The Botswana winter is definitely on its way, and towards the end of the month the temperatures began to drop markedly. However, our highest recorded temperature this month was a distinctly unwintry 35°C (95°F) and the lowest a noticeably cooler 16°C (61°F).
Around mid-month, much to everyone’s surprise, we received one last gift of rain with some 61 mm (2½ inches) falling in a single day. This had a visible impact on many areas in the Abu Concession, coming as it did on top of our late summer rains.
The combination of this last downpour and the standing rainwater has resulted in the Concession being much wetter than it might normally be at this time of year. Although deeper water crossings can make our logistics a little more ‘interesting,’ the increased levels are great news for water birds, lechwe and other species that don’t at all mind getting their feet wet.
The appearance of our corner of the Okavango, while unsurpassably beautiful, became slightly disorientating as in many areas it really did seem that this year’s inundation had arrived early.
Not to be outdone, the annual influx did indeed commence at the very end of the month, and in true Delta style, its stealth was matched only by its surprising rapidity. Watching the spearhead of the inundation trickle in, it’s hard to comprehend that up to 11 cubic kilometres (2.6 cubic miles) of water will enter this ecosystem over the next few weeks. It can also be hard to convince people who are unfamiliar with the workings of the Delta, that this is in fact the dry season!
On the day of the floodwaters’ first appearance, you can delay their progress with your foot or a shovelful of sand. Return the next day, however, and the road you were standing in could well be a real challenge to drive down. Having witnessed this phenomenon again this year, it’s now safe to say that the waters have arrived.
Of course, the Abu Concession was already rather wet thanks to the late rain so, with the addition of the inundation, we’re looking forward to living in a watery wonderland for the next few months – with lots of scope for exploring by boat and mokoro.
The Abu herd
It has been an exciting month for the Abu Herd, with everyone’s attention focused on our pregnant elephant, Lorato. What we have long suspected was confirmed by a wildlife vet using an ultrasound scan on the patient pachyderm. With an elephant’s gestation period being some 22 months, she has already had to wait quite some time to introduce the newest member of the Abu Herd.
She is certainly more patient than the human members of the Herd – several predicted birth dates have come and gone, and more than one film crew has had to depart disappointed. Although, truth be told, having to spend a few days in the company of elephants can never be called a waste of time. And so we wait, as does Lorato – but watch this space…
The impending successful conclusion of this latest Abu Herd pregnancy is further proof of the fact that the elephants are at liberty to interact with wild elephants, and that they still retain the inclination and instinct required to do this naturally and normally.
Abu Camp guests were treated to some awesome game viewing during April. This included sightings of three different cheetah, with two sub-adults seen on our recently completed new road to the Selbys area, and then a third one which had made a kill just metres from our airstrip. The open ground around the airstrip provides ideal hunting conditions for cheetah, but they can never afford to drop their guard.
Less than 500 metres from where this particular cheetah was feeding, two lion were also eating. Happily, they were distracted by their meal, and the cheetah lived to run another day.
Although our pack of wild dog was only seen once during April, we’ve heard exciting news from some of our neighbouring Camps: apparently the pack of five dogs has been seen very recently with some 11 new puppies. So it seems that their wait (admittedly much shorter – typically just 71 days, or only just over 10% of Lorato’s pregnant pause) for a new generation has come to an end.
April was also an incredible month for leopard sightings, with two new cubs being regularly seen close to the Camp. Two of our guests were lucky enough to have their first leopard sighting just moments after landing here, with their guide taking them straight to where a female had hoisted her kill into the fork of a tree just 50 m (165 ft) from the airstrip.
A beautifully relaxed leopard, she seemed completely unperturbed by the light aircraft landing and taking off so close by. Suggestions that this could be because she is a deaf leopard are of course completely without foundation.
We’ll leave you with the thoughts of some of the guests who shared the Abu Concession with us this month, and please be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on Lorato’s baby…
“Loved meeting the Abu Herd and spending time with them. The staff at Abu were incredible and made our stay even more enjoyable!”
“Beautiful camp, wonderful staff, elephant experience was outstanding.”