The famous Okavango Delta annual inundation officially reached Duba Plains in May. This is always celebrated in the region, with countless debates around the camp fire, postulating when the surge of water might arrive. “Is it going to be bigger than last year, or 2005 or 1982?″ There is plenty of room for nostalgia amongst the guides and veterans of Botswana of how big the inundation might be this year.
Boating at Duba
The high water level provides the opportunity for spectacular boating experiences, opening up access to areas which vehicles cannot reach. Duba Plains is one of the most remote camps in Botswana, and exploring in one of our aluminium boats has allowed our guests to experience areas that are otherwise impossible to access by game drive vehicles. Photography from the boats offers a very unique angle, which can be seen in the adjoining image.
The Battle of Duba Plains
Duba Plains is on an Island in the Okavango Delta which becomes further isolated during the peak of the inundation – making for interesting lion dynamics.
One male lion, who is king of all three resident prides, dominates Duba Plains – he is called the Skimmer Male. He has upwards of 20 adult lions to watch over and this is proving to be a struggle as the younger males get older and stronger and compete for this prime territory.
The lion diaries of Otlwaetse, OT
"The Skimmer Male is in his prime but on the other hand feels threatened by his own sons who are growing at a great pace. Spike and OB (our Duba Plains guides) were guiding a professional photographic group and they know very well when it is the right moment. Sitting there in the vehicle, silently waiting as the lions approach the buffalo as part of a calculated move.
With cameras at the ready, just from nowhere, the Skimmer Male appeared and started harassing and splitting the pride up, beating up his maturing sons who attempted to challenge him but were not quite powerful enough. The photographers' shutters were going wild as a big fight ensued – father versus son. This was the moment the battle for Duba began."
Despite the Skimmer Male’s bulky size the two sub-adult male sons in the pride are now posing a threat. We are suspecting that soon they will be chased out of the pride and will become nomadic for a period. They are only three years old now and they are getting stronger every day and the Skimmer Male will not want them around. Once they peel off, who knows what will happen next.
Our elderly lady is injured
Duba is home to a very old lioness which is a grandmother to many of the big role players in the Duba lion society. She is 20 years old and along with the infamous Silver Eye, the two are the most mature females at Duba Plains. A recent extract from a professional photographer’s blog caused huge excitement as “an elderly lion” was gored by a buffalo. Reports from the guides were that she had been hit in the neck and was now struggling to hunt and also feed with the other lions. It appeared that she was now becoming thin. It was revealed to be the grandmother lion, the mother of Ma Di Tau. Updates are she is getting better now despite her age. 20 years is unprecedented for such a lion.
The camp is alive
Hippos continue to keep the night lively with their "honk honk honk" calls to keep us company. Whoever came up with the camp architecture is a genius, making it very easy to get so close to these large water mammals in safety. You may find yourself sitting at the fire place watching stars and enjoying an evening drink whilst a hippo minds his business navigating through the marshes below.
Jackals and bat-eared foxes often roam the Duba islands as well as a young female leopard, suspected to be two years old, still being spotted on Shade Island assuring us that she will survive in the land of large predators. Lions do not like leopards so it is incredible that she is still in the area and produced some great sightings this month.