If you are asked to sum up Duba Plains in a matter of words then more often than not lion, buffalo, exceptional photography, Dereck and Beverley Joubert and National Geographic’s ‘The Last Lions’ come to mind.
The lion and buffalo interaction is world-famous and we are one of the top places in Africa to see the "kings of the jungle" hunt. Contrasting to this, our guide Spike and his lucky guests came a cross another battle amongst the titans - this time involving a honey badger and a southern African python.
One evening Spike was returning to the camp and using a red filtered spotlight they spotted two animals tussling in the short grass. After a closer inspection it turned out to be a python fending off a badger. The python would be a real prize of a meal, especially as it was about three metres long. The python was lucky as behind it was an acacia tree allowing it to retreat to some height, beyond the badger's reach. A lucky day for the python and a great sighting for our guests.
There are so many urban myths and stories told around the fire about honey badgers. They are often referred to, pound for pound, as the most ferocious mammal in Africa. Famed for fending off lions, and even killing buffalo, we have also heard of many stories about snakes and badgers fighting. One recent incident was when a badger killed a puff adder, but not before getting bitten. After being knocked unconscious by the venom, the badger was revived - some say their lymph system is so developed that it can process and metabolise the venom.
When the annual inundation arrives, it is always an exciting time for us as it brings with it so many changes to the environment. For most of the month, we noticed that the water levels were dropping, but towards the end of the March the water levels began to rise again. We look forward to doing boat trips once the water levels rise a little more.
Going back to the lion and buffalo saga, the resident lions had a challenging month, as the buffalo are all in peak condition following the green season. This led the lions to focus their efforts on catching buffalo calves. This however, was not a fool-proof plan, as the rest of the herd would often fend off the lions successfully. This resulted with the lions supplementing their bovine diet with red lechwe which are around in abundance.
Due to the high lion densities in the area, leopards are very elusive around Duba, but this month we had some incredible sightings of these secretive cats. The highlight was finding a leopard feeding on a baby monkey. Our guides used the alarm calls of the baboons and monkeys to locate the leopards this month. As the large sycamore figs are fruiting, they attract large numbers of primates to the highest branches – making them effective sentinels.
Other highlights for the month included sightings of bat-eared fox and serval.