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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

June 2011

(Page 2 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 Abu Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jao Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Seba 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 Camp Jabulani in South Africa.
• Monthly update from Kings Camp in South Africa.
• Monthly update from Leopard Hills 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 Mvuu Wilderness Lodge in Malawi.
• Monthly update from Mumbo Island Camp in Malawi.
• Monthly update from Chelinda Lodge 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.


South Africa camps
Pafuri Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Pafuri Camp

Weather and Landscape
Winter has definitely arrived in northern Kruger with an unseasonal downpour on the 8th of June signalling - hopefully - the end of the rains and the arrival of the cold. Temperatures have fallen to just above freezing, including two days where the boardwalks were frozen over during the early hours of the morning!

The vegetation has thinned out to a large degree, thus making game viewing much easier. Many of the seasonal pans and mud wallows have dried out, forcing the wildlife to concentrate along the Luvuvhu River, making any spot along the river a prime spot to watch nature unfold in the most primitive manner.

Male lion at Pafuri Camp    Lion cub seen around Pafuri Camp

Wildlife
General game within the Makuleke Concession is clearly on the increase and one can almost see the numbers go up on a monthly basis, with huge herds of impala, nyala, buffalo, kudu, bushbuck, warthog, zebra and baboon active all over the concession. Now that winter has arrived and highlighted the dry season, elephant have also stamped a strong presence on the concession.

Our white rhino population has been boosted by the addition of a new calf. This is fantastic news and adds to the success story of the Large Mammal Reintroduction Project which took place in the Makuleke Concession. We have had a handful of sightings of the neonate on foot, but the mother is still very protective over her new calf and remains very elusive.

The Pafuri Pride has made June their month and have provided our guests with some unbeatable lion sightings. Again, this is also part of the Pafuri success story as one can clearly see that high profile animal encounters have steadily increased. The pride really is carving out its place in the Pafuri ecosystem and has established in the area beautifully.

Kudu's seen at Pafuri Camp    Kudu with calf at Pafuri Camp

The pride is constantly concentrating its movements and activities in the area around camp. Lion calling can be heard on a nightly basis, making the morning game drives very exciting as everyone cannot wait to get on the vehicles and find the felines that were responsible for keeping them awake during the early morning hours. On one occasion, the lion's position was given away by his impressive calls. We followed the audio 'breadcrumb' trail until we found the dominant male (Nkanu). He was walking with purpose, so we continued to follow him until he led us to a much-appreciated encounter. He joined the rest of the pride, which consisted of two lioness, their six cubs and another male, who were all enjoying the spoils of a buffalo kill. This provided us with fantastic viewing and photos for a further two days. As the lioness have to feed not only for themselves now, but for their offspring, their dietary requirements have become elevated which resulted in us finding them feeding on an eland and two separate nyala bulls throughout the month.

Amongst all the wonderful lion sightings this month, the leopard viewing has been superb, with one of these spotted felines making an appearance every second day at least. What has been truly spectacular is the amount of cub sightings we have been having. We now know of three females with cubs, one female near Mangala, who has become a regular visitor to our trails camp - including a walk through during lunch earlier in the month! She has a cub of about one year old. The great thing is that through positive encounters with the vehicle, the cub is getting more and more relaxed with us and has been providing fantastic photographic opportunities.

The second female has three small cubs of around three months old; due to their age they have some way to go before they can become habituated to the vehicles, but Mom's territory is in the vicinity of the camp and so we hope to work with these cubs to get them as relaxed around the vehicle as their mother is. The third leopard has one cub of around eight months old, and we also hope to get her used to our presence. We strive to be as sensitive as possible with the young leopard as they are the future of Pafuri's leopards.

Winter always amazes us with the diversity we encounter in the Makuleke, and June came to the perfect end with a sighting of four wild dog along the tar road. We hope they decide to stick around and that they provide us with more sightings over the next few months.

Lion feasting on it's catch    Jackal at Pafuri Camp

Birds and birding
Birding has been extremely consistent and fruitful, with good sightings of Eastern Nicator, White-breasted Cuckooshrike , Klaas's Cuckoo , Diderick Cuckoo, Glossy Ibis, Sacred Ibis, Pel's Fishing-Owl, African Spoonbill and Black Stork. The really interesting thing is that many summer migrants seem to have extended their stay at Pafuri due to the late rains.

Brian Masters

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Pafuri Walking Trail update - June 2011               Jump to Pafuri Walking Trail

No report this month.

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Camp Jabulani update - June 2011              

No report this month.

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Kings Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Kings Camp

At this time of the year there is a different kind of beauty that engulfs us during the dry winter months.

The mornings are crisp and the evenings fresh in the bush. On the game drives one can easily spot the long neck of a giraffe peeking out over the top canopy of the thorny Acacia trees while the golden colour of the sun casts a soft yellow sheen of silky light over the bush. Its beauty is very calming and therapeutic for the soul.

It was on one of these beautiful afternoons that Albert my tracker picked up on some very fresh and enticing tracks of a female leopard that had recently walked along the road. We slowly followed her tracks along the windy and beaten bush track when suddenly we were faced with a “roadblock”. A multitude of chunky legs the size of tree trunks caused the earth to shudder and reverberate around us. A herd of more than 40 elephant heaved out of the bush and onto the road in front of our Landover. Everyone on the vehicle was extremely excited by this magnificent surprise, well, almost EVERYONE! Albert my tracker was least impressed as he turned to me in an annoyed state and expressed his aggravation that these giants had destroyed the tracks of the leopard on the road. How was he going to track her now?

These tracks belong to the elegant and beautiful Ntombi leopardess. She is a strikingly beautiful and relaxed female leopard that is just over 5 years old. She is a first time mother and so far has done a fantastic job raising her only cub, a young male that is now 15 months old. The young male is spending a great deal of time in front of the camp in the dry riverbed. This kind of habitat offers protection from the larger predators and his arch rival the spotted hyena. I still believe his mother is supplying him with the majority of his food requirements but it is only a matter of time before his life of independence will start and this young male will be forced to fend for himself. We had a fantastic sighting of both of them on a kill in front of the lodge for three days.

Leopard seen around Kings Camp

Our most notorious female leopard sought by many and photographed by thousands, Rockfig Jnr has been infrequently seen this month and there is a good reason for this. I suspect that she gave birth at the end of the month. It will more than likely be at least another eight weeks before she will make any attempt to bring them out from her well hidden and secretive den site. As soon as more information becomes available on her new cubs we will post it on Kings Camp blog.

Rockfig Jnr at Kings Camp

Our lions sighting were excellent this month. Not only did we see several large kills but it was also significant as the “Kubasa” pride made a return to our area for a few days. Those few guests that were fortunate to see these white lions can count themselves very lucky. The two white lionesses have grown into young and beautiful females nearly doubling in body size since we last saw them. On the afternoon that we viewed them sleeping on the banks of the Nharalumi River, they were rudely awoken only to be chased off by a herd of 50 elephants. The prides movement is very sporadic and unpredictable at the moment making it impossible to determine where they will move to from day to day. Currently it seems that the pride prefer to reside in the North West corner of the neighbouring Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. I also suspect that the constant dominating presence of the Timbavati and the Mahlatini male lion coalitions in our area might be responsible for the prides lengthy absence from Timbavati at this time. However we are ever so hopeful that at even give time the pride can make a return to the Kings Camp.

White lion at Kings Camp

The Machaton pride was on a good roll this month and I am very happy to report to you that the nine cubs are all doing well. I have my eye set on the smallest and the only female in the litter. She is small in comparison to her male siblings but this little girl has a strong character and ego and is not afraid to stand up to her brothers. I have watched her carefully and at several sightings she doesn’t allow her male brothers or the adult lionesses to push her around and bully her. The Timbavati males have shown extreme tolerance of the little ones and allow them to feed with them on the same carcass without showing any indication of aggression or annoyance. The pride received an unexpected bonus in the beginning of the month when a large male giraffe died a natural death in thick mopane bush. The lionesses found the carcass three days later but only after a small clan of hyenas found it first. It was amazing to see them struggle to open the large stomach of the giraffe but once that mission was completed it was a feast for all for several days. Numerous large hyenas would dominate the carcass for a few minutes and would then leave. After the hyenas moved off, a small group of Black-back Jackals would then take control of the carcass with a few hundred vultures joining in for scraps. The hyenas would then return and even though they could not eat anymore, they would purposely chase any smaller predator or scavenger away from the carcass. This lasted two days and on the third day, the Machaton pride with the aid of the Timbavati males took control of the carcass. They fed until they could barley move and looked like they were going too burst. You might think that they are being piggish about feeding so frequently and gorging themselves, but the truth of the matter is that they just don’t know when their next meal will come. So when an opportunity like this presents itself, of course they are going to maximise this opportunity.

After this intense feeding session they moved away from the remains of the carcass and lay down in the soft riverbed for literally a day and night digesting their large meal. This was until a herd of around three hundred Cape buffalo crossed the path right in front of the pride the following morning as they lay snoozing in the sun. The adult lionesses seized this opportunity with relish and immediately moved into action. The cubs scrambled to cover and concealed themselves in the nearest thicket on the bank of the riverbed watching their moms plan and implement an attack. The cubs remained motionless. As the herd of Cape buffalo crossed the riverbed, their heavy bodies in the soft sand slowed them down as their hooves sunk into the substrate underfoot. At this point a lioness broke cover and forced the herd of buffalo to retreat back in the direction they had come. Instinctively the buffalo herd made a dash for the cover of the dense vegetation lining the banks of the Nhlaralumi River only to be met by a second lioness waiting in ambush for them. The lioness launched down the embankment latching onto the muzzle of a buffalo cow. By holding the animals muzzle shut, she prevented her victim from calling out and bellowing in distress to the rest of the herd for assistance. The herd did not see the cow being taken down and continued to stampede to safety away from the lions. The buffalo was quickly killed as the cubs remained hidden for the time being. Minutes later a soft contact called signalled to the cubs that an approach was safe and they wasted no time to join in on the feast that lasted another three days. A day later one of the Timbavati males joined the pride and not surprisingly took control of the kill immediately. Nevertheless, all members of the pride by this time were well fed.

