(Page 1 of
Page 1 Updates
Info and updates from Wilderness Safaris.
North Island Dive Report from
Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in
Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in
Monthly update from Selinda & Zibalianja Camps in
Kwando Safaris game reports.
Monthly update from Mombo
Camp in Botswana.
update from Jack's & San Camps in Botswana.
Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in
Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in
Monthly update from Jao
Camp in Botswana.
Monthly update from Vumbura Plains in
Monthly update from Jacana Plains in
Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in
Turtle news from Rocktail
Bay in South Africa.
Monthly Dive report from Rocktail
Bay in South Africa.
Rare sighting of Cattle Egrets at Little Kulala.
Safaris Updates - March 2007
North Island Tortoise release
having purchased North
1997, Wilderness Safaris immediately
reintroduced tortoises as only
a few had survived the early traders/pirates
and subsequent coconut plantation
In January 2007, we
were delighted when the owners of Anonyme
Island approached us with the offer
to donate their seven captive Giant
Aldabran Tortoises to North Island,
where the animals would be able to
roam around freely. With another 3
adult males, 2 females and 2 immature
males on their way, things could not
look more promising in the "shelled" world.
So we eagerly accepted the donation
and started the necessary preparations.
Indeed, apart from the occasional e-mail
joke between the present owners and their
future new wardens on some claimed specific
dietary preferences of each individual
tortoise, things were serious and substantial
thinking ahead had to be done before
getting the friendly giants over on a
one-way ticket! Our major concern was
that, however unlikely, one of the newcomers
might carry a disease or parasite which
could infect our resident reptiles. Another
concern was the possible introduction
of unwanted invader plants via undigested
seeds deposited in the tortoises' droppings
onto our painstakingly rehabilitated
Island. Not to mention the logistical
challenge of the required the transport
to get the heavyweights safely to their
We also needed to decide on which side
of the island the animals would be eventually
released. Most of the tortoises presently
on the Island live on the plateau on
the east, with only a few solitary individuals
in the forest on the higher parts. Only
on rare occasions a single tortoise was
seen walking from the east to the west,
where they apparently never stayed for
long. Experts such as Jeanne Mortimer,
Justin and Ron Gerlach, Katy Beaver and
Lindsay Chong-Seng were therefore consulted,
and the resulting decision was to construct
a quarantine pen at West Beach. As for
the transfer equipment, we began modifying
crates but soon abandoned the idea and
reverted to the cleaning of aggregate
bags with handles and poles for the transport
from the pen to the barge on Anonyme
Tortoise droppings often
contain undigested or partly digested
plant material, therewith making the
chance for introduction of unwanted
invader plants from their original
home a realistic risk, which can be
avoided by keeping them temporarily
penned so their droppings can be safely
The 24th February was
the big day when North Island's Environment
Officer, together with two other staff
members with past experience on moving
tortoises during our rat eradication,
finally travelled to Anonyme, where
we joined with an enthusiastic Project
Manager and his staff for the safe
and least traumatic moving of the unassuming
Anonyme Island tortoise
North Island rented the IDC barge Maza
especially for the occasion, because
of its door that can be opened after
beaching considerably simplifying the
carrying of the seven heavy animals (weights
were later established to vary from the
lightweight female of 69kg to the heaviest
male pushing the scale to 141kg). Even
the aggregate bags appeared to be unnecessary
to get the animals down to the beach.
Once lifted over the pen wall, the walking
animals were gently guided down to the
beach instead, from where they got another
lift onto the barge, where palm leaves
were spread out on the deck as a welcoming
carpet. All went surprisingly smoothly
and quickly, with skipper Mazarin and
his team proving to be experienced with
moving tortoises and genuinely caring
for the animals.
How it all began: Tortoises
put in a big open bag on Anonyme; they
were then gently coached into walking
from their pen and subsequently
lifted over the pen wall...to the barge.
Walking to the barge
Some were easy to
get to the barge.......whilst others
needed to be carried.
It was reassuring to
see how quickly the animals seemed
to calm down after the initial panic
of finding themselves temporarily separated
and lifted up in the air and deposited
in a totally new and strange environment.
Especially Harry, the biggest male,
made some frantic efforts to push the
makeshift barricade set up during the
loading of the animals, and his bumping
against the walls and fast walking
on board had left us with no doubt
about his anger and fear. Once at sea,
with the gentle rocking barge and occasional
waves splashing onboard, they soon
settled calmly in a corner huddled
together in little groups.
a successful embarkation, the Environment
Officer had envisaged a smooth trip
of about five hours with the animals
on the barge. Hmm, things did not work
out so easy, though! Only a few minutes
at sea, an alarmed skipper reported
a seriously overheating engine, thereby
making it unsafe to attempt to stick
to the initial plan to go directly
to North Island. A stop had to be made
at Mahé instead.
the crew called upon their mechanic,
the Environment Officer took possession
of the company car to drive up and
down the coastal road in search of
a reassuring meal of patatran for the
stranded immigrants. The concerns of
the humans about the interrupted transfer
did not seem to affect the animals,
as they eagerly accepted the food and
began chewing calmly without any traces
of sea sickness! They also seemed to
enjoy getting watered down. The deck
started to quickly turn into a used
tortoise pen in follow-up of the happy
chewing. Caring for the animals on
a wobbling deck led to the unavoidable
smothering of trousers and shoes in the
process, and one can only feel sympathy
with the disapproving frowning from the
bed and breakfast owner whom the Environment
Officer late that evening approached
for a room to overnight after having
been given a solid pledge from harbour
security to take over the vigil for the
first part of the night.
Both crew and Environment
Officer let out a genuine sigh of relief
on behalf of their shelled friends
on deck when the skipper and mechanic
declared the engine to be fit for continuation
of the trip early the next morning.
Enthusiastic phone calls were made
to North Island where the support team
had set everything in place to move
the tortoises to their quarantine pen
immediately after arrival.
The sea trip
was once again welcomingly uneventful.
The tortoises appeared to be surprisingly
quick in adapting to the swaying movements
of their new environment, with most
of them eagerly eating the new greens
dumped on deck before departure.
the unloading on North Island's East
Beach soon posed a new challenge. With
Maza's door not fully reaching the
beach and the strong waves bouncing
the barge up and down roughly, the
lifting of the heavy and uncooperative
tortoises from their temporary residence
onto our beach proved to be a potential
danger both for the precious animals
as well as the helpers.
