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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

September 2010

(Page 1 of 2)

Page 1 Updates
General Safari 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 Seychelles.
• Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Savuti Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Zarafa Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Selinda Camp in Botswana.
Kwando Safaris game reports from Botswana.
• Monthly update from Mombo Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Xigera Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Chitabe Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Vumbura Plains Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Little Vumbura Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Banoka Bush Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jacana Camp in Botswana.
• 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 Kalahari Plains Camp in Botswana.

Page 2 Updates
• Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in South Africa.
• Monthly update from Pafuri Walking Trail in South Africa.
• Monthly update from Kings Camp in South Africa.
• Monthly update from Rocktail Beach Camp in South Africa.
• Monthly Dive report from Rocktail Bay in South Africa.
• Monthly update from Makalolo Plains in Zimbabwe.
• Monthly update from Little Makalolo in Zimbabwe.
• Monthly update from Davison's Camp in Zimbabwe.
• Monthly update from Ruckomechi Camp in Zimbabwe.
• Monthly update from Mana Canoe Trail in Zimbabwe.
• Monthly update from Toka Leya Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Lufupa River Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Lufupa Tented Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Kalamu Lagoon Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Shumba Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Kapinga Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Busanga Bush Camp in Zambia.
• Monthly update from Mvuu Camp in Malawi.
• Monthly update from Desert Rhino Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Palmwag Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Doro Nawas Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Damaraland Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Serra Cafema Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Ongava Tented Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Little Ongava in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Ongava Lodge in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Andersson's Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Little Kulala Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Kulala Desert Lodge in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Kulala Wilderness Camp in Namibia.
• Monthly update from Governors' Camp in Kenya's Masai Mara.
• Monthly update from Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Rwanda.


GENERAL UPDATES
Sefofane Zimbabwe luggage allowance change
Going forward, the C206 Cessna aircraft used by Sefofane Zimbabwe will only carry four passengers plus the pilot. In doing so, the luggage allowance has been revised to 20kgs (44lbs) per person (including their camera equipment and hand luggage) - in a soft bag, no wheels or frame.


Conservation News
Flying for Wildlife in South Luangwa - Zambia
As part of Wilderness Safaris' commitment to enhancing the South Luangwa National Park a micro light aircraft has been added to the anti-poaching patrol. The aircraft and pilot are permanently based at Kalamu Lagoon Camp and perform multiple roles, with Wilderness Safaris donating flying hours (or subsidising them) to various organisations. The plane flies at fairly low altitude and the pilot and scout look for the smoke from poachers' fires - where they are smoking the meat from the illegally taken animal. The GPS coordinates of the location are then radioed back to Kalamu Lagoon Camp which then sends staff to intercept the poachers (assuming there is road access and/or it is not too far away). It is also intended that the actual presence of the plane will eventually act as a deterrent.

Elephant Count - Botswana
Recently, an elephant count took place with a light aircraft over Mombo and Vumbura areas respectively and their results were interesting, with some unusual sightings and a LOT of elephants. For example, during the Vumbura count, the team saw no fewer than 1 304 elephants (this no doubt being an undercount as a result of calves, bulls and even herds being missed) and 1 302 buffalo! Also noted were all other large mammals, crocodiles and select endangered bird species. These counts are essential for credible ecological monitoring and understanding of these areas.

Conservation updates

Namibia Cape Vulture Release Project
A vital and fascinating new project is being funded by the Wilderness Trust in Namibia. The main aim of this project is to release all viable captive-raised Cape Vulture chicks into Namibia to help stabilise the remaining 12 wild Cape Vultures left and ultimately to increase the remaining wild population of the species.


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WILDLIFE NEWS
Keledi Comes of Age at Tubu Tree
Location: Jao Concession, Okavango Delta
Date: 2nd September 2010
Compiled by: Jacky and Justin, Tubu Tree Camp Managers
Photographer: Victor Horatius

Keledi, one of Tubu Tree Camp's new star attractions, is a young female leopard resident in the Jao Concession. She was seen in June, struggling to take down and kill a young wildebeest before receiving help from mother. She has, over the last few months, slowly been honing her hunting skills...

As guests made their way into Tubu Tree Camp on August 30th, they came across Keledi stalking some impala - an exciting start to their safari! They then watched her slink towards the impala and attempt to catch one but the impala got away. Keledi seemed to just sit there in utter disbelief until a bird caught her eye, pouncing at it as well - but she missed again. Still very inexperienced in the finer art of effective leopard hunting, guests found her again the next day still quite relaxed but definitely looking hungry.

Keledi the leopard with a red lechwe kill at Tubu Tree    Keledi the leopard with a red lechwe kill at Tubu Tree    Keledi the leopard with a red lechwe kill at Tubu Tree

September 1st saw a new chapter in Keledi's life dawn: that of solo hunter and independent adult. Guests came across her on a morning drive and she had just killed a full-grown male red lechwe. Still out of breath and standing over her kill, there were drag marks indicating the area where the kill took place. Reconstructing the events, it seems that she grabbed hold of the lechwe, and owing the antelope's size relative to the leopard, had dragged it into the water before she managed to kill it. After some minutes of trying to regain her energy she started to drag it out of the water and towards the sanctuary of some nearby bush.

She struggled though, as her energy was tapped and because of the size of the lechwe so, after dragging it few metres but still a distance from the bush, she started to eat. This was her first observed large prey animal, and as guests left her they all wondered if it would still be hers by the next day, as the size of the lechwe would make it tough to conceal her prey from other predators.

The next morning, after a short breakfast, the guests headed out again in anticipation of what had happened at the kill site during the night. As guests got close to the area, they spotted some hyaena tracks. Thinking her kill was taken away by these relentless predators in own right, they drove on.

Keledi was found again, still with her prize - she had dragged it closer to the bush by about another 30m, but still not eating that much. As guests spent some time with her, she ate some more and then dragged it even closer to the bush. Then the guide received a radio call from another game viewer that there was another leopard heading in their direction. They waited in anticipation and then the other leopard appeared some distance away. There was a pause and it seemed as though the leopards exchanged a glance and then the other leopard went off again. Taking a closer look at the other leopard it was identified as Keledi's mother. Perhaps she was just checking how her latest offspring was getting along...

This was all a tremendous success in the young leopard's life and we at Tubu Tree Camp are certainly looking forward to seeing more of her.



Leucistic Buffalo at Kalamu Lagoon Camp
Location: Kalamu Lagoon Camp, South Luangwa, Zambia
Date: 16 September, 2010
Observer and Photographer: Petro Guwa

The photographs here depict a buffalo that has a rare condition called leucism. This condition is a caused by an absence of pigment cells. (This condition should not be confused with albinism which is a complete lack of melanin).

Leucistic Buffalo at Kalamu Lagoon Camp    Leucistic Buffalo at Kalamu Lagoon Camp

There is also an adult cow with extensive white patches on her in the area.

Physiologically, this anomalous colouring will have no effect on survival. That said, this animal is less camouflaged than other herd members and this may affect its ability to avoid predation. The fact that there is an adult in the area with a similar condition suggests that it will not be affected too badly.

We'll watch with interest.



Opportunistic Python near Savuti Camp
Location: Savuti Camp, Linyanti Concession, Botswana
Date: 27 September 2010
Observer & Photographer: Dave Luck

At the onset of spring, as daytime temperatures rise, one stands a pretty good chance of seeing snake species as they become more active following the cooler winter months. Their metabolisms have increased again due to the warmer weather and they are now a lot more active in pursuing prey.

Python with a refous-bellied heron at Savuti camp    Python with a refous-bellied heron at Savuti camp

While staying at Savuti Camp recently we came across a most unusual sight one morning. As we were driving close to the Savute Channel I noticed a smallish Southern African python of approximately 1.5 metres long, with a recently caught Rufous-bellied Heron tightly secured in its coils - as prey is killed by constriction in this species. The heron was still flapping its wings which indicated that it had been recently caught by the young python. What was quite amazing was how high the snake was off the ground when it caught the heron - approximately 3 metres on a dead tree limb. This suggested that the snake had possibly been waiting patiently for some time before the heron perched on the branch near the unseen python and was caught, or the python struck out at the bird as it flew by. Although pythons do generally rely on ambush to catch their prey, their usual ambush positions are far more hidden - along animal paths for instance.

