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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

November 2012

(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
WILDERNESS SAFARIS NAMIBIA GARNERS SEVERAL AWARDS
December 2012 - Wilderness Safaris is proud to announce that a number of its Namibian properties received awards and honours over the past month.

At the Hospitality Association of Namibia's Gala Dinner, held on 24th November 2012, Damaraland Camp received gold "Award of Excellence" in the Lodges Category. These awards honour those Namibian accommodation establishments that have provided and excellent service to guests during their stay in Namibia.

More accolades for Damaraland Camp included its attaining four eco flowers from Eco Awards Namibia for Responsible Tourism, while Doro Nawas Camp was awarded four eco flowers - up from three eco flowers two years ago. Eco Awards Namibia honours establishments for their management of their properties according to eco-friendly principles, including careful use of resources, implementation of sustainable practices and maintaining a high standard of environmental care.

On this note, Eco Awards Namibia presented Wilderness Safaris with a Special Recognition Award for Best Operational Practices for the rehabilitation of the area that the company undertook during the decommissioning of Skeleton Coast Camp.

These honours are marks of distinction for our Namibian camps, attesting to our commitment to a sustainable future in the pristine environments which we are privileged to operate in and share with our guests.


Making a Difference
As a responsible ecotourism company at the forefront of conservation, Wilderness Safaris is continually looking at new and innovative ways to “green” its operations. While this focus embraces all their camps across Africa, recent efforts have centered on Botswana.

Mombo Camp has seen the opening of its 4Cs Center – a stylish boutique linked to the camp’s lounge and library. The center provides Wilderness with an opportunity to highlight each of the 4Cs – Commerce, Conservation, Community and Culture – in a practical and meaningful way that is relevant in the day-to-day lives of their staff and guests. This new “trading store” offers more than just high-quality trinkets and clothing. In fact, the souvenirs that guests can now take home hint at the broader vision of Wilderness’ sustainability framework.

Making a Difference

All profits from sales in this and every other retail offering in the Botswana camps is reinvested into Wilderness Safaris’ sustainability projects in the country. More than this, a platform is provided for many community projects to display their work and not only generate income, but also profile and highlight cultural art, tradition and technique to a first-world audience.

Through comprehensive guest experiences, Wilderness aspires to educate and transform the way visitors perceive the world. In many ways, it is believed that the journeys of those who travel to Botswana really begin when they return home.


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WILDLIFE NEWS

Catch of the day at Pafuri
Sighting: Catch of the day
Location: Pafuri Camp, South Africa
Date: 17 November 2012
Photographer: Enos Mnegomezulu
Observers: Enos Mnegomezulu

We experienced a very interesting sighting from the main deck while enjoying afternoon tea. African fish-eagles are very common along the Luvuvhu River, with many resident pairs roosting and hunting along the pristine river frontage. We are treated their beautiful call every day.

African fish-eagles with catch  African fish-eagles with catch 

On this particular day, an individual was perched on an overhanging tree, glaring into the water - waiting for the next unsuspecting fish to swim by ... or so we thought. Suddenly the raptor dropped to the ground swiftly and started to struggle with something in the undergrowth. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that we were looking at a very ambitious eagle, which was trying to catch a hardy cane rat.

The large rodent was not giving into the eagle's attempts and for a while managed to avoid certain death from the sharp talons of the eagle. After a few moments of tense struggle, the large eagle took the battle to the water and proceeded to drown the cane rat. This strategy was successful and the cane rat soon expired. Once this had happened, the eagle dragged the carcass to the river bank and started to feast - what an amazing sighting!

Generally speaking, African fish-eagles feed predominantly on fish: upon spotting a potential prey item from a perch in a tree, it will swoop down upon and snatch the prey from the water with its large clawed talons. The eagle will then fly back to its perch to eat its catch.

African fish-eagles with catch

Like other pescivores, the African fish-eagle has structures on its toes called spiricules that allow it to grasp fish and other slippery prey. Should the fish-eagle catch a fish over 1.8 kg it will be too heavy to allow the eagle to get lift, so it will instead drag the fish across the surface of the water until it reaches the shore. If it catches a fish that is too heavy to even allow the eagle to sustain flight, it will drop into the water and paddle to the nearest shore with its wings. The African fish-eagle is known to rob other bird species of their catch. It will also feed on water birds, small terrapins, baby crocodiles and monitor lizards, frogs and carrion. Occasionally, it may even carry off mammalian prey, such as hyraxes and vervet monkeys, and in this case - cane rats.


The Thrush and the Dragonfly at Tubu Tree
Sighting: The Thrush and the Dragonfly
Location: Tubu Tree Camp, Jao Concession, Botswana
Date: November 2012
Photographer: Eloise Holton
Observers: Eloise Holton

One morning I was sitting in the office when a kurrichane thrush flew into one of only two glass windows in camp - that of my office. Being soft of heart, I picked up the little guy and starting giving him sugar water (as this has previously worked on birds).

After sitting on the ground with the thrush on my lap outside the office, he jumped off my finger and hopped around the corner to the steps going to Tents 4 and 6. At this point one of the guides called in saying that he was returning into camp. I greeted the guests and after they left for their tents I went to see where the thrush was.

The Thrush and the Dragonfly

He had hopped down to the one little sunny spot underneath the steps and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to take a picture, so I quickly went to the office and grabbed my camera. When I was perfectly positioned I saw that there was a dragonfly sitting on its beak, as if this was a regular occurrence! I managed to take quite a few pictures and I captured this image as the dragonfly was taking off. The dragonfly would zip around my head and then go and land on the beak of the thrush again. The dragonfly eventually flew off to find a partner, while the bird stayed for about another hour before I walked down the pathway with it hopping from branch to branch, alongside me, calling as I walked. I think that was his way of saying "thank you!"


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CAMP UPDATES
BOTSWANA
Wilderness Safaris Introduces New Camp
Wilderness Safaris is thrilled to announce the opening of its much loved DumaTau Camp on an exquisite new site on the banks of the Linyanti River, just a bit upstream from its original location. As one of Wilderness’ most popular camps for more than 15 years, DumaTau has been given a new lease on life with a complete new rebuild, offering your clients the ultimate safari experience along the river and in the bush. The new location is in a prime section of the enormous Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, creating ideal conditions for prolific wildlife sightings. The classic camp’s 10 tented units (eight twin and two family) are raised off the ground to overlook the Osprey Lagoon. DumaTau Camp operates completely on solar energy and is built of FSC-standard timber. The location between two elephant corridors offers your clients an exclusive river and land experience in a completely sustainable manner.

Images of New Duma Tau Cmap

The Best of Linyanti at an Affordable Price
We're pleased to announce the opening of Camp Linyanti. This magnificent camp offers your clients five intimate, enchanting and uniquely designed rounded canvas tents, with breathtaking views over the Linyanti Marsh. Accommodating up to 10 guests, facilities include en-suite bathrooms and open sky showers. The camp has recently opened private game drive routes in this untouched part of the Chobe National Park, allowing your clients access to the last hidden Eden of the Chobe for the very first time!

View of Camp Linyanti

A Cultural Experience Like No Other with Uncharted Africa Safari Co.
With cultures constantly changing and transforming, it is rare for your clients to have the opportunity to experience a traditional way of life in the bush. However enhancing the Bushmen experience at its permanent camps in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Twenty-four Bushmen – women, men and children comprised of four generations – are now residing in the area and sharing their incredible knowledge with the guests at Jack’s Camp, San Camp and Camp Kalahari. Leading a semi-traditional lifestyle, the Bushmen allow a glimpse into their lives to your clients, showing them how they would traditionally hunt and gather food, make jewelry and hunting equipment, and entertain themselves through story, song and dance. It allows your clients a glimpse into this quickly vanishing traditional way of life and an experience they will remember for a lifetime.

Cultural experience

 

Exciting Updates around Kwando Safaris
Kwando Safaris has been keeping busy announcing the arrival of new vehicles at camps AND children’s rates! The first new Land Cruisers for Lebala and Lagoon were scheduled to arrive into the camps starting at the end of November. However, the beginning of the month brought good news – the brand new Land Cruisers arrived at Lagoon November 5th – well ahead of schedule! Lebala should be receiving their brand spanking new vehicles by the end of year.

Kwando Safari Children Rates


EXPLORATIONS SAFARIS
As we edge closer to the end of year, summer season is in full swing. It's a breath taking time to travel through our pristine areas, a time of renewal, birth and "a cleaning the earth" of the year passed.

The summer rains are warm and bring huge relief to the hot days to both the earth, the animals and the humans, having a spring clean affect. Vegetation takes on a clean and even greener appearance if that is possible and the antelope drop their young so the bush is alive with babies , which in turn brings in the predators looking for an easy meal, which in turn encourages the humans to pay witness.

It can be a chaotic time ………..

One the most exciting ways to see this "chaos" is partaking in an Explorations Green Desert Safari

The route takes the time to explore the stunning contrasts of two habitat types: the "petrified" river valley of Deception Valley in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and the fertile green islands of the Okavango Delta and its crystal-clear waterways – all the while enjoying spectacular summer congregations of wildlife. Accommodation includes serviced camping in exclusive sites in Central Kalahari Game Reserve combined with Deception Valley Lodge and Xigera Camp.

This Exploration is specifically designed around the Kalahari Desert at its most productive, when sporadic summer rains cause wildlife to migrate into the desert valleys in large numbers. This precious water creates a short yet incredibly prolific wildlife-viewing period with high concentrations of desert species and their young. In addition, the fertile islands and waterways of the Okavango Delta add another exciting dimension.

