Climate and Landscape
Temperatures continued to rise throughout the month, which is to be expected as we head into the Botswana summer. The highest we recorded was a sizzling 43°C (110°F) with the minimum hovering around a very pleasant 20°C (68°F). Several days began with quite blustery winds, which brought with them a welcome suspicion of rain from the clouds scudding past.
October was an especially busy month for wildlife sightings across the Abu Concession, with several very large herds of buffalo – one of which we estimated at over 1 000 strong – and breeding herds of elephants numbering in the several dozens.
A highlight for all concerned was encountering one of our resident female leopards, Bame, with her young cub. When it comes to leopard cubs, even the most bush-hardened safari guides struggle not to use the word ‘cute.’
Departing from Abu Camp is never easy, but for one family of guests, the farewell was made considerably easier by a sighting of an unknown male leopard as they drove towards the airstrip.
Our resident lions have been taking advantage of the receding Okavango floodwaters to expand their territories again: two lionesses were seen at Tractor Crossing while the cubs seem to have taken up residence on Tau Island – which is entirely appropriate, as ‘tau’ is the Setswana word for lion.
The summer temperatures don’t seem to have affected the energy levels of the wild dogs, who continue to delight guests and guides alike with their playful interludes between hunts.
Of course, the wildlife action doesn’t end at the perimeter of Abu Camp – one memorable day began with the discovery of drag marks behind the kitchen by duty manager Tsebo. That is, the marks left in the sand by a leopard dragging its kill. Breakfast was curtailed (with nobody complaining) as the Abu Camp guides drove the guests out towards the scene of the crime. Excitement mounted when much smaller tracks were seen alongside that of the adult leopard, all leading to where a bushbuck had been hoisted into a tree.
The spotted cats had made themselves scarce at that time, but returned that afternoon to feed. The two very young cubs were not so keen on the sound of the game viewer engines and, as they seemed a little skittish, we left them to feed in peace.
Birding highlights included some quite rare sightings of yellow-billed oxpeckers and a Pel’s fishing-owl at Smokey Sunset.
New roads to beautiful areas Concession Manager Roger Carloni has been taking advantage of the onset of the slightly quieter ‘green season’ to lead road maintenance crews working to ensure that Abu Camp game drives are (more or less) bump-free. They also – after careful planning to minimise any environmental impact – constructed a wonderful new 5 km (3 mile) road following the curves of a majestic treeline on Tau Island.
This new road helps open up new and beautiful areas on the Concession, bringing yet more new dimensions to the guest experience and adding to the sense of exploration.
A very warm welcome to our new Abu herd members We are excited to announce that two new human members have joined the Abu Herd this month. Hamish and Millie Henderson have joined us from Mombo as they continue their Wilderness Safaris journey, bringing a wealth of invaluable experience with them. Hamish has taken on the role of maintenance manager whilst as housekeeping manager Millie will be ensuring that everything in the guest rooms is spic-and-span and welcoming.
The Abu Herd
You could feel the excitement in the air as Naledi’s third birthday draws ever closer. Our ‘baby’ elephant turns three at the very end of November – more on this in our next newsletter…
For an Abu Herd elephant, this is a milestone birthday. Once she is three years old, Naledi can become a full-time roaming member of the Abu Herd. She is going to love being out with her sisters and the rest of the herd every day, rather than waiting impatiently for them to return each day. We’ll miss having her around the Camp as much, but we would never dream of holding her back!