Unloading on North
Island's East Beach
With a rough sea and
the barge door refusing to open entirely,
the unloading became a risky challenge,
but many staff members assisted enthusiastically
and all ended well. We never found
out which group was most tired that
evening, though: the North Islanders
or the new arrivals...
therefore hugely relieved when the
last animal had finally been safely
deposited on terra firma. Some rather
startled tortoises subsequently started
to frantically crawl towards the fringe
vegetation and on to the grass, where
excited staff members and guests surrounded
them and kept an eye on the ones staying
behind whilst the first animals were
loaded onto gators for further transport
to the west side of the island.
Harry proved to be a powerful unhappy
chappy, requiring us to put a wired
canopy over the loading space of the
gator. Once deposited in the pen, there
were some strong but futile attempts
to break through one of the beams, but
after noticing the food, the drinking
pool and each other they soon resided
into a contented huddle again under the
watchful concerned eye of the Environment
All animals were moved to their
quarantine pen at West Beach
The prescribed three weeks of quarantine
passed away uneventfully after the first
four days when the shyer animals initially
refused to eat and kept to themselves
withdrawn in their shells for most of
the time. It was therefore heart-warming
to finally see all animals becoming familiar
with their caretakers who bravely carted
off their droppings and patiently gathered
a variety of foods for them several times
a day. The fun moments were during the
daily filling of their makeshift pool
with fresh water, when each tortoise
was approached gently to further gain
their trust. It was proven, once again,
that a little bit of juicy fruit bribery
can go a long way in speeding up that
process!Once again, a happy milestone
was reached on 16th March when all seven
healthy tortoises were released, after
being numbered the previous day and weighed
just before being given their freedom.
Their first steps into the bush took
place under the watchful eye of the Environment
and Landscape Teams, with delighted guests
partaking in the happy occasion. The
weights were added to shell measurements
previously made by Dr Mortimer. Together
with photos highlighting individual morphological
differences and notes on behaviour observed
during their captivity, these records,
per new tortoise, were added to the existing
database which contains most of the tortoises
already present on the island.
Weighing before release
Over the next days, the place of release
was visited daily to verify if the newcomers
were doing alright as this was the first
time in their lives when they were no
longer fed by humans. All our worries
proved to be totally unnecessary, for
the animals seemed to be adapting remarkably
quickly once again, independently foraging
in the vegetation. We definitely need
many more tortoises to keep the wild
passionfruit under control in the newly
rehabilitated area, but the happy seven
sure do make their contribution! We now
eagerly await their future moves: how
long will it take before the newcomers
will eventually meet up with the old
residents (estimated at about 25, the
11 penned babies not included)? Imagine
the shock for our biggest male Brutus
(192 kg) to finally meet some healthy
competition for females from a certain
Harry (141 kg)!
And as all happy stories have a happy
ending, we should add that Harry has
enthusiastically taken up residence around
our Sunset Bar. It remains as yet unknown,
though, whether he has trespassed on
the staff code of conduct by ordering
sundowners, and if so, whether he will
be able to settle his account by the
end of this month!
North Island Environmental News
The rehabilitation of the award-winning island is moving on well with the environmental team hard at work: 8 000 new trees have been planted in three rehabilitated areas, and preparations for the reintroduction of Seychelles White-eyes and endemic freshwater terrapins have begun. The White-eyes are expected in June with the terrapins due to arrive in the second half of the year.
More exciting arrivals came in the form of the Aldabra Giant Tortoise. Only a handful existed on the Island when Wilderness Safaris arrived to begin the rehabilitation process, but following donations of captive tortoises from all over the Seychelles, the population rose to 25 adults and a number of hatchlings. A further seven tortoises were recently donated by Anonyme Island (see story above) and have been kept in quarantine for the past three weeks before being released along West Beach. The largest (a male called ‘Harry’) weighed in at 141kg, while the smallest was a female weighing 69kg.
Another Rhino baby at Mombo Jump
to Mombo Camp
Great news from Mombo is that the Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project has produced another white rhino calf – the 11th since reintroduction. Poster Mpho found the week-old male during a patrol. The newborn, who has been named Delta, was born to mother Maun and likely father Sergeant, the territorial bull of the area. This is the second calf born to Maun since her release in the Mombo area.
Maputaland Sea Turtle Season ends Jump
to Rocktail Bay Lodge
It is the end of the turtle season for 2006-2007, and a great season it was too, with 304 Loggerhead nests and a total of 98 Leatherback Turtles nests. These figures show similar results to the 2005/2006 season with an increase in the Loggerhead Turtle numbers. Overall, the turtle monitors were able to successfully tag 79 individuals and inserted 33 identifying microchips. The microchips, recently introduced, serve as a means of identifying turtles which have lost tags in the ocean and will hopefully contribute to the collection of longer term data.
Overall, the season’s total includes 403 confirmed nests of both species and 576 turtle tracks representing emergences onto the beach from the ocean. Twelve turtles that had been recorded in previous seasons were seen again, the oldest being two Loggerheads tagged 17 years ago: one tagged previously in the 1988/1989 season and the other in the 1989/1990. A whopping number of turtles were ‘adopted’ and we’d like to thank everyone who welcomed a turtle into their family.
After a successful trial period this past rainy season we are happy to announce an extension of our operating season in the Kafue: Shumba and Lufupa camps will no longer close at the end of November but rather on the 4th January 2008. With the aid of helicopters, specialized swamp boats and recent infrastructural developments (roads, bridges and strategic airstrips) we are now able to provide an exciting experience in one of the wildest and most remote areas in Africa. Christmas and New Year Kafue packages will follow shortly.
Kalamu Tented Camp will open its doors in July this season. An all-weather airstrip has been constructed at this camp which will negate lengthy transfers and ensure that all our guests will not be missing out on any of their morning or afternoon activities.
Kalamu Tented Camp is setting new environmental standards for the industry. Great care has been taken to minimize our impact on this pristine wilderness site. Solar power and sophisticated waste water processing plants are some of the initiatives to be found in this charming tented camp.
The River Club is the place to see some of the highest water levels experienced on the Zambezi River for many years. The Victoria Falls can be accessed from the comfort of The River Club where a soft refurb of the rooms has enhanced this superb product.
