(Page 2 of
Safaris News -
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 Botswana.
Kwando Safaris game reports.
Monthly update from Mombo Camp in
update from Jack's & San
Page 2 Updates
Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in
Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in
Monthly update from Jao Camp in
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.
Tree Camp update - March 07 Jump
to Tubu Tree
What a phenomenal month for wildlife
this has been! With wildlife sightings ranging from big breeding
herds of elephant with two babies of only a few days old, to
the once in a lifetime sighting of a leopard taking a kill away
from an African Rock Python, but more about that later.
this month has been absolutely outstanding with days cooling
off a little to an average midday temperature of 30°C,
and mornings are a nice and fresh 18 - 20°C. The winter is definitely
on its way though.
And so are the floods, creeping up on us every
night ever so slightly. The camp is now just about surrounded
by the floodwater, and all the guides and guests are commenting
on the fun they have driving in the water. Boating channels were
opened on the 26th of March, and this activity will start in
April with full steam. We are looking forward to it.
improved (if it is possible to improve on the already excellent
birding we have done in the last couple of months!) and some
of the migratory species are in full swing getting ready for
their long migration to warmer climates.
Now, about that incredible leopard sighting. It has been our privilege
to be part of a once in a lifetime sighting of a young female leopard
taking a young impala lamb away from a rather large African Rock
Python. The python was unfortunately killed in the process though,
but that is Africa for you. While the python was in the throes
of the kill, a young female leopard heard the commotion and came
over to investigate, walking around and around the python until
she located the head. Then, in a blur of motion, she grabbed the
python by the head and killed it. Very proud of herself she casually
grabbed the impala and ran off with it still kicking. After killing
it, her brother, slightly bigger and heavier, although of the same
age, came over and took the impala from her, then started to feed
on it. A while later the leopard mother came out of the bush and
tried to get a bite, but he snarled at her and she stayed away.
Three leopards and two kills in one afternoon. All credit for this
once in a lifetime sighting has to go to Victor (our Head Guide)
and the python, who paid dearly for this, but gave our guests this
Other sightings ranged from elephant to buffalo and all the plains
game species in their numbers, as well as the king of the jungle,
Mr. Lion himself.
We are looking forward to the next month with the floods now coming
in on schedule, with a very high flood level expected.
Looking forward to seeing you here,
Greetings from the Tubu Tree team
update - March 07 Jump
to Kwetsani Camp
March was a month with a difference, floods were
one month early and as the statistics have shown we are receiving
more water - this is already up by 56cm on last year and we are
expecting more. The Delta is an amazing place as it is, but with
this flow of water seeping in, it makes it the biggest natural
oasis in the world.
Rain this month has been better, with 53mm received
and with some huge build-ups of clouds - but unfortunately with
no results. This was an extremely hot month with days soaring
to 42°C many times!
Winter is nowhere in sight as of yet and we still have no cold
days to report.
Wildlife has moved around the concession following the new water,
which promotes new life with grass shoots and foliage on the trees
for the elephants amongst others. Elephants by the dozen are around
camp and sleep close to the guest rooms, providing an amazing night's
experience for all.
We are on occasion sharing the island again with lions, caused
by the influx of water as they cross over moving north. They have
showed us their speed and power with numerous kills on the lechwe
and zebra, close to the deck during and after tea time.
With nights and days of hearing the sounds and seeing tracks around
the camp, the elusive leopard has finally been seen - with some
amazing sightings during the night.
The migratory birds are on the move again, leaving for warmer
climates. A few are still left behind waiting till the last moment;
we have been spoilt with two separate sightings of Flamingos in
the Jao floodplain.
It has been a quieter month, due to the hot weather and it not
yet being school holidays in other parts of the world. Those that
did brave it will be enriched with the memories of the Okavango
Delta for the rest of their lives. Tea time has been a wonderful
activity this month, thanks to the lions and the wonderful guests
we have met during their stay here with us.
We look forward to seeing you and our staff look forward to having
tea with you too.