In one of the adjoining images you can see the python with a mouthful of feathers. This constrictor has very sharp recurved fangs that enable it to secure a firm grip on its victim. After 30 minutes we decided to move away from the area so that the python could swallow its prize undisturbed. A few hours later we returned and found the heron lying on the ground untouched under the dead tree. The python was nowhere to be seen.

We concluded that the snake had been in a rather awkward position high up on the branch to successfully swallow its prey and had probably dropped it on the ground as it released its coils. However we did see a pair of Pied Kingfishers and another Rufous-bellied Heron (probably the mate of the now deceased bird) in close proximity. The python could have been harassed by these birds which would have caused it to drop its potential meal and retreated back to cover.


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CAMP UPDATES
BOTSWANA
Banoka Bush Camp

The much-anticipated opening of Banoka Bush Camp took place on 20th September, and was met with very positive feedback from guests that have already paid a visit. This is proving to be an exciting addition to Safari Adventure Company's portfolio and a lovely complement to its Botswana circuit, giving access to very different habitat types to those experienced at Kalahari Plains Camp.

Banoka Bush Camp is now open in Botswana

Banoka, apart from being 100% solar powered, features a spacious main area overlooking a tranquil lagoon (pictured below) and 10 comfortable tents built along the tree line. Twice daily guided game drives in open 4x4 vehicles, explore the Khwai Concession, and adjoining Moremi Game Reserve. Ecologically, the area is very diverse; wildlife to be seen include elephant, hippo, roan, lion, leopard, wild dog and spotted hyaena, to name a few. Spectacular birding opportunities also abound, with some 450 species recorded. Other activities include seasonal boating and mekoro excursions, nature walks, catch-and-release fishing and a cultural experience.


Camp Refurbishments
Chitabe Lediba will be closed from 7th January to 31st March for the complete rebuild of all guest tents. The camp will retain its tented style, with large sliding doors that open onto the verandah, ample windows to show off the view and improved airflow as well as louvered blinds to enhance privacy. Each uniquely decorated tent will have a comfortable seating area and a desk with a multi-adapter to facilitate computer, camera and video power plug points. The bathrooms will have double basins and vanities as well as generous cupboard space. Each of the two family units will consist of two rooms, each with its own bathroom and will be connected via a corridor.

The Jao Concession (Tubu Tree, Jacana, Jao and Kwetsani) will be undergoing annual maintenance as well as some flood control work during the coming summer months, prior to the arrival of Botswana's annual flood waters. This includes tasks like thatch and furniture replacement where required, sanding of walkways as well as the extension of raised walkways, the raising of generators, and increasing the height and width of the airstrip. At this time, Jacana Camp will also receive a family unit and from 01 March 2011, the camp will offer three twins, one double and one family unit which will comprise one long tent with a bathroom in the middle and a bedroom on either side.

Abu Camp will commence with the second phase of their re-build from 08 October 2010 up to 14 March 2011 which includes the following: Rebuilding and enlarging the guest tents to include an entrance area with a desk and chair. The bathrooms have been redesigned to include an inside/outside shower - doors can be opened to the exterior for summer and closed for winter. One of the existing units will be converted into a honeymoon unit which will include its own private swimming pool. A swimming pool will be added to the main area by means of a walk way and this area will include a pizza oven.

DumaTau Camp will be closed for a major refurbishment from 2nd of January to 1st March 2011.


NAMIBIA
Massage Therapy Offering now at Little Kulala and Serra Cafema
Little Kulala and Serra Cafema now offer an in-camp massage therapist for full body, back, deep tissue aromatherapy, scalp and foot massages.


New Museum for Twyfelfontein
A museum has recently opened in the Twyfelfontein area. It is called The Living Museum of the Damara People. Visitors there can enjoy performances from local people showing how they lived centuries ago. It is a wonderful spectacle not to be missed and is easily accessible on any visit to Doro Nawas Camp.


EXPLORATIONS SAFARIS
Kalamu Trails in Zambia
Set in the Luamfwa Concession in the southern sector of South Luangwa National Park, Kalamu Trails explores the Luangwa River and its diverse environs. With some slight recent enhancements to the route it is proving to be an exhilarating walking trail. Guests begin at Kalamu Lagoon Camp for one night before going on to explore the untouched northern banks of the Luangwa River on foot. Nights are spent at the unique Kalamu Star-bed Camp and Chinengwe Riverbed Camp.

Kafue's Rivers & Plains - Enhancement for 2011
Lufupa Bush Camp, opening in 2011, is situated on the lush banks of the Kafue River at the pretty Kafwala Rapids, downstream of Lufupa Tented Camp, which it will replace on this Discoverer Exploration. We are thrilled to be able to develop a camp and area suitable for our Explorations as well as our FIT guests and look forward to the 2011 season.


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Seychelles
North Island Update - September 2010              Jump to North Island

North Island had a relatively good year for green turtle nesting this year, following a poor one in 2009. This pattern of years - with substantially higher numbers of green turtle emergences alternating with one or two years of lower nesting activity documented at North Island over the past 12 years - appears typical of green turtle nesting throughout Seychelles and even in other parts of the world, according to Dr. Jeanne Mortimer.

The fact that green turtle nesting activity varies so much from one year to another highlights the need for continued long-term monitoring of the population. The North Island green turtle nesting population appears to be increasing thanks to careful protection provided by North Island management. But on average only a handful of females nest annually; so the long-term survival of this terribly vulnerable green turtle population is unlikely without continued vigilance to protect the turtles and their nesting habitat.

Coinciding with heavy rains, the giant tortoises have been seen digging, although no actual egg laying was witnessed or new small ones spotted. Large numbers of tortoises moved from the plateau to the forest to feed on fruits, mainly golden apples, during the prolonged dry spell in July and August, as per their yearly habit.

Seychelles giant tortoises at North Island

Our big male, Brutus, was found toppled on his side as a result of a fight with the second largest male (see photo left). After a short period of observing his unsuccessful desperate attempts to get back on his feet, accompanied with loud whimpering sounds audibly reflecting his discomfort, we came to his rescue. He subsequently had some audible respiration problems for a short while, but recovered and seemed to be breathing normally afterwards.

Two confirmed nest sites of White-tailed Tropicbirds have been monitored since 2006, and were found to be regularly re-visited by breeding birds in the past years. The reuse of one nest was confirmed once again when a new chick was seen end July.

Seychelles Blue pigeons were spotted breeding again and the subsequent occurrence of immature birds confirmed their breeding success. All these are continued good signs of the positive 'after-effects' of the rat eradication in 2005.

We have also become used to the foraging visits of Seychelles Sunbirds at the environment office area: the flowering Cordia trees are constantly filled with them! Three Seychelles Kestrels were seen in September and at least one kestrel was regularly seen or heard; a hopeful improvement after several years of spotting only one pair at irregular intervals.

-Linda Vanherck-

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Botswana Camps
Kings Pool Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Kings Pool Camp

No report this month.

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DumaTau Camp update - September 2010               Jump to DumaTau Camp

Weather and landscape
September is a month of spring - temperatures have soured and we are seeing many changes in the vegetation. A lot of tree species are sprouting new life and as usual in this area the knobbly combratums are the first to flower followed by the fever berries. The mopane trees are still looking very dry.

