The days are getting progressively warmer with a recorded maximum temperature of 38 degrees Celsius. Cooler mornings and evenings were also enjoyed towards month-end as a cold front pushed through from the Cape and made its way steadily across Botswana.
The dry vegetation at this time of the year allows easy viewing of both small and large animals and birds. Large flocks of waterbirds tend to concentrate on remaining water patches, lagoons and open floodplains giving our guests great photographic opportunities. These flocks invariably consist of egrets, wattled cranes, saddle-billed storks, squacco herons, geese, ducks, and many more.
Another factor that enhances birding in the concession is that the Gomoti River is receding rapidly, leaving open patches of muddy floodplains with small pools of water containing stranded populations of aquatic insects and small fish. This of course is like heaven on earth for many species of waders who are letting nothing go to waste and taking advantage of the easy pickings.
Game viewing in September was very rewarding with especially good sightings of predators. Lion activity has been great throughout the month. One morning our guides and guests had an opportunity to watch a confrontation when the two sub-adult males within the Chitabe Pride had to be reminded that the privilege of them living within the pride was now over. The time had come for them to find their own way in the world, and sadly “eviction” is often not an easy transition. It was really interesting to see how reluctant they were to leave despite the aggressive growls from their fathers. The sub-adults in return growled back, which didn’t help of course, and within a week they were pushed out completely and were next seen on their own. In most cases, the “evicted” males will go far out of the territory but these two seemed to hang around preferring to share the area but making sure to avoid the pride. We saw the same situation taking place with the Tsame Pride who recently evicted three sub-adults from their group.
We have also seen increasing numbers of nomadic male lions coming in and out of the area recently. These interactions are always interesting to watch as there is always the threat that the two dominant males could lose the three prides and their territory to these new nomadic boys. Our dominant males will probably be disadvantaged by declining physique due to age.
The wild dogs have finally made several appearances in the concession this month, resulting in thrilling sightings for our guests. The pack includes three males and one female and has been seen several times on hunts and kills. Regardless of the small size of this particular pack, these dogs are successful hunters.
Our resident male cheetah has been consistently seen in the far north-west part of the concession along the Gomoti River, which is suitable habitat for cheetah. According to our sightings record, he has been seen virtually every time the guides have gone into that area, which is an estimated 15 times this month and he appears to be in peak condition.
We have had a number of leopard sightings as well. Most of the sightings were of a well-known dominant male in the area seen together with a female and her cub feeding on an impala carcass. Leopards are solitary creatures and adults are not often seen together unless they are either mating or feeding.
Despite the dryness of the bush, elephants continue to be seen with increasing numbers throughout the concession. With much of the area drying and with limited water, we’ve seen big herds and many solitary bulls moving in close proximity to the few available water spots and have even caught sight of them feeding on softer aquatic vegetation like water lilies.
The Chitabe Concession is right on the edge of the Delta, so it’s always a number one stop-over for elephants coming into the Delta from the dry woodland in the northern and western part of the country. This always gives us a great opportunity to view and have amazing elephantine photographic opportunities. Our guests so often comment that not only do they enjoy photographing the elephants, but it is the sounds that these amazing creatures make while they are "talking" and feeding that provides them with the most incredible experiences. When watching elephants, all your senses are stimulated - sight, sound, smell and one can even 'feel' the elephants when they make their low rumbles.
Our guiding team for the month of September was Gordon, Phinley, BB, Oats, Duke and Anthony. So many of the guests have commented on the high level of guiding skills at Chitabe and the combination of their friendly personalities, in-depth knowledge and mature sense of responsibility making for a high quality guest experience.
Chitabe Lediba was managed by Moalosi and Charity and Masedi, Josie, Kris and Six were at the helm at Chitabe Main Camp during September.
“The game drives were just amazing and the information from the guide very interesting, the meals were just great.”
“The food and the service was outstanding, the staff worked hard and were very friendly.” Bob and Denise
“We would definitely return, so valued the attention and care of the staff for our requirements, the people always make or break the experience, but our experience here was special.” Abby
“Wonderful, wonderful staff, all made us very welcome and are so passionate about their Job.” Anna
Newsletter and pictures by T.L. Moalosi