For those romantics and Honey-mooners who spent time here with
us and let us spoil you with special Champaign breakfasts on the
upper deck - thank you!
To end off a day with a perfect evening's dinner under the stars
is always a treat and memorable occasion.
MAY THE ADVENTURE OF AFRICA TEMPT YOU TO BOTSWANA!
Jao Camp update
- March 07 Jump
to Jao Camp
March has been a wonderful month, weather-wise
receiving only some scattered showers around the beginning and
the end of the month with a lot of sunny days in between. We received
65mm of rain this month with 44mm in a huge storm in the first
week of the month.
We have not seen a real huge push with the floods
this month as the water came in very fast and high in February
and then it leveled out towards March; we might see a second
push coming through during April, but we will have to wait
Our resident pride of lion have taken another "knock" this
month as they lost yet another cub - the young male. He was injured
by "Freddy", one of the pride males while feasting
at a kill when his left front leg was badly broken and he finally
died of starvation as he could not keep up with the rest of the
pride. The only cub left is a young female who we hope will make
it but as we can see life out here is very harsh!
A little good news is that our resident female
leopard which has been missing for a number of days seems to
have had good reason for this as the guides believe that she
has given birth. They said that the second last sighting of "Beauty" was
when she seemed heavily pregnant and the last sighting was a
big saggy stomach with her teats hanging and it appears she is
lactating. WOW - it will be wonderful to have a young leopard
in the area again. We will possibly only see the cub or cubs
after two months or so as she will keep them in hiding until
With the little rain and the Marula trees dropping their juicy
ripe fruit we had a healthy number of elephants in and around
the camp. This is always a good sighting with guests and one
can never get tired of seeing these huge pachyderms from a closer
vantage point. We had a couple of resident bulls in camp daily
and one old bull that sleeps flat on his side behind our office
and seems not even to notice the goings on of the camp in the
mornings as he is sleeping late. He has no worries, and this
is a good indication that the elephants around here do not have
many natural enemies to worry about!
Red lechwe, red lechwe, red lechwe, this is all you see for
miles as you drive down the Jao floodplain where the vehicle
is in at least three feet of water. This is a once in a lifetime
experience as the red lechwe in the numbers we are seeing do
not occur everywhere but only in selected areas in the northern
areas of the Okavango Delta and parts of Zambia - particularly
on the Kafue Flats! During the inundated winter months they are
the main food source for the lions in our concession as the other
larger mammals tend to move to higher ground further away from
A great sighting for NG25 this month has been with our head
guide Victor Horatius as he spotted an African Rock Python with
a young impala in his grip trying to squeeze the life out of
it. Just as the python had it in a proper grip Victor saw a leopard
approaching through the grass and knew that this was going to
turn into a great sighting. The leopard came out of the bush
smelled and checked and was presumably looking for the head of
the snake because as soon as it found it, it went down with force
and grabbed the python by the head and crushed it with one forceful
bite. The leopard dragged the impala from the dead python only
to realise it was not dead yet and biting harder into the neck
until it was dead. This whole scene played off in about an hour
and a half and the guests and guides were just ecstatic.
We had a busy month with some fantastic guests and I include
some of the feedback below.
- "I had a fantastic stay. I was very impressed
with the staff and the managers, keep it up. This place is
a jewel or should I say heaven on earth. The massage was a
cherry on the cake. Thank you Kate for the massage and Martin
for the close-up encounter of the lion. Thank you all guys.
I will be back, one more thank you for making my birthday so
special, I love you all! - LC
- "It was unforgettable and surely I will never forget Jao.
All the team was very friendly. A special appraisal for Marks,
very efficient and knowledgeable. It is with regret that I leave
this place." - AR
This is all from the Jao team, until next month! Happy dreams
update - March 07 Jump
to Vumbura Camps
The weather this
month kept on changing, especially the first three weeks of the month
- when it hit the third week of March it started raining in the afternoon
and it just kept on getting stronger and stronger until towards the
end of the month where it rained continuously for four days! The
first two weeks of the month temperatures were between 25º minimum and 38º maximum Celsius, while during
the course of the last two weeks of the month, due to more build-up
of cloud the third week got more humid and a bit hotter until it
started raining - that's when temperatures dropped to about 17º minimum
and 22º maximum Celsius.