Savuti and Little Vumbura camps have successfully been rebuilt and reopened to great excitement. Both these camps have been newly upgraded with spectacular soft finishes and with a rigid building process that limited any impact on the environment. Evidence of this was the cheetah that gave chase to an impala right in front of the Savuti building team of 40-odd people!
A new Ruckomechi Camp is scheduled to be built. Comprising five tents, it will be located a few kilometers away from the site of the existing Ruckomechi and will essentially replace the existing one when it is complete. Little Makalolo will be closed for December, January and February and will be putting up new guest tents and doing general refurbishments. The improved camp will reopen in March 2008.
/ North Island
North Island Dive Report
- March 07 Jump
March started off unexpectedly with some windy
periods and the odd bit of rain which was not been entirely unpleasant
but definitely unexpected for this time of year. Generally March
is known for calm seas and good diving conditions; this year as
a result of a cyclone off Madagascar we found there was still some
light to medium winds about.
The second half of March however made up for
the adverse beginning and we have had plate glass flat seas,
great visibility and gorgeous sunsets. The water temperature
is at 29°C on the bottom and
30°C on the surface with the visibility hanging consistently
around the 20-30 metre mark. The dolphins have made an appearance
after a long absence and we had two memorable "in water" encounters
with a pod of these awesome creatures. In the shallows in front
of the restaurant we have also seen the return of the juvenile
Lemon Sharks. These guys (and girls) are only about a foot long
and can be seen regularly in water only a few inches deep chasing
tiny fish around for a snack.
We have had the pleasure of introducing a number of people to
the underwater world in the last few weeks by doing Discover
Scuba Diving courses with them. Two went all the way to become
PADI Open Water divers and had some great dives along the way
- we wish them a memorable and exciting diving future.
We have also had some great dives on one of
our less-dived reefs called "Outer Banks" and have
consistently been seeing 10 to 20 Lionfish on a dive as well
as a number of the Giant Sleepy Sharks. On one dive we had
a very curious Giant Sleepy Shark come and spend a few minutes
with us on a dive. These sharks are absolutely harmless and
the only danger is they may make you want to curl up next to
them in a cave and also go to sleep. It is great that we are
continuously seeing three or more of these beautiful sharks
on this particular dive site.
The great conditions have also let us get out and have a few
night dives, which has really put the icing on the cake after
a great day on the ocean. The tranquil feeling of a fantastic
sunset with the calm blue waters lapping at the boat, the moon
rising, the stars twinkling in the sky and the refreshing cool
night really puts you in a nirvana state of mind even without
We had the excitement of discovering a new reef
just 4km off North Island which we may name the "Treasure Chest".
We found this reef full of all the colours and varieties of the
many species of reef fish common to this area as well as some
good coral growth and a visit from a small White-tip Reef Shark
and two inquisitive Barracudas. We will definitely be visiting
this reef regularly and I look forward to giving you news on
its "treasures" in the near future.
On the fishing side of things we have not caught many fish,
probably because of the waters being a bit warm. However we have
seen the Dorados coming back and had two of these beautiful and
strong fish coming onto the boat.
We are all looking forward to the next month as the great conditions
are expected to continue all through April with flat seas, good
visibility and great sunsets.
update - March 07 Jump
Hello to everyone from all of us here at DumaTau
Camp. We have had another fantastic month here in the Linyanti.
DumaTau is looking great and the management and staff have all
done a fantastic job this last month.
The guiding team this month has been Kane (the new Head Guide),
Theba (Mr T) and Ollie. Brian has been helping out with the guiding
a fair bit, but will be filling more of an environmental position
this year. Ban was also in camp for a short period this month,
but due to health reasons he has been away for quite a while. He
is now back again and is looking much better. While Savuti has
been closed we have also had two of their new guides (Tsepho and
Thuso) joining us on drives in order to familiarise themselves
with the area. All the guides have all done a fantastic job and
the game viewing has been great.
We have come to the end of summer now and the skies still have
clouds on most days but the rains are almost gone. This month we
have had very little rain (approximately 30 mm) and the bush is
drying out quickly. On many an afternoon we have seen the clouds
build up in the distance (giving us great shows of lightning, where
it appears that the horizon is being electrocuted and the sky is
ripping open with streaks of light) and yet on each occasion the
rain passed us by. Temperatures are still high and we have had
a few hot days this month where the midday thermometer read 35
degrees Celsius in the shade. The minimum temperature this month
was 19 degrees Celsius, and most mornings have been pleasant.
Unlike last year, there is not much water lying around in the
woodlands and the seasonal pools are almost all dry everywhere.
The hippo pool on Mopane Road, which last year this time had at
least one hippo in it, is now just a tiny puddle that not even
a terrapin could hide in. If there is not much rain next month
then we will have a very dry winter indeed.
With the standing water in the woodlands rapidly disappearing
we have started to see elephants returning to the Linyanti River
and the lagoons - very early in the season. Elephants are seen
on most drives now and it appears that one of our resident winter
bulls (Dennis) has returned to the camp area already. He has once
again started to cause chaos by pulling off the balustrading from
the walkways, and Zoot and the camp-hands are having to fix them
on an almost daily basis. We have also seen quite a few breeding
herds this month and we have had a few memorable sightings of big
herds (of between 50 and 100 elephants) coming down to the water
to drink and mud bathe. Big herds like these are usually only seen
in our winter and spring months, when all the elephants from the
surrounding woodlands congregate along the Linyanti/Kwando River,
which is then the only source of water for many, many kilometres.
The bush is now starting to dry up a bit and the grass is all
a golden colour. Visibility should now start to become slightly
better as autumn and winter approach, although it is still very
thick in the scrublands at the moment.
The birdlife has been great this month and many of the summer
migrants are still here. At the beginning of the month the Carmine
Bee-eaters were still following the cars around the open plains.
It was beautiful to have these brightly coloured birds flying so
close to us, performing aerial acrobatics as they swoop in to grab
the disturbed grasshoppers and other insects. Towards the end of
the month most of them have left the area, heading further north
again. We are still seeing the African Golden Orioles fly between
the trees and the icy blue Woodlands Kingfisher holding its wings
open just after landing. Many of the migrant raptors are still
around and we have still been having regular sightings of Wahlberg's
Eagles and Amur Falcons. The Barn Swallows are still swooping over
the grasslands catching insects and we are still seeing Paradise
Flycatchers flitting through the Mangosteen trees in camp.
