Weather and Landscape
The days have been relentlessly hot with a maximum of 38 degrees Celsius being recorded on a few occasions, making us all wish for a respite from the sky as we continually look upwards for a sign of desperately needed rain. The sky has teased us so many times with huge clouds building up, followed by a few drops of rain and then the wind comes, and seems to chase the rain away. November brought less rainfall than October with a mere 3mm being recorded for the entire month. However there has been an irregularity in the rain falling in the same concession with some areas receiving slightly more rain than others.
Despite the lack of rain the vegetation seems to be doing quite well, particularly the trees, with the large false mopane trees flowering, although the grass is not taking the lack of water as well, and is really struggling.
Although elephants have started dispersing owing to some of the smaller pans receiving some water, they still visit Ostrich Pan frequently and of course love the little waterhole right in front of the camp. By comparison, the number of elephants which have died due to dry conditions at this time of the year is surprisingly lower than last year, with guides reporting only two baby elephant carcasses.
The buffalo have become quite thin due to a lack of palatable graze and some have fallen prey to the lions. There are quite a number of half-eaten buffalo carcasses with the lions sometimes killing more than they can consume. We still see large herds of buffalo of up to two or three hundred, though most herds have split into smaller groups. It is amazing how difficult natural conditions can create an opportunity for certain species while proving very trying for others.
Plains game such as zebra, impala and wildebeest are still quite active and prolific in the area and are seen on a daily basis.
There has been a resident sounder of warthogs around camp for the last couple of months, and we were really happy to see them have a litter of piglets towards the end of the month.
As mentioned above, the resident lion population has been thriving and this was clear in November.
One evening, just after sunset, as we were all sitting in the main area watching a herd of buffalo going on their way after drinking from the waterhole, we suddenly heard the unmistakable sound of an animal giving a panicked and short-lived cry of death, followed by a stampede as the others ran for their lives. Sure enough, the following morning we saw one lioness, a sub adult and a cub still feasting, having brought down a large cow less than 100 metres away from Room 1! On another night we woke up to see one of the dominant male lions feeding on a buffalo right next to the waterhole. Once he had finished eating it was time to call for the rest of the pride to come and eat…needless to say the entire camp was woken up to the sound of the bush!
With the abundance of prey at the moment, two opportunistic new male lions have moved into the concession and appear to have successfully chased off the Linkwasha Pride. We later found one of these males mating with one of the remaining female lions.
The odds were not all in the lions’ favour this month though, as Livingstone and his guests witnessed an incredible and ferocious battle at a waterhole between a hyaena clan and a lioness. The hyaena really beat up the lioness and we were pretty sure that she would perish…but this was not the case as it seems she is steadily recovering.
Birds and Birding
Bird sightings have been very good with our guides recording the highest number of bird sightings of the year this month! Not all the migratory birds are back though, and some of the water birds have not yet returned, white-faced ducks and comb ducks to mention just a few.
We saw an increase in the number of white storks in the last week of November; however, they are falling prey to a mysterious predator which is killing them but eating only a little, leaving behind a half-consumed bird.
November is the time of year we at Davison’s Camp look forward to with tremendous excitement as we host the annual Children in the Wilderness (CITW) camp. It was a very exciting time yet again as we all got very active, danced, learned and laughed a lot! As the saying goes “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” We definitely appreciated having the time to play, at the same time working, taking a break from our usual routines. After CITW was over one could still hear the staff going about their work humming or whistling the main song of this year’s CITW programme.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Sibs and Elizabeth
Guides: Sibs, Brian, Livingstone and Mike