Wildlife sightings
We have had amazing wildlife sightings this month. We've seen more than the usual numbers of buffalo along the Savute Channel. The rare roan antelope has also been spotted on a couple of occasions. Elephant, always a big attraction at DumaTau, have been seen swimming across the waters, which really excite our guests. With the current temperatures, this is becoming a regular occurrence. Some of the migratory birds have returned such as the Carmine Bee-eaters and Yellow-billed Kites, the latter spotted mating and nesting in camp.

Yellow-billed Kite at DumaTau    Wild dogs versus hyena at DumaTau

Wild dogs have been spotted all month long and it has been great to see their puppies grow. One of our best sightings this month was a wild dog kill on the nearby DumaTau plain. The hungry pack didn't waste any time in attacking and devouring their impala meal. Spotted hyeanas, as opportunistic as they are, eventually took the remnants of the kill, but not without getting a few nips on their behinds by the wild dog. Click here to take a look at the footage taken of this special sighting.

And if that wasn't enugh, what we believe to be sighting of the month was that of a fight between leopard and hyeana over a baboon kill. Obviously it was the leopard who made the kill, but then a hyaena came onto the scene and a tug-of-war battle ensued in which the leopard lost his lunch. Nevertheless, the leopard did not give up, constantly attempting to sneak up to the kill and grab it from the scavengers - the hyaena having been joined by another member of family. With very little luck in the beginning, the hungry cat eventually got quite bold and managed slink in and get his teeth into the baboon. This time he was not letting go of his precious morsel and managed to climb a nearby tree, leaving the hyaenas nothing but a few scraps falling from the heavens. Click here to view this fantastic footage.

Leopard versus hyena at DumaTau    Leopard versus hyena at DumaTau    Lion with a zebra kill at DumaTau

Guest and camp news
DumaTau has had really good feedback from their guests and we would like to thank our staff for their hard work in the past few months.

Managers in camp for the month were Kago (KG), Gabbi, Mia, Gideon and Abbie and we had Lazarus, Ron, Mocks, Lazi, Name and Moses as guides.

Photos
We would like to thank our guest Ingrid Sander for sharing her photographs with us - as well as those incredible videos!

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Savuti Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Savuti Camp

No report this month.

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Zarafa Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Zarafa Camp

Around Zarafa Camp, the jackalberries and feverberries are finally pushing out their new leaves and greening up the camp beautifully, giving welcome shade and relief from the soaring temperatures. The lovely purple flowers of the raintrees and Kalahari appleleafs are being scattered, adding a fresh carpet of colour to camp.

Leopard sightings have been wonderful this month. We've seen Amber and Mmaditsebe, our two resident female leopard. Both of their cubs are growing and becoming braver and more relaxed. We were fortunate to see Mmaditsebe and her cub for four days in a row as they rested, played and slept very close to camp, occasionally strolling down to the water to drink.

On 30 September, in celebration of Botswana's Independence, we had dinner out of camp under the stars. Just as we were expecting our starter our chef, Comfort, came to tell us that we had a visitor. We all got up and moved to where he was cooking. Just beyond the lamp light, we saw a pair of ears sticking out above the bush. Under brighter torchlight we saw spots on the animal's head and realised our visitor was a large male leopard. He stayed there for the duration of dinner, but moved off when the staff arrived to sing some traditional songs.

The wild dog have been very active around the Selinda Reserve this month. The Zibadianja Pack has moved up north and is delighting the visitors of Selinda Camp. At Zarafa however, we were not short of "painted dog" sightings. The Savuti Pack has been spending a lot of time around Zarafa and the Savute Channel. One afternoon, as guests rested on their verandas, we were startled by a young impala running for its life past the main part of the camp. After quite a lengthy break we saw a single dog in pursuit of the impala. We knew that this impala was not going to survive and immediately radioed the guides, who told us they were watching the rest of the pack at the edge of the lagoon near Tent 4. We told them to watch out for this impala. Not a moment later, our guests were witnessing their first wild dog kill. The dogs spent the rest of the evening and night feasting on this unfortunate antelope.

The following morning, awoken by the chirping of the dogs, we watched another impala kill. Once they had gobbled down their share, they moved off quickly down to the lagoon. One remained; however it turns out the rest of the pack had run off to feed on another impala that the rest of the pack had killed.

The Selinda Pride, now with four females and four cubs (and two big males when they are around), are spending all of their time up north on the reserve near the old Mokoba Camp. Our guests were very fortunate this month to witness these lion hunting and killing. The lion had been resting for a long time on a termite mound, quite a distance away from a buffalo herd, when the lion got up and slowly started making their way towards the herd. Hiding themselves amongst the bushes they approached carefully, with our vehicle hot on the heels of the lion.

Suddenly there was a burst and a bellow as the guests broke through the bushes to see a lioness clutching the muzzle of the buffalo while another two attacked from behind. Eventually they brought the buffalo down and the cubs quickly approached and began feasting. The guests returned to camp later that day, keen to share the details of the kill, but at the same time admitting that is it was quite a shocking event to see.

The African Skimmers have been seen from the HMS Zibadianja on cruises on the lagoon. Around the middle of September, we started seeing the first Yellow-billed Kites and Carmine Bee eaters. We've also seen the first Broad-billed Roller of the season in camp.

While we are all enjoying the beautiful clear skies and stunning sunsets, we're hopeful that we'll see some clouds and hope for rains during October.

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Selinda Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Selinda Camp

Wildlife
With the summer temperatures picking up, coupled with no rain for nearly five months, it is very dry in northern Botswana. The Selinda Spillway provides a lifeline to scores of animals so our sightings have been outstanding as herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest, to name a few, congregate in the area. In one evening, from the safety of a boat, we counted over 200 elephant. Almost like clockwork, at 4pm they come down to the water each day. Lone bulls and vast matriarch herds, often with some incredibly young elephant with them crash into the Spillway for a drink or to enjoy a cooling swim.

As Selinda Camp is completely open, there is nothing stopping these huge herds coming right through camp. Guests have enjoyed sitting on their balconies watching the herds surround their tents as the elephant enjoy the vegetation that the island provides. We seem to have also acquired a resident bull with incredibly large tusks. A recent guest named him Sydney. We are quite sure Sydney has had many names in his long life of about 60 years.

Our resident hippos continue to amuse all our guests with almost guaranteed viewings on the Spillway en route between Selinda Camp and the airstrip. If you are to miss seeing them on your way to camp then you will certainly not miss hearing them in the evenings. On a couple of occasions, we have heard males fighting, sometimes lasting up to a couple of hours. The noises they make can be quite incredible, sometimes giving an impression that one has been killed. The sound effects deceive us as in the morning we find no trace of bodies.

Wild dogs at Selinda camp    Wild dogs at Selinda camp    Francolin and chicks at Selinda camp

Cats continue to dominate the appetite of our guests and the Selinda Pride of lion has not disappointed us this month. We have had almost daily sightings of the pride, which is expanding with its "new arrivals". The pride is made up of two brothers who protect the territory around Selinda, and they have attracted five females over the years. Four of these females are seen regularly and are currently nurturing four cubs that are growing up well. The fifth female, sometimes spotted with the others, is seen less frequently as she is looking after her three very young cubs. We hope that she rejoins the rest of the pride soon. If all the cubs survive then that would put the pride at 14. This is fairly sizeable and certainly allows for plenty of growth in the future.

In addition to lion we have seen cheetah, leopard and some spectacular sightings of wild dog. For the past few months the wild dog pack has raised six puppies in a den south of Selinda Camp. They have now left the den and moved north to an area close to camp - and close to the lion; setting the scene for some remarkable sightings. One evening a vehicle was parked near the Selinda Pride as guests watched on. At this point the wild dog made their way towards them, unaware of the lions' presence. Suddenly the lions saw the dogs beside our vehicle and three of the females charged straight towards them and our guests (thankfully in the safety of their vehicle).

Incredibly there were no fatalities as the dogs managed to protect their pups by whisking them away. The guests continued to follow the pack and were rewarded later as they witnessed the dogs hunting and killing an impala. Unusually in those five days we saw four wild dog kills.

