be chased off as they approached.
The cubs need to be out and about with the females almost on very hunt.
As the mother needs to feed they have been moving a lot so the cubs now
have to feed on whatever is caught and need to compete like adults at
the kills. This is a very dangerous time for the cubs to survive as the
hunger drives them to be bolder but of course the males, when around,
eat first and fight off any competition - even their own offspring.
One of the most surprising things was that the other female came into
oestrus and the mating occurred within the pride, all around the mother
and her cubs. The cubs were very afraid of the male as there was a lot
of growling and aggression.
The males are looking very battered and full of new scars as they have
been challenging each other for the mating rights of the female, as well
as when the lone female came into oestrus. They were both limping and
were nursing wounds at some stage or another but it seems as though they
are still in a two-male coalition and they were able to chase away the
intruder male which came from the north.
There have been many elephants
around the area and they have managed to shake down and devour the
entire Palm Nut supply and there is none left on the whole island.
We have had two road blocks in the camp as one of the bull elephants
has pushed over some of the huge acacia trees. These have been totally
utilized by the bulls and some of the breeding herds. There is no more
shaking going on but they come through the camp and keep everybody
awake when they sleep and feed around the rooms. We have had some really
great encounters around the camp and on the walkways.
The leopard cub is doing very well but we have not seen him or his mother
for a very long time. The cub is venturing away from the mother for longer
and longer periods and can often be found on his own. The female was
found on an evening drive and she was hunting a common reedbuck but unfortunately
she was not successful that time. Both have provided good opportunities
for photos and were found in a Marula tree feeding on an impala kill.
Both the cub and the female shared the kill.
We hope that the rainy season will be great one like last year and hopefully
in the months to come we will see few rain showers to rejuvenate the
landscape. May there be many spectacular thunder showers to come!
Plains Camp update - September 06 Jump
to Duba Plains
The Tsaro Pride and the Duba Boys have been seen for almost the whole
week in the central part of the territory where the buffalo
herd has been hanging around. The pride has been successfully
hunting the buffalo, with two kills made in the last week.
What was very interesting was that both buffalo were caught
while wallowing in the mud! The second kill we witnessed
was made by only two of the Tsaro females. After feeding
on a kill, we have noticed that the pride will generally
scatter around the area for a couple of days, during which
time they are seen in groups of two to three, before they
regroup again, ready for the next hunt.
Photos by Greg Hughes
It isn't just buffalo
that comprise lion diet at Duba Plains of course. Some of
our guests standing on the dining area deck were fortunate
to witness a Tsaro lioness killing a warthog in front of
the camp. To date, she has been in the same area for a period
of three days in a row. We have always watched her from a
distance, as the area is inaccessible by vehicles because
of the water and mud, but she does seem to be lactating and
we suspect the cubs are not far from the camp. None of the
cubs have been seen so far.
The Skimmer Pride has not
been seen in the area for about a week and a half; we suspect
they might be back in their area of Paradise Island.
herds of elephant are still continuing to be seen in the
area, with big breeding herds ranging between 15 to 25 in
each herd. Bird sightings are incredibly exciting as more
and more water pans are continuing to dry up creating fish
traps. Birds seen in these areas include Pink-backed Pelicans
and Marabou Storks; some summer migrant birds such as Yellow-billed
Kites have been seen in the area recently and our aardwolf
viewing continues to be excellent.
September is always a great month to be at Duba Plains and this
year has been no exception. The weather is warming up quickly,
so watching the sunrise from the game drive vehicle is
no longer such an Antarctic ordeal! The first of the summer
migrants are back, including Blue-cheeked and Carmine Bee-eaters
and Yellow-billed Kites. The floodwaters are now receding
rapidly allowing us to re-open some of the roads closed
during the winter. Preparations are underway to begin the
extension of the bridge at the beginning of next month.
The last fortnight has
produced some thrilling sightings for our guests. Most interest
has focused on the Tsaro and Skimmer Prides, both of which
have been sighted regularly. Each pride has killed buffalo
but the Skimmer Pride kills are all the more remarkable as
these have been within the heart of Tsaro Pride territory.
