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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

January 2007
(Page 1 of 2)

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

• North Island Dive Report from the Seychelles.
• Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in Botswana.
Kwando Safaris game reports.
• Monthly update from Jack's & San Camps in Botswana.

Page 2 Updates
• Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jao Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Seba Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Vumbura Plains in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Little Vumbura Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in South Africa.

Turtle news from Rocktail Bay in South Africa.

Monthly Dive report from Rocktail Bay in South Africa.

• Monthly update from Serra Cafema Camp in Namibia.

• Monthly update from Ongava Lodge in Namibia.


Wilderness Safaris Updates - January 2007

GENERAL UPDATES
Explorations News
We have included Shackletons Upper Zambezi Lodge instead of Natural Mystic Lodge in our Adventurer level Migration Routes and Untamed Lands Explorations. The lodge, situated in south-western Zambia, has access to 130km of the Upper Zambezi River. It is home to approximately 300 bird species, offers an excellent cultural experience at Mwandi village and also is a prime fly, spin and lure fishing destination.

Accommodating 12 guests in comfortable, thatched and en-suite chalets with private teak decks overlooking the Zambezi River coupled with fabulous cuisine and friendly service creates a relaxing and invigorating stay. We feel this new lodge, its services and facilities, will fit in perfectly with our Adventurer Explorations products and services.


Green Season Report

Springboks in Deception ValleyIt has been a spectacular Green Season - traditionally regarded as a quieter time of year with less productive game viewing. This is not the case at all as can be seen from the photo above from Deception Valley in the Central Kalahari, taken by Grant Atkinson on a Green Desert Exploration – a trip that perhaps offers some of the best game viewing in Botswana during the summer months.

In general, our summer viewing has been outstanding, and we can only recommend these months as incredible opportunities – the more so since it has long been underestimated by the travel trade. Because rain has fallen game has dispersed, vegetation is thicker, and humidity is higher, yet this creates an explosion of life and colour and some exceptional game and bird viewing in spectacular scenery. A variety of itineraries take in those areas that produce year-round high quality game viewing, as well as those areas that come into their own in summer. Throughout the camps this is the season of plains game births, vocal migratory birds in breeding plumage, floral displays, fruiting and fertility. In short, to experience the summer highlights is to experience a richer version of Africa.


Private Guides Report

Privately guided trip in BotswanaPrivately guided safaris through our camps have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Having a Wilderness Safaris regional expert lead you through our incredible areas is without doubt the key to enhancing your journey.

Botswana has been the most popular destination for those travelling with private guides - more than 50 private trips being hosted there in 2006. Namibia and Zambia have hosted fewer trips but are growing in popularity with those guests who are multiple repeaters. Typically, guests on a privately guided safari visit at least three or four camps and are on safari for an average about ten days. Almost half of the 2006 trips were with guests returning to Africa with Wilderness Safaris, some of whom were on their 7th and 8th trip with the same guide.


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BOTSWANA UPDATES
Successful Cheetah Rescue
At 12:00 on Saturday 27 January guide Richard Avalino arrived from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve for his Maun stop over on a Green Dessert Exploration. He reported there was a Cheetah stuck in the fence about 50 km south of Makalamabedi village. He explained it looked like it was trapped in a snare attached to the vet fence right next to the road.

Dr. Jackson sedates the trapped cheetah     Checking the attached transponder

Wilderness Safaris Botswana immediately swung into action and with the pro bono services of vet Dr Rob Jackson, left Maun heading south into the Kalahari to locate the snared cheetah. Explorations Operations Manager, Andy Anderson reports: "We made good time to the site but were getting worried that we had not found the cheetah after 55 km along the fence line, but we carried on south. After just over 60 km we found the cheetah. It had a snare around its waist that was attached to a large camel thorn tree trunk that weighed about 30 kg. It had been snared crawling under the eastern side of the double fence and had dragged the log to the western fence where the log snagged the wire. The cheetah had then wound itself tighter and tighter around the fence wires and post and had bitten a 50 cm post off in its futile fight for freedom.

By the time we arrived the cheetah was exhausted and barely lifted its head as we passed less than 2m from it. Rob prepared all his drugs and darts about 50m south of the site and we idled back along the animal. Rob's dart found its mark and we retreated 50m back until the big male cheetah was down. After 10 minutes we returned and Rob was worried he had given too light a dose so he "topped up" the animal and we got to work with a towel over the cheetah's head. Luckily the snare had not cut into the skin although it had abraded it; I cut the wires on the loop and removed them. Rob then gave the animal a shot of antibiotic and a full inspection and then ran a catheter into its foreleg. He took blood and then ran a ringers lactate and then a glucose drip. He then placed a chip transponder in its shoulder and tested it. The cheetah was starting to lift its head and growl a bit so we clipped the plaster on the drip and Rob administered the antidote / antagonist. The cheetah took about 10 minutes to wake up and about 30 minutes to start trying to stand up. It then lay down for a further 30 minutes. 

