Wildlife Camp’s newsletter has received a lot of positive feedback over the last couple of years. That is purely because Mother Nature has so many stories to tell.
The time it rained in August
People love reading about how life in the Luangwa Valley is different from life in a place where all-you-need-supermarkets are around every corner. Our audience enjoys reading stories about ‘the time the elephants broke all our pot-plants’ or ‘the time lions killed an impala in front of the bar’ or ‘the time the monkeys stole all the cat-food.’
For example: This month, for the first time since our 55 year old cook named Amon can remember it poured with rain in the Luangwa Valley in August and we shall always remember it as ‘the time it rained in August.’
But exactly that is what makes Wildlife Camp’s newsletter so popular – it is the bush and her stories that make people in offices all over the world read what we have to say. Hence, for the August edition of Wildlife Camp’s newsletter I have decided to highlight some of the happy, and sometimes sad stories of the animals in the Luangwa Valley.
A Zebra with an extra stripe.
One such extraordinary story is about a zebra, lets call her Fiona, that Wildlife Camp guide Billy saw while out on safari in early July. She had a big scar down the left-hand-side of her body and some more scars on the right side of her face. It was obvious that she had been attacked by lions but had managed to escape.
Seeing her cut open like that was not a pleasant site and guide and guests all wondered whether she will survive. She was walking gingerly and predators never think twice about attacking a weak animal.
Six weeks later we found the same zebra (zebra stripes are all unique so we are sure that it is her) and she has healed up amazingly. The scar has closed up almost completely and the only battle-scars she has to show is that her beautiful black-and-white stripes do not match up anymore… and the best thing is: she will be giving birth to a foal one of these months!
That is an incredible story and I am sure that in years to come the zebra community in South Luangwa will still be talking about ‘the time Fiona got away from the lions!’
We posted an album (Zebra showing off her battle scars) with before-and-after photos on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/WildlifeCamp
Bee-eater vs Bee-eater
When the Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters left their breeding site in front of Wildlife Camp’s bushcamp last season, it was not long before the slightly-smaller White-Fronted Bee-Eaters took over their holes in the river-bank. They have been nesting there for the past months, but now it is time for the Carmine-Bee-Eaters to return from their summer homes in Eastern Africa.
We have seen them flying around our bushcamp area, but are not sure whether they will chase the White-Fronted Bee-Eaters out or whether they’ll build a new breeding site.
It’s a thrilling story in the making and goes to show that it’s not only the big animals that make good drama.
I took this photo of a White-Fronted Bee-eater in front of our bushcamp a couple of days ago.
What a legend he was.
Individual animals, like just us homo sapiens, all have their own individual character traits. During 2009 and 2010 (rough estimation) we had the honour of getting to know Sleet; the male lion that ruled a large piece of property in South Luangwa National Park. He was not the most handsome of lions, but he was a unique character who never failed to deliver good stories.
This brute ruled over a pride of 17 lions and had the habit of passing very close to safari-vehicles! I remember ‘the time that he walked right through Wildlife Camp, roaring as if he owned the place.’ Some of our guests will remember ‘the time he allowed his cubs to feed with him while chasing the females off when they approached.’ There was also ‘the time he killed a baby giraffe all by himself while out on patrol’ and ‘the time he followed another male-lion in his territory for five days without stopping to make sure he left and never returned.’
Sadly, towards the end of 2011 there was also ‘the time he was defeated in battle by another rival named Shaka’ and ‘the time he could barely make it to the water to drink after being injured during a failed buffalo hunt.’
He was last seen in November 2011.
Sometimes the bush tells happy stories and sometimes she even tells funny stories. But every now and then her stories are sad and to those who have seen Sleet in action this is a really sad story…. But that is life in the bush!
There are more photos of him in his prime at www.facebook.com/WildlifeCamp under the album ‘What a legend he was!’
Moment of the month.
The Augusts moment of the month is an unbelievable story, and if you want to make sure for yourself that it is real, have a look at the album “What a cat” on Wildlife Camp’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/WildlifeCamp
While out on safari we found a leopard lazily lying in the grass not too far from the main gate to the park. As the day cooled down she started lifting her head once-in-a-while but we did not expect to see anything more than that… Boy, were we wrong!
Alerted by the noise of a herd of impala on the other side of the road she suddenly sat upright with just enough of her head sticking out so she could see the impalas but they could not see her. She sat motionless for a good 5 minutes, carefully surveying her dinner and the surrounding area. But here is where the story starts getting interesting!
Suddenly she walked away from the herd of impala, which were still unaware of her presence. She kept on walking and after 30 meters we sort of decided that she had given up the hunt. It was still broad daylight after all – leopards prefer hunting under the cover of darkness. But then she made another unexpected move. The clever leopard disappeared underneath the road into one of the storm-drain pipes and we knew that she knew this hunt was far from over… For almost ten minutes we sat waiting right above the exit of the storm-drain, the leopard right underneath us, out of sight – passers by must have thought us crazy!
After a long wait she finally emerged and still there were no snorts from the impalas, meaning that they were still blissfully unaware that one of them could become dinner very soon. Meticulously she continued her stalk – remember, she now had to come back towards the impalas which meant she passed within a couple of meters of Wildlife Camp’s Land Rover filled with some very lucky Italians.
But, as the bush would have it, the impalas, still very calm, moved into the thickets. Our cat followed them slowly but surely but soon she was out of sight. But we were all satisfied by what we had seen and could not have wished for anymore!
What amazed us most about this story is how this leopard knew, and understood, her territory like the back of her paw. She knew exactly where the storm drain was and what she could use it for – I would not be surprised if she had used it successfully in the past to catch her dinner!
On that very high note we shall say good-bye.
The sausage trees are blooming and the river is narrowing by the day. It is a great time the visit the Luangwa Valley and if you want to come and experience all these stories for yourself, make a reservation to come to Wildlife Camp with Retha at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kind Regards from all of us.