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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

October 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 Kalamu Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Shumba Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Busanga Bush Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Lunga River Lodge in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in Botswana.
Kwando Safaris game reports.
• Monthly update from Mombo Camp in Botswana.

Page 2 Updates
• Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jao Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jacana Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Vumbura Plains in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Makalolo Plains in Zimbabwe.
• Monthly update from Mana Canoe Trail safari in Zimbabwe.
• Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in South Africa.
• Monthly update from Little Kulala Camp in Namibia.


Wilderness Safaris Updates - October 2007

GENERAL UPDATES
THE LAUNCH OF SAFARI & ADVENTURE CO. A NEW WILDERNESS SAFARIS COMPANY
The Wilderness Safaris Group and our local partners are excited to announce the launch of a new company: Safari & Adventure Co.

The bed-night-based Safari & Adventure Co.  has been launched in response to the market demand seeking product across southern Africa in the mid-tier ecotourism and adventure market.  The imperative values of sustainable and responsible tourism and commitment to local community economies are integral to Safari & Adventure Co.

We will be launching a suite of affordable lodges and camps in key wildlife and nature areas of South Africa, Namibia and Zambia and intend expanding this product offering into Botswana and beyond as opportunities for development arise.

Safari & Adventure Co. camps staffed by young and enthusiastic southern Africans offer a return to a rustic bush camp experience. The emphasis is on lively interaction and activity in the communal spaces with well appointed rooms. Our aim is to create a space where young and old couples, families, single travellers and groups are equally comfortable.

The nature experience is important above all else and camps are situated in prime locations in or adjacent to Kruger National Park, iSimangaliso (Greater St Lucia) Wetland Park, Sossusvlei, Damaraland, Etosha, Caprivi and Kafue National Park.

We will be announcing specific camp details at regular intervals over the coming four months and look forward to continuing old and embracing new relationships.


Wilderness Safaris Zambia – flying circuits 2008
To complement the development of our new camps – Kwena Lagoon in South Luangwa National Park, and Toka Leya in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park outside Livingstone – we have created a simplified flying circuit for Zambia in 2008.

Sefofane flights in Zambia

We will be using Sefofane primarily to service the Kafue National Park and all of its camps. We have increased our fleet to 1 Cessna Caravan and 3 Cessna 206 aircraft, which will assist us in providing an improved service. This simpler circuit also means that, by using Sefofane and a combination of other services such as the Zambian Airways schedules and Proflight seat rates, we can provide you with a variety of itinerary possibilities, depending on the arrival/departure details, camp/flight availability and the areas which you wish to visit.

Of our Zambian fleet, one 206 will be based in the Kafue for shuttle runs between the three airstrips: Lufupa, Lunga and Busanga (Shumba, Kapinga and Busanga Bush Camp). Another 206 will be based in South Luangwa for shuttle runs between Luamfwa (Kalamu and Kwena Lagoon) and Mfuwe. And the remaining 206 and Caravan will service the Lusaka – Kafue and Livingstone – Kafue return routes. We will continue to base a helicopter on the Plains for shuttles directly to the camps from the new Busanga airstrip.

So in short, the 2008 Sefofane service will operate on the following routes:
• Lusaka – Kafue – Lusaka: daily schedules
• Livingstone – Kafue – Livingstone: daily schedules
• Luamfwa – Mfuwe – Luamfwa: daily shuttles
• Lunga – Busanga – Lufupa – Lunga: daily shuttle service, easily enabling guests to visit more than one camp in this vast Kafue area
• Busanga airstrip – Busanga Plains camps (Shumba, Kapinga, Busanga Bush Camp): Busanga airstrip daily helicopter shuttle service

Please remember that because of the vastness of Zambia, guests will experience only one activity on a travel day, because moving from one Zambian park to the next takes time. Of course everyone wants to try and ensure that they get the most out of their time in Zambia, but on a day where they are moving from one area to another, they will not have a full day's activities (which one is missed will depend entirely on the route and times that they are using on their itinerary).

Please see below for a simplified map outlining the above routings and associated service providers.

Sefofane flight map - Zambia 2008


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

The south-east monsoon season has not quite given up as yet and although we have had several short spells of fantastically calm sea from around the 13th to the 20th October and again toward the end of the month as the wind tries to make up its mind, it has again returned from the south-east but now with somewhat less vengeance.

The calmer seas have been warmly welcomed and allowed us to venture further afield to organise regular beach picnics and snorkelling trips on the northern end of nearby Silhouette Island which have become hugely popular as this section of the Island is completely protected from any wind or swell. Due to the calm water conditions this location has also become a favourite for diving and Twin Anchors, which is a dive site situated directly against the steep granite cliffs of the northern side of the island, has proven to be quite special.

