Kalahari Plains has reached its peak in terms of high temperatures for this summer. So far the highest recorded was 45 degrees Celsius during the day. Thankfully we have also received the first rains of the season. Typically these have come in short, spectacular showers that has left the desert creatures breathing a sigh of relief. This has really helped in cooling down the extreme temperatures experienced this month.
Summer is the most wonderful season for us in the Kalahari. At this time of the year huge numbers of antelope congregate on the plains and around the pans in the area, giving our guests an awesome opportunity to view not only these but the predators too, since they follow antelope movements. Most grazing animals give birth around this time as the landscape changes and there is abundance of food. We have spotted quite a number of baby gemsbok (oryx) in our concession in the last two months. We also expect to see the predator sightings rise due to all these youngsters around. Hopefully we will see the cheetah who have been missing in action for the past few months. Only their tracks have been seen in camp and surrounding areas.
It was amazing to see a brown hyaena coming to the waterhole one morning during breakfast time, despite the loss of another one last month, which was thought to have been killed by the local lion pride. The hyaena presence could be picked up from the giraffes’ unusual stares.
The Plains lion pride is still patrolling and holding on to its territory, giving us an opportunity to view them time and again. They were spotted in almost every corner of our concession, and recently with a gemsbok kill near the airstrip.
The arthropods are back in action now that it is summer. These very interesting living things are seen day or night, depending on their different characteristics. What we encounter most are moths, especially at night, as they are mostly active at this time. Butterflies have been seen since we received our first rains in the concession in different hues and colours. We expect to see a few more as the rains continue.
November has been another brilliant month for birding. We will never forget a recent encounter of a sick and weak pale chanting goshawk spotted right in camp as well as the unusual and rare sighting of a dead pygmy kingfisher also in camp. Among raptors seen this month it was so special to spot yellow-billed kites as well as the lanner falcon. Our other surprise and unusual sighting was of a lone Abdim’s stork near the camp.
It was wonderful to come across a sand-striped snake with a Wahlberg’s skink one morning. Even though it was not an easy task, the skink was eventually killed after it had been constricted by the serpent. It is always interesting to watch the feeding behaviour of this snake as the skink was swallowed whole. Thereafter the snake stayed at the same spot for some few minutes before disappearing into the thickets.
We also recorded many sightings of southern ground agama and scorpion in our area. The agama are amazing creatures that have added a spark to our sightings this month, especially the males which have been seen in their bright breeding colours climbing to the top of small shrub branches that make them vulnerable to predators. This reptile presence has also attracted a lot of raptors including greater kestrel, gabar goshawk and southern pale goshawk who prey on them mostly.
As we are all the aware first summer rains often bring creatures which are not seen at other times of the year. Among those cyclical living things, following a heavy storm the previous day we see many small centipedes in the morning. An adult leopard tortoise was also spotted in our area, even though it was very skittish.
Staff in Camp
Managers; Lops, Lebo
Guides; Rogers, Godfrey, Fannie
Newsletter and pictures compiled by Lopang Lops Rampeba