To partake in a Green Desert Expedition is to experience a nostalgic camping safari that recreates a sense of wildlife viewing adventure reminiscent of the times of the early African explorers.


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Seychelles
North Island Update - November 2012              Jump to North Island

No report this month.

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Botswana Camps
Kings Pool Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Kings Pool Camp

Weather and Landscape
Another fantastic month has come to an end. The rain is back and is blessing us with its electric energy and roaring thunder. We had some decent rainfall this month and within two weeks the landscape has started transforming into a sea of green, we had about 103ml of rain this month. Almost all the trees have new green leaves now and the first flowers are already visible.

Birding around Kings Pool Camp    southern carmine bee-eaters

Wildlife
Elephants were still present in great numbers at the beginning of the month but fewer towards the end of the month given the arrival of the first rains here in the Linyanti which has allowed for some dispersal. Nonetheless we had some fantastic sightings while on boat cruises or game drives of elephant herds crossing the Linyanti River into Namibia or returning back to Botswana from Namibia.

General game has been excellent as you know this time of the year it signals the arrival of the newly born of the seasonal breeders like impala and warthog. Around camp there is saunder of warthog which have taken refuge around the camp structures. The six little piglets are incredibly cute and are exact miniature replicas of their parents. All game drives are encountering this new abundance in the area around Kings Pool. Most herds seem to have doubled in size!

Exciting news is that we have also had great sightings of sable and roan antelope this month, including some regular sightings of a large herd of roan east of Kings Pool Camp.

The LTC Pack of wild dogs gave us some incredible sightings. We saw them many times this month and the pack is still doing well with all fourteen adults and seven pups still in good condition. Their condition has been helped by the glut of impala lambs in the Kings Pool area. One day our guides found the dogs hunting and watched as they proceeded to catch and eat five lambs - an amazing sequence to watch.

Sable at Kings Pool Camp    Lion at Kings Pool Camp

As far as lions are concerned, the Kings Pool Male is still in great shape and is as strong as ever. We saw him frequently this month, on one occasion even on a full grown male giraffe kill together with the LTC Pride. The LTC Pride is also still doing very well and we had some nice sightings of them this month. They spent most their time around the old airstrip area because that's where the den is, the four cubs (nine months old and two months old ) are still very well and getting bigger and bigger every day. Even the Five Boys (a coalition of five male lions) have been coming into the Kings Pool area recently, which has provided a challenge to the Kings Pool Male, but added to our great lion sightings.

We once again had great leopard sightings - all in all we had nine fantastic sightings. Our resident female leopard has been an absolute star this month with regular sightings around camp. She was spotted by our guides many times hunting and killing baby impala and her two cubs (male and female) are still doing very well. Another female, known as the Calcrete Female, has also been encountered a couple of times with her cub, once in the process of hunting and on another occasion while feeding on an impala carcass up in a tree with her cub. The male leopard known as Mokoro has once again shown that he has developed some prowess in preying on warthogs. One morning on game drive, some of our guides witnessed this big male leopard waiting patiently at a burrow in a termite mound. Eventually a warthog held up inside made a run for it and soon became lunch for this superb leopard. On another morning our guides found this male leopard on an impala kill together with another resident female (Slender Female) and her two cubs: an amazing sighting of no less than four leopards at once! On another occasion one of our guides OD had a great sighting as they found the Slender Female up a tree calling to her cubs. Instead of the cubs, another adult female leopard turned up and instantly challenged the Slender Female. This got the attention of Mokoro which was marking his territory in the area.

Elephant herd around Kings Pool Camp    Elephant crossing at Kings Pool Camp

Birds and Birding
The southern carmine bee-eaters are still prolific just west of camp as they are breeding. We have observed some fledglings as they dart around trying to catch insects. The adults have also been very busy hunting as they zip back and forth from their nests.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Alex and One Mazunga, Julie Sander and Frank Maule.
Guides: Lemme Dintwa, Yompy-Diye Kennetseng and OD Modikwa.

Newsletter and photographs by Alex Mazunga

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DumaTau Camp update - November 2012               Jump to DumaTau Camp

Weather and Landscape
The new DumaTau opened on the 6th of August 2012 and three months later has settled into one of Wilderness Safaris most beautiful camps and incredible wildlife destinations. Its location on Osprey Lagoon allows for beautiful sunsets and sunrises over the water, and on the hot 40° C days a welcome breeze across the water has helped cool the camp.

The rains came late this year, with the first real rain arriving on the night of the 19th, with most of the rain falling in between game drives - cooling things down but not interrupting the guest outings. In total we had 71 mm of rain for the month of November.

Wildlife
The first baby impala were seen on the 16th of November by the guides and since then gorgeous nurseries of up to 30 impala babies have been seen. The wildlife sightings have been truly remarkable, with most guests coming back from drive having seen leopard, lion or wild dogs and lots of elephant and buffalo. The LTC Pack of wild dogs currently consists of 13 adults and seven pups. We have been lucky to see this pack on a regular basis and were even lucky to witness a kill on three occasions.

Sunset over DumaTau Camp    Leopard seen at DumaTau Camp

One of the most unbelievable sightings this month was when our guests (Andy and Alex) got to witness a pair of leopards mating along the Savute Channel...a little while later a younger female arrived and mated with the same male. The interesting thing is that the male mated with both females simultaneously - this continued for the entire day.

The DumaTau Pride and Kings Pool Pride of lions were both seen on a regular basis. On the morning of the 16th, one of the prides was resting close to camp when two unknown males approached them, a fight broke out and scattered the pride - some of the pride ending up close to Tent 5 and 6 while the other half fled towards the laundry. The guests who decided to sleep in that day had to be fetched from their tent by boat.

Camp News
This month our guests thoroughly enjoyed the back of house tours which were given by Ross. The tours focused on the solar installation which provides the entire camp with electricity and the bio-digester that converts organic food waste into methane gas which is then used to cook on. This has given our guests great insight into how things can be done on a sustainable basis.

This month we were also visited by Abbie, who provided additional training for our kitchen staff and chefs, further refining their culinary skills.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Ross, Ben, Lindi and Kg.
Guides: Ona, Name, Moses, Mocks, Lazi and Bobby.

This is definitely the camp to be!
Kath

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Savuti Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Savuti Camp

What a beautiful and lively time this is - the rainy season also known as the Green Season! After months and months of anticipation, on the 25th, the dry spell was broken when the first raindrop touched down as a harbinger to a thunderstorm - pelting down on the baked, dry earth, pumping life into all sorts of wildlife. In the next few weeks there will be an explosion of animal babies of all sorts doing the rain dance in celebration to life.

The water level has dropped drastically along the Savute Channel and thus most of the backflows have completely dried up, bringing speculations that the channel may once again dry up. We are all silently praying for more rain in the months to come.

Elephant around Savuti Camp    Leopard around Savuti Camp

Despite the trying conditions, the wildlife has provided awesome sightings as they congregate en masse along the remaining surface water. Big herds of elephant, zebra, buffalo and even eland have all added to the action. This rise in prey species has attracted a wave of predator species which are taking advantage of the weak, weary and pregnant.

Leopard sightings have been great, and on several occasions we have come across mating pairs, with the highlight being one large male that was simultaneously mating with two females - something that was a first for us to see! Hopefully in the next three months we shall be thrilled to the big innocent eyes and little paws of the young ones...increasing the leopard population in the Linyanti Concession.

On the lion front, we have started seeing two new nomadic males which are almost in their prime. Surely these two imposing brutes will set their sights on the DumaTau Pride, resulting in a battle of kings. The current dominant male is roughly the same age as the nomads, so things are guaranteed to get tense at some stage in the event of a confrontation. As these nomads scout the area, they wondered quite close to camp...very close actually as they were seen walking along the boardwalk on one occasion.

Lion around Savuti Camp

The DumaTau Pride has not been bothered by these two rogues and has been very active and successful in their hunts as they have been targeting old buffalo bulls. We witnessed a buffalo kill on both sides of the channel - providing our guests with some incredible photographic oppurtunities. On one night, the entire camp was awoken by a blood curdling scream, and the next morning it was clear what had happened. The resident honey badger had been cornered and caught by 11 lions - having unfortunate consequences for this small yet formidable creature. The lions were seen playing with the carcass in the morning.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Virgil, Anja, Ben and Tshidi.
Guides: Ace, Carlton, Lets.

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Zarafa Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Zarafa Camp

Underneath the mangosteen...
We have this huge mangosteen tree right in front of Zarafa, and every year in November it gives us very tasteful orange fruits. The birds like them, and so do the squirrels, the warthogs and the elephants ... so the battle of the fruits has begun.

Perhaps for this reason, we have many animals visit us in camp, forcing us to start our game drives from behind the kitchen as a herd of elephant has taken a liking to the main entrance.

Wild dogs around Zarafa Camp    Elephant and Wardhog battle over Mangosteen fruits

Fred and Freddy
Our 'house elephant' Fred has introduced some relatives to our camp. Fred, a big male elephant in his fifties, drops by for a visit almost every day. He hangs around the main area and Tent 2. Every now and then he lies down to take a nap. Since last week we have another 'sleeper' on our pathway. Fred's little nephew Freddy just comes in with his family, feeds on some fruit and drops himself in the middle of the pathway for a 30-minute power nap. So again we have to find a detour to get to the rooms.

