July-Aug 2002

 

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The material on this page appears with the kind permission of Ultimate Africa Safaris (http://www.ultimateafrica.com).

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 25TH AUGUST 2002:

Robin Pope’s Weekly Zambia Update, August 25 2002

Robin and Jo Pope are two of Zambia’s leading tourism personalities. Here is their weekly update:

Animal behavior has been the focus of the week with some interesting and unexpected performances delighting guests and staff alike. Daudi took some Tena Tena troops on an early morning drive and as they drove under a tree noticed three sun squirrels on a branch alarm calling. The squirrels were all looking down which drew our attention to a slender mongoose sitting on a termite mound. Suddenly the three squirrels scurried down the tree and chased the slender mongoose up into the next tree! Quite unexpected! Later in camp a puku could be seen daring to cross the river channel. It made it half way across then leaped around and rushed back to where it had started, to the safety of dry ground. A crocodile could be seen at the spot where the puku did the about-face!

And an amusing tale from Jason Alfonsi at Nsefu.  He had taken his guests, who had just completed a Mupamadzi walking safari, on an afternoon drive and they were at the Big Bend (upstream from Bucca). They were watching a group of elephant who had been at the river drinking and then looked as though they were going to pass through the ebony grove. Jason drove into the ebony grove and waited. Suddenly the baboons started alarm calling. Jason followed the calls, which led them all back to the river, but they couldn't find anything. Then the vervet monkeys started chatting downstream so the vehicle was maneuvered around a big bush to get a better view of what was going on but still there was nothing. By then it was decided that this was the spot for sundowners as the sunset blended well with the view of the elephants, who were now on the river sand below. As the essential gin and tonics were downed the eles moved up the bank and behind the big bush - quite close to the vehicle! Suddenly they heard a leopard growl and it shot out of the bush in front of the guests. It looked at them, growled, and with a rather embarrassed "well,  what were you looking at" stare, walked off to lick its wounded pride! Poor thing.

Lots of other lovely sightings this week with Jason A and guests also spotting a purple heron at Zebra Pans and an alpine swift on the Nkwali pontoon. The alpine swift is a rare migrant passing through the South Luangwa on its way to South Africa. It stops for one or two days in this area before it is gone again!  The Nkwali eles have also been having a wonderful time in the lagoon. One teenager was seen in a state of bliss lying flat in the mud, rolling around and completely smothering itself! 

Orient Express Safaris July Report, August 25 2002

Orient Express Safaris (formerly Gametrackers Botswana) recently sent through their July report:

Water levels at Eagle Island Camp now stand at 124cm. Although the water has come up slightly this level is very close to what we can expect to be the peak for the year. The water in the main Boro channel continues to spill out over into the flood plains and Eagle Island is once again separated from the mainland.

At Khwai River Lodge the Khwai River is flowing fairly strongly and water levels have risen as a result. This source of permanent water ensures that game viewing in the region is nothing but superb.

As is typical for the winter months and more especially this time of the year, leaves on the majority of our trees are raining down. The grass is also taking a beating from the grazing animals especially in areas of close proximity to water. The sparse winter vegetation obviously has its benefits when it comes to game viewing, as it is easier to see certain of the shy animals the region has to offer.

All the camps have enjoyed some fantastic wildlife viewing over the past month. It has however been Khwai River Lodge that has been the pick of the three. The attraction of the permanent waters of the Khwai River have seen numerous species of plains game (buffalo, zebra, impala, giraffe, wildebeest, etc) and other herbivores (roan, sable, lechwe and elephant) congregating in the area. With a potential meal never very far away the predators have also been very prominent. Great sightings of lion, leopard, cheetah, cerval and African wildcat have been recorded. It also seems that the resident lion prides are in some sort of conflict, as our guests recently witnessed a territorial clash of the big cats. It seems that three males may be the cause of the savage contests that have been taking place.

At the other two camps good game viewing has also been reported. At Eagle Island huge herds of buffalo have been very prevalent. The herds have numbered as many as 1,000 head and on one occasion our guests on a motor boat activity were lucky to view the resident lion pride swimming across the Boro channel in order to track the huge bovid's dust cloud off in the distance.

As has now almost come to be the norm for the region, the birdlife throughout the camps is awesome.  With the exception of the migrant birds it would almost be impossible to list all the birds seen in this report, some of the better sightings however have included; Pel's fishing owl, purple gallinule, crowned crane, wattled crane and Meyers parrots.

With the close predator activity, the avian garbage men have also been very hard at work. Numerous vulture species, marabou storks and some of the eagle species are never very far away riding the hot air thermals high up into the sky in search of a bite to eat. As soon as a potential food source is detected the birds literally drop out of the sky, kamikaze style. These daring dives are one of the signs the keen eyes of our guides search for, indicating some form of action on the ground.

With the exception of the ever-present Nile crocodiles on the banks of the Khwai river and Boro channel no other reptile sightings have been recorded.

Guests at Khwai River Lodge were recently treated to a once in a lifetime sighting. The two creatures in question were animals that are both renown for their very shy behavior, the leopard and the pangolin, and the result of their meeting ended in what simply put, could be termed a bush soccer match. All reports indicate that the leopard had every intention of eating the pangolin as it stalked the much smaller, almost prehistoric looking creature. It seems however that the pangolin had other ideas and as soon as the leopard pounced it simply rolled up into a ball, the armor-plated scales protecting it from the spotted felines assault. This seemed to signal the start of the game that lasted countless minutes as the leopard proceeded to kick the poor pangolin in all directions. Eventually the lager predator gave up and left its "toy" for greener pastures and a better chance of some dinner. 

The Cape Pangolin (Manis temminckii) generally measures over a meter and weighs around 18kg. Pangolins eat mainly ants and termites and this tends to govern the animals distribution. The pangolin can be highly selective especially favoring formicid ants. The gestation of the animal is 135 days with a single youngster being born in July or August. A hissing sound is associated during mating. The pangolins most vulnerable part is its belly. The pangolins scales are very sought after for traditional medicines and magic and may ultimately lead to this animals demise. The pangolin is solitary, mainly active at night for between 4 and 6 hours at a time.

Zimbabwe Elephant Conservation comes at High Cost, August 25 2002

Johannes Miyozi, a wildlife scout in the Nyaminyami Rural District in Zimbabwe, is no stranger to wildlife because daily he contends with the threat posed by a large wild animal population jostling with humans for limited living space.

He has spent his entire 33 years in the Nyaminyami, a remote area in the northwest of Zimbabwe , in a community that has learned to co-exist with wildlife, thanks to the Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE), which encourages sustainable use of natural resources in rural areas.

But for Miyozi's village, co-existence with the area's wildlife population has come at a high price. Twenty-one people living adjacent to
Matusadona National Park were killed by elephants last year alone, he says.

The community is one of several rallying behind Zimbabwe's fight to have its ballooning elephant population remain on appendix two of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which allows hunting and limited trade in ivory and other elephant products.

Although
Zimbabwe 's elephants are presently on CITES' appendix two, the country is not allowed to trade in ivory and has accumulated significant stocks.

Zimbabwe has 89,000 elephants, twice its environmental carrying capacity which is leading to widespread environmental destruction and desertification. But Zimbabwe will still face demands to upgrade the animals to appendix one, which outlaws trade in elephant products, at the next CITES meeting in Santiago , Chile , in November.