Hyaena feeding of a Giraffe    Hyaena feeding of a Giraffe

Lions also feeding on the Giraffe    Lions also feeding on the Giraffe

Lions feesting on buffalo    Lions feesting on buffalo

Large herds of elephants as always are seen during most of the game drives at Kings Camp. The Matriarchal herds have moved away from the open grass plains and spend most of the feeding time on the banks of the Nharalumi River where they can find sufficient food at this time of the year. A few large and impressive bull elephants were also sighted and one specific bull named “Battle” by the Elephant research team in Timbavati graced us with his presence for one week. One day he spent an entire morning feeding right in front of the camp. Majestic and powerful makes him the true King of the bush!

Elephant seen at Kings Camp    Elephant playtime at Kings Camp

That’s all for this month dear friends. I hope you enjoyed the game report that I complied as much as did compiling it. This month was a month to remember!

Regards Patrick O'Brien and the Team.

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Leopard Hills update - June 2011               Jump to Leopard Hills

It is nearing the end of June and winter is officially upon us bringing crisp mornings followed by those warming rays of golden light and plenty of breathtaking moments...

Leopards
Hlaba Nkunzi

A few wonderful sightings of her posing atop a Marula tree near the lodge kicked the month off to a brilliant start! She has however been seen less frequently later in the month as she has roamed a wider area trying to seek out all the dominant males she can potentially mate with. We did observe some very interesting behaviour exhibited by both her and Xinzele where they were seen searching for and then feeding on buffalo dung a few times! Possibly due to trace elements present in the buffalo dung that they are lacking in their diet this time of year or to help with digestion?? If anyone has any further information on why they may do this please comment.

Leopard in a tree  Leopard in a tree  Leopard eating some dung

Xinzele
He hasn't been seen with Hlaba Nkunzi this month, he has been operating mostly in the north of his territory! He is currently very busy patrolling up and down while marking and calling, especially along the Sand river. We followed his fresh tracks for over 5km one morning before we eventually found him still moving briskly along!

This may be due to the Mashiabanje male being more active north of the Sand river and there was a territorial stand off between the two of them on one occasion, Xinzele on the southern bank and Mashiabanje on the northern bank. Xinzele is considerably bigger and more confident than Mashiabanje even though he is only a few months older, a confrontation may be imminent.

Leopard seen at night    Leopard on a dune

Mashiabanje
This young male has been seen north of the Sand river since the beginning of 2010, he is about 3and a half years old so a little younger and smaller than Xinzele. He seems to have claimed the vacant territory left by Tegwaan north of the Sand river. He is very relaxed and a joy to observe, we had a wonderful view of him in some golden winter grass one morning gazing hungrily at some impala.

Young male Leopard at Leopard Hills

Tlangisa
She has been seen most frequently in the south and middle of the western sector as she tries to establish herself and claim a territory of her own. In her wanderings she was even seen on Leopard Hills' main access road during the month, trespassing in the heart of Hlaba Nkunzi's territory!

Tiangisa at Leopard Hills

Metsi and cubs
She has been far in the south (in Mambirri's old territory) where she had a reedbuck kill mid month, she left her 13 month old cubs there by themselves for over a week where they waited patiently for her. Towards the end of the month Metsi's relaxed cub has been all the way up here at Leopard Hills on our access. He looks quite hungry and seems to be waiting anxiously for the return of Metsi to guide him to a kill. We think these 2 demanding male cubs are already being pushed out by Metsi and will become independent soon.

Leopard seen around camp

Lions
Ximungwe Pride
The older lioness with the 10 month old male cubs has been taking them all over our traversing area familiarizing them with the territory and the short tail lioness with the 6 month old cubs has been mostly in the north. The lionesses have been spending a lot more time together now that the cubs are older and when the Mapogo males are present we have quite a "Pride" of lions here!

Ximungwe Pride at Leopard Hills    Ximungwe Pride at Leopard Hills

Mapogo Coalition
The 3 males spent the beginning of June contesting for mating opportunities with the 1 Ximungwe lioness who is still possibly in oestrus. They managed to kill a young hippo during the middle of the month which kept them busy for a few days. They have been vocalising intensely now towards the end of the month and there was a confrontation with the Majingilane coalition on Ottawa in the east (which seems to be neutral territory) on 19 June! The Mapogo came straight back west the next day with a few minor injuries, importantly they are still holding their own against the 4 younger males.

The oldest Mapogo protecting his Hippo kill!

Lion protecting it's kill

The other 2 Mapogo looking strong!

Lion at Leopard Hills    Male Lion at Leopard Hills

Southern Pride
This young pride consisting of 4 young males and 1 lioness are buffalo specialists and tracked the herd all the way from the east and killed one just over our boundary. It was the first time we have seen these lions and they were very nervous in the Mapogo's territory! They ate their fill and quickly disappeared back east to the intimidating vocalisations of the mighty Mapogo roaring in the north!

Southern pride feading at Leopard Hills

Elephants
Many seasonal mud pans have now dried up and the perennial rivers and permanent waterholes are a sure bet in the evenings if there is a parade of elephants in the area. Our guests have shared a few sunsets with animated parades, one really memorable such sundowner was the evening of the Lunar Eclipse and the rising Full Moon below.

Elephant and the lunar eclipse

White Rhino
As usual the sightings have been regular and of high quality, lots of wallowing and interaction in the drying up mud pans. There have been regular sightings of the female with the 3 month of old calf who is now very relaxed with vehicles.

White rhino at Leopard Hills

Buffalo
The large herd of 500 has been further towards the east for most of the month, we look forward to them returning west in July! We are finding more old bulls (Daggaboys) along the Sand river with the onset of winter, their commanding almost arrogant posture always commands respect!

Buffalo around Leopard Hills

Hippo
This time of year we are blessed with Hippo being out of the water more during the day, this gives our guests a real perspective of the animal as opposed to just seeing the top of the head on the water's surface.

Hippo seen around Leopard Hills

The female with the tiny 6 month old calf has reappeared after a long absence! We were incredibly lucky to see the calf a few hours after it's birth in December (see image below), she has been moving between our camp pan and 2 other pans close to Leopard Hills. The cool winter weather has provided us with some fantastic sightings of the 2 of them out of the water during the day!

Hippo with calf

The below image of the wobbly youngster was a few hours birth in December 2010.

Hippo with calf at Leopard Hills

Painted Dogs Denning
We continue to take advantage of this once in a lifetime privilege of viewing the painted dogs denning. Most time of our time has been spent with the pups at the densite however we have managed to keep up with the pack hunting on occasion and have enjoyed some phenomenal roller coaster sightings.

Painted dogs seen around Leopard hills

The pups are in a very playful stage learning hunting skills while wrestling and biting each other. They also establish the separate male and female hierarchies amongst each other during this phase. Their complex social behaviour also seems to be more learned behaviour as opposed to instinctive and each pack has a culture much like humans that is passed down from generation to generation!

Recently there have been a few tense moments as lions have moved perilously close to the painted dog den on a few occasions, luckily the pups have been safely inside! The Alpha female's alertness has prevented any potentially disastrous altercation.

There have also been some other unwanted feathered visitors at the den! Some Hooded vultures were attracted by the regurgitation of meat parcels for the pups, this image below is of the bravest of the pups peeping out towards a vulture from the safety of the den.

Wild dogs around Leopard Hills

All this activity has prompted the Alpha female to move dens! A very wise decision from an experienced leader and mother! The new den is also a modified termite mound about 3 kilometres further south in a more open area where they can be quickly alerted to any potential threat. It must have been a scary trip for the 11 week old pups, 3km of potential danger but also a great learning curve and confidence booster!

There is always much interaction between the pups and adults as they continue to establish their social status, look at the folded back ears and exposed belly of this submissive pup below.

Wild dog with pup at Leopard Hills

The adults have to hunt more regularly at the moment to provide for the hungry bellies, they came across a young hippo in a waterhole the other day and this dog showed more than a little curiosity! He looked like he wanted to swim over to the Hippo…looks like easy prey when you can only see the head above the water!

Wild dog at Leopard Hills

It is all looking very positive for the pack and if all goes to plan we will have a healthy pack of 14 dogs in a month or so once the pups are large enough to run with the adults!

Interesting Topic: Winter Birding
It is often believed that birding is more of a summer pastime with all the migrants being present here!

Well to be honest winter can actually be just as productive, if not more so as the vegetation is thinner and the resident birds are easier to locate. They also spend more time sunning themselves in exposed positions in the early winter mornings providing fantastic viewing and photographic opportunities!

The position of Leopard Hills high up amongst the riverine vegetation along the dry Mabrak river bed means fantastic birding right here from the deck of the lodge. Some common birds seen regularly around our camp that aren't commonly seen elsewhere include White throated robin chat, Mocking cliff chat, Collared sunbird, Orange breasted bush shrike, Grey headed bush shrike, Ashy flycatcher and many more.

Birds of prey are plentiful around our camp and the following eagles are regularly seen: Bateleur, Martial, African Hawk, Tawny, African Fish, Brown Snake and in summer Wahlberg's.

African Hawk seen at Leopard Hills

The smaller Accipiters are also plentiful, including Gabar, African and Dark Chanting Goshawk, Little Sparrowhawk, Lizard Buzzard and the Shikra.

The Sand River is a hotspot and produces a number of rarities including the secretive African Finfoot, Whitebacked Night-heron, Blackcrowned Night-heron, Purple Heron, African Black Duck, Half Collared and Malachite Kingfishers and African Crake.

Bird at Leopard Hills

The adjoining riverine forests may deliver Black and Grey Cuckooshrike as well as African Pygmy Kingfisher .

Spotted Eagle Owls are seen regularly in the evening, while the Verraux's Eagle Owl, the second largest owl in the world, is heard calling at dusk and dawn and we are lucky to spot them occasionally along the riverbeds. African Barred, Pearl-spotted and African Scops Owlet are often heard and less often seen.

Verraux's Eagle Owl at Leopard hills

Our flashy kaleidoscopic birds provide fantastic photographic subjects and give aspiring photographers an additional challenge! Some favourites are the Lilac-Breasted Roller, Purplecrested Turaco, Saddlebilled Stork, Bateleur, African Green Pigeon, Green-winged Pytillia, Blue Waxbill and Goldenbreasted Bunting.

The spectacular bee-eaters complete a photographers' portfolio, including the resident Little, White-fronted or in summer the Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters.

