Climate and Landscape
Its winter at Kalahari Plains Camp! This has been confirmed by the cooler morning temperatures, although we are still experiencing typical Kalahari weather, i.e., warmer days with those cool mornings and evenings. For the first few days of June we recorded lows of 10° Celsius – definitely not the coolest on record – and highs of 26°. We expect the coming months to get much cooler.
We have had some phenomenal wildlife sightings here in the Kalahari, including a few surprises and some highly unusual and special sightings of rarely-seen animals. The most exciting and rare sighting was that of two bull elephants – they were seen in the western part of the camp en route to Deception Valley. These creatures are very seldom seen in our Kalahari concession, especially during the dry months. After weeks of just evidence of their presence being observed, they were eventually found by local guides. After finding a few trees taken down, with some knocked into the road, further investigation proved they were elephants when their tracks and heaps of dung were spotted. The last time these majestic creatures were seen was at the beginning of the year during the rainy season – and just when everyone thought they were gone they paid us this surprise visit!
Another surprise sighting was of a lone male cheetah that had disappeared around this time last year. Everyone thought he was either dead or may have been chased away – or even taken down by the local Plains Pride that has been roaming the area near the camp. This beautiful predator paid us an unexpected visit one day at the camp waterhole – and was completely relaxed around the game-viewing vehicles. Another sighting of a cheetah with cubs in Deception Valley and nearby areas also added to our cheetah sightings for the month May.
The most amazing sighting many of us have ever seen was when the local pride’s big male lion took down a fully grown gemsbok (oryx) just a few metres from the main area. This all happened in the evening soon after dinner when guests and staff were enjoying a drink by the fire. It was not immediately clear what the prey was, but we could easily see the lion feeding. After he had his share of meat he called the rest of the pride to come and join the party, which continued through the night. The following morning guests spent about two hours by the main area watching the lion, jackal and vulture feeding on the remains of the carcass. After feeding, the whole pride dragged the remains under a tree close to one of the guest tents, where they spent the whole day sleeping. The pride was also sighted in the afternoon around sunset strolling down to the waterhole to quench their thirst.
The Plains Pride made another kill on the western side of the big pan overlooking the camp – this time a female wildebeest.
We have also spotted a lone brown hyaena coming to our waterhole early in the morning to have a drink.
Honey badgers are back in the concession's open areas! These fierce creatures have been spending most of the last months of the summer season in the thickets where food is plentiful. When they come out into the open areas such as the pans of the concession, they will be digging for scorpions, lizards and agamas; it’s good to see them still looking so healthy at the beginning of the dry season.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve has been doing extremely well with general game and in our concession we’ve enjoyed sightings of small mixed herds of gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal and not forgetting our comical ostrich and their chicks.
Birds and Birding
Birding was absolutely phenomenal in the Kalahari during May. Red-billed queleas are still seen in the concession in big flocks, impressing us as usual with their awesome zigzag flying patterns! The amazing little shaft-tailed whydahs are seen quite often near the camp and surrounding areas. Guests also enjoyed observing a gabar goshawk trying his luck on the red-billed queleas – a really interesting interaction.
Loved it! Sleeping under the stars was awesome!
Staff in Camp
Managers: Lops, Tshidie, Mike.
Guides; Teko, Alberto, Godfrey
Newsletter and pictures: Lopang Rampeba