Weather and Landscape
We have become used to the fact that June is a really cold month, being right in the middle of winter. The early morning and evening temperatures are dropping down to around 3° C, warming up slightly at midday to a cool 15° C. June has also been a rather windy month, which has further cooled things down.
In terms of the vegetation, all signs of lush greenery have disappeared, leaving behind a drab collection of winter hues. This has resulted in a large dispersal of wildlife – all in search for adequate sustenance.
As mentioned above, the biggest challenge which the Kalahari wildlife faces is to find enough palatable food in these dry and cool times; this has given our guests great opportunities to observe different species and their different behaviours and survival strategies.
The most common sightings have been of oryx, which have resorted to feeding on tubers and root stocks. Springbok have been seen in small splinter herds. Interestingly it became clear that the springbok would feed on shrubs after sunrise to midday, possibly due to the dew on the leaves. Once the temperature reached its daily high, the springbok would start feeding on tubers and roots. The amazing thing is how the wildlife has adapted to survive with very little – despite the poor feeding conditions, all the herbivores look healthy.
One of the highlights for the month was the sightings of giraffe, which have moved into the camp area this month. These towering creatures have taken a particular liking to the camp waterhole and have provided great sightings from the comfort of camp. It is always entertaining and interesting to watch giraffe drink, as they awkwardly splay their bandy legs to get their lips down to water level. Another great sighting from the camp area was that of a ground squirrel being hunted by a slender mongoose. The hunt was unsuccessful for the mongoose, but it was great to observe and all in camp discussed the event for some time afterwards.
The legendary lions of the Kalahari are back in the concession and are actively defending their territory against any intruders. This has resulted in some of the best lion sightings for some time. At the forefront of our great sightings was the resident Plains Pride which currently consists of three adult females, one sub adult male and female and the legendary Lekhuba Male, which has recently ousted the Plain Males duo which dominated the area for some time. These two old males have not been seen for the last couple of months since they were chased away. On one occasion the Plains Pride was seen very close to camp, and we all got to witness some heightened aggression as the Lekhubu Male showed his dislike for the sub adult male which will surely be chased away or worse anytime now. The interesting thing with this sighting was the lionesses protected the young male, buying him a little more time for now.
The three female lions which have been seen hanging around Litiahao waterhole also made a good few appearances this month too. This trio was found feeding on an oryx carcass on one occasion. All the camp guides suspect that the Lekhuba Male is also the dominant male of this pride too.
Signs of brown hyaena have been found around an old kudu carcass and it is clear that these elusive predators have been feeding on the bones as the old carcass has diminished in size dramatically over this month.
Honey badgers have been seen digging for food on a regular basis. Bat-eared foxes have also been observed resting in the shade and black-backed jackals have been very active, alerting our guides to the presence of bigger predators on a number of occasions.
Birds and Birding
On the avian side, we have been seeing a number of common species on a daily basis, especially kori bustard and red-crested korhaan. We have enjoyed good sightings of lappet-faced and white-backed vultures too, as they were frequently spotted drinking at the waterholes.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Lops, Lebo and Junior.
Guides: Rogers, Willie and Godfrey.
Newsletter and images by Lopang Lopezio Rampeba