Weather and Landscape
After all the anticipation of October we started the month with a bit of rain, enough to create small waterholes across the concession, rejuvenating everything with those first drops. Consequently, the landscape is looking incredibly green and lush.
The temperatures rose considerably during the month, with the average morning starting at around 18°C, afternoon temperatures reaching 35°C and a recorded maximum of 40°C. The days following a really hot spell are usually fairly mild by comparison as the late afternoon and early evening thunderstorms cool everything down. Thunderstorms at this time of year are typically short and sharp, providing a welcome break from the heat.
The rains and resulting explosion in vegetation have caused many species (e.g. impala, wildebeest and tsessebe) to give birth in synch, essentially flooding the area with babies and in turn creating a feeding frenzy for a number of predator species that can easily catch the vulnerable newborns. One morning the guests enjoyed a great sighting when one of the dominant male leopards in the area snatched a baby impala. As he tried to take it up a tree, a troop of baboons emerged from the tall grass where they were foraging. The troop swiftly chased and ferociously barked at the leopard until he dropped the kill and climbed the tree for his own safety. One doesn’t often see leopards battling it out with baboons over a kill. The guests continued to watch and photograph the scene as the baboons then fed on the impala. Baboons are well-known omnivores and given the opportunity will always go for helpless animal young and bird chicks.
With such good rains, the game viewing has been excellent. The hot days tend to force animals to move towards the recently-filled waterholes to quench their thirst as soon as the heat of the day abates. So it makes sense for game drives to head for the waterholes to watch as the various animals come down to drink… large herds of elephant, impala, giraffe, kudu and recently, a dazzle of at least 100 zebra was seen as well.
Both the Tsame and Chitabe Prides have been seen several times hunting or feeding, providing our guides and guests with some wonderful sightings and photographic opportunities. The guides also recently found one of the Tsame Pride females who had disappeared for a while; she reappeared a few days ago, lactating. Now we know where she is keeping her cubs. These lion cubs will remain hidden within the thickets for some weeks before being shown to the rest of the pride.
The wild dogs have been somewhat elusive but we managed to spot them at least four times this month. A few days ago a new pack of wild dogs was found for the second time this month along the southern boundary of the concession. Ten adults with a litter of four cubs were found actively hunting through the woodland. It’s a real treat to have a large wild dog pack back in the area; let’s hope they stick around!
There is a known active spotted hyaena den not far from the camp and its inhabitants are seen on a regular basis.
The female cheetah with her four sub-adult cubs surprised us on three occasions, certainly proving to be the wildlife highlight of this month. It was a huge privilege for the guides and guests to watch her teaching her babies how to hunt, chase and kill. Although the cubs are hunting small prey under the supervision of their mother, at this point, they still don’t seem to know exactly what to do once the animal is caught – where to bite and how to bite to kill. Instead they played a cat-and-mouse game with the baby impala for at least ten minutes. Initially the mother showed no intention of giving her offspring any assistance but eventually, she bit the young impala, if for no other reason than to calm it down – all in all, amazing behaviour to witness.
Birds and Birding
There is always something to look forward to in the Chitabe area, whether it’s birds, mammals, reptiles or insects. In November we were surrounded by the sounds of some of the migratory birds such as broad-billed rollers, woodland kingfishers, Jacobin cuckoos, black cuckoos and many more that have just arrived in the area.
Thank you for memories that will last a lifetime that was a wonderful experience we had, well done Moalosi and Kay.
Our memories will be filled with all sorts of experiences, but our favourite was watching the lions play last night .
The Chitabe camp was outstanding, accommodations, staff and guides were excellent, and by far this was the best camp experience .
Lovely rooms, knowledgeable and friendly staff and great game viewing.
News by. T.L Moalosi at Chitabe and Chitabe Lediba Camps.
All photos taken by Phinley Mwampole