We found the Skimmer Pride on the morning of the 20th as
they headed east from Molokwane Island towards the herd of
buffalo. Already they were well inside Tsaro territory, but
unchallenged as the Tsaro Pride had spent the previous afternoon
feeding on a buffalo kill at Nqoga Island, about a mile further
south. The Skimmer Pride has rapidly developed into a formidable
coalition of lions and the young males are showing the bulk
needed to meet the challenges of pursuing buffalo through
these swampy waters. At midday, the pride stampeded the buffalo
herd into a wet area north of Tsweni Road and killed an
adult female. Twelve hungry lions make a light meal of
the buffalo and the carcass was cleaned within two hours.
As the lions lay sleeping
in the long grass, unbeknown to them a lactating Tsaro Pride
lioness skirted round the pride to retrieve her newly born
cubs from a Tsaro Palm island not more than 30 yards from
the sleeping intruders. Quietly she goaded the tiny cubs
to cross a small channel and into the safety of another palm
island some distance away. Any discovery of her or the cubs
by the Skimmer Pride would surely have led to a fight and
the near-certain demise of the cubs. Later we saw another lone Tsaro female treading
carefully through the grass towards the Skimmer Pride.
This time one of the Skimmer females noticed her and went
to investigate. A sharp growl was heard as both females
squared up; however this alerted the Skimmer males and
two of them gave chase to the retreating Tsaro female while
the rest of the Skimmer Pride roared their presence. It
was quite a sight to behold and an ominous sign of what
lies in store during the coming months. Since the 20th
the Skimmer Pride has been seen again twice, though each
time further west towards their own territory. One of the
adult females has an injury on her left rear leg, possibly
as a result of an encounter with the Tsaro Pride or the
The Tsaro Pride remains
largely fragmented, as at least four females are lactating
and consequently the pride cannot easily repel the incursions
of the Skimmer Pride. One female introduced her three cubs
to the pride on the 21st at Sausage Point. Given the recent
dynamics within the pride, this lioness is clearly nervous
and protective of her cubs and we have yet to see them introduced
to "Split-Ear" and "Silver-Eye",
the two 'cub-killing' females. One female has three cubs
hidden close to Tsweni Road (see above) and another is
hiding an unknown number of cubs not far from the airstrip.
During the last fortnight, the Tsaro Pride has killed four
buffalo and a wildebeest providing the one-year-old male
with a good supply of food and hunting experience. He is
a confident youngster and muscles in to get first share
of the spoils, unchallenged by the dominant Duba Boy. The
hyaena den is active once more and we've seen five cubs
basking and playing while we have our sundowners. Two different
bat-eared fox dens have been located close to Shade Pan
and Kudu Road, and aardwolf sightings remain good.
and Dereck Joubert dropped by last week and gave us a copy
of their new book, Relentless Enemies, a stunning portrait
that encapsulates superbly their time spent with the lions
and buffalo of Duba Plains. For decades, Dereck and Beverly
have lived among lions. They consider their three years
here to be their most exciting, and their research is presented
here in fascinating text and a hundred gripping images.
Paul de Thierry
24 September - 06
It's been an exciting period
at Duba for guests and staff. At the end of the month we
celebrated the 40th anniversary of Botswana independence
by flying the national flag on our game-drive vehicles
(they looked somewhat like ambassadorial limos!) followed
by singing for the guests and a big staff party. It's a
special anniversary for the Batswana and the guests felt
honored to share the celebrations with them.
It's a harsh reality that, as the Skimmer Pride males grow
stronger, so the Duba Boys grow older and weaker. Take the
25th of September as an example, when we found one of the Duba
Boys near Mokolwane Island. He was looking intently to the
west where a Skimmer male, well within Tsaro territory, was
assuming a threatening posture. In the past, any detected incursion
by the Skimmer Pride into Tsaro territory bought an immediate
and aggressive response by one or both of the Duba Boys. The
reaction this time was to call a Tsaro female who was stalking
the nearby herd of buffalo. It was only when she teamed up
with the Duba Boy did the Skimmer male turn and head back towards
his own territory, the Tsaro female and the Duba Boy roaring
after him. If the Duba Boys are no longer willing or able to
repel invading males, they will have to rely increasingly on
the Tsaro females' desire to protect their newly born cubs
for their own survival.
A further ominous sign for the Duba Boys was
the sighting of two new males last week close to Shade Island.
