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In Association with Ultimate Africa Safaris the Wildlife Travel Website is proud to bring you:

African Safari Update

This page provides weekly news and information about animal sightings and safari travel throughout Africa excluding Tanzania.  (For Tanzanian updates click here.)

The material on this page appears with the kind permission of Ultimate Africa Safaris (http://www.ultimateafrica.com). Please click on the links at the top of the page for archived reports.

(Ultimate Africa Safaris are USA based African safari / travel experts. Comprehensive safari planning includes group and tailor-made safaris, air tickets and trip insurance. Website includes full safari itineraries, country ratings and comparisons, safari lodge and camp
guide, weekly African travel / wildlife news, and current African weather.

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African Safari

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 23RD JANUARY 2005:

Muchenje Lodge Update, January 23 2005

Muchenje Lodge is located on the western boundary of Botswana's famed Chobe National Park. Here is their latest news:

We are finally getting some rain however not enough to mar the safaris though. Amazingly the rain stops when the guests turn off the tar road and head down to the river. It seems the zebra have gone, again. They were very confused with the little rain we had in December and didn't know which way to turn. Hopefully, for their sake, they will continue their circuit this time.

There are still plenty of elephant though with lots of babies. There are also beautiful herds of sable, kudu, and the lions are sow seen almost every day. The mother with cubs from the Muchenje pride has gone underground again. We haven't seen her for some weeks unfortunately - hopefully she is just being a careful Mum.

We have had two sightings of leopard during the day and 1 on the night drive but the last few nights have been quiet due to the rain. Last but not least, one sighting of wild dog about two weeks ago. Soooooooooo even though the landscape is beautifully lush and green and the game is meant to be sparse, guests are still seeing plenty on the drives.

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 16th JANUARY 2005:

Muchenje Lodge Update, January 16 2005

Muchenje Lodge is located on the western boundary of Botswana's famed Chobe National Park. Here is their latest news:

Wildlife viewing has been exceptional - even though it is the low season. The downside is that we have not had much rain so the future looks rather grim if things don't change soon. There are ominous rumblings around us but that's about it. We are not giving up though so get those lap-laps out and please start doing rain dances for us!

We have been seeing lions, cubs and males, and the zebra have not left yet. They started their migration, got half way and turned back. In addition we have been seeing buffalo, sable, kudu, wild dog, the occasional elephant or 1,000, hippo, crocs, so not bad for January eh!

Orient Express Safaris Update, January 16 2005

Orient Express Safaris operate 3 luxury safari properties in Botswana. Here is their latest news:

The climate over the month of December was as expected - high temperatures and the onset of steady and more frequent rains over the northern Botswana area. The increased rain in the area has resulted in an increase in the humidity in all of the camps. Most days are partly cloudy and short afternoon thundershowers have become regular occurrences.

The delta waters have receded to the point now that only select areas (those that are characteristically permanent year round wetlands) have flood water remaining. The rains that are falling throughout the area have managed to fill up some of the water holes, but have had little impact on the delta water levels.

With the rains now having had time to take affect on the vegetation, most areas are seeing new and free grasses germinating. Many of the seasonally sweet grasses are attracting a large diversity and large numbers of animals, including many bulk feeders such as buffalo and hippo. Along with the grasses germinating, several species of trees are now in fruit - these also attracting many browsers and omnivores.

At Eagle Island Camp an old faithful male leopard, which has been recognized by some of the longer standing guides, has recently been sighted again on a regular basis. This male has over the years become relaxed and habituated to the presence of vehicles.

A very interesting sighting at Eagle Island Camp and something rarely witnessed was a sighting of three adult spotted hyenas that were seen hunting a young red-lechwe. The hyena chased the young antelope for a while before the adult lechwe picked up on what was happening. As soon as they saw the hyena chasing the calf, they ran to its defense and initially chased the hyena away from where the calf was then standing. Shortly thereafter, the adult lechwe formed a barrier around the youngster, which effectively kept the hyena at bay. For a while the hyena decided that they would wait out the situation; however when they eventually realized that the lechwe were playing the same game, the hyena moved off in search of an easier meal.

At Savute Elephant Camp the large numbers of elephant and lions have dispersed since the rains arrived. Although the numbers within the sightings are not as high as during the dry months, guests are still practically guaranteed sightings of both these animals.

Zebras have returned to the area in large numbers, as have the wildebeest and buffalo. All of these species currently have large numbers of youngsters with them, making sightings that much more interesting and entertaining.

As mentioned in last month's newsletter, Savute was witness to a clash between two large prides of lion towards the end of November. Initially the guides, who witnessed the event, thought that although most lions received a few scratches and bruises, most had come away without any serious injury. During the first week of December, the guides realized they had been wrong when they discovered strange drag marks across one of the roads in the immediate vicinity of where the fight took place. On investigating, the guides found a wounded young male. It appears that he had his back (lower spine) broken during the fight - something that unfortunately will not heal.

Other predator sightings in the Savute area have been excellent over December as the young prey are in abundance in the area with several guests having witnessed kills by both cheetah and leopard. Young leopard have also been seen with their mother on a regular basis around one of the outcrops (Kudu Hill) near the camp. The guides have nicknamed her after the Setswana name for "ears" - "Mma Ditsebe", meaning mother ears, as she has several lacerations in her ears.

Khwai River Lodge had very good general game sightings over December, including impala, red-lechwe and giraffe. As with the previous month, guests were fortunate to still be able to enjoy the young hyena at the hyena den near to the camp. Unfortunately the den sightings will not last much longer as the pups are now almost big enough to leave the den.

Leopard sightings have been outstanding at Khwai as they have been sighted regularly and on many occasion with kills stuck up in trees. It became apparent that the leopard was targeting the large numbers of storks in the area, as several of the kills seen were of these large birds.

With regards to birds Eagle Island Camp has had some really good sightings over the past month. Flocks of pelicans have been seen in and around the area, often soaring above the delta as the move between feeding grounds on the mid-day thermals. Other interesting sightings have included some interesting hunting behavior by marabou storks as they move through the shallow waters. They have learnt to use their wings as "beaters" - they swish their wings through the water in order to scatter fish and frogs from their hiding places, and then as they move out the storks take their prize.

Savutes' bird sightings have been reasonably slow, as many of the expected migrant species have provided a no show. None the less, many interesting species have been seen, including Carmine bee-eaters, blue-cheeked bee-eaters and European beaters. Another great sighting in the area is that of the Kori bustards - these birds (which are the heaviest flying birds in the Africa) have learnt that as the vehicles drive along, that they disturb many insects, and as such they fly alongside the vehicles and tale the easy pickings.

Khwai has experienced large numbers of storks and raptors in the area as they have moved in for the insect feast. A young African cuckoo has been the highlight in the camp, where it is now resident.

With the now ever increasing standing water around the area, the water fowl have become a lot more frequent, with Knob-billed ducks being the highlight as the males currently have their breeding plumage (in this case a large extended "growth" on the upper beak). The wattled cranes have also been seen regularly and the young chick has survived yet another month.

With regards to reptiles at Eagle Island Camp, apart from the ever present crocodiles, only one other reptile was common over the past month. These were the water monitors who have been seen moving out across the drying floodplains in search of bird eggs. Many bird species take advantage of the drying areas as they are generally quite well protected from predatory species - but as with all in the wild, there is always some predator that overcomes the defenses that are used.

Savute has been extremely quite on the reptile front this past month, with no major sightings to report, but Khwai ion the other hand has been fairly active. Out on drives, guides have had an easy time at spotting water monitors and crocodiles as they bask in the sun along the Khwai River.