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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

April 2008

(Page 1 of 2)

Page 1 Updates
General Safaris News - General information and updates from our partners in Africa.
Wildlife News - Interesting wildlife sightings and photos.
Camp News - Camp specific news, including refurbs, rebuilds, accolades, etc.
• Monthly update from North Island in the Seychelles.
• Monthly update from Savuti Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in Botswana.
Kwando Safaris game reports.
• Monthly update from Little Makalolo Camp in Zimbabwe.
• Monthly update from Makalolo Plains Camp in Zimbabwe.

Page 2 Updates
• Monthly update from Jacana Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jao Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Little Vumbura Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in South Africa.
• Diving update from Rocktail Bay in South Africa.
• Monthly update from Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Serra Cafema Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Damaraland Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Governors' Camp in Kenya's Masai Mara.
• Quarterly update from Campi ya Kanzi in Kenya's Chyulu Hills.


General Safaris Updates - April 2008

GENERAL UPDATES
Wilderness Safaris' Kwena Lagoon Opening Postponed to 2009 Season
Kwena Lagoon Camp in South Luangwa National Park, scheduled to open in July 2008, will now do so in 2009.

Preparation of the site overlooking the productive Luamfwa Lagoon was begun during the 2007 dry season with actual camp construction scheduled to take place in April and May 2008. This construction was initially delayed due to weather conditions in the area and elsewhere with the result that the plans for 2008 had to be re-evaluated.

Accordingly we decided that, rather than compromise development of this exciting product in a rushed construction process, we would postpone its opening until the 2009 season.

All bookings currently in the system will be accommodated in alternate accommodation, including our own Kalamu Tented Camp, which is situated only 3.5km to the east of the Kwena Lagoon site and which covers the same traversing and game viewing area. The standard of the camp is identical, the only real difference being its smaller size.

We will nonetheless be proceeding with the construction of Kwena Lagoon Camp during the 2008 season. This will allow us the luxury of offering site inspections of the camp in progressive stages of development to individuals from the travel trade visiting our South Luangwa concession this year. It will also allow us the capacity to host our first Children in the Wilderness camp for the South Luangwa later this year.


Outgoing Botswana President visits Mombo
Mombo recently had the privilege of hosting the (now former) President Festus Mogae of Botswana. Space opened in the camp on the night that he was supposed to be in Maun for his farewell celebrations and he jumped at the opportunity.

Former President Mogae at Mombo

This was a special day for the Mombo staff: they all went to the airstrip to meet him and after disembarking from his helicopter, the President immediately began dancing with them. He enjoyed the afternoon drive so much that even after a late night he was up early again for a morning game drive again before leaving. "An amazing individual and a pleasure to host," was the general consensus!


Safari & Adventure Co. brand roll-out - it's official!
Safari & Adventure Company

As of 1 May, some camps previously under the Wilderness Safaris banner have now been officially rebranded as Safari & Adventure Co.

The following camps are in the Safari & Adventure Co. portfolio:
South Africa - Pafuri Camp (Kruger National Park); Rocktail Bay Lodge (Maputaland).
Namibia - Doro Nawas Camp (Damaraland); Kulala Wilderness Camp (Sossusvlei).
Zambia - Lufupa Tented Camp (Kafue National Park)

In addition, a number of new camps have opened under the Safari & Adventure Co. banner:
South Africa - Rocktail Beach Camp (Maputaland).
Namibia - Andersson's Camp (Etosha National Park); Lianshulu Lodge (Caprivi).
Zambia - Lufupa River Camp (Kafue National Park).


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WILDLIFE NEWS
Seychelles White-Eye Fledglings
Location: North Island, Seychelles
Date: May 2008
Observers: Linda van Herck, Greg Wepender & Chris Tinkler

The Seychelles is classed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International and contains two Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) - the Aldabra Atoll and the Granitic Islands. Twelve species of endemic bird are found on the Granitic Islands, most are classed as endangered and four are classed as critically endangered.

