Climate and Landscape
Temperatures were slightly lower than last month, typical for this time of the year though. The maximum went up to 30⁰ Celsius and the minimum as low as 10 ⁰ C. With pressure from the low temperatures, some trees began to shed their leaves while the smaller plants and grasses are slowly drying and some seasonal species are dying, creating less cover for the animals and more chance of game-spotting for us.
Our guides in May were Gordon, Anthony, Duke, Ebs, Luke, Tank, and Phinley; they were exceptional, fun and friendly, and their relentless passion for wildlife and nature was evident in everything they did to provide unforgettable memories and experiences for our guests out on game drives and in camp as well.
Game viewing was successful and interesting as many animals were seen with a lot of activity providing endless drama between predator and prey, lending an intense aliveness to the area. As the Chitabe Concession habitat is particularly diverse, wildlife is seen in abundance and great variety. Hippos and crocodiles walked and crawled around the marshy areas, enjoying the increased water all over the concession.
We saw wild dogs in the area for a large part of the month. As usual they thrilled and provided fascinating sightings, from sleeping and even appearing dead, to playing among themselves as a solid unit. Hunting in the pale light of sunrise and evenings is a daily occurrence, always with great enthusiasm. Sometimes the guides were assisted by the hooded vultures that trail the hunting dogs everywhere they go and the dogs were regularly seen chasing and killing impalas, their primary source of food.
The lioness with two cubs visited the camp area again this month, hiding her cubs close to camp when she went out hunting. She has learned the skill of hunting warthogs, taking advantage of the good cover in the tall grasses, and three times this month she was seen leading her cubs to warthog kills she had made just outside camp. She is still apart from the rest of the Chitabe Pride – which we had not seen in a long time until month-end when three of the females were spotted near camp with their 11 cubs of different ages.
Most of their cubs have grown in size and stature and are no longer just trailing behind and watching the hunts – they are more participative now. When the pride came through they seemed restless though, as they were constantly on the move within their territory. This pride is always interesting to watch, and was seen in action on several occasions hunting buffalo and zebra.
The leopard with two cubs also provided great viewing this month. Since she became a mother her hunting skills have improved and she has become a great provider; no more chasing squirrels and francolins around, she now focuses on larger creatures like impala since she now has three mouths to feed. Her cubs are all looking very healthy, obviously well fed and well taken care of.
Other leopard sightings were excellent throughout the month too; we encountered a few leopard kills up in the trees with some on the ground, especially those of young animals which don’t yet have the power to pull the carcass up into a tree. Instead they hide it away from other predators in the thick bush.
Although we felt something might have happened to our two dominant lions in the east to make them cautious to come back into their area, they were seen recently in top condition and are still very vocal, especially at night.
Birds and Birding
Driving along the Gomoti River is always fruitful for bird watchers. African fish-eagles were seen in aerial fights or fishing, while a large variety of other fishing birds like storks, egrets and herons also were all active as well. African marsh-harriers were seen flying at low levels above isolated grass patches picking out frogs.
Driving through the woodland was also thrilling as rare crimson-breasted shrike and kori bustard were seen. Secretarybirds also roam the open grassland plains chasing lizards and other small creatures that live here.
By Moalosi @ Chitabe