Birding
Scores of new birds have arrived at Selinda. Carmine Bee-eaters can be seen daily flying over camp. These stunning deep red and purple birds have moved south from Equatorial Africa to breed and spend the summer in southern Africa. We are also seeing a number of waders such as Curlew Sandpiper and Common Greenshank and small flocks of Collared Pratincole around the airstrip. We have even found a rare Collared Palm-Thrush nesting in camp. Other than its black collar and pale eye there is nothing too distinct about the thrush other than as far as our specialist bird guides state it should not even be here. Its narrow distribution covers parts of Zimbabwe and Mozambique but certainly not the Linyanti Swamps or anywhere within 200 miles from here! In the birding world this is termed a vagrant and certainly very special; we are happy that it has made Selinda its home.

The ribbon of water that we have at Selinda provides birds with a life source attracting great numbers and variations to the area. The camp itself becomes an open aviary of birds with numerous species flying past while we sit and enjoy the stunning views of the Linyanti from our raised deck.

In Camp
September has seen a great number of guests from all over the world. One evening our choir, who sing to guests as part of the entertainment, surprised guests by singing a number of their favourite local melodies. To our surprise a group from the United States then got up and sang a pre-written 'thank you' song to Selinda staff. We were left speechless.

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Kwando Safari Camps Update - September 2010

It has become truly hot in the last few weeks, but still a very dry heat, so it's not unbearable. Clouds are also building up, and thunder has been heard and lightning has been seen. "Pula" is on its way, and Botswana will transform again into a green oasis. The Delta is still full of water, dropping only very slowly, and we expect it to rise again once the rain starts.

Kwando Concession
• The relative dryness of the Kwando Linyanti region following extremely high flooding in the neighbouring areas has led to consistently good game viewing throughout the season. This promises to improve as the season progresses and the extremely mild winter hints at a long hot and dry summer. These conditions will all contribute to spectacular wildlife viewing throughout the northern regions of the country.

Lagoon camp               Jump to Lagoon Camp
• The wild dogs were fabulous, providing us with excellent sightings. A pack of 15 adults and six pups are spending a lot of time in the area. We hear that they have developed a taste for warthogs, but they also killed an Impala right next to tent Number 2. No need to go on game drives…
• A coalition of three male cheetahs killed an adult ostrich, which is a rare thing to see.
• Big breeding herds of elephants provide endless entertainment, watching them swimming across the river.
• The buffalos are also showing up in big numbers, roaming around in huge herds.
• In the evenings its time to visit one of the two hyaena dens. In one of the two there are eight pups, and believe me they look very cute, nothing like the adults. Their appearance resembles more little bears.
• General game is very good too. Big numbers of giraffes, impalas, hippos, crocodiles, lechwes, zebras, baboons and wildebeests are seen. In the spotlight of the night drives we saw porcupine, scrub hares and honey badgers.

Lebala camp               Jump to Lebala Camp
• From tiny (Foam Nest Frogs) to huge (Elephants), everything has been seen at Lebala this month. Only the rhino missing to complete the big five, but the buffalos made up for it, and appeared in herds larger than 1500 individuals.
• Birdlife with more and more migrants arriving is getting better and better. It always puts our guests in awe to see huge flocks of carmine bee eaters. Their aerial acrobatics are incredible, and the colours…… There are also a number of raptors in the area. Some of them, like the tawny eagle are seen building nests.
• An unfortunate dwarf mongoose ended up in the talons of a martial eagle. One ostrich was also on the unlucky side, providing a dinner for a hyaena.
• Two male lions were seen one evening, having a rest in the shade of a tree. Surprisingly, the next morning they were feeding on a buffalo, and there were no females anywhere near them. This just proves that they (the males) can look after themselves if they have to. And off course they had to roar the out to the world the hole night.
• One group of guests was very fortunate to observe a hunt by nine lions ending in a kill of a buffalo. Not for the faint hearted, but something you'll never forget.
• Leopards were spotted on a regular basis, with kills like warthog and impala.
• Not so much luck for the cheetahs. They have been seen only once (coalition of three males), but they looked very hungry and didn't hunt successfully. Hyaenas followed them in close proximity, and we hope they won't have a big fight with the cheetahs.

Kwara & Little Kwara camps               Jump to Kwara & Little Kwara camps
• Sightings of general game like giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, kudu, impala, lechwe, hippo, elephants etc. is very good this time of the year.
• There was also no shortage of predator sightings this month. The lions were busy hunting and have been seen feeding on various kills, like hippo, zebra and reedbuck. Even the elusive leopards showed cooperation and delighted us with some good sightings.
• One of the highlights was a sighting of a pack of seven wild dogs hunting impalas, and being successful.
• A coalition of three male cheetahs was sighted twice this month, once they were feeding on a tsessebe, the fastest Antelope in Africa (this time not fast enough). Because of the speed of the tsessebe it requires a lot of skills and experience to be able to kill one of them.
• Lets not forget the smaller creatures. The guides spotted serval, honey badger, african wild cat and almost an aardvark!

Nxai Pan
• The waterholes are the main points, with the temperatures rising and everything getting dryer.
• Lion sightings have been good. They sit mainly around the waterholes, trying to catch a springbok that comes for a drink, but it seems to be more difficult to catch these very swift animals than we think.
• We have also two male cheetah and one female cheetah on the sighting list this month. Maybe we will be lucky to see cubs in a while.
• Three wild dogs have been seen and this is very rare in Nxai Pan.
• The "camp" Leopard is still hanging around, sometimes granting us an audience.
• For general game we had impala, springbok, bat eared fox, gemsbok, wildebeest, ostrich, zebra, giraffes and bachelor herds of elephant bulls.

Tau Pan
• Animals have to adapt to the harsh conditions, specially now at the end of the dry season. Water is obtained by digging up tubers from underground, or by eating the so called "Tsama Melons". Even predators need to do that in order to survive.
• The Lions hanging around our camp are fortunate to have access to our waterhole. One female is pregnant and we expect to see cubs fairly soon.
• Cheetahs are found but from the leopard we only hear him calling and see the tracks, but no sighting…
• The four wild dogs were seen again, but we still don't know what happened to the rest.

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Mombo Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Mombo Camp

Weather and Landscape
The temperatures are starting to climb - the average highs are around the 35 degrees Celsius. We await the release in the arrival of the rains, some time in November. The dust of the Kalahari mingled with the smoke of distant bushfires creates a haze over the land that lends itself to spectacular sunsets. The nights are cool and scented with wild jasmine blossoms.

September heralds the change of seasons at Mombo. It is a month of many colours, tones and shades. The ground offers up a tapestried carpet of autumnally coloured fallen leaves, with swathes of tiny purple flowers of the lonchocarpus trees, bright yellows of the Acacia nigrescens flowers and the electric greens of the kigelias. Everywhere there is life budding out in anticipation of the rains.

It is a month of disparity- where the acacia woodland takes on a dry, blasted, dusty aspect, littered with dead grasses, while the floodplains are filled with verdant new growth left by the rapidly disappearing waters.

White rhino and calf at Mombo    Legadima at Mombo    Moporota pride at Mombo

Wildlife
The receding floodwaters in the plains around Mombo leave a carpet of nutritious grasses, irresistible to a plethora of grazers. A typical view in one of the plains would contain a multitude of zebra, red lechwe, wildebeest, warthog, impala... the list goes on, until one's eye reaches the treeline beyond, and then one spies giraffe, kudu and elephant in the woodlands, and lions lurking in the shade.

One momentous event saw a breeding herd of 25 elephant, spooked by lions on Limpy's Island, come thundering and splashing through the still water of the floodplain in front of camp; the babies tripping, rolling and sliding through the water as their frantic mothers bellowed and pushed them onwards with their trunks.