Seychelles White-Eye Fledgling at North Island      Ringing a Seychelles White-Eye Fledgling

The Seychelles White-eye is a Critically Endangered small land bird species, with a global population estimated in 2006 at around 400 individuals present on three different islands. Part of the government's recovery programme for this precious species was to transfer some birds to other islands to better ensure its survival. North Island's hard work towards its rehabilitation was rewarded in August 2006, when the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources chose North Island and Cousine Island as hosts for the introduction of Seychelles White-eyes. With the assistance of the local NGO, Island Conservation Society, 25 White-eyes were transferred from Conception to North Island in July 2007, thereby reaching a milestone in the rehabilitation of the Island.

Seychelles White-Eye re-introduction project

In a thrilling development, several Seychelles White-Eye fledglings were identified, proving that the recently introduced birds have in fact bred. Together with local environmental staff Linda van Herck, Greg Wepener and Chris Tinkler, Dr Gerard Rocamora and his assistant Andre LaBiche have done nearly all monitoring of this species on the island and were also responsible for spotting the first nests and tracking the fledglings.

The Island Conservation Society (ICS), our NGO partner which did last year's introduction and post-transfer monitoring, have now managed to ring two of our Seychelles White-eye fledglings. Measurements were recorded, and subsequently blood samples were taken as this is the only way to determine their gender Knowing the updated sex ratio will be vital in future transfers to decide what gender to introduce - at the moment we have a population skewed towards males. Dr Rocamora will continue trying to catch the other fledglings - we have at least six other fledglings confirmed alive.

Bird ringing is a critical component of monitoring: it allows for individual recognition and tracking for research on survival, social group dynamics and breeding success in individual birds.

New breeding efforts have been observed too, ensuring further bird ringing practice!
(All photos taken by Greg Wepener)


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CAMP UPDATES
North Island - Environmental Update

The first quarter of this year has provided much good news when it comes to Project Noah's Ark on North Island. The best news is that the Seychelles White-Eyes, 25 of which were translocated to the island last year, have clearly settled down well as monitors have confirmed the presence of 12 fledglings alive and well on the island! This is excellent news which confirms the island's suitability for this rare species.

North Island vegetation      White-tailed Tropicbird chick

The vegetation rehabilitation project has been a long-term project, beginning well before guests ever visited North Island. The first section of the plan involved rehabilitating those areas on the plateau that were easier to get to. The second part of the vegetation management plan has now begun, and this involves tackling the hills - an area that is more inaccessible and more difficult to work on. A large-scale clearing of exotics such as prune de France and Lantana has begun on the 90-metre-high Congoment (better known to guests as Spa Hill), as well as subsequent planting of endemic palm species and other indigenous trees (including Tabernaemontana coffeoides, Premna serratifolia, and Carissa edulis) from the North Island's nursery. As in the past, the Biodiversity Center on Mahé was very helpful in providing some of the plant material.

Turtle-wise, the hawksbill turtle laying season is at an end, but the hatchlings are keeping guests delighted, being spotted a few times in February and March. While North Island Environmental staff has the principle not to interfere with natural processes, nests exposed during beach erosion do get translocated to help with the hatching. Some 155 eggs found unopened on West Beach were even moved into a makeshift incubator with moist sand that was kept in the office! Of these 147 live hatchlings were released at their 'original' nesting site.

Meanwhile the green turtle nesting season has begun, with the first night sighting on Grand Anse in January and another three tracks found during the day patrols. While we haven't seen any more turtles at night, their tracks have been left behind as evidence.

Furthermore, the continued absence of rats and abundance of indigenous food supplies seems to be attracting more and more birds to the island. On the beaches, Common Terns and Crab Plovers have been seen in small numbers, while Moorhen numbers have increased wonderfully over the years. The most spectacular sighting however has been that of a pair of White-tailed Tropicbirds to a nest on Spa Hill, as well as of a chick spotted at the foot of a large takamaka tree near West Beach. The presence of these birds once again confirms North Island's status as a true Noah's Ark.