They were skittish and moved away from the game drive vehicles
quickly. Through binoculars the two males look around five
years old, light in color and very healthy. Later than
evening, both Duba Boys could be heard making territorial
calls in the same area. The Letapa male has not been seen.
One Tsaro female has now introduced her cubs into the pride
and they seem to be well tolerated, although the whole pride
has not been seen together for many months due to mating/birthing
of four to five females. One other female with three cubs was
seen near Sausage Point on a termite mound. As we sat watching
the cubs play, we saw the other Tsaro females walking across
the floodplain towards the mound. As they drew near, the cubs
hid behind their mother and she became very aggressive towards
them, hissing and spitting. This is a sign of the mistrust
that still exists within a pride that has lost 53 cubs since
The young male is continuing to learn the art of hunting and
remains well tolerated at kills. Over the period, we saw two
kills and found evidence of a further three, all by the Tsaro
Pride. On one occasion, six Tsaro females bought down a buffalo
calf at Baobab Island after wounding it in an earlier hunt.
Having killed the calf, the Duba Boy chased the females off
the carcass, dragged it into the shade and then fell asleep
on top of the kill without eating anything!
Last Monday, we found six females and the cub sleeping on
a termite mound next to the buffalo to the west of Buffalo
Point. It's a stunning area, the dry plains contrasting with
the lush channels that wend their way towards the papyrus beds.
As the buffalo moved towards the water to drink, the lions
took the opportunity to attack as the herd crossed the channel.
Despite managing to jump on the back of one female, the pride
was too spread out to make the kill. However, the attack split
the herd and a small group retreated to the dry flood plain.
Desperate to join the main herd, the splinter group moved towards
the channel and into a seemingly perfect ambush set by the
pride. All was ruined by the eager cub that showed itself far
too early and sent the buffalo stampeding back. The chastened
cub then proceeded to demonstrate the correct technique by
jumping on its mothers back!
A major highlight is the discovery of an active aardwolf den
to the south of Kudu Road and two young pups have been seen
at night with both the adult male and female. Aardwolf sightings
are extremely rare in the Delta and to have an active den is
update - September 06 Jump
to Vumbura Camp
This month we will start with
the avian community. Bird life at Vumbura Plains is thriving with
migrants such as Yellow-billed Kites and Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters
returning to the Delta. Other feathered sightings included a Racket-tailed
Roller, African Skimmers, Pelicans, Flamingos, Ostriches and of course
our beautiful variety of Storks and Cranes. Open-billed Storks have
been flocking in great numbers this month. Our resident Crested Barbet
entertains us for hours while he disagrees with his own reflection
in the Guest Loo. Moving along to the mammalian representatives at
Vumbura Plains, game sightings were as spectacular this month as
in August. Most of our usual contenders contributed to a well-orchestrated
symphony of wildlife magic.
Once again our lions have been
very successful, taking every opportunity to satisfy their insatiable "munchies".
One evening the Kubu Pride managed to bring down two buffalo at the
same time presenting our guests with front row seats in this "African
Action Drama". They even tried their luck with a young elephant
but were quickly put in their place by the over-protective mother
elephant. Leopard sightings were good this month with sightings of
three different individuals. These creatures seem to enjoy being
watched, posing for photographs allowing us to get National Geographic-quality
pictures. The old male cheetah was seen on a few occasions but was
not a frequent sighting. The larger more powerful predators like
lion, leopard and hyenas are a threat to this elegant sports car
of the bush. He takes every precaution to avoid contact with these
Masters of Vumbura.
"WILD DOGS! WILD DOGS!" These
words were shouted on numerous occasions through the game drive radios.
We enjoyed eight separate sightings of these African 'painted wolves'.
Bad news for this small family pack, though. One of the three pups
was viciously mauled by lions, demonstrating who really rules this
A great discovery this month was
a hyena den filled to the brim with pups. Many hours were spent
watching the little ones jump around and annoy the adults. Other
than the den, nightly raids to the back of the kitchen are stealthily
executed by these cunning eating machines.
With the Jackalberry trees
still in fruit elephant are still hovering between the rooms and
the main area here at Vumbura Plains. We are very fortunate to be
able to share our wonderful camp with these animals. Other great
sightings this month included aardwolf, porcupines, honey badgers,
serval, caracal and of course the sable antelope, which we are privileged
to see on a regular basis here at Vumbura.