"What the people are saying is that hunting quotas should be increased and the communities should be allowed to benefit from legal ivory exports because the ivory is from natural mortality and not from poaching," Miyozi told reporters during a tour of the area two weeks ago.

Communities near the huge
Hwange National Park are also calling for an increase in elephant hunting quotas, saying the present allocations are too small compared to the destruction that is wreaked by elephants in the area.

Michael Mathe, a councilor for Hwange rural district council noted: "The quota is too little for the community to benefit compared to the destruction we are enduring. What the people are saying is that the government should cull more of these animals so that the pressure we are facing may be reduced. We are not saying the animals should be killed at will, but we have more than we can manage."

Hwange National Park has 49,000 elephants which roam freely in nearby communal areas, destroying crops in the fields. In the 2001/2002 agricultural season, which has been hard hit by drought, elephants destroyed more than 90% of villagers' crops but communities were only permitted an annual hunting quota of six elephants.

"Those people who are against us trading in ivory should come and stay with us for only 30 days if they are serious about this," Mathe said. "Then I think from there they can appreciate why we are saying the hunting quotas should be increased and why we want to trade in ivory."

Zimbabwe 's proposal, which will be considered at the CITES meeting, involves the one-off sale of 10 tons of ivory and a subsequent annual quota of not more than five tons.

The money generated from the proposed ivory sales would be used to enhance elephant conservation, assist dirt-poor communities co-existing with the elephants and manage the country's accumulating ivory stocks.

Zimbabwe last made a one-off export of 19.8 tons of ivory worth US $79 million to Japan in 1998, of which 6.2 tons was from CAMPFIRE. Since then, Zimbabwe has accumulated 18 tons of ivory from natural mortality.

The Santiago meeting comes at a time when Zimbabwean officials in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, are acknowledging the increased poaching on wildlife producing farms. They noted that the problem was not on a commercial scale and did not affect the endangered animals.

However, there are fears that the rampant poaching could hamper Zimbabwe's efforts to keep elephants on CITES' appendix two. One of the requirements for remaining on appendix two is the effective management of the anti-poaching program.

Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management deputy director Vitalis Chadenga said the CITES battle lines had been drawn, with Kenya and India teaming up to demand the listing of Zimbabwe's elephant population on appendix one.

Southern Africa, which has more than 200,000 elephants, is the only region in the world that has its elephant in appendix two.

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 18TH AUGUST 2002:

Wilderness Safaris Fall 2002 Update, August 18 2002

The wildlife viewing in Botswana this year has truly been the best we can remember for a long, long time. The combination of these wonderful private areas and slightly lower than average rainfall has meant that guest's wildlife viewing experience has been just superb all year. Mike Myers has just completed a 3 week safari through Namibia , Botswana and Zimbabwe and shot something like 4,000 different photo images, as there was so much to see. The Linyanti right now probably has our best wildlife viewing of all. Kings Pool, Duma Tau, Savuti and Linyanti Tented Camp are full of animals - lots of predators and thousands of elephants. We are big into "hides" these days and have a number of hides in the Linyanti area that have made wildlife viewing that much more exciting. At Kings Pool we have our new underground hide just meters from a busy waterhole that is proving to be a real winner - especially for people who like to be active in their "siesta" time. Savuti has a new "woodpile" hide that is located right next to the camp's waterhole and adventuresome guests are able to lie in the hide right next to the drinking elephants - often getting dribbled on by the elephants!

Chitabe and Chitabe Trails re-opened again on 1st August after the fire and according to Helene, Chitabe is looking and functioning even better than the old Chitabe.  We were able to fix old design faults in the new layout of Chitabe's lounge and dining area.  Chitabe also has a bigger and sexier honeymoon tent.  With all the old, tall grass in the plains burnt off in the fire - and with lots of green shoots everywhere, the wildlife has pulled into the area in large quantities.

Namibia is having a record year this year.  The combination of peace in Angola, more small classy camps - plus having about 12 flights daily from Johannesburg and Cape Town into Windhoek has helped. The country is flourishing!

Tubu Tree Camp July Report, August 18 2002

Tubu Tree Camp is a new property located in Botswana’s 60,000 hectare Jao Concession in the Okavango Delta.

Temperatures slowly crept up towards the end of the month, with the average minimum for the month at 10 degrees and maximum at 28 degrees.

Wildlife has been good, with some particularly great sightings of wild dogs, which have been swimming the channels between Hunda Island and Kwetsani. Also a rare sighting of three leopards all together - a male and a female leopard with a cub close to camp. Many of the guests have been continuing their wildlife drives after dinner, giving them a chance to get close to some of the nocturnal animals including aardvark on a couple of occasions. A pangolin was also sighted here during a night drive on one occasion.

Activities this month have included wildlife viewing drives, walks and mokoros. Guests have been impressed by the amount of wildlife that can be seen whilst on our mokoro trips. We also did a couple of day trips on the boat, with a picnic on a small island.

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 11TH AUGUST 2002:

Robin Popes Weekly Zambia Update, August 11 2002

Robin and Jo Pope run several of Zambia's leading safari camps. Here is their weekly update;

The forces of nature are rather confusing at the moment! Whilst temperatures are slowly on the rise it looks like autumn outside! A good indication of the impending rise in mercury levels is the mass dumping of leaves by the beloved sausage trees. It is as though it is a constant drizzle of sausage tree leaves, and as soon as they hit the ground they dry out. Thick layers of crunchy leaves lie around the back of Nkwali! Last season's sausages are also falling (a good time to watch your head!) along with the tree's beautiful velvety crimson flowers that are starting to bloom. Along with flowers from the sausage trees and the Natal mahoganies there is much color around with the flame creepers in bloom. So it is just a riot of color at the moment - lots of dusty browns & grays dotted with greens and reds! At night we can hear the hippos hot footing it across the crunchy leaves, the fallen sausages being their target! Hippos LOVE sausages. As the dry season becomes hotter and available ground fodder diminishes this offering from the heavens comes at just the right time!

Along with the leaves falling the August winds have arrived with vengeance! These easterlies come in bursts during the day and night, whipping up everything that has dried out over the past few months - sand, dust, twigs, leaves and dried flowers. It is quite refreshing but it is difficult to keep those candles alight at the dinner table at night. It is also difficult to keep those idle pieces of paper in the office from flying across the room.

And now another lion story - The bedroom attendant staff at Nkwali were witness to this and nobody else (the guests were all out on afternoon drives at the time). Two female lions were seen chasing a herd of impala along the opposite riverbank. The scene was taking place directly across from the Nkwali bar. Two of the impala suddenly leapt for their lives down the riverbank and into the river. A crocodile was at the right place at the right time...it looked as though one of the impala leapt directly into the croc's mouth! The reptile made short work of the fleeing antelope and they quickly disappeared under the water. It wasn't all bad - the other impala deserves a medal for making it all the way to the other side of the river without any crocodiles getting in the way. It came up over the riverbank right next to the Nkwali bar and ran off to live another day.