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Seychelles / North Island
North Island update - April 08               Jump to North Island

The weather this month has been largely unpredictable. During the beginning of April the sea conditions were fantastic with several days of perfectly flat seas which, of course, was again very shortlived with the arrival of the ever-looming South-East Monsoon wind which 'declared' its arrival around the 25th April. This was rather early for the South-East monsoon winds to arrive but they had arrived nonetheless and the winds continued to blow consistently for almost a week.

Along with the arrival of the South-East monsoon season comes a fascinating transition to the clarity, temperature and the inhabitants of the water around the Seychelles. Deeper, cooler, more nutrient-rich water now infiltrates the islands. This nutrient-rich water brings with it an array of fantastic deepwater creatures which are suspended in the water like spiders in their webs. A host of deep sea jellies, comb jellies and hydropods as well as various species of copepods infest the water. While seemingly unimpressive from afar, the true fascination of these creatures is only fully understood while viewing them close up, many of which have perfectly aligned rows of alternating flashing lights while others have hundreds of waving arms that can retract in the blink of an eye. There is currently very little known about the behaviour of these creatures which only adds to their strange fascination.

Another particularly exciting occurrence associated with the south-east monsoon season is the erratic schooling behaviour of the yellowtail jacks (Seriola lalandi): These deep water predatory fish swim frantically from reef to reef hunting for schools of juvenile sprats, fusiliers and snappers. In their singleminded quest for food the jacks often mistake the activity of a dive group as a focus for their attention and it is not uncommon to have hundreds of these jacks circling around the divers in a vortex of confusion. This schooling phenomenon is quite incredible to witness and divers often find themselves turning slowly in midwater while watching a spiral of solid fish encompass the dive group.

The diving this month has also been particularly exciting with the change in the season and water conditions, which has brought with it a range of new sightings.

'Twin Anchors', which is located on the small northern beach of Anse Mondon on Silhouette Island has been a particularly favourite dive site this last month and has provided some fantastic sightings of turtles, rays and sharks. Numerous hawksbill turtle sightings which had previously not been seen so frequently as well as several families of spotted eagle rays which have become almost resident on the outer sandy flats of this reef have been recorded and, of course, the ever-present white tip reef sharks.

Two particularly exciting discoveries on this reef were that of the paperfish (Taenianotus triacanthus) as well as the seagrass ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus) which are both extremely rare sightings. These creatures are rather small and extremely difficult to spot, the paperfish perfectly resembling a growth of algae due to its colour and shape but also due to the fact that it sways from side to side, while the pipefish resembles a drifting piece of sea grass.

A further rare sighting this month was that of a clown frogfish (Antennarius maculatus) which is also known as a painted angler fish, on 'Sprat City'. The frogfish, like the scorpionfish, has an uncanny ability to camouflage itself to the exact colour and texture of the surrounding reef while simultaneously using its pectoral fins as 'hands' to hold onto the reef.

There were also several different sightings of green turtles on the northern reaches of 'Sprat City' at the beginning of the month and then toward the end of the month there have been several sightings of a particularly large green turtle on 'Sprat City' itself. This individual was first spotted in a small cave in the north of the reef and has since been spotted in the main shark cave in the south. No tags have been seen but this individual is also particularly cautious with divers, making it difficult to check for these tags properly.

Following the observations of the rabbitfish from last month there have been a resident school of white spotted rabbitfish on 'Sprat City' for the entire month of April. This, as mentioned before, is extremely exciting as it will greatly assist in registering 'Sprat City' (if not the entire island) as a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

The white tip reef sharks, as noted last month, have continued to congregate on 'Sprat City' and have now taken to accumulating on the sandy flats at the bottom of the reef while only occasionally venturing out over the reef itself. There have been numerous dogtooth tuna which have been resident on 'Sprat City' over the last two months. They nonetheless provide great viewing opportunities for the divers while they swiftly cruise mid water around the reef.

'Brain Freeze', a recently discovered dive site off the south-western side of North Island has provided fantastic sightings of rock lobster as well as of the schooling yellowtail jacks which like to frequent this reef during the early winter months of May and June.