Summer is rapidly engulfing
us here at Vumbura, temperatures are rising and flowers are erupting
from the Sausage Tree, Apple Leaf, Knobbly Combretum and Acacia Trees
filling the air with a sweet perfume. It's goodbye to winter? That's
it for this month, take care and we hope to see you here at Vumbura
Camp update - September 06 Jump
Around the 6th of August, one
of the subordinate females in our group of resident
meerkats gave birth to a litter of five pups. About
three weeks later, the proud mother showed them
to the world for the first time. Right from the
start, there was high drama. Under the beady gaze
of some very hungry looking crows, the mother moved
her pups, one at a time from den site to den site.
In an attempt to get her to drop her pups, the
birds continually harassed the mother, who bravely
jumped up and tried to attack the birds, driving
them away long enough for her to get her pups to
safety in the new burrow.
After a rough first few days, the pups have
really come into their own and are growing at
an amazing rate, delighting everyone who gets
to see them. Like all children desperate to be
adults, they are trying to imitate their parents
in balancing on their tails and hind legs, though
more often than not they seem to end up on their
We have high hopes that this set of pups will
make it and it is even more encouraging to see
that all the females in the family are now pregnant;
this bodes well for the future population strength
of the group.
The chief babysitter, who seems
to be one of the sub-adult males, very carefully
shepherds the pups around making sure that
they have lots of juicy grubs and of course
their favorites, scorpions, which are delivered
sting-free! In fact, their appetites are voracious
and we have even seen the adults hiding food
from the pups so that they can feed later in
the day. This leads the pups to beg for food
from almost anyone they can find: meerkats,
guides and guests alike!
Average minimum temperature: 10°C
Average maximum temperature: 39°C.
Palmwag Rhino Newsletter - September 06 Jump
to Palmwag Rhino
It has been exactly three weeks since Rosta Janik arrived at Palmwag,
and his enthusiasm is contagious, as can be seen from his newsletter!
On a few nature drives (We do not do game drives here - we are in the
Namib Desert!) I went out on, I saw and experienced many special and
extraordinary things. On the first drive we were very lucky to see lot
of game including springbok, Hartmann's mountain zebras, gemsbok, kudu,
steenbok, klipspringer and many interesting birds. We stopped at one
of the many springs and everywhere we looked we could see a lot of game.
At one moment around us were zebra, gemsbok, kudu, giraffe and ostrich
- it was amazing to see five different species in one moment in front
of us and not so far from the spring - something special - we are in
the Namib Desert, what is going on here?
A few days later Festus (one of our Explorations guides) arrived at
Rhino Camp and I had the opportunity to go out with him. What a great
opportunity it was! You cannot waste the opportunity to go out with him,
if there ever is one. On the drive we saw many things; we had great sightings
of two different couples of rhinos with their calves, all of them followed
by lion at night. On the afternoon drive we saw a beautiful big good-looking
male lion at the Salvadora Spring. What a sighting on a beautiful evening!
Also we came across many bird species including Orange River Francolin,
which I had never seen before. That day I learnt a lot from Festus. Every
single story or fact was special and interesting, for his guests and
alike for me. It was like a drug! I felt as though I had to ask him all
the time that I want some more and more of it please. I never had enough
of the info I could get from him!
Later that same week we had two cheetah sightings in one day! We also
came across a family of nine elephants with one tiny one not more than
a few months old. In the area of one of the springs we had a sighting
of two monitor lizards fighting! For the guests an unforgettable experience
(they got footage on their camera) and for me an unforgettable lifetime
experience. The fight lasted for 18 minutes then both of them just moved
into the nearby bushes to escape from the heat of the day in the Namib.