A report by Daudi and Ross from Tena Tena - elephants have been moving in large numbers lately - a single herd of at least 90 were seen. It seems that they enjoy blocking the road from the river crossing every time a transfer is being taken! From the camp they have been watched crossing the river on a regular basis. Daudi had an interesting morning tea stop during a game drive...watching a mother elephant pushing her baby us the steep bank. It took some time but mission accomplished after lots of noise and support from the rest of the family!

That's it for another week…

Star of Africa Update, August 11 2002

Here is an update from Star of Africa, a new operation in Zambia which looks to be very promising:

At Sussi and Chuma at Victoria Falls the Zambezi River has been dropping rapidly. There have been a number of new islands to explore and to have picnics on. One resident elephant, Kris, has found the drive in restaurant very enticing as it has an array of palms and potted plants on the menu. This needless to say has been making the camp manager, Mark, very irate as he is having to replace these palms at a rate of about 2 a day. He has also been most accommodating about posing to give the photographic enthusiasts excellent opportunities of close up shots.

A pair of black-collared barbets have confidently made a their home in one of the posts on the walk ways.

At Lechwe Plains Tented Camp in Lochinvar - Following on from Star Of Africa's original agreement signed last year in August, this month saw the successful signing of the agreement between Star of Africa, the World Wide Fund and the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) for an effective 50 years. Star Of Africa, who are the only operation in this park, are now committed in partnership with ZAWA and WWF to further develop the infrastructure of Lochinvar National Park. This includes roads, a new airstrip, park boundaries, visitors center as well as facilities for research.

Clients have had the opportunity to view the shy and timid water monitor who has laid her eggs in front of room number 3. It will be a long wait till the young emerge as these eggs will only hatch in about a years time. We have also had an influx of hundreds of pygmy geese to the lagoon in front of the camp.

The Crane Foundation of South Africa recently hosted their field trip at Lechwe Plains. They were welcomed by a flock of 28 wattled cranes and considering there are approximately 200 of these cranes in the whole of South Africa, this was quite a reception!

At Moshi Tented Camp in the Kafue National Park the airstrip is now ready having been cleared by civil aviation.

Star Of Africa are pleased to have Migration Air providing services to enable clients to fly to any of their lodges without the delay of waiting for scheduled flights. They have a number of single and twin engined aircraft and now have an office at the Livingstone Airport.

July Report from Pom Pom Tented Camp, August 11 2002

Pom Pom Tented Camp is located in Botswana's Okavango Delta and offers guests both water and land activities. For July the minimum temperature was 6 degrees Celsius and the maximum was 29. It does, however, get much colder than this in the open plains at night. The days were beautifully warm, with clear skies.

The flood level rose to 100cm in front of the lodge, but is now slowly dropping and is presently at 96cm. The crossing between the airstrip and the camp now has water in it, but is easily forded. The gathering of the birds into the reedbeds in front of camp at sunset is awesome. The noise of all those birds chatting about the days events and settling down for the evening is quite incredible.

The Pom Pom lion pride move in and out of the concession and the two Pom Pom Brothers seem to be coming back as they were seen on the 25th at the airstrip and again by Map Ives and guests, while they were on a walk, near Richards Folly.

The Nxabega Pride was seen a on a few occasions on the northern island. On the 22nd four females were seen feeding on a large male kudu near the old Mekoro Station. A male and female were seen pairing near Brian's Bath.

We had one group of guests who were lucky enough to see 6 lionesses and 2 subadult lions walking along the edge of one of the islands, from their mekoros.

Leopards were seen on 9 days this month. Six of these sightings were of the camp female (Sexy Suzie) in the vicinity of the camp and staff village. On the 19th she was witnessed feeding on a baboon very close to one of the manager's tents. On the 1st a male was seen lying, quite relaxed, on a termite heap near the staff village.

This was a great month for wild dog sightings. 4 dogs were seen regularly in the area between the 6th and the 12th. On the 8th they were seen chasing an impala into the lagoon in front of camp, where a crocodile made a rush at it. Luckily for the impala it escaped. On the 12th two of the dogs were seen regurgitating meat to the other 2 (subadults?)

Other interesting sightings include 2 sightings of honey badger, 5 sightings of serval, 1 sighting of caracal, 2 sightings of otter (one in front of the camp) and 4 sightings of side-striped jackal. An Aardwolf seems to be denning near the Pontoon Plains and was seen regularly.

Mombo Camp Update, August 11 2002

Mombo Camp is located within Botswana's renowned Moremi Reserve. Here is the camp's July report:

We felt the first cool breeze of the approaching evening as we sat watching two magnificent male lions stretching out on the side of a termite mound surveying their land before them. In their view on the flood plain were at least 500 buffalo, red lechwe, zebra, tsessebe, giraffe, wildebeest, impala and a lone elephant bull. A genet, warming up for the evenings activities scurried through the grass. The busy honey badger noticed the lions for the first time and decided discretion was the better part of valor and waddled off out of sight. What we could see that the lions could not were two male cheetah warily lying up in the shade of the tree on the other side of the flood plane. The land was pulsating with life. So this was Mombo.

July is fast fading and along with it winter. The first signs of the approaching summer, namely shorts and light shirts have been spotted appearing first thing in the morning. The wildlife has been as magical as ever, in fact the above account was witnessed on a evening game drive. The first zebra foals have started to appear and as the land starts to dry out and the savannah to thin, many female mammals are swelling with their pregnancies. Two of the Ngonyama female cheetah's cubs have managed to survive the attentions of the ever present lions and hyenas and continue to present awesome viewing and hunting. Several sub adult male lions have been "culled" by the increasing aggression of the local dominant male lions, making way for the growth of the new batch of cubs in the Moporota and Mathata Prides.

Along with the abundant wildlife come the abundant guests of July. Mombo continues to be busy but more importantly continues to amaze our visiting guests. Comments such as "This is better than the wildlife documentaries" are commonly heard. And hopefully comments such as "this is a lifetimes' dream fulfilled" will continue to be heard.

Duma Tau Tented Camp July Report, August 11 2002

Duma Tau Tented Camp is located in a 125,000 hectare private wildlife viewing concession adjoining Chobe National Park in northern Botswana. Here is the camp's July report:

Guests coming from the Delta up to the Linyanti must think that they have entered a whole new world..and in fact they have. The contrasts are part of what make the Linyanti a special place to be. The harshness of the environment in this area contrast deeply with the watery green of the Okavango camps. With higher temperatures, the little grass that there was close to the river has dried and the animals are moving into the area for water and grazing. The general game concentrations around the Linyanti River and the Zibadianja Lagoon area have been very high.

The elephants themselves are a stressed due to the dry conditions.This is normal for the time of year. So far we have avoided any serious encounters with them (touch wood). Our guides are very aware of their mood, and, according to our guests have handled close encounters with great calm and skill. We have seen that as long as they are given the space they need and we watch their behavior carefully, they are fine. Recent guests were treated to the wonderful sight of an elephant being born into this dusty world..its first fall into life from a bit of a height...landing on his head!!

The hides in the reserve have been fantastic for viewing in the midday heat with scores of animals coming to drink, as well as some great birding and up to 20 odd hippos lying in heaps in the sand. It seems we have our own border disputes up here, what with lots of gory hippo fights- the noises sometimes keeping guests awake through the night!