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Rocktail Beach Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Rocktail Beach Camp

Weather and Camp News
At the beginning of the month, we started to focus our attention on the ocean, off the Maputaland coastline, for our first glimpse of humpback whales, which are undertaking their annual migration up along the eastern coast of Africa. Having no luck at first, staff and guests started to place wagers as to the date when the aquatic mammals would first appear. On a clear, tranquil winter's day - 17 June, the first whale broke surface and was sighted by Darryl and Clive from the Dive Centre. Sightings have started to pour in towards the end of the month, with whales being spotted from some of the rooms. Now that the whale watching season has officially started for us, we are hoping to have a very productive season with these gentle giants.

Interestingly, we had a full Lunar Eclipse on the 15 June, (possibly this had an effect on the whales' migration tactics?) and all at Rocktail Beach Camp saw the red moon in with a celebration of champagne on the top deck, and one large jovial table for dinner which was enjoyed by all.

First whale spotted for the season at Rocktail Beach Camp    Fishing from the shore at Rocktail Beach Camp

In terms of weather, June was characterised by a constant north-west wind blowing offshore which made for some excellent beach weather and snorkelling conditions, which were relished by the guests.

Fishing
The month of June also saw the arrival of shad to our shores, with some large shoals being seen hugging the shore-break. This is always an exciting time of the year as shad (elf) are really fun to catch with light conventional tackle and fly tackle. Numerous catches were made and as always released to grow for another day!

There were also some excited guests that enjoyed some other species on fly tackle along our shores, there were some needle-scale queenfish and big-eye kingfish which happily gulped down some fly patterns. It is always refreshing to know that even if it has been years since you have casted a fly rod you can still enjoy some great fishing without having to put-out really long casts. A strict catch-and-release policy is followed as it is vital to marine conservation and research.

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Rocktail Bay Dive Report - June 2011               Jump to Rocktail Beach Camp

Weather
June brings with it sunny skies during the day but a drop in temperature in the evenings, to remind us that winter is upon us. This month, water temperatures only dropped from 23°C down to 22°C and visibility averaged around 10-15m.

Diving
Winter signals the arrival of the humpback whales, so everyone was on the lookout. The hot topic of discussion at the bar each night before dinner was if anyone had seen any whales that day - in fact we eventually all put in bets as to which day would be the first sighting. Clive saw the first whales on the 17th: there were two of them breaching far out to sea. Clive had just missed his date and Russell was the following day so he won the bet!

Humpback whale seen at Rocktail Bay    Starfish seen on dive at Rocktail Bay

There were a few other sightings of whales throughout the rest of the month, most of them quite far out to sea. This is just the beginning of whale season so we look forward to many more sightings in the months to come.

The highlight at Elusive Reef is always the huge group of yellow snappers. This mass of fish is made up of blue-banded snappers, dory snappers, yellow snappers and flame goatfish. Marbled-leopard groupers and river snappers are often found just on the edge of these fish, waiting for their chance to grab a quick meal. These fish tend to surround divers and almost make you feel like you have been 'accepted' into their world; it is quite an experience to be totally surrounded by fish. David and Carla Teubes shared this experience. Carla also experienced a 'moment' with a green turtle, the two of them swimming side by side for about ten minutes until we decided to head off in another direction across the reef.

Another great moment was experienced by a prospective diver, who was unable to equalise her ears during her Discover Scuba Dive and left her partner to dive, whilst she snorkelled with a huge pod of bottlenose dolphins. They swam around her for ages!

Spotted stingray seen on a dive at Rocktail Bay    Yellow snapper seen at Rocktail Bay

The Baker family also had their first diving experience as they completed their Discover Scuba Dive at Aerial Reef. They had a wonderful dive with two potato bass, huge parrotfish, a school of coachman and lots of other fish as well as a very unusual sighting of a porcupine ray. We do not get to see these rays very often, so they were quite spoiled at being able to see this on their very first dive.

Other great sightings this month have included a devil ray, some white tip reef sharks and some honeycomb stingrays.

Congratulations to the following divers
For completing the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Course:
Simon, Nicola, and Oscar Baker
Kai Hoeppner

Yours in diving
Darryl, Clive, Michelle and Catherine
The Rocktail Dive Team

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Zimbabwe Camps
Makalolo Plains update - June 2011               Jump to Makalolo Plains Camp

Weather and Landscape
This month, the mercury plummeted to a very chilly -2° C, freezing over some of the smaller patches of surface water. Fog seemed to follow these cold spells. Luckily we found solace once the sun's warm rays covered Hwange National Park, allowing us to thaw out. Throughout the month we experienced azure blue skies and sunsets which included the deepest shades of red, purple and orange.

Sunset over Makalolo Plains Camp

The vegetation has thinned out considerably and has taken a beating due to frost over the last cold spell. Luckily many of the perennial plant species have shifted their nutrients into underground rhizomes and storage units.

Wildlife
The general wildlife sightings have been fantastic, with large amounts of activity around the winter waterholes. The variety at the drinking spots is astounding and one can see up to five different species interacting and co-operating at the much needed resource. It is always so interesting to watch the towers of giraffe arrive at the waterholes, look around, splay their legs and awkwardly drink. During the summer months, these magnificent creatures can obtain their moisture requirements from their browse, but have to resort to visiting the waterholes on a daily basis during the dry times.

The open plains in front of camp have also been productive and have been providing large number of blue wildebeest and plains zebra with winter graze. At night, the haunting call of the hyaena was heard throughout the month and their tracks were found riddled around the camp area, without a doubt harassing the wilderness and zebra.

We had some great sightings of high profile species, such as white rhino, wild dog, leopard, cheetah and lion. On one occasion, a night drive came across a stripped pole cat - or zorilla as some may know it.

Baboon seen through the mist at Makalolo Plains Camp    Giraffe at Makalolo Plains Camp

Birds and Birding
The birding at camp was quite eventful over the month with constant activity around the camp area. On several occasions we observed a Tawny Eagle, which was taking advantage of the thin vegetation by hunting a variety of Francolin.

Guest Comments
"All of the guides are amazing in their knowledge of both animals and environment. Staff are gracious and extremely accommodating". Marvin and Ethel (USA).

"Loved the guides and staff. Had two amazing game drives, 16 lions, 4 wild dogs, a leopard and 3 cheetahs!" Sharon & Shania (UK)

"Watching the action at the waterhole! Very knowledgeable staff." Susan (USA).

Staff in Camp
Managers: Katt and Ryan.
Guides: Godfrey, Lawrence, Livingstone, Douglas, and Robert.

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Little Makalolo update - June 2011               Jump to Little Makalolo

Weather and Landscape
June hit us really hard and made us dig deep into our wardrobes for very warm and neglected heavy jackets. Our coldest recorded temperature was -6.4° C! This icy weather froze up most of the bird baths in camp and some of the water pipes only defrosted at 9 am. Other than that, the days have been mainly warm and pleasant, with temperatures rising to about 27° C.

Due to the extremely cold weather most of the trees have dried up and are losing their leaves. The ordeal trees are displaying beautiful colours as their tops are turning brown, going golden orange and yellow further down and the bottom layer is still green. Most of the grasslands are rapidly drying out, leaving them golden yellow, some have become bare as the buffalo constantly trample and feed on the thinning cover.

White rhino at Little Makalolo    Elephant family at Little Makalolo

Wildlife
Despite the cold weather, there have been some good sightings around camp including the Ngweshla lion pride, which spent some time right in front of camp. Their calls were often heard by all in camp during the early morning hours. This lion pride has been very active in the area and on one occasion we came across their very ambitious hunting attempt.

We found four lioness attempting to take down a young elephant by leaping onto its back from behind, however, the young elephant let out a high pitched squeal, causing the mother to turn around and immediately charge the lions, effectively chasing them away and foiling their ambitious attempt.

Leopard sightings have been good as well, with the resident male being seen on a few occasions. His rasping calls are heard almost on a nightly basis, the camp staff finding his tracks all around camp very often.

We were also lucky when we found four African wild dog hunting at Ngweshla; they provided us with a great demonstration of their cooperative hunting methods. Due to the nature of their hunting techniques, we were not able to keep up with pack.

The highlight of the month was definitely the aardwolf sightings. A group of guests were lucky enough to see one in front of Makalolo Plains on their evening drive but the other two were seen together at Ngweshla Pan by one of our guides after dropping off some guests. These mammals are seen very rarely so all were excited when they appeared through the dried-out grass.

A Vulture seen at Little Makalolo     Baffalo at Little Makalolo

Other great sightings for the month included that of four white rhino, one of them getting rather close to the vehicle.

On the subject of vehicle-animal interactions, we came across a young hyaena on an evening drive who showed some interest in one of the tires and tried to chew it. We moved off before the carnivore could sink its teeth into the rubber!

Birds and Birding
More unusual and smaller sightings were recorded - one being a Martial Eagle which was seen perched on a branch enjoying a freshly caught a Selous mongoose for its dinner.

Guest Comments
"All the staff went out of their way to make everything fun, interesting and special. Highlights - sunset with elephants, talks with Bulle and walking with Sibs and his fireside stories." Jean and Bart (USA)

"The staff has been extremely inviting, friendly, fun, caring and knowledgeable. The food was delicious. The safaris exciting and fun, all of our needs were met." Dick and Marry (USA)

Staff in Camp
Managers: Rania Mutumhe, Sibahle Sibanda and Shayne Templer.
Guides: Sibs, Charles Ndlovu, Elias Chiga and Bulisani Mathe.

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Davison's Camp update - June 2011

Weather and Landscape
Hwange National Park has been experiencing winter's cold during June, especially in the early morning hours, as temperatures have dropped to a staggering -5° C once or twice. Such cold bouts caused the small bodies of surface water to freeze over. Things did warm up quite nicely once the morning chill wore off, providing us all with some warm comfort.

Things have dried out to a large extent in Hwange, forcing the wildlife to use the waterholes, creating some great game viewing. We have experienced a chilling wind which blew through the area on most days, stirring up the dust, which in turn created some fantastic sunsets.

Landscape around Davison's Camp  Elephant family at Davison's Camp  Elephant family at Davison's Camp

Wildlife
The sunsets were coupled with amazing game viewing. Huge numbers of buffalo have been collecting at the camp waterhole; it really is amazing to view a herd of no less than 400 buffalo from the comfort of your tent. The cherry on top was the herd of about 40 sable which mingled with the buffalo.

