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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

May 2011

(Page 1 of 2)

Page 1 Updates
General Safari News - General information and updates from our partners in Africa
Wildlife News - Interesting wildlife sightings and photos.
Camp News - Camp specific news, including refurbs, rebuilds, accolades, etc.
• Monthly update from North Island in Seychelles.
• Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Savuti Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Zarafa Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Selinda Camp in Botswana.
Kwando Safaris game reports from Botswana.
• Monthly update from Mombo Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Xigera Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Chitabe Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Vumbura Plains Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Little Vumbura Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Banoka Bush Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from Jacana Camp in Botswana.
• Monthly update from 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.


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

Children in the Wilderness Botswana Camp
In December 2010, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) held its annual week-long program at Jacana Camp and Wilderness Tented Camp respectively. Since its inception in 2001, CITW Botswana has been hosting 96 kids per annum over a four-week period; the same numbers were hosted in 2010 and all programmes ran smoothly and were outstanding successes. This year, the participants came from Gumare, Tubu, Seronga, Eretsa, Betsa, Gunatsoga and Gudigwa villages. A press day was also held on the 18th of December and many Botswana government senior officials made a great effort to attend.


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WILDLIFE NEWS
Leopard feeds on Giraffe at Mombo Camp
Location: Mombo Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Date: 12 May 2011
Observers: Mombo Guides; Moss Tubego, Moses Teko, Tsile Tsile, Tshepo Phala, Doc Malinga.
Photographers: Brad Bestelink

The story about female leopard Ngonyama began two days prior to this unusual sighting. She was found mating with Lebadi, the dominant male that holds the territory centering on the Mombo Camp area. This sighting was unusual in itself as she was found close to the camp, right in the middle of Legadema's territory, and Legadema herself came to investigate the commotion. This resulted in three leopard being seen in the same sighting, albeit briefly, as Lebadi is notoriously shy of vehicles approaching him, and Legadema promptly chased Ngonyama out of her territory, all the way to their boundary in the north.

When in oestrus, female leopards will roam outside of their territory in order to be covered by as many males as possible; similarly a female's territory will be overlapped by those of several males, as is what must have happened in this case: where Ngonyama ventured deep into Legadema's, as well as Lebadi's, territories.

Leopard feeds on Giraffe at Mombo Camp    Leopard feeds on Giraffe at Mombo Camp    Leopard feeds on Giraffe at Mombo Camp

Two days later, Ngonyama was found early in the morning, feeding on a days-old giraffe. Although extremely unusual, leopard killing giraffe is not unheard of, although we are not sure what the exact cause of death was - a recent cold snap might have taken its toll on the newly born animal, Ngonyama might have killed it, or failing that, had it died during birth, a telltale sign might have given a clue: if the animal hadn't taken its first few steps, the base of its hooves would have been a whitish colour. Due to the position of the carcass however, we weren't able to determine this visually.

Ngonyama tried to drag the carcass under a bush, but the weight difference between her and the giraffe was too great - it wouldn't budge. A giraffe calf can weigh in excess of 100 kilogrammes, the leopard not much more than 35-40kg.

She stayed with the carcass the entire day, and fed on it as much as she could, but being unable to hoist its bulk up a tree to keep it safe from scavengers, there was a good chance it would soon be found. When we returned the following morning, the carcass had gone, no doubt claimed by the multitude of hyaena in the area.



Raptor Hunt Caught on Camera at Mombo
Location: Mombo Camp, Mombo Concession, Botswana
Date: 23 May 2011
Observers: Cisco Letio, Sole Riley, Bruce and Vittoria O'Riordan.
Photographer: Sole Riley

Although Mombo Camp is known for its prolific concentrations of big game and the consequent interactions between predator and prey, often the smaller creatures provide a fascinatingly different perspective on the natural world.

The incredible series of adjoining pictures demonstrates the hunting behaviour of the African Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides typus, previously called a Gymnogene), taken by guest Sole Riley while on a game drive on the Mombo Concession with guide Cisco Letio.

Hawk hunting    Hawk caught prey

The African Harrier-Hawk is omnivorous and highly opportunistic, eating fruit as well as hunting vertebrates. Its ability to climb, using its wings as well as its claws, and its long double-jointed legs, enable this bird to raid the hole nests of barbets and woodhoopoes for fledglings, as well as weaver nests it may encounter.

In this instance, the bird was seen determinedly rooting around in a crevice high up in an acacia tree. After watching this behaviour for about 15 minutes, Cisco and Sole saw the harrier-hawk finally pull a hapless woodland dormouse (Graphiurus murinus) from the hole.

This rodent species is found in woodland where they use the holes in trees or the crevices under the bark in which to rest during the day. They are nocturnal (mostly active at night) and arboreal (mostly tree living), but to a lesser extent, terrestrial in habits too. At night they forage in the trees, with a diet that consists of plants, mainly grass seeds, and a variety of insects - the latter including large moths, termites, earwigs and dead bees, and it sometimes eats eggs and nestlings. They also consume the seeds of the trees in which they forage, especially the buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronanta) and acacia species.

Hawk caught rodent    Hawk feasting on rodent kill

A unique characteristic of a woodland dormouse is its ability to partially regrow a second tail if it has lost the original one; if only the tip of the tail has been severed, a brush of hair grows in its place. This anti-predator mechanism did not seem to even be enough on the day however, as the dormouse was swallowed whole with no time even for a squeak!



Birds Cash in along the Linyanti
Location: Savuti Camp, Linyanti Concession, Botswana
Date: 25 May 2011
Observer: Grant Atkinson
Photographer: Grant Atkinson

A seemingly early end to the rainy season in northern Botswana's Linyanti Region has resulted in some of the pools along the river's edge becoming cut off from the main channel.

Marabou Stork and Hamerkop along the Linyanti    Hamerkop seen along the Linyanti

These drying pools have attracted the attention of several fish-eating bird species, amongst them two species quite different in size and appearance. Whilst on a game drive out of Savuti Camp recently, some guests and I observed some of these bird interactions firsthand.

There were several Hamerkops wading along the shallow water at the edge of the pool. A good number of Marabou Storks were wading where the water was deeper, and occasionally one would snap up a fish. A few Marabou Storks were also foraging directly alongside the Hamerkops. We soon saw why. The Hamerkops seemed better at locating the fish in the shallows, and were catching them frequently.

Marabou Stork along the Linyanti    Marabou Stork along the Linyanti

All the catches I observed were tilapia - a freshwater fish species. Upon making a catch, the Hamerkop would carry the fish to the side, then slap it back and forth a few times before swallowing it. They managed to do this pretty quickly. Every so often they would catch a larger fish, and again, would make their way to the side, but then would just drop the fish on the ground, and walk away. Given the abundance of fish in the pool, it was clear that they had little interest in fish that would have taken them a long time to swallow, and they just abandoned them. The Marabou Stork that was trailing this particular Hamerkop had been waiting just for that moment, and snatched the abandoned tilapia up from the ground.

This feeding frenzy, likened to lunch-time rush hour at your favourite cafe, continued in this manner for several days before the fish were finally depleted by these efficient hunters.


