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AFRICAN SAFARI NEWS

October 2012

(Page 2 of 2)

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

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


South Africa camps
Pafuri Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Pafuri Camp

Weather and Landscape
October was a really good month in terms of weather as we experienced very comfortable conditions, especially considering that we are at the peak of the dry season and summer is moving in rapidly. We experienced slight winds for most of the month, which would often blow in some cloud cover. This cloud cover translated into rain on a few occasions. We received a total of 7.8 mm of rain, and we are now crossing our fingers for more rainfall soon.

Kudu seen at Pafuri Camp

Wildlife
As usual general game in Pafuri is always great. The small tower of giraffe is still around in the concession. Wildebeest and eland were also sighted several times this month. Rhino were seen four times this month, but many signs of their presence have been observed as we came across many middens, rubbing spots and territorial scrapings. The rhino have been following their annual trends as far as their movement patterns are concerned. The best way to view the rhino in the concession continues to be on foot.

Elephant and buffalo are seen on a daily basis as they continue to visit the river on a daily basis. A small herd of buffalo is often seen between Room 20 and the Luvuvuhu Bridge, sometimes coming down in front of the main area. Hlangaluwe, Jachacha and Makwadi Pan are now the areas of choice for the big breeding herds of buffalo which Pafuri is home to. Elephants on the other hand, especially the breeding herds, are seen along the Luvuvuhu River in herds of between 50-60 individuals.

Leopard sightings were a little down at the beginning of the month but soon picked up with these spectacular felines being seen on a regular basis. On the 21st, a mother with two cubs, which we assume are around eight months old, were seen on the Rocky Ridge on Luvuvuhu West leading up to Lanner Gorge. The following day, another female was seen very close to the Nwambi Junction feeding on an impala kill. This sighting just got better, as while we were watching the feeding leopard, another one started calling very close by from the riverine thickets, although we did not get visual of the cat. Another great leopard sighing was the mating pair which was seen along the Mangala floodplains. We ended the month off on a high note when we found the Fever Tree Forest Female (who has two cubs) feeding on a nyala kill. The sighting was very brief, but Godfrey was backing up a walk close by and had a good visual of lion while on foot. In the afternoon, the guides returned to the area and tried to relocate the leopard. They found one of the cubs sitting in a nyala tree watching its mother feed on the carcass. Godfrey and Rob were walking along the river, just south of the sighting a located another lion. When the game drives were finished viewing the feeding leopard, they joined the trails group at the lion sighting.

Birding at Pafuri Camp

Lion sightings have picked up this month, especially towards the end of the month. We had a total of 19 different sightings, which is a big jump up from previous months. It seems that the Pafuri Pride which was made up of 2 lioness and six male cubs has split up. The Cubs are now over two years old, three of them seen mostly along Luvuvuhu West. The other lioness and three cubs are mostly seen along Luvuvuhu East. The other lioness pops up now and again around Hutwini Gorge. In terms of the dominant males of the area, Ramsey was last seen on the 22 July and we fear that he may have ventured to far into Mozambique. Kanu was last seen on the 5 September, so we hope that he returns soon to the area.

The highlight for the month was the jackal den which was discovered with four tiny little pups along Rhino Boma. They were seen at this location for five days before moving off.

Birds and Birding
Birding has been phenomenal this month as many of the migrants return to the area. So far a variety of cuckoos, wattled starlings, blue cheeked bee-eaters and broad-billed rollers have settled in.

A thick-billed cuckoo was seen flying in front of camp in the morning. Pel's fishing-owl was seen a number of times, with three sightings across the river right in front of camp. Other Pafuri specials such as racket-tailed roller, Arnot's chat, black-throated wattle-eye, Dickinson's kestrel and bat hawk. We had a total of 257 species recorded for the month and we are sure next month will only get better.

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Pafuri Walking Trail update - October 2012               Jump to Pafuri Walking Trail

This trails season has broken all records - in terms of occupation, guest satisfaction and awesome sightings on foot. This is surely the ultimate bush experience for guests - imagine spending three nights under canvas amongst the huge ana trees along the Luvuvhu River, away from the tribulations of modern society. Here is a summary of the last trails camp, recently completed in October 2012, to give all a flavour of this stunning experience.

This trail was led by Ian Kruger, a long experienced guide and a man of select words, ably backed up by Nick, Anna and Nadia. Our guests were the lovely Scott family from Stellenbosch, The Scotts had previously experienced Pafuri and had returned to try out the full trails experience. The family arrived at Pafuri Camp, were greeted, briefed and dropped off for their first afternoon walk into trails camp with Ian and Nick whilst Nadia and Anna prepared the camp, tents, drinks and dinner.

leopard killing a young warthog

Highlights of the first walk produced leopard, 30-plus elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile,
trumpeter hornbill and much more. The evening drinks and dinner and the fireside chats were accompanied by group bonding with solifuges and scorpions.

Early morning rise, camp showers and coffee and we were off for a walk to Mashishiti Spring. We soon found fresh lion tracks, klipspringer, buffalo and flowering baobabs were all en route. The group dug deeper into LBJ birding (little brown jobs) and spotted a grey-penduline tit, green- capped eremomelas and spotted flycatcher. Meanwhile Nadia and Anna reset camp with the 'help' of a very awkward bull elephant who hung around camp for days, always at inopportune moments. We named him Dodgy Bob and we will come back to him later.

After a hot midday sleep, refreshing cold showers, we walked along the river to look for the elusive Pel's fishing-owl but instead we bumped into two sleeping lion at close quarters, two more elephants and a small herd of eland very close to camp. In the evening we heard three leopard and some lion calling and saw a female leopard and a spotted hyaena near the tents. We fell asleep to the continuing sounds of hyaena whooping in Hutwini Gorge - the echo repeating spookily in the night.

leopard killing a young warthog     leopard killing a young warthog

The next morning en route to a walk in the Limpopo floodplain, Ian found four lion close to camp. Along the floodplain the birds were abundant, broad-billed rollers, European bee-eaters, Wahlberg's eagle, African harrier-hawk, scarlet-chested sunbird to name but a few. The walk in the fever tree forest was magical, we failed to find the racket- tailed rollers but found a crowned eagle, African cuckoo and wattled starlings. Then a warthog bolted nearby from thick brush, we thought little of it until seconds later a loud squealing behind us caused Ian to turn the group on a dime and witness a leopard killing a young warthog in broad daylight. We could not believe our eyes. The leopard was not aware of our presence, so focused was she on the kill, then she noticed us and ran off. Unbelievably the warthog got up and tottered away, somewhat damaged. We believe the leopard will have followed up to finish off shortly after we departed the scene - what a sighting! The day was finished with a speed walk across Palm Vlei to stay ahead of a very interested herd of 30-plus buffalo intent on finding out all about us.

The afternoon walk around Lanner Gorge was a little quieter, although we did see zebra, crowned hornbill, two magnificent Verreauxs' eagle and aptly, a lanner falcon. We thought we would have a quiet evening but Dodgy Bob invited four friends over and we had an interesting after dark stand-off whilst the five elephants mosied around camp. The pachyderms kept us on our toes as we watched them walk around the periphery of the camp, slipping in and out of the shadows.

The following morning, we found a porcupine rummaging around camp when we all awoke. On the short walk back to the main camp, we encountered a large male lion and a number of elephants. Once we arrived back at Pafuri Camp, we got to enjoy a hot shower and a hearty breakfast before bidding the Scott Family a farewell.