Crowded in camp
Fred and Freddy were not the only visitors at Zarafa Camp. We had wild dog, kudu and even a lone lioness walking along the camp pathways. There was no real need to go out for game drive as one could just sit in the comfort of the main area and watch the visiting wildlife. However, game drives were excellent, as we got to see a wild dog hunt as well as a lioness catch a young zebra.

Lioness seen around Zarafa Camp    Lioness catch a young zebra

All the best from the Zarafa Team

Newsletter by Willem Roozeboom.

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Selinda Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Selinda Camp

The October heat has carried over into November, with temperatures reaching a maximum of 42° C - and no hope of rains on the horizon. This has been an amazingly dry season and the landscape is now covered with a brown blanket of dying grass and bare trees. This however, makes for the perfect game-viewing time of the year. It is also a disheartening time to watch herbivores suffer from hunger while predators capitalise on this. You could count the number of ribs on the buffalo staggering around the camp area.

Wild dogs at water hole    Antelope at Selinda Camp

In this hostile time some of the animals have had to adjust their diets. We have had some fascinating sightings, for example, that of a warthog eating from a baby impala carcass and a leopard eating a caracal. The hippo have stayed in good shape though. The elephant are still concentrated along the banks of the Selinda Spillway which is also drying at a dramatic pace.

We received the first rains in the middle of the month and everything was rejuvenated with those first drops. We are now experiencing the birth of new babies as the impala and wildebeest drop their calves en masse, with many other species following.

Highlights for the month included cheetah around the airstrip and a big flock of pelicans flying over camp.

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Kwando Safari Camps Update - November 2012

Kwando Concession
Moremi Air
Not one of our camps, but our sister air charter company had a sighting of its own, with a twist. After landing in Maun, the plane was going through a general inspection, when a joy-rider was discovered tucked under the engine cover: a bush baby! These tiny primates are night active, so no one could figure out how – or why – it would be tempted to jump up the engine exhaust while it was parked on the bush airstrip during the day… It had obviously hitched a ride into town, but from which camp?? With a hot and frightened bush baby to deal with, Moremi Air called into action the 'critter-crazy' managers of Kwando to come and assist. Snuggled into the corner of a small box, the bush baby was taken to Maun's resident vet, who deals with everything from lions to pet goldfish. After a night and day of rehydrating, and an antibiotic boost, together with a hearty meal of a big fat mopane moth, the bush baby was deemed fit to be released. He was taken down to the edge of the delta, with plenty of large acacia trees suitable to make as a home, and a distinct lack of airplanes in the vicinity. He happily bounded off up his choice tree, and disappeared into the branches.

Lagoon camp               Jump to Lagoon Camp
•The pride of six lions had good luck with hunting this month, looking fat and full at all times. They were found feeding on a zebra, and five days later had also killed a buffalo about 300m from where they were eating the zebra. One day finding the lions looking well fed and happy, it was not surprising that when the guide saw a dead buffalo calf near by, everyone assumed this is what the lions had been feeding on. Moving in closer for a look, the 'dead' buffalo suddenly leaped up, and ran straight at the vehicle, bounced off, and then ran off into the bush!
• Lots of leopard sightings this month, with a relaxed female, and a big male leopard being the most regularly seen. The female leopard with two cubs is also very relaxed, with the cubs still shy, but a delight to watch. The mother killed a reedbuck, so there were great sightings of her and her cubs feeding on it. Also, one group of guests managed to see four different adult leopards in less than two days!
• On the last day of October, the three cheetahs brothers were seen together, and looking fit and healthy. Unfortunately that day, they were chased by a group of lions, and by the middle of the month had still not been seen! No doubt they are just surveying the rest of their territory, and will return in a few weeks.
• Lagoon pack of wild dogs were found in the south of our game drive area, finishing off an impala. They then spent the afternoon 'at the pool' – playing in and out of the water nearby where they killed. They were also seen taking down kudu, and more impala.
• Three separate large herds of buffalo with over 500 individuals were found along the flood plains, feeding and drinking. Some of the bachelor groups were scattered along the woods and marshes, in their preferred habitats.
• The two hyena dens were as productive as ever, and the individuals were also seen regularly at a carcass of a baby elephant.
• Most unusual sighting of the month was a female warthog that was found killing a baby warthog piglet. Videoed by guests, it was distressing to watch, as the adult killed and then ate the piglet. This behaviour is so unusual, we referred it to two leading researchers in herbivores in Botswana, who had never witnessed this themselves. They felt that it was most likely that the piglet did not belong to the adult, but even so, there was little reason for this to occur.
• We were also lucky enough to see a 2.5metre python crossing one of the roads. Other good sightings this month included a herd of eland, civet, honey badger, and also of an aardwolf.

Lebala camp               Jump to Lebala Camp
• The pride of six lions had good luck with hunting this month, looking fat and full at all times. They were found feeding on a zebra, and five days later had also killed a buffalo about 300m from where they were eating the zebra. One day finding the lions looking well fed and happy, it was not surprising that when the guide saw a dead buffalo calf near by, everyone assumed this is what the lions had been feeding on. Moving in closer for a look, the 'dead' buffalo suddenly leaped up, and ran straight at the vehicle, bounced off, and then ran off into the bush!
• Lots of leopard sightings this month, with a relaxed female, and a big male leopard being the most regularly seen. The female leopard with two cubs is also very relaxed, with the cubs still shy, but a delight to watch. The mother killed a reedbuck, so there were great sightings of her and her cubs feeding on it. Also, one group of guests managed to see four different adult leopards in less than two days!
• On the last day of October, the three cheetahs brothers were seen together, and looking fit and healthy. Unfortunately that day, they were chased by a group of lions, and by the middle of the month had still not been seen! No doubt they are just surveying the rest of their territory, and will return in a few weeks.
• Lagoon pack of wild dogs were found in the south of our game drive area, finishing off an impala. They then spent the afternoon 'at the pool' – playing in and out of the water nearby where they killed. They were also seen taking down kudu, and more impala.
• Three separate large herds of buffalo with over 500 individuals were found along the flood plains, feeding and drinking. Some of the bachelor groups were scattered along the woods and marshes, in their preferred habitats.
• The two hyena dens were as productive as ever, and the individuals were also seen regularly at a carcass of a baby elephant.
• Most unusual sighting of the month was a female warthog that was found killing a baby warthog piglet. Videoed by guests, it was distressing to watch, as the adult killed and then ate the piglet. This behaviour is so unusual, we referred it to two leading researchers in herbivores in Botswana, who had never witnessed this themselves. They felt that it was most likely that the piglet did not belong to the adult, but even so, there was little reason for this to occur.
• We were also lucky enough to see a 2.5metre python crossing one of the roads. Other good sightings this month included a herd of eland, civet, honey badger, and also of an aardwolf.

Kwara & Little Kwara camps               Jump to Kwara & Little Kwara camps
• The Mmalatho pride of lions are still not together as the mother is still with her two young male cubs, but the elder daughter is still on her own in the eastern Riverine Road area. The four intruder males are still around the western side, and that has forced the seven males to move around the central and eastern part of the area. Some of these males are nursing bad wounds from their previous fight. We have not managed to see all seven males together at the same time, but did have six together at once, which was a special sighting!
• The three male cheetahs have gone back to their roots – and moved further into the Tsum Tsum area. This area is drying up now that the flood waters have receded, and the rain has not yet arrived. The cheetahs sometimes move through the northern mopane terrain, checking out their new area.
• Sections of the heronry that were not destroyed by the feeding elephants last month still have a lot of chicks, but the adults only return to roost in the late afternoon.
• There was a wide range of more unusual sightings this month:
- a saddle billed stork taking advantage of a clear moonlight night to wade through the water fishing (the bird equivalent of a midnight feast)
- six ground hornbills all trying to catch and kill the same snake
- two baboons proving that they are as omnivorous as humans, by killing and eating an impala lamb
- two leopard tortoises mating – very slowly
• A few of the normal game activities that we offer also provided some more out of the ordinary sightings: a nice bush walk on an island was curtailed somewhat by a couple of grunts, and a surprise sighting of a pride of lions. Respect was shown from both sides and a non-verbal agreement was reached that the people would be the ones to move out of the way, which they promptly did.
• A day later, a mokoro trip through the peaceful delta waters, concentrating on the 'small stuff' was interrupted by the 'big stuff' as a lioness was seen bounding across the marshy banks hunting lechwe. The lechwe were lucky enough to get away, but the guests were then able to see the lioness relaxing on a termite mound, from the comfort of their mokoro's.
• The most unusual sighting, however, (very possibly winning the prize for the whole year and all the camps!) was a mother aardvark and her little baby. The mother was very shy and started running when seeing the vehicle, but the little one was not so fussed, and followed her slowly.

Nxai Pan               Jump to Nxai Pan camp
• Fires moved through the National Park this month, and the surrounding areas. There had been no rain since the first fall in late September, and the parched ground and trees easily sucked this water up long ago. With different vegetation to the sweeping grasses of the Kalahari, the fires skip and jump at Nxai between clumps of thick vegetation and over the barely-grassed salt pans. Animals normally have plenty of time to move out of the way, but trees obviously have to take whatever comes… The Baines Baobabs proved their longevity and remained undamaged, as the fire circled them.
• Cheetahs and lions were seen regularly during the month. Mostly resting in the shade and trying to avoid as much of the heat as possible as everyone and everything waits for the real rains to start. Three sub-adult cheetahs were found in the Baobab Loop area, and they were attempting to hunt, but were unsuccessful.
• The wildebeest have had their babies, and there are lots of little miniature gnus running around on spindly legs, learning how to react in the face of a predator. No springbok babies as yet, but it shouldn't be long now.

