Weather and Landscape
Despite its aridity, the Kalahari continues to support a vast amount of life, especially with the good rains received during December and January. We recorded a maximum of 30 mm on a weekly basis, and this has also provided the desert dwellers with a good supply of drinking water from pans and other natural catchment areas. The temperatures have been very comfortable, especially at night with the mercury reaching as low as 10 to 15° Celsius, although during the day it continues to be hot in our area.
Since the beginning of this month we have had some great sightings around the camp and surrounding areas as well as Deception Valley. The local lion pride is still roaming and ruling its territory and our most special news about these lions is the three cubs produced by two of the lionesses. At one extra-special sighting, guests and staff were treated to the sight of one of the lionesses strolling across the main open area heading to the waterhole, her tiny cub following behind. The interaction between the mother and cub was amazing, especially since the cub was not yet able to walk very long distances. At some points, the cub would just sit down and call its mum who responded by picking it up. This pride has done tremendously well in protecting its offspring from the very real threat of young males in the area and it is our entire camp’s wish to see the cubs grow strong and healthy and the pride to continue adding numbers.
Another older pride of four was seen drinking at the waterhole, having arrived from south-west of the camp; this is the mother and her three siblings who used to be part of the Plains Pride, although they subsequently had to split away. We are also delighted to notice that this pride is now getting used to the game drive vehicles and finally we are seeing a number of guests bringing home great close-up pictures of this pride. Good news indeed!
General wildlife sightings have been excellent in our area despite the tall grasses and other shrubs which have responded to the rain. Desert-adapted antelope are seen on every drive out in the open areas and around the pans. Deception Valley continues to offer the best sightings of lion, cheetah, porcupine, leopard, springbok, wild dog, Cape fox and dozens of gemsbok (oryx), giving our guests a very special and unique experience. Most of our morning activities were conducted in the Deception Valley open areas because of its high concentration of predators attracted to the vast numbers of prey.
We will never forget one particular day when we came across a pack of wild dog stealing a kill from a cheetah – that was one of the best moments ever! Cheetah sightings have increased compared to some months back and the guides have been lucky many times to encounter a female with cubs on the hunt.
Our Kalahari flora has been fabulous after the heavy rains and we are seeing tremendous numbers of species such as scorpion tail, wild morning glory, veld violets and a lot of daisy family flowers.
Birds and Birding
Another absolutely brilliant month for birders as we continue with amazing sightings, especially since most of the birds have developed their breeding plumage, adding vibrant colours to our avian spectacle. Species that came to the fore this month were red-backed shrikes, African hoopoes, Lanner falcons and white and Abdim’s storks. We have had a lot of compliments from our guests about the sightings. The main area birdbath has been very productive with small birds like shaft-tailed whydahs and red billed queleas. Another exciting sighting was of an ostrich hen with her chicks in the nearby open area.
Camp Activities – Bushman Walk
Xukuri, Qoma and Nxolate continue to offer what they know best on the Bushman Walk by making bird traps and showing the variety of plants and their medicinal uses. The walk is one of the most unique activities offered in the Kalahari by the local Bushman staff and guests thoroughly enjoy it. To get a sense of it, have a look at this gallery from a recent Bushman Walk at Kalahari Plains Camp.
Newsletter by Godfrey
Photos by Rodgers