The diving this month has been extremely popular and the excellent sea conditions have allowed us to visit some of our further dive sites such as the Ennerdale Wreck and Shark Bank providing us with some fantastic sightings. Toward the end of October we have seen visibility in excess of 25 metres on most of our northern dive sites and "The Spot" in particular; this was however accompanied by some exciting currents on some occasions, which made for some excellent drift dives over the reefs.

The highly inquisitive hawksbill turtle that had been noted on Boulders Reef on several occasions last month has again been spotted in this location and then again on several dives on Pat Banks Reef which is about 4 nautical miles east off the Main Beach. This particular turtle has not been tagged but is easy to identify due to one of the centre plates of his carapace lifting off slightly higher than the others.

We have started to dive Pat Banks (previously just a popular fishing spot) quite regularly as the sightings on this reef have proven to be quite spectacular. Apart from the highly inquisitive hawksbill turtle who we have named Fred (for no particular reason) there have also been numerous sightings of an individual Nurse Shark approximately 2.5 metres in length which has provided us with great excitement as well as the sighting of two enormous Round Ribbontail Rays which strangely enough were also extremely inquisitive., with the smaller of the rays actually bumping into one of the guests. Needless to say she got quite a fright but after the dive was only too keen to go and try to find the rays again.

The massive mid-water schools of Lunar and Blue and Gold Fusiliers that circle the divers on this reef have also been quite spectacular and have often detracted our attention from the reef and corals themselves which is one of the main highlights of this particular reef.

The Moray Eel sightings on this site specifically have also been plentiful with numerous sightings of the Black Cheek or Bearded Moray Eel as well as the Guineafowl and the Geometric Moray. There was one particularly interesting sighting of a Guineafowl and a Black Cheek Moray together in the same crevice which made for an excellent photographic subject for Simon Buxton who was obtaining material for the official PADI Magazine publication called "Scuba Diver" which is circulated to 200 000 newly certified divers annually. Needless to say we did most of our dives on Pat Banks.
A very rare diving observation was the sighting of a particularly large Giant Guitarfish or Spotted Shovelnose Ray (also commonly called a Guitar Shark) which can grow in excess of 3 metres, off North East Point. The divers were able to observe this individual for approximately 15 minutes while it circled them repeatedly providing some excellent photographic opportunities for the guests.

In the beginning of October we also continued to spot regular sightings of the Indian Ocean Walkman, which we have noted tend to prefer the scattered shallower reefs of Boulders as well as North East Point but only occasionally on Coral Gardens.

One particularly exciting observation was the sighting of a humpback whale and its calf off the West Beach Bar heading in an easterly direction toward Praslin Island. Two separate sightings on two different days were noted. It is quite unusual for the humpback whales to be sighted so far north as their migratory routes tend to lie slightly further south, however we have had several sightings of these whales over the years.

Deep sea fishing has also been extremely popular toward the middle of October with some excellent catches of Bonnito and Job fish (one guest caught 17 Bonnito on I trip) as well as a 60kg Sailfish which was carefully released after the photographic evidence was captured.

Throughout the month we have been keenly observing the juvenile Lemon sharks swimming up and down the shore break in front of the Piazza snacking on small schools of Hardyhead Silversides which makes for an interesting distraction while waiting for the Zodiac to pick us up for the dives. These species of shark can grow to 3 metres in length but as yet we have only spotted the juveniles no longer than half a metre in length.

One extremely exciting observation which created quite a stir was 2 different sightings of 2 Green Turtles mating, first off the Honeymoon Beach Picnic spot and then again the next day off the West Beach Bar. Unfortunately we were unable to ascertain if it was the same couple. However, the small hawksbill turtle that was spotted last month in the bay just north of the West Beach Bar was again spotted in this location swimming right up against the cliff face where the swells meet the rocks. We will continue to monitor the behavioural patterns of this small fellow.

Patrick Armstrong

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Zambia Camps
Kapinga Camp update - October 07                Jump to Kapinga Camp

A beautiful month to have been on the plains, October saw the first rains of the year. Dust was settled and the air was crisp affording photographic opportunities which at times seemed unfair. The landscape is green in many parts and animals are remarkably healthy for this time of year. Feeding seems to be good for the herbivores especially around the water of which there are still substantial amounts.

