Time to shrug off those big warm jackets and take off your gloves, winter is waving its final farewell for 2013 and making space for the warmer days of Summer to take central stage in Botswana and Zimbabwe. Rising temperatures see the smaller pans of water left over from the previous rainy season dry up and wildlife searching for water sources become more centralized around areas of known permanent water. Regularly pumped pans and permanent waterholes are already experiencing increased activity as predators and prey have greater interaction. Escaping the increasing temperatures, certain animals will wallow in ‘mud baths’ as means for helping to control their body temperature. After their ‘mud bath’ the elephants will move off to a patch of soil where they will take large trunk fills of dust and throw it over their bodies as further protection.
Dry Season allows guests to experience wildlife in larger herd numbers with greater predator vs prey interactions. With the mass movement of the larger herds, the dust increases allowing for spectacular sunsets of deep pinks, oranges, reds and purples as Dusk descends.
Somalisa Sightings – Hwange National Park
Two prides of lions have been consistently spotted at Somalisa over the last few weeks. The Ngweshla Pride and the Manga Pride seem to be constantly overlapping territories in their bid to follow the moving herds of prey which include a herd of over 1,000 buffalo strong. Last week the Manga Pride killed a Zebra about 600 metres outside of camp, delighting our guests in up close encounters with the pride as they came down to Somalisa Pan in front of camp to drink after their meal.
In addition, in mid-September a large variety of bird species are set to make their migratory return to the Southern Hemisphere, including Carmine Bee-eaters, African Skimmers and Yellow Billed Kites. The pennant winged night jar will come home from its intra-African travels to breed and a good place to spot them is in Hwange National Park. These foraging birds emerge in the late afternoon or directly after sunset for crepuscular feeding and are once again active before sunrise. The males acquire a striking 2nd primary feather during the breeding season that grows up to twice its body length.
Kanga Camp Sightings – Mana Pools National Park
Family groups of elephants and the young lone bulls have become daily visitors of late. Ear markings, tusks and herd numbers have allowed our team at Kanga to be able to start identifying individuals and assess their visits. A large variety of antelope are now habituated to drinking at Kanga pan including Kudu, Eland, Impala and Bushbuck. These species are on constant alert given the increased number of predators in the area, and the daily visits from a lion pride which come down to the Pan in the early evenings to alleviate their thirst built up during the heat of the day.
The smaller predators such as civet and genet are resident to the area and can often be sighted by spotlight whilst guests enjoy their meal. Sharing in their foraging along the edge of the Pan are three porcupines which have been seen of late. The larger nocturnal visitors have not disappointed and over the past two weeks we have spotted three leopards – two females and a young male, who share overlapping territories, have become accustomed to drinking from the Kanga Pan. The Leopards have been seen by guests at night time from their chairs at the dinner table on the Kanga Deck. Guests fall asleep to the leopard grunts mingled with hyena calls as the predator sounds echo through the darkness and long into the night.
Linyanti Sightings – Chobe Enclave
The carnivores have been out and about in full force at Linyanti over the past few weeks. A pack of 8 wild dog were seen sleeping on the outskirts of camp a couple of afternoons ago. They were undisturbed by us and upon awakening they excitedly greeted each other and then ran off. They were spotted a little while later near a herd of elephant and the guests watched as the elephants charged at the dogs to scare them away. Elephants are not tolerant of any predators no matter their size.
The leopards have been particularly active recently and a breeding pair has been sighted on the concession, springing hope for a new generation to be born in the area. A solitary leopard killed a civet in a tree just outside camp one evening, and a few days later there was a standoff and fight between a leopard and a troop of baboons creating quite a racket of noise. The two species both came out without injury and eventually went their separate ways. A lion pride with 6 cubs made its way through camp last week in the early hours of the morning, making their presence known to our guests with their majestic roars. Although the cubs attempted to copy their mother’s impressive roar, their smaller crys did not have quite the same impact on our guests. Large herds of Elephants and Buffalo’s have now made their way down to the Linyanti Marshes to cool off during the heat of the day, and our guests often have to take a detour when walking through camp to avoid the visitors passing through. Impressive herds of Roan and Sable have also been sighted near our airstrip adding to the species sighted on the concession of late.
Khwai Sightings – Moremi Game Reserve
As one of the most consistent areas in Botswana to encounter predators year round, Khwai never ceases to deliver on spectacular wildlife sightings. The predator encounters are daily and last week guests were treated to a Leopard being chased off a kill by lions. It is not unusual to see three of the large predators in one day at Khwai. The Painted Dogs in the Khwai area are doing particularly well and again this year have a new litter of pups which our guests have been able to enjoy watching on a regular basis outside their den.
Considering this is just the start of the Dry Season, the coming months look set to be filled with even greater activity as the wildlife numbers continue to increase and the prey continue their “survival of the fittest” to make it through the dryer months and avoid conflict with the predator species in each of our areas. To find out about special for our Dry Season months, kindly contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org