The Zib pack of wild dog have denned, apparently with eleven puppies...but with many a day's red setting sun we have been fortunate enough to see the pack hunting. One group of guests even saw them attempting to hunt a hippo calf. Needless to say they realized quite quickly the mother was somewhat out of their league, and they ran off after the more realistic target of kudu. On another occasion guests managed to capture on film the sequence of dogs chasing a large lechwe ram into the lagoon, where it swam into the waiting jaws of an even larger crocodile...much to the consternation of the dogs pacing up and down the shore!

There is also a den in the Savuti camp area, with two puppies which guests managed to view once, out in the open, but not again. History was made this month when guests left Mombo Camp early to come over to us for our dogs!!!!

Life at Duma Tau continues to be enchanting in many ways - it is a camp that calms the soul and excites the nerve endings, never failing to amaze us all with her hidden secrets and animal wonders.

Linyanti Tented Camp July Report, August 11 2002

Linyanti Tented Camp is located in the same 125,000 hectare private wildlife viewing concession adjoining Chobe National Park as Duma Tau. Here is the camp's July report:

With the incredibly large number of elephants it is a good place to be. The afternoon boat trips are proving to be very popular with all the ele activity and seldom do we get further than 1 km from camp. All the animals are still looking in good condition but I expect them to start showing signs of wear and tear as the vegetation gets eaten.

Little Vumbura Tented Camp July Report, August 11 2002

Little Vumbura Tented Camp is located in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Here is the camp's July report:

Yet another month has flown by. We were a little concerned that the weather would be freezing and thus would restrict certain activities. However we have only had one or two cold mornings - but nothing too unbearable and of course the most gorgeous days. Even on those cold days, we still succeeded in continuing with bush breakfasts and also our wonderful star deck dinners. The winter has actually been quite mild.

The wildlife has been awesome this month with one of the top ranking sightings - among the guests - being the leopard taking a sable calf down right in front of them - they saw the whole thing from start to finish. These particular guests also saw 3 different prides of lion in one morning. Two other extraordinary sightings were the honey badgers spotted on two different occasions.

The wildlife in camp has also been plentiful almost to the point of being scary. One or two elephants have taken refuge in the camp during the day and night. As you can imagine this causes serious "route-to-the-tent" planning etc. Today a lone buffalo also decided to pull into camp.

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 4TH AUGUST 2002:

Jao Camp July Report, August 4 2002

Jao Camp is located in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Here is the camp's July update:

It was a great month at Jao! There were bush brunches up at Handa with 5 hippo's entertaining us for the day, the bush dinners were amazing - as we were setting up one dinner the guests arrived with lion walking straight towards the dinner setting - we crouched down as they walked past us with the guests following!

Water levels in front of camp continue to drop. Boating trips to Hunda Island in the north-west will probably last for another two weeks before the water drops too low for the boats. Yet before this time the Hunda trips have been very successful. On one awesome trip we saw wild dogs, mating lion and three cheetah plus all the plains wildlife!

We've had elephants returning to the camp area at night for the palm nuts, and the hippo's are very active at night with their grunting and calling echoing across the floodplains. The wild dogs have been seen again after an absence of two weeks - the last sighting was up at Hunda which is great to see that they're still in the area. Leopard activity around the camp has been excellent with mating leopard been sighted in front of camp.

It is starting to get very warm .We have had a monthly average minimum temperature of 13 C and a maximum of 32 C. From around the 25th the temperatures have risen above the 30 C mark and with this we are encouraging all the guests to drink lots of water ,wear hats on all activities, and sunblock is to become a necessity. There has been no rainfall.

Kaparota Tented Camp July Report, August 4 2002

Kaparota Tented Camp is located in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Here is the camp's July report:

Wildlife sightings has been fantastic all through the month. The most exciting was when we spotted a leopard on an impala kill and a hyena chased it away. Then two wild dogs came but were afraid of the hyena eating. The wild dogs were then chased away from the kill by an angry elephant.

Another exciting sighting was a lioness riding on the back of a buffalo for about 70 meters as she couldn't bring it down. One morning when we were walking over the bridge to get to the parking area we heard a crunching noise and as we shone our flashlights there were six lions feeding on a kudu behind the vehicles!

There is not enough water for boating in motor boats at Kaparota Camp - but there is ample for mokoros. However, a few weeks back we hit a short lived snag as all our mokoroing areas were full of hippos. That has changed and we have a new mokoroing area.

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 28TH JULY 2002:

Robin Pope Safaris Weekly Update, July 28 2002

Robin and Jo Pope are two of Zambia's most respected lodge / camps owners. Here is their weekly update from the bush:

The cold snap of winter finished quite suddenly last week with long pants and shoes normally worn during the day cast off to hide in the wardrobes! One can almost dispense with long sleeves at night too! The Natal Mahoganies are flowering early and the wildlife is starting to move down to the river and to the lagoons with water remaining in them. The sky is hazy and everything is drying up! There is also that distinctive smell of the warmer, dry months in the air once more.

Fishing parties are forming again! The wonderful sight of a large number of water birds feeding off the fish stranded in water that is drying up. We are beginning to see yellowbill stork, Marabou stork, spoonbills and egrets congregating around these waterways. Sometimes there are huge flocks lining the water edge and it quickly becomes a feeding frenzy - a photographer's delight! Apparently the eastern white pelican has not been seen yet. They are localized migrants and will appear soon.

A more amusing story from John and Ross during a Tena Tena night drive recently. A civet was seen killing a spitting black cobra - the wriggling snake was almost dead by the time the troops arrived on the scene. Once it was finally dead the civet moved off with the snake in its jaws. A remarkable sight in itself! After a snake dies it takes a while before the muscles stop contracting so the body continues to slither and move...giving it the appearance of being very much alive and dangerous! So it happened that this snake's body curled over a log as the civet was making off with it. Noticing the movement, the startled civet dropped the snake, let out a loud bark in fright and ran off into the bush! What a waste of a good meal!

We've had a spate of excellent sightings over the past month and it looks set to continue. However what we don't want is the formation of a universal impression that a stay with Robin Pope Safaris will guarantee excellent lion and leopard.....so we are not going to talk about them for a while! Before this self-imposed censorship begins I cannot resist sharing a report from Nsefu by my friend David from Sydney, on his first visit to Africa, of the remarkable sighting of a pride of 18 lion up at the salt pan! Over half of the pride were cubs and it made the most fantastic sighting. And according to Robin the "good old days" have returned to Tena Tena with the rise in leopard numbers seen in the area - in one day last week he saw five!

Speaking of David's first ever visit to the African bush...his experiences remind me of why we are all here! From the moment he disembarked the plane his enthusiasm for everything was patently obvious...he marveled about everything he saw, smelt, tasted and heard! I just loved watching how a long-suffering urban creature adapts to the wilderness! It was what he expected but much more and as each day went past the boundless energy and excitement evolved into peaceful thought and total immersion with nature. He walked a lot (including a walk from Nsefu to Tena Tena passing about 300 buffalo watching him), he bounced around the Park in our wildlife viewing vehicles, he spent a whole day at Kawaza Village soaking up Zambian local culture and he met lots of guests and staff with whom he engaged in conversation. It was a pleasure to witness somebody making the most of every moment, enjoying it all and admitting at the end that it was a 'life changing experience'! As David said "you couldn't do anything BUT have a great time here"!