Soon the migrants will be leaving us, the residents however will
remain. Ground Hornbills are regularly seen striding across in
small family groups in the open grasslands catching insects, snakes
and smaller vertebrates. Another interesting bird to watch in the
open grasslands is the Secretarybird. These are basically walking
Eagles and are great predators of snakes, mice and other small
This area is particularly well known for the number of Eagles
and is considered an internationally Important Birding Area, particularly
for Raptors and waterbirds. The Bateleur Eagle is a particularly
well known eagle of the African savannah, although the numbers
of this beautiful eagle are steadily decreasing throughout (mainly
due to habitat destruction, poisoning by farmers and lack of big
trees in which to nest). We are very fortunate in this area to
still have a particularly high concentration of these beautiful
eagles. Towards the end of the month we were driving in the riverine
woodland when a large shadow passed over the vehicle. We looked
up to see a sub-adult Bateleur flying low over us. Then, from above,
an adult male Bateleur swooped down and attacked the sub-adult.
The sub-adult swerved out of the way and looped upwards and the
adult male gave chase again. He was obviously trying to chase the
young male out of his territory. As they passed over us again the
adult dropped down from above with talons outstretched. The young
eagle tried to avoid the adult and had to turn completely upside-down
in the sky lifting his talons up in defence. We watched this extraordinary
aerial combat for a while before both birds disappeared over the
The water levels in the Linyanti River and the
lagoons are still very high and the floodplains are quite moist.
A lovely herd of red lechwe can often be seen wading in the shallow
water near Zib Mangosteens and there are still many White-faced
Whistling Ducks along the river. We have seen very few Wattled
Cranes, with only one reported sighting for the month. The water
in the Savuti Channel managed to reach the second corner in the
Channel (at the end of "Hippo
Bones"), but is now retreating again. When we receive the
floodwaters from the Angolan highlands, in a few months time, the
water will probably push up the channel some more.
The general game has been great this month and
we are regularly seeing Burchell's zebra, wildebeest, impala,
kudu, giraffe, warthog, vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, hippo
and steenbok on the game-drives. Waterbuck are seen on occasion
and even a herd of tsessebe (the fastest of all antelope) seems
to have taken up residence near "Letsumo
Sign". This antelope is not often seen here in the Linyanti.
Of the smaller animals dwarf, banded and slender mongooses are
regularly seen on the day drives, while lesser bushbabies, African
wildcats, springhares and scrub hares are seen on most night drives.
Spotted hyaena have been spotted fairly regularly this month. Some
of the more unusual animals reported by the guides this month include
a few sightings of serval, one sighting of an African civet and
a few sightings of honey badgers and porcupines. Both of the latter
two have even been seen from the boardwalks in camp at night. Brian
was fortunate enough to get two sightings of the elusive aardvark
on separate occasions during the month (both quite late at night,
moving around in the open grasslands of the Savuti Channel).
Cheetah were seen on at least eight days this
month most of which were of the two "Savuti Boys".
These two males have been seen regularly in the area for about
the last ten years. On the morning of the 22nd the brothers were
seen resting on the large termite heap on the eastern side of
Dish Pan Clearing, where the large Boscia Tree used to grow.
They seemed hungry and were staring out intently over the grasslands
looking for prey. After a while they spotted some impala and
headed in their direction, but the impala had seen them and quickly
ran into the thick bushes on the channel bank.
On the afternoon of the 11th Grant Atkinson, who was driving for
Kings Pool Camp, reported seeing an unknown female cheetah and
her cub near Rock Pan, in the Savuti Channel. She had just killed
an adult male impala and the two were feeding on it. The next morning
Kane found the female and her cub just to the south of Rock Pan.
They were resting on a termite heap. The female was very relaxed
but the cub was a little nervous of the vehicles and after a while
it urged its mother on and the two headed off into the thicker
scrub where we left them.
Leopard-wise, the Zibadianja Female and her sub-adult cub were
seen on a few occasions this month. The cub is growing up quickly
now and we believe that it will soon be leaving the company of
its mother. On the night of the 9th we were driving along the floodplains
near Kubu Lagoon when we noticed fresh footprints of two leopards
in the road. As we turned the next corner there were the two leopards
walking down the road ahead of us. They moved off the road into
the longer grass as we approached. The sub-adult was in a boisterous
mood and started stalking her mom. As the mother came close to
the area where the cub was hiding the cub jumped out and tackled
her before running off into the long grass again. We left the area,
and headed back to camp, as the younger leopard was again trying
to ambush the female. The youngster was certainly having a good
More leopards were seen this month, all very exciting sightings.
The DumaTau male was seen only once this month. On the morning
of the 7th Grant Atkinson found him lying on a termite heap in
the middle of the open grasslands near Dish Pan clearing. He then
walked across the grassland and headed up into the surrounding
scrub. He walked along the road for a while, constantly scent-marking
and calling. He is much better now and the limp is hardly noticeable
We have also seen the Rock Pan Female a few times
this month. Since Brad and Kristi saw her two months ago with
her tiny cub, we have not seen her much. On the 9th she was spotted
with her cub on the southern embankment of the channel near "The Bottleneck".
She had killed an adult male impala and they were feeding on it.
They remained in the area the next day as well. The cub is still
skittish of vehicles, but we think it will relax over time. On
the 24th Ollie was approaching "Botsilo Pan" in the mopane
woodlands, when he found her and her cub lying out in the open
area that was the dried up pan. The cub was suckling. They remained
there watching her for a while until she got up and took the cub
off into the woodlands.
The camp female ("Osprey Female") was
seen only once this month, by Theba. She was feeding on a baboon
in a tree near Devastation Drive. A spotted hyaena was at the
base of the tree and when the leopard dropped the remains of
prey, the hyaena grabbed it and headed into the nearby thicket.
Even though the leopard is very skittish she has been in camp
quite a bit this month. She comes late at night when everyone
is sleeping and tries to go for the baboons that roost in the
Mangosteen trees. We often hear the baboons giving their alarm
barks late at night and in the morning we see her footprints
on the pathway between the kitchen and the main area.