Weather
Temperatures have been rising in the midday. However this year's early rains have contained the normal dry heat at this time of year and it has at no times been uncomfortable. Most guests still welcome the down time during the hottest part of the day to relax by the pool with an ice-cold beverage and a stunning view. Nightlife has certainly picked up with warmer evening temperatures causing a lot of the predators to hunt in the cover of dark. Trees like the marula are sprouting leaves and the "fried-egg plant" has lived up to its name as its flowers grow: with a yellow centre and white surrounding petals.

Game
This month certainly belongs to the pangolin. One sunny afternoon a pangolin was spotted and the rest of the afternoon's game viewing was over. Guests and especially guides were overjoyed at the unique once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing a pangolin. We stayed with the pangolin for the afternoon as it walked around us, sniffing at our hands and feet. It would fall over and roll into a ball and then get up and continue interacting with someone. It was fascinating to observe the gait and manners of this unusual mammal.

This month also saw exciting developments with the Busanga pride of lions. It was noticed that one female had separated herself most likely to give birth. We were all certain we would not know for some months if she had or not as she would hide the cubs. However, luckily enough we were watching her in a tree one afternoon when she came out the tree and individually picked up and moved two small cubs no more than three days old. It was a very special sight and very exciting prospects for the pride. The lions are in fantastic condition and it is always a pleasure to see the strength of the Busanga genes.

Cheetah viewing has been excellent over the month with a number of new individuals being spotted. Most guests who come through Kapinga are lucky enough to see cheetah at this time of year. Elephant and buffalo can more regularly be seen close to water now and Kapinga continues to have great elephant viewing from the camp and the rooms. Porcupines have been seen on a number of occasions during the month and one night we got to watch two young lions learn a lesson in the dangers of porcupine hunting. Needless to say the porcupine was too tough for the fat cats. A large python decided Kapinga was a good place to be and we were fortunate enough to have some good encounters with him.

Birds have been abundant as always. Owls especially seem to be featuring high on the list with an average night drive often bringing back sightings of Barred Owl, Spotted Eagle Owl, Barn Owl and Marsh Owl. Pennant-winged Nightjars have been a birder's delight this month. The Crowned and Wattled Cranes are starting to dance the days away with their unique breeding displays. Swallows form a personal escort to the vehicles surrounding them as we drive, feeding off the insects which are stirred by the vehicle's wheels. We had a fantastic sighting this month of a Martial Eagle killing and eating an Open-billed Stork. Rosy-throated and Fulleborne's Longclaw can now be seen on almost every drive. Black-backed Barbet was seen in the woodland near the river at the end of the plains and Stanley's Bustard was seen on a couple of occasions as well.

It's been a privilege to be here this month and we look forward to finishing the season strong with a fantastic month in November.

Brad, Kristi and
The Kapinga Team

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Shumba Camp update - October 07                Jump to Shumba Camp

At the start of this month, we felt that something pretty amazing would have to happen to overshadow how fantastic September turned out. But the Busanga Plains have amazed us yet again!

October started off with a real bang, with us seeing a most rare and unusual male and female encounter. It was the afternoon of the 3rd of October, and Idos was out on afternoon game drive with a full vehicle of guests. Our famous cheetah brothers were on the menu for that drive, and Idos knew exactly where they would be resting. What Idos did not know, is what they would be doing, and who they would be doing it with?

As usual, Idos found the cheetah, but was astounded when he realised that his eyes were not playing tricks on him, there were not two cheetah, but three. Yes, a gorgeous and healthy young female was being sought after by our resident males. Idos and his guests watched in wonder as both the brothers tried their luck with the available female. She squeaked, squealed, swiped and pawed at her suitors, but clearly they were smitten with her, and did not leave her alone.

After watching the trio for a good portion of the afternoon, the light started to fade, and Idos thought that he would leave the cheetah in peace. Unfortunately we will never know if they succeeded, but we can only hope that in about three months that there will be a healthy litter of cheetah somewhere in the Busanga Plains.

Everyone on the vehicle that day had never seen anything like it before, it was a true once in a lifetime sighting!

Speaking about once in a lifetime sightings? When you ask people who have worked in the bush for many years what mammals they still need to tick off their list, you almost always hear the answer "pangolin".
Well, for a handful of very lucky guests and Shumba staff, they don't need to give that answer anymore!

Shumba is proud to announce the first sighting of a Pangolin this season, and not even a kilometre south of Shumba camp.