It was an awesome month due to the temperature change, which had a lot
of influence on animals and their movement especially the elephants,
in the second week of March we had fantastic sightings of elephants coming
to the lagoon in front of camp. It was the same week that we saw 300
to 400 elephants every day coming to drink. While on the other hand there
have been lots of other species that we have seen at the lagoon, such
as sable, giraffe and lion.
All this great viewing was mainly in and around the camp. But the game
drives have been having outstanding experiences too, whereby on every
second drive guests would have seen lion, leopard, cheetah and we had
three great sightings of wild dogs in this month. With two of these dog
sightings, the guides followed them hunting and after a few attempts
were made, they were rewarded at the end by seeing the dogs killing an
impala and a sub-adult female kudu on two different days. Again it was
one of those sightings that guests could not stop talking about as to
how amazing and fortunate they felt to see a kill of this nature.
There have been large herds of buffalo moving around Jackie's Pan, Vumbura
plains and the northern sector. We have also had awesome sightings of
hyaenas at their den on the road to the airstrip. In the evening, while
we have been sitting patiently at the den site, the pups have been coming
out of the den and approaching the vehicle.
The past month has been a great month
to offer guests a variety of activities, from doing the mokoro in the
morning (with this being the best time of the day as it gets a bit
too hot in the afternoon), to being able to do walks, with the vegetation
not been as thick - not forgetting the "usual" activities
of game drives and boat.
It has been a fantastic month indeed for all guest experiences.
update - March 07 Jump
to Jacana Camps
Greetings from our paradise island! March has been an interesting
month at Jacana. The floods have continued to come in and the water
levels can be seen rising on a daily basis. Jacana is now a truly
water-based camp, as the only way into camp is by boat.
Game drives are still possible after a short trip by boat to the
main land, and the trip is worth it. Sightings have been great
the past month, with highlights including lions on a zebra kill,
leopard, elephant, hippo and buffalo. The rare sitatunga, an antelope
adapted to the aquatic habitat, was also spotted from the boat
on the way back to camp.
Our resident bull elephant, Jack, has also been visiting the island
on a regular basis. He has been attracted to the Marula tree, which
is in fruit at the moment. Contrary to popular belief, an elephant
cannot become drunk by eating large amounts of the fermenting fruit!
Birding has also been exceptionally good. Over a 145 bird species
were identified within 48 hours by a keen pair of bird lovers staying
at Jacana. Amongst the highlights of bird sightings at Jacana,
they included Wattled Cranes, Saddle-billed Storks, Lesser Jacana,
Purple Heron, Open-billed Storks and Western Banded Snake Eagle.
The Pel's Fishing Owl had been elusive, with their haunting calls
being heard a number of times, until two were spotted on a mokoro
trip on the last day of the month, not far from camp.
There is still no better way of experiencing the Okavango Delta
than by the traditional way of transport, the mokoro. Silently
making your way amongst the islands, finding the smaller gems of
the Delta, such as the tiny Painted Reed Frogs, which would have
been missed otherwise, it is a truly unforgettable experience.
It is therefore a very popular activity at Jacana.
The end of the month saw some good rains, with over 60mm being
recorded in the last week. Some of the rain came in the form of
spectacular lightning storms. It brought some relief from the heat
experienced during the rest of the month, and also accelerated
the rise of the water levels.
We are looking forward to another adventure-filled month, wish
you were here!
The Jacana team
Camp Newsletter - March 07 Jump
After the rains at the end of
February, all the pans on the concession filled
with water and the bush came alive. The evenings
echoed with the plopping sound of the Bubbling
Kassinas and the soft trill of the Banded-rubber
Frogs. It seems as though things are happening
a little later this year and the following occurrences
have confirmed this.