In the beginning of April there have again been several sightings of bottlenose dolphins, which have provided some fantastic experiences for the guests: One particularly memorable encounter was with a family of approximately eight extremely inquisitive individuals that repeatedly swam toward the snorkellers from the depths. The guests who were swimming with the dolphins were ecstatic as they had never had the opportunity to swim with them in the water.

'The Aquarium', an excellent snorkelling spot on a bad day, has been a favourite this month and the visibility and the sightings here have been fantastic. This area is renowned for sightings of the grey reef shark as well as large schools of humphead parrotfish which enjoy grazing on the low lying corals at the base of the rocks. Other sightings often included the white tip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays and several hawksbill turtles.

One of the highlights of this month was undoubtedly the fishing and diving trip to Denis Island. There was much excitement surrounding the diving as the drop-off invokes images of deep walls with schools of gamefish and countless deep water sharks. In order to find a suitable depth, the first of the two dives was conducted on a shallower reef closer to Denis Island which was interesting but far from our now heightened expectations of what we might see. In search of some adventure, we decided to dive on the actual ledge of the drop-off. The bottom was 100 metres below, and we hung around at 20 metres hoping to catch some of the action from this ledge; unfortunately we couldn't see much past 25 metres as there was a distinctly colder, nutrient level of water at that depth. Although this dive provided no sightings at all, apart from a few deep sea jellies and copepods, the excitement of actually diving on the drop-off as well as the incredibly deep indigo colour of the water provided plentiful adrenalin to calm our anticipation.

-Patrick Armstrong-

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Botswana Camps
Savuti Camp update - April 08                Jump to Savuti Camp

From the air, the Savuti Channel is a magnificent sight, the water meandering ever onward, with all the bird and other wildlife enjoying its short-lived presence. Crocodiles observed in the forward reaches of the channel are exploring or re-exploring areas they have not seen in 25 years! The Kwando River is also in flood but due to a blockage of reeds upstream, the water is being channelled away from the Zibidianja Lagoon (the source of the Savuti Channel) and it now appears that the water is even receding. We'll see what transpires in May.

The month has seen some great sightings. Our wild dogs were seen mating in front of the camp despite the alpha (dominant) female being ill. She has since recovered and so we are all relieved and hope to see a new batch of pups later in the year. These dogs have given us great sightings throughout the month along with the spotted hyaenas that habitually follow them around. The two cheetah brothers have also been seen with regularity - on one occasion within metres from the wild dogs and hyaenas.

The Savuti lion pride continues to elude us on most occasions. It is clear that the 'Selinda Boys' - Silver Eye and his brother from the west - have moved in and taken over the territory previously held by the Savuti Brothers who are now possibly in hiding. The Savuti Pride is also in hiding due to the threat posed to the cubs by Silver Eye.

Burchell's zebra are starting to move along the Channel along with other general game providing a constant source of sightings for our guests.

Most of the migratory bird species have now left, most notably the Southern Carmine Bee-eater flocks, although a lone Woodland Kingfisher was still seen in camp around month end. A few months ago, a resident Red-billed Francolin took to nesting among the hand towels in the guest bathroom. Each time she looked up into the mirror she furiously attacked her reflection. She is still doing so!

Winter is early this year. Mid-month saw our first channel frost; this caught all of us by surprise and the winter woollies came out immediately. Having said that there is still a lot of water in the woodland pans and the elephants are still spending most of their time in the woodlands although signs are that they are starting to converge on the Channel and the Linyanti River.

The best sightings for the month have to be a baby Blacksmith Lapwing being chaperoned by its parents and also a hatchling Red-crested Korhaan being guarded by its mum - awesome ooh-and-aah sightings. However, some would argue that watching the Savuti lion pride hunting giraffe but catching a zebra in the end is hard to beat.