    Cheetah waking up     Freed cheetah heading west

In the meantime we went and inspected the fence line nearby and Rob found another snare set on the west fence in line with where the cheetah had picked up the first snare. I removed the snare and it joined the snare the cheetah had found in the back of Rob's cruiser. By this time the Cheetah had got to its feet and moved off to the west looking quite healthy after its ordeal. We spent the rest of the daylight looking for more snares and found one more along the same game trail to the west on the Haineveld Conservancy fence line. This snare was also attached to a large log and buried under the fence and after some digging, this third snare joined the others in the cruiser and we headed back to Maun.


Botswana Camp Rebuilds

Rebuiling Little Vumbura Camp in BotswanaLittle Vumbura in the Okavango and Savuti Camp in Linyanti are currently undergoing complete revamps.

At Little Vumbura, the camp has been completely demolished to make way for the new one, allowing nature to reclaim the island for a short time. The entire camp will be rebuilt, but the intimate atmosphere will be retained with only six tents (one being converted to a family unit). The tents are to be slightly larger with an improved design on the past version and will focus on better lighting, privacy and comfort. The dining, lounge and pool areas will also be enlarged, and the curio shop renovated.

Credit must go to the Little Vumbura team who have ensured that as little impact to the environment takes place during the building process as possible. All building materials have been transferred onto the island by boat and all vehicle driving has been disallowed. Little Vumbura will reopen at the end of March.

Savuti is the quintessential bush camp, a very special place with many avid fans, so its rebuild aims to keep this character. The camp has been redesigned to place more emphasis on the spectacular Savuti Channel. The dining area will be turned around so that each guest has a view of the Channel while they eat. All seven tents (plus family room) will face onto the Channel, providing more privacy and better views than before. Each tent will have a snug seating area inside, as well as on a deck in front allowing comfortable viewing of the goings-on at the camp waterhole. The main deck will also now be thatched, creating a lounge overlooking the waterhole. Savuti is scheduled to reopen in mid-March.


Linyanti/Selinda
(Kings Pool, DumaTau, Savuti, Selinda and Zibalianja)
Giraffes in the LinyantiThis part of northern Botswana, pushed up against the Namibian border in the form of the Linyanti Swamps, is having a great season with game viewing in the Savuti Channel and on the floodplains continuing to be good. In the dry season the woodlands flanking the Linyanti River come into their own, with huge concentrations of elephants pouring into the area to browse on the abundant mopane and to slake their thirst from the river and remaining pans. Small herds of sable and roan are also best seen at this time of the year. Unique features are the sunken hide at Kings Pool that allows an elephant-foot viewing of proceedings at a small waterhole in the woodland, the logpile hide at Savuti that is as popular as ever with guests, and the various lagoons along the Linyanti River that are a constant attraction for a daily procession of game.

Kings Pool Lions

Kings Pool Room no. 1 had a thrilling sighting, with a lioness killing an adult male waterbuck, taking it by surprise while it was drinking. Encumbered by the large prey lying half in the water the female had to muscle up the strength to pull the carcass out, a safe distance from a crocodile who had its own ideas of the future of the kill. For the next 2 ½ hours the female pulled the body a foot at a time out of the water and called her cubs over to feed. Every few minutes the crocodile attempted to sneak through the grass, never leaving the safety of the water, but forcing the female to defend her meal by snarling and charging the water’s edge.

Lions vs. Reptiles

More lion-reptile interaction took place at Little Vumbura, where two lionesses and four new cubs were seen on a crocodile carcass. However the following day the lionesses were seen, but no sign of the cubs. It was only a commotion that alerted us to their presence - a 3-meter black mamba! Our fears intensified when only two of the cubs appeared. We spent the entire afternoon with still no sign of the other two cubs and left just after sunset, assuming that they had been killed by the snake. Lion cub mortality is exceptionally high especially within the first year and although unfortunate, it is something we all accept. So it was with much excitement that Kay arrived back in camp after an evening drive to report that he had found the entire pride including all four young cubs - a happy ending to the story!