Lions were seen often this month. The Savuti Pride
have reappeared after spending quite a while to the south of
the Savuti Channel where we have no roads. This pride is looking
healthy and consists of two adult females ("Isis" and "Savuti 2"),
two sub-adult males, two sub-adult females and two younger cubs.
On the morning of the 9th the pride was seen in the vicinity of
Rock Pan resting on the embankment. In the afternoon, when we returned
to view them, we found only the youngsters. The two adult females
were seen a short distance away heading out to hunt. That evening
Kane was starting to head back towards the camp for dinner and
had just left the grasslands of the Savuti Channel and headed into
the mopane woodlands near Green Pan. As he rounded the corner he
was surprised to find the two females lying panting nearby the
body of a large male giraffe that they had obviously just killed.
The lionesses were quite exhausted.
The next morning when we returned to the scene
the whole pride was at the carcass. A clan of spotted hyaenas
had also gathered in the area, hoping to steal the carcass from
the lions. There was a bit of interaction between the two species
as the hyaenas gathered and the lions drove them off. In the
afternoon at least 11 hyaenas had gathered and it appeared that
the lions may just lose their hard-earned kill. The next morning
when we appeared at the scene we found two large male lions at
the carcass - two of the Savuti Males. They had driven the hyaenas
back and were busy feeding on the carcass. The rest of the pride
were not in the area and we later found them a few kilometres
away at the area called "Giraffe Bones", resting. The
next day all the lions had left the giraffe carcass and the hyaenas
and vultures were cleaning up the last scraps.
The next morning we found the pride's tracks heading
towards camp and found them walking through the scrublands. They
were now hungry again and seemed to be moving purposefully in
a north-easterly direction. We followed them and they broke into
a trot. We could see that they were heading towards a large Camelthorn
tree where there was a baboon carcass (possibly put there by
a leopard?). It was going rotten and the lions had obviously
smelled the reeking meat from a distance. One of the sub-adults
reached the base of the tree first and seemed confused as to
how to get the meat down when the lioness "Savuti 2" ran in and jumped up and
grabbed the carcass down. There was a short scuffle and the lioness
showed the others that they should leave her alone by swatting
and growling at them. The others all retired to a short distance
away staring at the lioness feeding with wistful eyes. In the meantime
a journey of five giraffes had noticed the commotion and approached
quite closely to get a better view. They took a good look at what
was going on and then slowly departed from the area, with the lions
still hoping to get scraps from "Savuti 2" - to no avail.
The Selinda Female (SEL F 18) and her two cubs are all still healthy
and have been seen a few times this month. On the 19th they were
seen resting in the shade, lying nearby a large termite-heap with
a large hole in its base. This hole was the den of a family of
warthogs and we could see in the hole was a large male guarding
the entrance with his tusks. The lioness was obviously waiting
for the warthog family to give up on the siege and make a scarper
for it, but in the meantime, it was a stalemate and the lioness
was quite content to lie back and rest while waiting for something
to give. When we returned in the afternoon the warthog family had
obviously escaped and the lioness was still resting nearby.
Wild dogs were seen on two days this month. Both
of these sightings were of the DumaTau Pack, which now consists
of 16 dogs. On the 10th they were seen feeding on an adult male
impala near Rock Pan. On the 11th they were seen resting near "Big Bend"/ "Letsumo
Sign". We watched as they woke up and greeted each other in
the late afternoon and they then ran across the open grasslands
and headed into the thick bush on the southern embankment. We have
not seen them since and assume that they headed into the Selinda
Concession and then possibly off towards the Kwando Area.
We are looking forward to what April brings now.
The DumaTau Team
Camp update - March 07 Jump
to Kings Pool Camp
Game viewing along the Linyanti River is affected
by rainfall in the summer months. This year the river is running
high, but local rainfall has been limited to a few storms during
the course of the month.
This has resulted in better than normal elephant viewing and
throughout March there were a number of breeding herds active
along the river. On several occasions we were lucky to watch
the elephants crossing back through the river towards Botswana
and these events made for some great viewing. There was also
one sighting of a baby elephant that had been born just minutes
before. Giraffe were present in good numbers, and a highlight
was a fight between two males that ended with one animal bleeding
around the horns and driven away from a group of female giraffe
by the victorious male. Impala remained plentiful along the river,
and the last half of the month saw the males beginning to actively
gather their herds of females in preparation of the breeding
season. Kudu and waterbuck were sighted daily. There were a handful
of zebra sightings, as well as a couple of sightings of sable
antelope. Hippo numbers in the river were high throughout the
month, and we enjoyed many good sightings of hippo grazing out
of the water.
Predator viewing along the Linyanti was fairly good, with a
single lioness raising her two 6-month-old cubs providing us
with good viewing. For some days she was joined by two adult
males from the Savuti male coalition. More lion sightings came
in the form of the Border Boys, the male coalition that spend
their time crossing between the Namibian floodplains and the
woodlands on the Botswana side of the river. We saw three of
the group of six males moving along the river several times during
the month. Another group of lions, consisting of two adult females
and a subadult male appeared near the camp one day and killed
a waterbuck. This was made more exciting as it happened just
a few hundred metres from camp. We are still unsure of their
affiliations with the dominant males in the area.
Leopard viewing was good, and we saw two different males during
the month. One was hunting baboons at night, the other killed
an impala and dragged it into a tree near the river. A good number
of times we saw a young female close to Kings Pool, that the
guides believe to be the daughter of the Boscia female. Near
the end of the month we had our first sighting of her with her
very young cub which was a highlight. During the first part of
the month we did several trips to the Savuti Channel, and were
lucky to have several great sightings of the two male cheetah
as well as spotted hyaenas.
Birding was excellent, and the woodland fringing the river was
filled with Woodland and Grey-hooded Kingfishers as well as several
species of Orioles. Wattled Cranes, Saddle-billed Storks and
Fish Eagles were seen regularly along the waterway. Blue-cheeked
Bee-eaters added colour to the birding. A very rare sighting
was recorded of an Augur Buzzard, normally a raptor associated
with rock outcrops and cliffs.
Selinda & Zibalianja
Camps update - March 07 Jump
to Zibalianja Camp
It was a big task, but we have
done it (well almost). Selinda Camp's new main area is stunning
to say the very least. The daunting magnitude of creating such
a structure in a mere seven weeks was brushed aside and everyone
just got stuck in. The little finishing touches are currently
being attended to and the final refurbishment/adaptation of
the old main area is nearing completion. The "philosophy" of
what Dereck and Beverly would like our guests to experience
with this new building is printed in full below. It will give
you some insight into their deep love and commitment to Africa
and Nature, a love they want to share with all our visitors
and the Linyanti staff.