During March we saw a few Baobab trees flowering
- these generally flower between October and November.
We also had our first sighting of Senegal Lapwing
(Plover) this month. Last year we were seeing them
regularly from January onwards. The Armoured Ground
Crickets also started to emerge this month compared
to last year when we were seeing large numbers
of them by January. These annual variations are
extremely interesting to note and we will continue
to monitor them to see if any trends develop.
The diversity of Pafuri always seems to turn up
special sightings in special places. One of the
highlights of the month was a herd of close to
30 eland that settled in the region close to
Crooks' Corner. We were fortunate to have numerous
sightings of this herd during the month. A treat
indeed, but to top it off, most of these sightings
were in a forest of Fever Trees. A herd of 18
eland, which included four calves, were also
seen on a few occasions in the open plains of
Makwadzi Pan set against the backdrop of a grove
of Lala Palms.
There were also a number of herds of elephant
seen on the Luvuvhu River floodplain during the
month. One of the sightings of these herds was
extremely special as while we were watching about
60 elephants make their way across an open area
to the Luvuvhu River, there were three lions resting
in the shade of an Umbrella Thorn. Even if the
lions or elephants had not been there, we would
still have been graced with the scene of the setting
sun bronzing the hundred-metre-high sandstone cliffs
of Hutwini Mountain. To have it all at the same
time was something which truly typifies the beauty
As far as the general game viewing goes, the good
viewing that we had during February continued into
March. Notable sightings were a bachelor herd of
nine adult kudu bulls. As usual, there were almost
daily sightings of the buffalo herds which roam
the concession. On one morning game drive, five
separate herds were seen.
On the predator front, we had regular sightings
of lions during the month. It is great to see that
the six sub-adults are still going strong. Five
of them are males and we are all anxious to see
the formidable coalition that they are likely to
form in the area in years to come. The month also
produced an increase in the number of spotted hyaena
sightings and this could explain the fact that
we saw the remains of a zebra carcass that had
been hoisted up a White Seringa tree by a male
leopard. There have not been many records of leopards
hoisting their kills in the area over the last
20 months, but we expect this behaviour to increase
as the hyaena population continues to grow.
From a birding point of view, the month got off
to a good start on 1 March with a sighting of
four Racket-tailed Rollers close to one of the
nest sites that we found in December. The Monotonous
Larks were also very vocal following the rains
and their repetitive 'syrup-is-sweet' call echoed
across the plains in the early mornings. The
majority of the migrants remained throughout
the month and it was exciting to hear the insect-like
call of a River Warbler in camp on numerous occasions.
There were also regular sightings of a pair of
African Crowned Eagles close to camp and on one
occasion we were fortunate enough to see one
feeding on a Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax.
We continued to have good sightings of the regular
specials throughout the month. Worth mentioning
though are the sighting of 7 Three-banded Coursers
by a guide on a single evening drive and a pair
of Pel's Fishing Owls who were regularly heard
calling in front of Room 15 at night. Other interesting
bird sightings during the month included Pink-throated
Twinspot, Senegal Coucal and a pair of Gorgeous
Average Min: 22
Average Max: 35.6
Bay Turtle News - March 07 Jump
So it's that time of year again when we bid our
turtles a farewell. Until October that is. It has been a phenomenal
season that has seen a staggering 104 Turtle adoptions and a definite
increase in nesting Loggerhead Turtles. Leatherback Turtles have
remained elusive but between this season and recent years we have
seen enough of them to discern that their population is stable.
In summary, during the last five summer months we have had a total
of 403 Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtle sightings and a total
of 577 turtle tracks which indicates the total number of nesting
emergences onto our beaches. Of these, we were able to tag 79 turtles
with titanium tags and inserted a further 33 microchips embedded
under the skin of the turtles to enable identification even once
tags have been lost over time.
The weather in March was not always too favourable for the hatchlings
of both species with massive banks being scoured out of the normally
gentle beaches by explosive waves at times eight metres high. Having
said that and given that we are likely to have lost a number of
eggs in the adverse conditions, we did witness many hatchlings
gallantly making their way down to the unknown that is the vast
Indian Ocean and beyond.
