It’s heating up, it’s drying out and there’s been an agitated little wind trying to vie for attention some days. That said we’ve also had some really cold days and a] splash of rain which is unusual for August. The bush is looking a “healthy dry” and it’s a great time for game viewing.
Here’s August’s overview:
- The Southern Pride have hunted well and their kills have included two buffalos and a zebra. They are spending time in the Mahande area and eight of them have been seen together.
- The River Pride have spent most of the time on the Hippo Valley side of the Chiredzi River. They tend to rest and cool off in the swamp area which is difficult to access – no doubt this is part of the appeal it holds as they can chill out undisturbed by man or beast!
- Two territorial males have been seen regularly, as well as a couple of loners – one that is skittish and another that is so calm he can barely raise his head to check you out when you arrive to check him out!
- There has been excellent viewing of a mating pair of lions, just below the Sosigi Dam wall.
- Along our West Valley Road there is a rock with a “window” in it. We all always look at it, in the hope it is framing a leopard. Guide Alex Kadziyanike and his guests came close when they spotted a male leopard lying on top of the rock, eyeing out some waterbuck below.
- A relaxed female leopard has been seen on various occasions in the area south and west of the lodge.
- We are delighted to report that the pack of eight wild dogs has been seen with ten adorable little puppies. Guide Tyme Mutema took the honours in seeing them first this year, much to his and his guests’ delight!
- The pack was seen several times in the month, drinking at Sosigi Dam and hunting from that area. They must have had their den in the hills around there. Now that the pups are out of the den and running with the pack it’s a real puzzle trying to work out where they might show up to drink or rest, as they are capable of covering immense distances.
- The hyenas have the monopoly at the moment! They are seen on most drives ambling along the roads. Some have cubs stashed in the big concrete drainage pipes underneath the main road.
- One clan was seen near 07 camp on the Orphan Road having a feast on a dead female giraffe.
- White rhino sightings have been off the charts! On one occasion guests enjoyed sundowners at Hwata Pan with no less than 16 white rhinos, including two baby calves, having their evening drink and socialising at the pan too.
- The black rhino viewing has been at its best! Groups of two and three have been seen regularly, often coming right up to the vehicle before turning and running off.
- Black rhinos have been seen drinking from the dam, while guests have been able to safely enjoy the sighting from the boat.
- Apart from the relocation that culminated this month (the report follows), The Malilangwe Trust undertook some rhino notching procedures. Guests who were visiting at the time had the tremendous opportunity of watching these take place.
- We have had terrific sightings of some big tuskers lately. One magnificent bull elephant has tusks estimated to be over 80lbs in weight, and observing this giant is extremely special.
- Because it is dry now some of the elephants are feeding from trees and pushing them over to get to the bark, leaves and roots.
- The breeding herds are far more shy as the mothers keep their youngsters concealed in the thick bush or riverine vegetation. One herd drinks regularly at Sosigi Dam and they are so relaxed around the game viewing vehicles.
- The grumpy old dagga boys are seen here and there, and breeding herds of about 400 are seen daily as they pour in for water at a pan, kicking up clouds of dust which glows in golden sunlight.
- The plains game is abundant as always, and there have been good sightings of eland, sable and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest now that it is dry and the vegetation has thinned out.
- Elephant shrews! They are one of the “little five” and have been spotted a couple of times this month, scurrying about with their elongated noses sniffing here, there and everywhere.
- A very interesting and unusual sighting was of a vervet monkey eating a chameleon.
- It is a great time to do bush walks, and to visit the rock art sites. Guests thoroughly enjoyed walks to the Chidumu and Mabakweni rock art sites, and were astounded by the art and what the sites reveal about ancient cultures.
Water safaris and fishing
- The water safaris are magical, and excellent sightings of hippo and birds are guaranteed. Added bonuses this month included seeing buffalos, a black rhino, and a leopard on top of a rock.
- The fishing is not good when it is cold, but as the weather has warmed up the bites have been coming in hard and fast.
- One of the special encounters was when a greater honeyguide followed the vehicle for over 20 minutes, chirping profusely all the way. Another was drifting on the boat to within centimetres of a malachite kingfisher.
- Other memorable sightings were of a giant eagle owl, a spotted eagle owl, lilac-breasted rollers, black-shouldered kites, tawny eagles, bateluers, white-backed vultures, square-tailed nightjars, African fish eagles, African darters, green-backed herons and yellow-billed storks, to name but a few.