July has seen rather windy and cold mornings and evenings. However, our guests were treated with hot water bottles, not only in bed at night but also on early morning game drives. The comfortable midday temperatures have also allowed us to conduct bush walks with our guests, which is always a great opportunity to focus on the smaller aspects of nature, as well as experiencing the bush at a different level.
Throughout the month, guests and guides have been thrilled with fascinating sightings. The Tsame Lion Pride was once again in good spirits this month and we saw them on various occasions hunting and feeding. The pride has been seen twice on giraffe carcasses, once on a buffalo kill and once on a zebra kill.
In addition, four nomadic males have been frequently seen right in the prime territory of the Chitabe Boys (the current dominant males). The high activity of nomadic males seems to be gradually increasing as another new single male was seen in the area very close to camp, lying a few yards away from the Tsame Pride when they were feeding on the giraffe. The four sub-adults males of the Tsame Pride didn’t allow the intruder to come too close, and responded swiftly by aggressively charging at him and then chasing him away. He decided to stay out of harm’s way and lay under some distant bush. However, that evening, everybody in camp was woken up by the deafening roaring of the two dominant males who came to join the pride feeding. Rather than settling down for a leisurely meal, they had to take up their territorial defense roles and chased the visiting intruder out of the territory. The nighttime commotion lasted for almost four hours, which made getting a good night sleep rather difficult for all.
Some of the other fantastic wildlife encounters included an excellent sighting of a female leopard that was seen stalking impalas and proceeded to kill a full grown impala ram. Although not always successful, this particular female leopard has been generously showing off her hunting prowess in front of our guests on many occasions over the course of the month.
The cheetah and her five cubs seem to have settled in the area but they constantly on the move, making it rather difficult to keep track of them. Nonetheless, we have been lucky four times this month to see them and that has always been a highlight. The cheetah family has been seen in various areas throughout the concession and some of these areas are frequented by lion and hyaena, which naturally exposes the cubs to potential danger.
One of our guides, Oats, recently went out on a full day trip with his guests and tracked this cheetah for several hours with no luck at first. Thankfully with the help of vultures, he eventually found her and all five cubs on an impala kill. The guests were impressed by his tracking skills and while they were still there enjoying the magnificent sighting, the Tsame Pride of seven lions appeared. The cheetah family had no option but to desert the carcass, but the lions went for them anyway, and the cubs scattered and fled in all directions trying to escape. After some time they reunited with the mother cheetah and she led her family away from the area as quickly as possible. In the chaos it appeared that one cheetah cub did not join back up with the family and Oats suspects the missing cub was killed although there has been no evidence. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the little one managed to escape.
At this time of the year, when all the palm trees are in full fruit, elephants show up in large numbers during both day and night. Solitary bulls are the most frequent visitors but we also get a few breeding herds hanging out in the camp. The bull elephants are always a delight to watch especially when one gets to see them shaking tree trunks to dislodge the palm nuts from the top of the tree. Even more amazing than watching them shaking the tree is the noise of the shaking that reverberates throughout the night. Guests often mistake the sound of the shaking palm trees for that of a huge storm approaching. The strength it takes to move a palm tree back and forth is truly amazing!
The month of July unfolded with a huge celebration of Chitabe's 16th anniversary on the 1st of July. The celebration party was attended by all our staff and guests. As part of the celebrations, Chitabe announced the following:
The 1st of July marks Chitabe’s Birthday and today we are officially 16 years old. We are truly blessed to be able to work in such a pristine environment and to have the opportunity to see Africa’s magnificent wildlife on a daily basis. Our goal at Chitabe is not only to provide a world-class experience for our guests but also to enhance and uplift the lives of all our staff, as we firmly believe that people are our greatest asset.
For many years, Chitabe has paid out profit sharing bonuses and we have also initiated an “Educate a Child” school fees donation. To quote a global icon, Nelson Mandela, who once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”. Chitabe is proud to announce our birthday gift: a donation to each and every one of our employees which will cover the school fees and uniforms for one of their children for a whole year. Should the employee not have any children, we hope they will use the “gift” for a niece, nephew, grandchild, or possibly to further their own studies.
In addition to the birthday celebrations, our focus to fully comply with relevant environmental legislations has recently earned us the GREEN PLUS Ecotourism Certificate from the Botswana Tourism Organisation. The Botswana Ecotourism Certification System, a voluntary industry programme, is designed to encourage and support responsible environmental, social and cultural behavior by tourism businesses for provision of a quality eco-friendly product to consumers. We're thrilled that Chitabe measures up to their high standards.