A walking trail is something which you need to try as it will change your life forever...

Nick Baker

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Camp Jabulani update - October 2012              

No report this month.

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Kings Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Kings Camp

No report this month.

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Leopard Hills update - October 2012               Jump to Leopard Hills

The verdant hills are alive with the choruses of all the breeding birds and frogs, the cuckoos are especially vocal after arriving back from their long journey south!

This month was all about the unveiling of the next generation of hunters with no less than 2 litters of leopard, 1 litter of lion and 1 set of hyaena cubs being revealed…read on for images and video!

Sunrises are still very striking…if you can brave the earlier wakeup call that is?

Hyaena at Leopard Hills

Leopards
Hlaba Nkunzi & Metsi
Hlaba Nkunzi high up a marula taking a break from patrolling early in October.

Metsi at Leopard Hills

Nestled right between the territories of both females and their respective den sites, Leopard Hills has truly lived up to our name this month! First it was 6 and a half year old Hlaba Nkunzi, who brought out her little fur ball one rainy afternoon after much anticipation!

Here is the blurry first view we got through the rain drops of Hlaba Nkunzi's cub.

Hlaba Nkunzi's cub

Now for the latest images taken 2 days ago, the growing youngster ventured out onto the rocks and delighted us with a brief glimpse!

Hlaba Nkunzi new cub

The ever watchful eye of Hlaba Nkunzi

The ever watchful eye of Hlaba Nkunzi

Not to be outdone it was then 6 year old Metsi's opportunity to turn it on and actually out perform our favourite leopardess!

Metsi gave us a once in a lifetime display one morning with her cub out on a rock! We are still not sure if Metsi has one or two cubs, this little one below was very brave though.

Enjoy the pictures of the little ones, all estimated to be around the same tender age of 6 weeks!

Metsi's cub about to emerge…look closely!

Metsi with cub

Groomed by a caring mom.

Groomed by a caring mom

Bravely looking out into the world, with a paw firmly attached to mom of course.

Bravely looking out into the world, with a paw firmly attached to mom of course

Getting too brave…mom has to bring him back!

Getting too brave…mom has to bring him back

Metsi's cub peering out from the safe haven.

Metsi's cub peering out from the safe haven

Thlangisa
Still residing up in the north, she surfaces very rarely in the dense environment up there but when she is found she is as playful as always!

Xikavi
A little more scarce this month as she appears to have completed her mating cycle with Dayone male and is back where she is her happiest…amongst the river bushwillows of the Sand river after which she is named!

Shangwa
Also a little scarce this month as the vegetation along the river has become more dense after all the early rain!

Tasselberry

Tasselberry at Leopard Hills

This female is being seen more and more in the south and is fairly comfortable with vehicles, she is a rather large leopardess (look at the size of her head) and has claimed most of the territory in the south!

Kashane

Kashane at Leopard Hills

Here he is atop a termite mound at sunset!

Approaching 7 and a half years, this male always leaves our guests gasping in awe of his size and presence, in his prime and totally in charge! He was seen a few times looking for his favoured prey species as he scoured every termite mound for an active warthog burrow!

Dayone

Dayone at Leopard Hills

A great month of viewing him, see blog article from earlier in October of interesting behavioural interaction between him and old Ndlevane male! Also see video below of him feeding on his scrub hare kill as well as snacking on and rubbing his head in buffalo dung of all things! Possibly to gain minerals lacking in his diet and hide his scent when hunting?

Maxabeni young male

Maxabeni young male

Almost 4 years old and becoming a threat to the territorial males, they must be wary of his presence in the south, especially Dayone male with his first 2 litters of cubs being reared by Hlaba Nkunzi and Metsi! These cubs are currently vulnerable should Dayone be any less than his best!

Lions Selati Coalition

Lions Selati Coalition

The Ximhungwe lionesses kept them a little busy during the beginning of the month and after that they have been focused on lots of patrolling! Very rarely apart during the month, all 4 have been very busy securing their territory after a brief scare from the Majingilane last month! See video of all 4 crossing the Sand river together, looking very formidable and confident!

Ximhungwe pride
Rather elusive this month and mostly split up, all four were finally found together in the last few days and are looking stronger than ever!

Othawa Pride

Licking her lips after feeding on the dead hippo

Licking her lips after feeding on the dead hippo!

One of the lionesses has given birth in a secluded den site on the Sand river, we await our first view of the cubs. The other 2 lionesses are probably close to dropping their litters. See video below of them feeding on a female hippo they found that died in a fight with another female hippo! (First time we have heard of this happening between 2 female hippos)

Spotted Hyaena Den

Spotted Hyaena Den

Very lucky to have discovered a den site this month, there are 2 adventurous young cubs probably around 3 months old and still totally black in colour (They start gaining their spots at around 5 months)

Enjoy the video footage of them below which captures some very interesting anal pasting behaviour between a cub and one of the young adults (looks like an adult female just asserting her dominance over the cub by pasting on top of the little cub's pasting!)

Pack of Painted Dogs that denned here in 2011
Not venturing this side during the month we eagerly await a visit during November so we can see how the pups are faring, the pack consisted of 8 adults and 6 pups when we last saw them in September!

Elephants
Elephant parades have spread out into all the tantalising green undergrowth so it is more of a challenge to locate them but very rewarding when we do as there are lots of young calves around!

Buffalo
The large herd of 500 has given us lots of enjoyment as they have camped in the south feeding on all the lush grasslands! Lucky for them the Selati Coalition have been up in the north along the river the whole month!

Interesting sightings captured in October
Top of the list has to be the young male cheetah that arrived for a few days of exploring here in the west! A really handsome young chap he is!

Cheetah at Leopard Hills

Dayone proudly displaying his scrub hare snack that he caught right in front of us, showing off his incredible speed and agility!

Dayone proudly displaying his scrub hare snack

A juvenile black crowned night heron seen during the day, a rare sight for the birders!

A juvenile black crowned night heron seen during the day, a rare sight for the birders

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Rocktail Beach Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Rocktail Beach Camp

No report this month.

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Rocktail Bay Dive Report - October 2012               Jump to Rocktail Beach Camp

The official date of the start of the Turtle Season may be marked down on the calendar as the 15th of October - but nature does its own thing in its own time. Gugu and Mbongeni (the Rocktail Beach Camp turtle guides) eagerly await the middle of the month to begin the turtle drives, where they take guests on a drive along the beach in the evening to look for female loggerhead and leatherback turtles as they slowly make their way up the beach to lay their eggs.

This month we have been really spoilt with turtle sightings during dives and whilst on ocean experience trips out to sea. On the third day of the month while out on an ocean experience, we watched a large loggerhead turtle happily floating along on the surface. It was very relaxed and not at all bothered that we were there watching from the boat. Often when turtles ascend to take a few breaths of air, they will immediately swim back down again if they see the boat. Turtles are most vulnerable to predators when they are resting on the surface of the ocean so they are generally quite skittish but not this turtle, she was quite happy resting at the surface. In fact a few snorkellers managed to slip into the water and slowly swam up to the turtle. What a surprise they got when the loggerhead female decided she was the one who was going to do the checking out! She swam up to each of the guests in turn - not more than an arm's length away - and gave everyone a thorough inspection - what an amazing experience! Perhaps she thought that the guests were possible male suitors!

