The month started very well with light showers of rain, cooler temperatures at night and comfortably warm days. With the arrival of the rain, the bush is starting to awaken, giving guests the opportunity to observe the beauty of this season.
Out of the many exceptional sightings we had, I’ve picked just a few of the amazing highlights…
General game viewing continued to impress, especially at the water sources near Chitabe Lediba, and the one east of the two camps, where a multitude of animals that needed water regularly were seen. Elephants in large numbers moved in and out of the two water sources almost the whole day, not just to drink, but also to play and cool off. Watching many elephants of different ages rejoicing in a small pool of water was a great treat for many of our guests. The mothers always find themselves being held up at a waterhole by their babies, which enjoy playing in the water and don’t want to leave.
At times this would lead to overconfidence as the baby elephants also tried chasing hippos and crocodiles in the water. With the waterholes shrinking slowly, the elephants developed a ‘greediness’ and they were seen several times dominating all other species there, chasing hippos out of water, and trumpeting at other animals approaching the water. We also had a fair record of some brilliant sightings of other smaller creatures such as honey badgers, serval cats, civets, bat-eared foxes, aardwolf, porcupines and African wild cats.
Even with the little rain we had, it triggered antelopes such as impalas and wildebeests to drop more babies, making this time a baby boom season as always; inevitably, these babies now feature prominently in the predators’ diets. These newborn babies are always fascinating to watch as they appear confused in their new environment and even a dangerous predator will look innocent to them. We watched a baby impala that was cut off from the rest of the herd by a cheetah, stop and initiate play with the predator, completely unaware of the danger. After some apparent play and an eye-to-eye standoff, the baby impala was taken down.
Birding continued to delight many guests especially as most of the migrant species are already here. Their seasonal songs from the tree canopies and their appearances in the sky caused great excitement to see and to listen to. Some days we would have so much going on in the Lediba Bridge water, watching kingfishers, squacco herons, egrets, African fish-eagles and saddle-billed storks all in a fishing frenzy. My recent favourite sighting at the bridge was watching a saddle-billed stork that had just landed, and three juveniles encouraging her to feed them. We are not sure if they can regurgitate but it appeared they wanted her to.
An ostrich that had laid at least 16 eggs found her ground nest intruded by a lioness – in a stroke of luck for the ostrich though, the lioness seemed to have no experience of eating eggs but rather played with them in her mouth.