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CAMP UPDATES
NAMIBIA
Serra Cafema Closure Update
Unfortunately we have had to postpone the scheduled opening date of Serra Cafema to 15 August 2011, in order to complete the necessary maintenance and building work. We do apologise for any disappointment or inconvenience caused as a result of this closure. Where possible, we are accommodating guests at our Skeleton Coast Camp as it offers a similar experience, or amending itineraries to include alternative options. Your journey specialist will make contact with you regarding any affected bookings.


SOUTH AFRICA
Camp closure
The Last Word Bishopscourt and The Last Word Long Beach will be closed for a few weeks during low season for maintenance and small improvements. The dates are as follows: The Last Word Bishopscourt 15 May 2011 - 30 June 2011, and The Last Word Long Beach 1 July 2011 - 31 July 2011.

Table Mountain Annual Closure
Apologies for the short notice, but the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway in Cape Town will close for annual maintenance from 18 to 31 July 2011. The cableway will re-open for business on 1 August 2011, weather permitting.

At the Cape Grace children are not just accepted, but welcomed in style. Amongst other they offer kids an African story time and gingerbread man decorating; Junior bath time accessories, themed toddler's bed linen, and dressing gowns and slippers for the children to enjoy whilst in the hotel; and age appropriate children's gifting throughout their stay.

South African National Parks (SANParks) has advised of the closure of Nguni Lodge concession in the Addo Elephant National Park. The Nguni Concession holder has advised that they will be closing the lodge at the end of May 2011.


ZAMBIA
Luangwa River Camp
We are excited to announce that Luangwa River Lodge is now part of Robin Pope Safaris.

Luangwa River Camp

Located on 40 magnificent hectares of private land and built on beautiful bank of the Luangwa River, our new camp overlooks one of the prime wildlife areas of South Luangwa National Park and offers immediate to the park by boat. Our latest addition will offer an alternative location to enjoy the Luangwa Valley with Robin Pope Safaris quality, benefiting the community and respecting the environment and it's wildlife. This beautiful ten-bedded property is especially intimate offering a real safari experience. We have made a slight change to its name... welcome to Luangwa River Camp.

After closing for refurbishment and training on the 9th of May, our new camp will reopen on 17th of June with Robin Pope Safaris standards - high staff ratio per guest, no more than four guests per safari vehicle, the very best guides, and our world renowned attention to detail.


EXPLORATIONS SAFARIS
No report this month.


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Seychelles
North Island Update - May 2011              Jump to North Island

As the south-east monsoon now really starts to blow, diving during the month of May has possibly been the best yet in 2011.

May has blessed us with fantastic sightings and diving conditions: schools of fish in the hundreds, sharks and turtles cruising the reefs and a few friendly faces rarely seen here on North popping up too!

Our neighbouring island of Silhouette has proven a huge hit in recent weeks with the increasing winds bringing steadily flowing currents, allowing divers to drift their way over the pristine corals of the dive sites of Twin Anchors, Tree Caves and Cathedral. Warm and clear, the visibility has reached up to 30 metres with water temperatures staying at 30°C throughout May.

Visits to Cathedral in particular have been some of the underwater highlights of May with every dive offering schools of bump-head parrotfish, barracuda and yellow and gold fusiliers. The resident giant grouper, an incredible three metres in length, has been spotted in the same crevice in the granite boulders at 18 metres on each visit. An incredible creature to be in the water with, this enormous bony fish has been known on occasion to jump a step in the food chain and even feed on small sharks! A solitary fish rarely spotted far from his dwelling, he certainly won't be having too many visitors, except maybe the cleaner wrasse dropping in for an occasional grooming!

Diving at North Island  Diving at North Island  Diving at North Island

Closer to home, here on North the diving adventures haven't disappointed either, with our western reefs, Sprat City and Coral Gardens, teeming with life. Divers have enjoyed rarer sightings such as sponge crabs, oscillated snake eels, mantis shrimps and potato groupers as well as the more commonly seen creatures, the hawksbill turtles, reef sharks and giant morays.

May has also seen a rise in the numbers of blue-fin kingfish, commonly known as trevally, spotted on the reefs of North, with numbers expected to continue rising during this current monsoon season. Active hunters, and often seen at full speed on the reef, the blue-fin trevally feed mainly on crustaceans and squid with the mantis shrimp a favourite on their menu.

And finally, divers in the month of May have also been fortunate enough to encounter a bottlenose dolphin whilst diving on House Reef. Seen solitary and swimming in depths as shallow as three metres of water, the dolphin made a smooth pass of the divers before disappearing back into the blue. Despite its curious nature and friendliness towards humans, encounters with dolphins whilst on scuba are rare.

As we now edge closer to August, the dolphin's older cousin and the largest fish in the sea, the whale shark, will soon once again be gracing the waters of Silhouette and North with its presence. Frequently swimming at shallow depths where temperature and plankton levels are high, and always calm in the presence of observers, both snorkellers and scuba divers will be able to enjoy swimming alongside these gentle giants. Let's hope the coming months bring the arrival of the whale shark to North for all to enjoy!

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Botswana Camps
Kings Pool Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Kings Pool Camp

Winter is here, the cold winds from the south are sweeping across the Linyanti, bringing a chill to the afternoon game drive. The sun is still fairly high in the sky but not making much difference to the overall temperature as the winds still sweep in.

Sunset at Kings Pool Camp

Wildlife
One of many great sightings seen by guests of Kings Pool during the month of May included an amazing sight of wild dogs chasing impala - straight over the head of a leopard! But this is not the only highlight for the month of May; guests have had regular sightings of the Kings Pool lions, leopards, and wild dogs throughout the month and almost every evening guests have been seeing our camp genet.

Lion Cubs seen around Kings Pool Camp    Leopard seen around Kings Pool Camp

Outings on the Queen Silvia, the double-decker Kings Pool barge, continue to provide great sightings of elephants swimming and playing as well as up close and personal viewings of hippos wallowing in the lazy river. The sunset from the upper deck of the barge is always spectacular with cocktails always close at hand.

Elephants, elephants, elephants... Elephants are often seen walking through the immediate vicinity of camp or drinking from the water from the Linyanti and from the swimming pool.

Elephant drinking water from the swimming pool at Kings Pool Camp    Wild dog seen around Kings Pool Camp

Hippos in the ox-bow lake (the Kings Pool) consistently leave the water at sunset and walk through the camp returning to the water during breakfast in the morning.

The general game is still plentiful and all guests regularly get to see giraffe, waterbuck, impala, warthog, red lechwe, water monitors and crocodiles just to name a few.

So, again quite an exciting wildlife month here at Kings Pool, and times are only going to get better. We are eagerly waiting to tell more great tales and adventures of our great camp and the surrounding area next month, until then cheers from:-

Managers: Warren, Big Ben, Virgil and Chef Ben
Guides:Diye, O.D, Ndebo and Khan

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DumaTau Camp update - May 2011               Jump to DumaTau Camp

Weather and Landscape
The African bush is an amazing place. The dry season is knocking on the door, causing all the regular waterholes to dry up while the annual inundation is peaking, drawing large concentrations of game to the rising water levels. Nature truly is dynamic and changes with purpose to accommodate all of the wildlife but constantly challenging the spectrum of species - ensuring that only the fittest survive.

