The heavens opened on 1 November with 48 mm of rain recorded overnight, and throughout the month the landscape has transformed into an emerald paradise. Flying termites are erupting from their mounds like volcanic smoke, little red velvet mites are dancing up a storm, and the cicadas are performing a stridulating serenade. It’s a little cooler and a wonderful time to be here and see the new growth and life. There’s always an eagerness to see the first impala lambs of the season, and two newborns were spotted on 23 November.
Here’s a sightings snapshot for November:
Southern: Two males from the pride were patrolling between Chiloveka and Hwata, and relaxing at Hwata providing good views for our guests.
River: It was lovely to see nine members of this pride near 02 pan, just relaxing after the rain.
Nduna: Twelve members of this pride have been spending much of their time in the far eastern area of the reserve. At one stage they were feasting on a buffalo that they’d killed in the night.
An adult male lion was seen on a zebra foal kill, in the central areas.
Leopard viewing has been excellent for us this November. Fleeting glimpses are usually the norm, but this month there were several enduring sightings that included:
Driving back along the Pamushana Access was a young male leopard, lying relaxed in the open area.
A great sighting of a leopard in a tree, south of Sosigi Dam.
A young female leopard, seen from the boat, sitting close to a log below Malilangwe House.
A female leopard walking down Croc Creek near the lodge, on the first drive for guests on their 11th visit in 11 years! This leopard was seen hunting in this region a couple of times. She has a juvenile cub which has been seen along Ultimate Drive just beyond the big baobab.
White: Excellent sightings, as always. Often several white rhinos are seen together, and on multiple times during a drive.
Black: Several enduring sightings of black rhinos were had, including:
Two black rhinos were lying under a sickle bush tree, south of Banyini.
Early on morning drive a black rhino came walking up the road towards the vehicle. It had no idea we were there and got a big fright and ran off when it eventually picked up our scent at about 10 metres.
A mother and sub-adult calf north of Hwata kept our adrenalin pumping by repeatedly mock charging the vehicle, much to the delight of the guests.
The best sightings of breeding herds has been of them swimming and playing in the water, viewed from one of our safari cruise boats. On one occasion there must have been 90 elephants in total, edged along the shoreline.
The most remarkable sighting of a bull elephant this month was also from a safari cruise boat. The elephant siphoned up water from one side of the narrow river, while a leopard lapped from the other side.
We expect a baby boom in the plains game, now that the green season has arrived.
The photographic hide, being underground, is not always accessible during heavy rains, and the animals tend to be more dispersed at this time rather than drawn to it, as pools of drinking water are plentiful.
The pack of 12 were seen several times this month, often hunting, and often without much success. But that will change with the arrival of impala lambs. A great sighting was of all 12 walking on the track in front of the safari vehicle, scent marking and sniffing. This went on for a good one kilometre.
Hyenas have been seen patrolling all over, and they are especially fond of wallowing in the scattered muddy pools on hot days.
A herd of well over 1 000 were seen!
There was the biggest sighting of dung beetles rolling dung balls along the road that our Head Guide had ever seen in his life.
Quality time was spent with a family group of dwarf mongooses.
Spotted in the spotlight on night drive was a very good sighting of a honey badger.
It’s a lovely time to walk, be it to see the smaller creatures and plants, track some of the bigger animals which is easier in the wet substrate when muddy footprints are clearly seen, view the rock art in the caves, connect with Nature by stopping to meditate in a tranquil wilderness setting, or going to give a baobab a bear-hug.
The safari sundowner boat cruises are so enjoyable and relaxing. Guaranteed is excellent birding and seeing the water-dwelling animals, and often these excursions are peppered with wonderful wildlife sightings on the shores.
The bite is back on – especially as the winged alates are flying above or flailing on the surface, attracting the snappy tigers and hungry tilapia.
Particularly remarkable avian sightings this month were of a pair of osprey, pair of Verreaux's eagles, crowned eagle, regular morph and the dark morph tawny eagles perched together, a bateleur eagle eating leftover placenta from an impala that had given birth, spurwing goose, squacco heron, black-crowned night heron, green-backed heron’s nest with two blue eggs in it, racket-tailed roller, and Narina trogon.
Gonarezhou day trip
Guests had a splendid time on day trips to neighbouring Gonarezhou National Park, particularly enjoying the vast scenery, elephant herds, plains game and the ever-majestic Chilojo Cliffs.