There are many things in this world that we as a species can change but one thing we cannot is time! Time has one motion and that is onward. Whilst we cannot stop this onward motion, we can travel back into it. No, I have not devised a time machine! The means of going back in time in this article, is to talk about the past.
2020 is a year that the human race will find hard to erase from our history. I think, I would be correct to say that not a single minute of the past year went by without mention of the coronavirus (by us humans that is), but the world kept on turning and will continue to do so. For the wildlife, not just here on Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, but across our planet, life kept on moving as usual and it’s these memories from 2020 that I would like to share with you all.
Our rainy season this year has been well above average. The Malilangwe Dam that Singita Pamushana overlooks, filled up to capacity. Over the Christmas period, the dam spilt over the wall. All of our rivers flowed longer and faster than usual.
With all this rain, there is an incredible amount of surface water still available all over the reserve. However, probably the most noticeable thing this year is the lush, beautiful vegetation. There are flowers and fruits in abundance, much to the joy of the herbivorous animals. As guides on the property, it has given us a fantastic opportunity to learn more about some of these plants and their many different properties.
An impala ram, in peak condition, territorially marks a bush with his forehead secretions.
Currently the impalas are getting more and more serious about the rutting season, as per their usual routine as governed by the natural environment. The impala lambs that were born as COVID-19 started to take hold of our lives, have now had many months to grow but they still stay closely packed as a herd, relying on their collective senses to keep themselves safe.
Very recently we came across two male lions on Banyini. The only reason we knew they were around was because the vultures gave away their presence. They killed two buffaloes, but were ultimately outnumbered by a clan of hyenas. This rivalry has continued to fester throughout the pandemic with some battles being won and lost by both species.
Our main pack of painted hunting dogs has been successful in rearing pups that were born in June 2020. The last time I saw them I counted 17 dogs, all looking healthy.
Our Zimbabwean lockdown took effect in April 2020 and, within that month, the migratory birds started their journey back to where they had come from; some only having a short African migration, whilst others returned to Europe, leaving behind our resident birds to keep us company and fill our lives with colour and melodious songs to get us through the winter/dry season. By October 2020 some of the migrant birds started to return and by December, the bush was as vibrant as always, as it should be for that time of the year.
As I write this article the birds are getting ready to leave and the clouds that blessed our lands with the all-important rains have changed and now we look into the blue skies and feel the slight chill in the air slowly creeping in. The bush is changing colour and as our herds of elephants and buffalo move from one place to another, we are starting to see things open up again. The cycles of nature that reign over the bush and all of its inhabitants continue to happen with regularity and the animals go about their day as they have done for generations.
A white rhino bull makes the most of the muddy pans and a perfect rubbing post for horn maintenance.
I wish I could make this time traveling safari longer and more detailed, but that would keep you in the past for way too long. We must return to today, for there is so much to look forward to!
Singita Pamushana has opened once more and we cannot wait to share our piece of wilderness with you. We want you to once more close your eyes, listen to the morning chorus, feel the chill in the air, smell the aromatic fragrances of the many different herbs and forbes and, as you open your eyes, behold the beauty of Africa for yourself.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. We, the team at Singita Pamushana, cannot wait to greet you in person.
Photos by Sarah Ball.