We are not the only ones who are drawn to the abundant herbivore herds around camp - the lions have taken an interest in the gathering too. On a few occasions, we heard the unmistakable bellows of buffalo at night being harassed by the ambitious lions. On one occasion, the lions were chased right through the camp in the middle of the night!

We had fantastic cheetah sightings right throughout the month, as a coalition of five cheetah have taken up residence at Back Pans. They have been using this area as a base for their hunting activities and we have been lucky enough to witness a number of these attempts. We witnessed three hunting attempts which were successful - what an amazing experience to witness this from front row seats!

We have had other high profile sightings, which include species such as rhino, roan, African wild cat, caracal, serval and bat-eared fox.

On numerous occasions as the sun set to the bellowing of buffalo seeking refuge for the night under the big rosewood trees at Davison's, the call of the leopard punctuated the night while the hyaena lent an eerie sound to the orchestra.

Buffalo at Davison's Camp  Lion at Davison's Camp  Roan's at Davison's Camp

Camp News
Davison's Camp is gearing up for the busy season as many guests enjoy visiting us when the summer heat has subsided and the winter waterholes have become the focus of activity in Hwange.

This month, we welcome Flora Russell from the UK to the Davison's team, she is doing a year's industry placement and we are sure she will be a great asset to the team.

Guest Comments
"Cheetah, friendly staff, excellent service and our last game drive with elephant, buffalo and lions. It was excellent thank you very much." Laurina (UK).

"Wonderful staff, great attention to detail. Nice that the guide stayed with us at the campfire and at meals. Attention to safety. Guide did a wonderful job of sharing information about animals, birds etc." Mary, Tom and Michael (RSA).

"I was thrilled to see so many varieties of animals. Sharing tales around the campfire was a thrill! Meals were Outstanding" Janet (USA).

Staff in Camp
Managers: Chris, Andre and Tammy.
Guides: Dickson, Bryan, Brian, Honest and Kate.

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Ruckomechi Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Ruckomechi Camp

Weather and Landscape
This month has seen subtle changes in weather as the daytime highs are still very comfy, often pushing the mercury up to the mid-thirties and then dropping to around 14° C at night. The cooler weather has brought with it crystal clear skies.

By and large, most of the vegetation is clearly drying out with the onset of winter. The torchwood trees are losing their appeal for the elephants, who have taken a liking to the winter flowers of the ana trees instead. This has attracted a whole range of other herbivores who are taking advantage of the elephants' messy feeding habits. The water on the floodplains has started to recede, leaving a carpet of green grass shoots in its wake.

Sunset over Ruckomechi Camp    Sunset over Ruckomechi Camp

At the beginning of the month, two more floodgates were opened on the Kariba Dam, sending a sudden surge of water past the camp. The water levels were very high for the first two weeks of the month, but as the gates have been closed, the waters receded rapidly, allowing us to regain some of our roads. The high water levels also cooled down the first half of the month.

Wildlife
As the water levels in the floodplains dropped, the fresh grass shoots have attracted much attention from a plethora of herbivores. This must come as a welcome treat for the herbivores that have been grazing on less palatable vegetation for the last three months. Hippo often make their way to these 'greener' pastures at night to graze their fill.

It's wonderful to watch how everything is constantly adapting in order to survive and thrive in the African bush. The predator species are also benefitting from the new vegetation as they take advantage of the increased herbivore activity.

Cheetah with impala catch    Male lion at Ruckomechi Camp

The two Ruckomechi lionesses have been very active and provided us with some great sightings throughout the whole month. At the beginning of the month, we encountered the younger female mating with a nomadic male. If the copulation was successful, we can expect some cubs in the next three months. This is great news as we suspect another lioness has lost her cubs - we have not seen them with her for most of the month. Her cubs were approximately four to six weeks old, a very vulnerable age for the young predators.

On one occasion the guests were treated to a hunting attempt on an old buffalo cow. It was amazing to watch the hunt unfold, constantly highlighting the feline's strategy. Unfortunately (for the lion) the buffalo was sharp and saw the lion's ambitious attempt and ran away.

We had three amazing leopard sightings in the month, one being another foiled hunting attempt. The thinning vegetation appears to have made hunting more difficult for all the predators, with exception of one, who thrives in the open.... Speaking of which, we witnessed a real treat: as we followed two cheetah successfully bring down an impala ram. The kill happened close to camp, so all of the vehicles made it to the sighting, allowing all of the guests an amazing sighting.

Lion pride at Ruckomechi Camp    Roan herd at Ruckomechi Camp

The nocturnal animals have also done their part, with a lovely sighting of a serval hunting for rodents and other tasty morsels. The same night, an African wild cat was spotted near camp, dashing across the road in front of the game drive vehicle to give all the guests a good view.

Birds and Birding
The high water levels brought with it a huge array of birds. The Greater Painted-Snipe could be seen ambling along the edge of the water, or paddling in the shallows in search of insects and grubs. The high water levels attracted a number of storks, plovers, egrets, wagtails and herons, all of which were searching for choice food bits. Then the new, soft shoots of grass brought in huge flocks of Egyptian Geese, whose honks and hissing calls echoed around the camp.

This month saw our first sighting of African Skimmer for the year. These gregarious little birds are represented by the Wilderness logo so are very special to us; all were very excited to see them back in the area, to begin their breeding season with us.

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Mana Canoe Trail update - June 2011               Jump to Mana Canoe Trail

June has been a busy month for Mana Canoe Trails, with a total of six trips this month. It has however been a successful month and there have been many stories coming from excited guests as they return from walks or discussed around the campfire in the evenings whilst watching the sun setting. We have been lucky with both bird and animal sightings.

Weather and Landscape
June kicked off with a brief thunder shower in the morning hours which brought with it the cold weather of winter. It has now become the norm to layer warm clothing in the mornings which get systematically removed as the sun warms things up. Most days have been cloudless, helping the midday temperatures to reach the low thirties. These clear skies also created the perfect setting to watch the Lunar Eclipse which took place in the middle of the month.

Views at Mana Canoe Trail    Lunar eclipse over Mana Canoe Trail

With two floodgates open on the Kariba Dam wall for the majority of the month, the Zambezi River water levels are very high, playing havoc with the activities of the ground team trying to access certain areas; however the trails was still able to run in its usual manner. Fortunately one of the floodgates has been closed, allowing water levels to drop a little. The falling water has also left areas with fresh grass growth providing food for a number of grazing animals. The indigofera (a small shrub) has thinned out, allowing areas previously too thick to be walked in, providing some breathtaking scenery as well as game viewing. Water hyacinth dominates many of the small inland pools which had formed as a result of the high water levels, creating the appearance of a green carpet across the top of many of the pools.

Wildlife
Wildlife sightings have been great, offering consistent activity. Sightings of numerous large herds of eland, buffalo, zebra, impala and warthog have been a thrill to guests from the canoes, on foot or in vehicles. The Mana elephant bulls have provided some really great encounters at close quarters as they are very relaxed and comfortable around people. Guests have also had some outstanding sightings of lion and wild dog, some of which were enjoyed on foot.

The highlight for the month definitely goes to the outstanding pangolin sighting which was enjoyed by all during the daylight hours - a truly special sighting.

Canoe trip around Mana Canoe Trail    Pangolin seen at Mana Canoe Trail

Birds and Birding
Guests were treated to two very special bird sightings this month; a juvenile Greater Flamingo and a Palm-nut Vulture were both seen in the Nyamatusi Wilderness Area. These species are rare vagrants to the lower Zambezi Region therefore these were very special sightings!

The water birds have also been very good and in vast numbers this month with water levels being so high. Vast populations of Egyptian Geese can be seen feeding on fresh grass shoots and the Hadeda Ibis can be heard calling from dawn to dusk. Many birds of prey can be seen in the early morning sunning themselves whilst waiting for thermal vortices to develop. The piercing calls of the Meyer's Parrots can be heard as they feed and travel through the wooded areas.

Guest Comments
"Graham, Matthew and Henry are all outstanding." David (USA).

"This (Mana Canoe Trails) has been an extraordinary experience. The food was outstanding and the attention to detail was great. Thank You!" Joe (USA).

"Too many highlights to mention." Jay (UK).

Staff
Carly Morgan joins the Mana Canoe Trails team for a short period at the end of the month continuing into July. We welcome her to the team and wish her all the best for her time on Mana Canoe Trails!

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Zambia camps
Toka Leya Camp update - June 2011
              Jump to Toka Leya Camp

Weather
Water levels in the river have dropped dramatically but the spray at Victoria Falls has not at all reduced as much and one still needs to wear a rain poncho to view this wonder in comfort. The temperatures have also dropped by a large margin, dropping to 5 degrees Celsius and even lower on some nights. Guides and all the staff on the morning shift have dug out their gloves that have been packed away for a long time, and in the early mornings, the trees, grasses and the boardwalk are white with frost. Unfortunately many plants were not spared this cold spell: instead of lovely lush green trees, we woke up one morning to find that all the leaves were white and later they were all dry as if burnt by fire.

Elephants around Toka Leya    Hippo's around Toka Leya

Wildlife
The wildlife sightings have been great this month, with the mid-morning and afternoon river cruises especially rewarding. On all the islands the huge bodies of hippo are seen on all activities - and a youngster has taken to sitting at camp right at the front desk where he has been spending all day in the sun. Perhaps the water is a little too chilly for him at this time of year!

A popular question from the guests is "are there crocs in the Zambezi?" This month the question was moot with an abundance of these large reptiles lying everywhere.

The Islands have also been filled with large herds of elephants and one of these herds actually spent nearly a week on Kakunkha Island which is just a short distance downstream from Toka Leya. Guests have watched on several occasions as the elephant herds tried to swim across the river from one island to the next - although they managed in the end, it was very clear that the current was very strong, even for these big beasts.

The Bee-eater colonies have as usual been a highlight on the river and several groups of guests have requested to go back and photograph these colourful birds; we now have two nesting sites not too far from camp. We have had some really great sightings of Giant and Pied Kingfishers as well as large numbers of Thick-knees and Wagtails.

On game drives, we've had lovely close sightings of rhinos and their babies. These excellent views, as well as the story behind the small rhino population, create lasting memories for those guests that had a chance to join us on these drives.