It was something really extraordinary to watch these two males fighting
- it was like watching wrestling - all together on our local TV. There
was a lot of little dust clouds around them which made the fight look
more like two monsters or prehistoric creatures from Jurassic Park. Amazing
and all five of us on the vehicle were talking the whole evening about
this special event which was perfectly served for us by the unpredictable
On the next morning drive I saw my first Three-banded
Plover at the Salvadora Spring and I am happy that I can add this beautiful
bird to my bird list. Later on we again had an excellent sighting of
elephants and rhino. During the last few days in the Rhino Camp we
had really great sightings of rhino, elephant and everything else,
but yesterday we saw something very special: Not far from our camp
(20 minutes) we had a sighting of two beautiful lioness with one cub
(around 6-9 months old) who had killed a zebra. I was speechless that
moment when I saw the cub feeding on that zebra. I never would have
believed and most probably will never believe how possible it is to
see all of these events in the middle of the Namib Desert! All these
unforgettable events that it is possible to see in the desert, for
me, it will always be a special, amazing, truly beautiful "Desert Paradise on the planet Earth".
Later on we had a great sighting of honey badger and the next day we
saw an aardwolf on the open grass plains and came across a rhino cow
with her 3-month-old baby rhino - one of the cutest things you could
ever see in the Namib!
That is just some of the highlights of sightings
from Rhino Camp in Namibia we had last past three weeks. One of the
guests after seeing the rhino cow with her three-month-old baby rhino
said, "We saw
it only for few minutes, but we will remember this moment forever!"
Camp (northern Kruger) Newsletter - September 06 Jump
month of September has been really hot with some of the
daily temperatures already reaching the 40°C
mark! The Pafuri region is very dry at the moment with
the vegetation inland from the Luvuvhu River thinning
out quickly and leaving dry dusty patches in some areas.
The Limpopo River is completely dry now. The Luvuvhu
is very low at the moment and has stopped flowing into
the Limpopo, leaving a huge pool at Crooks Corner. The
pool itself is home to a large pod of hippo, crocodiles,
and a variety of water birds. Still a great spot for
sundowners. Although we are once again witnessing a change
of season in the Makuleke Region of Kruger National Park,
the game viewing and bird watching has still been great.
Take a look at some of the sightings our guests were
treated to during the month of September:
06th - Leopard killed a nyala in the turning circle
at camp. The trail of the kill and drag marks lead across
the boardwalk and into the Capparis thicket behind the
07th - Leopard killed a cane rat under room 6, leaving
only the stomach content and fur behind.
08th - Lioness killed a kudu on Pafuri main near access
road to camp.
08th - Croc killed an impala in front of camp. Dozens
of crocs feed on it through the night. All of our guests
got to see the event.
09th - The first Diederick Cuckoo was heard in camp for
10th - Elephant bull who feeds regularly beyond the deck
in front of the curio shop. This particular guy enjoys
sitting on his knees when he feeds.
18th - Male lion seen from Room 2.
21st - Leopard calling intensely, heard between Room
1 and staff village.
22nd - Two leopards were seen on Pafuri main road courting.
24th - Two Pel's Fishing Owls were seen from main deck
by all guests.
29th - Lions were mating on Pafuri main road near the
flood level marker. This male is a new one in the area.
We are still seeing a lot of elephant and buffalo throughout
the concession. Some of our other sightings include:
honey badger, white tailed mongoose, dwarf mongoose,
black backed jackal, African civet, large spotted genet,
eland, kudu, impala, nyala, waterbuck, steenbok, porcupine,
and Burchell's zebra. Lion were seen on average twice
a week and leopards once a week.
We have recorded 200 species this month. It's been one
of those months where the quantity was not as important
as the quality. The sightings include: Pel's Fishing
Owl, Comb Duck, European Bee-eater, Black Crake, African
Wattled Lapwing, Lesser Striped Swallow, White-winged
Widow, Striped Pipit, Three-banded Courser, and Bronze-winged
Average minimum temperature 12°C; average maximum
temperature 35°C. No rainfall.
Bay Dive Newsletter - September 06 Jump
This month there
has been a lot of plankton in the water, which has reduced the
visibility to an average of between 10-15 metres, with water
temperatures at a constant 21-22° Celsius.
Plankton is a wonderful food source not only for the big filter
feeders, such as whale sharks and manta rays but also for the
little filter feeders such as porcelain crabs, tubeworms and
corals. Schools of fusiliers are seen mid-water, mouths open,
devouring these strangely shaped, jelly-like treats. Huge shoals
of little eastern tuna boil on the surface of the water as
they too gorge themselves on plankton. These particular fish
were only approximately 2kg in weight but they can grow up
to 10kg. Although they are small, they form an important part
of the food chain, with marlin, sailfish and wahoo feeding
on them. So while the tuna are around, it is wise to keep one
eye on the surface, hopefully getting a chance to see one of
these magnificent gamefish cruising past.