Underwater experience at Rocktail Bay    Underwater experience at Rocktail Bay

Clive had a very lucky sighting of a leatherback turtle on the surface, unfortunately it darted back down as soon as it saw the boat, so none of the divers got to see it.

A dive at Elusive turned out to be a case of being in exactly the right place at the right time. Photographer Anthony Grote ended up being perfectly positioned to take a wonderful photograph of a marbled electric ray swimming off the sand and up over a ledge, whilst a honeycomb moray eel chose that exact moment to swim out from under the same ledge. It is quite a sight to see these rays out swimming as they are normally hiding under the sand; the eels are also usually sitting in holes in the reef with just their head sticking out - so to see both of these creatures swimming together is quite special!

Rays have also been a big feature on the dive menu this month, with one being sighted on nearly every dive - we have seen no less than 34 rays this month. One ray in particular was easy to identify - with its crooked tail! This sharp-nose stingray was spotted several times at Pineapple Reef. There have also been lots of blue-spotted ribbontail rays, sharp nose rays, big round ribbontail rays and honeycomb stingrays as well as a porcupine ray!

Underwater experience at Rocktail Bay    Underwater experience at Rocktail Bay

Boris has been up to his usual tricks - he loves sneaking up on divers and sometimes gives them a fright when they turn and see his big shape right next to them! Anthony was so focused on getting a photograph of a honeycomb ray on the sand that he didn't notice Boris who was quietly sneaking up on him. As Anthony moved slowly forward towards the ray, so Boris moved slowly forwards in front of Anthony! Anthony bumped into Boris, completed unaware that he was there and yelled out a big blow of bubbles whilst he hastily jerked away from this huge fish that he had not seen. All the other divers had a good laugh as they watched this whole episode unfold!

There were quite a number of game fish around this month including pick handle barracuda, king mackerel and various kingfish but the most memorable was during an ocean experience. We were all in the water snorkelling when seven big yellowfin tuna swam right past our noses, a sighting none of us will forget in a hurry!

This month, the camp hosted the annual Children in the Wilderness camp. During October every year, Rocktail Beach Camp closes its doors to guests, and opens them to children from the local community. This year 32 children varying in age from 8-14 years old arrived with much excitement, singing and laughter into the camp. They spent seven days learning about the environment and how they can help to protect it. Part of their experience included a trip out to sea with high hopes of seeing dolphins, turtles and maybe even humpback whales! They were really lucky since not only did they see a turtle from the boat but they also watched whales breaching and saw a young humpback whale swimming with about five adult whales. They even saw a pod of bottlenose dolphins which came right up to the boat! What a special trip it was for these children who had never been out on a boat before, let alone seen turtles, dolphins or whales!

Underwater experience at Rocktail Bay    Underwater experience at Rocktail Bay

Now to stories from our storeroom: Our little olive sunbird's eggs have hatched and two baby sunbirds are now calling this their home. Their eyes were still firmly shut for the first week after they hatched, and then two weeks later they had all their feathers. All you can see when you peek around the door is two little beaks sticking out of the nest - it won't be long now until they start flying, leaving their nest in search of tasty morsels and to begin exploring the world outside.

Congratulations to Sheri Friis for completing her PADI Scuba Diving Course.

Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Ondyne
The Rocktail Dive Team

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Zimbabwe Camps
Makalolo Plains update - October 2012               Jump to Makalolo Plains Camp

No report this month.

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Little Makalolo update - October 2012               Jump to Little Makalolo

No report this month.

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Davison's Camp update - October 2012

Weather and Landscape
October was a scorching hot month with temperatures as high as 37 degrees Celsius! We received the first rainfall showers in anticipation of bigger storms in November.

The dry, parched soils were quenched by 12 mm of rain which was all sucked in by the thirsty land. The dry and dull vegetation responded rapidly to the showers as the trees changed to a luscious green colour.

Lion cub at play

Wildlife
The month ended on a very high note with the lion coalition feasting on a buffalo in front of camp. The kill took place in the early hours of the morning right in front of Tent 9. Guests heard some noises in the morning and all wondered what it was, although we were sure that one soul had been lost to the lions. The coalition spent another three to four days guarding its feast jealously and calling every night - providing excitement for the guests.

Elephant have still been coming to the front of camp to drink from the pan, however, only in small numbers as they have spread around the area now. The few that enjoy the "taste" of Ostrich Pan waters still came along together with a procession of zebra, kudu, and baboon to mention but a few. A leopard was also spotted every now and again coming for an evening drink at the waterhole. What a joy to the guests!

Elephants at Davisons' Camp    Elephant playing in the mudd

Birds and Birding
Bird sightings are multiplying as migratory birds are continuously arriving in our concession. Some of these migratory birds have been spotted around the camp as well. The resident racket-tailed roller has been displaying and showing off its beautiful colours along the forest line right in camp while the green wood-hoopoe that was nesting at the camp in the last couple of months has a healthy clutch of chicks now. The nests of tawny eagles and vultures are now painted snow white by the droppings of the fledglings. Finally, the red-crested korhaans have also been seen a number of times doing their elaborate mating displays. This flaunt has left guests wanting some more!

Camp Activities
Last month we completed the construction of our log pile hide and our guests have thoroughly enjoyed using the hide this month, as some incredible sightings were enjoyed. Viewing the wildlife at close range while they wallow in the mud is really exciting and creates some amazing photo opportunities.

Guest Comments
"The welcoming and kindness of the staff, the very delicious meals, and our guide who found the leopard on the last night. It was all great."

"Lovely and clean camp, very comfortable. Food was great, excellent wildlife up to beyond expectation. Staff on the ball! Great wildlife viewing."

"The welcome and helpfulness of the staff. Beautiful camp - really lovely and a special place to visit. Excellent game drives and it was great to be so near the animals. I definitely want to come back."

"We are so sad to that we have to leave this paradise."

Staff in Camp
Managers: Themba, Buhle and Eugene.
Guides: Themba, Brian, Robert and Livingstone.

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Ruckomechi Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Ruckomechi Camp

Weather and Landscape
This month we experienced some hot and windy conditions, but no rain to date.

In the mopane forests, the spring flush is starting to come through, the beautiful jasmine trees are flowering - giving a sweet scent to the environment on night drives. The wild mangoes have started to fruit and so have the large fever berries. Some of the pioneer grass species have also burst into bloom, covering the ground in a sea of green.

Wildlife
October was a very rewarding month in terms of game viewing. Animals were seen in large numbers along the floodplain on a daily basis: The likes of elephant, buffalo and plains game such as zebra, waterbuck, warthog and impala.

Lion seen on Game Drive    Elephant herd seen on Game Drive

A large number of elephant were seen crossing the river to the islands across from camp to feed. The highlights for the month included the cheetah - which showed up after disappearing for a long time from the area and is now seen regularly - and our resident lioness ("the old gal") has successfully produced a cub, which is fantastic, as there are other young cubs in the pride - allowing for the mothers to allo-suckle. We also had a great sighting of a mating pair of lion. Still on the feline side of things, we had a great sighting of a leopard with her young cub.

Other great sightings for the month included wild dog, spotted hyaena and African civet.

Birds and Birding
October has always given us spectacular bird viewing and it is interesting to realise the special species that have been seen this time: Pel's fishing-owl, gabar goshawk (melanistic form), peregrine falcon - but nothing really catches the eye more than the first fishing attempt by a juvenile fish eagle. For the whole season we have watched the breeding behaviour of this particular African fish-eagle family, from incubation to the first flight of the fledgling this October. It has been a privilege joining them on their life's journey.