Paul Joynson Hicks came to photograph our camps last year for our new brochure. He so loved the South Luangwa and Robin Pope Safaris that he convinced me that we should do a book together. He returned in October for 3 weeks to take lots of wildlife shots. During the rainy season we had a number editing meetings (in Hampshire, UK, in Cape Town, then in Dar es Salaam and finally back in the Valley!) And now I have 3 advance copies of the final product on my desk. Sooooooooooo exciting. I am delighted with the outcome. A coffee table book with 156 pages of superb photographs. No one here believe that he took so many great shots in just 3 weeks! We called the book "Safari Dreaming". The 5,000 copies are on the high seas from Singapore at the moment but when we have them I will advise you how to order one!

Now on to Mike's July 17, 2002 report - quite a wildlife drive. "We set out on our afternoon drive with the excellent guide, Jacob, and his trust spotter "Hawk-eyes" Fanton. We headed towards the stork colony area for the promise of sundowners watching giraffe. En route we saw buffalo (being chased by a young bull elephant!) and the rarely seen Pel's fishing owl (our 4th in 3 nights). While sipping gin and tonics and watching the giraffe, as promised, we heard an explosion of noise from a troop of baboons. We then saw two hyenas approaching the plains to investigate the commotion.

Jacob assured us that there must be a leopard around so we climbed back into the vehicle, drinks in hand, and went to inspect the gulley running through the plain. Sure enough, Fanton found our leopard lying in the gulley with it's jaws around an unlucky impala's neck. The leopard then began to eat the impala as a hyena paced up and down the bank of the gully. After missing the leopard twice, the hyena stopped, turned and caught sight of it's target. It quickly approached and the leopard fled further along the gulley. After a hearty meal, the hyena walked away from the carcass. The leopard then seized the opportunity to return for more, but didn't get a chance to take a bite before it was spotted and chased away by the hyena. The leopard tried this strategy several more times, with more hyena approaching on the scene. Every time the leopard was chased away, once even up a tree. In the end the four hyena finished off the impala, while the leopard had to make do with the intestines left in the gulley. To add to this amazing scene, Fanton spotted a second leopard across the plain. But since we were already late for dinner, we didn't hang around for the adventures of this one. What a night!"

Tena Tena reports....

" ......Crystal and John had a wonderful drive with Ross seeing 3 leopard, 4 lion on a zebra kill and a striped polecat. The polecat is a very rare sighting (editor Jo - I cannot remember when one was last seen). However, Ross did not see it, only the guests but after long discussion with the books out it had to be a polecat! Kim was driving guests to Kawaza Village and experienced her first elephant mock charge - handled with cool, calm expertise of course but she had to wait 20 minutes for the elephant and her little calf to move off the road. Then around they corner they came across Robin and his guests blocked by 3 lioness and a cub basking in the middle of the road. So a late arrival at the village but well worth the delay. All thoroughly enjoyed the day at the village and Kim proved to a be an expert hip wriggler with the dancing ladies (according to Lawrence, the Tena Tena chef, who witnessed it!).

But to cap it all......Daudi was walking guests from Tena Tena to Nsefu. The walkers spotted 2 male lions lying near Lunga Lagoon. After watching them the walkers moved on. A group of impala ran toward the lion and one was grabbed. Only the legs of the impala could be seen so the walkers quickly climbed a large anthill from where they could see the whole scene. As they were quietly watching, two hippo chasing each other ran towards them, passing by at 50 meters. With no where to go the walkers just watched from their anthill. Much excitement! And a lioness was seen an hour later. Quite a walk!"

And there is more - what a week of kills. Jason A, staying at a bushcamp, reported that their quiet campfire drink was interrupted by a scuffle and distinctive strangling noises. Putting on a spotlight, they saw a male leopard with a young puku....close....very close...20 meters from the fire. The night was spent listening to the noises of ripping and crunching!

Robin's first mobile of the season was rewarded with a story unfolding. On the third afternoon the walkers saw a large herd of buffalo near the camp. During the night the lions were nearby, calling loudly. Then the sounds of a buffalo kill was clearly heard. The next morning Robin tracked the buffalo for quite a while and started to feel that they would not find the lions. Suddenly there was lion spore over the buffalo tracks and they saw a tawny eagle dropping into the bushes. The group, very very slowly and very very quietly creeped through the bushes and saw 4 lioness with 3 cubs feeding on the kill. By the next morning, there was only a skeleton left. All the guest said how exciting is was to have such a build up to the scene. I could give you more but enough of kills......

Marcus from Nkwali finally saw the new cubs of the Chichele pride - 3 tiny miniature lions emerged from a bush. After playing with mum's tail they endlessly tried to climb over a small log and continuously fell off - much to the amusement of the guests. And the pride that live behind Nkwali have been feeding on a buffalo or hippo 100 meters from Matthew and Sara's house. The game drives have seen the lions drinking at the river - from the opposite bank. After a few days Matthew mentioned to me that he had been hearing lots of hyena activity at night. I said - well not surprising - there is a lion kill near you. He had no idea - "thanks for telling me" - and looked rather sheepish that we all knew and he did not!

Robin has put a new road from Camp 3 on the Mupamadzi, across the Lundu plain, to be used on the journey out of the area. Driving through the open plain with the early morning light touching the golden grass is a beautiful experience. And there is the baobab. Jeffery has already told you about it - 27 meters in circumference, 9.3 meters in diameter - it is a HUGE tree. The guests are all coming back saying it is quite the most awe inspiring sight. And a few have said it is a "religious" experience. I am going to have to drive there to see it but you have to brave the bees from the 5 huge bee hives in the branches.

Jan, an American who was with us a couple of years ago, was the first guest to spend a week at Kawaza Village. She had a truly wonderful time enjoying daily village life preparing nashima, fetching water, working with the children at school and evenings around the campfire singing, dancing and story telling. Now she is busy planning her next trip!

The "Brigadoon Lagoon" saga at Nsefu.....Jason is adamant that there are two beautiful lagoons around the Hidden Lagoons area behind Nsefu. He has walked in the area this year a few times trying to find them but has failed! Much to the amusement of the staff he has now asked Lameck, on of our tea bearers, to help him. But each time Jason comes back from the area he has an excuse....:well I am sure we were walking in the right direction but our efforts were thwarted when we came across a fantastic herd of elephant so had to detour!". Yeah yeah - sure J.

And a few short ones.....the lioness who was darted to remove the snare at Tena Tena is doing well. And her cub is still with her..... and the male who was de-snared last year is in the same pride and is busily mating away! Nothing wrong with him..... Robin also saw a ground hornbill coming out of a hold in a tree - possibly doing a recce for a nesting site. We will keep an eye on the whole.....and the Nkwali guests were trapped in the bar for a long time the other night, delaying dinner, as a huge male elephant nonchalantly hung around - feeding on a bush.

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 21ST JULY 2002:

Robin Pope's Weekly Wildlife Update, July 21 2002

Robin and Jo Pope operate safaris in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Here is their weekly update:

Wildlife viewing has been sensational this week - lion mating, leopard at Nsefu and Tena Tena, Robin and his walking clients near Camp 2 observing a lion pride with the remains of a buffalo kill, teeny lion cubs playing on a log, ground hornbills, striped polecats, a record number of squirrels, tawny eagles, Tena Tena and Kim's first experience driving guests to Kawaza Village and Jason's hidden lagoon saga in the Nsefu Sector!