Lion feasting in a tree    Giraffe's around DumaTau Camp

The temperatures have dropped a couple of degrees but a comfy average is still maintained during the day. The blankets and hot water bottles have been pulled out on the game drives, but a splash in the pool is not unheard of during midday. The annual inundation has maintained a healthy cover of vegetation providing the herbivores with a good source of sustenance as we edge into the dry times that winter has to offer.

Wildlife
May can be characterised as a month of plenty, as we have experienced huge concentrations of game, naturally drawn to the life-giving source of water that pulses through the concession at this time of year. Great numbers of zebra, giraffe and buffalo have been seen along the Savute Channel and all along the DumaTau floodplains.

Large numbers of elephant have made their way to the Linyanti River to settle in for the winter months and take advantage of the winter browse which this riparian ecosystem has to offer. It has become a regular experience to see these gigantic mammals crossing the swamps, rivers and channel to reach the greener pastures.

The large male leopard known as the DumaTau Male has been seen in the area for a number of years and is approaching a ripe old age. He is still in great condition and actively maintains his territory and is very relaxed in the presence of game drive vehicles. He has been mating with a number of females as he crosses the water channels in a way that is as elegant as one would expect a feline to do in water.

The highlight for the month was when this male bravely chased a clan of hyaena off a warthog kill - he then took the carcass up a tree and fed at his leisure, tempting the hyeana halfway up the tree trunk a number of times in attempts to regain their spoils. We have also been seeing the son the Zib male, the female and son by Shumba Pan. Soon the son will be leaving the mother.

Leopard at DumaTau Camp    Leopard with catch up in a tree

The lion sightings have also been amazing. The two males from the west have been traversing the area around camp, drawn to the intoxicating scent of females in oestrus. These two males have been seen mating with females from both the Linyanti and Savute Prides.

We were very happy to see the return of one of the young males from the Savute Pride, who has not seen for some time. He is doing well and has been seen taking kills from leopards and climbing trees. Another adolescent male has been heard calling, but he is very skittish and runs away from any human approach. He moves around with two females and three cubs. DumaTau lives up to its Tswana name - 'the roar of the lion'.

We have also had some great sightings of wild dog during the month. We have anxiously been watching the Zib Pack as they will be denning any time now, the alpha female being heavily pregnant. On one occasion we watched the pack chase an impala, which took refuge in some deep water, unfortunately unaware of the crocodiles in the water, which took full advantage and made the wild dog watch them enjoy their meal. We will be maintaining a close eye on the Zib Pack and keep you updated on the denning of the pack.

Buffalo herd at DumaTau Camp

Birds and Birding
Botswana is an amazing area when it comes to birds. As the migrant birds have left us for warmer climes, they have been replaced by a flood of water birds that have been following the Okavango waters through their annual course. Great birding can be done along any water coarse in the area with a number of special species popping up.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Kago (KG), Abbie, Lindi and Maria
Guides: Ron, Lazi, Name, Mocks, Carlton and Tank.

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Savuti Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Savuti Camp

No report this month.

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Zarafa Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Zarafa Camp

Weather and Landscape
The temperatures in May have reminded us that winter is on the way. A cold front moved through the Selinda Concession recently and for a week, the evenings and early mornings were quite cold. The days have been warm however with most days still rising to around 33° Celsius.

Despite some overcast days and afternoon skies punctuated with storm clouds, there has been no rain. Our last spell of rain was on the first week of May and it was only 1.5mm. The levels in the Zibadianja Lagoon and Spillway have started to subside. The signs of the dry season are all around with no water lying in the roads; the only water we have on the roads is the overflow pushing in from our surrounding channels. Around camp the bush and grass are drying and fever berries are either losing their leaves or being stripped by elephants moving through.

Wildlife
Most of the natural waterholes have dried up already; big herds of general game like kudu, elephant, zebra and giraffe are back around Zarafa Camp. Our resident pod of hippo still entertains us around dinnertime with one of the females recently giving birth to a tiny baby.

Elephant seen at Zarafa Camp    Elephants seen around Zarafa Camp

The Zarafa predator team has made a prominent appearance during the whole month, with a number of highlights coming to mind:

Lion: The two northern male lions from Selinda Pride were seen around Zarafa Camp on numerous occasions this month. We think they are looking for one of the resident lionesses as she may be in oestrus and her previous brood includes sub-adult males which are almost three years old now and are at the stage of their lives where they will be chased from the comforts of the pride's territory in order for the new coalition to sire a pride of its own.

Leopard: The highlight of the month was Mmaditsebe, our resident female leopard. She began mating on the 6th of May and continued for four days in a row with one of the big males from the Savute Channel. We can't wait to see the newborn after a three-and-a-half month gestation period. Leopard sightings in general were amazing this month. We also had some amazing sightings of Amber (female leopard) with her sub-adult daughter to the south-west of Zarafa. One morning all the guests came back with great pictures of the two of them feeding on an adult male impala in a tree.

Cheetah: The three-brother cheetah coalition, which moves between Selinda Reserve and our northern neighbours, Kwando, was seen a few times around the Spillway area this month. Some of our guests were very fortunate to witness these three cheetah take down a fully-grown male impala one morning.

Wild dogs seen around Zarafa Camp    Cheetah brothers seen around Zarafa Camp

Wild dog: The Selinda Pack, still 12 in number, has been seen regularly this month. The good news is that they have been in the Selinda Concession for the whole month and we suspect that they will den soon as the alpha female is reaching the later stages of her 70-day gestation. We are hoping that they will den in the Selinda Concession like they did last year. About 10 or 11 pups on average are produced; the alpha female is dependent on cooperative assistance from the rest of the pack to raise these pups successfully.

As mentioned above, the general game viewing has been spectacular with some form of activity around every bush. Now that the environment is drying up, animal movements are becoming more predictable as the wildlife has to deal with the hardships of the winter months.

Zarafa Camp promises to offer some outstanding game viewing and experiences over the upcoming winter months. We will keep you posted on the progress of our pre-maternal predators.

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Selinda Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Selinda Camp

Weather and Landscape
May is such a transitional month providing us with so much diversification in the flora and fauna on the Selinda Reserve, not to mention the variation in the weather. If you were to ask a local to this area, "what is your favourite month?" the answer would often be May.

The weather at this time of year is delightful. The nights become cooler, but not uncomfortable, and the days are very enjoyable and generally dry. The only sad thing is that they get a little shorter, only by an hour or so though.

May is generally a dry month, heralding the new season's absence of rain; despite this we have experienced some storms, which is quite unusual. This has sustained the greenness and the lushness that we all so enjoy.

Aerial view at Selinda Camp    Bird seen around Selinda Camp

In April we had already exceeded the peak level of 2010 in terms of water flowing into the Okavango and Linyanti River systems. We have had to build two new jetties, and by all indications we may be able to boat to the camp by August from the airstrip. The Angolan rains that take four months to reach us in our dry season are record-breaking. New waterways are opened as lagoons form, so our boating activities have expanded to new regions. What an adventure as guests become some of the very first pioneers as they explore these new waterways.

