June has been a much busier month than anticipated and this first week of July saw record number of people in the campsite.
I have also had an interesting month and did my first giraffe capture, it was such a learning curve and great to be able to put theory into practice. I was on horseback, carrying the antidote, and must say it was one of the best weekends I have had for a while.
These animals are difficult to capture in the way that it is crucial to get the antidote into them as soon as possible. (the anatomy of the giraffe is not ideal for capture) The vet darted them from a vehicle and as soon as the drugs start taking effect this puts them into a drug induced gallop. The long grass posed a problem and this is the reason I was on horseback to ensure we did not lose them, especially when they went down. Once the animal goes done you have to sit on its head (yes really) and give it the antidote which reacts immediately.
We then blindfolded it, put cotton wool in the ears to reduce noise and therefore stress. You then have a rope around its neck that goes under the belly and around thought the back legs.
A halter is put on the head and then you get the animal to stand up. Pressure on the back legs then guides the animal and they can be walked and loaded.
I am sure I will never lose the feeling of being in complete awe of just being in such close contact with these magnificent animals.
In the same spirit of adventure I flew to Mutinondo for a night and this time was in the left seat of the 172.
I love the contrast between Mutinondo and the valley and I must say we kept the log fire burning all night as the temperatures are a lot lower than the valley. If anyone is interested in doing overnight packages from us to Mutinondo this can be arranged and please speak to me directly on this.
In effort to make sure the whole month adventurous last weekend I went up with a few guests and we had a wonderful picnic in the dry river bed of the Luwi river and while we were all sitting on the sand, relaxing in the shade we had eland cross the dry river bed. Eland are not very common in our area of the park so this was a very special sighting.
And to make sure it ended on a high note, Chris and I decided we had to try fly-fishing and I managed to land my first barbell on a fly! Just remember if you want to fish it is possible and fishing permits can be obtained at the main gate (National Parks) but please remember that the rivers and lagoons are rife with rather large crocodiles so please be extremely careful.
And now let me get back to my accounts, and hand over to Colleen who has had adventures of her own…
I spent the first 2 weeks of June in Holland and Barcelona. It was a great visit, and one of the best parts of the trip was getting to see 2 foxes, a Deer and getting close to the Cormorants roosting in the Dunes behind Den Hague. It was also very exciting to see some of the migratory birds that fly into Zambia, such as the European Storks. I know what you are all thinking; you can take the girl out of the bush, but not the bush out of the girl. It was a wonderful trip, and I was completely over whelmed with the amazing architecture, shops and how busy the streets are. I almost got my self killed with all the bicycles, trams, cars and pedestrians. I was glad to be on the flight back to Mfuwe, where I only had to worry about walking into a leopard, lion, hippo or elephant on my way home.
But before I flew out to Holland, the annual Johnny Ambrose Touch Rugby tournament was held. It was a great afternoon with 5 teams playing on the sandy banks of the Luangwa. I am happy to say that I represented Wildlife Camp again in a mixed team, and we won. A great event that raised money for two very important organizations; SLCS and Handa orphanage.
This month has been amazing for game viewing. The drives have been phenomenal and the park has been buzzing with drama.
I thought this month I would fill you in on the bush gossip. The lions are having a bad month. Two lionesses had been caught in snares. The good news is that the Wild dog and carnivore researchers and SLCS were able to dart and remove the snares and both Lionesses, and they are recovering well. Patrols by both ZAWA and SLCS are out removing snares on a daily basis. We have also had 3 large male lions migrate into the Mfuwe Pride’s territory, which has caused our lions to go into hiding. George, our big male of the area, is keeping his cubs and females hidden and away from the rivalry males.
One of the 3 male lions, which have moved into the area in the hopes of over throwing our beautiful male, was gorged and fatally injured during a hunting attempt on a buffalo. However I have heard that the 2 remaining males had a successful hunt and brought down a very large buffalo, a few days later. Avenging their dear friends’ death and ensuring full bellies for the next few days.
With all the drama with the lions, it has meant that the leopards have had the main Mfuwe area to hunt with out worrying about the lions. Leopard sightings this month have been at an all time high. With Andrew getting his best record of 6 different leopards in one evening drive.
Other great sightings of the month included, Billy watching the beautiful brown snake eagle, successful kill a cobra. One lucky group of clients saw the honey badger, porcupine, hyena and leopard in a night drive. The beautiful serval was also spotted on one of the open plains. It is still one of the animals I have not seen. However I got to witness my first kill as a guide, a leopard pounced on an un-expecting genet. I was also lucky enough to see a very large 2.5m – 3meter python and a pack of 10 wild dogs on a drive. One of the females is heavily pregnant. This is very exciting news for endangered species.
Well that’s just a peak into what’s been happening here in Mfuwe.
Take care and safe travels, Colleen and the Wildlife Team.