At Zibalianja Camp, it was business as usual
(how lucky for them), but they have had a chance to get into
some maintenance and there are a few "back of house" improvements
which will hopefully make the daily chores that little easier
One new addition to all the tents at Zib is
new "four-poster" mosquito
nets. These add even more romance to the tent interiors as
well as doing a great job of keeping the mozzis at bay!
If we thought the floods past Motswiri were big last year,
we are in for a surprise. Preliminary reports are that, for
this time of year, the Okavango is higher than it has been
in two decades. This bodes well for both our canoeing and game
On the birding side, all camps are seeing a flurry of nesting
activity by the local avifauna. Weavers, palm-thrushes, babblers,
and hornbills are all busy trying to multiply their species.
The Trails camps are going through the finals of their spruce-up
with the first walkers due towards the end of the month. We
had a small disaster when one of the trees casting its shade
on a tent at Mokoba camp went roots up! We are still assessing
what our options are - replant the downed tree (it's massive)
or rebuild the platform at another shaded site.
Although the reserve is looking green and the grass is high
and thick, rain has been in short supply since the wet festive
season we had. The result of this is that there is not much
water in the back country, forcing more and more game on
to the floodplains and the spillway. Large numbers of elephant
are once again evident and they are always a hit with our
Despite the lack of rainfall, the waters of the spillway have
started to rise yet again. This is a strong indication that
the watershed of the Kwando has received plenty precipitation.
Indeed Angola has had terrible floods and reports are that
the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi can all expect floods considerably
higher than the average.
Cat news! Two more lionesses are showing indications of a
good cub season in the offing. One is heavily pregnant and
the other is lactating so she probably has tiny cubs stashed
somewhere safe. The two cheetah 'boys' spent a good deal of
the last month on the floodplains near Zib. Their conquests
included two young ostrich and a wildebeest calf all in the
space of nine days.
Despite the general lack of leopard viewing at this time of
year due to the height of the vegetation, a number of males
have been seen. One in particular gave a grand showing outside
our CMU camp. Amber and her cub have been extremely scarce,
but this is normal for her until about May when she starts
gracing us with her presence again.
Apart from the spectacle of the tsessebe kill at Motswiri
Camp, this area has yielded good numbers and variety of plains
game - tsessebe, roan, zebra, wildebeest and kudu have all
been commonly sighted. Much like the floodplains to the east,
elephant are also far more prevalent than usual - drawn out
by the lack of rain.
More bird delights. Once the grass reaches its full wet-season
height (which is now), insectivorous birds need help in catching
their prey. The most ingenious of these are the Bee-eaters.
They are seen frequently hitching a ride on a large animal
as it wanders through the grass, kicking up grasshoppers and
the like. A warthog's back or saddling up on a tall Kori Bustard
is a great vantage point from which to hawk.
A "NATURAL" PHILOSOPHY FOR SELINDA
The design of the main area at Selinda sets the tone for our
visitors on arrival. The philosophy of our company is simple.
We firmly believe that there is no business without the environment
and as such we feel a part of Nature not apart from it.
As you enter, you will start seeing subtle themes, the first
of which is reflected in the blues, cool tones in the lounge,
a place where drinks are taken and you can relax to the tranquillity
of this WATER theme. It is accentuated by Keith Joubert's art
that takes you on a journey around the room and through the
four basic elements, the first of which is suggested in the
use of dug-out canoes, or mokoros, which he has worked in a
new crossover medium, somewhere between art and sculpture.
Step beyond this into the tea area, a sunken lounge/gathering
area and the last of the blue hints linger with references
to clouds in those colours and WIND is represented here as
the light silk billows to the slightest breeze. It is a place
to feel the cool wind on your face and close your eyes, evoking
the journey you will take shortly.
In the dining areas, where fresh food from the earth is served
with good, earthy wines from the cellar, EARTH tones allow
you to feel grounded and at home. It is an atmosphere that
makes you want to linger, almost in a Tuscan way, and be part
of the family.
After dinner your journey continues to the fire. A traditional
meeting place and storytelling arena where the final element
of FIRE completes the four corners of being grounded in life
and accepting Nature into your world. The accents around the
fire are enhanced with red blankets draped over the chairs
At Selinda Camp the design is practical and exciting, based
on that blurring of the lines between inside and out and also
on our understanding that we are Nature, not in opposition
to it. You will see this in the almost invisible barrier (cables
rather than balustrades) and art that can be weathered. The
visual lines (in the floors) lead your eye inside as you enter
and then outside when you are in the comfort of the lounge.
They don't trap you inside a building.
The Selinda is not a place to chase the Big Five - an archaic
hunting term, a philosophy we abhor, even though you will most
likely see lion, elephant, and buffalo - even cheetah or wild
dogs. But you will do it at their pace not ours, and in that
Selinda is more about reflection rather than the chase.
Here we invite you to also be still and to think about the
moments in life you have loved, and to make this one of them.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert - The Selinda
Camps Update - March 07
Lagoon camp Jump
• A single lioness was seen roaming through the area.
• A female leopard and her cub were seen feeding on an Impala kill. Two male leopards were also seen, both were very relaxed and one of them was sitting on top of a termite mound observing his territory.
• The pack of 6 wild dogs continue to be sighted in the Lagoon area. They have been found on numerous occasions, with full bellies and blood on their faces but no one actually saw them killing.
• Good sightings of chameleons were again reported. Three Hyena were seen hunting and killing an Impala. Another clan were seen feeding on a giraffe carcass. Genets, springhare and black backed jackals were also seen on some of the night drives.
• Small groups of elephants, breeding herds as well as bachelor groups, continue to be seen on the floodplains and on the riverbanks.
• General game is very good with Tsetsebee, warthog, wildebeest, steenbok, lechwe, zebra seen on most drives. Some guests were lucky and managed to get a good look at some sable antelope. A very rare sighting of a herd of Eland was also reported, they were seen in the Northern part of the
• Birding continues to be good with lots of birds of prey and some European bee-eaters being sighted. There are also still a few carmine bee-eaters around.
