Weather and Landscape
Despite the fact that the rainfall in the month of March has been almost non-existent, which is rather unusual, the bush is still looking incredibly green. The temperatures have been fairly low with the maximums ranging between 35 and 38° C and the minimum for the month being around 18° C. Most of the natural waterholes are still filled with the remains of water from the heavy rains in January and our ecosystem still looks healthy and rejuvenated since the last rains.
It seems that the extensive herds of elephant that had moved deep into the thick mopane woodlands far north of our concession, after the heavy rains in January, have returned to the Chitabe Concession. It is great to see the elephants thriving and looking healthy once again especially after watching them struggling through the drier times when palatable vegetation was sparse.
We have enjoyed some great sightings of lion with their respective cubs - as well as wild dogs. The predatory highlight for the month was when two wild dogs, members of the Chitabe Pack, killed an impala ram, which proved to be too much food for the two dogs to consume. Immediately after they fed, the dogs left the carcass and a female leopard approached, taking the remains and dragging them under the bush so she could feed. While all the guests were watching the leopard feed, another pack of nine wild dogs arrived at the scene and proceeded to take the carcass from the helpless and outnumbered leopard. The pack of nine wild dogs are new to the area, and have been sighted several times over the past two months and we certainly hope to see a lot more of them.
The lion hotspot viewing area this month seems to be around the airstrip as that is where the Chitabe Pride has been concentrating its movements. They have moved here due to pressure from another group, the Tsame Pride, which currently occupies most of the prime territory that the Chitabe Pride used to roam. The two prides seem to share the territory, yet carefully move around each other seeming to avoid direct contact. The Chitabe Pride is successfully raising a three-month-old cub at this stage and it is common behaviour for lions to avoid any territorial disputes in favour of their young and vulnerable cubs.
Leopard encounters, as usual, have continued to be regular on game drives, with the Acacia Male and several of the females in his territory providing some great sightings. This male is the dominant leopard that occupies our prime game drive area and so far there are at least five to six different females that are within his territory. His territory is vast and covers most of the concession and at the beginning of the month we were privileged to observe and photograph him proudly defending his territory and fiercely driving out another male that happened to intrude. As beautiful as it is to photograph a leopard in a tree, watching active behaviour is first prize! Currently we have also been observing a female leopard successfully raising her young cub.
Big towers of giraffe have been seen browsing on the wooded islands and impressive dazzles of zebra have congregated on the floodplains – adding a beautiful colour and texture to the bush.
Birds and Birding
Birding has been amazing with woodland kingfishers and southern-carmine bee-eaters dominating the sightings on the migrant side. It has also been disheartening to watch many waterholes and lagoons drying up at a dramatic pace leaving the fish to suffer intensively from less oxygen and exposure to the intense heat from the sun. However, this annual occurrence does lead to fascinating sightings of the avian feeding frenzy by species such as storks, pelicans, and herons. Commonly known as a “fish trap”, at one stage we were able to witness at least 40 pelicans and many black herons in one small shrinking pond, all gorging themselves.
Chitabe seems to be one of the few strongholds of an endangered and highly protected bird species - the wattled crane. These birds prefer isolated wetland areas hence the Okavango Delta having a high population. Here at Chitabe we have a large flock of over 40 which is frequently sighted on the shallow floodplains in the concession.
“Can’t think of anything to improve on your fine effort, the staff and guide gave us a delightful experience here. Mo’s expert guiding was spectacular and the food and service was outstanding.”
“The camp was superb, the cooking was outstanding and game drives were wonderful, but what set Chitabe Lediba apart from others is the people! Your staff set a standard that all other camps can only hope to approach, it is the best of the best.”
Staff in Camp
Our professional and enthusiastic team of guides for the month of March, Phinley, Molemi, EBS, Gordon and Luke, kept guests intrigued during early morning and late afternoon game drives, exploring the various habitats of the area and their many inhabitants. With great support from all the staff and the following managers: Moalosi and Kay at Chitabe Lediba and Masedi, Six, Tiny ad Alex at Chitabe Camp.
Newsletter by T.L. Moalosi