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SOUTH AFRICA UPDATES
Pafuri Birding
Racket-tailed Roller at Pafuri CampPafuri continues to come of age. Head guide Simon Stobbs recently located only the second-ever nest of a Racket-tailed Roller for South Africa (he discovered the first for SA in December - both on the concession) and managed to get a shot of one of the fledglings. Over the past year, and continuing for the remainder of 2007, we have been recording all such sightings in the concession with a view to better describing habitat preference in far northern South Africa and estimating densities in the area.

But it’s not all birds at Pafuri. Hugely exciting as well is the discovery of two sable cows on the Limpopo floodplain. No sable were seen in the annual aerial census last year so the continued existence of a breeding population (at least one bull has been seen as well) is very encouraging. Finally, excellent sightings of lion abounded, including this one – he seems in need of a haircut!


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CAMP UPDATES
A perma-culture garden supplying vegetables to the Kulala camps has been initiated at Kulala Desert Lodge. Wilderness Safaris Namibia supplied the materials, while the expertise, initiative and training were provided by an Australian charity called OzQuest. In return for their input OzQuest has requested that proceeds from any excess production be donated to Children in the Wilderness.

Selinda Camp's main area is being rebuilt, with an aim to bring guests up to the view. The old structure will remain with the upstairs serving as a gallery and lounge. The downstairs area will be remodeled into a large curio shop and a temperature-controlled wine cellar. Selinda Camp will be closed for the building until the 1st of March. Zibalianja remains operational throughout and continues to welcome guests.

Please note that with immediate affect the drinks policy at all the Namibia camps will be the same as Botswana, i.e. all our Namibia lodges include all local drinks – except premium imports (e.g. Chivas Regal), which are available at an extra cost.

On the Zambia front, we have decided to open one new camp in the South Luangwa in 2007 – this will be Kalamu Tented Camp. Chinengwe Camp will be built to open in 2008.

Note: The Kings Pool airstrip is closed as a result of high water levels making it dangerous to use. Obviously it is not possible to accurately predict when the water levels will subside enough for the airstrip to dry out, but we estimate that it could be two months or more – we could still have rain for a while in Botswana and the water is still rising. Therefore, while the airstrip is closed, all air transfers will be via Chobe airstrip, with Sefofane making the necessary changes. A game drive transfer (one way) takes one hour.


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Seychelles / North Island
North Island Dive Report - January 07               Jump to North Island

January brought a new year and new diving experiences as well as some marvelous terrestrial ones as well.

Early January had some mildly rough seas with heavy rain on one or two mornings. The visibility in the water was great though: 20-25 metres! Lots of yellowfin tuna and big wahoo were sighted, and a very big barracuda took the bait and found his way to the fishing boat. There have also been quite a few whitetip reef sharks seen on our local reef "Sprat City". As many as six sharks together at one time have been seen and one mother looks to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy. The juvenile lemon sharks are also still with us, and have now moved in front of Villa 10 where they are residing in the shallows.

Around the middle of January, we made a trip to "South Marianne" near La Digue Island which is about an hour and a half's trip by boat from North Island. It was the first time I dived this site and I can only say "Wow!" There were schools of Napoleon Wrasse, some enormous Batfish and at one point over 20 grey reef sharks schooling around one us!

The orbicular batfish have been their usual cheeky selves, coming in at a mad rush from the blue water only to circle round and round you the whole dive trying to see themselves in your masks. Some have even started sucking on loose bits of diver's hair; presumably they think it is food. They are extremely tame, very curious and always a delight to have with us in the water.

We have installed the temperature monitor on our local reef and we will be monitoring this every three months. We have also been involved in coral reef monitoring around the island - which we undertake every six months on two of the dive sites around North Island. This valuable data is then sent to a global research database.

Turtles have been seen regularly coming up the beach looking for a good spot to lay eggs. Baby turtles have also been seen frantically dashing for the shore - their entry to life.

There has been a lot of erosion on the West Beach and loads of sand has been deposited on East Beach. This is due to the changing of the seasons and this year the erosion has been very rapid and resulted in one or two turtle nests being uncovered.

We are looking forward to the next three months of diving as they are some of the best months of the year for clarity and calmness.

Lastly we are sad to announce the departure of Debbie Smith from North Island who leaves after three years on the island to pursue new diving challenges in South Africa. Her inimitable presence will be missed by North Island and all the fish in the seas around about.

Clive Scherer

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Botswana Camps
Kings Pool Camp update - January 07                Jump to Kings Pool Camp

January has been a hot and wet month in Kings Pool. The area has experienced some severe rainstorms, with as much as 128mm in an hour and a half, contrasting with dry hot spells - the water level in the Linyanti River continues to rise very quickly. Most of the floodplains are flooded and the Linyanti Concession is a paradise once again. Interestingly, even as far as the Savuti Channel, water is pushing in along the famous dry riverbed.