Tau Pan               Jump to Tau Pan camp
• The 8th of November saw the promise of rain turn instead to the challenge of Kalahari bush fires as lightning struck the ground not far from camp and ignited the dry grass. As the winds billowed, it turned into a fast hot fire, and the next few hours were a battle between nature and the camp and park staff as it got closer and closer to the fire break. As midnight approached, the fire jumped the first fire break, and guests were treated to a rare night drive in the CKGR as staff and guests left the lodge to be on the safe side. The second fire break held without a problem, and guests returned to the camp 30 minutes later to a glass of bubbly, and a few photos and exciting stories to tell. The next morning, it was business as usual, as game drives set off to see how the land had transformed. Fears that the fire had scared off the Tau Pan lions were unfounded, as the male was found snoozing next to room 3, and the rest were found not too far away. The game drives were superb, as animals that normally hide in the scrub were still busy scurrying to thicker cover, and that annoying bit of grass that gets in the photo frame was no longer there…. The Kalahari burns every year, and although it initially looks like a landscape that can support nothing, it makes a quick recovery.
• By the middle of the month, it was back to situation normal, as the Tau Pan pride decided the weather was still a little warm for their liking, and moved back to the shadiest spot in the area, with the benefit of a little breeze from the elevation: right next to the manager's house. As a camp manager, there's only so much work can be done from your room, when nine sleepy lions are not interested in moving.
• The male lion that split off from the Tau Pan pride is still in the area, but continues his lengthy self imposed exile. He visits the waterhole often, drinks, has a bit of a rest, then moves off, roaring. One wonders what has caused this rift to continue for so long!
• Although the Tau Pan pride sub-adults have a comparatively easy life as far as lions go, the middle of the month saw a big change for their young neighbours that live in the Phukwe Pan/Passage pan area. Three young cubs, aged about three months, were found orphaned, lying next to their dead mother whilst vultures fed on her. Luckily, DWNP stepped in to help and took the three cubs to a temporary shelter at Tau Pan Camp before transferring them to a rehabilitation centre in the southern part of the country, where they can be raised and then released to live a normal life in a large game reserve.
• The 22nd of November was definitely cat day, when guests on one drive saw 7 lions and two cubs at Piper Pan, followed by 1 adult lion at Tau water hole, two lions at Passarge Pan, and a cheetah also in the Piper Pan area. To continue the celebrations of cat day from the day prior, the 23rd of November featured one lioness and one cheetah drinking at the Tau Pan waterhole, and one leopard drinking at the swimming pool.
• That (supposedly) elusive brown hyena arrived several times again this month – once on a game drive it was seen in the vicinity of Makgoa Pan, and also sneaking in to the waterhole at camp one morning to drink.
• The last sighting of the lions was the 25th of the month, and shortly after that the rains began to fall. This has provided the most amazing thunder and lightning shows for the camp, but also a few puddles of water for the animals to drink. The lions, having been 'stuck' close to camp for most of the year – dependent on the water hole for their water source, quickly grabbed the opportunity to do a proper survey of their territory. This is vital for them to maintain a hold on their lucrative area – good food supply and permanent water. It's also important for the young male sub adults to learn where the boundaries are, and what possibilities exist for them, when they reach an age where they are forced out of the pride, and have to find their own territories.
• Perhaps taking the opportunity of the lion's absence for a few days, the surprise visitors to the Tau Pan waterhole were a pack of eight wild dogs! Rarely seen in the Kalahari because of the huge distances that they cover, the eight dogs were seen one afternoon, and then a solitary dog a couple of days later. All looked fit and healthy!

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Mombo Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Mombo Camp

The dry heat of October continued into the month of November here at Mombo - where dust clouds followed any movement we made, the earth appeared cracked and parched, the landscape barren and dun. Clouds built up temptingly on a few days, only to be blown away before they could develop into rain. The floodplains dried out completely, leaving only a trickle of water in the larger channels to slake the thirst of the multitudes of animals that wandered into the open in search of water. In contrast to the landscape around them, the baobab trees began to flower, and then push out new leaves in the first signs of the summer of plenty to come.

Many animals show a distinct loss of condition - the impala in particular as they wait out the dry season in anticipation of the mass birthing the rains will bring; we have seen a few elephant deaths as well - the old and the weak winnowed out by the ravages of this harsh environment.

Leopard Seen around Mombo Camp

By the middle of the month we had only one decent shower of rain, which triggered the first births amongst the impala - too few to overwhelm the numerous hungry predators, and many became victims of voracious leopards, jackals, lions and baboons. The rains arrived in earnest in the last days of the month, and the area has begun to respond enthusiastically. Everywhere are impala lambs, skittering on unsteady legs, zebra foals taking their first wobbly steps, warthog piglets trotting obediently behind their mothers, while dozens of young giraffe gaze curiously out at this new world they find themselves in.

The summer has now begun, and we look forward to the thrumming vibrancy of life that will surround us soon. Coupled with spectacular sunsets and crisp, clear air, not to mention the multitude of avian summer visitors, it is a wonderful season to experience.

As to be expected when resources are scarce, the game viewing has been of a spectacular calibre.

Among the leopards, Pula has been seen many times this month - her beauty and poise unmarred by her missing ear. The most exciting news concerning her is the discovery of two tiny cubs, tucked deep into the bole of a tree several metres off the ground. We have since closed access to the site to allow the cubs the freedom and security they need at this crucial stage, and we hope to come across them again when they are a little older.

Legadema also appears to be in the later stages of pregnancy, and she also provided us with some thrilling viewing this month. Jeff and Carol Derx had just arrived on a midday plane when Doc Malinga suggested they go to where she had been seen a few hours before. They found her crouched flat at the base of a leadwood tree, her attention focused intently on a small herd of impala grazing a short distance away. Over the next hour she didn't move a muscle as the impala came ever closer, oblivious to the danger that lay in the grass. Just as the anticipation reached fever pitch, a troop of vervet monkeys wandered onto the scene, also without noticing the motionless cat. In a complete about-face, Legadema suddenly shot from her position, not in the direction of the impala, but away from them towards the monkeys! In the split seconds that followed, a large male monkey shot up a tree, closely pursued by the leopard - the shock of the encounter caused him to lose his footing and come crashing to the ground; the same happened to Legadema - the speed with which she had attacked made her fall and land on her back with a thump. She recovered in an instant, and leapt on the still motionless monkey, which she subdued with a few swift bites. With her prize in her jaws, she climbed into the safety of the leadwood tree and fed on her spoils for the rest of the afternoon. Clearly this would indicate her preference for monkey meat over impala, and is also a testament to her amazing speed and agility to catch one! We saw Legadema regularly over the next weeks, but she has since disappeared - her heavy appearance may be the reason for this - we believe she may have gone to ground to have cubs?

Lion seen around Mombo Camp    Jackal  at Mombo Camp

The new female leopard that we reported seeing in the last couple of months has been seen again, usually in quite diverse areas as she seeks out a new territory of her own.

Blue Eyes, the male leopard from the south is also around - we found him quite close to camp this month, possibly exploring the new areas the receding waters have left exposed for the first time in three years.

Mmamoriri and her Western Pride were seen often - their two young cubs have lost quite a bit of condition due to their mother sustaining a bad injury to her leg, and possibly being unable to feed them for a time. These lions provided the last, and possibly most exciting, sighting of the month - right in front of the deck of Little Mombo Camp! In the early hours of a morning, they brought down an old buffalo bull, and as the sun began to rise, we were confronted by the spectacle of the pride and the two young cubs feeding on the carcass. It wasn't necessary to leave the camp for game drive that morning, as all the drama was happening right in front of us! Between feeding and resting, the pride stayed around all day, until late that night when the hyaenas arrived en masse and fearing for the safety of their cubs, the lions left - following a huge battle on Skimmer Island that went on for hours?the noise of which could only be imagined. When the sun rose the next morning, we found the old Jao boy from the Mporota Pride in charge of the carcass. Surrounded by more than a dozen hyaenas, he held them at bay with his ferocious appearance and bluster, despite his advanced years and lack of teeth. When he departed in the mid-morning, the carcass was left to the attention of vultures and marabou storks. At nightfall the hyaenas returned to do their work, and by the following morning, the skull was all that remained.

Other lion sightings this month were one of the Mombo Boys mating with a female from the Akuna or Mporota Breakaway Pride - this male is a magnificent specimen and just in his prime.

We have also seen the Western Boys a few times this month - these beautiful lions were with the Boro Pride that have three cubs.

The Mporota Pride and their remaining Jao boy remain in the western areas of camp, and have been the most regular lion pride seen. A large herd of about three hundred buffalo that came through the area proved too formidable an adversary for them to take on, but provided some exciting viewing as we watched them attempt to stalk and strategise an attack on them. The guardian bulls of the herd were sufficiently brave and vigilant to see them off before they could even get close to the vulnerable members of the herd.