Once again it was Idos who was on the scene, and his guests at the time were beyond themselves. Because the pangolin is a very docile creature, Idos and his guests were actually able to get out of the vehicle and get really close to it. So close in fact, that it actually started licking one of our guest's feet, with its very long tongue. They spent at least two hours with this "scaly anteater", watching it forage across the plains, sticking its tongue into termite and ant-holes. This picture on the left is the pangolin just as it is about to roll up into its little ball, which is its only way of protection against predators. The word "Peng-goling" is actually a Malay word for rolling up into a ball, hence the name given to this special creature.

As they say, you can work your entire life in the bush, and never see one of these rare mammals, but for the lucky guests and staff at Shumba, we don't have to say that anymore?.

The sightings from camp this month have also been remarkable.

We have had the resident herd of buffalo, which are about two hundred strong, grazing south of Shumba for almost the entire month. And where there are buffalo, there are always lions close by.

Idos and Lexon got to experience some great predator and prey interaction between the lion and the buffalo this month, but it was not always the predator hunting the prey. The Busanga Pride, which is made up of five lionesses, two males and two older cubs, were stalking the herd of buffalo south of Shumba on the morning of the 16th of October. The tables suddenly turned, when a smaller group of buffalo within the herd did not like the idea of being stalked, and started charging the lions. Well, we have never seen so many cats back-tracking so fast. Idos and Lexon still laugh about it to this day - it was a hilarious scenario!

A quiet breakfast on the deck of Tent 2 turned out to be more action-packed than anyone ever thought. It was a spectacular morning on the Busanga Plains, and just after sunrise, we spotted some members of the Busanga Pride sleeping off their night's meal just below Tent 2's deck. While sitting and enjoying a hearty breakfast, Idos heard a side-striped jackal alarm-calling. Idos took a closer look and spotted a leopard in the distance, which was causing all the panic. Idos and his guests jumped into the vehicle and went out to see one of the rarer cats of the Busanga Plains. The leopard quickly ran into the thick bush on top of the termite mound, and the jackal followed a distance behind it, not wanting to get too close, but just keeping an eye on this unwanted visitor. Idos spotted some movement under one of the lone trees on the plains, and it was none other than the rest of the Busanga Pride. While they were watching the lions resting under the tree, Idos saw a spotted hyaena running in the distance. Off they went to see the hyaena. While they were watching the scavenger, Idos once again saw the leopard now walking in the tall grass. Idos drove around to get a closer look at the leopard, and as they got to it, it jumped up into the tree. Just to top off that morning, the leopard lay on a branch in a tree in famous leopard style, and then to everyone's surprise, started rasping out loud. Can you believe that - what a way to start the morning!

As always, the general sightings of our feathered friends on the plains have been fantastic. Besides the "usual" residents, we have been seeing more and more summer migrants arriving at Shumba. One of the more beautiful summer migrants that have arrived is the Lesser Grey Shrike. They have really arrived in full force, even perching in our "loo with a view" in the main area.

Other great sightings that we have seen include the Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Fulleborn's Longclaw, African Fish-Eagle, African Grass-Owl, Yellow-billed Stork, families of Wattled Cranes and Crowned Cranes and our massive flock of Open-billed Storks. The flock of Open-billed Storks has really been a highlight - they almost block out the sun when fly over the camp. Unbelievable!

The weather has been hot and steamy, with temperatures reaching the high 30s during the day, but cooling down considerably at night. We have also had a good couple of storms come raging through Shumba, which have made for great photo opportunities. As we joked at the time, the myth around the Busanga Plains is that there is supposed to be a "golden pangolin" at the end of every rainbow. And there are amazing sunsets after the storms!

Here is what some of our guests had to say about their experience at Shumba this past month:

"Thanks for this great experience and hospitality. We will be back in Zambia soon to see the plains when wet" P & C - Rotterdam, Holland

"The food was excellent, the rooms were excellent, the staff was excellent, all in all our stay was excellent! Thank you all??" E & A - Istanbul, Turkey

"This is one of those places that someone should visit at least once in their lives? Brilliant place to be, great guiding thanks to Idos" K, G, B, J & A - Johannesburg, South Africa

"Many thanks for so much hospitality - wonderful scenery and animals, and a special thanks to all your staff - a trip we shall never forget!" C & G - Farnham, England

Well, after an incredible month like we have just experienced, November certainly has a huge task ahead, but we are sure that the Busanga Plains will live up to its spectacular name.

Until next month,

Andrew, Shannon, Idos, Essie, Lexon and
The Shumba Team

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Busanga Bush Camp update - October 07                Jump to Busanga Bush Camp

October marked the first signs of the Zambian rainy season here on the Busanga Plains. We watched as the skies unfolded like a gigantic canvas in front of our eyes after the stifling stillness of midday, only to tease us with the promise of relief. The next day would repeat the same pattern until finally the rains came and lightning danced across the purple-blue sky like nature's own fireworks display.