The game has been outstanding. We had frequent sightings of lion, elephant, wild dog, leopard and lots of other general game. Of course, because of the rain, elephants are spread out all over the concession, moving further into the Mopane woodland, but every now and then the breeding herds make an impressive comeback.

Lion seen on game drives from Kings Pool this month were the Linyanti and Selinda prides. The Linyanti Pride comprises three females, three cubs and one unknown male. They were mostly seen between the Kings Pool airstrip and Nkwe hide area. We also had a sighting of one of the females from the LTC pride mating with an unknown male. We witnessed this on drives for four consecutive days!

Early in January, the Selinda female and her two cubs returned to the Selinda concession but later in the month re-emerged in Linyanti area, mostly seen between the Chobe 1 and Livingstone's hide area. We are happy to see the cubs growing very quickly without being under any threat. They are still entirely dependent on their mother to do most of the hunting. When the mother goes on a serious hunt, she gives them a special growl sound and they obediently stay behind.

The spectacular sightings of wild dogs added another flavour. Both packs of wild dogs, namely DumaTau and Linyanti packs, were sighted in the Kings Pool area. The DumaTau pack is made up of ten adults and six puppies while the Linyanti pack is made up of five adults. In terms of the frequency of sightings, the DumaTau pack took the lead. The pack covers the area up to 10km north-east of Kings Pool camp and another amazing 100km north-west of Kings Pool. They travel as far as the Kwando Concession.

The following leopards were seen this month: Boscia female, Motopi, Thonningii female and Thonningii male. We only had a single sighting of the Boscia female being chased by a troop of baboons. She escaped by quickly running into the Mopane woodland. It is a common event in the Linyanti Concession for the baboons to chase leopards during the day whenever they see them. However, baboons can only do that when they are in a group. A single baboon cannot challenge a leopard.

The Motopi female, the daughter of Boscia female, was seen with two different Impala kills in different locations. The most interesting kill happened nearby at the back of the camp kitchen. Managers closing down the camp after an evening with guests drove 50 metres from kitchen and found the leopard holding down a struggling adult female impala, much bigger than her own size. Once the struggle stopped the leopard dragged her prize into the undergrowth. Efforts to find the kill the next morning were sadly unsuccessful and it is more than likely that the hyaenas who frequent the camp had taken the carcass it for themselves.

The Thonningii male is the Kings Pool territorial male. His territory overlaps the territories of eight different females. He can travel 20km north-east and 10km south-west of Kings Pool camp. As a result of having a bigger territory, we don't see him all that often except in the winter dry season.

This time of year is favoured by many for photographic reasons; the lush green vegetation is an ideal backdrop for these beautiful animals and birds; birdlife in the Linyanti Concession is always wonderful and the stormy skies with the sun's rays behind provides the most magnificent light, especially sunset.

The sunset always silhouettes a bird of prey perched on a fallen tree and turns the river water into extraordinary pinks, purples and oranges. Ripples spurred on by the water birds: Jacanas stepping across waterlilies, Kingfishers diving into the pink glassy surface, Herons picking their way alongside the rushes alert for that tiny movement giving away the fishes' hiding place and the Weavers landing on a thread of papyrus which then sways under their delicate bodies. The warm air, the warm-coloured skies and the cacophony of frogs and hippo calls amount to the most magical of moments in Africa. All the guests have been amazed by the different sounds of frogs especially the painted reed frog and bull frog.

One guest highlighted the diversity of the Linyanti, saying: "It's nice to experience both the wet and dry season because they are totally different but equally as good".

Report by Keiditsemang 'KD' Gabogolelwe
Kings Pool Guide


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DumaTau Camp update - January 07                Jump to DumaTau Camp

January has been another amazing month in the Linyanti. We closed for routine maintenance for the last two weeks, but towards the end of the month we managed to get a crane-truck into the concession. We utilized it to great effect and manage to put logs around the last remaining baobab in the concession. In this manner we created a fence around the tree that will hopefully stop the elephants from feeding upon it. They have already carved the ancient tree into an hourglass shape. It was a lot of work and the team of guys who helped move the dead logs did an amazing job. In the last 15 years, or so, the elephants in the area have felled at least twenty big baobabs. Hopefully this baobab will live longer now. We also managed to clear away all the old drums and wire that were lying around the area where the "Old Mopane Bridge" had been dismantled. This was also a huge task. We removed three truckloads of cement drums and bundles of wire that had been used to support the bridge, when it was still standing, and sent it back to Maun. We decided to leave some of the old mopane poles, that were used in the bridge, as a reminder of the fact that the bridge used to be there, and because they are often used by kingfishers, bee-eaters and other birds to perch on. They are eventually going to rot away and disintegrate and the area will recover fully. It was good to be involved in this clean-up, and the area is looking much better now.

