Weather and Landscape
January 2013 was a very wet month for us, but even with the amount of rain we had, we continued to enjoy some great wildlife sightings. One of the game drive vehicles sat patiently as a bull elephant enthralled them with his displays that included some very passionate ear-flapping and head-shaking.
Over the course of four days we had approximately 250 mm of rain, which is a large amount in such a short period of time. As you can imagine, the roads became muddy bogs and we had to close the runway for a day due to the rain. Photos of the floodplain in front of camp show how quickly the level of the water rises in such a short space of time.
The views of the water levels from the main area, pool and dining area also show that the water levels were even higher than at our highest peak of full flooding. However, as quickly as the water levels rise so too do they return to normal.
On the predator side, we had a number of sightings of Kgaruru, a female leopard, with her cubs. Although she has been a mother many times, this is the first time her cubs have reached the age of nine months and we wish them continued success.
We saw the wild dog pack during the month and on one occasion we witnessed a very uncommon event. A male impala, literally fighting for his life, was not going to give up easily and went head to head with one of the wild dogs, a real battle ensuing between predator and prey. After about 20 minutes however, the rest of the pack arrived and with the impala being so dramatically outnumbered the odds shifted and to the victor went the spoils.
Chitabe seems to have a new pack of wild dogs, which has been frequenting the area. This pack is currently made up of 10 dogs: four adults with six puppies. We will be keeping a close eye on them and working to identify the adults to see from which natal pack they originated. The Botswana Predator Conservation Programme, which is the cornerstone of the Botswana Wild Dog Research Project, will be assisting us in creating new identity kits for the dogs.
On the lion front, one of the Chitabe Pride lionesses was seen with a two-month-old cub – another new addition to the pride.
During the month of January, each camp closed for approximately 10 days so that we could undertake maintenance on the wooden walkways and all wooden flooring etc. This is always a busy time for all the staff, but seeing the wooden decking come back to life is rewarding. One forgets how harsh African sun and the elements can be, and annual and continual maintenance is a necessity.
Wishing you all a successful start to 2013 and hope to see you at Chitabe sometime in the near future!
The Chitabe Team