We experienced something of a cold snap at the start of the month with a low of 4°C (39°F) recorded. In combination with the light breezes we traditionally associate with August, this made for some rather fresh early morning game drives. Nothing that we couldn’t fix with hot water bottles and ponchos though; and, as always, it was definitely worth heading out there.
Temperatures increased steadily throughout the month, and just a fortnight later the lowest we experienced was a rather more civilised 15°C (59°F), with a daytime high of 35°C (95°F).
The Okavango winter had one last roll of the dice on the 23rd, when a dramatically windy night shook all the palm trees – rather as though a herd of elephants had passed through, which of course they have also been doing regularly.
Our guests enjoyed a fantastic start to the month, with almost daily leopard sightings. Our resident spotted cats put on a real show, exhibiting pretty much every facet of leopard behaviour from waking up and lazily stretching, to ‘posing’ in trees with kills they had hoisted out of reach of the hyaena from the airstrip den.
The Abu Camp airstrip is clearly the place for wildlife comings and goings, with a 15-strong pack of wild dogs sticking around for a couple of days, to the delight of everyone who got to see these rare and wonderful predators. Their presence was not such good news for an unfortunate warthog which blundered into them, leading to its being swiftly dispatched by the dogs. The pig’s final squeal was hard to hear, but it was amazing to watch how the wild dogs all worked together to first surround and then finish off the warthog.
Around mid-month two female lions and a large, impressively-coiffured male were sighted together. The same male was later spotted chasing his two companions away from the carcass of a young zebra, and again the next day, preventing them from feeding on an impala. No need to wonder where the expression “the lion’s share” originates from.
Our more familiar male lion, Boxer, was also seen this month – and he is generally no keener on sharing his meals.
One evening the Abu Camp housekeepers were surprised to see a female leopard quietly strolling through camp whilst the guests were all at dinner. Events clearly took a more dramatic turn when everyone was tucked up in bed, as the rising sun discovered her on a kill at the camp’s solar farm. The demise of this resident bushbuck brought hyaenas into camp later in the day, and marked another sad – if somewhat inevitable – chapter in the history of our local bushbuck.
The adorable hyaena pups are becoming more adventurous and curious and are starting to spend more time outside the den. It can only be a matter of time before they get into trouble! They are very inquisitive about the vehicles, and fearlessly return the gaze of the guests and guides.
A real highlight during August was the presence in camp of a true ‘Okavango special’ – the rarely seen Pel’s fishing-owl. One of these magnificent, cinnamon-coloured owls became a regular visitor to Abu this month. As our guests were relaxing with drinks around the campfire, a loud splash was heard, indicating that the owl had plunged into the water in pursuit of a fish. It returned to perch on one of the fallen trees by our deck, and in the last light of day we could see the glimmer of a fish pinned down by its sharp talons. Seemingly unfazed by having a (spellbound) audience, the owl chomped its way through its sushi platter for one.
The Abu Herd and Elephants Without Borders
Four National Geographic filmmakers were on the Abu Concession at the beginning of August, focusing on filming the Abu herd… under water. Donning scuba gear, they entered the clear waters of the Okavango Delta and were rewarded with some stunning footage. Ably assisted by the elephant handlers and camp and concession teams, it was a treat to watch these professionals at work and see their empathy for their subjects. We can’t wait to watch the finished product. Of course the Abu herd elephants are no strangers to the limelight, and took the filming completely in their (large) stride.
Meanwhile the anti-poaching unit has been getting to grips with its new drones and quadcopters, as its members use technology to stay one step ahead of poachers. Abu Camp general manager Annabel soon mastered the tricky art of flying a drone – after one or two bumpy landings!
Everyone’s favourite elephant calf, Naledi, is now a fully-fledged member of the bush-venturing Abu herd. She has been heading out with them twice a week, and is clearly enjoying spending the day with her extended elephant family, to say nothing of the wonders and edible delights of this magnificent environment. This is another significant step forward in her full integration into the herd and we are just as excited about it as she is!
Recent Guest Comments
“The most beautiful birthday. The staff was incredible."
“From the moment we were picked up at the airport, to our arrival in camp, everything was perfection. All staff were warm and attentive. Food outstanding. The elephant staff and our guide BT made our stay unforgettable.”
“The whole staff was wonderful and friendly – made our stay one to remember. Our guide BT did a great job. Love what Abu is doing with the elephants – keep up the great job. Housekeeping really goes above and beyond. Leshly and Kelly were so kind and welcoming. BT was an amazing boat driver! Wellington was very informative and friendly. The man that served drinks at the elephants/sunset so nice! Loved everyone.”