Till next month,
-Roger-

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DumaTau Camp update - April 08                Jump to DumaTau Camp

The fact that the Channel is submerged under water for 14-odd kilometres from the Zibadianja Lagoon means that the two cheetah brothers have been kept inside our concession and cannot cross over to the neighbouring Selinda or Kwando concessions; Mother Nature has done us a favour here. These cheetah brothers have been spotted hunting between Savuti and DumaTau and a week ago they were seen hunting impala just by the Access Road. They made a kill outside camp and right in front of Lemme who was with guests arriving from the airstrip - what a welcome to the bush that was.

Leopard have also been seen a lot. The DumaTau male was seen two weeks ago mating with an unknown female (possibly the Zib Female) just by the Transit Route and then heading towards Mopane Road. An unidentified female was seen by Mokwapa Road and the Rock Pan Female has been seen a lot along the water feeding on Catfish. We have been seeing a sub-adult female in camp, by the boat station and also in the staff village.

This was the month for wild dogs - as they spent almost three weeks hunting the area around the sunken hide just south of camp. They typically would start hunting when it cooled down and would come back to the area around the sunken hide. The guides suspect that the reason why they keep coming back to the same area is because the alfa (dominant) female is looking very sick and skinny at the moment. She has unfortunately not been seen lately.

General game has been numerous as usual and elephants are coming back to the area. A lot have been seen along the Savute Channel and along the DumaTau floodplains. We even saw Big George four days ago; it was nice to see the big fella again.

Lions seem currently to be in a state of flux. We are mostly seeing only the two males known as the Selinda Boys. Silver Eye and Brother are ruling this area and as a result, the Savuti Pride (whose cubs are not fathered by these males) has not been seen for almost two months now. They have moved down the Channel and are mostly to the east of Savuti Camp (where they were seen killing a zebra by the Savuti Camp guides). The Selinda Boys have been proclaiming their territory and have been seen moving between Mopane Bridge and Dish Pan. We hear them roaring at the crack of dawn about every two days. Our guides suspect that they are looking for the Savuti female that they have been mating with. Three weeks ago they came into camp and gave everyone an early wake up call by roaring just behind the staff village. It was so loud that we could hear the scratch in his throat. Miriam and I woke up and jumped into a Land Rover to find him. It was a great sighting to see these two big males walk through camp roaring as they proclaimed their territory. We kept them in sight and waited for the guides to arrive with the guests. Then just a few days back the Border Boys were seen after Livingstone Hide by the open Blue Bush area on a giraffe kill.

Kessy is now working in her new position as curio shop assistant and Masole has also been working hard on his new role as Supervisor at the Front of House. Ollie is thriving in his new position as the Head Guide and we are ready for the winter months ahead, reopening camp after Phase 1 of our new refurbishment of 3 April. The first guests arrived 30 minutes after we had finalised furniture placements and everything looked great. There is a very positive vibe in camp and this is creating magic for the guests.

Managers: Vasco, Miriam, Sandra and Diana
Guides: Ollie, Lazi, Lemme, Dennis and Mocks

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Kings Pool Camp update - April 08                Jump to Kings Pool Camp

After being closed for three months, we reopened our camp on the 2nd of April with a brand new main area! Wow, is the only word to describe it! We will let the picture do the talking.

Newly rebuilt Kings Pool Camp

The weather in April was very pleasant. The cold winds of winter have not yet reached us, although we did have a little warning that winter is on its way though. In mid-April temperatures plummeted for two or three days - just a friendly reminder to unpack those woollies and prepare for winter.

Juvenile Martial Eagle

Birding has been very good this month with many great sightings of Wattled Cranes, Southern Ground Hornbills and a huge variety of raptors including a juvenile Martial Eagle (pictured above) and of course our resident Little Bee-eaters which entertain us every afternoon during high tea with their acrobatic flights in pursuit of flying insects.

Great news for the cat lovers is that our local pride of lions has had a small litter of two cubs! We have spent hours watching these future 'Kings' of the Linyanti play and pounce at anything that moves! They will eventually turn into one of Africans greatest and most respected predators.

Male Lion

One morning on game drive we tracked down one of our territorial male lions as he led us to a giraffe kill which he managed to kill without assistance from his brothers. This produced a five-day-long sighting of male lions on a kill. It's amazing to see the full cycle at play, how one animal has to die in order for another to survive! Vultures eventually cleaned the last scraps of meat off the bones leaving virtually nothing behind.