Crocodile on the banks of the Zambezi    Birding at Toka Leya

Community Relations
Toka Leya has started a new relationship with Sinde Village. This is a partnership formed between Toka Leya, the River Club and the original supporters of the community, Nomad Africa Safaris. Guests are enjoying our visits to the village, interacting with the local people and seeing the school and community initiatives that are in progress. Sinde Village is made up of about 200 households, one primary school and a small pre-school. The school has a small garden as well as a poultry project, which is a way of sourcing funds for the school as well as paying fees for the teachers. As a group we have identified areas where we can assist the community and to that end, we have a professional liaison who meets with the people to see what their needs are as well as the implications of tourism on the community. The results will then map the way we will go forward. Although this relationship is still in its infancy, we are looking forward to a lasting and positive partnership.

Guest Comments
Wonderfully heated facility. The staffs are outstanding, excellent food and the hospitality is superb. A and H Shultzer
Had a wonderful stay should have booked longer stay. Thank you for everything. A and B Luell
A once in a lifetime experience! Excellent staff. We will miss this beautiful camp and the river. Kenny all the meals were delicious! L, H and G Leland

Management Team
Petros Guwa - GM
Gogo Guwa - Camp Manager
Kawanga - Assistant Manager
Chipasha and Mavis - Junior Managers
Kenny Lugayane - Executive Chef
Amon Ngoma - Trainee Manager/ Head Guide

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Lufupa River Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Lufupa River Camp

No report this month.

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Lufupa Tented Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Lufupa Tented Camp

No report this month.

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Kalamu Lagoon Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Kalamu Lagoon Camp

Weather
It's that time of the year when we hug hot water bottles; sitting around fire sipping hot tea or coffee and dressed up in two or three layers of clothes becomes trendy. This winter has come with a knock, cloudy and cold in the morning, warming up as the day progresses and cooling again as the sun sets, compelling us to put on the layers of clothes we had removed. Mornings are averaging between 12 -20 degrees Celsius and going up to 30-34 degrees during the day.

On the 15th of June we were privileged to see a Lunar Eclipse, which was fascinating to watch. It took about one hour for the moon to be entirely covered, as this happened the stars became superbly bright and glistened at us from the clear African night sky. The moon took on an incredible orange colour from the dust reflected in the Earth's shadow.

Elephant herd at Kalamu Lagoon Camp    Elephant at Kalamu Lagoon Camp

Wildlife
The game viewing seems to be on the increase, as the lagoons and pans inland are drying fast - with the exception of the one in front of the camp which we hope will therefore attract large numbers of wildlife in search of water.

It has been a wonderful start to the season with lots of interesting sightings so far. The Kalamu wild dog pack has been hanging around Kalamu Star-bed Camp. Our guides think they are denning somewhere in the area. Unfortunately none of the wild dog sightings have been witnessed by guests, but hopefully they will see them as soon as the bush starts opening out.

It was rather thrilling to see three lions on the other side of the Luangwa River whilst setting up a bush dinner at Munina Confluence! We were all excited watching the lions as they walked towards the river, unconcerned with our presence and the noise as we set up chairs and tables. We quickly called our game drive vehicles to come over. En route to the lion sighting they heard baboons calling, clearly alarmed. Upon inspection, a leopard was eyeing the primates up their tree - and posing for the photo! Our guests were privileged to watch the tumult as the baboons jumped down and scurried away.

Leopard at Kalamu Lagoon Camp    Buffalo drinking at Kalamu Lagoon Camp

These two sightings - one of a leopard and one of a lion posed a serious dilemma for the guides: which sighting to go to first? They left the leopard sighting after spending half an hour with it, and proceeded to the Munina Confluence where we were still monitoring the lions. Just in time - as the game viewer vehicles arrived, the lions attempted to cross the river. We enjoyed hearing the "wows" as guests arrived at a bush dinner site complete with lions! Sadly it was not that easy for the lions; a couple of hippos teamed up and chased the lions back across the river. It was such a wonderful experience for guests despite the fact that it was too dark for photography. We were all grateful that our guests had the chance to see both sightings.

We had four leopard sightings during June and hopefully we will spot a more as the season progresses. Large herds of elephant and buffalo are being seen daily in the concession. In addition a quite astonishing array of herbivores such as zebra, Thornicroft's giraffe, puku, kudu, porcupines and a lot more have been regularly encountered on activities. Not forgetting the hyaenas that take over the camp as soon as everyone retires to bed. One morning our guides counted 25 hyaenas feeding on a hippo carcass presumed to have been killed by the Kalamu lion pride.

The Kalamu wild dog pack seen around Camp    Bush dinners at Kalamu Lagoon Camp

Birds and Birding
Birding has been exciting; our best sightings include Pel's Fishing-Owl, as well as Crowned Cranes seen frequently at our Luamfwa airstrip - they are helping guides to welcome guests. Other species include Kurrichane Thrush, Eastern Nicators, Brown Snake-Eagle, and African Fish Eagle.

We are excited that our new hide with a great view of the lagoon has been completed and is providing us with excellent sightings. Our guests have enjoyed the birds that perch in front of the hide, elephant and buffalo herds drinking, and hippos snorting and grunting just a few metres away.

Camp News
We had breathtaking bush dinners this month, with lions crossing the river as mentioned above and another was our Lunar Eclipse Dinner. Having a moonlit dinner next to the Munina riverbed and the Luangwa River confluence was an exciting and unique experience for our guests; it was a great success and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.

On a different note we were privileged to host the Children in the Wilderness programme, where the kids and our kind sponsors, Zegrahm & Eco Expeditions, joined us in camp. This was such a success and we can't wait to host another one.

Mambwe and Evie have spent a week in Lusaka skilling up on Wilderness' HIV Peer Education programme and other 'focal points'; we hope they will return to teach the rest of us what they have learnt.

Guest comments
- "Dinner on the river while lions try to cross the Luangwa river was a great way to end our stay." Anne and Steve
- "This is my third time in Africa and my second safari and this has been the most fantastic experience for me by far. It was a beautiful location with awesome food and beautiful wildlife. Thank you so much for a wonderful stay." Cullian Party
- "The location, the camp and especially your team are very impressive. We shall always remember the special moment we had, even over a short stay. Dinners al fresco, looking at wildlife, learning from the guides, bush dinner and leopard! Awesome experience. Thanks very much." Wolever
- "Super guides and food thanks for a wonderful stay." Horsted

Managers: Solly Tevera, Mulenga Pwapwa, Evie Bwalya and Maarten van Deun
Guides: Mwila Zulu, Sandford Sakala and Emmanuel Sauti, who has recently joined us.

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Shumba Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Shumba Camp

With another rainy season behind us, the plains are looking as beautiful as ever. Shumba Camp has benefitted greatly from the rains as all of our young trees have grown and filled out immensely making the camp look extremely lush.

We welcomed our first guests for this season on June 2nd, and what an opening it was!

Lechwe at Shumba Camp    Some African Skimmers at Shumba Camp

Both avian and mammal species welcomed the guests, entertaining them throughout their stay. The boat trips really did highlight the diversity of the area, with hippo often frolicking in the water right in front of the boat. Another first for the season was the outstanding lion sighting, which was also witnessed from the boat. We had just started our morning cruise, when by chance we saw three lionesses from the Busanga Pride standing at the water's edge, building up confidence to cross the water. It was really fun to see the facial expressions as the lions placed their feet into the water, clearly not enjoying it. After some time, the first lioness reluctantly took the plunge and the other two followed. They swam across the icy channel in shoulder-deep water, providing the guests with some outstanding photos. Now that the seal was broken on lion sightings, the felines brought the viewing one step closer, by killing a puku right in the middle of the camp!

We quickly added ticks to our species checklist, as we encountered a myriad of species from the boat. These included sable, roan, buffalo, lechwe, leopard and elephant. The elephants also provided us with some great sightings, especially since they are very calm around the boats and carry on with their natural behaviour, allowing us some insight into their daily habits.

Lioness at Shumba Camp    2 Lionesses swimming accross the channel

In between all the mammal action, the birds provided us with some solid birding. We had regular sightings of both species of Jacana, with the Lesser Jacana's eggs hatching. Huge mixed flocks of hundreds of African Openbills, African Spoonbills, Yellow-billed Storks and Hamerkops were seen all around Shumba. Around camp, we were serenaded at night by the calls of the resident Spotted Eagle-Owl, who has become habituated to people, allowing everyone a great view of this nocturnal raptor.

The birding highlight of the month goes to the African Skimmer. It is wonderful to watch these birds, as they fly just above the water, skimming the surface for food.

Shumba was the perfect location to watch the Lunar Eclipse which took place on the 17 June. The clear skies coupled with the reflection off the water created a surreal experience as the earth's shadow was cast over the moon.

We look forward to exploring the diverse expanse of land within the Busanga Plains in the upcoming months with our guests.

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Kapinga Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Kapinga Camp

No report this month.

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Busanga Bush Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Busanga Bush Camp

No report this month.

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Malawi camps
Mvuu Camp update - June 2011
               Jump to Mvuu Camp

No report this month.

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Mvuu Wilderness Lodge update - June 2011               Jump to Mvuu Camp

Weather
We are in the middle of winter now and night-time temperatures are down to just above freezing. The days start cold and clear but temperatures rise to the mid-twenties by noon.

Night-time skies are clear and crisp and all guests were out on the airstrip on the night of 15th June for a spectacular view of the lunar eclipse.

Sunset over Mvuu Lodge    White-breasted cormorant At Mvuu Lodge

Wildlife
We are now fully into great dry season game viewing with the entire park's population of elephant on the river at some stage during the day and large herds of sable on the northern floodplains.

Porcupine no longer appears under 'rare sightings' as we seem to be seeing them regularly now, as well as consistent views of hartebeest, bushpig and kudu.

Throughout the month, we were treated to a variety of interesting and unusual sightings.

June was highlighted by two sightings in particular, the first being a very interesting interaction between a hyaena and a striped polecat or zorilla. Whilst on game drive, Julius spotted the hyaena harassing something. Upon closer inspection, the group realised that the hyaena was trying to make a meal out of the polecat, which is Africa's version of a skunk. The polecat used what it had in its arsenal and sprayed a very foul smelling secretion towards the spotted attacker. The hyaena was immediately knocked back and ended up running away. Luckily for the group, they were upwind of the sighting.