October and the beginning of November has not only proved to be the hottest time of year here on the Plains but also the most productive game-wise. The cheetah brothers were spotted on several occasions this month. Usually the sight of these magnificent creatures resting in the shade of a tree far outweighed the onslaught of the tsetse flies on the tree line. On one occasion Solomon and his guests also spotted two other male cheetah we haven't seen in the area before. Unfortunately these two newcomers were quite skittish and did not stick around for too long.

We have also been seeing a couple of herds of buffalo moving about the Plains, numbering about 250 strong. They are quite a sight as they graze on the plains, littered with Cattle Egret-confetti. The roan antelope and wildebeest have once again delighted many a photographer as they are very relaxed with vehicles around and are easy to approach. The resident herd of lechwe and puku still frequent the plain in front of camp and we have even seen the odd hippo strolling past toward the now-rapidly drying stream.

The Busanga lions have also not failed to delight us with their tree-climbing antics this month. Towards the end of the month, we watched as two lionesses and two cubs walked straight past camp and then proceeded to climb up the fig tree on the island next to Tent 4. This is where they stayed the whole day as we watched them from the camp until later that evening when they finally decided to get back down on solid earth - rather ungraciously.

We also had the two male lions walk past camp on a few occasions and we even watched them have a little skirmish outside camp. Their roars could be heard floating like ghosts over the plains for most of the night. The Busanga lions have certainly moved back to their favourite area with Busanga Bush Camp at the heart of their territory.

But the highlight this far was definitely seeing the first pangolin of the season - a rather rare and very special sighting anywhere in the African bush. Solomon and his guests accidentally came across this intriguing animal one afternoon on their way in to camp. After the sighting was announced over the radio, a ripple of excitement echoed over the plains as managers and staff alike raced over to have a look at the pangolin. One of our guests quite aptly described the pangolin as a cross between a ferret and an artichoke!

The first returning summer migrants were announced early one morning by the familiar call of a Woodlands Kingfisher - a sure sign that summer has arrived in all her turquoise-clad glory.

With only a few days left before the closing of Busanga Bush Camp, we anticipate more great sightings from our animal neighbours. As the summer rains approach, we have to close up for the season. We look forward to another great season in 2008 and will keep all our guests informed of the remarkable happenings of the Busanga Plains.

See you all next season!

Warm regards,

Sjani and the Busanga Family

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Lunga River Lodge update - October 07                Jump to Lunga River Lodge

I have always wanted to use the words profusion and verdant in the same sentence. Well, the month of October has left me no other option. As with the clouds that seem to gather in increasing abundance on a daily basis, there has also been a profusion and gathering of all sorts of life this month; from the multitude and variety of newborn antelope, birds and all sorts of interesting creatures, to the leaves that have been sprouting from the most lifeless seeming sticks and stumps transforming the green "tinge" of September into a verdant swathe of leaves.

Weather
Even the weather seems to have come to life in a most spectacular way in October, with towering clouds and at times thunder and lighting? and of course the most welcome rains. In fact I am writing this to some booming thunder in the background, which is no doubt a prelude to some more rain. Although we haven't had any significant rains yet, the rains we have had have brought with them the most exquisitely fresh smells and appear to be quenching a thirst that built up of the drier parts of the season and seems to have given the area a definite spring in its step. In general the weather has been very pleasant and the moisture in the air quite noticeable and a welcome relief.

Sightings
Lions have continued to be very active in October, in fact during one dinner there was a lot of commotion next to the camp, and between main course and dessert we went to investigate. Upon arrival we witnessed a pride of three male lions on a kill, as well as some interesting interactions between two lionesses and cub that were on the fringes of the kill along with two spotted hyaena. After a while we all headed back to the dinner table for our own lions' share of dessert, which the guests seem to eat with increased fervour. There were no wild dog sightings during October, however considering the presence of lions in October this is not entirely surprising. We have however had sightings of pretty much everything else from leopard, cheetah, serval, side-striped jackal, buffalo, elephant, roan and sable antelope as well as many other animals.

