Welcome back to a New Year in the valley

We had a fantastic build up to Christmas when a lioness and her three sub-adult cubs managed to take down a hippo in front of our house (this is between the campsite and the main lodge) and for two days they were on the kill. One evening we were having sundowners and as the light faded we could just make out a hyena moving onto the kill – he was unaware of the lions still lying in a dip on the sandbank and stumbled right upon them. As light was not good we could not see what actually happened but there was an almighty growl, what can only be described as a shriek followed by a series of high pitched giggles as he ran off. I am sure his adrenaline was at an all time high and it was a classical nervous giggle that one gets after a lucky escape!

Unfortunately my on hand photographer – (Colleen) is away on her holiday so I don’t have any quality photos to show you. I tried to get as close as possible with the little camera that I have (point and shoot type) but each time I got too close the cubs were moved off quickly.

This year we had the annual Christmas carols at Kalawani Pan and it was a great sight to see the elephants in the back ground as the choir was singing and as the light faded to see all the candles burning.

We have had a lot of rain over the last month and the roads are still holding up but I would suggest you contact us for the latest updates if you are coming down to us in January or February.

Penny (a hand raised squirrel that lives in our house) is doing well and is still producing litters of bald babies at an astonishing rate. She enjoyed Christmas to the full and loved all the nuts and chocolates.

While we were packing up the Christmas decorations we came across a small woodland dormouse. It is still young and I am feeding it at the moment and I am sure in a few weeks he will be ready to be released back into the wild. I have not had much experience on dormice so read up a bit on the internet and this is what I found:

The Woodland Dormouse is an energetic little creature, whose ideal refuge is a tree hollow or crevice beneath the bark of a tree, although it will use other shelters, such as birds’ nests or even a vacant spider’s nest, which it will then line with grasses, feathers and other soft material. They have also been known to shelter under the roof of a house or in an outbuilding. They are the larger of two small species of dormouse that occur in the southern African subregion: adults’ head and body lengths range from 8.4 to 11.7 cm, and they are predominantly grey.

A unique characteristic of a woodland dormouse is its ability to partially regrow a second tail if it has lost the original one; if only the tip of the tail has been severed, a brush of hair grows in its place. This animal is nocturnal and it is as at home among trees and bushes as it is on the ground, where rocks and debris provide cover. Its diet consists of plants (mainly grass seeds) and insects, the latter including termites, earwigs and dead bees, and it sometimes eats eggs and nestlings. The woodland dormouse’s litter consists of three to four young, born in summer. They are relatively tame even in the wild but have sharp incisors and are inclined to bite. 

The camp is quiet at the moment with most of our staff away on their annual leave but we are still open and will remain so during the rains. We are planning on rebuilding some of the chalets and doing general repairs in the camp. We are concentrating on improving our chalets and are getting in new beds and bedding so this will all be ready for the start of the next busy season.
The rains are definitely my favourite time in the valley and I love the contrasts in colour and the clarity.

Wishing you all the best for 2008
Kind regards

Patsy and all the Wildlife Team