The hyaena den on Galloping Horse Road has been abandoned once more - probably due to an infestation of parasites. The nearby site the mothers moved the pups to was the erstwhile den of the jackal pair the lone wild dog had been associating with. The jackals had to bow down to their superior numbers and relocate with their three puppies. The dog still hunts with these jackals, but she also discovered another pair further west near Thompsons Crossing with even younger pups, which she managed to befriend and feed for a while before they recently grew wary of their strange surrogate aunt.

Plains game numbers in the area have been spectacular to say the least - with the floodplains being completely dry, we are seeing large herds of zebra, wildebeest, lechwe and impala crowding the open spaces, dotted with giraffe, elephants and buffalos, kudu in the forests, lions in the shade. This kind of multi-species view is one that only a region like Mombo can offer, and is a sight that few will ever forget.

On the birding front, all of our summer visitors are now present, with the trilling calls of the woodland kingfishers in contrast to the mournful warble of the black cuckoos. The now-dry grasslands left by the receding waters are a primary habitat for rosy-throated longclaws, which has caused great excitement for some, as we haven't seen these birds here in some time.

We bid a warm welcome to Callum Sargent and Jemima Middleton who have moved from Abu Camp to join the Mombo team, and wish them every success and wonderful experiences here in our little slice of Africa - judging by their first few weeks, they have certainly seen some extraordinary things already!

Ryan Green and Katie Horner are now bowing out after two wonderful years here, off to experiences and adventures anew - it has been an incredible time, and we shall miss all the people and animals we have come to know in this amazing place.

Guides in camp for November were Tsile, Cisco, Moss, Tshepo, Sefo and Callum.

Managers in camp were Jemima at Little Mombo, Graham, Liz, Katie, Glen and Ryan at Main Camp.

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Xigera Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Xigera Camp

Weather and Landscape
Finally the rains have arrived...in drips and drabs. We received a total of 20mm for the month and enthusiastically await the arrival of more substantial precipitation in the coming months. However, the small amount of rain which we did receive washed the winter dust off of the vegetation, leaving the environment looking rejuvenated. With the temperatures rising up to 38° C on a regular basis, any overcast days were welcomed.

The water levels have dropped a fair deal, making more areas accessible for game drive.

Leopard seen around Xigera Camp

Wildlife
The resident female leopard which has become known as 'Madipala' has been seen numerous times with her cub between the airstrip and the Xigera Lagoon boat station. She is incredibly relaxed in the presence of vehicles, and this has allowed us some great views into the interaction between mother and cub.

One of the most exceptional sightings we had this month, was the young bull elephant which walked past the front of camp and delicately manoeuvred under the camp bridge. A breeding herd of 10 elephant has been seen around camp for most of the month. A little further south of camp, a large breeding herd of buffalo has been seen on a regular basis. A hippo bull has taken a liking to the camp, and has been seen grazing next to the solar panels on most nights.

Fish Eagle at Xigera Camp    Open billed Stork at Xigera Camp

Birds and Birding
The birding has been fantastic this month with almost daily sightings of the Pel's fishing-owl in and close to the camp as well as many sightings of pink-backed pelicans, yellow-billed storks and African skimmers at the lagoon. We are really excited that the skimmers have started nesting in the area, with quite a number of chicks having hatched already.

Dennis had a great sighting of a Luapula cisticola. In and around camp, we have been seeing brown firefinches as well as many woodland kingfishers which arrived in masse at the end of the month. To end off the birding for the month, Henry spotted a Verreaux's eagle-owl in camp.

Camp News
Xigera has had the privilege of hosting Richard and Sarah Madden for two weeks as they make their way through Africa on their year-long stay. The purpose of their trip is to write travel blogs on the 'beh12Nov-xigcamind the scenes' aspect of guides, camp staff and back of house operations.


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Chitabe Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Chitabe Camp

No report this month.


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Vumbura Plains Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Vumbura Plains Camp

Summer is finally here and mid November we started experiencing the first rains - this filling up the dry channels.

The wildlife sightings have been fantastic as huge herds of buffalo move from east to west along the marsh in front of camp. Elephant concentrations in the area have also been very good. Many antelope species have started to give birth, with their young causing a feeding frenzy amongst the myriad of predator species in the area. We have enjoyed great sable sightings, especially along the water's edge as these magnificent antelope graze on the new shoots of vegetation which are sprouting.

Sable at Vumbura Plains Camp

On the lion side, the lioness with three cubs is still very active in the area and has provided us with good sightings. A large male lion has also been very busy in the concession and has been seen chasing various females around. The three large males from the Kubu Pride have been widely ranging as they drift in and out of the area, spending most of their time in the mopane woodlands in the east. We have heard them calling on a regular basis. Two large females have been seen in the far north of the concession. This is perhaps a new pride for the area, as these lioness were seen with two sub adult males and a young lioness.

The two resident wild dog packs have been encountered on a regular basis with the Golden Pack taking centre stage. We have been lucky to witness these skilled hunters successfully take down wildebeest, baby impala, tsessebe and warthogs.

The leopard sightings have been very good. The resident dominant male leopard is around. He has been seen mating with Selonyana and another young female. The Lebala Female has been very active around the airstrip and her cub which is around 10 months of age is doing really well.

Wild dog at Vumbura Plains Camp    Wildebeest at Vumbura Plains Camp

Spotted hyaena have been very active in the area as we have located three different dens - all with tiny cubs. These interesting predators have been seen bringing down zebra fowls and wildebeest.

All in all, it was a great month with awesome sightings of both mammals and birds.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Kago "KG", Britt, Lorato, Martha, KCI, Russell and Lauren
Guides: Ban, Emang, Ron, OB, Zee and Lazzie.

Newsletter and pictures by Ronald "Ron" Masule.

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Little Vumbura Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Little Vumbura Camp

The rainy season has officially begun - Overcast days and light showers almost daily have been cooling the Delta beautifully. Although not as much as last year at this time, but 45 mm of rain this month has transformed the area into a stunning sea of green vegetation.

The temperatures were scorching at the beginning of the month, the last big blast from October but since the arrival of the first rain it has been cool and the conditions for game viewing have been excellent. With highs of 35° C and lows of 21° C it has been pleasant for guests out and about in the concession. The rain has been constant but has not affected the activities we offer, so fortunately nobody got caught out in the rain. We did however have a phenomenal electric storm in the middle of the month which was a great opportunity for the photographers in camp who got some electrifying photographs of lightning bolts.

Paradise-flycatcher nesting around Little Vumbura Camp    Wattled cranes seen at Little Vumbura Camp

Out on the vehicle the sightings this month have been exciting and thrilling for a lot of our guests. The resident wild dogs, known as the Golden Pack, have been seen regularly and with their pups growing fast they are becoming more and more curious. The pups were recently seen trying their luck at hunting. They managed to flank a large water monitor but didn`t quite know what to do with it when they finally succeeded in cornering it. A lot of hissing and snarling was the final result of an otherwise incredibly exciting event.

Meanwhile the adults who were watching this enthralling event picked up the scent of an impala herd. Ears and heads shot up and the chase was on. The guides sadly couldn't keep up with these stealthy and amazingly well organised hunters but managed to arrive at the kill moments after it took place. Our guests were privileged enough to see the after effect of the rare African wild dogs finish their kill and then feed the pups - a truly special event to witness.

Our local lioness and her four cubs have been spotted often, and the cubs are growing well if you can call them cubs anymore. This pride consists of a mother and four offspring - two boys and two girls. The two boys are looking well groomed and their manes are becoming much more prominent, we expect them to be splitting from the pride soon. Lucky for the boys there is another female in the concession who is still mothering two cubs, unlucky for her though one cub is a male and unless he grows quickly and can hold his own he may have a fight on his hands. Trouble in the concession could be caused by the new adult male we have wondering the area seen on numerous occasions following our vast herds of buffalo which have noted as being nearly 1000 strong. So any younger males in the area are currently in danger of clashing with this mighty king of beasts.

Lion seen around Little Vumbura Camp    Lion at Little Vumbura Plains

We have been having some fabulous bird sightings. Pel's fishing-owl has been spotted on three different occasions while on drive, secretary birds and two wattled cranes have been seen nearby camp often. Above the main area we have three separate nests, home to red-headed weavers. It has been awesome to watch the males build their nests from scratch. An African paradise-flycatcher has built a nest in the main area and we have been lucky to catch a glimpse here and there of the female sitting on her eggs - we expect to hear the chirping of chicks any day now. Huge flocks of European swallows have been flying south over the area as they continue with their impressive migration.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Sam, Sevara and Rain.
Guides: Hamish, Millie, Kabelo and Kay.

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Duba Plains Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Duba Plains Camp

We still have not received any rainfall save for the showers that we had mid-November. It looks like the rainy season is delayed but the sky is always filled with rain-bearing clouds, so we could receive a downpour at any time. The one benefit of the dry times is all the areas are accessible by game drive - affording us some great sightings!

Wildlife around Duba Plains Camp    Wildlife around Duba Plains Camp

Most of the antelope species have young ones and even the small wildebeest herd that hangs around the airstrip has seven tiny little calves. Luckily the lions have not noticed these young ones yet, and we will keep our fingers crossed that they don't.

The Tsaro Pride is still around and they have also concentrated to the south and western part of the camp. They haven't crossed to the airstrip side for at least two months now. This could have been caused by the fact that the area they are patrolling now is dry and wide enough for them to move around hunting warthogs and the thousands of red lechwe found there.

The new male lion which has been coming to camp and going back to the northern parts could also be scaring this pride away. This new male lion has been seen once this month and occasionally roars to signal his presence. Surprisingly, the dominant male seems to be ignorant of the presence of this young and "fresh-looking" lion. He has not yet crossed to the other side either.