We are in the middle of summer now and the area is looking very green and lush. Temperatures have averaged at minimum of 21 degrees Celsius and a maximum of 28, although we have had one or two days where the mercury rose more than 31 degrees Celsius (in the shade). We have also had a fair bit of rain this month (more than 80 mm), although during the middle of the month the weather did clear up a bit and the grass and herbs started to wilt from the harsh sun. Since then more rain has fallen and these plants have perked up again. The skies this month have generally had a scattering of clouds, which have built up in the afternoons into incredible towering cumulonimbus masses, often accompanied by lightning and thunder. A few days were overcast, with a light drizzle that lasted for a few hours.

The grass is getting quite long in the Savuti Channel now. Because of its height, and because many of the smaller carnivores (jackals, bat-eared foxes and aardwolf) are finished denning, we are not seeing them as regularly. The longer grass has, however, brought in different birds and we are now getting regular sightings of White Storks, Harlequin Quails, African Crake and Kurrichane Button-quails.

As the animals or vehicles move in the grasslands of the channel they are disturbing numerous grasshoppers and other insects and the Carmine Bee-eaters are constantly flying around any large moving object, hawking the insects as they are fly out of the grass. When driving up the channel now, one can have up to 10 Carmine Bee-eaters circling around the vehicle. The Bee-eaters also take advantage of the Kori Bustards as they forage in the grasslands. The Bee-eaters at this time of the year can often be seen catching a ride on the backs of the Kori Bustards. When the bustards disturb a grasshopper or other insect the bee-eaters quickly launch off their backs and hawk the insects. If their position has not been filled by another bee-eater, they then return to the Bustard's back and continue to sit there as if they have just caught a taxi and are being driven somewhere or other. We have often seen the bustards getting annoyed with the bee-eaters and trying to jump up and down to dislodge the unwelcome guests, but inevitably as soon as the bustards calm down the bee-eaters are back again.

With all the rain in the area the water level in the river and the floodplains has risen again. The water level in the river is very high now and with the standing water in the woodlands the game is quite spread out. But this does not mean that there is nothing to see, and we are still having great sightings.

The birdlife is incredible. All the migrants have now returned and we are again seeing a few White Storks walking in the open grassy areas of the Savuti Channel, foraging for grasshoppers and other insects. We managed to see at least 239 species of birds this last month.

The termites' nuptial flights have brought many raptors and other birds of prey into the area (as well as swallows, bee-eaters, hornbills and rollers). Literally, on every dead tree along the Savuti Channel there is at least one eagle perched. Birds of prey seen this month include Steppe Buzzards, Steppe Eagles, Tawny Eagles, Fish Eagles, Bateleurs, Amur Falcons, Western Red-footed Falcons, Red-necked Falcons, Dickinson's Kestrels, Black-shouldered Kites, Yellow-billed Kites, Black-chested and Brown Snake Eagles, African Hawk Eagles, Martial Eagles, African Marsh Harriers, African Harrier Hawks, Gabar Goshawks, Little-banded Goshawks, Little Sparrowhawks, Wahlberg's Eagles, Secretarybirds and Osprey. We have even seen Ospreys and Fish Eagles flying or perched along the Savuti Channel quite far away from any permanent water sources. The Savuti Channel is famous as an area with a high concentration of eagles and raptors and this area is internationally recognised as an IBA (Important Bird Area), particularly for birds of prey and waterbirds.

Some of the other special bird sightings include seeing one or two Goliath herons near the Zib Lagoon, seeing a few Allen's Gallinules in the short sedges in the marsh, seeing a few sightings of Wattled Cranes, seeing Osprey on a few occasions and seeing Slaty Egrets on a few occasions.

One night as we were returning to camp we came across an amazing sight. It was a group of Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters that were all perched next to each other, like clothes on a washing line, all fast asleep. On one branch there were nine of these beautiful green-blue birds, with a bright blue chinstrap and yellow throats, and on a lower branch there were another four birds huddled together.

Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters at DumaTau

Another amazing sighting occurred in camp on the night of the 11th. We were sitting around the fire, chatting, after all the guests had gone to bed when we heard a loud thump on the thatch roof over the dining room. Upon looking up we saw a black object on the roof. We were wondering what it was when it started to move. We then realised that it was a young Yellow-billed Kite. They had been nesting in a tree near the main area. This was obviously the chick that was taken one of its first flights. We thought that, because it was dark, it had crashed into the roof and were wondering what it was doing flying at night. The kite then ruffled its feathers and tried to stand up, when a brown object came hurtling down out of the tree above and hit it. One of the resident Wood Owls in the camp was attacking the young kite! The kite then took off and flew into a nearby tree where it was once again attacked by the owl. The kite tried to dodge the owl's talons and it fell out of the tree into the low-growing shrubbery nearby the dining room deck. A second Wood Owl appeared and both started calling. The kite seemed quite dazed by the attacks and lay on the ground, wings outstretched. Each time it moved one of the Wood Owls would swoop down and hit the poor youngster. After a while the kite realised that it would be better off if it just remained still. We then decided to leave the spectacle and go to bed. The next morning it was still dark and the kite was still lying on the ground in the same place. The owls were gone and were calling from the other side of the camp. As it started to get light the young kite then stood up and flew into a nearby tree. It was lucky that it had survived the night.

Yellow-billed Kite - DumaTau camp

There is still a great diversity of general game about and on most drives we have seen impala, warthog, kudu, hippo, crocodile, warthog, vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, Burchell's zebra, blue wildebeest, steenbok and giraffe.

Elephants are still around, although in lower numbers (due to there being a fair amount of water spread out throughout the woodlands and because of the thicker bush) and we have seen them on most drives. One morning we were driving towards camp when, lo and behold, we came across a herd of 50 elephants drinking and swimming in Osprey Lagoon. It was a great sight. The females and youngsters were all at the edge drinking, while a group of approximately 15 males were submerging themselves quite deep in the water (with only their heads and trunks visible) - obviously having a great time. Some of them were trunk-wrestling, while others were mounting each in the water.

We were lucky enough to still see some of the scarcer antelope this month. One morning we came across a magnificent sable antelope bull in the mopane woodlands. He was fairly shy and as we approached he headed slowly off into the thickets. He was a magnificent creature. We have also had a few good sightings of a herd of roan antelope that have been seen in the vicinity of the airstrip. This herd consists of approximately 12 to 13 antelope, of which at least three are young calves. This is a very good sign as these are considered and endangered species.

Roan antelopes at DumaTau

We've had good sightings of some smaller mammals this month, despite the grass length. The family of aardwolves are still moving around Dish Pan Open Area and we have some good sightings of them (we have even been lucky enough to see them on a few occasions during the day - they are typically nocturnal creatures). The three pups are growing up quite quickly now and we are expecting them to leave the area soon.

The family of black-backed jackals that lives around Dish Pan Open Area is also doing well and we have seen them on a regular basis. One afternoon, we noticed that there quite a few jackals feeding on termites that were coming out of the ground. In fact there were at least ten black-backed jackals gathered at the area where the termites were emerging. It was great to watch them as they ran around and jumped up into the air to grab the flying insects.

black-backed jackals in the Savuti channel

Other sightings of smaller mammals include a sighting of a serval one night, a sighting of a striped polecat (by Herbert - one of the film crew filming the two cheetah in our area), a good sighting of a white-tailed mongoose, and a few sightings of Selous mongoose in the floodplains. Other more common smaller creatures we have seen this month include Smith's bush squirrels, lesser bushbabies (at night), large and small-spotted genets, banded and dwarf mongoose.

The two male cheetah known as the Savuti Boys were seen twice, both times around Dish Pan Open Area. On the morning of the 7th they were seen resting in the shade of some Feverberry Croton trees on the southern side of the grassland. In the afternoon they were still in the same area.

This month we had about nine sightings of leopard. On the 1st of January an unidentified leopard was seen on the eastern side of Savuti Camp. It had killed a jackal and was feeding on it. On the 5th Ona spotted the big DumaTau male leopard lying up in a large Sausage Tree near "the Bottleneck". He then came down from the tree and walked across the open grassland towards the scrubby woodland on the northern side of the Savuti Channel. We followed him for quite a while; he was quite unconcerned about our presence. This leopard has made an amazing recovery from his injury to his front paw and is now only limping very slightly. We had just left him when Ona spotted a female leopard following on behind the male. It was the Rock Pan Female which seemed to be lactating.