Fish Eagle at Ruckomechi Camp    The Old Gal with her cub

Guest Comments
"What a fantastic camp in a beautiful location with wonderful staff. Our guide Bono was excellent and shared great information. I loved the diversity of activities as well as the diversity of the concession. Wild dogs were definitely a highlight."

"The general atmosphere at Ruckomechi was magical. Variety of game and landscape, wonderful people and great game sightings. Thanks to all the staff members especially Dharmesh and Sandy."

"The view was breathtaking - great wildlife. Thank you for everything."

Staff in Camp
Managers: Carel, Juliette, Sandy and Dan.
Guides: Gadreck, Kevin, Champion and Dharmesh.

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Mana Canoe Trail update - October 2012               Jump to Mana Canoe Trail

As the season has progressed we have noted the gradual changes that the year brings. The start of the season, June and July, have the chill of winter in the air, progressing on to the high winds of August, before the sweltering heat of October, and finally November with its huge rain clouds building on the horizon and the promise of much-needed rain. The temperatures in the Zambezi Valley were very high this month, as the mercury was often pushed to the 40° C mark.

Southern-carmine bee-eaters     Dragonfly seen at Mana Canoe Trail

The vegetation in Mana Pools has its own regular cycle with the change of the seasons. Many of the trees lose their leaves and store all their nutrients in the cambium layer (the inner bark) or the roots. Unfortunately for most animals, (except the elephant) this means the nutrients are almost unusable. There are a few trees that are therefore the main source of food during the dry season - most famously, the ana tree, or winter-thorn as it is otherwise known. It is called this as it produces its leaves and pods in winter, which makes it a lifesaver for the herbivores of Mana Pools.

The mighty Zambezi has thrown us a few challenges this season but Henry, our lead guide, has coped well and seen that every one of our guests fully experiences the Zambezi and its way of life. Towards the end of the season we started making use of the many smaller channels braiding the shoreline of Mana Pools National Park. The use of these channels means you are much closer to the wildlife, as they twist and turn, cutting through the floodplain, and crowded with the resident species.

As expected, the game viewing this season has been incredible. Early in the season, with many pans and surface water around the park, game was spread out making use of the huge expanse of surface water away from the river, south towards the Zambezi Escarpment. As the season progressed and the surface water slowly started to dry up, the animals made their annual local migration from further inland towards the river, the only reliable source of water in the park during the dry months. Huge congregations of mixed game can now be found on the floodplains, awaiting the life-giving rain.

Elephant at Mana Canoe Trail

The birdlife in the Zambezi Valley has been exceptional. Towards the end of the season, the migratory species started moving back into the area. The most noticeable was the southern-carmine bee-eaters who nest in the high sandbanks along the river. In their huge colonies these beautiful birds make a stunning sight. The African skimmers have been spotted sitting on a nest on an island; this is very exciting as these rare birds are very sensitive to any changes in the environment, including climatic changes.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Daniel and Russel.
Guides: Henry and Matthew.

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Zambia camps
Toka Leya Camp update - October 2012
              Jump to Toka Leya Camp

Weather and Landscape
Normally the month of October is dreaded by everyone and dubbed the 'suicide month' as in usual cases temperatures tend to rise to astronomical levels. However this hasn't been the case this year, as the highest temperature recorded was about 39 degrees Celsius. The weather even got better in the third week when we had some unexpected rain for two consecutive days. This was followed by almost a week of an overcast and cool temperature which was most welcome weather for the month.

The beauty of the bush has really been enhanced by the new shoots on all the trees and the glistening and shiny new mopane leaves are such a beauty to look at. This is definitely the wonder of nature as the little rain we had turned everything from the mixed colours of green and brown to all green and a fantastic change to the wildlife as there is now an abundance of food available. The grass and a plethora of wild flowers have also started sprouting.

Bee-eaters at Toka Leya Camp    Sunset over Toka Leya Camp

Wildlife
The Zambezi River continues to drop, but it won't be too long now before the rains start and the levels go up again. This will bring a different view of the river from the Toka Leya bar, as one sits and sips sundowner drinks looking at the protruding rocks, and the colours on the water as the sun sets.

The wildlife has really surprised all the guests as most don't really think of game viewing when they come to Livingstone. For most, all they have in mind is the Victoria Falls and much to their surprise, the variety of game they see here always goes down well. The outstanding variety of birds in the area further enriches the wildlife experience at Toka Leya.

Huge herds of buffalo have been seen in the area, often coming to the river banks to drink. As the new grasses are sprouting all over the area, these big buffalo herds will split up and form smaller splinter groups. The bulk grazers are still in great condition despite the dry conditions.

At the beginning of the month, a young bull elephant arrived in the vicinity of camp. It was immediately clear that this poor mammal had a wire snare around his leg, most likely due to a subsistence poacher on the outskirts of the conservation area. The young bull stuck around for some time, which allowed us to get a vet in. Once the snare was removed, it was clear that the elephant was much more comfortable. He has remained in the area, and is often seen hanging around the camp.

A number of bushbuck have also taken a liking to the camp area, some of them becoming quite habituated to the presence of people - allowing for great photographic opportunities.

Elephant herd at Toka Leya Camp    Elephant at Toka Leya Camp

Guest Comments
"The staff attention to our every need was beyond any we have experienced before. Keep doing what you are doing."

"Thoroughly enjoyed the staff and their attention to our well-being. The field trips were fascinating with the variety of animals. The cultural trip was amazing too!"

"It was an incredible adventure! Our accommodation was awesome. The food was plentiful and delicious. The guides were very knowledgeable and it was very obvious that they loved their job, country and surroundings. They are the best!"

Staff in Camp
Managers: Petros and Gogo Guwa, Jackie Munakombwe, Amon Ngoma and Muchelo Muchelo.

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Lufupa River Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Lufupa River Camp

No report this month.

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Lufupa Tented Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Lufupa Tented Camp

No report this month.

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Kalamu Lagoon Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Kalamu Lagoon Camp

Weather and Landscape
It is hard to believe that we are at the end of season; sadly this is our last newsletter for a successful 2012.

Traditionally October is the hottest month of the year in South Luangwa and this year was no exception, temperatures reaching as high as 44° C. Zambia has experienced its first thunderstorms, but Luangwa has not received any substantial rains yet. This has allowed us easy traversing for both drives and walks.

Lioness at Kalamu Lagoon Camp    Wildlife at Kalamu Lagoon Camp

Wildlife
Undoubtedly, the wildlife population at Kalamu has noticeably escalated. The game viewing from camp and out on walks and game drives has been excellent. The elephants are around in huge numbers and a very relaxed herd has come to the lagoon on numerous occasions to wallow in mud and finish up the little water remaining. A large herd of buffalo has also been utilising the remains of the water.

We have lost count of the leopard sightings as they have been spotted on many occasions. A female was spotted with two young cubs and was very relaxed in the presence of the vehicle, allowing us a wonderful view. A mating pair was seen at the Munina River Confluence which marks it as the second sighting of this occurrence this season. The highlight was a leopard taking down a scrub hare in front of the game drive vehicle which really excited our guests.

The resident wild dog pack currently consists of four adults and four puppies. The pack was spotted twice at the beginning of the month around the Chamunjiri area, about 10 kilometres south of camp. The dogs have moved to this area due to the presence of lion in their usual home range.