The second highlight was the antics of a hungry baboon. Whilst on an afternoon drive, the group came across a fully grown male baboon who was climbing a very tall borassus palm. We watched and marvelled at the baboon's agility. We were further surprised when the primate reached the top and raided a White-breasted Cormorant nest. He greedily fed on a number of eggs and even two newly hatched chicks. The cherry on top was when the baboon dropped one of the chicks, who landed right next to an opportunistic crocodile who was waiting at the base of the palm....

On the subject of crocodiles, we also came across a large crocodile who was feeding on a warthog boar.

H.E.L.P. Malawi session at Mvuu Lodge

Camp News
At the beginning of the month, H.E.L.P. Malawi (the NGO that Wilderness works with at Nanthomba Village), in conjunction with Wilderness Safaris, organised a safari for 23 Grade 8 students from the Nanthomba Primary School. They enjoyed a game drive learning about the interactions between species, including the symbiotic relationship between oxpeckers and impala, saw a baboon selecting food from elephant dung, and learnt the many values of the mopane tree, both medicinal and as a source of food. Incredibly, although living only four kilometres from the park, many of the children had either never seen elephant or only ever seen them at night raiding their family's crops.

They also learned about the value of conserving trees and the destructive and unsustainable nature of using charcoal made from trees.

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Mumbo Island update - June 2011               Jump to Mumbo Island

This month the Malawi Department of Parks and Wildlife sent the first female game scouts to monitor and patrol Mumbo Island. The Parks and Wildlife Department aims to balance the gender inequity in various government departments in the country and this is one of their first ways to solve this.

Mumbo Island

The guests at Mumbo Island Camp were delighted to see female game scouts in their smart new uniforms taking part in wildlife conservation activities. The new recruits reported that they are very proud to be professional scouts and to spend a week at a time on Mumbo Island, making sure that illegal fishing around the island is kept to a minimum.

The camp has also held a training course for Pilates during the month. Renee Watson, our Pilates instructor, recently invited all the students from her Pilates Mat Courses in Blantyre and Lilongwe to Cape Maclear for a weekend of Pilates. It was an intense weekend of workshops and classes. The ladies finished off their weekend with a trip down to Domwe on the Sunday. They did a mat class on the deck while gazing at the lake, which was followed by some snorkelling and relaxing - perfect for Mumbo Island!

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Chelinda Lodge update - June 2011

The Nyika grasslands are now changing colour from shades of green to hues of dryer browns, however, the plateau's beauty remains unmatched. Although the rains continue and temperatures are dropping, the midday temperatures are very comfortable. We have been experiencing low-lying fog throughout the whole month during the early mornings, but this in itself has been very beautiful, especially when the sun's first rays push through.

Leopard sighting at Chelinda Lodge    Sun's first rays push through the morning fog

As conservation requires ecological management, the 2011 burn programme began at the beginning of the month. Each year the Nyika Vwaza Trust conducts an extensive fire campaign across this vast plateau. It enhances the growth of certain grassland flowers which regenerate after the fires have gone through patches of grasslands. This burning is done as close as possible to the end of the wet season, as this enables greater control over the heat intensity of the burn. This burning programme is carried out for two reasons:

Firstly, a carefully regimented fire programme helps to prevent bush encroachment by eliminating an excess of woody plants and moribund (dead plant material), which shades and thus prevents the growth of grass species. If the dead plant material is left to accumulate, it becomes a fire risk as it can cause an uncontrolled fire which can have a negative impact on the environment.

Secondly, by burning the moribund, vital nutrients are put back into the soils. As mentioned above, certain plants can only flourish once they have undergone a burning process.

Roan in the mist at Chelinda Lodge    Aminals walking through sprouting grasses

The burnt patches sprouted new shoots of grass within three days of being burnt, attracting large numbers of grazers and ultimately providing them with a great source of winter graze. It was amazing to the watch the zebra dust bath in the sooty soils, making them almost completely black for a short while. Large herds of eland have also been attracted to the sprouting grass as well as high numbers of roan.

Leopard sightings have been great, offering consistent encounters with these elusive predators throughout the entire month. The Chosi male has been providing us with great sightings as he is very relaxed in the presence of the vehicles. He was heard vocalising on a nightly basis and we found him with a young female on two occasions. Hopefully the couple have mated and we will have some new additions to the leopard populations in the area in the next three months.

Some other incredible sightings of uncommon wildlife sprouted up during the month. We have been seeing a sounder of bushpig regularly. The group consists of a female and her piglets. We found these elusive nocturnal pigs on the move during broad daylight on one occasion. Other notable sightings for the month include serval, porcupine and a pair of honey badgers.

 


Namibia camps
Desert Rhino Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Desert Rhino Camp

Weather and Landscape
Our camp has been experiencing winter quite intensively. The evenings have been really cold with temperature going as low as 0° C. In the daytime, as soon as the sun comes out, it warms up everything and everyone to a comfortable temperature. An easterly wind has also been blowing over the concession quite often throughout the past month.

The green grass is slowly turning to golden brown but it is still very thick and high. The small puddles of surface water all around the concession have dried up, making the natural springs the only source of water once again.

Landscape around Desert Rhino Camp    Golden brown grass around Desrt Rhino Camp

Wildlife
With an abundant food supply still around, the wildlife are flourishing and doing well. Huge herds of zebra, oryx and springbok roam the plains. The only limiting factor that is becoming clear is surface water - the natural springs have become wildlife hubs with constant activity.
Rhino sightings have been very good this month with regular sightings of the bulk browsers. Ben and Tensie (a pair of rhino often seen by guests) have been spotted with their new calf a number of times.

Three lions have been active in the Desert Rhino Camp area for a while now, often riddling the camp surrounds with their tracks and late night calls. A couple of guests got to see these lions during their nocturnal activities.

We had a very unusual sighting which astounded us all, considering it happened twice during the month. Our guests got to enjoy two fantastic sightings of aardvark. Generally these elusive creatures are highly nocturnal and lead a solitary life. They feed frantically at night, consuming up to 400 000 insects (mostly termites) a night! They are equipped with a very long tongue which is coated in a sticky saliva. They probe crevices and burrows with their tongue, consuming large ammounts of insects and soil. The ingested soil serves to grind up the insects in the stomach due to muscular contractions within the stomach. By doing this the aardvark can feed intensively without having to stop and chew.

Aardwolf at Desert Rhino Camp

Guests were also treated to a fantastic sighting of aardwolf during the golden hour when the waning sun bathes everything in a golden cloak of lighting.

Camp News
This month, we bid farewell to Peter du Toit. He will be leaving Wilderness to find a new challenge. We will miss his smiles and positive attitude but wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Helen, Agnes & Peter
Guide: Ali, Raymond & Makumbi


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Palmwag Lodge update - June 2011               Jump to Palmwag Lodge

Weather and Landscape
We have been experiencing berg-wind conditions for most of the month, which has kept the average temperatures slightly higher than they should be for this time of year. Basically as higher lying air descends down the mountain slope it warms up at a rate of roughly 1° Celsius for every 100 metres it descends. As a result, average morning temperatures of 15° Celsius have been enjoyed for most of the month.

However, the concession was reminded that we are in the peak of winter, when on the 7 June, a cold front passed across Palmwag Lodge. Temperatures dropped considerably and fog was the order of the mornings. The front was short lived and passed in four days. It did provide some beautiful photographic opportunities with the makalani palms silhouetted in the fog.

Ruppell's parot nesting around Palmwag Lodge    Morning fog over Palmwag Lodge

Birds and Birding
Hundreds of visiting Little Swifts filled the late afternoon skies along with thousands of Red-billed Queleas returning home to roost along with the ever-present African Palm Swifts. In the background the short, but unmistakable call of Ruppell's Parrot could be heard. For the last couple of years, the camp has had a pair of parrots that annually return to the same site to roost, in this case a clump of makalani palms.
Ruppell's Parrot is endemic in south-western Africa from central Namibia to southwest Angola. They frequent savannah where there are trees or in dry woodlands and in close proximity to water. In the adjoining image, the female who can be identified by the blue feathers on the rump, inspects one the possible nesting sites half way up a makalani palm.

Camp News
In the beginning of June, Palmwag Lodge had the privilege to host a group of 60 doctors and nurses who annually visit the Doro !Nawas, Torra, Sesfontein and Anebeb Conservancies. The optometrists, physio- and occupational therapists had the opportunity to tend to over a 1000 people, providing a much needed medical service to the communities of this area.

This month, we bid farewell to our camp manager, Jason Nott. He has left Palmwag to pursue his dreams elsewhere in the tourism and hospitality industry. Three years ago Jason started at the lodge as a guide, became activities manager, he was then promoted to assistant camp manager and moved onto camp manager. He is getting married in August and all of us wishes him all the best for the future.

Palmwag offers day excursions to a traditional Ovahimba village, which has proven to be very popular amongst the guests. The Himba are one of the last truly nomadic tribes left in Africa. During June, the tables were turned and the village members visited the camp.

Himba tribe near Palmwag Lodge

Guest Comments
"Amazing nature with breath-taking colours! Very beautiful location and friendly staff. Add 2 lioness and 7 cubs and it all becomes a dreamlike experience. Thanks to all!" Sara and Luca (Italy).

"We are vegetarian and the chef is really terrific. His imagination and presentation was excellent, really superb! All the staff so friendly and helpful. Wonderful place and enjoyed every moment." Valerie and Erick (Portugal).


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Doro Nawas Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Doro Nawas Camp

Weather and Landscape
Winter is in full swing in the !Doro Nawas Conservancy as the mornings have been characterised by cloaks of fog, no doubt rolling inland from the cold Atlantic Ocean. Early morning temperatures have dropped considerably from last month's lows with a monthly average of a mild 13° C, which usually warms to a slightly more comfortable 20° C by midday.

The cold breezy evenings have the benefit of offering some amazing night skies. We had a fantastic view of the Lunar Eclipse which took place on June 11. This was one of the longest Lunar Eclipses for the century and lasted a total of 100 minutes.

Elephant herd at Doro Nawas    Morning fog over Doro Nawas

Wildlife
Since the rainy season has ended, the desert-adapted elephants have moved back into the Doro Nawas area and are quite active along the Huab and Abu-Huab Rivers. We encountered these amazing pachyderms almost daily throughout the month. We had a fantastic encounter during one of the morning drives, when Michael and his guests found a nursery herd enjoying the man-made dam close to Twyfelfontein. The juveniles provided a great aquatic display for the guests.

