April allowed no time for foolish jokes here in the Luangwa valley. At Wildlife Camp we are gearing up for the coming peak-season. Some chalets in the lagoon-side got mini-makeovers and the old games-room next to the campsite is being rebuilt as rooms for drivers from the various tour groups we host. April also brings with it three very important occasions. The end of the rainy season; the start of the guiding exams; and the preparations for Labour Day in the beginning of May.
The weather report.
Compared to previous years April was very dry with the river already below the level it had only reached at the end of May 2010. We had two good spells of rain at the end of the month but the feeling in the valley is that the upcoming months, especially the ones at the end of the dry season, are going to be harsher than those experienced in the previous couple of years. That is nature and She knows best.
The guiding exams are a very prestigious event in Luangwa as only its best and brightest go on to pass the gruelling theory paper. These candidates go on to the practical first-aid, mechanics and firearms exam and the ones showing adequate knowledge in this department will take some of the valley’s wisest old men and women on safari-drives through the park to proof that they truly have what it takes to guide in South Luangwa National Park. Research has shown that a guest on safari spends up to 72% of their day with their guide. Hence the big emphasis on a tough exam that picks out only the cream of the crop. As one of the valley’s oldest and wisest men, Herman is very much involved in the whole process and he will be judging the mechanics exam when all the prospective guides gather at Wildlife Camp in May to take on their practical examinations.
Labour Day celebrations took place at Mfuwe International airport on May 2nd. Two Wildlife Camp staff members were awarded for their excellent efforts during the last year and I would like to take this opportunity to also thank them in the April newsletter. Potiphar Sakala, the barmen with a permanent smile on his face and Japhet Jere, our carpenter who can never say no to a challenge. Thank you very much you two for your wonderful work.
Sighting of the month.
I honestly try to incorporate some of the interesting smaller-game sightings in this section of the newsletter but how can I if Sylvester managed to show guests a pack of Wild-dogs chasing a leopard up a tree. This is not the first time that the Kaingo-pack of dogs (Kaingo being the local name for leopard) has attempted such a hunt and on one recorded occasion they succeeded in bringing down a leopard. This time however, the chase at Mopani-spur lasted a couple of hundred meters before the feline escaped up a tree and waited patiently for the dogs to be distracted. Stunning safari, and thanks to Egil Droge from the Zambian Carnivore Programme for the photo!
That is all from the Wildlife Camp team.