Elephant at Kalamu Lagoon Camp      Hyaena at Kalamu Lagoon Camp

Spotted hyaena have been seen regularly, often running around the camp are at night. On one occasion, we saw 39 hyaena feeding on a giraffe carcass.

In addition to all this predatory action, general game sightings have been fantastic! We have enjoyed a number of roan sightings. They truly are a beautiful species of antelope which often visit the Kalamu area in dry conditions. We also had great sightings of Thornicroft's giraffe, zebra, kudu and waterbuck.

Birds and Birding
The birding this month has been fantastic with the arrival of the summer migrants, which are swarming to the drying pans. The first yellow-billed kites were seen early in the month and have already set about building their nests. Abdim's Storks have also begun to form huge flocks. Pelicans, yellow-billed and woolly-necked storks are all over the lagoon.

Guest Comments
"Kalamu exceeded our expectations."

"The staff was wonderful and caring, the guides were outstanding, and we wished we could stay longer and hope to come back."

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Shumba Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Shumba Camp

No report this month.

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Kapinga Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Kapinga Camp

No report this month.

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Busanga Bush Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Busanga Bush Camp

Weather and Landscape
Busanga Bush Camp is at the end of its 2012 season and we must say that the month of October has been a very exciting one. Weather wise, we have had some rains on certain days, causing the heat to cool off a little - just enough for a comfortable afternoon siesta, followed by an action packed game drive in the afternoon.

As we edge closer to the rainy season, the environment has started to bloom with a myriad of new life and vibrant colour.

Wild dogs at Busanga Bush Camp    leopard hunt and kill an impala

Wildlife
The month of October has just been amazing and breathe taking. Our guests have had some great lion sightings both up the fig trees and on ground and on one occasion, the lions were also spotted killing a puku?a very dramatic sighting. Two new additions were added to the Busanga Pride this month, as one of the females gave birth. We were treated to some great sightings of these tiny fluff balls as the mother was very relaxed in the presence of the vehicles.

Wild dogs have also made a sterling appearance this month. As always, witnessing these special predators is always a favourite amongst our guest and is truly a special encounter not to be forgotten.

Trebling the predator offerings this month, we witnessed a leopard hunt and kill an impala. Cheetah and serval were also seen this month.

General game viewing was fantastic as we had no stop action and activity all over the plains. Some of the species which we encountered were roan, kudu, red lechwe, oribi and sable.

Lion seen around Busanga Bush Camp    Roan mating

Birds and Birding
Birding this month has been phenomenal as our guests had the opportunity to see many beautiful Busanga birds, especially since the summer migrants have arrived. Some of the interesting birds which we ticked off the list were: pallid harrier, Wahlberg's eagle, great-white pelican, Caspian plover, lesser-grey shrike, red-backed shrike and lesser kestrel but to mention a few.

Guest Comments
"Such a lovely place with lovely people. The sightings were great -thank you for sharing this wonderful experience with us."

"It was a great stay at Busanga - the sightings were phenomenal."

"Fantastic - lions after lions, it was just action packed. We hope the new cubs grow strong and fast."

"It is hard to leave this place. Everything is just fantastic - great staff top it off."

Staff in Camp
Managers: Cynthia. N. Kazembe
Guide: Isaac Kalio

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Malawi camps
Mvuu Camp update - October 2012
               Jump to Mvuu Camp

Weather and Landscape
For most of October, temperatures have been extremely hot and miniature whirlwinds have been forming through the park. These windy updrafts are one of the many signs indicating the coming of the rains - as it is often winds from other small storms and local thunderstorms that cause these minor spiralling wind formations to occur and as if on cue, the end of October brought with it some mild yet refreshing rainfall.

Wildlife
Game viewing has been wonderful this month with excellent sightings thanks to a combination of dried up vegetation and scorching heat - both of which causes wildlife of all kinds to flock to the river. Huge herds of elephant, sometimes in excess of 300, would make their way down to the Shire during the midday heat - this is quite a sight to behold and our guests were blown away by this.

The Lichtenstein's hartebeest have been calving this month as we have seen many newborns running around. We have had some sensational sightings of lion, pangolin and black rhino.

Crocodile killing another crocodile    Crocodile killing another crocodile

Some of the highlights for the month included:
Duncan and his guests spotted a crocodile making a dramatic kill along the river close to Mvuu Lodge, but what made this even more interesting was the fact that it was a cannibalistic kill - a larger crocodile killing and eating a smaller individual.

Titus, the resident male lion, was also spotted this month relaxing on the road to Chinguni Gate. Plans are being put in place to translocate some female lions to the area in a bid to create a breeding nucleus and viable lion population in the park.

On the rhino side of things, we are thrilled to have an extensive microchip implantation programme take place over the next couple of weeks. This will help with our research and conservation of this species in the Malawi. By completing this programme we will also be further aiding in the fight against rhino poaching.

Birds and Birding
This month we have found a white-backed night-heron incubating her eggs just behind the guide's office. Another very unusual sighting was that of an African fish-eagle feeding on a reed cormorant - we are not sure if the eagle caught and killed the cormorant, or if it was scavenging off the carcass, as fish-eagles are known to scavenge.

Porcupine at Mvuu Camp    Rhino sighting at Mvuu Camp

Some of the other species seen for the month were red-necked falcon, Pel's fishing-owl, African barred owlet, palm-nut vulture, African cuckoo hawk, brown-breasted barbet and black-chested snake-eagle amongst others.

Community News
Nandumbo Clinic caters for many community members living around Liwonde National Park and is run by H.E.L.P. Malawi with logistical support being provided by Wilderness Safaris. Although the clinic is found just 150 metres off the main road, it has been difficult for many community members to find with ease so the Mvuu Team and Wilderness Safaris arranged for a signpost to be donated to help people from the community find the clinic more easily.

Newsletter by Christopher, Angel, Danger, Duncan, Mcloud, Jim, Mathews, Henry and Frank.


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Mvuu Wilderness Lodge update - October 2012               Jump to Mvuu Camp

No report this month.

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Mumbo Island update - October 2012               Jump to Mumbo Island

We were delighted to discover our island on the front cover of the latest issue of SA Country Life this month!

The cover photograph right shows Mumbo Island's jetty with our island ferry about to arrive. The story, written by well-known travel feature writer, Dale Morris, recommends a sojourn on Mumbo to recover from the exhaustion of all the early mornings and driving of the typical African safari - and he is quite right!

In his words; "Mumbo Island, my chill-out destination for the next few days, is probably the nicest of the many islands dotted across Lake Malawi, and is certainly the most romantic by far ... next time I'll be sure to bring my wife."

As we are so fond of saying on the island, "Mumbo's not heart-shaped for nothing!" It always works its special magic!

Newsletter by Tracey

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Chelinda Lodge update - October 2012

Weather and Landscape
Although temporarily darkened by fires, the plateau should be back to its green splendour very soon (especially with the expected rains on the approach). We've been experiencing some incredibly hot days on the Nyika, but it does get significantly cooler by dusk.

Wildlife
Leopards on the Nyika have not been spotted as often as usual this month, but eland and roan antelope sightings have continued to be brilliant.

A clan of hyaena on the northern loop of the plateau have been seen with a new addition - their young cub. In spite of their reputation as scavengers, spotted hyaena are incredibly interesting and intelligent. They are thriving on the Nyika and have in many instances come away as the apex predator in many situations. They are efficient hunters that can bring down large prey such as zebra. Females provide only for their own cubs rather than assist each other (the way lions do), while males display no paternal care at all. We hope to keep everyone updated on the cub's progress and are keeping our fingers crossed for many more sightings.