We started the season way back in mid-October 2006 with a sighting
of a nesting Loggerhead Turtle on the very first night and we were
thrilled to end the season in the middle of March with a sighting
of Loggerhead hatchlings on the very last drive. These were about
to begin their long journey to the safety of the Agulhas Current.
No adult turtles of either species were recorded nesting during
March, perhaps as a result of the very rough seas due to very low
pressure cells approaching from the Durban region.
So in the five months we managed 151 turtle drives equating to
9060km and 450 hours of beach driving in our nocturnal searches
of Maputaland's coastline. We enjoyed the company of roughly 1
500 guests driving with us anxious to see one of these majestic
mothers or brave hatchlings. The researchers, although they cannot
say for sure how many miles they have run up and down the beach,
are all feeling like they have run a few marathons and are recouping
in hopes of an even better season come October 15th 2007.
Some of the Turtles adopted in March include:
Rob and Lia adopted Ninja the Leatherback Turtle. Her tag number
Jon and Belinda adopted two Turtles, one called Michael the Loggerhead
and the other Lindsay the Leatherback Turtle.
Rex and Stephanie adopted Sapphire the Loggerhead Turtle.
Mateo and Donatella adopted Pralina the Loggerhead Turtle.
So until next season we bid everyone farewell and extend a warm
thank you to all who participated in this season's Research project
and even greater thanks to all those who have adopted a Turtle
this season and all the seasons past.
The Rocktail Turtle Team: Andrew, Shannon, Simon, Gugu and Mbongeni
Bay Dive Newsletter - March 07 Jump
The weather is a powerful force and this month we experienced
a very remarkable part of it. The month started off with the
cyclone off Madagascar. These don't usually affect our weather
unless they start heading south towards us - which was the
case this time. Mozambique was affected by heavy rain and flooding.
We missed the rain, which we needed badly but got the rough
seas, which weren't really needed. This all happened in the
first week of the month. From the fourth onwards we managed
to dive again although the large swells still kicked up a lot
of sand over the reef. Dives enjoyed watching the Kingfish
and Potato Bass use the billowing sand as cover to ambush fish.
We heaved a sigh of relief thinking that was the end of the
rough seas, only to be hit at the end of the month with an
equinox tide and 4m swells. The effect on the coastline was
immense, with whole sand dunes eroded away, wave action cutting
into the bush leaving trees littering the beach. Our first
dive after the rough seas was a bit milky with a lot of forest
debris down below. We expected the worst but the reefs weren't
too badly damaged, although some of the big plate corals had
been broken off. There were big shoals of fish on this dive
and afterwards Eric and Annemie got to see their first Whaleshark
- in fact, not just one, they got to snorkel with two Whalesharks!
One of these had a pod of Dolphins swimming alongside. They
played around the Whaleshark and all involved swam slowly enough
for us to snorkel alongside and watch.
We had many other opportunities to snorkel with Dolphins and
Whalesharks this month. There were five individual Whaleshark
sightings, sizes ranging from 4 to 8 metres, none of which
had been tagged or seemed to be swimming in any particular
Kingfish and Potato Bass have been feasting in the turmoil
on the reefs. The large group of Potato Bass on Pineapple Reef
has been particularly inquisitive, swimming right up to us
to examine us or for a nice scratch. Kingfish still follow
us around on the reef and we have even seen Golden Kingfish
around. Some of the Golden Kingfish swam around in pairs, while
others were seen swimming with Casper, the big Potato Bass
on Pineapple Reef.