• A black mamba was seen on one of the night drives and a 4-meter African rock python was found sleeping in a tree.
• A single male lion was heard calling for a couple of nights. He was eventually tracked down and was found feeding on a Kudu kill. Another two males were also seen, moving South through the area.
• An excellent sighting of an unknown 2 year old male Leopard was reported. He was found sleeping on a termite mound and was very nervous at first but relaxed after a while. He allowed the game drive vehicle to get close enough for very good viewing.
• One female cheetah was seen hunting, and she was later seen moving South, towards the Lebala area.
• The Lagoon pack of 6 dogs were seen hunting in the area but no kills were seen. The pack of 16 dogs came over from the Lebala area and the Lagoon pack disappeared whilst they were around.
• Hyena, both species of Jackal, African wild cat, small spotted genet, civet, bat-eared fox and caracal was seen during the night drives.
• Small groups of elephants, breeding herds as well as bachelor groups, continue to be seen on the floodplains and on the riverbanks.
• General game is very good with Tsetsebee, warthog, wildebeest, steenbok, lechwe, zebra seen on most drives. Some guests were lucky and managed to get a good look at some roan antelope.
• A group of 36 banded mongoose were seen, as well as 3 porcupine, a civet and a honey badger.
• Birding continues to be good, especially the birds of prey, with Martial eagle, Black breasted snake eagle, Giant eagle owl, barn owl and pearl spotted owls being seen. Spoon bill storks and wattled cranes were also seen.
Kwara & Little Kwara camps Jump
& Little Kwara camps
• Three different prides of lions have been seen. The two big dominant males have joined up again with the rest of their pride (4 females and one sub adult male). They have been very active, hunting around the camp and airstrip and were seen feeding on a Tsessebe.
• A smaller pride consisting of 2 females and a year old cub were seen hunting around the mekoros station area. Another pride of five lions was seen killing a warthog.
• The famous leopard and cub were seen trying to hunt impala, as well as warthog. They were not successful and spent a lot of time relaxing in a tree.
• The coalition of three-brother cheetah was seen on numerous occasions. They looked very hungry at one stage but were later found with full bellies.
• A pack of 2 dogs appeared at Kwara camp one morning and the camp called the game drive vehicles back to come and have a look. They were very healthy looking, but did not spend much time in the area.
• Elephant numbers are slowly increasing in the area and quite a few bachelor herds as well as small breeding herds have been seen.
• Night drives provided sightings of hyena and, both jackal species. Hyena were also seen and heard in camp every night.
• General game sightings continue to be very good and the impala are also starting to rut. Good sightings of hippo coming out of the water to graze in front of the camp were also reported.
• Very good sightings of Serval and African wildcat were reported. A caracal was also seen walking down a road in broad daylight.
• Birding continues to be good. Martial eagle, brown snake eagle and black-breasted snake eagle were some of the birds of prey being seen. Marabou stork and saddle-billed storks was also seen. The guides also managed to locate two puff adders.
• Two prides of lions were very active in the area. A pride of 5 lions, consisting of 2 females, with the three one year cubs were seen feeding on a tsessebe kill. The pride with the two big males, 4 females and 1 sub adult male were seen feeding on a big male giraffe. No one knows how the giraffe died, but it is quite possible that they made the kill.
• The now famous leopard cub, created lots of entertainment when she was left on her own, while mom went out to hunt. Firstly she decided to stalk some cattle egret, which were walking next to an elephant. The egrets flew away when she charged and she was left with the elephant, which was a bit out of her league! She then went on to hop around in a marula tree, trying to catch a tree squirrel, which also did not go according to plan.
• A female cheetah, with her litter of 3 one year old cubs were seen relaxing in the four rivers area. The three brothers were found almost on the same spot, 2 days later. They stalked an impala and then went in for the kill, in front of the game drive vehicles. Some of the guests managed to capture the whole hunt on film.
• Very good sightings of bull elephants have been reported. They moved in to the area to feed on the marula fruits, which is now ripening up and falling from the trees. One of these bulls was made the joke of the day, when a hippo calf charged him and scared him away, whilst he was trying to get a drink from the water hole in front of camp.
• Guests on one of the boat cruises had a fantastic sighting when they came across two old buffalo bulls swimming through the river in front of the boat.
• Night drives provided sightings of hyena and, both jackal species. Hyena were also seen and heard in camp every night. Two flap necked chameleons were spotted in the light, on the night drives.
• General game sightings continue to be very good. Giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, kudu and some sable antelope were seen. Good sightings of hippo coming out of the water to graze in front of the camp were also reported.
• A serval created lots of excitement when it managed to leap one and a half meters in to the air to catch a bird. Two honey badgers were seen running across the plains and an African wild cat was unexpectedly seen on a morning game drive.
• Birding continues to be good. A pair of watteled cranes, saddle billed storks, yellow billed storks, marabou storks and some ground hornbills were also seen.
Lebala camp Jump
• The guides have been trying very hard to find the den of the three lionesses that are roaming the area at the moment. They were able to hear them calling in the mopane forest, but have been unable to locate the den up to now.
• A big male leopard was seen and followed along river road. He was very relaxed, but disappeared into some long grasses after a while.
• Herds of elephant continue to be seen, but they seem to be found more on the edges of the Mopane woodland, rather than on the riverbanks where they were concentrated for the past 2 weeks.
• Hyena and both of the jackal species were seen during the day and night. Eight hyena were found feeding on an elephant carcass. The elephant had died of natural causes.
• Excellent general game with many large journeys of giraffe, impala, waterbuck, Tsessebe, Wildebeest, Steenbok zebra, red lechwe and kudu.
• Very good sightings of all the mongoose species were reported daily. Serval and Civet cats as well as porcupine have been seen on the night drives.
• A mating pair of honey badgers was seen feeding on a leopard tortoise. A good sighting of a caracal, walking down main road was also reported.
• Birdlife continues to be excellent. African skimmers, ostriches, wattled cranes and lots of ducks and geese were seen, as well as many birds of prey.
• A very relaxed male leopard was located on a morning drive. He was demarcating his territory whilst also trying to hunt. Another leopard was seen by guests whilst walking near Springhare link. They could not identify the leopard as it was very skittish when they approached on foot. A female leopard was seen hunting North of Motswiri pan. She was followed by some hyena and jackal and disappeared into the mopane forest after a while.
