The Tsame Pride has many cubs of different ages, and they provide wonderful interactions, both when the pride is at rest, or walking about. These cubs are a definite highlight for our guests, watching them play with each other, and practising their chasing and tripping skills on each other. The fact that Tsame Pride females are exceptional hunters attributes greatly to the wellbeing of their family. The pride’s preferred prey species are still giraffes and zebras since they can feed a pride that large, but they will very often take advantage of anything they have an opportunity to hunt, such as wildebeest, impala, kudu, warthogs and tsessebe. However, in the past two months, they were frequently seen feeding on giraffe and zebra kills.
The coalition of four young males that broke away from the Gomoti Pride is still together, and they have been seen regularly along the Gomoti River and other parts of the reserve.
We have seen fantastically big herds of elephants in the area. Although there haven’t been heavy rains yet, there is a lot of standing water in the area and the large breeding herds utilise these waterholes for drinking, wallowing and splashing themselves to cool down. This is the time of the year when there is a lot of green vegetation, tall grass and creepers for the elephants, making for very good feeding in every type of habitat everywhere in the reserve. They are very often seen in open grassland plains feeding on nutritious creepers. One top sighting was near Wilderness Chitabe Lediba – as the day started to warm up, we watched a large herd of 100-plus animals coming to drink clean water from the channel that runs past camp.
These waterholes also attract the small isolated herds of buffalo bulls in the area, as they enjoy mud-wallowing to fight off the heat as much as the elephants do. We came across these bulls on a regular basis, with their bodies completely covered in mud.
With the recent rains, an abundance of insects, frogs and other creatures have come out to breed. They create a feeding frenzy for many bird species, making for particularly fascinating bird-watching at this time of year, with numerous raptors, both local and migratory, coming out in large numbers to feed on these creatures. Our birding enthusiasts were excited to watch and photograph species such as avocets, painted snipes and sandpipers at the small waterholes and around other surface water.
The highlight of the month on the birding side was seeing a Pel’s fishing owl perched on a bridge pole near Chitabe. To many people who have been here for many years, this was the first sighting they had ever heard of. I personally saw a pair in the area near Chitabe’s Tent 1 during the Covid closure. I suspect they live in the tree canopy at Chitabe and we just never noticed them before. In camp, the birdlife is particularly active in the early hours of the morning, with guests waking up to many different calls, and hearing the bush come alive.