Wildlife
The surrounding area is starting to dry up as waterholes that were overflowing in summer are now reducing, so the Selinda Spillway provides a vein of life to many elephants and other wildlife. May has seen the elephant herds explode in numbers and the interaction increases with the guests' daily activities on vehicle, foot, canoe or boat. Sydney, our resident elephant, comes to visit us regularly, keeping our guests amused when they are not on game drives. To experience elephants from a vehicle is one thing but from a boat is incredible.

This month the cats have featured well, from a number of sightings of a leopard and her cub, to some very exciting cheetah kills. The cheetah brothers have featured regularly with sightings at well above the normal levels. The Selinda lion pride dominates the region as they are close to being permanent residents and viewed regularly. Guests have been treated to a number of kills, most recently two in one day - an impala and a warthog. The pride of 16 are quite a hungry bunch.

Elephant herd at Selinda Camp    Elephant close-up

The Selinda hyaena pups are growing steadily. Two four-month-olds and two other sub-adults are denning just a few hundred metres from Selinda Camp. Hyaena have a notorious reputation due to their perceived cowardly nature, one of the many incorrect assumptions made about them. It is fascinating to watch the way in which these misunderstood creatures interact with one another with great care and tenderness.

The main antelope feature of the month must go to the highlight of seeing a herd of 30 roan antelope and also sporadic sightings of sable. These two shy animals are such a joy to watch and are both extremely elegant. The Selinda roan herd has expanded throughout the year from 22 to the 30 that we see now. We are just hoping that the Selinda lions do not develop a taste for them as they did last year...

Selinda is all about diverse habitats, diverse activities and diverse wildlife. This month's feature can also be dedicated to all the amazing little things that sometimes get overlooked.

We had great sightings of a caracal at a bush dinner one night and also witnessed an African wild cat making a kill - a Red-billed Francolin. There is little known about this cat's behaviour but what we do know is that these felines form an intrinsic part in the ecosystem and are highly endangered with the threat of being bred out as they cross-breed with domestic cats across the African continent. Other small wonders for the month included a honey badger and a Cape clawless otter.

African wild cat at Selinda Camp

Birds and Birding
This month we waved goodbye to many of our summer migrant birds, which is always sad, but you then realise that some of our residents are quite outstanding. Often featured in our newsletters are the Wattled Cranes. We can see up to eight but generally just one pair at a time. They have been spending a lot of time near camp so many guests arriving by the boats will pass them on their entrance to Selinda. Another fairly unusual bird that is now almost a guaranteed sighting at Selinda is the Bradfield's Hornbill.

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Kwando Safari Camps Update - May 2011

Kwando Concession
• Another amazing month at Kwando and I think the best sighting has to go to Lagoon - we received this from the camp
• Dogs in camp!
• Two of the houskeeping ladies could not hold their emotions this morning from the fact that they could not rescue a young male impala that was chased into camp by 11 wildogs - who did suceed in their chase.
• The kill happened right in front of the dining room at about 8.30 in the morning as the wild dogs chased the impala through the camp and past the dining room - heading for room 1.
• All our guests in camp came back to camp in a hurry for this amazing sighting.

Lagoon camp               Jump to Lagoon Camp
•The two male lions that are recent arrivals to the concession have banded with two lionesses – one of which is now heavily pregnant. The lionesses killed a buffalo to share with the males. The pride of 13 lions was lucky hunters too, killing a giraffe and a zebra – all well fed and happy lions this month at Lagoon!
• Guides are reporting that they had more than usual leopard sightings, most of them on kills. Perhaps interested in a form of nouvelle cuisine, one leopard was observed hunting dwarf mongoose – a slightly small snack for the leopard. The mongoose, however, was swifter and got away.
• The three cheetah brothers were seen on several occasions. One time they had an ostrich kill, and the other time they tried to hunt a baby zebra. The zebra mother defended her baby very well though, and after one of the brothers got kicked they decided to give up. The cheetah’s body is build for speed, not for strength, and risk of being injured in such a challenge is high.
• The pack of 11 wild dogs has been seen several times. They look fit and healthy, and were followed on a couple of hunts, some more successful than others. No sign of them denning as yet, but it should be within the next week or so.
• As in the other camps, the elephants are coming out of the woodlands, and entertain us watching them feeding and bathing. Some of them seem quite happy to enjoy the camp as much as the guests, and one of our walkways needed a bit of repair after an elephant decided to have a closer look at a particularly interesting tree one night. Everyone was tucked up in bed when this happened, so only the evidence was found the next morning – perhaps he was heading for the pool?
• Herds of buffalo up to a 100 strong come out of the woodlands into the floodplains, and to have a drink at the river.
• General game was good too. Giraffe, zebra, impala, tsessebe, steenbok, hippo, ostrich, warthog, eland and maybe the highlight roan and sable antelopes!
• Lagoon had some of the rarer sightings this month like, porcupine, aardwolf and quiet a few chameleons. The two jackal species, side striped and black backed, and also the spotted hyenas were found. African wildcat, civet, honey badger, serval have been encountered on the night drives. Sitatunga has also been seen on the boat cruises.
• Snakes were out and about. The endangered African rock python was seen among them.
• Lots of water birds, but also numerous raptors, like the brown snake eagle, bateleur and African fish eagle. Along the riverbanks we find a lot of kingfishers and bee eaters, both known to excavate holes into the bank for nesting.

Lebala camp               Jump to Lebala Camp
• Sadly we got news that the pride of 17 is now down to 15. Two of the cubs are missing, and we don't know what happened to them. The mortality rate of lion cubs is high, so it is not overly surprising, but it still makes it a little sad. Lack of food is certainly not a problem that the lions are facing at the moment: the pride was seen with carcasses of giraffe, zebra and on one occasion they were found with three wildebeest!
• Magician, the leopard well known to the Lebala guides made an appearance this month, as well as other more shy individuals.
• The three cheetah brothers are doing well, and have been seen with full bellies having a well-deserved rest in the shade.
• "Our" pack of wild dogs was around, but in the beginning of the month we saw only their tracks. At the end of the month though the guides and trackers were able to track them down again and we had some wonderful sightings of that endangered predator.
• Massive herds of elephants are now in the area - breeding herds with babies of all sizes. They are all coming out of the woodland where they spent time during the rains. But now the floodplains are filling up attracting them in great numbers, due to the abundance of nutritious grass growing there.
• Buffalo are also coming out of the woodlands for the same reasons as the elephants. Apart from small bachelor groups, we see more breeding herds now.
• As in the Kwara concession there are plenty of water birds in the floodplains. Raptors are a common sighting too, with lots of eagles and hawks.
• There are regular sightings of both species of jackals - side striped and black backed, and occasionally spotted hyena can be seen, especially close to camp at night.
• One night two chameleons made a surprise visit, sitting in a tree just next to the dining area. Zebra, kudu, giraffe, impalas, wildebeests added to the number of species seen this month