• A female cheetah was seen around the white plains area. She was very relaxed and spent a lot of time relaxing on termite mounds.
• The pack of 16 wild dogs are still hunting in the Lebala area, and they created lots of excitement as always. They were followed on two hunts and they managed to kill an Kudu and Impala. They were seen feeding on two more Impala kills and their fights with the Hyena, who were trying to steal their kills, were as spectacular as ever. The guides have now established that it is the Alpha female that is pregnant. The Beta female is still acting very dominant, but that might be because of the Alpha female being very old.
• Herds of elephant continue to be seen, some of them coming very close to camp. Bull elephants are a common sighting on the flood plains and also having mud baths in the pans.
• Hyena have been following the wild dogs and raiding their kills. Their strategy being that they rest with the wild dogs at the water holes and they then follow the dogs when they start hunting. At one of the wild dog kills, two different clans clashed over the bounty. Jackals of both species are a common sighting.
• Excellent general game with many large journeys of giraffe, impala, waterbuck, Tsessebe, Wildebeest, Steenbok zebra, red lechwe and kudu. A herd of Sable antelope was also seen.
• African wild cats are a common sighting in the trees at night. A striped polecat and both species of Genet were also seen. Two sightings of Caracal was reported, one was a female and her cub hunting during the night drives. The other was of a solitary female also hunting.
• Birdlife continues to be excellent. African skimmers, ostriches, wattled cranes and lots of ducks and geese were seen, as well as many birds of prey. Secretary birds, pythons and leopard tortoises have also been seen.
Camp update - March 07 Jump
It has been another amazing month at Mombo.
Yet again the area has produced consistently good sightings of
a large variety and number of species.
The weather has been a bit unusual this month with higher
than usual temperatures, with minimums of around 23?C going
up to 38?C. This has been attributed to the lack of rainfall
this month. Although we have not had much rain this month the
Okavango catchment area in Angola has received a large amount
of rainfall this season and we are now seeing the affects with
the steady rise of the water in the floodplains. This in turn
is producing some excellent birding.
With not having any rain this month the vegetation has died
down drastically, giving everything a very dry look. There
is however a defined line of green where the floodplains start.
This is attracting large amounts of game to the water's edge
and pushing other game out of the floodplains.
There is now a very noticeable change in the season with the
days becoming gradually shorter. The last week has seen a progressive
drop in the morning temperatures. In the coming month this
will happen a lot quicker
The Mathata Pride has been very active in and around the
camp this month and on some memorable occasions has been
seen taking down the resident buffalo males that live in
the camp. This has given guests a great opportunity to observe
the interaction between the lions themselves and the hyaena
in the area. There was also an amazing sighting of two nomadic
male lions and a female taking down a buffalo calf, the herd
retaliating and the lioness getting badly injured in the
The highlight of the month was the sighting of Lagadima's first
cub. The cub was seen at the beginning of the month and we
have not had a sighting since as for the first couple of
weeks since seeing them, we have chosen to leave the two
of them alone, as this is a very vulnerable time for a leopard
cub and our presence could attract the unwanted interest
of other animals like baboon, lion and hyaena. There have
been numerous other sightings of some of the other leopard
in the area with some of them on kills as well.
With the high temperatures and low rainfall the pans in the
woodland areas surrounding the Delta have been drying up.
This has led to the elephants moving back to the permanent
waters of the Delta. We are now being able to have the wonderful
sight of breeding herds in the area, with the youngsters
providing great entertainment.
There are two large herds moving around the area at the moment
and these herds are in excess of 300+ and are a very impressive
sight to see.
We started the month with great excitement with the birth of
another white rhino but sadly the calf did not survive. Poster
who is responsible for the rhino monitoring, has seen the
mother on a number of occasions since the birth, but without
her new calf. We can only speculate as to what happened.
We have had a number of good rhino sightings this month with
some guests seeing as many as four at one time.
The wild dogs have been moving in and out of the area, which
have been seen in the northern parts of the area. We have also
been seeing some of the more unusual animals such as caracal,
honey badger and African wildcat.
With the approach of the dry season, we can only expect the
game viewing to get even better.
See you soon.
All of us at Mombo
Camp update - March 07 Jump
to Jack's Camp
The month of March brought unusually high
temperatures and low rainfall to the Makgadikgadi. Quite
unusual for this time of year, but that's the wonder of
the Makgadikgadi and why, after so many years we keep being
surprised by this fascinating area.
The thousands of zebra that were around camp earlier
in the year have now dwindled to a few lone individuals,
choosing the waterhole just outside camp over a long walk
back to the Boteti. This has become a precarious practice,
given that we have two lionesses at Jack's Camp, one of
which appears to have some cubs in tow.
We have also been blessed with more meerkat pups, which
have only in the last couple of weeks ventured outside
the burrow. Sadly one did not survive the early days,
so we are left with four from a litter of five. It will
be interesting to see at what stage the group breaks up,
since after several litters in the last nine months, the
group has grown to 19 individuals.
Meanwhile, the brown hyaena cubs, now a few months old,
grow ever more curious, and one has been spotted wandering
from the kitchen in the late afternoon, no doubt tempted
by the delicious aromas of dinner.
The staff did their best to assist with nature, rescuing
a tortoise from an onslaught of ants; this involved plucking
the ravenous insects from inside the poor tortoise's shell
one by one with a pair of tweezers! After a few days of
recuperation, the tortoise wandered off back into the
bush. We also seem to have attracted a pair of young Pearl-spotted
Owls to the senior staff mess; they're such a regular
sighting that we've considered placing them on the official
Not all our wildlife encounters have happy endings though,
as a hornbill chick which was found abandoned on the ground,
too weak to break out of its shell, it failed to survive
more than a few days despite desperate feeding attempts
by several members of staff.
And so, as the peak season beckons, it seems unlikely
that we will get any more rain in the Makgadikgadi this
season. We can only hope that as many of the hundreds
of zebra foals as possible survive the migration back
to water, so we will see them again next year. Given the
floods in Angola and Zambia this year, it is one of nature's
paradoxes that rain seldom falls where it is needed most,
but if it were all so easy to predict, I guess Africa
wouldn't be as exciting and alluring as it is.
Max Temp: 45 degrees
Min Temp: 16 degrees
to Page 2