As for the birding? once again it has continued to impress and send birders' hearts aflutter. As usual we have seen African Finfoot, Western-banded Snake Eagle, Ross's and Schalow's Turaco, Red-throated Twinspot, Chaplin's Barbet Saddle-billed Stork; Wattled Crane and Black-backed Barbet. Notable sightings this month have been nesting Chaplin's Barbets and Paradise Flycatchers and Wattled Cranes with chicks. On one morning we spotted three Ross's Turaco in the space of thirty seconds - it seems that at Lunga they momentarily forgot that they are supposed to be secretive and inconspicuous. The summer migrants have continued to arrive in the area and have included the Jacobins and Striped Cuckoo, as well as European, Blue-cheeked and Carmine Bee-eaters, to mention but a few.

Until next time,
Warm regards from the Lunga Team

Guest comments for the month of October
"Wonderful spot and amazing staff. Thanks for everything" - UK
"Relaxed atmosphere, brilliant guiding, great setting" - UK
"The best place we have stayed in Zambia - great staff, food - totally good!" - USA

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

Kings Pool in October traditionally is the hottest month of the year and this year was no acceptation. The mornings and evenings have been very comfortable but midday temperatures have been soaring. But nothing a cold gin and tonic and some shade can't solve.

We have had very little rain this month. The little water that has fallen from the sky has provoked the vegetation to start pushing out fresh green leaves. Within two weeks the landscape has started transforming into the lush green wonderland we know as the rainy season.

Game has been spectacular this month with great predator and herbivore sightings.

The Border Boys (coalition of male lions) have been busy making babies this month! They have been spotted mating with the Linyanti Tented Camp females. They are all in great shape and as strong as ever. Three other males arrived in the Border Boys' territory and a battle ensued resulting in one of the other males being killed by our powerful boys.

The Savuti Pride has been coming into the Kings Pool area recently which is adding to our great lion sightings. Thanks Savuti!

Our resident female leopard has been an absolute superstar this month with regular sightings in and around Kings Pool Camp. She was spotted on numerous occasions around our boma looking for baboons and impala who take refuge in camp. One morning she managed to take down a female impala next to Room 2 but hyaena chased her off and took the prize.

The daughter of our resident female has also been very active and great sightings were had with mom and daughter sharing kills and playing together. The BDF female and a large male have also been encountered this month.

Elephants are still in great numbers but fewer than the previous dryer months. We still have great sightings of elephants crossing the Linyanti River into Namibia at sunsets and matriarchs chasing staff around camp!

The hippos have made a great comeback at the Kings Pool Lagoon and we have counted over 40 individuals in front of camp. Their grunting orchestra can be heard for most of the day and night.

A small hyaena family has set up shop at the Kings Pool airstrip. 1 female with her 4 cubs are now living in a den on the apron of the airstrip. They often leave the den in the afternoon, allowing the youngsters to get their curiosity fix. Great sightings!

We are all looking forward to the rainy season as it will bring relief for all living things and settle the dust of the dry season. The incredible lightning storms are a distant memory but the smell of rain brings hope that the storms will arrive soon and bless us with its electric energy and roaring thunder.

Enjoy

The Kings Pool Team

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Kwando Safari Camps Update - October 07

Lagoon camp               Jump to Lagoon Camp
• The four male lions have now established themselves well in the area. They have been seen on numerous occasions throughout the month, mostly whilst following the buffalo herds around. A single male and female have also been spotted in the area and it looks like they might start mating soon.
• Leopard sightings were good during this month. A young female was seen feeding on the remains of a zebra foul that was killed by the two cheetah brothers. Good sightings of a female and her cub feeding on an impala were also reported. A young male, who looked very healthy were seen on several occasions around and not far away from camp.
• The two cheetah brothers made their monthly appearance in the Lagoon area as usual. Some new faces were spotted in the area, when three young males were seen hunting impala. They were very nervous at first but seem to be getting more relaxed now after being around for a couple of weeks.
• The Lagoon pack of wild dogs an their pups were doing very well until it was noticed by the guides that two of the pups were missing. No one knows what could have happened to the missing pups. The pack of 6 adult dogs and remaining 7 pups were seen hunting and killing warthog as well as impala.
• A good sighting of two female hyena feeding young ones near their den were reported during one of the night drives. African wild cats, jackal and genets were also seen on the night drives throughout the month.
• A couple of early rain showers caused some of the big elephant herds to move towards the mopane forests. They soon started drifting back to the river and floodplains when the rain disappeared.
• Big mixed herds of buffalo, some of them with 500 and more buffalo in the herds continue to been seen grazing on the flood plains. Some of the bulls were seen mating with the cows and there are lots of calves in the herds.
• General game was very good during this month. Big herds of zebra and large journeys of giraffe were also seen. Wildebeest, steenbok, lechwe, and impala made up some of the many other species of general game that were sighted.
• A number of porcupines were seen, as well as civet, caracal, honey badgers and banded mongooses. Lots of springhare was also sighted almost every night.
• Birding was good during this month, with carmine bee-eaters, yellow-billed storks and some broad billed rollers being seen. A 2.5 meter black mamba was seen crossing the road in front of one of the game drive vehicles.

