January 2021
Bush Stories

It doesn’t rain, it pours – and makes you appreciate more

in Bush Stories
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It doesn’t rain, it pours – and makes you appreciate more

Bradley Mark Fouché
By Bradley Mark Fouché
Head Guide

Trying to write a story on the best sighting or experience for the month of January has been more than challenging as it has just been such an epic month for many reasons. The first being the bumper rainy season we have had and the fact that all the bodies of water on Malilangwe have spilt over this season. The main water body being Malilangwe Dam, last spilt over the dam wall in 2017. There has been so much surface and river water around that driving to work is an adventure to say the least!

All in a day’s work… Photos by Brad Fouché

Secondly, it’s the season of birthing for many species and it’s such a privilege to see the nurseries of baby impala and all the little wildebeest running around. It is definitely a smorgasbord for predators! This is also the season for the majority of the migrating birds arriving in our neck of the woods, indirectly brought on by what we know as the ITCZ (The Intertropical Convergence Zone) that moves down through southern Africa and, in turn, sets off the flight of the winged breading pairs of termites. The termite bounty is the attraction for many of the migrating birds besides the warm weather for breeding.

In fact the reasons are endless! It’s an extraordinary time of year from spotting the red velvet mites that emerge after the first rainfall to the many species of wild lilies flowering in the bush. From seeing how clean elephants look and how white their ivory is after a downpour, to how pitiful a drenched male lion looks like in a downpour. The first smell of rain on a dusty road and the relief on all living creatures faces when that first drizzle falls on them. Its blue-black skies and neon light on the green lush bush. It’s a time of year when Mother Nature shows you her true power!

I had an amazing time watching dung beetles excavate a bolus of elephant dung. (Researchers in Kenya once counted 16 000 dung beetles, in two hours, in one pile of elephant droppings; anyway, I digress.) What was fascinating was watching  this one huge dung beetle that had his female and had already started rolling his ball away from the dung pile to go and bury it. Almost immediately he was challenged by another male and the ferocious fight that ensued was just unreal. I am glad to report that no beetle was injured and our dung beetle managed to fend off his attacker.

As you can see there is so much more to our wild planet than just the big creatures that we encounter. Make no mistake we love them just as much, but sometimes you have to just look up… or down to the ground.

As I write this, I am already looking forward to the African buffalos’ calving season, which will be upon us soon.

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