In addition I must say that there was lots of commotion at Nkwali last night! A large bull elephant trapped Nkwali guests inside the bar and away from their waiting dinner table! He was munching around the bar taking his time to enjoy his own evening meal and would not move! There was much grunting and burping to be heard, and late at night once everyone was able to get to their dinner and safely tucked up in their chalets, much branch snapping and movement - there were many eles in camp and they made SUCH a lot of noise! Fresh ele droppings all over the place this morning - lovely!!

Last week Robin came across one of the biggest baobab trees he's ever seen in the South Luangwa! He was up along the Mupamadzi River to survey the road leading into the mobile camps and to site a new camp. The baobab overlooks the Lundu Plain on the southern side of the Mupamadzi River. It measured 28 yards in diameter with an enormous room in the center! There were 3 extrusive beehives attached to the tree - keeping guard over it and preventing anyone from getting too close. It was a very impressive sight!

Robin said that along the Mupamadzi there were lots of buffalo and lion tracks. He saw eland and lots of small game in the area.

At Tena Tena Ross spotted 13 leopard in 11 night drives! On Saturday night Ross was out admiring the sight of a leopard hunting a puku antelope followed by 3 lion. He also saw 2 honeybadger's digging in the sand, 3 porcupine, lots and lots of civet and genet and a Pel's fishing owl to top it all off! On another occasion Robin, who has been spending the last few days up at Tena Tena, watched a leopard hunting baboons.

I spent last weekend at Tena Tena with some Australian friends and one night as we were driving with Ross, my friend Robert was holding the spotlight whilst I made the comment in the back about how I would just love to see a leopard. As though we were in the middle of a perfectly stage-managed performance, Robert's spotlight fell on a stunning male leopard as he emerged from the bushes and began walking along the edge of a dry lagoon. We sat admiring him pass in front of us until he disappeared from sight. Robert turned the spotlight back to where the male entered, stage left, and a female leopard then repeated the process and gracefully followed the same path as the male until she came to lie down under a large sausage tree. Quite a lovely sight to witness a mating pair. Five minutes later we came across honeybadgers digging once again! The following morning, just behind Tena Tena, our vehicle swung around a large termite mound and arrived at the scene of mating lions in the middle of business.

Nsefu's week has also been full of surprises. Lots of Pel's Fishing Owl (Jason's favorite!) including four spotted in one night. In camp last night he could clearly see a leopard on one side of the bar and six lion on the other! I wonder if he then poured himself a double whisky?! This camp is such a gem - it just looks better every year and Jason & Buffy are doing a superb job. Last year visitors will remember an enormous sandy beach that stretched a long way out from camp towards the bend in the river, a perfect spot to sit at the end of the day and watch the sun turn red over the horizon. It only took one rainy season to dispense with all of that! The river changed its course ever-so-slightly by moving the beach to the other side of the river, leaving a new vertical riverbank drop from the grass down to the water below where once there was a gradual decline onto the sand! It didn't take long to get over it with Buffy's wonderful champagne and pate sundowner special - my Australian friends, fresh to Zambia, were quite literally breath taken with the beauty of the Nsefu sunset experience!

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 14TH JULY 2002:

Linyanti Tented Camp June Report, July 14 2002

Linyanti Tented Camp is located in the Linyanti / Savute area of northern Botswana. Here is the camp's June report:

Another incredible month at Linyanti! Drives along the river have been filled with elephant, giraffe, kudu, impala and a sightings of roan and sable. We had some excellent leopard viewing as well. A friendly python visited Dave Luck on the loo with a view, which made for great photo's, and then proceeded to inspect the areas around tent 1 to 5. Day long outings along the Linyanti have been rewarding, and 2 bushdinners around full moon blew guests away.

King's Pool Tented Camp June Report, July 14 2002

King's Pool Tented Camp is located in the Linyanti / Savute area of northern Botswana. Here is the camp's June report:

All I can say is that I think elephants were made to keep camp managers running around. I have spent more time this month fixing walkways than 'fishing'! But that is what we are here for, what I privilege to be able to live in a place where we clean up after elephants.

I think that I should start with the Linyanti's wildlife!! Everytime when I think that it can't get better, IT DOES!! There is so much wildlife everywhere! Our friendly young resident male leopard has been pleasing guests as always. The baboons think otherwise. He was watched the other night chasing baboons up a tree at the underground hide.

Talking about the sunken hide, this place is unbelievable!! We are using it almost everyday and the guests are getting their fill of elephants. An injured hippo has taken to the water hole. He chases everything around that tries to come and drink. The other morning a pack of 11 wild dogs were trying to drink and he wouldn't let them. Also the lions were not allowed to drink. Obviously he doesn't know the Linyanti lions, and their liking for hippos!

The weather has been very strange, with winter hardly showing its face this month. Instead it has been cloudy making it warm at night. However by morning drives are very refreshing.

Duba Plains Tented Camp June Report, July 14 2002

Duba Plains Tented Camp is located in Botswana's Okavango Delta. The area around the camp is reputed to have the highest density of lion in all of Africa. Here is the camp's June report:

Winter is in the air. The winds are assisting in drying up the flood waters, already several of the channels have dried up and it won't be long before we can reach "Paradise" again. As expected, lions stole the show yet again. We have been recording data on the lions for 19 months now and this June has ended as our most successful to date. We managed to find the lions everyday of the month, with an unbelievable daily average of 21 different lions. In total we had 61 pride sightings, with 52 different lions seen during the month. Kills witnessed included 1 x kudu, 4 x warthog and 24 x buffalo of various ages. The buffalo still seem to be doing well, even with all the lion pressure. The month began on a high note, with the Pantry pride killing a big male kudu in the camp and bringing all ten cubs to feed. Subsequently it proved fairly tricky to get the guests onto the vehicles for their wildlife viewing drive. Fortunately for the Pantry pride, a large herd of buffalo has moved into their territory from the Vumbura area. The reason being the expanse of fresh, green grass which has sprouted since the veld fire. This has been as huge positive for the Pantry pride as they now do not have to compete with the Tsaro pride for the other large herd of buffalo. Some bad news for the Pantry pride however, was the loss of one little cub. How? We are unsure. The rest of the Pantry cubs are very lucky to be alive as there was a clash with another pride from the Vumbura area. From the tracks, it was evident that this new pride of two males and two females chased them off a buffalo kill, fortunately more intent on food than killing the cubs. After two days of worrying if the cubs were alive, we were pleasantly surprised to see all nine cubs and five lionesses re-united and very playful.

