Well we know how far some men can go to get out of a date but this is the first time I have ever been dumped for an elephant!!

Maybe this needs some explanation?

We have had a good and busy season so as it gets quieter, the rains have arrived, and we have a bit more time to get out camp. Colleen and I were both invited to a ball in lusaka – now this is a rare event in our lives and a perfect excuse to discard the bush clothes and dig deep into the cupboards and see if we have anything fitting to wear to a ball (Cinderella springs to mind and some items had to be borrowed)

On Friday afternoon we headed into town on the jet stream operated by Proflight– this is an hour’s flight compared to a 10 hour drive – no guessing why we took the opportunity to fly. The ball was to be on the Saturday night, so while were doing a spot of shopping in the morning I got “the phone call” and it went something like this:

“hi Pats…great that you made it all the way in from Mfuwe for the ball, I had a seven hour drive into town, roads are getting rather wet. Listen.. I have got some bad news… I cant make the ball tonight…(stunned silence from me..) but I have to leave now to travel back to Kafue as little Zamma is not well….sorry have to dash and fuel up the landrover, will head back immediately as he is on a drip – got long drive ahead so no time to talk.. Bye”

I can’t say I blame Sport, (Fred Beattie) as I would have done exactly the same thing. Sport runs the David Sheppard Elephant orphanage in the Kafue National Park. Two of the babies, Chamilandu and Chodoba, originated from Luangwa and Zamma came from Lower Zambezi. Elephants require an intense amount of care and there was not a moment’s hesitation that Sport had to head back and help the keepers care for Zamma. Wild animals are not easy to rear but the sense of achievement when one can manage this is extraordinary and many of these babies are like children to the ones raising them.

But now I was dateless, had the dress, shoes, even a pedicure and there was NO way I was not going… so what does a girl do??? Find another date of course!… and thanks to Robbie for filling in and as you can see in the pictures we all had a great time.

Wishing everyone a great Christmas and
may 2009 be a good year for all of us.
Kind regards

over to you Colls…

…thanks Pats 🙂

Comments, wildlife sightings and general news from Colleen.

The night sky has been alive; it is being lit up by the lighting while it dances to the rhythm of the thunderous beat. The African night parties are here. And no, I’m not just referring to Patsy and I hitting the big smoke for the Hunters ball… however it was a great party!! I’m referring to the beautiful earth drenching storms. The rains have arrived and I could not be happier.

Being a farmers daughter the arrival of the rains, has always been a very joyful experience, normally meaning Dad’s mood would lighten, but like every true farmer it would be short lived until the next drama!! However I love the rains for the mood change in everyone and everything. There is always a huge sigh of relief and a big smile from everyone. At times I think a few of us go a bit crazy and dance in the rain; not mentioning any names!!

I mentioned last month the arrival of the new born Puku’s and Impala’s. The park and our Wildlife peninsular have been flooded with the cute furry fuzz balls. Our resident warthog, George and his girlfriend have had 4 very cute little piglets. And probably the most annoying arrivals with the rains – the Cicadas are in camp. These insects are known for there very shrill and annoying mating call. It is deafening – but at the same time rather interesting. These little insects have the world record for being the loudest insect. With one being able to be heard from as far as 400m away, rather impressive for a little bug.

The grass shoots have sprouted and there is a beautiful green carpet covering the ground. The Mopani trees are in full flourish and we have a canopy of beautiful emerald green butterfly shaped leaves above our heads. But most exciting, the river has started to rise.

Our lions are still around, and I’m proud to say I finally got some shots of them. I caught sight of them yesterday as they swam across the river towards camp. In the excitement I forgot my camera, I know blonde moment, was kicking myself afterwards. I grabbed Dora and Tara and jumped into a vehicle with a friend of mine; Egil who was visiting from a neighboring camp. We drove down onto the peninsular and caught sight of the three lions as they ran along the beach. I could see something in the mouth of the older female and realized it was a baby Puku. We had only just missed the kill. This was about the time I was kicking myself, as the lighting was perfect, the setting was stunning and I was without my camera!! Egil, who works for the African Wild dog research, needed photos of the lions to compare to his data on the carnivores in and around the park. We shot back to the lodge, Dora and I grabbed our cameras and we were off to capture the cats on camera.

From the photos taken, Egil could identify these lions using the whisker patterns, ear notches, nose colour and scars and by comparing them to photos taken previously. The adult female and two sub adults, one male and one female belong to a pride known as the Chichele pride. There is not a lot known about this particular pride as the numbers keep changing. But at a guess from the times they have been spotted, there is around three adult females, five sub adults and a few cubs; and at least one adult male attending them. This is not a very tight pride, and are rarely all seen together.

I thought this would be a great time to share a few facts on the “King of the Beasts”. Lions are the most social of all the members of the cat family. Prides normally range between 3 – 10 lionesses and their dependent offspring. There is normally a coalition of 2-3 adult males per pride.

The male lion can weigh up to 250kg, 33% larger than the lioness. It is the largest carnivore in Africa. On average males show the first signs of mane growth from around two years old. And a full mane is only evident once they reach 4 to 5 years old. It progressively gets darker with age.

Lions breed throughout the year, and when the female is in oestrus the pair will mate two to four times per hour for up to three days on average. As the male tires, the lioness will move on to other pride males mating with them too. This helps to reduce rivalry between the pride males. The gestation period of lions is around 3.3 months, giving birth to 1- 6 cubs. Cubs start eating meat around three months of age, and are weaned by eight months, becoming independent around 18 months of age.

Just a reminder we are open for Christmas and new years, and would love to have you here to celebrate with us !!

Take care and Happy Holidays!!!

Colleen and the Wildlife team