Weather and Landscape
The desert has come to life in the rainy season – and it is still ongoing! We recorded an average of 20 mm of rainfall, and the amazing thing is that we are still receiving more. The temperatures have been very comfortable, with highs of 34° and lows of 23° Celsius. The Kalahari, one quickly notices, is a land of extremes, both in temperature and in appearance, as the area responds very quickly to rain, even after a long period of drought.
Weather conditions have a significant effect on the feeding behaviour of the desert-adapted antelope and the many other creatures found in the semi-arid desert of the Kalahari. Springbok and blue wildebeest appear to avoid competition by niche separation, giving everyone a brilliant opportunity to view these plains game species at the same locations – mostly near the pans. An unusual and rare antelope, the skittish red hartebeest has been frequenting our big pan near the camp as well as many other pans in the concession. Many other large mixed and breeding herds as well as small family units of gemsbok (oryx) and springbok were seen frequently on the pans, from the ones nearby to further away from camp.
The local predators have many choices as their prey is mostly these antelope and their young, which populate the open areas in big numbers. The Plains Pride is still doing well and our current treat is viewing these felids coming to the areas near camp with their seven cubs. We are fascinated by the light brown cub; even though it’s the same age as the other cubs one might think it’s the youngest because of its small size. This little cub puts on a show whenever encountered and has proved to be the most energetic and sociable. It is always the most fascinating to watch – being the best walker it does not struggle to keep pace with the pride. The fact that it is so much lighter than the other cubs has left everyone, staff and guests, curious as to whether it will become darker as it ages or if it will remain light in colour. This pride has been doing particularly well taking down both adult and young gemsbok.
We’ve had only a few leopard and cheetah sightings, mostly the female leopard being seen once in a while in the nearby areas.
The black-backed jackals are back frequenting the camp's big pan, with these lively dogs spotted almost every day, trotting around looking for insects, lizards and even following the local prides to kills. We recently found a few of them at the lions’ baby gemsbok kill. Long after the lions were done these small canines carried on consuming the remains. Of all the jackal sightings, the most often seen were three juveniles in the south-western part of the concession. These three pups were very comfortable around the vehicles, giving guests some brilliant opportunities to view and photograph them.
One morning after all the guides went out for their morning drive, staff members saw a lone jackal approaching one of the smaller antelope. On closer observation through binoculars they saw a weak-looking adult steenbok trying to defend herself against a black-backed jackal. The little predator had noticed that she was helpless and was determined to take her down quickly before the big predators come to steal it away. It took a few minutes for the jackal to take down the steenbok and we watched him for about half an hour reaping a filling reward for his hard work!
Birds and Birding
February was the most brilliant month for these magnificent creatures – the most exciting sightings being the larks’ courtship displays, especially the eastern clapper lark, seen quite often on the grasslands and near the pans around all corners of the concession. The chestnut-backed sparrowlark was mostly seen on the game drive roads, with beautiful breeding plumage seen on the males. Other than that, many other great bird sightings for the month included capped wheatear, red-backed shrike, double-banded courser, ant-eating chat and of course the stately kori bustard.
"Thanks to all the staff. An excellent adventure. I appreciate all your kindness - the food was delicious. Kudos to all chefs! "
Newsletter and pictures by Lopang ‘Lops’ Rampeba