The Tsaro pride was seen on 26 days during June and provided plenty of fine viewing. On several occasions they were seen killing up to three buffalo at a time. The highlight had to be the whole pride chasing our young male leopard up an Umbrella Thorn and a very poor effort at climbing the tree after him. Eventually they lost interest in the leopard and chased the herd of buffalo, killing a calf. The action did not stop there as a herd of elephant arrived, attempting to charge the lions from their kill. The lions then continued hunting the buffalo unsuccessfully. The Tsaro pride was seen pushing further than ever into the Pantry pride's territory, managing to kill an adult female buffalo, only to have it stolen by the Duba Boys. The following day, the Pantry pride was seen feeding on the same kill, cubs and all. The Tsaro pride are no longer the most dominant pride in our area. The Skimmer pride has certainly taken that title, or rather the two Skimmer Males. One occasion saw the Tsaro pride being chased right through the middle of their territory. The Tsaro's month ended with mixed fortunes. They succeeded in killing three buffalo calves, only to be challenged by 18 hyenas. As they were spread out between the three kills, they could not successfully defend them. One lioness was isolated and surrounded by the hyenas. As the hyenas moved in on her, she managed to jump into a deep channel of water and remain there until the threat passed. The noise of the clash attracted the Duba Boys to the scene, who soon saw off the hyenas. Unfortunately for them, too late for a free meal.

The Skimmer pride continues to do well, albeit with much help from the Skimmer males. The water is drying fast, so it should not be long before they return to their normal territory in the Paradise area. Still no sign of the two missing cubs, however, a little bit of hope still remains as one lioness is often missing from the pride. It may be possible that she is returning to the cubs on the other side of a big channel of water. We'll keep our fingers crossed. Three sightings of the Old Vumbura pride were enjoyed, still hanging around in the northern part of the Pantry pride's territory. Priority for the Pantry pride is to protect their cubs, so they are avoiding any possibly conflict with other prides and thus having to relinquish parts of their territory for the time being.

The hyena den continues to thrive, with all the pups doing well and as inquisitive as ever. Our young male leopard was seen regularly this month, spending three days around the camp. He ended his camp stay by killing a side-striped jackal and dragging it up a Rain Tree at the entrance to the camp. No sign of the female leopard with her new cubs, but we'll continue to search for her. Elephants have returned in a big way, with many large herds regularly encountered. With lots of flood water still around, much enjoyment has been had watching the elephants wallowing and crossing channels, not to mention showing the lions who the real kings of the jungle are. Of the smaller wildlife: serval, wild cats, porcupine, side-striped jackals, aardwolf and bat-eared foxes were regularly seen. The bird watching continues to be fantastic, but will get even better as the flood waters recede and fish get trapped in isolated pools.

Gametrackers Botswana June 2002 Report, July 14 2002

Gametrackers was recently voted "best tour operator in Africa". Operating in Botswana only, here is Gametrackers June 2002 report:

I think it would be fair to say that the entire region has been held firmly in the grip of typical June winter weather. As is very much the norm, the days have been mild to warm, with the nights being on the chilly side. On the 16th of the month Savute saw the mercury plunge to 1 degree Centigrade.

At Eagle island camp the bulk of the annual Okavango flood water seems to have arrived. The current water level is 115cm at the camp and has been steady for some time now. From the air one's initial thoughts are that this years flood is massive as the vast burnt areas are just sheets of water. Despite the reality that this years flood is nowhere near as good as last year (165cm at the peak), the water continues to stream over the Boro channel banks and into the surrounding floodplains making for spectacular views and sunsets.

Further to the east the Khwai River's flow is strong and the level now remains fairly constant if not rising ever so slightly. Sable Alley, the small channel that runs around the back of Khwai River lodge is always a good measure as to how the water is progressing. To date Sable Alley is filling but is not yet in line with the airstrip. Khwai could very well start to see the influx of some more water in the later half of July - just how much however remains questionable.

As for an overall view of the 2002 annual flood the current water levels in the panhandle of the Delta are dropping rapidly. On a more positive note however, it would seem that Maun will see some water later on in July.

The influx of the floodwaters has solved the fire problem. Questions have however been raised as to just how big an impact the current burnt areas have had on the actual floodwaters. Typically the floodplains would have at least some vegetation that would obviously displace some of the water. The current bare flood plains will therefore understandably use more water. Another consequence is that of increased evaporation. The rate of evaporation on large expanses of open water would be much greater, if compared to areas with flooded vegetation. Add to the equation a mediocre flood and the effects are sure to be noticeable.

Throughout the region the dry winter conditions combined with the additional impact of animals congregating around water points has had a marked effect on the vegetation. This is very typical for this time of the year and is bound to continue into October.

At Eagle Island camp the real fan palm fruits are now ripening and as a result the elephant bulls are paying very special attention to these trees. Elephant adopt a some what awkward stance, trunk up against the tree stem. A funny vibration then emanates from the hindquarters of the animal in order to dislodge any ripe palm nuts and unsuspecting baboons high up in the foliage of the plant.

All in all, the entire region has experienced some fantastic wildlife viewing this month. Sightings have ranged from two wild dog kills right in front of Savute Elephant Camp, to herds of up to a thousand head of buffalo at both Eagle Island and Khwai River Lodge. Khwai has also had numerous viewing drives where all the big cat species have been sighted; lion, leopard and cheetah.

Interestingly the tiny elephant that was being looked after by a lone bull a good six months ago has been seen in the Savute area again. The youngster is now much bigger, stronger and seems to be doing well under the guidance of the obviously experienced bull. Although the leopard that drinks from the fountain in camp has not put in any 'dinner appearances', a very tenacious honey badger has. The honey badger has the attitude of a grizzly bear and much the same a nose for food. Luckily to date the small creature seems more preoccupied by the water than the kitchen - although the chef has knives, my money will be on the badger!

Despite the increased water levels at Eagle Island Camp, wildlife viewing has been impressive. The motorboat activities have proved the most successful in locating the sightings. Lion, leopard and large herds of plains game have been seen up the Boro channel from camp.

Birdlife at all the camps remains constant. Good sightings of a large variety of species can be recorded with reletive ease.

At Savute the need for water draws birds of all shapes and sizes to the pumped water points. It is not uncommon to see thousands of cape turtledoves congregating around these spots. Within the camp the raucous behavior of Meyers parrots at the fountain is hard to miss as these beautiful birds literally clamber on one another's heads to get a drink.

The organization behind Wattled crane research in the delta, Birdlife Botswana, will be sponsoring "guide of the year", Onx Manga to attend a crane workshop in Zambia. Gametrackers will once again be assisting in the research this year and the need for a trained representative in the Khwai area has been identified by the organization. Onx will be trained in crane observation, surveying, etc. and will depart on the trip in mid July.

The cold has kept snake activities to a minimum. Eagle Island guides however have seen a good number of African rock pythons and recently enjoyed one especially interesting sighting. Whilst out on a walk some jackals were spotted feeding on a +/- 3 meter python. Upon observing the jackals behavior for a few minutes both guides and guests were very surprised when a herd of zebra feeding nearby chased the jackal from their kill. This action by the zebra is not quite understood, but I would expect that the zebra were merely focused on the jackal and were not even aware of the dead snake.

With the exception of an increasing amount of hippo activity at night on Khwai's beautifully manicured lawns and a few baboons testing the baboon proofing at Savute, no other major problems have been reported.