Leopards have been scarce this month with sightings few and far between. But with the waterholes drying out their territories will shrink and be concentrated along the river where they will be easier to find this winter. Wild dogs have however been giving us great sightings in April. One afternoon whilst sitting at the bar enjoying a well deserved sundowner, a pack of these painted dogs came running through the camp and circled around in the parking area. One of Africa's rarest carnivores right on our doorstep - a truly special sighting.

Elephants have returned to the Linyanti in great numbers and our resident bulls are seen daily in camp feeding on the vegetation around the rooms. Many herds are congregating along the river, a good start to the dry season!

Elephant at Kings Pool      Python

The general plains game has also been consistently good this month. We even have a new creature to add to our residents list - a three metre African rock python. It is very well mannered and keeps to itself on most occasions!

We all hope to see you soon at the new Kings Pool.

-Nick, Kerry, Olivia, Gabbi and Eddie-

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Kwando Safari Camps Update - April 08

Lagoon camp               Jump to Lagoon Camp
• The past month there have been a  relatively few sightings of the Lagoon pride. There has been a number of sightings of the two dominant males within the area as well as the single male who seems to be a bit lean at the moment.
• Leopard sightings have been a little unpredictable the last month, although were a number of sightings including one hunting a Guinea fowl at zebra pan.
• The coalition of the three Cheetah brothers has been doing a large amount of hunting the past few weeks along the Mokutsumo and Mosheshse road. They have managed to take down an Impala and a Tsesebe. A single cub was reported with her mother on one of the afternoon game drives on an Impala kill.
• The Lagoon pack of Wild Dog have been on the move the past month and creating havoc with the Selinda pack. Guests were stunned to see o full-on fight between the two packs resulting in serious injuries inflicted on one of the dominant females of the Selinda pack. The lagoon pack has splitting up on some occasions bringing the pack down to nine and the hunting has been successful on a numerous species but mostly the Impala have been on the menu. On e set of guests were lucky enough to see the Dogs take down an Impala right in front of the vehicle, and only five minutes from camp.
• Thundering herds of eighty elephants plus have been reported by the guides in the area and large herds of bachelor herds mounting into the twenties.
• Buffalo herds have picked up dramatically the past few weeks and the guides have been reporting hers up to the five hundred plus on the plains to the west of Zebra pan.
• Night drives have been a highlight in the Lagoon area with guests spotting a Hyena carrying one of her cubs in her mouth. This is often the case if other large predators such as Lion have interrupted a den. They have also been known to move the den if there has been an infestation of parasites.
• Giant eagle owls have been seen on a number of occasions throughout the concession at dusk, and have been known to be highly territorial and seen on very rare occasions fighting on the ground.

Kwara & Little Kwara camps               Jump to Kwara & Little Kwara camps
• There have been numerous sightings of the seven male lions in and around the camp feeding mostly on Giraffe, other males have also been sighted in the area and both seem to have a few wounds on them we suspect that the two groups been in fighting. The three female lionesses from the pride of the one eyed female have gathered around the airstrip the past few weeks.    
• A female Cheetah has been spotted out on the Kwara flood plains with three cubs. Had a sighting of a female Cheetah on the Xugana road she seemed very relaxed and not fussed about the game drive vehicles.
• The resident female Leopard has been spotted regularly and one group of guests were lucky enough to spot three different males on one evening drive.
• The general game has been excellent as has the birding with the rise of the floods this year, Water buck have been sighted out towards Hippo pools and Hippo seem to be plentiful in front of the camp, Mokoro trips and the boating have been for great birding. Painted reed frogs seem to end up in the boats and Mokoros, a great photo opportunity for the guests.
• Small predators have been the highlight of the area with the rise in floods. With the water pushing into the flood plains thousands of rodents, reptiles and insects are fleeing to the islands. This presents a huge opportunity for Black footed cats, Serval and Dwarf mongoose to prey all of which are being spotted regulary.
• A pangolin was spotted out at honeymoon pan one evening.