Kwara & Little Kwara camps               Jump to Kwara & Little Kwara camps
• Lion sightings were again very good during this month. The pride of 7 females managed to kill a giraffe near wild dog road. They fed on it for a day, before a coalition of 7 male lions showed up at their feast. The male lions drove the females off and took over the kill. The very successful coalition of seven males also managed to kill a buffalo calf a few days later and were seen feeding on their kill.
• Two groups of cheetah were seen during this month. A female with her 3 sub-adult cubs were seen hunting and they brought down an impala in front of the game drive vehicles. Unfortunately a clan of hyena rushed in and stole the kill from them. The 3 brothers were also seen resting under some trees.
• A pack of 22 wild dogs visited the area unexpectedly during this month. The pack consisted of 13 adult dogs and 9 pups. They were followed on numerous of their hunts and they made for very good photographic opportunities
• Small bachelor herds and many single bull elephants were seen feeding on the floodplains during this month. One of these big old bulls was seen wading through the Gadikwe lagoon by one of the boats visiting the heronry.
• Big herds of buffalo are still visiting the area. These herds are coming out of the mopane woodlands where all the waterholes are dry.
• Hyena was seen most nights patrolling around the camps and good interaction between them and the wild dogs were reported. Both black backed and side-striped jackal were seen during the night drives. One of the game drives also saw some bat eared foxes.
• General game sightings continue to be very good. Giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, warthog, kudu and many reedbucks were seen.
• Good sightings of Civet, Serval and African Wild Cat have been reported. Serval and genets were also seen on some of the drives.
• Birding was spectacular in this month. Many of the summer residents are now breeding at Gadikwe lagoon. The heronry is filled with yellow-billed storks, marabou storks, egrets and many other species of birds. A group of 14-wattled cranes have been seen on numerous occasions foraging in the Kwara floodplains.

Lebala camp
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• The pride of three lionesses and their eight cubs were seen regularly throughout the month. One cub went missing for a couple of days but joined the pride again at some stage. The two dominant males joined the pride on some occasions and were seen hunting zebra and warthog with them. They were followed on one of their warthog hunts; they missed the warthog but bumped in to a baby elephant, which they managed to kill.
• Leopard sightings were excellent during this month. A young male leopard was seen on several occasions, once while he was relaxing with his impala kill in a sausage tree. A female was also seen in a sausage tree feeding on her tsessebe kill.
• A pack of 11 wild dogs and their 2 pups made another brief visit to the area. They managed to kill an impala during their stay and then left the area shortly after the kill. The lagoon pack consisting of thirteen dogs were also seen nearby over the same period.
• Big breeding herds, bachelor herds and some single bull elephants are a common sighting on the flood plains.
• Big herds of buffalo, some ranging between five hundred and a thousand animals were found along various plains. They were mostly seen mating and drinking with some of the bulls fighting for females.
• Excellent general game with many large journeys of giraffe, impala, waterbuck, Tsessebe, Wildebeest, Steenbok zebra, red lechwe and kudu. Some herds of roan and sable antelope were also seen during the drives.
• Night sightings were good with both species of jackal being seen. Spotted hyena and jackal were seen feeding on an elephant carcass. Some of the hyena clans managed to kill a very old buffalo cow near the airstrip and they managed to finish it off overnight.
• Birding was excellent during this month, with most of the summer residents around. The carmine bee-eaters are breeding and the weavers are busy making nests. Some paradise flycatchers were also seen around camp.
• Civet, serval, porcupines as well as honey badgers were common sightings throughout the month. Various mongoose species were also seen.

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Mombo Camp update - October 07                Jump to Mombo Camp

It looked like this year's rain season is going to be one of the longest since our first rain was on the second of October in the late afternoon. The morning before the rains it was very warm and we were all under the impression that our proper rains would only start in November, only to be taken aback when we were blessed with 6.6mm.Then, when we were all convinced that this was just a brief introduction to the summer season, we were clapped by another storm on the 5th which gave us another 7.89mm which was accompanied by a very strong wind which lasted 20 minutes. We also received a very short-lived storm towards the end of the month and these storms made the October month less hot than expected, so the average rainfall for this month was 26.2mm. This settled the dust nicely! The mean temperature for the month was of 26ºC, and in the hottest day of the month we recorded 38ºC in afternoon where as the coldest was 14.3ºC in the morning.