Two side-striped jackals at Chelinda Lodge    Zebra seen around Chelinda Lodge

Some of the highlights for the month included the following:
A checkered-elephant shrew was spotted running through the undergrowth close to Juniper Road. This intriguing mammal is not a real shrew - it's more closely related to aardvarks and hyraxes. This particular species, despite its minuscule size, is a swift runner and can make leaps of almost three feet. Its keen senses of sight, hearing and smell serve it well by alerting it quickly to danger.

We spotted two serval hunting in the fields near Chelinda Bridge, and a few days later a lone serval was also seen near Nganda Road (close to the airstrip). Serval lead solitary lives and come together in pairs only for a few days when the female is in heat.

In the middle of the month we spotted a leopard walking through the bracken ferns near Sangule. This is the only leopard sighting we've had for the month, but we're sure that summer will bring on many more sightings in the next few months.

Finally, two side-striped jackals were seen hunting near Chelinda Bridge (close to Dam 3).

Birds and Birding
This month we've spotted the following special birds: white-starred robin, Schalow's turaco and white-tailed eliminia in the juniper forest. Our guides also spotted a wattled crane feeding in the grasslands near the juniper forest. Other birds you can expect to see on the Nyika at this time of year include Malawian batis, bar-tailed trogan, African cuckoo hawk, Montague's harrier, mountain-yellow warbler and evergreen-forest warbler.

Newsletter by Sam, Apollo, Whyte and Stanford

 


Namibia camps
Desert Rhino Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Desert Rhino Camp

No report this month.


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Palmwag Lodge update - October 2012               Jump to Palmwag Lodge

No report this month.


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Doro Nawas Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Doro Nawas Camp

Weather
This month we experienced the onset of summer, but we were still offered some Comfort from the cool westerly winds during the evenings and mornings. Once these winds died down, the midday temperatures would peak around 32-38° C, dropping down to around 16° C.

Wildlife
This month was definitely the month of big cats at Doro Nawas as we enjoyed two different sightings of cheetah as well as a couple sightings of the desert lions which currently have a litter of cubs. This is great news for the species and we hope that these cubs will reach adulthood and disperse into the area. On one occasion, we came across a pride of lion with seven cubs while they were all feeding on an oryx carcass. This was awesome as we were able to get quite close to the feeding felines and observe them for some time - the guests were blown away by this sighting.

A small cheetah family was also found feeding, when Wilhelm and his guests found the two adult females with three young cubs feeding on a springbok carcass.

General game sightings have been good, as the herbivores enthusiastically follow the sprouting vegetation.

Sunset over Doro Nawas Camp

Camp Activities
Surprise bush breakfasts have gone down really well with all of our guests this month.

The camp choir has put in some exceptional effort and have literally wowed our guests with their energetic performance.

Another highlight for the month was when a group of guests returned to camp after an elephant tracking excursion. The y returned as the sun was setting with the idea of enjoying some sundowners on the roof deck. This is exactly what they did with the added surprise of the Oscar Herd of elephant which were peacefully feeding in front of Room 2 - what a great way to enjoy the sunset!

Guest Comments
"The bush breakfast was amazing as we could hear the lions roar will we ate. Our guide Michael was fantastic and was very knowledgeable."

"The surprise breakfast outside was fantastic!"

Staff in Camp
Managers: Agnes Bezuidenhout, Jason Lundon, Emsie Skrywer and Schalk T. Burger.
Guides: Richardt Orr, Ignatius Khamuseb, Michael Kauari and Wilhelm Ashipolo.

Newsletter for this month done by:
Ignatius Khamuseb
Emsie Skrywer


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Damaraland Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Damaraland Camp

No report this month.

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Skeleton Coast Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Skeleton Coast Camp

No report this month.

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Serra Cafema Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Serra Cafema Camp

No report this month.

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Ongava Tented Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Ongava Tented Camp

Weather and Landscape
October has been a very hot month. The middle of the day is the hottest part of the day with temperature reaching 42° C in the shade. Everyone is searching for some shade that promises some relief from the heat. The evenings are still very nice and cool even though we have been having quite a bit of wind in the evening.

In the afternoon we have also seen an increase in the build-up of clouds, preparing us for the possibility of some rain. We were also lucky to have two small showers with a few drops of rains in the middle of the night.

Rhino notching project    Rhino notching project

Wildlife
This month has been great for lion sightings, as the resident pride has been very active around camp and the surrounding areas. The pride is growing at a rapid rate, as there are currently 13 cubs and four adult females. Most of the sightings have occurred at night, and as the sun dips below the horizon, the lion audio begins as these felines prepare for their nightly forays. The pride has visited the camp waterhole a number of times.

Rhino sightings have been really good too, showing how active conservation and protection benefits the conservation of this vulnerable species. The great news is that many of the cows have young calves, ensuring the future of the species in the area. Both black and white rhino have been seen, with white rhino being seen more often.

The camp waterhole has produced some really fantastic sightings too, as most of the surface water in the area has already evaporated. One of the highlights was the sighting of a pair of cheetah which came for a drink as the guests were going to sleep. Apart from this sighting, cheetah have been seen a couple of times whilst out on game drive, as well as a number of leopards too.

Etosha has provided some top class sightings too as huge concentrations of zebra, springbok and black-faced impala have been seen. Elephants have been fairly scarce, especially sightings of big herds, as they have already started moving further north in anticipation for the rains.

Rhino notching project

Research and Conservation
The Ongava Research Centre has been very busy this month as they undertook their annual rhino notching project. The aim was to dart eight white rhino in order to obtain blood samples and to ear notch the individuals. A new development in this annual practice is that the guests in camp were involved, allowing for a hands on experience. The procedure took two days to be completed and everything ran smoothly.

Guest Comments
"Me-Gusto was a terrific guide, he not only took us to see hundreds of animals and birds but was able to tell us so much about them. The food was very good and the staff was efficient and courteous. We loved hearing the lions roar at night."

"Watching the lion cubs playing at the waterhole while sipping a cold beer - fantastic! The sundowners excursion, a full day into Etosha - Brilliant."

"Walking in the early morning to watch white rhino, catching sight of cheetah. We really enjoyed the whole experience."

Staff in Camp
Managers: Silvia Morgante, Corne Cocklin, Inge Kambatuku and Festus Eiseb.
Guides: Rio Aibeb, Leon Basson, Bono Gauseb and Me-Gusto Busch.

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Little Ongava update - October 2012               Jump to Little Ongava Camp

No report this month.

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Ongava Lodge update - October 2012               Jump to Ongava Lodge

No report this month.

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Andersson's Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Andersson's Camp

No report this month.

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Little Kulala Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Little Kulala Camp

Weather and Landscape
There were no surprises in the weather this month as we experienced the expected hot and dry conditions. As we edge further and further into summer, the midday temperatures get hotter and hotter, but we have been afforded some comfort by the cooling westerly winds which blow inland from the cold Atlantic Ocean. These cool breezes make the afternoons really quite comfy.

great swallow nesting under roof

Wildlife
As reported last month, the camera traps that we placed at the waterhole in front of camp are proving to be a great tool - a number of great pictures were captured. Large herds of Hartmann's mountain zebra have moved into the area and have provided our guests with some great photographic opportunities. The sprouting vegetation in the reserve is attracting these bulk grazers, which have the added benefit of drinking from the dry season waterholes.

