This month started, as per tradition, with some April Fool’s jokes. However, with animals running all around camp, and the guiding exams, it ended on a serious note!
Wildlife Camp Zoo.
Wildlife Camp is situated on a bend in the Luangwa River, away from any other camps or lodges.
This means that we have quite a lot of animal action here in camp. But April was extra-special! Besides the day-to-day visits from elephants, impalas, warthogs, squirrels, baboons, monkeys, pukus, giraffes, monitor lizards, hyenas, bushbuck, terrapins and tortoises, various types of mongooses, a great variety of birds and pod of hippos that made themselves comfortable in front of the en-suite tents, there were some other highlights that we’d like to share with you – because that is what makes Wildlife Camp wild!
On more than one occasion, we found leopard in and around camp. We were able to follow one young female for about 200m’s down the road before she disappeared off into the bushes – lucky guests!
Our local flock of Meve’s Starlings are raising two Greater Spotted Cuckoo chicks. Cuckoos are infamous brood-parasites that specialize in laying their eggs in the nests of other birds. But what amazes us the most is that the cuckoos are already bigger than the starlings, but still scream for food whenever they are hungry – the starling are happy to oblige!
One night, while guests were having dinner, we heard bones crunching about 75m away from the restaurant – it could only mean one thing, as we had seen lions around camp earlier that evening. We quickly whisked our guests away from their candle-light dinners and onto a Land Rover, and found two females and a male lion enjoying their own dinner for the night! They did not have candles though…
As the sun headed for the hills one lazy afternoon, two wild-dogs appeared in front of the restaurant. They set off chasing after the Pukus that were grazing next to the river, but failed. As quickly as the dogs had appeared they disappeared. There are only an estimated 4500 of these dogs left in Africa, and we were very fortunate to have two of them right in front of our restaurant. The bad news is that the barman who was on duty that day, and who had never seen wild-dogs in his life, was just out for a shower for the ten minutes that the dogs entertained us…
Now, if we can only get hold of a couple of tigers, a kangaroo, a gorilla and ten camels, we’ll be in business as a zoo!
Herman is heading to Durban for Indaba 2012.
Indaba is Africa’s largest travel trade show and if you’d like to meet Herman there to get more information on Wildlife Camp and what we do here, feel free to drop by. He’ll be at the Zambian Tourism Board stand (table number 28) for the duration of the show. If you’d like to set up an appointment with Wildlife Camp, please contact Herman on the following e-mail address: email@example.com
And if you are not able to make it to Indaba this year, but plan on travelling to Zambia anytime soon, our pool and a cold beer is waiting for you!
I reported in last month’s newsletter that the guiding exams were underway here in the Luangwa Valley. Well it is all over and done now, and is the reason why this newsletter is delayed – we wanted to wait for the official results.
On Friday the 27th of April, 47 candidates gathered for the theory paper. It was a tough test which only 35% of the students passed! From Wildlife Camp, Masuzyo Zimba (pictured right while watching Shaka in April), or Su as he likes to be called, passed his theory test. He then set off on a practical walking exam which he also passed with flying colours – not an easy job considering that he had two of the most experienced examiners in the valley to impress! But he did it, and can now officially call himself a walking-safari guide! Congratulation Su!
Moment of the month.
Even after all the animal sightings here in camp, there was something else that we saw while on a night-safari with Su that made us all realize how often we underestimate animals and their use of logic.
In a stream the size of my thumb, at about 19:00 in the evening, we found a dozen or so crocodiles lying flat on their bellies. At first their behaviour did not make any sense to us, until we noticed the hundreds of little fish trying to make their way down to the river. And then we understood: The crocs were lying in ambush, making sure to get as many of the small fish into their jaws as possible – it looked almost like a game to them!
You see, this time of the year the lagoons start drying out, and that is when the fish make a dash for the river. The other aspect of the situation that we must take into account is that crocs can live up to 90years in the wild, providing them with bucket-loads of experience. With these two facts in mind, I can only assume that the crocs knew full-well that there would be a barbel-run sometime during April and had deliberately placed themselves in that gully to make sure they cashed in. The amount of crocs that were present showed that it was not merely a coincidence that they were there. I am sure that, if we happen to be in the right place on the right time next year, and the year after, we’ll see the same phenomenon.
If the bears in Alaska can have a salmon-run, and the sharks in South Africa can have a sardine-run, why can the crocs in Zambia not have a barbel-run? AMAZING!
And that is all for this month’s Wildlife Camp newsletter.
Kind Regards from all of us!