As August draws to an end, I’m surprised at how quickly the year is flying by. The sausage tree is flowering; the deep red large flowers are in stunning contrast to the green leaves in the trees and the dry dead foliage on the ground.
The vervet monkeys are giving birth and the weather is defiantly warming up yet again. I know that in a blink of an eye, the large cumulus clouds will be building and the rains will be upon us! However before I get to excited we still have the hottest and harshest months of the year to go.
This month has had some very spectacular sightings. We have had large herds of buffalo around camp and near our bush camp- always exciting to see such large numbers close to camp. Dora saw a leopard running past the restaurant while serving dinner.
I asked some of the guides which was their best sighting this month Sly told me it was too difficult to choose. So I decided to share one of his best drives of the month.
Sly and his guests headed into the park on a night drive. The first excitement of the day was coming across an Eland. Eland are not normally found on this side of the river. Spotting one is very exciting. The next delight of the drive was coming across a pride of lions, the “Luwi” pride; as they are known. It is a large pride of 18 lions, which is very impressive to see especially since they have 3 very cute cubs.
A herd of buffalo were not too far away and what unfolded before them was pretty spectacular, the pride moved into formation, the animal’s bodies becoming tense as they began to stalk the buffalos. In lighting speed the chase was on and the pride singled out their target. With the great speed, power and amazing accuracy the buffalo was hit by the large powerful pride. The fight that followed was brutal. The lions tearing at the buffalos flesh as he tries to fight off the hungry pride. The herd of Buffalo fought back trying to chase off the lions, the bellowing, roaring, snarls could be heard from a distance. The dust was bellowing up as the 2 species fought for survival. The lions were in a dangerous situation as the buffalos a lot bigger and armed with sharp horns can do serious damage to a lion. This particular battle was won by the Luwi pride who began to feast like the kings that they are. Both Billy and Sly said that they had a hard time sleeping that night after watching the kill. The sounds, smells and just the sight of such a kill do not leave the mind too quickly.
While Sly and his guests sat in awe as the lions fed, they noticed a movement low to the ground, what they saw was about to match the intensity of what had just unfolded. A male leopard who had been attracted to the area with all the noise was hoping to scavenge a bit of buffalo meat. He was soon spotted by the male lions and chased from the Kill. He escaped up a tree where the lions circled ensuring he wasn’t going to dine with them. After a while the Lions returned to the buffalo carcass.
The leopard who had had a good view from the tops of the sausage tree, snuck down and began stalking an unsuspecting herd of Puku. As the leopard crept closer to the puku, everyone held their breath waiting for the sudden burst of electric power and speed. The leopard once close enough unleashed his power. The force in which the leopard hit the puku is terrifying. The leopard suffocates the animal by keeping pressure on the jugular. Once the Puku was dead the Leopard dragged the puku to the closest tree, where he proceeded to carry the dead antelope into the safety of the tall branches.
I was very envious I had missed such an amazing drive, everyone who returned to camp was pumping with adrenaline.
Another amazing sighting this month was the birth of a baby giraffe. Unfortunately I have no photos- but everyone who saw the spectacular birth was all dumbfounded and have all said that it was astonishing to witness such an event. They are all very privileged.
This year I was very lucky to share my birthday with very good friends. Colin came out straight from Beijing, after winning silver for Great Brittan in the Men’s eight rowing. Gina, Ting and Paul came out from Oxford for their first real African safari and of course Patsy and the children from the school.
We celebrated my birthday in the park in the beautiful dry Luwi river bed. I unlike most 24 year olds I still have the same birthday parties that I did when I was 6 years old. The majority of the guests are still 6 years old and we still play the same party games. The key to a great party is of course to be armed with chocolate cake, a packed picnic, and lots of cold drinks, a soccer ball and some very excited children.
Once all of the above were checked off my list we headed into the park.
The drive to the picnic spot was great with 97 elephants spotted, a large herd of giraffe, over 500 buffalo. Far too many Puku, impala and zebras for the children to count and a great variety of bird life – which included the returning carmine bee eaters, the Tawny eagle and a lot of the beautiful little Lillian Love birds. We also got to see the magnificent male lion. He posed perfectly for some great shots.
It was a great day had by all, with lots of laughs, far too much sugar and all of us totally exhausted. Patsy returned to camp with a very swollen and blue toe. We are still not sure how that happened, It may have been the soccer game or just the fact of actually running and competing with us!!!
It has been another great and exciting month here in the Luangwa and we hope to see you all soon.
Colleen and the Wildlife Team
And the last comment from Patsy
“Note to self … do not attempt to compete with Olympic medalists and anyone younger than me!! The body is not as it once was!!”
I ran one private safari this month, we had a wonderful trip up past the Old Chibembe site, where we did call in and did a spot of reminiscing. We then went up to the “its Wild bushcamp” – Mwanya Camp – for the night. This is a community run camp and is rather basic but I have offered to help them in the running of this camp and I do believe that this sort of community camp is important and as soon as I am satisfied with the level of operation I will give out updates and will start to take bookings for this camp. It is a perfect stop over for any one doing a self drive to the north park