Following a relatively dry season this year and also less in-flow from the catchment areas, the water levels have gone down drastically around the concession and most areas that would normally be submerged at this time of the year are completely dry. This dry spell will continue for some time as we do not expect any rainfall until about mid-November. Temperatures have been ranging between 32 degrees Celsius and 36 degrees Celsius during the day and between 14 and 19 degrees Celsius during the evening. This has led to a lot of evaporation.
With this great heat and less water at most places, large numbers of crocodiles have been seen this month, basking in the sun, probably calculating their attack on the next unsuspecting mammal that wanders too close. This has led to some amazing interactions between these predators and their prey which are driven by thirst to these dangerous areas.
In terms of vegetation, most of the deciduous trees have shed all their leaves and the grass has been trampled flat, making for some great game viewing owing to the increased visibility.
Towards the end of the month a large hippo died at Lion Pan - perishing from battle wounds that were inflicted by another male during a territorial fight. The carcass lay untouched for four days before two crocodiles sniffed it out and gorged themselves. The resident pride of lions did not visit the carcass, but there were seen almost on a daily basis hunting and feeding on their favourite prey - the buffalo.
With the strong presence and dominance of the Tsaro Pride in the area, the buffalo have been taking a pounding as they have lost physical condition due to the lack of palatable and nutritious graze and adequate water. As lions are inherently opportunistic hunters, they are taking full advantage of the weakness in the buffalo ranks - making excessive kills and feasting in this time of plenty. It seems the trend this month is the lions taking weak buffalo that have become stuck in the mud around the drying waterholes.
Small herds of elephant have been seen on a daily basis even around the camp. They feed on almost everything, from grass, leaves, twigs and branches. Water is enough from deep channels for these elephants and they need not travel far to get drinking water.
Other species that have been sighted on a regular basis are the nocturnal ones like the pangolin, aardwolf, civet, bat-eared fox and genet. We have also had great sightings of the more elusive antelope species such as reedbuck and bushbuck.