The floodplain in front of Mombo is home to a group of 15 old buffalo bulls, and at least one hippo, many of which often spend the night in camp. The hippo is a young male, cast out from his pod, and has been harassed by the much larger dominant bull to such a degree that he spends a lot of his time here, far from his adversary. On several occasions the pair of them have chased each other through the camp, sometimes in the middle of the day, treating us to quite a spectacle, and keeping us on our toes!

With male rivalry in mind, there has been strife in the baboon world as well. Two large males are battling for the dominance of their troop and fighting can be bloody. It is intriguing to observe the social behaviour of the troop as they rally behind their particular 'champion'.

One evening during dinner, the baboons gave their characteristic alarm call - warning of the presence of a leopard. We shone our torches out into the gloom - and Legadima gracefully strolled right below the deck where we sat. Her two surviving offspring, Pula and Maru, have been seen several times this month and appear to be thriving.

Her new suitor, Shy Male, came into camp early one morning (we were alerted by the vigilant vervet monkeys) and kept himself hidden from view in the palm scrub behind the laundry for the entire day. Eventually at sunset, we saw what we thought was a lioness walking towards the causeway away from the camp. Upon closer inspection, we realised that it was the male leopard, and he is truly an enormous specimen!

Kori bustard at Mombo    Spring flowers on the leadwood trees    Outdoor dining at Mombo

The four lion cubs born in to the Moporota Pride have been reduced to two, possibly due to the ongoing attrition between the other super-predators in the area, the spotted hyaena. Their new addition - two tiny chocolate brown pups - has caused much delight as they emerge from their den to play in the early evenings.

A further exciting event this month was the discovery of a white rhino calf, offspring of Moremi, possibly less than a month old; indicating the ongoing success of the reintroduction project. The large male, Serondela, has also been seen patrolling his territory a few times this month, usually in the northern sector of the concession, although on one occasion he was seen near Suzy's Duckpond in the south.

Celebrations
The month ended with a wonderful celebration of Botswana's Independence Day on 30th September, with Mombo Camp and Little Mombo guests joining forces for a night of singing, dancing and feasting around the fire in the Boma, to the accompaniment of Poster and the Mombo choir.

Staff in Camp
Guides in camp for September were Moss at Little Mombo and Malinga, Tsile, and Tshepo at Mombo Main Camp, who were joined for two-week spells by Anthony Bennett and the inimitable Russel Crossey.

Martha was the hostess of Little Mombo, and Ryan, Kirsty, Phenyo and Maatla formed the Main Camp team.

Photographs
Thanks to Poster, Malinga and Ryan.

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Xigera Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Xigera Camp

No report this month.


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Chitabe Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Chitabe Camp

No report this month.


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Vumbura Plains Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Vumbura Plains Camp

When we are asked when the best time to visit the Okavango is, we usually answer that any time of year is a good time to be here. However September is a magical here at Vumbura Plains Camp. A conspiracy of special ecological factors combine to ensure that this month provides some of our most memorable game viewing of the entire year.

The blazing sun causes the once conquering flood to shrink and retreat before our very eyes. Floodplains become pools and then dry mud cracked into tessellated patterns. As each pool begins to dry up, birds converge to feast on the prisoners in each "fish trap": Yellow-billed Storks probe the mud, hamerkops watch for frogs, and lots of pelicans glide in to gulp down the last few fish.

However, those places that were inundated with water are receding slowly and the nutrients swept in by the onrushing waters have rejuvenated many areas. Wherever the water has been most recently, a green flush of fresh plant growth attracts grazing herds.
Our mornings are still fairly cool however the days now begin to heat up early. Summer is very much on its way. Bushfires in the distance lend a haziness to the sky, making for wonderful sun rises. The bellies of female impala are beginning to visibly swell now. The warm air currents are sliced by the wings of Yellow-billed Kites newly arrived from the north, and squadrons of Carmine Bee-eaters flash through the sky, red wings glinting in the light. The knobbly combretum bushes have burst into scented shaving-brush flowers, and the knob thorn acacia trees are ablaze with flame-coloured blooms.

We are now anxiously scanning the skies for rain, but as yet the blue sky is uninterrupted by clouds. But while there is still some water there is life, and in abundance. Even by the great standards of Vumbura, this last month has been incredibly special.

The arrival of a group of five cheetah brought a wonderful, unexpected added dimension to the game-viewing experience. We were not sure where they had come from, but they started to relax around the vehicles... but not around hyaena!

Coalitions of male cheetah are fairly normal, however we found ourselves mesmerised by a group of four females with just one male - another nightmare for the antelope. As the cheetah start hunting, panicked impala flee and leap over bushes to escape. A short chase and a back leg is clipped, the unfortunate buck is tripped and short canine teeth clamp on. Lungs heaving, the cheetah tries to recover to a point where it can begin to feed but already it is too late. The pirate scavenger, the hyaena, heaves into view and even five cheetah together will not stand their ground; the risk of injury is too great.

After a few days of great sightings, it seemed that these newly-arrived cheetah have decided that this area is perhaps a little too hot for them. We last saw their tracks heading to the east - we wonder if they'll be back.

Not every creature is intimidated by hyaenas - some indeed seem to make a sport of antagonising them. Wild dogs are past masters at this, and here there is no resigned surrendering of hard-won food. More agile than hyenas, they often come out on top in confrontations by gaanging up on individual hyaenas, nipping them repeatedly on their rumps until they flee with their tails literally between their legs. There is comedy in their misery as they squat to protect their hindquarters.

The Golden Pack (named for the unusual yellow colour of the alpha female) has had its ranks swelled by the successful raising of ten puppies this year, and their success has continued, as they adapt their hunting tactics to the changing circumstances around them. Ten hungry puppies - not yet experienced enough to play a meaningful role in the hunt - take a lot of feeding.

Life in the bush is never easy however, and even wild dogs - smart, resourceful and with strength in numbers - are not exempt from nature's first law. During September two of the puppies disappeared, and we can only speculate as to their fate. The mortality rate of wild dog puppies is distressingly high, but for now we are confident that despite this setback, this pack will go from strength to strength.

We have had several kills and near-misses this month made when the dogs have chased prey towards camp, using unfamiliar structures to confuse and trap game.

September truly has been a month of elephants. The lumbering grey shapes sway down to the water, while their youngsters excitedly run ahead. Some days there is literally an elephant around every bend in the track: breeding herds stirring up clouds of dust as they trail across dusty plains; solitary bulls pushing down trees to reach a few select leaves; calves and their mothers sweltering in the sheltering shade of a sausage tree.

The lions returned during September. We suspect they were previously off hunting buffalo in the swamps. The kings have returned to reclaim their throne and summer has indeed come roaring in, and the heat is on.

Guest Comments
The highlight was the dinner in the boma and the singing and dancing.

Everything is so perfect: a unique combination of warmth, generosity, knowledge and first class everyone!

Wild dogs attacking the hyaena in the water after it stole their kill...

To start and end each day in such a beautiful Camp and wonderful meals was fantastic - the whole Vumbura experience was a highlight...

Would you be happy to recommend a journey to Vumbura Plains Camp? Hell, yes!

Phenomenal game viewing. Superior staff and management. Great comfort. We'll be back.

Finding the leopard was sensational!

I have waited fifty years to visit Africa... and it was worth every second!

It was just perfect and we hope to return with our grandchildren...

With very best wishes from your September Vumbura Team:
Katie Horner, Tumoh Morena, Nick 'Noko' Galpine, Attorney Vasco, Wayne & Britt Vaughan, and Miriam Tichapondwa.

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Little Vumbura Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Little Vumbura Camp

Weather and Water Levels
Little Vumbura was very busy this month and our guests were fascinated by what the Okavango Delta has to offer. Although nearly always full, Little Vumbura is still an intimate camp and there were many small groups in September that enjoyed the exclusivity that is the nature of this beautiful part of the Okavango Delta.