One of the special occasions this month was when we saw a small herd of oryx at the waterhole in front of the main area. This herd had a really young calf with them - it was still very unstable on its legs - but it was very playful and boisterous.

Herd of Oryx    Zebra at drinking hole

On the birding side of things, a great swallow has decided to nest under one of the thatch roofs at camp. Olwen Evans was at camp and managed to get some wonderful images of this bird feeding its chicks. The chicks have grown rapidly and should leave the nest soon. It was really a great experience for us to watch the progress of these little ones on a daily basis.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Ivan, Ilze, Lona, Lynette, Heinrich, Queen, and Elizabeth.
Guides: Abner, Teek, Nicklas, Willem, Willy and Petrus.

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Kulala Desert Lodge update - October 2012               Jump to Kulala Desert Lodge

No report this month.

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Kulala Wilderness Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Kulala Wilderness Camp

No report this month.

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Kenya camps
Governors' Camp update - October 2012               Jump to Governors' Camp

Weather and grasslands
This month we have hot days and cool mornings with strong winds picking up in the afternoons that sometimes kicked up dust like swirling rooster tails. Pastel Sunrises gave a welcome warmth to the start of the day.

Early morning temperatures average at 18°C with midday being a warm 28-30°C, evening temperatures are around 25°C. The grasslands are short although still holding out, the large numbers of reliant grazers not being present. The Mara River is progressively getting lower. There was a little rain over the month with 78 mm altogether with much of this falling during mid month. On the 28th we received 14.5 mm and 12.5 mm fell on the 27th at 6.00pm with quite a lot of hail. Little Governors had more rain with a total of 92.5mm.

Sunset over Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

General game
This month more wildebeest and a few zebra came through from the conservation areas in the north east. Elephant in small herds can be seen frequenting the woodlands and Musiara Marsh areas. A herd of eland has been residing in the marsh grassland verges. Many more topi and Cokes Hartebeest calves are being born, serval cats being seen more ofte as well.

Wildebeest
More crossings this month!!!
More resident wildebeest have been crossing the Mara River back and forth at the main crossing points. On the afternoon of the 5th there was a large crossing with about 50 animals that did not make it and one taken by crocodile. Guests had been waiting two days for this crossing to take place and watched patiently as numbers grew larger as they massed prior to crossing. During the first two weeks there were wildebeest crossing on a near daily basis, many of these animals are residents that came down from the conservation area and would circle back around via the Talek River. They seemed to cross every second or third day and many of them perished at certain crossing points where the exit is to hazardous for the large numbers that continue to build up. On the 13th an estimated 1,500 Wildebeest crossed at the main crossing point in the afternoon. Many of them struggled up the other side due to wet rocks; one was taken by a crocodile. These are the resident Loita Wildebeest. On the 14th at 11.00am more crossed again at mortuary and two were taken by crocodile, these wildebeest kept crossing back and forth which spurred the crocodiles into a feeding frenzy.

Wildebeest migration crossing
Photo courtesy of Felicity Simpson

Leopard – 2 cubs near the BBC camp site which are approximately 1 month old.

Charm (Marsh lioness) – 3 cubs at Silanga near Bila Shaka and approximately 1 month old.

Thomson Gazelles crossing at Paradise – on the 28th at 11.00am 20 tried cross. 12 came back, two were taken by crocodile and 6 managed to get to the other side.

There are a few zebra within Bila Shaka, Paradise and Musiara Plains and there are more concentrations of them up on Topi Plains. There are still good numbers of resident wildebeest near the double crossing on the south east side of Rhino Ridge.

On the southern grassland plains of Posse and Burrangat towards Keekorok and the sand river there are still large herds congregating here. Large herds also in the triangle on the Eluai plains and the salt lick area.

The big migration
Photo coutesy of Collin Welensky

Topi with young calves can be seen all over with good sightings of them on Topi Plains, Musiara Marsh, Paradise and in the conservation areas to the East of the reserve. Many Calves can be seen in Crèches as females graze nearby.Cokes hartebeest also have calves and are well spread out. A small herd of common eland has been frequenting the Marsh from time to time also a herd of young males have been passing through. As males age, their coat becomes more grey. Males also have dense fur on their foreheads and a large dewlap on their throats and can weigh in as much as 1,000kg.

Impala at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Maina Wachira

Defassa waterbuck and regular Impala can be seen throughout the riparian woodlands and marsh. Large troops of Olive baboons forage on the grassland plains with young infants at six weeks old learn to jockey style on their mother's backs. Adult males in the groups will also care for the infants, as are likely to be related to them as a form of Altruistic behavior.

Elephant come and go and seem to spend late mornings in the marsh, Elephant love cooling themselves with mud or water and this becomes a habitual pastime. A rich habitat that includes marshes and woodland can keep an elephant's home range to a mere 14 sq km. On the whole 85% of the Elephants diet is taken with grasses and shrubs and the 15% from a woodland habitat.

Elephant herd at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Adrian Perry

Warthog and piglets ranging from ages of a few weeks to three months old can be seen spread out across all open grasslands. The resident lion have no started to depend on them as a favorite food source.

Buffalo males are resident within the marsh and can be seen daily in groups of 6-8 together. The large breeding herd spends most of their time within the grasslands of the Bila Shaka river course where the coarse grasses form a grazing pattern for them.

More serval cats have been seen recently with good sightings of them avidly feeding of rodents and birds. Scrub hares are nocturnal so early mornings and evenings can be good time to see them. Hares and rabbits and other related species are coprophagus in that the re-ingest their first pellet in the early hours of the morning and produce a normal pellet later. These hares do not have a complex ruminant digestive system. Instead they are hindgut fermenters that digest cellulose via microbial fermentation. By ingesting the first fecal pellet they are able to extract further nutrition from grass by giving their food a second pass through the gut. Soft fecal pellets of partially digested food are excreted and generally consumed immediately. Consuming these cecotropes or 'night feces' is important for adequate nutritional intake of vitamin B12. They also produce normal droppings, which are not eaten. This type of re-ingestion to obtain more nutrients is not much different to the chewing of the cud in ruminants which is termed rumination.

Good Bushbuck sightings in the early mornings or evenings near to the woodland fringes with dark chocolate colored males coming out and can forage socially with impala and baboons.

Bushbuck at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Collin Welensky

Two Hippo calves have been taken by Crocodile a little downstream of Il Moran Camp. Socks the young male who spends most of his time the other side of the Mara River was seen on the 28th in Camp, Socks is quite a special Hippo with his pink feet!!

Thompson Gazelles have more young fawns; mortality is high with predation by black backed Jackals being most prevalent. Two lots of Thompsons have crossed the Mara River at Paradise and one such crossing was seen on the 28th at 11.00am with two being taken by crocodile and 6 managing to get across.

Rhino have been seen on paradise plains and this one of two males although sightings have been far and between.

Butterflies: Two species of the swallowtails can be seen in the forest. Both sexes of the Mocker swallowtail and also the green banded swallow tail. The Mocker swallowtail is also known as the flying handkerchief, the females of this species are Polymorphic by mimicking other toxic species, this is known as Batesian mimicry which is a form of mimicry where a harmless species has evolved to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species directed at a common predator.