Kwara & Little Kwara camps               Jump to Kwara & Little Kwara camps
• As we move into the what is traditionally known as the ‘flood season’ , the slowly rising water levels may be the reason that the lions stay close by, allowing us to see them pretty much every day. Lions in the Delta are known to swim across channels, if the situation requires it, however it is not their favourite past time – as can be seen when they hiss and hesitantly put their paws in the water. We can expect to have them around for a while! The five cubs are delighting us with their playful behaviour, and one could spend hours watching them – as some of our guests do!
•  The lion highlight this month was perhaps the Battle of the Giants: one, of the famous seven males was caught in a fight with the Splash boys, and the noise could be heard in camp the whole night! He survived, but with a few ugly cuts and scratches to show for the ordeal.
• A male leopard made a quick escape into a tree with his warthog kill, before the hyenas were able to catch up with him.
• Great news on the cheetah front: a female with three cubs has been sighted and she seems to be doing well, with the cubs being in good condition.
• We see more and more large breeding herds of elephants, especially in the early mornings and afternoons. Solitary bulls and bachelor herds are also seen very often.
• Good sightings of general game, like herds of zebras, giraffe, tsessebe, impala, baboons, red lechwe, wildebeest and tracks of buffalos have been spotted.
• Night drives were productive this month. Aardwolf, spotted genet, serval, African wild cat, hyena with pups at the den, and a chameleon! One group of guests had a lucky sighting of honey badger - moving with purpose straight down the road towards the vehicle, the badger seemed completely oblivious of the car that he was heading towards. Only at the last minute, when he was about to bang his head on the tracker’s feet did he suddenly look up and realise what he was about to walk into – at which point he made a swift exit to the left!
• Rarely seen even at night, one serval is becoming accustomed to the vehicle, and is being seen regularly around the airstrip, even during day time and this serval also has 2 kittens!
• Frogs are competing with each other, and sing their arias every evening. The one sound that dominates is from the painted reed frog, also called the bell frog, and when you hear them you will understand the name!
• Sightings of water birds are very good. Lots of egrets, herons, ducks, and geese can be seen swimming and feeding in the floodplains.

Nxai Pan
• It was a month with lots of lion sightings. One morning, a male lion was at the camp waterhole, so nobody had to go far to see them. The four lionesses had 2 cubs last month.....this month there an additional three, only a couple of weeks old!!
• There is a female leopard around and the guides did see her several times at the same spot. She is relaxed and provides us with beautiful sightings.
• The two male cheetahs were also found and the one female cheetah was seen in camp one morning.
• Wild dog tracks were seen near Baines Baobab, and even though we don’t expect to see them in Nxai Pan, you never know!
• Lots of bull elephants, which congregate to big groups around the waterholes. General game has been good with lots of giraffe, wildebeest, springbok, oryx, steenbok, impala, kudu and zebra.
• On the birding side, we still get excited by the numbers of raptors, big and small. We also see kori bustard, secretary bird, violet-eared waxbill, flycatchers and numerous guinefowls. Black backed jackals never disappoint, and are seen every day.

Tau Pan
• The lions went into hiding for a little while, but luckily, towards the end of the month, they were back drinking out of the waterhole in front of the camp. It takes quite a bit of effort for lions to start moving if they are really quite happy where they are.... Such as, right next to the airstrip with planes landing. One guide was driving his guests to the airstrip for the flight out, got to the strip, found the plane and the lions, but no pilot! Concerned that the lions looked a little well fed, he radioed back to camp to ask for assistance. Luckily, the pilot had been picked up by an earlier vehicle, and was enjoying watching the lions from a different vantage point!
• Cheetahs were consistent throughout the month - several kills were observed, by several different cheetahs. It was a bonus that they were found often at Tau Pan, so we didn't have to go far to find them!
• Amazingly, wild dogs were seen too. Again, we do know that they are around, but do not expect to see them. Central Kalahari Game Reserve is immense, and the dogs home range in this arid country are huge, so it is extremely lucky to see the dogs there!!
• Still no elephant to be seen, but plenty of signs around.
• Tau Pan always has a lot of black backed jackals, and in the evening you can hear them in the camp. A more rare sighting was the one of a cape fox, hanging around room1 early in the morning.
• General game sightings were of springbok, wildebeest, oryx, red hartebeest, steenbok and giraffe. Honey badgers were also seen and a black mamba. That mamba is not called the black mamba because of its body colour, but for the colour of its mouth – not something everyone wants to see close enough to tell!

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Mombo Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Mombo Camp

The month of May heralds yet another change in the Okavango where the annual inundation pulses - once, twice, three times - to send its tendrils of flowing waters into every available depression, gully and floodplain. Around the middle of the month the waters reach their peak, where they hold in a period of stasis for a few weeks before slowly starting to recede, thereby beginning the next stage of the endless cycle of life in the Okavango.

The waters force the animals to adapt: territories shrink, customary paths become inundated, and youngsters face their first of what could be many instances of this phenomenon, the herds move deeper into the woodlands, predators follow, conflicts arise.

The floodplain in front of camp is a meadow of white day-blooming water lilies stretching far out towards the distant tree line of the islands to the west: African Jacanas and Crakes squawk and squabble amongst them by day; at night, catfish on their hunting forays slurp and plop in the shallows.

Leopard visiting around Mombo Camp    Lion cubs playing at Mombo Camp

Temperatures are starting to drop - a couple of cold snaps passed through during the month causing the mercury to plummet and to give us a taste of the coming winter, where a cold, dry atmosphere pervades the land. We expect warm pleasant days punctuated by chilly, sometimes even cold, nights.

We have had an action-packed month of May; from both a wildlife perspective as well as a social one.

On the wildlife front, the spreading waters have had an impact on the big cat dynamics of the area, particularly amongst the lions. We have seen the Mporota Pride dominating the areas near the camp and to the west- along their usual paths, although the floodplains they usually haunt have been abandoned to the water for the time being until they recede and bring with them the plethora of game as they follow its retreat. Watching the pride cross the water in beautiful light must be an absolute highlight of observing swamp cat behaviour; being close to them when 24 of them give voice in bellowing roars counts as a life-affirming experience.

The other prides have not been seen that often - the Mathatha Pride are to the north of Suzy's Duckpond, the Mathatha Breakaways further north-east again towards APU Camp, and the Western Pride, that of the "female with a mane" fame, has not been seen; the water and presence of the other prides might have pushed them further south.

Hippo's around Mombo Camp    Elephants around Mombo Camp

The three male lions, outcasts from the Mathatha Pride, seem to be centring their activity on the Siberiana Road area, and we have decided to name them the Mombo Boys. One morning we found they had killed a wildebeest on the runway of our airstrip, which caused a multi-species event. The airstrip is the hub of hyaena, jackal and our wild dog's activity, and all three of these species were seen at this kill - eventually the hyaena reached a number sufficient to drive the lions off with their cackling and caterwauling, the jackals nipping at their heels. Once the jackals realised their chances of picking from the carcass with 20-odd hyaena present weren't all that great, they spied the lone wild dog at the other end of the strip and tore off to greet her and beg a regurgitated morsel.