It's getting dryer and hotter every day as we move towards summer. With most of the trees bare, some such as the rain, susage and knob torn trees have new leaves and flowers. The weather has been great with temperatures not dropping below 16 degrees Celsius with highs of 36 degrees.

buffalos at Little Vumbura    Wild dogs at Little Vumbura

The water levels have dropped quite a lot and more areas in the floodplains are accessible now. However some areas look as though they might keep their water all the year round. Most of the floodplains where the water still resides have attracted much grazing game due to the new green grass which has grown.

Wildlife
As is expected at this time of year, elephant are in abundance both in and out of camp. There are also regular sightings of elephant while on mokoro and during boating activities. Occasionally the elusive spotted-necked otters have also been seen.

The game drives always provide for large varieties of mammal sightings. Our single male cheetah was conspicuously absent this month since his favourite hunting ground has previously been inadequate due to the great flood volumes. We are hoping that with the floodplains drying up he will reappear. The guides have been finding prides of lion and even some leopard during the day and in the evenings. Sable are regularly seen in herds and are still as relaxed as ever.

Selonyana the leopard at Little Vumbura    Selonyana's little cub at Little Vumbura    Yellow-billed storks at Little Vumbura

Our local female leopard, Selonyana, was seen a lot this month either resting, hunting or on a kill. She had two cubs last month close to the Little Vumbura boat station. The den site is still closed, offering her new family the best chance of survival. We have high hopes that the cubs are still alive as we have seen Selonyana between the Little Vumbura boat station and Spurwing Crossing and she looks like she is still lactating.

A female cheetah with her four sub-adult cubs (three females and one male) came into our concession last month. Nobody had seen them before or knew where they came from. Our guides saw them a lot at the beginning of the month, however have lost sight of them since and think that they may have gone back to where they come from.

Staff in Camp
Management: Alex & One Mazunga, Lorato Bampusi and Lopang Rampeba (Trainee Managers)
Guides: Madala Kay Bosigo, Sevara Katsotso and Sam Setabosha.

Photographs
Thanks to Alex Mazunga

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Duba Plains Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Duba Plains Camp

The month of September has been great. Guests seem to have really enjoyed their stay at Duba Plains Camp. Food has particularly been outstanding thanks to the chefs and guiding and game experiences have been phenomenal.

Since the temperatures have been rising steadily and the grasses are drying up, we are beginning to see buffalo becoming weaker due to lack of nutrition. Those that are unable to keep up with the herd are becoming easy prey to lion - one particular sighting saw a buffalo stuck in mud and lion finishing it off.

We have witnessed plenty of other kills this month, including many with exciting interactions. We've had many sightings of lion hunting, from the stalk to a kill, which has been wonderful for our guests.

In-house fighting amongst the lionesses has been typical too this month. These considerable fights have even got to the point where a cub was badly injured in a battle. We saw this cub soon after and it seemed as though its back legs were paralysed. The cub's mother took great care of it, hunting with the pride, and then coming back to fetch her cub so that it could feed on the kill. Sadly the young cub didn't make it, as we found its little body a few days later.

Other cubs have been introduced to the rest of the pride, and we are still missing a lioness which has just given birth and must still be in hiding with her little ones.

The Skimmer Male has been very busy. He spent most of the time with the Tsaro Pride this month, however every time he heard the sub-adults from the Skimmer Pride calling, he would disappear for a couple of days. As soon as the Tsaro females started calling, he would quite interestingly show up again. He is in great shape considering the marathons he has been running!

Other interesting sightings include large herds of elephant all over the concession. The tracks of a male leopard have been spotted in and out of camp and across the bridge, although he hasn't been sighted yet. However, the female leopard that frequents the area has been seen. There are a lot of bushbuck around, waterbuck have been spotted, and a nomadic wildebeest showed up after a long time away. Bat-eared fox and aardwolf have been seen and the guides believe that both are denning.

Finally we have had some great migrant bird sightings including African Spoonbills, Orange Breasted Bush-Shrikes, Carmine Bee-eaters, Woolly-necked Storks and Ruffs and Pratincoles in large numbers.

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Banoka Bush Camp update - September 2010

Banoka Bush Camp, on the Khwai Concession has been enjoying some incredible wildlife sightings in the past few weeks since its opening.

Some of the highlights have included a pride of seven lion regularly seen around camp, although the one lioness in this pride seems to be nursing an injured front leg. This group of lion has also been seen on various kills on many occasions too.

Wild dogs at Banoka Bush Camp    Bull elephant at Banoka Bush Camp    Malachite kingfishers at Banoka Bush Camp

Two large male lion have also been sighted on game drives along the Khwai River. A pack of 14 African wild dogs is also a regular sight at the moment and was last sighted on an fresh impala kill. This pack looks very healthy and we hope they will stay in the area now that the pups are more mobile.

Other exciting encounters by guests on drives have included sable, two leopard (male and female) and a large herd of Cape buffalo.

General game enjoyed on this diverse concession include southern giraffe, common waterbuck, red lechwe, spotted hyaena, common reedbuck and impala. This area is also outstanding for birding and even more so as we move into the summer months and the glut of migratory species that are now present.

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Jacana Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Jacana Camp

Weather
Like clockwork spring has arrived, bringing with it the splendour of birdsong and fragrant smells from freshly flowering blossoms. The morning winds have subsided and the days are longer. By late afternoon the midday heat is forgotten as the comfort of the milder evening falls. Midday highs of 30 and evening temperatures in the low 20s have been the order of the day. The summer clouds have not arrived and clear skies provide some wonderful star gazing. Venus and Jupiter oppose each other in the evening sky after sunset and Orion is just visible before sunrise.

Wildlife
A short boat ride to the vehicle is a great way to start a morning, as African Fish-eagles dive for breakfast while a Squacco Heron extends over the channel to poach fish. Malachite Kingfishers file along the water channels to feed themselves and their young. Then the quick eye of an experienced guide catches a glimpse of something in the long grass and switches off the engine. Slowly emerging ever cautious, a young female sitatunga and her calf emerge and swim across the waterway.

Lion at Jacana Camp    Elephant at Jacana Camp

A quick transfer to the vehicle opens up a new world. As the annual floodwaters dissipate an emerald blanket covers the floodplains and hundreds of red lechwe roam the plains. A dark patch on the other side of the floodplain comes to life as a thousand Open-billed Storks take to the sky, whilst looking for snails in the shallow water surrounding the islands.

The warmer days bring forth the more playful side in a breeding herd of elephant as they congregate around a mud pool for their daily bath. Reluctant at first, the matriarch approaches and before you know it five little elephants are rolling in the mud distracting everyone with their antics. Suddenly the radio crackles; lion have been found and they are mating.

The courting process is somewhat violent but intriguing to watch, teeth exposed and snarling, the male does his "thing" and then lies down for a while. Far off in the distance he hears the roar of another lion, inaudible to the human ear but clear to him, he slowly rises from his spot in the shade of a palm tree and bellows out a thunderous medley of roars. Having established his territory he goes back to the comfort of his shady spot.

After a well-deserved siesta, it's time to explore the backwaters of the Delta and what better way to do it than a traditional dug-out canoe or mokoro. The tranquillity and beauty of this remote location becomes more apparent as you slowly pass through its silent waters. Your private mokoro poler makes the smaller things come to life by pointing out a painted reed frog while he casually tells you that this small creature is the one who sings you to sleep each night. Further down, an elusive Pel's Fishing-owl is spotted sitting in a tree. As the sun goes down over the western horizon you can't help but wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Malachite kingfisher at Jacana Camp    Pel's Owl at Jacana Camp

Birding
Multitudes of coloured and not so coloured birds descend upon their summer breeding grounds, Open-Billed Stork, Wattled Crane, Slaty Egret, Saddle-Billed Stork, Yellow-billed Stork, African Skimmer, Pelican and even Flamingo are passing by. The sky is alive with weavers building nests and juvenile Malachite Kingfishers. The Pygmy Geese numbers are increasing and the Yellow-billed Kites are back. Our bird hide at camp is now up and running and for those who want to do a bit of midday bird watching it's the perfect way to spend an hour or two hidden away.