Butterfly at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Katie mcLellan

Cats
Lion

The Marsh pride continues to grow with lots of small cubs around – Siena and another younger lioness with six cubs that are four months old, seem to spend much of their time within the Marsh and Bila Shaka areas and have been feeding off buffalo, wildebeest and zebra. One of the cubs is a little smaller and this one was born to Bibi who rejected it soon after Siena gave birth. Siena often still does the hunting while the other lioness look after the cubs. Modomo and another lioness have 4 cubs which are 3 months old; two belong to Modomo and the other two to the lioness. Modomo and her cubs are still in Kries lugga.

Lion cub at play
Photo courtesy of Sarah Brennecke

Charm has three little cubs that are about one month old and she is near the Bila Shaka towards a tributary known as Silanga.

The Marsh Lionesses have been feeding off warthog, wildebeest and buffalo.

The four musketeers are being seen near the Marsh and Bila Shaka with Scar and Hunter mainly together. Often Scar spends time with Siena and the younger lioness, we often see the cubs move close and play with scar and this is true altruistic behaviour with the cubs being kin. Hunter does not tolerate these cubs too well and will move away when approached.

Lion at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Collin Welensky

Joy's 3 male sub adult cubs that are 18 months old are in the Bila Shaka and Topi Plains area. The one sub adult that was thin for a long time died on the 12th October near Topi Plains and this was inevitable due to a deep wound near his spine.

Morani and Sikio are frequenting south side of Bila Shaka.

Notch and the four brothers are being seen in the Ol Keju Ronkai area on the Posse Plains, they have fed off the many buffalo that are resident around here.

The Lioness Nyota and her male cub Moja who is 10 months old has been seen between Rhino Ridge and the Talek River, recently she has been seen near Emarti hill. They have fed on the many wildebeest and zebra that passed through here.

The Paradise Pride of lions comprises 4 females and two four month old cubs and the two '4km' male lion one of which has a beautiful dark mane. They have fed on the many wildebeest that have passed through here. One of the lionesses was very apt at hunting as the wildebeest massed before they crossed and in the chaos and melee as the wildebeest prepare to lunge into the river.

Lion cubs at play
Photo courtesy of Sue Lawless

The Olkiombo lion pride of 12 including their 2 cubs which are 12 months old, 8 females and 2 males which are 2-3 years old, are in the open plains area near the riverine woodlands at the bottom end of the Ntiaktiak River and the Olkiombo airstrip. They have been feeding off wildebeest and zebra.

Cheetah
Malaika and her one cub that is six months old were last being seen on the Burrangat plains and we understand she is near look out hill.

The MNC female cheetah with one male cub that is estimated at 14 months old had moved out back to the Mara North conservancy by the 10th, she was here in the Musiara area for nearly two months, on the 28th she and her cub were seen back on Topi plains so good to have her back.

The female Cheetah with two cubs that are estimated at four months has been seen near the conservation area on the Ntiaktiak. She is feeding off impala, young warthog piglets and again Thomson Gazelle.

Cheetah at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Maina Wachira

Another female is being seen near the Murram pits close to Intrepids she has also been seen on the south side of the Ntiaktiak River, this area is all Maasai conservancy and with short grasses there are many ungulates that would suit a cheetahs needs.

The female cheetah near look out hill that has four cubs estimated at 6 months old, she was last seen early this month and is looking well.

Two brothers have been seen near Rhino Ridge and also the other side of the Talek. One male has been seen near Paradise Plains and also top end of Rhino Ridge close to Emarti. He was seen hunting warthog in the evening of the 21st due to nearby Grants Gazelle the warthog was startled and moved away.

Leopard
Olive and her one cub that is a little over 4 months old has been seen near the Ntiaktiak and Talek river area and also recently in the croton thickets above Rekero camp.

The male leopard near the mortuary crossing point on the Mara River has been very active this month he also has taken advantage of the wildebeest chaos prior to them crossing. On the 5th at 3.45pm there was a large crossing at mortuary and as the wildebeest and zebra moved from crossing point to crossing point this leopard snatched a yearling wildebeest watched by both humans and wildebeest together, this phenomenon just shows how leopard's stealthy and surreptitious habits can actually closely live under the human blanket.

Leopard posing at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Maina Wachira

The young female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house on the Mara River with her one male cub that is approximately 12 months old is still being seen regularly. On the 15th she was seen posing very well on the rock under the Warburgia tree. On the 18th at 9.30am she was seen carrying an Impala fawn into the croton thicket with the male cub close by. On the 28th the male cub caught a young Impala fawn and played with for 20 mins before finally consuming it, this is typical of feline activity.

Olives' older daughter Saba has been seen frequently on the Talek River in Olive's home range.

The female Leopard of the Marsh has been seen frequently in the woodlands quite close to Il Moran camp and the BBC campsite; she was also seen on the 26th at 11.00 am walking from the culvert on the main road with a cub in her mouth, she has two little cubs in woodlands near the BBC camp entrance.

The female and a male near Paradise Plains at the bottom end of Bila Shaka has been seen quite often, close to the Hippo pool near the woodlands are good places to see them and on the 8th and 10th were two good sightings.

Walking in the Mara North Conservancy.

Early morning sunrises open the curtain to a full day, with the early dawn colours in the sky being brilliant. The cool start of the mornings brings on a hot day later so we aim to have the walks done by 10.30am when the heat arrives.

Good numbers of wildebeest can be seen in the north east and large numbers in the early hours of the morning will be seen filing down to the reserve and often crossing the Mara River that afternoon.

Zebra will be seen on the plains above the flyover and also on the north east areas of the Conservancy.

Zebra at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Sarah Brennecke

Topi in large numbers are on the plains above the rocky flyover ridge. There are also large numbers of Thomson and Grants Gazelles up here too.

Spotted hyenas are well spread out here and with the lack of the other competitive predator, the lion, the Hyena are more active regularly hunting topi and wildebeest. The Hyena here in the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem are prominent predators and up to 85% of what they eat has been predated by them.

Hyaena at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Sarah Brennecke

By midday many wildebeest can be seen huddled under the shade of the acacia tress and zebra with their coat patterning effect standing out longer in the sun.

Elephant come and come ago within the acacia woodlands and the grassland plains, if grasses are available elephant will spend 85% of their time feeding on grasses and shrubs.

Elephant at Governor's Camp
Photo courtesy of Sue Lawless

The other nest of ostrich eggs we found to be destroyed by what seemed like hyena, when hyena congregate in large clans they can be quite destructive when predators are not in balance.

The Jackal pubs near the Olare Orok have dwindled to one pup they are in the conservation area so perhaps a lot of pressure again from hyena.

We have had two sightings of Aardwolf and it appears that it is the same animal that we keep seeing and more than likely a male, their dung middens are very noticeable with much soil substance in their faecal matter.

The lioness with the three cubs that are four months old now have been seen in the croton thickets near the Flyover and also close the rocky ridge. On the 9th at 6.30am 12 lion concluding 5 sub adults and 7 lionesses had killed two Gnus near the flyover.

Lion with catch
Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

On the 6th a lone lioness killed a wildebeest close to where we start the walk.

There have been some good sightings of the yellow winged bat (Lavia frons), they frequent the acacia woodlands and also sometime can be seen ion old gardenia trees. These are an echolocating bat and insectivorous with large ears, they active at dusk and sometimes late mornings and fly about like a handkerchief being blown in the wind. Something one learns every day: The young or baby of a yellow winged bat is called a 'pup'. The collective term for yellow winged bat is called a 'colony or cloud'.


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Rwanda camps
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge update - October 2012

No report this month.


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