Some days are what you would call 10 out of 10 days. This
one had wonderful weather with light variable wind, smooth
sea, humpback whales in all directions and spinner dolphins
hunting flying fish. Everyone was filled with excitement as
they watched the fish fly out of the water, followed by a mass
of dolphins chasing at maximum speed. As the fish touched down
on the water, the eager dolphins would snap them up. The divers
all managed to get into the water and snorkel with the spinner
dolphins. As if that was not enough excitement, a group of
five humpback whales then swam towards the group! Being in
the water with two such charismatic ocean mammals blew everyone
away! That wasn't it though. Once everyone was back on board
and travelling back towards shore, they saw some more whales
and stopped to watch. They were listening to the blow of the
whales as they approached the boat, when they heard a small
blow right next to the boat. It was a 1.8m leatherback turtle!
Karen got in and swam with it for a little while till it dived
down and disappeared. What a way to spend the day.
For those of you who haven't met Karen yet, you will if you
are coming to dive with us soon. She recently joined the Rocktail
Bay Dive Team and has already been lucky enough to see the
'Big Five' of the ocean, here at Rocktail, in just one short
week - whale sharks, humpback whales, southern right whales,
spinner and bottlenose dolphins and a leatherback turtle!
The most spectacular filter feeder, and top of the wish list,
has to be the whale shark. On the way to an early morning dive
at Gogo's, Darryl spotted a big fin breaking the surface of
the water - it was a 9m male whale shark feeding on the surface.
He was tagged, but in all the excitement the last thing Brett
Pollock and friends were thinking about was remembering the
number. Of the six divers, four had never seen a whale shark
before. As the whale shark fed, mouth wide open; it swam circles
around the divers, giving them a really great opportunity to
watch it. Then Darryl shouted that he had seen another smaller
fin in the water and there was a mad scramble to the boat -
everyone thought it might be a shark! They were all relieved
when they found out that it was in fact another, smaller whale
shark. After approximately half an hour with the two whale
sharks they decided it was time to go and do their planned
This same group of divers was on their way back from Elusive,
after their second dive, when they were granted another 'lifer'.
There were two southern right whales not far behind Island
Rock. The curious calf just hung there looking at them, the
mother next to it, before swimming slowly past them. A very
special moment of interaction between humans and one of the
gentle giants of the sea!
The humpback and southern right whales are on their southbound
journey back home to the Antarctic and there tend to be a lot
of groups far out on the horizon putting on a show, breaching,
lobtailing and fin slapping. Divers are serenaded on nearly
every dive by the wonderful whale songs and curious babies
sometimes circle the buoyline with mothers close by.
There have been three separate sightings of scalloped hammerhead
sharks. Seen travelling on the surface, a tiny fin breaks the
water, as they look for squid to feed on. These sharks are
usually in our waters during summer, so are an early indication
that things should start to warm up soon. Two of them were
just over 1m long and the third was almost 3m in length.
All the big rays that also tend to be summer visitors have
been sighted; some of them even during the last few months
of winter. This month there has been an increase in sightings
of sharpnose, honeycomb and round ribbontail rays.
Clive does it again! Those of you who have dived with Clive
will know just how good he is at finding the little critters!
This month he found the first Mauritius scorpionfish (Rhinopias
eschmeyeri) that has ever been seen here at Rocktail Bay. He
found it sitting in amongst a clump of seaweed at Elusive and
we all heard the excited shouts as he called us over. This
fish is different to the tasselled scorpionfish that are often
found on reefs. The body is a similar shape, with similar dorsal
fins but it does not have the same patterns on its body. It
was totally red (which looks brown in the water) and was perfectly
camouflaged in the seaweed. It has a prominent flap above its
eyes and flaps that stick out each corner of its mouth. This
fish is considered very rare and is not often seen by divers.
Well done, Clive!
"Great dive sites,
great dive centre, couldn't have been more helpful. Snorkeling
with dolphins and even whales, to follow perfect dives." John Morse, Northumberland, England
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle and Karen
The Rocktail Bay Dive Team
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