The Vegetation
With the rains came new grass shoots and trees have all turned green, floodplains now look like golf courses because the coach grass and other swamp grasses are so green from the moisture left by the flood in the soil and from the rain we received.

General game
On Mombo Island you are assured of seeing animals in big groups on each and every corner - on game drives and around camp. Warthog, kudu and incredibly big herds of impala, baboon and zebra always move towards the predicted safe drinking spots. Many guests commented on the excellent numbers of our giraffe population.

Leopards
Highlights of the month included Legadima with a kill on a tree and a couple of hyaena feeding on the bits and pieces of meat and bones which were falling down while Legadima was busy having a feast. This sighting gave a photographic opportunity to all who managed to be there. The light was beautiful, blue skies which came out after the rains provided the best background of all the photos captured. This female leopard stayed in the old trails camp area for a couple more days and she was then now spotted with a big male who we think is going to be the father to her next litter. Legadima and this new male did not bother changing mating venues for about four consecutive days. This was the highlight of that week.

Legadima mating at Mombo

Legadima never stops surprising us at Mombo. One of the unforgettable sightings of her was the one when she was in Main Mombo at Tent 2, where she spent three days with her kill in the tree right at the entrance of the tent. She made a red lechwe kill round about 18:30 and decided to lie on the boardwalk leading to Tent 2 the whole night. We had guests staying in the room and we had to find them somewhere else for them to sleep because she was not prepared to move at all - we could not use the room for 2 nights!

Cheetah
On the morning of the 5th, the lonely male cheetah (since the death of his brother) was spotted on Hamerkop Island where he was stalking some impala - with some difficulty because the wind direction kept on changing, thereby revealing his presence. This cheetah has been seen six different times and is very relaxed. He seems to have found his way around all the potential threats of this big cat. He has been recorded taking down impala which seem to be his favourite diet and may be the only easiest prey for an animal of his size, however he has also been recorded feeding on a young kudu and has also tried to take down warthog although not very successfully.

Lion and Hyaena
The Mombo lion population is believed to be one of the highest in the country and has been increased by three new cubs from one of the Western Pride females. This female has been sighted taking down warthogs and young giraffes in more or less same area and this made the guides curious since they noticed that she was nursing cubs. They started monitoring her movements and eventually found her cubs hidden on a palm island.

Lion cubs at Mombo camp

The Mathata Pride, the biggest in the area, has been seen only 14 times compared to Maporota (the second biggest pride) which was recorded on 23 different game drives! The Western Pride tends to confine its movements along the channel which runs past the western side of the camp. Unknown lions were also recorded around the Moporota floodplain. In total the guides saw an average of 52 individual lions on the drives conducted this October.

Male Lion killing a hyena

One of the highlights recorded from the Main Camp deck was that of an unidentified lioness which made a red lechwe kill on the plains in front of the lodge and almost lost it to crocodiles who played a tug of war with her, until she decided to drag her kill further away from the water. Almost every guest saw part of this breathtaking sight.

Hyaena are still found in good numbers on Mombo Island and have been seen interacting with lion on several occasions - sometimes taking risks which get them killed.

Rhino
A good number of rhino were seen in the areas which were affected by the natural fires which probably started by lightning. A female with a calf was sighted 10 times; she is one of the most relaxed and sociable cows. She was once seen in the middle of a herd of buffalo sharing their grazing grounds. She sometimes spends her time with the dominant bull Serondela which Poster and the guides have managed to track and locate at least once every month this year so far. These animals moved a little closer to camp than usual in the beginning of the month and Serondela has been spotted around the Hamerkop plains which are part of his territory.

White Rhino at Mombo

Elephant
The amount of large elephant breeding herds of 30 animals and more has really increased in the area which might be a result of the retreating flood and has driven all these herds back to the perennially filled channels and lagoons. A lot of babies crossing rivers and mud wallowing especially around the Hippo Hide area have entertained us during picnics, which we have in the shade of the sycomore fig tree right in front of the hide overlooking the lagoon.

Elephant at the Hippo Pool - Mombo camp      Hippos at Mombo

Birds
Woodland kingfishers and carmine bee-eaters give us good indication as to how close we are to receiving our main rains of the year. Ground hornbills and wattled cranes have been seen in the area.

Camp activities
The Mombo team has always presented unbelievable Boma nights to guests with beautiful singing and delicious traditional food from Simon and his kitchen team. Special picnics and private dinners were surprises for our honeymoon guests.

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