Lebala camp               Jump to Lebala Camp
No report this month.

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Zimbabwe Camps
Little Makalolo Camp update - April 08                Jump to Little Makalolo Camp

We are excited to announce that an all-new, redesigned Little Makalolo Camp reopened on 22nd of April. A group of visitors from the USA was happy to 'open' our new camp, spending four exciting nights with us.

Elephants at Little Makalolo      New guest tent at Little Makalolo

Weather, vegetation and water
The weather in the month of April was diverse. We recorded our highest maximum temperature of 39°C on the 4th of April and our lowest maximum of 20°C on the 14th of April. Our lowest minimum temperature was 11°C recorded on the 30th of April. As we enter our dry season most of the vegetation is still looking good however and water availability is still abundant.

Wildlife Viewing
We had a lovely month in terms of game sightings: big herds of elephant and buffalo visited the pan in front of camp. They were joined by troops of chacma baboons as well as herds of Burchell's zebra, southern giraffe, greater kudu, impala, the odd spotted hyaena and even sought after lions - On more than one occasion the lions came close to the camp and this was a most amazing moment to witness.

-The Little Makololo Team-

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Makalolo Plains Camp update - April 08                Jump to Makalolo Plains Camp

Weather
April has been unusually cold; it seems as though winter is starting early this year. A biting minimum temperature of 2.7°C at 07h00 and a maximum of 32.5°C at 15h00 were recorded on the coldest day - the 22nd of the month. Guests are advised to dress warmly for the game drives at this time of year, with good reason!

Vegetation, Landscape and Water levels
The landscape is changing drastically with the grass now turning yellow and brown; in some areas the ground is even starting to become bare. Major waterholes are being pumped daily to maintain their water levels. Surface water is still available in some parts of the concession.

Wildlife
Warthog, waterbuck, chacma, baboon, elephant, southern giraffe, impala, hippo, black-backed jackal, greater kudu, springhare, tree squirrel, blue wildebeest and Burchell's zebra were all commonly encountered this month. Eland, lion, banded mongoose, Cape buffalo, bat-eared fox, vervet monkey and steenbok were also often seen. The more unusual sightings have included porcupine, red hartebeest, civet, small spotted genet, dwarf mongoose, large spotted genet, leopard, white-tailed mongoose, side-striped jackal, wild dog and African wild cat. Other interesting observations included a white rhino wallowing at Ngweshla, a serval hunting rodents, and gemsbok seen on two consecutive days at Somavundla Pan - the latter is a rare sighting that is hardly ever seen.

The predators this month were not seen as frequently as last month. Two sightings of elusive leopard were recorded while the lion prides seem to be hunting deeper into the bush. A lion and two lionesses were however seen at Ngweshla. On approaching them, the lion got agitated at the presence of the vehicle, which led us to believe that they were possibly mating. He was given his space and viewed from a distance. He was then seen a few days later in the same area, but a lot calmer and more approachable this time.

Animals are still frequenting the smaller more remote and inaccessible pans in the woodland. As these dry up they will no doubt come out to the main waterholes (pans), which are being pumped now. Elephants are starting to drink from these waterholes already, and using the smaller ones as mud wallows. Big herds of southern giraffe and Burchell's zebra have been frequenting the plains and have kept wildlife kept viewing from the camp deck area very interesting.

Birds
A total of 91 bird species were recorded for the month with the area offering spectacular broad-leafed woodland birding and many unusual species. Remember those binoculars!

Till next month from The Makalolo Team,

Guides: Dickson Dube, Hupu Dube, Raymond Ndlovu, Lawrence Yohane, Godfrey Kunze
Hostess: Nelly Chinyere
Management: Amon Johnson

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Eyes on Africa, Ltd.
1743 West Fletcher Street
Chicago, Illinois 60657
Tel: 800.457.9575 / 773.549.0169    Fax: 773.327.2977    Email: Eyes on Africa

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