Fishlife has been teeming: Fish chasing each other around,
investigating what we are, pretending to ignore us, or simply
hanging around in one spot. We have seen a Prodigal Son and
Ignoblis (Giant Kingfish) swim by at Pineapple Reef, as well
as a shoal of 8 Couta. Elusive Reef has also provided us with
Couta sightings and big shoals of Green Jobfish on more than
In this month's extensive fishlife sightings, we have seen
many different sizes of Scorpionfish, Paperfish, Lionfish,
Angelfish, Octopus, Stingrays and Eels. There have been Sharpnose,
Round Ribbontail and Honeycomb Stingrays, providing a brilliant
display to divers as they swim off into the distance. On a
dive at Gogo's a Marbled Electric Ray swam up between the divers
and then off to find a ledge to hide under. Geometric Eels
have been seen lying close together in groups of three under
one coral. The same behaviour occurred with Black Cheek Moray
Eels; they were seen in groups of three or four. We are not
too sure if this is mating behaviour, as they are normally
Before the rough seas we had a healthy population of big Slinger
Seabream on Pineapple numbering about 40 fish. These were adult
fish weighing in at about 2kg. This species is an important
linefish in KwaZulu-Natal waters and they have been heavily
fished in most areas. It is seldom that you will see the size
and quantity of fish that we see at Pineapple, in other areas.
This is because the reef fish in our area are protected and
fishermen and spearfishermen are only allowed to target the
pelagic fish, such as King Mackerel, Kingfish etc. After the
rough seas the number and size range of Slingers increased
considerably and spread across more of our reefs.
We encountered populations that seemed to be far more than
a hundred on Elusive, Gogo's and Pineapple. On some of the
dives the Slingers would appear out of nowhere and start circling
around us. It gave the impression of being caught at the centre
of a whirlpool. Some of them seemed to have never seen divers
before. They swam right up to us and darted off again and followed
us for some time as we continued on our dive. Mandla picked
up almost 20 Slingers that had washed out on the beach. We
think the Slingers may have been migrating, since the numbers
did start to decrease considerably towards the end of the month.
Another special encounter on Gogo's has been with a Bowmouth
Guitarfish, which is rarely seen by divers. The Giant Guitarfish
is much more common and is the one generally seen. The Bowmouth
has ridges running the length of its body which have lines
of spines about 1cm long forming effective armour. There are
also many scattered white spots all over the upper body surface
of the Bowmouth Guitarfish; whereas the Giant Guitarfish has
lines of white spots that aren't always visible.
Continuing with the larger sized sightings, we ended the month
off with a Grey Reef Shark on Aerial Reef. We were nearing
the end of the dive when it swam by in front of us. It circled
us a few times before darting after a fish and disappearing.
This month has also seen the end of turtle season. Luckily
most of the hatchlings hatched out before the rough seas washed
the beach away. That does not mean the end of turtle sightings
on our dives, we still see our regulars - Loggerheads, Greens
and Hawksbills going about their business on the reef.
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle and Karin
The Rocktail Bay Dive Team
of Cattle Egrets at Little Kulala -
March 07 Jump
to Little Kulala
The days roll by, hot and without
a cloud in the sky. One morning we wake up with
promising clouds on the northern border of the
Late afternoon the north-eastern wind picks
up, different to the western winds usually blowing
this time of the day, and thunderclouds roll
closer before emptying their life-giving fluid
onto the dry waiting land. As the skies clear
once again, the smell of fresh ground pricks
Young springbok pronk and chase each other around
puddles and in the distance the first call of
a black backed jackal can be heard in the coming
Not only does rain mean new life, but also sights
of birds rarely seen down here in the desert.
Like the graceful Grey Heron and the smaller
Cattle Egrets. A Great White Egret has even been
spotted by Richard and his guests.
The first Cattle Egret was spotted at Little
Kulala on Wednesday 21 March, near the swimming
pool. When guests walked out onto the deck, the
Egret took flight from the swimming pool. The
next day there were two and then on Monday 26
March, as we came out three took flight to a
nearby tree, giving us the perfect opportunity
to photograph them.
The Egrets were also seen whilst on drives going
through the Aub River towards Kulala Desert Lodge.
The desert holds small surprises every day,
we just need to open our eyes and see?
Photographs taken by: Madeleine Maasdorp
Report written by: Ciska Olivier
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