On the 7th Mr T had a great leopard day. In the morning he found an unknown male leopard lying up in a tree on the southern bank of the Savuti Channel, near Letsumo Sign. That afternoon Brad and Kristi came across the Zib Female and her sub-adult cub walking in the floodplains. Mr T responded to the sighting and when he arrived there the young leopard was watching some hippos that were coming out of the water to start grazing. The mother and cub then headed back towards the tree-line, leaving the hippos in the floodplains. Mr T then headed back towards the camp for dinner. Right outside the camp he came across another leopard, which quickly slunk off into the bushes. The next morning as we were heading out on the morning drive we found a sub-adult leopard right outside camp. It was lying on a fallen tree and the early morning light was just catching it. It was quite beautiful. We identified the leopard as the Osprey sub-adult. Just above the young leopard was the almost-finished remains of an impala kill in the tree. The leopard then walked down the fallen trunk and at the bottom it met up with its mother, who had been lying unseen in the thicker bush. Both then headed off into the dense shrubbery.

On the afternoon of the 20th Brad and Kristi were driving near "Mopane Road Junction", after a hard day of sanding down furniture, when they came across the DumaTau Pack of wild dogs. They noticed that some of the dogs were chittering at the base of a tree. Brad and Kristi then realised that there was in fact a female leopard in the tree. It was the Rock Pan female. The dogs eventually headed on and the leopard then came down from the tree and amazingly out of the nearby bushes came a tiny leopard cub. This was the first sighting of the Rock Pan female's cub! What a lucky find, and what an amazing drive!

We have also had a fair number of lion sightings this month. On the 2nd two of the Savuti Males were seen resting near the eastern side of Dish Pan Open Area. On the 3rd a lioness from the LTC Pride joined the males and was seen mating with one of them. The male with whom she was seen mating had a very swollen front paw and was limping quite badly. They were seen in the same area over the next two days and then they disappeared. On the 12th Mr T found one of the Savuti Males resting in the bushes on the northern bank of Dish Pan Open Area.

On the morning of the 11th the Selinda Female and her two cubs were seen to the north-east of camp. We have not seen her for a few weeks now and the previous time that she was seen she was still in the vicinity of Kings Pool Camp. We heard from the Kings Pool guides that two male lions that usually stay on the Namibian side of the river had crossed the border and entered into the area in which the lioness had been moving. The lioness was probably worried about the safety of the two cubs and therefore came back towards DumaTau. In the afternoon of the 11th the lioness was out hunting and had left the two cubs behind in the bushes. They were obviously bored and hungry and as we watched them they got up and headed towards the camp, looking for the lioness and calling softly. We watched as the two cubs hid in the bushes as a large herd of elephants passed nearby, and after the elephants had left, they carried on walking towards the camp.

The DumaTau wild dogs were also seen this month on a few occasions. The DumaTau Pack consists of 10 adults and six pups/sub-adults. On the 1st they were found chasing impala near the "Old Mopane Bridge". In the afternoon they were seen a little further up the Savuti Channel chasing impala in the open grassland. It was a great sighting, with the dogs chasing some impala through a herd of elephants. The elephants got a fright and there was much running around and trumpeting. The next day they headed into the Selinda Concession but on the 11th they had returned to our area and were seen in resting near a mopane pan near the Main Rd. The next day they were seen running in the woodlands near Chobe 1. They were heading towards Kings Pool Camp along the river.

Until next month,

The DumaTau Team


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Kwando Safari Camps Update - January 07

Lagoon camp               Jump to Lagoon Camp
• The two male cheetahs returned to the Lagoon area after spending more than a week in the Lebala area. They were found relaxing in the shade of a tree with very full bellies.
• The Lagoon pack of dogs continues to be of great value to the guests. They are seen almost on a daily basis and the guides suspect that the Alfa female might be pregnant. They created a lot of excitement when they hunted and killed an impala only 2 km from camp.
• Small breeding herds and some bull elephants with very big tusks have been found in the afternoons drinking from the river.
• Reptile sightings have been excellent, with 2 African rock pythons, a black mamba, rock monitor and Nile monitor being seen. The birding also stayed very good, with all the summer migrants still in attendance. Wattle cranes, ground hornbills, tawny eagles, brown snake eagles and African fish eagle were some of the many other birds seen in the area.
• Night drives have been very productive with caracal, African civet, African wildcat, spotted genet and a giant eagle owl being seen.
• General game sightings continue to very good, with lots of zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, tsessebe, waterbuck, red lechwe, and on some occasions even roan antelope being found.
• Mongoose sightings were again very good, with slender mongoose, dwarf mongoose, banded mongoose and yellow mongoose being found. Porcupine and honey badgers was also sighted on some of the drives.