Usually at this time of the year the Savute Elephant Camp water hole is wall to wall of elephant consisting mostly of huge bulls. Recently however, some small breeding herds have been putting in appearances at this site. The interaction between the pachyderms at the water point is always interesting, but when the ladies and their babies are around the action really heats up. Amazingly babies are tolerated to venture right in amongst the regular giants for a drink, despite a definite pecking order between these bulls. At the slightest hint however of an adult female trying pinch a drink, all hell breaks loose and the females are challenged. This pressure on the females leads them to eventually leave the water point in order to try elsewhere or return at night when there are fewer bulls.

During the month, the wild dogs at Savute have persecuted one of Africa's truly majestic African antelope - the kudu. Male kudu are huge and weigh up to 300kg while females weigh between 150kg and 200kg. Males have huge spiral horns as long as 1,5m. The kudu is a browsing (leaf eating) animal that favors scrub woodland. They also eat fruits, herds, tubers and flowers. Kudu usually mate between May and August. The animal's gestation is 9 months after which one youngster is born. Calving normally peaks in the rainy season. Kudu are incredible jumpers and can easily clear 3m; a 2m high fence would be considered more an inconvenience than a barrier. Kudu give a sharp dog like warning bark when threatened.

The tsetse spraying is now into its third cycle and to date has seemed to be very successful. The numbers of flies in the Xaxaba area has dropped from more than 500 captured in a day to 1 captured in a day. A further two or three cycles are still to come in order to ensure that newly hatched flies are targeted. To date no disturbance to safari operations have been reported. Continued environmental monitoring is also being carried out in both this year and last years spray blocks. Regards

Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp June Update, July 14 2002 Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp is located in Namibia. Here is the camp's June report:

June was a great month for going to the Vlei. Even though winds were blowing at camp at breakneck speed, it was calm in the dunes. Weather allowed us to stay out over the afternoons and made walking in the dunes more enjoyable. Temperatures turned on a high of 37 degrees Celsius, with a low of 8 degrees Celsius. There was no recorded rainfall for this month.

Trips to the dunes at Sossusvlei have been the main activity. The cooler weather resulted in an increase in numbers volunteers to try climbing "big daddy" (the largest dune). The excursion has been changed to a full-day event, with brunch in the morning, lunch under a nice shade tree after walking around to Deadvlei and then going back on a round trip to Sesriem canyon for a short walk in the cool and shady canyon. The fine weather the last month with little or no wind has made the excursion enjoyable and producing good light for photography. The afternoon sundowner drive is always popular, with Christine the ostrich paying a regular visit.

Wildlife wise it is as if nature has come to life with a lot of activity in the area. Sightings of aardwolf, jackal, oryx and springbok have become common. The veldt is still in a very good condition, with the wildlife looking forward to a good season, with plenty of food. A dry and windy winter is on its way.

UPDATES FOR WEEK ENDING SUNDAY 7TH JULY 2002:

Savute Tented Camp June Update, July 7 2002

Savute Tented Camp is located in wildlife rich northern Botswana. Here is the camp's June update.

June was the best month of the year wildlife wise and we will be surprised if anything can surpass the sightings we had! It all started with the finishing of the hide next to the waterhole. We took several guests to "christen" the hide and we got a trunkful of water from an old elephant as - it really was a "christening". Since then we have enjoyed many brunches in the hide. The feeling is like having breakfast with the horses at the stables. Guests have loved the experience. As if this is not enough guests this June had the opportunity to witness the famous Savuti Pride bring down a buffalo bull 2 kilometers from camp. Prior to that the same pride tried to bring down a subadult elephant bull at Zibadianja lagoon. The lion enjoyed rodeo riding but could not bring the mammoth down. The trio cheetah brothers gave us four viewed kills, two kudu calves and two Impala.

Another highlight of June was the resident pack of hunting dogs. Every third day they brought down an impala within camp, and even our marketing ladies from the Jo'burg office were rewarded with a kill by their door step. The pack of four is in camp either early morning or late evening - daily. The pack's presence has attracted several hyena to the camp for easy bites.

The icing on the cake for us was an aardvark sighting - also a yellow mongoose. A leopard hunt nearly ended fatally when a young leopard tried to tackle a honeybadger. She got a good foul smelling spray and gave up. Somehow we got the spray on the tires and into camp - of interest a few guests refused dinner that night. Aardwolves and honeybadgers have been sighted too.

Jao Tented Camp June Report, July 7 2002

Jao Camp is located in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Here is the camp's June report:

The month of June was full of exciting happenings. A great bonus for the concession is a pack of 7 wild dogs, which has created some fantastic sightings what with numerous kills. They have moved up north now, to the Tubu area, so we wait with baited breath to see if they will stay in the concession and den / breed. Elephants have been enthralling the guests with their relaxed, mighty presence, sleeping in camp, and offering guests with wonderful sightings from their rooms, as they pass from Pupu Island, through the water, and into camp.

We have had lion roaming the concession. On some kills the males have stolen from the females with hyena's in the background, pushing in for their share. Leopard have also been stealing the show with kills near the Jao Hippo Pool, and sightings around the concession. To add to this there were regular sightings of civet, wildcat, Pels fishing owls, buffalo, and lots of general wildlife. Two guests found where the two local genet cats stay in camp, and we have named them after these two great ladies. They were so excited to be the ones to find this, and together with the hyena's coming into camp each night and general wildlife finding the island a safe haven, we can't wait to see what this beautiful Delta will give us next month.

With a lot of the evenings being really pleasant, bush dinners near the Hippo Pool and the Boma are very popular. The staff are having a great time singing and passing on their cultures via their voices and dances to many a happy person.

Kwetsani Tree Camp June Report, July 7 2002

Kwetsani Tree Camp is located in Botswana's Okavango Delta region. Please find the camp's June update below:

It was a very exciting month at Kwetsani as the wild dogs are back, along with leopard, and loads of elephant in camp. One group of clients witnessed a leopard chased up a palm tree by the dogs.A porcupine family - mom, dad and a little one added spice to dinner each evening as they are staying underneath the main deck area.

Mombo Camp June Update, July 7 2002 

Mombo Tented Camp, located in Botswana's Moremi Reserve, is renowned for having some of the best, if not the best, wildlife viewing in all of southern Africa. Please find the camp's June report below:

June has come and gone. The peak season has brought many visitors to Mombo and more importantly has seen all of them depart with unforgettable memories and experiences. Old man winter has not been able to get a good grip on this part of the world, yet. Most days have been remarkably mild with only a few cold snaps reminding one that in Setswana, June is referred to as Seetebosigo - literally meaning "don't go out at night because it's too cold!"

The flood waters are still covering large tracts of floodplain even though it has not been a particularly high flood. The lush grasses in these inundated areas continue to lure large herds of lechwe and buffalo. One herd in particular seems to enjoy the camp and many a guest has woken up to the sight of about 200 of these buffalo sleeping contentedly around the tents and walkways! There have been some great cheetah sightings - the Ngonyama female has 3 adorable cubs! Mom and the little ones have provided many hours of unforgettable wildlife viewing. The Twin Pans female, another relaxed cheetah, is heavily pregnant so more cheetah cubs are on the way! The lion cubs of the Matata and Moporata prides have also been seen regularly now that they are slightly older and should be joining the adults and their siblings on kills very soon. Representing leopards in the Mombo baby boom is the Tortillis female who presented her latest youngster to guests for the first time this month!

Looking ahead, we expect the floodwaters begin receding next month.