Elephant seen around Duba Plains Camp    Elephant around Duba Plains Camp

Elephant still roam the area and we had one bull elephant that kept coming to camp and he would feed on the branches above the tents. He has not given us a hard time, except that he normally pushes the railings off and is thus keeping our maintenance guys on their toes whenever he is around.

Buffalo are still around and they have spent most of their time in the area albeit being hunted by the Tsaro Pride on a daily basis. They have at times shown their resilience by fighting back and fending off most of the attacks.

Small game like banded mongoose, genet, civet, side-striped jackal, lechwe, reedbuck, greater kudu and bushbuck were common sightings this month.

Newsletter and images by Martin Mathumo

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Banoka Bush Camp update - November 2012

Weather and Landscape
The light rains we received during October and November have rejuvenated the Okavango Delta, especially in the Khwai Concession. A full array of colour has been brought about with green dominating the spectrum as the mopane, Kalahari apple leaves and various grass species sprout new growth. As October is known to be the hottest month in the Delta, the temperatures have dropped a little however; the maximum temperatures are still quite high with the mercury reaching 40° C.

 Lion cubs at Banoka Bush Camp    Lion seen around Baoka Bush Camp

Wildlife
More often than not, pictures can say more than words - have a look at the adjoining image of the big male lion which has been wowing our guests this month. I personally took this picture when I was on my way to collect guests at the new airstrip in the afternoon. I first noticed the fresh tracks crossing the Khwai and Mababe Village road. I was able to track the feline which was walking at a slow and relaxed pace. The tracks led me to the Hippo Lagoon, where I found the brute quenching his thirst. I carried onto the airstrip and picked up the guests - heading straight back to Hippo Lagoon. We found the lion at the same spot, but now he was joined by his equally impressive brother - what a way to start your safari!

On the subject of lions, the Magotlho Pride has dominated the sightings in the Kwhai Concession. It is quite clear that the Magotlho are very successful when it comes to hunting and scavenging. The pride was seen over six consecutive days when feeding on a hippo carcass in the Machaba area. Towards the end of the month we found an unknown lion feeding on a giraffe, which appeared to have died from old age. The Maleitho Pride was also seen this month hanging around the channel. On one occasion we found the pride with full bellies, obviously they enjoyed a hearty meal the night before.

As the impala and many other prey species have given birth to their young this month, the predators are all taking advantage in this time of plenty. The resident leopard population has been thriving on the continuous food source, and on one occasion we witnessed the Machaba female killing an impala fawn.

The Banoka Pack of wild dogs is still around and healthy and paid us a visit twice this month. One of our guides, Willie, called in on the radio that he had located the pack drinking from the lagoon just west of camp. The pack was last seen hunting on the eastern side of the concession before they disappeared into the bush. I am delighted to record and report an unknown pack of 14 wild dog that were spotted only once. We assume that this large pack was just moving through the area and heading east into the Delta as we have not seen them again.

As we have received some rain and the vegetation has burst to life, the elephants have dispersed over the concession, dropping our elephant sightings from the previous months. Big herds have still been seen east of camp along the main road to the airstrip and the Magotlho area.

Large breeding herds of buffalo are still seen in the concession, along with zebra, impala, steenbok, reedbuck, waterbuck and lechwe - many of which can be seen at the lagoon in front of camp.

Chamaeleon at Banoka Bush Camp       Tortoise seen at Banoka Bush Camp

Reptiles
It is quite clear that the Khwai area is also a good home to the cold blooded creatures as this has been simply proved by the number of crocodiles, snakes, chameleons, lizards, skinks and other reptile sightings of late. At the top of the reptile sightings list is the snouted cobra which is seen quite often. We have observed these snakes feeding on rodents a number of times.

On one occasion I witnessed a flap-necked chameleon hunting and feeding on a variety of insects.

Birds and Birding
The month of November has proved to be the best time for birding as all of the migrants have arrived and have congregated to breed. The red-headed weavers are busy nesting, with the males adding such a vibrant shade of red to the environment.

A pair of grey-backed camaroptera' have started breeding in the camp area. The sweet and melodious call of the male grabbed my attention and led me to the duo. The male was in the process of courting the female and was singing and dancing like a champion. The lagoon in front of the main area has been very busy and colourful with birdlife as the aquatic species feed on the myriad of aquatic creatures. One can see spur-winged goose, African jacana, grey heron, little egret, a variety of lapwings and the African fish-eagle all at the lagoon. It is really interesting to watch how these species interact with each other.

Birding around Banoka Bush Camp

Camp News
The Banoka staff members were all gathered at the new Banoka Airstrip on the morning of November 29 to meet the first flight to land on the strip. This great news as it is only a mere ten minute drive to the new strip.

Guest Comments
'Warm welcome, rooms, food, excursions, special dinner around the fire, no electronic communications that means real holidays!

Staff in Camp
Managers: Bonang 'Mama B' Mambo, Lopang Rampeba and Malebogo Lebo Kabub.
Guides: Chris, Chief Reuben and Moses.

Newsletter and images by Lopang Rampeba.

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Jacana Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Jacana Camp

Weather and Landscape
The water is receding, making the island of Jacana a little bigger. We now embark off the boats on the water's edge, making it hard for guests to visualize that we normally step off the boat onto the deck in front of Jacana. With the receded water, Jacana begins to really enjoy other wildlife and birdlife experiences.

Wildlife
Because Jacana is a water based island, we occasionally have awesome views of hippo hauling themselves out of the water and coming to graze on the island. The huge size of these animals out of the water is impressive and they are incredibly swift on land.

The old elephant bulls that are regular visitors to Jacana bring a certain atmosphere to the island. I wonder if there is anything that delights our guests more than having the opportunity to sit in either the lounge deck or in the dining room watching as the elephant either cross the water, eating the foliage around the boma area or simply ambling in front of camp to eat the figs that have fallen. Having these gentle giants around is definitely my personal highlight at Jacana - we just love them.

Crocodile seen around Jacana Camp    Hippo seen around Jacana Camp

With the water getting lower, we have had lions at Jacana - wow, what excitement! The lechwe that are normally relaxed on the green floodplains in front of the honeymoon suite were on high alert, snorting and alarm calling. The monkeys in the trees sounding the distress signals and the lion roar kept us all awake at night. Imagine our surprise as we walked our guests to the honeymoon suite the one evening, only to find a male lion lying on the walkway, he casually got up and walked to the deck of the suite. Thank goodness he did not find this to his liking and jumped down and went across towards another island, and the guests could sleep safe and soundly in their own bed.

The lechwe keep their calves close to them all the time. The moms use this time to teach their offspring how to walk through the water. The first steps are tentative, but then they realize that this is not something to be afraid of, and very soon they enjoy the water as much as mom.

A monstrous six metre crocodile was seen basking on the side of a channel. Although we normally see a lot of crocodile, it is very seldom we see such big ones, so this was an awesome sighting.

For photography, the sunrises in front of the deck, are some of the most spectacular you will ever see, as the clouded sky lights up in all shades of gold.

Birds and Birding
A pair of wattled cranes have settled into the area around camp, and have clearly become comfortable in their new Delta roost which happens to be just in front of camp. We have been really lucky to witness the courtship display between this pair, and we look forward to seeing the arrival of their chicks.

Camp News
This month, Jacana Camp hosted the annual Children in the Wilderness camp. Jacana Camp closed to guests for a week, with the group of children arriving on the 24 November. Having the children in camp has been an awesome experience. Although, a little shy at first, the enthusiastic energy of their leader Geoffrey Aupiti, certainly got them all out of their shell in no time. The camp was buzzing with their singing, dancing and laughter. The mentors and Jacana guides done a wonderful job of teaching them about the wildlife and birdlife around us, showing them a new perspective of life. We believe that this CITW program is a life changing one and the children will leave here with a better understanding of their country, environment and conservation and we have no doubt that precious seeds of conservation have been planted in the leaders of the future.

A special thanks to all the Jacana staff, who have got involved in every aspect of making CITW a successful one in 2012.

Lion seen on Game Drive

Guest Comments
"Very warm and friendly staff. We loved the casual atmosphere. Managers, guides and guest are all part of the Jacana family."

"The Delta! So beautiful, peaceful and serene. The staff and all the Jacana team made our short stay so welcoming. Big thank you to everyone. The lions and elephants - what a reason for an interrupted night's sleep - thanks again. So pleased we made it to Jao and Jacana this time - couldn't get here in 2009."

"A wonderful special place in Africa with lovely people. We enjoyed it so much. Thanks so much for the great hospitality!"

Staff in Camp
Managers: Dan and Charmaine Myburg.
Guides: Timothy Samuel and Rex Sanyedi.

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Abu Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Abu Camp

How spectacular it is to be in the Okavango Delta during this time of the year. With the rainy season in full force, the vegetation has breathed a sigh of relief. The trees have boomed into life, flowering and producing their fruits. The baobab trees in particular are looking absolutely spectacular, their trademark white flowers inviting many feathered friends to feast. The birdlife is at an all time high, the migrants having taken over as they find their places to either breed or feed. Black, Jacobin and Levaillant's cuckoos are by far the most prolific as they call and fly from tree to tree, finding mates and distracting the birds whose nests they will raid and lay their own eggs. Striped, woodland, grey-hooded and pied kingfishers are also being seen much more frequently; a kaleidoscope of spectacular blues and reds as they float around the camp, calling and fighting one another for the best feeding spots. Wattled cranes, slaty egrets and southern ground-hornbills are just some of the rare and unique species seen around the camp as well - a promising sign that there may be a bright future for these species.