There has been a lot of leopard activity this month - Legadema principally, as well as Lebadi, and a pair of these animals we haven't seen in a while - Ngonyama and Blue Eyes.

Legadema came to visit the camp for a day or so, once again in the vicinity of Tent 2, and in particular the moporota tree (sausage tree) right outside. We discovered there is a large, leopard-sized hole at the base of this tree, and that she was using it as a daytime resting place. How many other occasions she has been hidden in that hole's depths is anyone's guess, but we would presume it would have been many!

On another morning, we had three leopard in one sighting: Ngonyama, the female whose territory is in the vicinity of the road of that name, had ventured deep into Legadema's territory in order to mate with Lebadi. Legadema herself found the pair, and quickly chased the usurpers back to their boundary. Lebadi remained with Legadema, if only to have his share of her kill which was stashed in a tree nearby, but a vehicle passing by frightened him off. Ngonyama was found the next morning with a very young giraffe carcass, although whether she had killed it or not is a matter of conjecture. Click here for more details.

Blue Eyes, a male leopard who usually is seen in the Treeline to Simbira area, was found late one afternoon just south of Suzy's Duckpond, feeding on a freshly-killed male baboon.

Blue Eyes the male leopard  t Mombo Camp    Fish eagle around Mombo Camp

The two contenders for sighting of the month involve very disparate species, but nevertheless deserve special mention: Tsile found a sitatunga antelope on Boerewors Road, which is at least a hundred metres from the inundated floodplain and marshy habitat this magnificent swamp-dwelling creature prefers. The other sighting involved an African Harrier-Hawk exhibiting its typical hunting behaviour of poking around dead trees in search of prey beneath bark or in cracks and crevices. Guide Cisco and guest Sole Riley were able to observe this firsthand as the hawk dug around an acacia tree for quarter of an hour until it dragged a woodland dormouse from its hiding-place in a crevice. Sole was in position to take this great photo. Click here for more details.

May also saw Mombo host a wedding. Merv and Laines, special moment took place at sunset on a beautiful afternoon alongside the channel flowing past the Siberiana tree area. Our choir serenaded them with drums and dancing, the Mombo "Moruti" offered a few words, Laine and Merv exchanged vows, and as the champagne flowed, a crimson sun cast its rays over the ceremony. We wish them every joy and success for the future.

Photos by Ryan Green, Martyn Bowen, Sole Riley, Bruce Riordan.

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Xigera Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Xigera Camp

No report this month.


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Chitabe Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Chitabe Camp

Weather and Landscape
Winter is in full swing at Chitabe, with the temperature plummeting to single digit temperatures once the sun goes down. We have opened our winter gear arsenal to combat the cold and found that hot water bottles and extra blankets were the order of the month. The fireplace also draws a lot of attention during the breezy mornings.

Leopard at Chitabe Camp

This year the Delta has experienced very high levels of water during the annual inundation, which has left Chitabe with substantial water levels and a dense cover of vegetation, much to the relief of the variety of herbivores.

Wildlife
The general game has been very good this month, with some sort of activity always taking place, both around camp and when out on drive.

Once again we welcome some new additions to the concession, with the birth of two lion cubs into the Chitabe Pride. At our first sighting we estimated the cubs to be about six weeks of age. The ever-vigilant and protective lioness is still keeping them in hiding until they are old enough to be introduced into the rest of the pride. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that these two cubs survive, as her first cub did not. This was probably due to inexperience coupled with the many challenges that young predators have to face.

Still on the subject of kittens, we came across an unidentified leopard with three cubs which our guide Gordon estimates to be around one to two months old. So far this year we now have five new additions to the already considerable leopard population here at Chitabe. The area is fast gaining a good reputation as a great place for leopard photographs.

On the wild dog front, we have also been seeing an individual dog that is not from our pack and we were fortunate enough to witness her feeding on a kill, but she was unable to defend her meal and lost it to a very large and impressive hyaena that walked away with the spoils. We will be sending through a photo to Tico from the Predator Conservation Project, to see if he is able to help identify the canine and where she came from.

Stand-off between a chameleon and a vine snake    Vine snake winning the battle over the chameleon

Last, but certainly not least, we had some great interaction between some of the smaller species. We were lucky enough to witness a long and drawn-out battle between a vine snake and a flap-necked chameleon that started on the walkway and continued for about an hour when the chameleon eventually succumbed to the haemotoxic venom and provided the arboreal herp with a substantial meal.

Guest Comments
"The staff were outstanding, made me feel at home. The dinner, dancing and music in the boma were definitely a highlight, as was the sundowners next to the lions. Our guide Phinley was great. "Jeff (USA).

"There were many, the staff provided a uniquely enjoyable experience. The Monday night dinner with the great entertainment, the game drives, especially seeing leopards and playful lion cubs, the elephant in camp, the excellent rooms and the cheerful greeting - all made for a wonderful two days." David and Carol (RSA).

"Beautiful and comfortable accommodation, concerns for the guests' safety, excellent service in every aspect, variety of food. Thank you!" Judy (UK).

Staff in Camp
Managers for Chitabe: Trevor, Alex, and Lieana.
Mangers for Chitabe Lediba: had Jack and Tumi.
Guides: Phinley, Gordon, Anthony, Luke and Ebineng (Ebs).


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Vumbura Plains Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Vumbura Plains Camp

No report this month.

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Little Vumbura Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Little Vumbura Camp

No report this month.

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Duba Plains Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Duba Plains Camp

No report this month.

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Banoka Bush Camp update - May 2011

No report this month.

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Jacana Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Jacana Camp

Weather and Landscape
Winter is here and although it's cold in the mornings the midday temperatures are very comfortable reaching the mid-twenties. Cloudless days and clear nights make for some of the most unbelievable starry skies and excellent star gazing, and what better place to do it than from our open deck on the water?

We experienced an abnormal water flow around Jacana Camp this year and things are now starting to settle down and return to the 'regular' conditions that we are used to experiencing in the concession.

Wildlife
This month, Jacana Camp has the seen the return of large herds of elephant who taken a liking to the fruit bearing Makalani Palms (Hyphaene petersiana). It is amazing to watch the strength of these creatures as they leisurely shake and bend these trees like twigs in order to get to the fruits. It is funny how nature works though, as these palms rely on the feeding habits of elephant and baboon in order to distribute their seeds and soften the aril (seed covering) which takes place as the seed passes through the animal's digestive tract.

As usual we have been entertained by the resident pod of hippo, which traverse the camp area every night along age-old hippo paths in search of palatable graze. During the day they return to protection of the water right in front of camp.

Lion cub at Jacana Camp  Hippo's seen around Jacana Camp  Birds seen around Jacana Camp

The floodplains have new life with the Jao lion pride boasting six young healthy cubs. They are frequently spotted and provide great sightings and even better stories. The little cubs are often seen braving the water with their mothers, moving from island to island making playful displays when they are out in the open for all to see. With the females having cubs around they need to hunt more frequently and this has also been the subject of many dinner conversations with regular hunts being witnessed by our guests during the morning drives.

