As yet another busy year winds down in the bush and we reflect on the many highlights and memories made and shared, it becomes clear that there is no life quite like the bush life!
The summer rains have arrived in earnest bringing with them much relief from the hot summer sun we experienced in November, and have persuaded grasses and trees to grow with such ferocity that the bush around Abu is completely unrecognisable to returning staff and guests alike. Areas where visibility was once almost as far as the eye could see have been shut off by dense stands of feverberry trees between broad-leaved woodlands and riverine forests, with tall lush green grass and floodplains between them. The time of plenty has truly arrived as animals of varying size and shape have birthed their calves, lambs and piglets into a green wonderland full of much needed energy for new mothers feeding and strengthening their young. Some of my favourite sights of this time of year include seeing the many “nurseries’’ attached to breeding herds where young animals of varying description are to be found under the watchful eye of some old head in the herd.
As far as elephants go, the Abu Herd is also enjoying the abundant fresh foliage on offer and none more so than Kitty, who has the responsibility of keeping little Naledi full of energy as our little star seems to be growing on a daily basis and has already seemingly doubled in size since she joined us in late November. Luckily for Kitty, both Lerato (Kitty’s first calf) and Paseka (Kitty’s adopted calf) have taken very seriously their new role of babysitter and can be found constantly shepherding her around and rushing to her defence, even if the perceived danger is only a wily bush that Naledi has entangled herself in. Her adorable antics and incredibly friendly demeanour have made her a very popular part of an Abu visit.
Cathy, Shirheni and Warona have been the focal point of most of our elephant walks or rides while Kitty has been on maternity leave and have had some exciting moments themselves in the last month to share with guests… most notably when a pack of 25 wild dogs happened across the herd one day while out on safari, causing Cathy to be at her protective best trying to chase away the highly interested and confused dogs – which seemed to enjoy the interaction as a giant game of tag!
Sightings on the concession this month have been fantastic, with the above mentioned pack of wild dogs around for a short while in the beginning of December as well as two lionesses and their four cubs, many different leopards and our resident hyaena den that has very young new pups. Birdlife has increased tenfold, or at least appears to sound that way with the woodland kingfishers call being a dominant sound throughout the day. A pair of broad-billed rollers has also made the camp their home and forcefully defend it whenever they feel that other birds may be encroaching upon it. Other special sightings include yet another pangolin for the year and in the same night a Pel’s fishing-owl was perched at the Abu Bridge.
Wishing you all a wonderful New Year, with love from the Abu Herd. Managers: Liz, Ips, Ian and Caroline Guides: Taps, KB and BT.