The red hartebeest are doing very well in the conservancy and have settled in well. Since they have been reintroduced into the conservancy, they have produced a number of offspring, establishing a healthy and stable core population. They were spotted recently with a number of young calves who appear to be approximately four months old.

Birds and Birding
The avian highlight for the month goes to the Lappet-faced Vulture which was spotted flying overhead searching for food during an afternoon game drive. This added to the usual bird sightings such as Benguela Long-billed Lark, Carp's Tit, Bare-cheeked Babbler and Ruppell's Korhaan.

With the abundant rains we received this year, the insects are still active and provide some much appreciated dry season food to a myriad of bird species, in particular the Pale-winged Starlings.

Guest Comments
"We have been impressed by the environment, education and employment. The staff are very friendly. It is good that the lodge has limited capacity to avoid mass tourism and respect on the environment." Gounon & Jourdan

"The staff are very welcoming, friendly and attentive - all of them made our stay very special." Fredrich Staudinger

Lappet-faced Vulture at Doro Nawas

Camp News
During the month, our team was joined by Wilfred Gertze . He has started as a trainee guide and is currently studying at the Namibian Academy for Tourism and Hospitality.

As mentioned in an earlier newsletter, the Doro Nawas choir competed nationally in a competition at the Namibia Tourism Expo held in Windhoek. The choir gave a fantastic performance on the day and took top honours by winning!

Staff in Camp
Management: Agnes Bezuidenhout, Morien Aebes, Theobald Kamatoto and Jason Lundon.
Guides: Pieter Kasaona, Ignatius Khamuseb, Michael Kauari, Richardt Orr

Newsletter for this month done by:
Theobald Kamatoto (Assistant Manager)
Michael Kauari (Guide)


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Damaraland Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Damaraland Camp

Weather and Landscape
This month has been characterised by chilly mornings and foggy daybreaks. The general weather has been rather unpredictable for most of the month during the mornings and evenings as one day is completely different to the next. By and large the daytime temperatures have been warm and comfortable.

The landscape is still clinging onto some of its wet month appeal as the concession still has a healthy cover of palatable vegetation. Strange how this can be a huge benefit for the plethora of herbivores on the one side, but a huge disadvantage on the other side. We have witnessed how the opportunistic predators have been taking advantage of the lush vegetation to aid them in their hunting activities.

Lunar eclipse over Damaraland Camp

Wildlife
This month we have been very fortunate in that two breeding herds of desert-adapted elephant have been active in the areas around Damaraland Camp, especially along the Huab River. These pachyderms left our guests with spectacular photos and memories.

We have also been spotting a single hartebeest with a herd of oryx, which is unusual as hartebeest are usually very sedentary and have small home ranges. It is likely that the lone ungulate is following the oryx for safety reasons.

It is amazing how animals will adapt to the demands of the wilderness in order to survive. Another interesting adaption that the oryx have evolved to survive the harsh arid biomes which they occupy is called a 'Carotid Rete'. This is a unique configuration of blood vessels in the brain which use the light skin colourations on the face to cool the body temperature considerably.

Camp News
This month, the annual JMC meeting was held between all stakeholders in the Torra Concession to discuss a number of ecological agendas. This is another prime example of a sustainable synergy between a conservation company and the local community.

Oryx at Damaraland Camp    Desert elephants around Damaraland Camp

Camp staff visited the local community and handed out blankets to the elderly and children, part of the Round Table project which has been running for some offering medical assistance to the local communities.

We are happy to welcome Roseta Basson, Jolanda Sanib and Martinus Sanib to our team here at Damaraland Camp.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Elfrieda, Maggie, PG and Erika
Guides: Johann, Anthony, Albert and Jonathan

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Skeleton Coast Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Skeleton Coast Camp

Weather and Landscape
As a result of the good rains which Namibia received during the summer months, the Skeleton Coast still resembles a wet season (relatively speaking of course!) landscape. The ephemeral Kumib River is covered in a dense cover of grass and the Hoarusib River still has a decent amount of water.
Generally the weather along the Skeleton Coast can be unpredictable, and this was true for June as we often experienced four seasons in one day. During the second week of June, Skeleton Coast Camp was buffeted by a strong easterly wind. Temperatures fluctuated from daytime highs of 35° Celsius to cold temperatures during the mornings. The concession was covered by beautiful layers of coastal fog on most mornings, which was dissipated by the sun's rays by mid morning.

Wildlife
As we edge into the dry season and the fruits of the rainy season slowly diminish, we have experienced phenomenal game viewing along the active water courses.

This month we had some great interactions with large elephant herds congregating along the wet Hoarusib River. It allowed us a small window into the life of these desert-adapted pachyderms, who were thoroughly enjoying the spoils of the rainy season.

Morning fog over the Skeleton Coast Camp    Desert elephant at Skeleton Coast Camp

Lion activity has been good along the Hoarusib as well. Three lioness have been very active along the river as indicated by their tracks and we have been lucky on a number of occasions to have spotted them. They are using the thicker vegetation of this ephemeral river system to good affect stalking prey. They made a kill along the river in the middle of the month, but it was in very dense vegetation and we battled to get a good view.

The resident brown hyaenas have also been seen frequently during the month very close to camp. Interestingly they have often been seen in the early mornings, perhaps using the cover of fog to hunt.

Guest Comments
"All staff are wonderful. Our guide (Gert) was amazing, knowledgeable, considerate, interesting and very very successful at finding all of the animals, from lions to chameleons. We loved his very genuine concern for animals, plants, everything." Wendy (UK)

"This was by far, our most extraordinary and enjoyable experience in Namibia, far surpassing any and all expectations. The environment, the surprise of wildlife, the camp food and comfort were all fabulous, but the warmth, passion and graciousness of the staff were truly UNFORGETTABLE - SIMPLY TERRIFIC!!" Marcia, Jan and Eddie

Staff in Camp
Managers: Anthony, Madri, Rosalia, Johan and Bertha.
Guides: Gert, Kallie, Godlot.

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Serra Cafema Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Serra Cafema Camp

No report this month.

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Ongava Tented Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Ongava Tented Camp

Weather and Landscape
June was quite cold by our standards confirming that winter is here in full force. The daily routine involves applying a number of layers of warm clothing in the mornings, which then get peeled off as the weather warms up to a moderate temperature and then to put the layers on again as the sun goes down.

Due to the late rains which Ongava received, there is still a good amount of surface water available but it has begun to dry out which will have an influence on wildlife movements in the area.

White rhino at Ongava Tented Camp    Lunar eclipse over Ongava Tented Camp

Also pictured is the lunar eclipse which we were fortunate to see very well thanks the clear winter skies.

Wildlife
Because of the late rains we received, game densities at the permanent waterholes are down from the expected trends as the wildlife can still sustain themselves on the surrounding surface water and lush vegetation.

This month we have had the pleasure of having a lioness and her cubs settling around the waterhole close to Ongava Tented Camp. We estimate the cubs to be roughly five months of age and they appear to be in great condition and are growing fast. The cubs have often entertained our guests with their aerial acrobatics in their attempts to catch Double-banded Sandgrouse, which come down to drink during the late afternoons. Occasionally the two dominant male lions of the area have come to visit their offspring and serenade the camp at night with their powerful calls.

The white rhino population has also been boosted as we encountered the first rhino calf for the year. The calf is still weary on its feet and we estimate it to be in the region of four to six weeks in age. The guests were amazed at how small the calf is in relation to the mother. It was not only us that took interest in the sighting, as the above mentioned male lions came for a closer look, sending the rhino crashing off.

Other great sightings for the month on game drives in Etosha were cheetah on several occasions as well as large herds of elephant as they have moved back into the Okaukeujo area of the Park.

Lioness with cubs at Ongava Tented Camp    Male lion at a waterhole

Guest Comments
"Everyone was so happy to see us and couldn't do enough for us. Passionate and informative staff made our stay in this unique perfect setting complete." Fiona and James.

"Great guiding from Rio, a wonderful range of experiences from intimate encounters in the reserve to great herds in the park." David and Nancy.

"Lioness and cubs at the camp waterhole and also two rhino at the waterhole. Drive at dusk, seeing so many species of antelope and another two rhino. Drive through Etosha with Shilongo, who knows all the birds and can imitate their calls." Brian.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Gerda Van Niekerk, Silvia Morgante, Inge Kambatuku and Corne Cocklin
Guides: Rio Aibeb, Festus Eiseb, Leon Basson, Shilongo Saukes

Pictures taken by Silvia Morgante.

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Little Ongava update - June 2011               Jump to Little Ongava Camp

No report this month.

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Ongava Lodge update - June 2011               Jump to Ongava Lodge

Weather and Landscape
We are now at the peak of the winter season. The weather has been very unpredictable with the afternoons being partially warm with temperatures reaching 25° C and the late evenings have dropped to 3° C. Some evenings we have been receiving a cold breeze from the south that made the conditions at night a little colder.

The landscape is going through its dramatic annual transformation, drying out into an arid habitat. All the deciduous trees and shrubs such as the mopane trees and purple pod terminalias, which are now completely bare, as they have shed their green coverings. Surface water is also becoming a demand as the waterholes are receiving increased interest from the thirsty animals.

Game around waterholes at Ongava Lodge    Game around waterholes at Ongava Lodge

Wildlife
General game sightings have been great for the month as we are finding huge concentrations of game making their way down to the waterholes. It is such an amazing thing to see these hordes of wild animals making their way down to the waterholes in single file all with the same goal in mind - quenching the African thirst. The best time to visit these activity hubs is during the early morning and the late afternoon in between feeding bouts.

On the abiotic side of the scale, we had a great view of the Lunar Eclipse which took place on the 15 June. It was fantastic to see the earth's shadow completely cast over the moon, especially in an area where there is absolutely no light pollution.

Guest Comments
"What a wonderful experience - the staff are outstanding, game viewing was phenomenal and the environment is unspoilt. Keep up the great work!" Kim and Rolan (Switzerland)

Staff in Camp
Managers: Adriano, Agnes, George and Jason
Guides: Kapona, Willem, Henock, Michael and Abraham.

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Andersson's Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Andersson's Camp

Weather and Landscape
The weather has been fairly kind to us during the month of June and days have been nice and warm. Nights have been bearable with only a few very cold ones. Day temperatures have been in the mid-twenties and night lows went to well below 10 Degrees Celsius.