Birding and Fishing
The birding is becoming increasingly more abundant as the seasons change and the migratory birds make their annual pit-stop along the Okavango Delta while moving on to the warmer climates of the north. We had some spectacular birding along the floodplains and permanent channels where fish have become stranded providing an 'all you can eat buffet' for an array of birds.

As the water slowly moves down to the south, fish concentrate in the fast flowing channels and also provide some of the best fishing for spin and fly casters alike. And even an afternoon or morning session on the water without fish will still provide hours of relaxing bird watching and the most unbelievable sunsets in the world.

Guest Comments
"It was our first experience of wildlife safaris and grateful to discover it. Thanks to the Jacana Camp and its very nice team. Unforgettable!" Michael and Marc (France)
"Truly paradise - seclusion, wildlife, excellent staff, yummy meals - peaceful, serene - not enough adjectives to describe the wonderful scenery and experience! Excellent curio shop too. Fantastic. Thank you for everything!" Melanie (UK)
"The most amazing camp we've ever seen. Wonderful people, beautiful wildlife. Thank you." Jay, Neeta, Neha and Ashwin (USA)

Staff in Camp
Managers: Pieter Ras and Danielle van den Berg
Guides: Timothy and Bafana

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Abu Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Abu Camp

Weather and Landscape
Another beautiful month at Abu Camp. As the temperature starts to drop the camp is preparing for the cold winter ahead. Soon hot water bottles will be filled up and guests will be wrapped up in cosy blankets while sitting round the camp fire drinking Amarula in their hot chocolates in the evening.

The annual inundation has well and truly made its entrance into the concession with the water levels rising fast on a daily basis. The guests are loving the elephant rides in this high water, and every day return to camp with another story of passing hippo undisturbed. In fact the only disturbance in the water are our two youngsters, Lorati and Paseka, causing immense amounts of laughter as they swim, roll and splash alongside their elders.

Elephant rides at Abu Camp

Wildlife
There is huge excitement over two ex-members of the Abu elephant herd, Nandipa and Pula, as they have returned to the area and have been wandering around camp in the evenings. This only emphasises to guests the immeasurable success of the release of these two elephant and bringing the realisation of the original idea behind Abu Camp to life.

Game in the area is exceptional at the moment with large breeding herds of elephant moving through the area, nursery groups of giraffe with up to 15 young and it appears that spring has come early to many of species here. A zebra foal that could not have been more than 12 hours old was seen in the middle of the month.

Antelope at Abu Camp    Little elephant at Abu Camp

News from the game in camp is no less extraordinary. We have a female bushbuck that lives around camp, affectionately known to all here as Martha. It was with a huge amount of sadness that we thought Martha might have met a sticky end when a male leopard was seen in camp three nights running and we were unable to locate her. On the third morning she was seen again in her favourite browsing area and low and behold, at heel was a tiny newborn calf. Still wet and on wobbly legs they made their way into deeper cover, but since then the calf is now much stronger and venturing further into its new home, no name as yet.

Camp News
Brad Bestelink and Nick Fenn joined the team at Abu and spent a few days in camp shooting our stunning new promotional video which will be released shortly, we will keep you updated. The filming itself was great fun, enjoyed by all and the final result was received with great acclaim at the launch of the Wilderness Collection recently.

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Kwetsani Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Kwetsani Camp

Weather and Landscape
We are officially creeping into winter. The mornings and evenings have turned rather chilly, requiring us to all snuggle into our warm winter clothes. Along with the colder temperatures we have also had a fair amount of wind this month.

Don't let the wind and cold deter you though as it definitely has its positive side. The windy days have caused the leaves to trickle down to the ground in true autumn style, creating a carpet of leaves around camp with a rainbow of colours. That morning cup of coffee is savoured as it slides down your throat warming you up and best of all is the gathering around the fire in the evenings with some tasty port.

River cruise at Kwetsani Camp    Elephants at Kwetsani Camp    Leopard at Kwetsani Camp

There is still a fair amount of water as Kwetsani Camp is still completely surrounded by water, but the levels are definitely receding slowly. The swimming pool now has the most amazing view with the expanse of water stretching out far beyond allowing the red lechwe to play and eat, entertaining us all. And if you peer over the deck from the pool you may see tiny little bream swimming and feeding like crazy in an attempt to grow.

Wildlife
If ever there has been a month filled with exciting wildlife, this has been it. Our guests have not even had to venture out of camp in search of some of nature's wonders and other smaller yet captivating creatures.

All around camp there are huge elephant tracks as they have made their way through camp. Their presence is obvious in the trees and shrubs as they have browsed the leaves and the bark has been pulled from the trees. Photographic opportunities have been abundant with the elephants coming right next to the walkways browsing away. Our guests have also been fortunate to see a breeding herd of elephants on a nearby island, often with small babies that are still suckling.

Six sweet little balls of lion fluff have joined our concession. These cubs are roughly three weeks old as their mother has taken them out of hiding to teach them the ways and laws of the animal kingdom. They have been spotted numerous times and some of our guests have even been welcomed by them at our airstrip. We are looking forward to watching them grow into the powerful hunting machines that their parents are.

Speaking of their parents, one night during dinner we heard the magical roar of a lion. We followed the sound and found a male lion walking through camp. The next morning he was still here and claiming his territory by breaking the silence with his roar. All our guests managed to capture this special moment on their cameras as we followed him through camp and watched him leave the island wading through the water.

A couple of days later we watched as two females hunted a couple of wildebeest in front of our main area. It was incredible to see how they stalked their prey completely camouflaged as they blended into the yellow grass. The next minute the action started as they pounced up and chased after the wildebeest, but they did not manage to catch them. You could see they tired quickly. This was due to the fact that the whole hunt took place in water and it is not a lion's strong point to be in water. The wildebeest made a lucky escape that day because if the chase had taken place on land, the result may have been different.

There is nothing better than sitting around a warm fire in the night chill and hearing the lions' roar vibrate through to your soul. This is Africa...

Some of the other animals spotted this month in and around the area include leopard, zebra, giraffe, porcupine, honey badger and even some slithery creatures like the night adder, black mamba and vine snake. However, with the temperatures decreasing the snakes are going into hibernation soon.

Saddle-Billed Stork around Kwetsani Camp  Malachite Kingfisher over Kwetsani Camp  African Fish Eagle over Kwetsani Camp

Birds and Birding
As it is going into winter many of the migrant birds have moved on to warmer parts and will return once the winter spell has been broken and the sun radiates down on us once more.

We still however have numerous birds in the area that have not deserted us and continue to create a bird watcher's paradise. Among these birds is the Saddle-billed Stork. They have been wading around in the water in front of our main area. The red in their beaks illuminated in the dry grass.

Our camp favourite is the Malachite Kingfisher. This tiny colourful bird is most prominently seen on a mokoro activity as they sit on the reeds in the water and dive down with great speed catching baby fish.