Elephant at Abu Camp

With the winged alates (flying ants) starting to leave the colonies of termites, there have been several amazing sightings of bird parties. If you are lucky enough to find a feeding frenzy, you could stand a chance of seeing many different species of birds all together using their flying abilities to swoop in to get the easy protein. During one sighting there were tawny, steppe and African fish-eagles, bataleurs, marabou storks, southern carmine bee-eaters, little bee-eaters, broad-billed rollers, lilac-breasted rollers, various cuckoos, several thousand barn swallows, palm swifts and many more that created a tornado of feathers as they fed.

With regards to the game, Abu Camp is booming with baby fever, and almost all the animals in the area have started giving birth. The herds of impala around Abu have been having a wonderful season as the grasses start to take over the landscape, creating an amazing spectacle for our guests as the babies in large numbers prance around on skinny legs. Several resident warthog have also had their babies as have the many giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and tsessebe.

On one of the evenings there was much excitement as a leopard made a kill in the camp, and although they prey was not identified as it was made during the night, it was a rather riveting experience as it was near the guest rooms.

Several hyaena have been in and around the camp, always opportunistic for some scraps after our guests have finished their dinner. The resident lion pride have been in the general area and you can hear them roaring away at night near Kitty's Corner, adding to an already amazing night soundscape, along with the hyaena calls and elephant trumpeting in the distance.

Elephant, buffalo and hippo are just but a few of the larger herbivores that also frequent the camp area and on the game drives to the beautiful Seba West, the floodplains are producing amazing sightings of these animals.

Tawny Eagle at Abu Camp    Hyaena at Abu Camp

As for the reptile life, the snakes have become very active, with spotted bush-snakes, twig snakes, black mambas and Mozambique spitting-cobras being found on drives and in the trees surrounding the camp. The comical leopard tortoises have also come out in their numbers, with some very small hatchlings scrambling around the roads if you are lucky enough to see them. Terrapins have taken over the large pools of water that have formed in the roads, making the drives through water much more difficult as the guides try their hardest not to disturb their aquatic antics.

As for the Abu Herd, Warona is growing and growing as the days go by, and is celebrating her first birthday on 17 December! She enjoys playing with the handlers, and if you turn away for a split second she will sneak up and (with a small grin of satisfaction on her face clearly) attempt to 'play' by nudging you rather playfully in the legs. What she does not realise is that she weighs roughly 200 kg, making this exuberance quite challenging! However you can never be too disgruntled by her antics, as she is the life of the party when she gets to the wallowing pool - watching her roll around and wildly swing her tiny trunk in the air trying to imitate her family by spraying mud over herself (but for the most part missing completely) is incredibly cute. Watch out though - if you get too close, you may get slightly showered.

Other exciting news is that Kitty is now pregnant! She is due to give birth in 2014 so we will be having another addition to the Abu herd, very exciting indeed!

Newsletter and Photos: James Moodie.

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Kwetsani Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Kwetsani Camp

It has been a busy month at Kwetsani and we have had some amazing wildlife experiences and equally amazing guests come through. We have been enjoying many dinners with good people on the main Kwetsani deck, braving the weather's threat of large rain clouds in the distance. Luckily only one meal was cut short by rain. As soon as the rain began our full camp of guests all pitched in and we enjoyed the rest of our drinks in the main area watching the beautiful lightning show in the distance.

Goose at sunrise over Kwetsani Camp

This coming month we will be hosting a fantastic wedding! We have been stocking up on goods for the wedding guests and are excited to be a part of something so special. The guests have been very interested in the logistics of this wedding and it has been the topic of conversation at many meals. Many have asked to see pictures and some have even joked about wanting to stay to be a part of the wedding festivities as well. All of Kwetsani will be full of guests, wedding suppliers, managers and staff ready to participate and celebrate this big day!

Weather and Landscape
November was diverse in the weather department. We had typical summer days where the thermometer climbed into the upper thirties Celsius and we had days where it struggled to get into mid-twenties.

During the first half of the month, the days were hot and the thought of rain lingered in everyone's minds. Every day the clouds would build and threaten with rain, only to disappoint. But as the month progressed, the temperatures dropped daily and we finally received our first substantial rains. On the last day of month the clouds dropped 46 mm of rain in four hours. With all of the rain, the bush has erupted with vibrant green colours making the views around Kwetsani absolutely stunning.

Around Kwetsani the water continues to drop daily. The added rain will help as we continue to boat in the area. Trips to Hunda Island are still ongoing and boat cruises remain some guests' favourite activities.

Wildlife
The lion drama continues to develop in the areas around Kwetsani. During this month we have had two new young male lions move in. They have spent much of their time around northern Kwetsani but have on a few occasions headed south towards Jao Camp. The two lions are very vocal and are constantly scent-marking but remain wary of the Jao Pride male. Everyone has been holding their breaths, waiting for a confrontation - but the two sides seem to be avoiding each other.

Early in the month we were seeing a male lion which we nicknamed "The Intruder". He is a beautiful lion with a deep red mane. Even though he looks in his prime he is very timid and nervous and avoids any conflict. One morning he was chased across the Kwetsani floodplains by the two younger male lions. The guests were having early morning breakfast as the chase began and everyone quickly changed their morning plans and jumped into the vehicles to watch the drama unfold.

For most guests the trips to Hunda Island remain a major highlight. During November, the game viewing was superb. A new lioness with four cubs was seen regularly. It has been some time since lions made Hunda Island a permanent home and we continue to hope that she will stay. The cubs are around one-and-a-half years old and guests have seen their mother trying to teach them to hunt, although very unsuccessfully.

Antelope around Kwetsani Camp    Hyaena around Kwetsani Camp

Another highlight of the month over at Hunda has been the return of the cheetah. Late in the month, a female cheetah and her two cubs were seen. Recently the cheetah have kept away from the Jao Concession because of the amount of water, but with it dropping we expect to see them more frequently.

As always the leopard on Hunda remain top prize. With all of the new lion activity in the area they have needed to be a little more secretive. This in turn has given the guests a great perspective on the tracking aspect of things. Guests always marvel at the way the guides are able to pick up and interpret the tracks they come across. And when it all culminates with the leopard posing on the termite mound they truly are blown away.

One of the most exciting mornings we had at Kwetsani was when a female hyaena and her two pups killed a large male red lechwe next to our kitchen. From the evidence and tracks it was a major struggle for the three to pull down such a large antelope. Eventually they were successful and they dragged the kill between Tents 4 and 5 where guests were able to stand on the walkway and watch them feed on their way to breakfast.

Birds and Birding
As we are now completely immersed into summer, the birdlife is reaching its most magnificent time. The migrant birds have returned to their summer breeding grounds and many have already changed into breeding plumage.

The large congregations of wattled cranes have arrived in the Jao Concession. It is not uncommon to see flocks of up to 50 of them on and around the floodplains. What a pleasure it is to have such special birds making this concession their home.

Just around the camp, we have witnessed some interesting birds making kills! One afternoon, we watched as the resident band of mongoose were foraging near Tent 2 when a yellow-billed kite swooped down and snatched up one of the group's babies. The kite flew right over our heads clutching its prize.

One night as we were walking guests back to their room, we spotted a Verreaux's eagle-owl sitting on a dead tree. Just as we spotted him he swooped down out of the tree and took a mouse and then flew back up to the branch that he had been perched on. A few days later we found the remains of the little creature in the form of an owl pellet on the main deck. Some guests had never seen one before and were very interested in the exciting digestion process of owls.

Guest Comments
"We enjoyed our stay very much - you are very gentle people, we love it here!!"

"Thank you for everything! We had an amazing experience!"

"Outstanding place and people... the drives were exceptional. The managers were awesome. Many thanks to all for everything."

"Wonderful place to celebrate my birthday at! Thank you! Such an exceptional place to stay."

Staff in Camp
Managers: Dan Chaknova and Mandy Sunderland.
Guides: MT Malebogo and Florence Kagiso.

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Jao Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Jao Camp

Weather and Landscape
The weather has changed dramatically from being scorching hot to comfortable. The clouds have been gathering almost every day but with little or no rain. We are still waiting patiently for the teasing to end and the heavens to pour down some decent rains, even we have had a small amount of rainfall during the month. The temperatures have been quite varied this month, with a high of 39° C and a low of 19° C.

Wildlife
What an eventful month, from finding painted reed frogs on our coffee mugs to sitting by in the main area and watching a male lion walk across the open floodplain while we are having breakfast, not to mention the African paradise-flycatchers nesting in a nearby tree - what a great way to start your day!

We have been very lucky here at Jao, since over the last month we have had three new intruders, the kind you hear roaring in the distance looking for new territory or even a new partner perhaps... I am speaking of three young male lions on the prowl. The resident male had better beware, as there is some competition! We have also had the lions in camp on a few occasions which has made moving around back of house a bit tricky.

Seen at Jao Camp

The Jao floodplains are full of lechwe every evening. During the heat of the day there are only a few territorial males to be seen on the floodplains, while the big herds move to the waterways on the edge of the floodplain.

As the water level drops in the Delta, different species move into the concession - we have seen zebra and giraffe throughout the month, with the buffalo herds returning to the area towards the end of the month.