Kwara & Little Kwara camps               Jump to Kwara & Little Kwara camps
A pride of four lions, consisting of three adult females and one sub adult male have been very active in the area. They were followed whilst hunting but they did not manage to kill.
• The female leopard was found hunting on the plains. She was a bit nervous and the guides decided to give her some space so that she could concentrate on getting a meal.
• Cheetah sightings were fantastic.  A shy female with two eight month old cubs were found and she was observed teaching the cubs how to stalk their prey. The cubs and guests then got to watch her take down a big impala ram. The three brothers were also spotted hunting at Tsum-Tsum plains, but they did not succeed.
• The packs of thirteen dogs have been staging kills all over the area. In one instance, they managed to kill two adult impala and a baby impala in one hunt, all in the space of nine minutes. Another pack of ten dogs also took down three impala in one go and went on to rest in the shade after feeding.
• All of a sudden, big breeding herds of elephant as well as big old bachelor bulls have been found feeding on the flood plains. This is very strange for this time of the year, as they normally prefer feeding in the woodlands in the rainy season.
• Good sightings of spotted hyena, black backed jackal and side-striped jackal are being reported on the night drives.
• Big herds of zebra and giraffe as well as impala and Tsessebe on the plains continue to deliver good photographic opportunities for the guests.
• Banded and dwarf mongoose were seen on some of the drives. African wild cats, serval, large spotted genet and a civet were seen on the night drives.
• Many large, Africa rock pythons as well as puff adders and black mambas have been seen on the drives. Wattle cranes also moved in to the area and all the other summer migrants continue to provide excellent birding.
• Several guests have taken the additional scenic flight activity. Accompanied by their guide and a pilot with a keen eye, they have had breathtaking narrated journeys right up to the panhandle and have seen excellent game, including large herds of buffalo.

Lebala camp               Jump to Lebala Camp
A single lioness was located near twin- pools, sleeping. After a while, she got up and started moving away. The game drives followed her and she led them to her den where she had two 4-month-old cubs hidden. She created more excitement when she killed a warthog almost in the camp. She managed to kill another warthog after a couple of days, so her cubs were in very good condition when they were seen.
• A shy male leopard was found hunting near Nari pan during the night drive but was left alone as he seemed nervous. Another young male was found near John’s pan, he was very relaxed and in very good condition. Lastly a very big male leopard found hunting red lechwe near BB spot, he missed and disappeared into the thick bush.
• A very relaxed and well-fed female cheetah was found near near BB spot. Tracks of two more cheetahs were found and followed and this resulted in two males being found near old hippo-pools. Another two solitary males were seen moving through the area. They were very nervous and did not stay long.
• Huge breeding herds, some of them up to 500 elephant in the herds had been coming out of the mopane woodland to feed on the floodplains. This is extraordinary for this time of the year, and created big excitement.
• The hyena den is still very active and many hours are spent watching the pups frolicking. One of the adults brought back a big piece of giraffe neck to the den and there was some good viewing of them feeding.
• General game sightings continue to be very good, with lots of zebra, impala, wildebeest, warthogs, tsessebe, waterbuck and giraffe being seen.
• Good sightings of African wildcat, hunting rodents, reported on almost all the night drives. Mongoose sightings were also very good, with banded, dwarf, yellow and slender mongoose being seen.
• The birding continues to be very good. European swallows were seen feeding on termites and most of the summer residents are still around. Black-kites, yellow-billed kites, black shouldered kites and many of the eagles reported being seen. Wattle cranes and slaty egrets were some of the water birds that were seen. Very good sightings of black mambas, boom slang, night adders and spotted bush snakes also reported.

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Jack's & San Camps update - January 07                Jump to Jack's & San Camps

Happy New Year!

As Super drove out onto the rapidly drying pans late one afternoon, he expected to show his guests the awesome spectacle of the saltpans and its flat 360-degree disk of horizon, but he saw something that wasn't quite right. At first heat-distorted grey lumps appeared but as he got closer it became apparent that they were in fact a group of nine elephants lumbering at their ease across the pan to the astonishment of guides and guests alike.

With the migration now in full swing not only zebra in their thousands, but red hartebeest and calving wildebeest have been seen. The attendant predators are following hot on their heels. Spotted hyaena have returned to the areas and have been heard calling in and around camp at night. The lions are also in the area.

The rock stars of Jack's, the meerkats, continue to prosper, and two in the troop are pregnant which will be a nice addition to the colony that is already 16 strong. Some sad news though, the Kalahari's ancient sentinel and national monument, Chapman's Baobab was defaced by a thoughtless visitor. The inhabitants of the nearby cattle posts helped Jack's guides in identifying the culprit and the police are hot on his heels, demonstrating the local community's commitment to, and cooperation with, tourism.

Monthly Rainfall: 15mm
Average Temp: 38ºC

Go to Page 2

 

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