Wildlife
As the surface water has been drying up quickly, a great variety of wildlife has returned to our waterhole and we are constantly seeing up to seven different species at the waterhole at any given time. Lion sightings at our waterhole have been rare, but they do 'sing' to us virtually every night. Due to the opportunistic nature of African predators, we are sure that the predator forces will start taking advantage of the abundant resources around the waterhole which will make for some outstanding game viewing and interactions.

Flocks of Red-billed Queleas at Andersson's Camp    Film crew at Andersson's Camp

Birds and Birding
Huge flocks of Red-billed Queleas have been observed at our waterhole and these seem to be a welcome snack for a few Ovambo Sparrowhawks as well as several Shikra's.

Camp News
During the month, Andersson's Camp hosted a film crew of 17 for five days. The team consisted of actors and film crew, who are in the process of filming a 3D wildlife film. The name of the film is "African Safari 3D" and it is about a safari starting in Namibia's Skeleton Coast and ending at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is due for release worldwide in April 2012. (Pictured left is one of their elaborate safari film-crew vehicles)

Guest Comments
"I have travelled with Wilderness Safaris before, so I know what to expect and it has been a uniformly great experience." John and Margi (RSA)

Staff in Camp
Managers: Charles and Annalie van Zyl, Sakkie Hoeseb and Corrie Adams.
Guides: Frans, Ramon and Bono.

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Little Kulala Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Little Kulala Camp

Weather and Landscape
Winter is upon us in the desert and we've had some really cold weather in the past month, some mornings starting out with mist over the mountains and dunes. On the 7th of June the most spectacular event happened - the morning started off as a normal winter morning, sunny but cold. At around 9h00 a freezing wind started blowing and what we thought was fog rolling in turned out to be clouds. It started raining around lunchtime and the temperature dropped to around 5° C. Then in the late afternoon it started snowing on the Naukluft mountains!

Wildlife
We have been treated to some great predator views this month. Some cheetah have settled into the Kulala Wilderness Reserve and have provided us with some great sightings. It is believed that these may be the offspring of the cheetah that were reintroduced into the area, which is great news for us as well as for the species. On the subject of felines, we have been finding regular tracks of leopard on the airstrip.

Silhouette at Little Kulala

Birds and Birding
The birding on the reserve is still quite spectacular. The avian highlight for the month goes to a Lanner Falcon, which demonstrated its aerial agility when it swooped on a flock of Namaqua Sandgrouse who were drinking at a waterhole. It caught the flock completely unaware and enjoyed a hearty meal as a result.

The huge flocks of Red-billed Quelea have started to arrive, and it seems that they are being followed by large numbers of Pale-chanting Goshawks, who must be feasting on this abundant food source.

Another unusual sighting which we had was a Lappet- faced Vulture soaring high above the dunes.

Guest Comments
"Thank you for our luxurious stay, it was incredible. We loved every second of it. The sky deck is very neat. Thanks again!" Larry (USA)

"Talents, youth, knowledge, friendships. A smile, service, charm - what more do I want! Thank for teaching me, I learned something every day! I am at home." George (USA)

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Kulala Desert Lodge update - June 2011               Jump to Kulala Desert Lodge

No report this month.

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Kulala Wilderness Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Kulala Wilderness Camp

No report this month.

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Kenya camps
Governors' Camp update - June 2011               Jump to Governors' Camp

Weather and grasslands
We have enjoyed pleasant weather this month, early mornings have been a little chilly with temperatures as low as 14°C but by late afternoon we had all warmed up and were enjoying a balmy 30°C. The total rainfall for the month was 85.5mm and much of this rain fell in the late afternoons, causing the Mara River to rise keeping the hippos happy.

Hippo's at Governors' Camp    Hippo's at Governors' Camp

Wldebeest migration
On the 1st July 2011 many Wildebeest took the plunge and crossed the Mara River at the Sand River area of the Mara. The zebra are not far behind and could be with us very soon.

The elephant families and their calves have spread out within the Musiara Marsh, Bila Shaka and riverine woodlands of the Mara River. Good numbers have been spending their time in the Acacia woodlands in the Koiyaki conservancy, close to where we do our walking safaris. The swamp is still a good place to see elephant feeding and bathing and there are two large bull elephant that frequent in the Marsh and Bila Shaka areas close to Governors’ Camp. But we suspect that as the wildebeest migration begins to arrive the elephant will move away to quiter areas.

Elephants at Governors' Camp

Most of the herbivores are staying in the short grass areas of Bila Shaka and Topi Plains, here the grass is green and they can see predators approaching.

The woodlands close to our camps are home to giraffe, and there are also lots of giraffe in the acacia woodlands bordering the reserve. Good numbers of Cokes Hartebeest graze on the plains and many of the resident zebra are in the southern Koiyaki areas where grasses are still short and green due to the little rain they have had.

Warthog and their eight month old piglets are abundant all over the short grass plains, close to our camps. A few of them have been seen being chased into their bolt holes by lion and then often get they get dug out and eaten; the Marsh Pride have been eating many adults and piglets.

The large breeding herd of Cape Buffalo estimated at over 500 animals is still being seen on the Eastern grassland plains of rhino ridge and Bila Shaka; grasses here are a little longer and well suited for buffalo. Excellent sightings of black rhino a large male, and a younger male have been seen in the Paradise area and there are good numbers eland on the Paradise plains and in the conservation areas of Koiyaki.

Scenary around Governors' Camp
Photo courtesy of Samuel Kiplangat

Topi, with their seven/eight month old calves, can still be seen on Topi plains and Emarti which is the southern end of Rhino Ridge. Many Topi have been seen recently in short grass plains of Koiyaki, there has been a bit more rain here so grass levels are up a bit.  

Spotted hyena are frequently near to lion kills (or it is the other way around?) On the Paradise plains as many as 40 Hyena have been seen at a time, with numbers like these the hyena clans will compete strongly with the resident lion.

We have also enjoyed some sightings this month of an Egyptian mongoose. Officially named serpentine herpestrines, because their long tails drag along the ground giving them a serpentine look they are generally very nocturnal in their feeding habits, so it is a fairly rare treat to see them during the day.

LION
The Bila Shaka/ Marsh Pride now numbers 15 altogether including five breeding females, six sub adults, two older cubs and two males. The pride still has the two dominant males; Romeo and Clawed. Clawed is looking quite old now but Romeo is still strong and healthy. White eye looks as though she has new cubs as she seems to be lactating but we have not yet seen the cubs. Two of the other females also seem to be pregnant which with the migration on the way and plenty of food soon to be on the prides doorstep looks to be good timing. The pride continues to grow as another female has joined up with the pride; she has four cubs that are four months old. They are feeding off Warthog, Waterbuck and Topi and remain in the heart of their territory close to Governors’ Camp.

   Lions around Governors' Camp    Lion pride around Governors' Camp
Photos courtesy of Samuel Kiplangat

The Paradise Pride of four large males and an older male known as ‘notch’ who is actually the uncle to these four males, remain the hippo hunting experts bringing down another two hippos this month. The males remain fairly nomadic and were seen mating with females of the double crossing pride.

The Ridge Pride of three females, three sub adults and two males, earlier on this month they killed a large bull Buffalo which they fed off for a few days.

The Double Crossing Pride of four adult females more often seen and their four cubs (almost 2 years old), have been feeding off warthog. One of the pride females is now getting old, and despite still moving with the pride, struggles to feed herself.

CHEETAH
With so many hyena around cheetah remain fairly elusive however we have had some good sightings this month.

Shikira and her six 13 month-old female cubs spend most of their time towards the Talek area of the Masai Mara and are feeding off Thomson gazelles and reedbuck; they are all very healthy and looking well fed.

Cheetah around Governors' Camp
Photos courtesy of Samuel Kiplangat

A single female remains near the Musiara Marsh and airstrip and she has been feeding off Thomson Gazelles and reedbuck. Taking up residence so close to our camps means that we have enjoyed daily sightings of her.
 
The three male coalition have been spemding their days close to the Talek River and Emarti south side of Rhino Ridge. They have been actively feeding off impala, zebra foals and warthog.

LEOPARD
We have been treated to some wonderful leopard sightings this month. For three days last week we witnessed 5 leopards together at an area we call Base; a mother, her two cubs and two other males. Leopards are usually fairly solitary cats so to see 5 together on more than one occasion is unusual.

 Leopard around Governors' Camp    Leopard seen around Governors' Camp
Photos courtesy of Samuel Kiplangat

The large male leopard has been covering ground in his territory between the Bila Shaka riverbed and as far as Governors private camp. He seems to be thriving and has been feeding off warthog and impala.

The young male  leopard of paradise is staying close to the Mara River, perhaps he senses that the wildebeest herds will be with us soon and food will be abundant!

Walking in the Koiyaki Conservation Area
We have been enjoying some lovely walking safaris this month. We have seen herds of eland with a few large groups of breeding bulls. On the 26th we were privileged to witness a female eland giving birth. The birth drew much attention from some nearby hyena and it was probably only our presence that kept the hyena at bay. Since then we have seen more eland calves. On the 30th a group of hyena brought down a young eland calf. The hyena made a huge amount of noise and a feeding frenzy followed, by the time our walkers made it on the scene the hyenas had completely demolished all of the eland.

There are good numbers of elephant feeding off the Acacia Gerrardii in the Acacia woodlands. There are many calves with them which is always a pleasure to witness on a walking safari. We have also enjoyed excellent sightings of Masai giraffe within the acacia woodlands, one large herd of 18 Giraffe has some very young calves with them.We have also had good sightings of Thomson and Grants Gazelles with some very young Thompson fawns on the short grass plains above the flyover.  A few male buffalo can be seen and one male in particular whom we used to see in the Croton thickets near the salt lick has been missing and we presume that the Acacia lion has eaten him. On the 28th one very nice male Lion and four females were seen in the croton thickets above the salt lick. 

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Mara with you sometime soon.


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Rwanda camps
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge update - June 2011

No report this month.


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Eyes on Africa is proud to be a certified Fundi - a South Africa Tourism Specialist                           Eyes on Africa is endorsed by IATAN - International Airlines Travel Agent Network           Eyes on Africa is a member of the Better Business Bureau             Eyes on Africa is a member of ASTA - The American Society of Travel Agents (member #900143776)

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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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