Birds and Birding
The first of the broad-billed rollers have arrived and are showing off with their bright colours and flashy flight. The resident little bee-eater eggs have hatched and the chicks are growing quickly. They are now being fed full-sized dragonflies by the ever-vigilant parents.

Guests have regularly been spotting rosy-throated longclaws out on the floodplains. As the water recedes, fish traps have formed on the peripheries of the floodplain, attracting huge flocks of waders and water birds.

The avian highlight for the month was the arrival of no less than 60 wattled cranes, which have taken up residence around the Jao Hippo Pools. It is fantastic to watch the males perform their elaborate dance in a bid to attract a female.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Theresa Fourie, Bryan Webstock, Neuman Vasco, Retha Prinsloo, Phil Ngisi and Marina Lungu.
Guides: Cruise Mollowakgotta, Alberto Mundu, Simon Tshekonyane and Johnny Mowanji.


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Seba Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Seba Camp

What an extraordinary month we have had! The weather has been simply amazing in the Abu Concession, with lots of sunny hot days, scattered by amazing thundershowers every few days. The plants, in particular the large fever-berries have bloomed into life, creating some amazing luminous green scenery. With this of course, huge numbers of elephant are swarming into the camp area, scoffing up every individual fruit which has fallen from the surrounding fig and mangosteen trees. These pachyderms are quite relaxed in the presence of humans, and this gives the guests an opportunity to enjoy the simply incredible size of these gentle giants from the comfort of camp.

Elephant at Seba Camp    Elephant at Seba Camp

As with the elephant, buffalo are also in the camp vicinity most days - their bulk equally impressive as they walk the pathways in search of better grazing. The resident male leopard has been heard calling several times in the camp late into the night, possibly more active due to all the bushbuck and impala that have found a safe haven around camp. The impala have started to drop their young, and can be seen nursing the youngsters in the floodplains behind camp, creating much entertainment as they frolic around the parents as they learn to use their spindly legs.

As the water has now receded drastically, the breathtaking Seba West area has opened up and is now accessible by vehicle. The massive floodplains in this area have provided prolific game viewing, including a number of great cheetah sightings; these felines have been spotted using the small islands as vantage points to hunt lechwe and impala.

Rainbow over Seba Camp

Big breeding herds of both buffalo and elephant are found in this area too as they feed on the sprouting grasses. With the influx of buffalo into the area, a number of lion prides have been spotted in the area, often lying up on the fringes of the palm thickets, possibly waiting for a buffalo calf to venture too close.

The biggest highlight and surprise in this area, was the sighting of two rhino. This is great news and has caused lots of excitement as rhino have not been seen in the concession for years!

The smaller predators have also provided great sightings as we enjoyed sightings of serval, African civet and small-spotted genets while out on game drive.

On the hyaena side, The Seba Clan is still very active around the camp, and the young cubs are still moving in and around the camp. Night drives have produced some lovely sightings, especially around the airstrip where the clan continue to hunt wildebeest and impala that come and rest there for the nights. The cubs are still looking strong and healthy and the young are now almost the same sizes as the adults - a promising sign for the clan.

Baboons at Seba Camp    Hyaena at Seba Camp

As for the birdlife, most of the summer migrants have arrived and settled in the area, creating so many new sights and sounds. The woodland kingfishers in particular have been enjoyable to watch as they hunt from their perches along the lagoon. Striped and Jacobin cuckoos have arrived in large numbers as their raucous calls are heard all day. The resident African barred owlet pair have started nesting in a large camel-thorn tree outside Tent 8, the male flying back and forth from the small hole with insects and lizards to feed the female and chicks (which can be seen on occasion popping their small fluffy heads out to see the big wide world). Dickinson's kestrels are found often on the dead leadwood trees waiting for any opportunity to hunt small rodents. African purple swamphens have been seen foraging out in the open and on occasion, the Pel's fishing-owl could be heard calling at night.

Staff in Camp
Managers: James Moodie and Claire Bathfield.
Guides: Speedy, Jacko and Joe.

Newsletter and photos by James Moodie.


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Tubu Tree Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Tubu Tree Camp

Weather and Landscape
It was hot and humid - until about the middle of the month, that is - when the amazing thunderstorms started rolling in. For most of the time they just teased us with the sight of rainfall on the horizon, but it wasn't too long a wait, as we finally received some rain. It wasn't much but that 5 mm made the difference for all. As the month drew to a close, we had the pleasure of afternoon rain showers as well as overcast days, which brought relief to the hot days that we had. We look forward to receiving more rain.

Wildlife
The month started off with a bang, so to speak. From the south we had the arrival of a lioness and her three subadult male cubs and one subadult daughter. They have been providing us with some great sightings over the last month, as they move up and down the island in search of prey, and they have not been disappointed. In the beginning, they were extremely cautious of our vehicles, but as the month progressed they became more relaxed with our presence as the cameras clicked away.

Leopard seen around Tubu Tree Camp    Cheetah seen around Tubu Tree Camp

The leopards have also kept guests with their fingers on their cameras. We had a lovely sighting of an elderly female to the south-west of camp - she has only once previously been seen on the island, so it was a privilege to spend almost an hour with her one afternoon as she scent-marked her territory. Meanwhile, in the north we had the return of Keledi with a five-month-old cub - we last saw her about two years ago. This indicates to us that the water levels are really dropping all around us, making crossing the channels easier.

And of course, who can forget the Tubu Female and her two cubs - they also put on a show on numerous occasions. We had a wonderful sighting of the family drinking water one afternoon and it was nice to see that the one cub, who previously always ran away at the approach of the vehicle, seemed to have settled his nerves in their presence.

Waking up to rain one morning, we enjoyed our quick breakfast before heading out on game drive, but not before we were greeted by 14 newly born blue wildebeest running around in the rain. We know that these little ones were all born in the floodplain in front of camp, as we saw the adults settling in for the night just the evening before - and another tell-tale sign was the sight of the mothers eating the afterbirth that had fallen on the ground. It is necessary for the female to do this, as this will cause them to lactate and it also helps remove the scent of a newborn from the soil and away from any predators' olfactory systems.

All over the island we are greeted every day by newly born antelope, as well as zebra, blue wildebeest and giraffe. With the birth of all the youngsters, come the predators that prey on them. On a few occasions this month we were fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your point of view) to see one of our predators with a youngster. But at the end of the day, it is the inevitable cycle of life.

Baboon at Tubu Tree Camp    Baboon at Tubu Tree Camp

One afternoon drive, close to the end of the month, one of our guides spotted something running across the road and he was sure it was not an antelope, so he drove closer and there in the distance were three cheetah - a mother with two subadults. The mom is quite relaxed with the vehicle but the subadults are not and they keep running away. In the days following, we had daily sightings of the family - three times with a kill. It seems they have settled in nicely into the area, we hope they will stay.

Birds and Birding
The woodland kingfishers arrived in the concession around the 3rd of November, and they have been calling almost non-stop since the day they arrived. We have had some regular sightings of Dickinson's kestrel, broad-billed roller and blue-cheeked bee-eater to name just a few.

The bird bath at the top of the steps has been a very busy spot indeed, in the hotter parts of the day, we have a whole variety of birds that come for a drink as well as a bath - cardinal woodpecker, crested barbet, black-collared barbet, lesser honeyguide and Hartlaub's babblers are all common visitors.

Dragonfly

Guest Comments
"Wonderful mokoro trip! Leopard sightings and evening drive with Eloise was fantastic! Thank you so much for a beautiful 20th anniversary dinner! A real surprise. Kambango is a great guide! All in all a fantastic four days."

"GT's knowledge and experience with the wildlife was phenomenal. The staff were all very helpful. We have only one word: FANTASTIC!"

"The friendliness of the welcome and staff. Always helpful, friendly and cheerful. The meal around the boma was great - very interesting to know more about local customs and traditions. Great leopard sighting on our last day. Two honey badger sightings - and a pair both times!"

Staff in Camp
Managers: Hein and Eloise Holton.
Guides: Kambango Sinimbo, GT Sarepito and Gibson Kehemetswe.


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Kalahari Plains Camp update - November 2012               Jump to Kalahari Plains Camp

Weather and Landscape
As expected November was a scorching month with maximum temperatures of 46° C being recorded. The temperature did drop a little towards the month as we received some rain - much to the relief of everyone in the Kalahari.

Wildlife
With the heat and late arrival of rain, most of the month presented very difficult conditions for the wildlife. The wildlife tried to shelter from the sweltering heat by pushing into the woodlands, making game viewing a little challenging, especially around the camp area. We were quite lucky with sightings around Deception Valley as there was a little bit of greenery in that area. Large herds of springbok and oryx were found grazing on this greenery.

Sunset over Kalahari Plains Camp

Dry times call for desperate measures, and this was clear when we found an elephant wandering around our area. This is an incredibly rare sight in the Kalahari. Our guides found a number of elephant tracks around Sunday Pan too. We also sighted two new males in the area which were found feeding on an oryx kill.

Water really is the life giving factor, and this was clear once we received our first rains. Once the rains fell, we started to see quite a number of bat-eared fox pups running around as well as plenty of ground squirrels. The springbok and oryx herds also started to move back into our area.

The Bushman Experience continues to wow our guests as we had many takers this month, which all remarked how much they enjoyed seeing how the local people lived in this area.

Newsletter by Luke Motlaleselelo


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