Guest comments
The welcome with the singing of everyone was lovely. - The Papadopoulos (Canada)

Perfect place with perfect people! Thank you to everyone; it was one of my best African experiences. - Donadieu Family (France)

Thank you for the perfect ending of our honeymoon trip. This is heaven on earth! Thank you! - An and Hendrik (Belgium)

This trip was unbelievable! Great, everything was wonderful! Great staff and great great people! Fantastic! - Tamer (USA)

I tried to find something to complain about. But there was absolutely nothing. Everything was perfect. - Maged (USA)

Beautiful. Perfect! We appreciate the wonderful care! - Jennifer and Kimberley (USA)

Thank you so much for this tremendous stay. Perfect site, perfect people, perfect food... - Geoffrey and Sophie (France)

Lots of adventures, memories, wonderful time at Jacana. Experience wildlife and birding. - Dr Dissanayaka (Sri Lanka)

Thanks so much for the wonderful memories! We will miss our elephants! - Melody and Mike (Canada)

Thank you for your hospitality! The Crazy bikers from Ukraine. - Borys, Alex, Yuriy, Oleg (Filatov party, Ukraine)

Camp staff
Pieter Ras and Danielle van den Berg and guides Florance and Timothy

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Kwetsani Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Kwetsani Camp

Weather
The summer is upon us in the Delta. The temperatures have risen to 34°C in the day - although a cool breeze makes for pleasant days here at Kwetsani Camp. On some days, however, this breeze has forced guests to use ponchos on their excursions. We've even had to lend warm clothing to some guests who did not think they would need such a thing in sunny Africa! Other days have been hazy with winds bringing in smoke from veld fires; but nothing spoils this majestic scenery. We were also spoiled with the full moon making its appearance on the 23rd of September, which set the scene for dinner on the deck.

Landscape and Camp Activities
The landscape is drying out extremely rapidly, the track in front of the camp is totally dry and the marsh area to the south of the island is shrinking rapidly now that the stream is not flowing into it any more. We have been able to drive around the north of the island and on the floodplain in front of Kwetsani and even drive with relative ease to Jao. In camp, the vegetation is changing due to the large presence of elephants. In an attempt to feast on the flowers of the beloved mangostene tree that are in bloom these great beasts are literally bulldozing the area.

Elephant at Kwetsani    Male lion at Kwetsani    Yellow-billed Stork at Kwetsani

Activities
• Mokoro rides and boat cruises are still very popular
• Game drives at Hunda Island, Kwetsani floodplains and to Jao floodplains
• Walking trails on Jao Island
• Fishing on the channels

Wildlife
The word 'diversity' springs to mind when summarising Kwetsani wildlife in September. As the waters are beginning to disappear, some of the seasonal game such as red lechwe are returning after a very wet season. With that, it is fair to say that 'love is in the air' in the Delta; babies are everywhere - elephant, lion, bushbuck, leopard, francolin and even baboon now have young in tow.

The elephant breeding herds have been locals in camp once again. One of the younger bulls has entertained himself by mock charging our guests while they are on the walkway. The resident elephant bull, Gandalf the Bulldozer, has made his presence felt in camp by breaking the staff toilet room in the main kitchen, breaking the diesel tank roof, damaging the deck at Tent 6, demolishing the walkway and pushing down massive trees all over camp and in this process uprooting the camp's water pipes three times. One can only admire the brute strength and power of this animal.

Mokoro safari at Kwetsani    Bateleur eagle at Kwetsani    Malachite kingfisher at Kwetsani

The "Shy Trio" (young male lion and two females) are making their way through camp every second day. If we don't spot them, there are tracks everywhere or we hear their calls in the late afternoon. They spent a whole week around the island at the Kwetsani borehole pump and even made a kill. Our guests were fortunate enough to see them feasting on a red lechwe. They were also seen relaxing on a termite mound in front of Tent 6 and our guests enjoyed this sighting while having their sundowners on the deck. We also spotted them at Second Bridge attempting to hunt. We hope that they become residents of Kwetsani and that in time we are able to call them the Kwetsani Pride! We have currently named them the "Shy Trio" as we believe the male is still too young to defend the pride and so they are keeping their heads down.

With the waters receding quickly, hippo are using the channels more, leading to regular daytime encounters with these amazing animals. They are also seen regularly in the pools on the channels between Kwetsani and Jao Airstrip. Our guests had a great experience with a hippo near the end of their mokoro ride, where a hippo popped up almost underneath them. Luckily Balang, the poler, saw him in time and managed to miss the 'showing off' hippo. The guests had two bottles of wine on their return to camp after having had an "awesome African experience".

We still have a number of bushbuck setting up home under our walkways. We believe the ram has moved on as we have only seen the females and their little ones over the past two weeks. They have become part of the Kwetsani family and are very popular with the guests.

Finally we had a very rare visit from a honey badger on the floodplain. Not only was it a wonderfully memorable sighting but one for the Kwetsani records as well.

Birding
The Kwetsani floodplain game drives have been a treat with bird sightings. These include:
A large flock of Open-billed Stork. They have moved around the floodplain in an attempt to get the freshwater snails that are exposed by the receding waters;
Two sightings of Rosy-throated Longclaw;
A Greater Flamingo was spotted flying solo and relaxing on the channels;
Saddle-billed Stork, Wattled Crane, African Spoonbills, Yellow-billed Stork, Egret, Red-billed Teal and Ground Hornbill were all spotted on the floodplain to name a few.
On a mokoro excursion our guests Jenny and Graham were lucky enough to spot a Giant Kingfisher and a Pel's Fishing-Owl. It was a tough ask for KB the guide to be able to give them this opportunity as they came with the wish to tick off these two species from their "yet to see" list, and against all odds saw both on one trip - amazing!

Guest Comments
Wonderful job done by guides, staff, cooks, maids, Mia & Rheinhardt, OP helpful to train us on tracking & being better viewers. Wonderful food - it could not have been better! - John & Clare

Sweet! Simply wonderful! Great staff, great lodge. Warmest ALOHAS to all of you. Please visit us in Hawaii. We will be back! - Nancy

Our second time here and we were delighted that the camp ambience was as good as we remembered. Everything was perfect, including staff, guides, game & managers. Don't change a thing (except maybe the destructive bull elephant) - Jenny

Unforgettable setting. Staff & Guides friendly, knowledgeable, ever so helpful. Animals all over - love the close up visit by Ellies!- James & Theresa

Fantastic Tree house! Service & Food was top notch. Our guide Tony took great care of us! - Sharon & Bill

A must see in a lifetime. Dating with the lions & leopards, Thank you! The man with the big lens - Jeremy & Nolwen

Staff in Camp
Managers: Rheinhardt & Mia Schulze
Guides: OP Kaluluka, Anthony Mochoni, Keone Kekgathegile

Photographs
Thanks to: Rheinhardt Schulze and Jenny Varley

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Jao Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Jao Camp

Weather and Water Levels
The searing heat of September has hit the drying lands of the Delta. With temperatures reaching up to 35°C, the receding water has left mud wallows for elephants and buffalo to cool their thick hides. The monstrous thunderstorms that flashed in the distant horizons last year have not yet returned this year, so we wait in anticipation for the rain. Sedges and grasses are sprouting through the floodplains attracting hundreds of feeding red lechwe. With water levels dropping substantially this month, game and guests now have access to new areas.