Guest Comments
"A wonderful experience. Ronald is superb, as was the food etc. Thank you for your hospitality." Jane and Roger (USA)

"The staff was incredible - and they were so young - but carried out the duties very well - wonderful experience, very magical." Jim and Lindsay (USA)

"Beautiful experience. What a great camp, staff and food! This is my second visit and still fabulous." Pat (SA)

Staff in Camp
Managers: Bradley White and Annelize Hattingh
Guides: Florance Kagiso and Gauopalelwe Ronald

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Jao Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Jao Camp

Weather and Landscape
Even us human folk have to prepare for not only the influx of water but also the cold temperatures that follow. Last year the water levels were extremely high, some say the highest in recorded history. This year has beaten last year but only by a mere 3cm in certain areas. But this year, we were prepared. New walkways around the camp have left everyone's feet clean and dry; some animals have started taking advantage of this too. In the Delta, however, the water levels often drop as quickly as they rise. In the latter half of the month the water dwindled away down towards the Kalahari Desert where it just disappears into the thirsty soils. This is why it is such an amazing event for everyone to experience.

Jao Pride's newest addition    Elephant visiting Jao Camp

This is also the month where the weather changes quite drastically. From soaring heat temperatures to freezing cold mornings that can happen overnight.

Wildlife
The lions have taken a podium position again, with the Jao Pride once again taking the monthly highlight. With six new cubs rapidly growing strong and healthy, they have put on brilliant performances for the guests. From play fighting, stalking, chasing mom's tail and the odd little growl and roar have left all in a state of WOW!

Not only have the lion cubs been seen but our ever popular daytrip to Hunda Island has brought some baby creatures out in the form of hyaena, zebra and leopard. The odd baby elephant will come out and try to intimidate the game viewer with a playful charge and very high-pitched trumpets. Once they realise that the game viewer isn't going to move they give up and charge an unsuspecting impala or bush.

Bull elephants have been sighted every day in and around camp agitating the makalani palm trees for their palm nuts and pulling up the wild date palms to get to the juicy root stocks. They have been seen sleeping and snoring next to the walkway on the odd occasion, leaving the baffled guests wondering if the giant is dead or alive.

The hyaena clan of Jao has once again lived up to its reputation, traumatising the impala and all the other animals that take refuge around the camp. With the impala herd numbers dwindling at the mighty jaws of the hyaena, we have witnessed a number of successful hunting and feeding bouts - the power of the hyaena jaws is truly amazing, as these mysterious creatures chug down the whole impala, leaving behind only the rumen contents.

Hyanena at Jao Camp    Another addition to the Zebra family at Jao Camp

Birds and Birding
As always the bird life at Jao is an eye opener for all. We have a breeding pair of African Fish-Eagles on the island fighting off other breeding pairs in amazing aerial acrobatics shows. Even though we have moved into the winter months with birds migrating up north to warmer parts, walking around the island, we still hear the Coppery-tailed Coucal's deep base calls, and see Marabou Storks wading in the shallows in the hope of finding a tasty morsel, Saddle billed Storks showing off their beautiful colours and many more species to keep you diving in and out of your bird book.

Guest Comments
"Exceeded every expectation, the camp is outstanding" Michelle (USA)
"A very successful blend of luxury and African authenticity. Wonderful staff that interact perfectly and respectfully with guests. Value for money!" Alan (UK)

Staff in Camp
Managers: Andrew Gaylord, Lauren Griffiths, Marina Lunga, Ipeleng Pheto and Neumann Vasco.
Guides: Maipaa Tekanyetso, David Mapodise, Kabo Kgopa, Marks Kehaletse and Kelebogile Lesotho.


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Seba Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Seba Camp

No report this month.


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Tubu Tree Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Tubu Tree Camp

Weather and Landscape
During May, we experienced very comfortable temperatures ranging from 25° C to 15° C, however, Mother Nature did send us some winter chills at the end of the month with the minimum temperature dropping to 5° C, forcing us to grab our hot water bottles. This spell only lasted a few days and has seen us turfing the hot water bottles until the next cold spell.

May also saw the height of the water level peak around Tubu Tree Camp. The water level has already started to drop rather quickly, but large pools of water still surround the camp.

Giraffe at sunset at Tubu Tree Camp    Leopard visiting Tubu Tree Camp

Wildlife
It was a month full of highlights and with Tubu Tree Camp being a favourite place for the animals to visit, it almost seemed as though the animals were fighting for the guests' attention as the game took over the camp.

It started with the elephants, as herd after herd took over camp providing us with some free landscaping and creating some very exciting moments as guests got to view elephants close up and personal alongside their rooms. One big bull even decided to trim our marula tree as he stood in the boma and stretched for the last low branches.

An old buffalo bull has been hanging in and around camp, lazing the days away.

The predator action was spectacular this month, with much action taking place around the camp. The characteristic rasping call of leopard was heard around camp on a nightly basis leaving one's imagination to run wild in the darkness of night.

On one particular afternoon, the peaceful silence of camp was pierced by the frantic alarm calls of a bushbuck, emanating from the bushes around Tent 3. As we curiously inspected, we came across a young male leopard sitting next to the pool. After taking a brief look at us, he moved behind a small bush and enjoyed an afternoon siesta offering us a great view for about an hour until he moved off into some dense vegetation. It was good to put a face to the voice - so to speak.

Gizelle at Tubu Tree Camp  Hippo at Tubu Tree Camp  Elephants at Tubu Tree Camp

The resident lion pride did not fall short of entertaining our guests as we had many great sightings of them too! It seems that it was all happening around camp this month, as we had some lion action in camp as well. On one of the mornings, no wake-up call was needed as the dominant male walked through camp roaring at maximum volume to advertise his presence in the area. When the time for wake-up call did arrive, the guide spotted three sub-adult males close to Tent 6. The guests were already peering through the window, admiring the three young brutes. After a quick breakfast, the excited game viewers went out to try and relocate the lions but only managed to find fresh tracks which indicated that the dominant male had been chasing the three sub-adults that were encountered moments ago. The next time the three young males were seen, one of them was clearly battered, without a doubt the work of the dominant male.

General game sightings have also been fantastic with healthy numbers of general game spread out throughout the concession.

Guest Comments
"The highlight of our stay at Tubu Tree was really the enthusiasm of all the staff to satisfy our needs followed by the great sightings of leopard and other game. The wonderful mokoro ride and certainly the race was also a highlight. Keep up the good work you do on providing a place to stay of the highest standard. Congratulations Jackie + Justin, and all of your staff." Chris and Lois (Aus)

"Wide variety of game and enthusiasm + knowledge of guides. Very personal staff and very comfortable lodgings - excellent food. Justin + Jackie's attention to detail and providing personal touches to the guests very much appreciated. Daily schedules well thought out." Fred and Linda (Can)

"Highlights were Justin & Jackie - they made us comfortable from the start - service oriented. Johnny, my guide, knowledgeable, relaxed, and the rest of the staff were courteous and friendly. I like the accommodation and the cleanliness. The sense of organisation without being stressed by it. The many animal sightings - unbelievable. Would definitely come back. Thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience." Michael (Can)

Staff in camp
Managers: Justin Stevens & Jacky Collett-Stevens
Guides: Kambango Sinimbo and Omphile Kalaluka


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Kalahari Plains Camp update - May 2011               Jump to Kalahari Plains Camp

No report this month.


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