Wildlife Highlights
The new lion pride, two females and one sub-adult male, which we mentioned in our last newsletter, has conquered its shyness. And where there are females, a male must follow. Early one morning a male lion broke the silence with roaring. This was not the Kwetsani Male that had moved over to Hunda Island, but rather a nomadic male that has claimed Jao and its surroundings as his new domain. The Kwetsani Male has not been around this area for quite some time to scent mark his territory so we all prepared ourselves for a fight. However there was no response, so it seems that this nomadic male has claimed the area. Just like the new pride, he was shy at first, but seems to love the attention we give him. He has been seen mating with one of the females from the pride and interestingly, on investigation of his whisker pattern, we have identified him as the young male of the Kwetsani Pride who was kicked out on reaching maturity in early 2009!

Male lion at Jao camp    Leopard at Jao camp    Elephants at Jao camp

The banded mongoose family has been seen less around the office area at Jao Camp and more under and next to the walkways around the island. They now have a bigger space to move around and forage from and are taking advantage of this before the floods return next year.

This last month we have seen more of the two resident elephant bulls. These giants have been seen playing in the water in front of the camp, shaking the palm trees, blockading the walkway so no one can walk past, and sleeping next to each other outside the office. They only get up at around 8am when the hustle and the bustle of work starts at the back of camp and then they disrupt the work as they stand in the way.

The Hunda Island day trips have been proving to be a wonderful highlight for all guests that come to Jao. With sightings of lion, leopard, huge herds of zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu and impala, not to mention the beauty of the boating trip with birds, crocodile, hippo, lechwe and elephant, one can understand the popularity of the activity.

Birdlife Highlights
Yellow-billed Kites have been the main attraction this month. These aerial acrobats have been showing off above the camp. Fighting males, mating pairs and hunts have all been witnessed. With them soaring above, the mongooses have been in hiding, so as not to succumb to their sharp talons.

The Spur-winged goslings have grown up quickly. They have lost their down feathers and have started taking on the colours of their parents.

A rare sighting this month was that of a Rosy-throated Longclaw. This bird, so rare, is termed a "lifer" (a term used by avid birders for a bird seen for the first time).

Guest News and Comments
Word of mouth is an amazing thing. We have had many guests this month that have come to Jao because their friends or family have been before. Some even return with them to have the Jao experience once again.

Amazing stay. Great being with Maipaa. Beautiful setting, great massages and wonderful for Families - Family from USA

Just sensational! Outstanding! - Heidi (Switzerland)

Jao is a wonderful place, Thank you for some wonderful memories - Jan & Blaine (Canada)

WONDERFUL! WOW! Can't say anything more - Toni (Namibia)

Staff in Camp
Management: Andrew Gaylord, Lauren Griffiths, Jost Kabozu, Prudence Nkobolo, Neuman Vasco, Marina Lunga (Spa therapists)
Guides: David, Tee-Jay, Maipaa, KB


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Tubu Tree Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Tubu Tree Camp

Weather
The summer has arrived! We have had very few mornings where temperatures have dipped below 15C degrees, while the midday highs are reaching mid 30s. A light breeze has aided in removing the last of the leaves from the deciduous trees.

Highlights
There has been a transformation at Tubu Tree Camp as the waters quickly dissipate. The plains have filled up with zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, elephant, few kudu, impala, mongoose and troops of baboons passing through.
Guests have been intrigued by small animals this month, for example a group of banded mongoose swimming across a channel, fruit bat with their young and even monkeys carrying little ones around on their bellies.

Numbers of buffalo have increased with small herds continually on the move. We have watched many walk past us from the safety of camp during breakfast time and some guests have even been greeted by buffalo outside their tents in the early morning. It won't be long now before the big herds return to Tubu!

Keledi the leopard and ostrich eggs at Tubu Tree    Honey badger at Tubu Tree

The Tubu leopards have been at their finest this month with one of our queens seen relaxing in a tree before being disturbed by some baboons. As the alpha male baboon closed in on her she jumped from her branch onto the ground and broke into a full run towards the safari vehicle. She went right underneath it and broke out from the other side and was gone in seconds.

It was a sight to behold when one of our beautiful young leopard, Keledi, came into adulthood and took down a full grown male lechwe. She, however, still displayed her immature side much to our guests' amusement on another occasion. Not seeing any animal ahead of her, we looked on in amazement as she went into full hunting mode - stalking to begin with and then leopard crawling. Her sudden pounce was followed by a look of utter disappointment as Keledi came upon a pile of ostrich eggs. The guide and guests had a hearty laugh along with the other game viewers who were en route to watch the hunt.

Even though the water has pretty much dried up, two young leopard are still putting on a show and hanging around camp. We have seen one of them lying on the deck of Tent 4 and as a guest and manager talked in the lounge one evening, one of the leopards explored the bar and pool area. Keledi wasn't the only leopard to make us laugh this month as one of these young ones was seen stalking some Wattled Crane in front of camp in the Tubu floodplain. When the cranes noticed they chased the young leopard back into the bush.

Vervet monkey at Tubu Tree    Red lechwes at Tubu Tree    Zebras and wildebeests at Tubu Tree

The month ended with a bang with the first sighting of a cheetah. Cheetah tend to leave us over the flood periods and when they return it is a sign that the water has left us.

The bird life has really shone this month with sightings of the Gabar Goshawk and Red-necked Falcon together. Also seen were a pair of Dickinson's Kestrels on numerous occasions. Guest also got to see a very relaxed pair of male and female Pink-throated Longclaws. However, the species which stole the show this month were a flock of over 30 Wattled Crane.

Guest Comments
All those wonderful surprise locations: the traditional evening, the bush brunch and of course the bush dinner under the stars. What a truly exceptional 3 days. To Jackie, Justin and all the wonderful staff at Tubu Tree. Thanks to all your exceptional efforts we have had an outstanding good short stay at Tubu. None of this would have been possible without you. Thank you all so much. - Michael & Hillary (UK)

Prolific wildlife - wonderful sightings & lion family, leopard stalking ostrich eggs; leopards resting on trees; wonderful Mokoro experience - quiet - magical sunset, amazing bird sightings, assisted hugely by Izzy - who had such a wide knowledge of Delta life. A superb guide. Very welcoming and extremely well run camp. Very many thanks from us both. Special thanks to Justin & Jacqui. - Roberta Anne & Nora (UK)

The fabulous singing welcome by the staff on our arrival was our first of many highlight, the excellent hospitality shown to us by Jacky & Justin and all the staff was an amazing experience. The 'high teas', the drinks at sunset, the gourmet meals, the ride in the boat, I could go on - the entire visit to Tubu Tree has been a highlight to our first trip to Africa. I thank all at Tubu Tree for a wonderful experience. - Barbara (AUS)

Kambango was a fantastic guide. Very knowledgeable and a lot of fun. He seemed to know exactly the best plan for us. Jackie + Justin have created a warm and welcome home in the wilderness. The personal touches are wonderful. Tubu Tree is the best adventure place we have ever been too. We appreciated the extra work in eating under the stars 2 nights - it was so memorable. The singing of the staff will be a lovely melody in our hearts for a long time. Jackie & Justin have developed an attentive and talented staff. Thank you. - Steven & Jane (USA)

Tubu Tree offers especially personalized service. A personal service that is understood and acted upon from the bottom up. If you are looking for top hospitality in Botswana this is the place to be. Jacky & Justin have made our honeymoon very special. - James & Zara (UK)

Spontaneous dining experiences away from camp. Jacky & Justin's spectacular hospitality (& candle light surprise! Thank you so very much). Izzy (if only we can take him with us) Learning the local customs - Izzy was exceptional (our wish is that he soon has the additional cows) and of course - the glorious animals - the lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, croc & all the others. Absolutely phenomenal introduction to Africa! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! - Harry & Daniele (CAN)

Staff in Camp
Mangers: Justin Stevens & Jacky Collett-Stevens
Guides: Kambango Sinimbo & Esekia Ntema

Photos: Thanks to Anne Duncan for the picture of Keledi with the ostrich eggs.


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Kalahari Plains Camp update - September 2010               Jump to Kalahari Plains Camp

No report this month.


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