Weather and Landscape
The cold mornings of the African bush are upon us and forfeiting your warm blankets and comfortable beds can be testing, but with the amount of action happening around Kings Pool, one cannot afford to miss some of the amazing game viewing and encounters that we have been having.
Water levels are rising every day, the waters from the highlands of Angola are finally here; water sources are becoming more isolated and the vegetation has started to thin out. This all adds up to some incredible game viewing.
The high densities of elephant in the Linyanti area always astound the guests. At this time of year it is not uncommon to see up to 200 of these majestic giants on an afternoon activity as they come, herd after herd, down to the river to drink some water or cross over to Namibia or back into Botswana. Game drives often bring you up close and personal to this iconic species of Africa, but one of the greatest ways to see them from the ground up, so to speak, is from our underground hide (Sunken Hide) where you can sit and see them on ground level.
As the dry season encroaches, elephant numbers increase drastically as migrating herds and individuals make their way into the Linyanti from as far as Chobe National Park, heading into the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and finally crossing the Linyanti River to find favourable feeding and watering grounds on this vast concession. This crossing is what so many of our guests this month have been astounded by. The sight and beauty of a hundred-plus elephants, ranging from tiny babies to the enormous cows and bulls swimming across this natural boundary as the amber sun begins to dip into the horizon is hard to explain until when you experience it. All this while sipping a refreshing sundowner on the immaculate double-decker barge “Queen Sylvia”, slowly drifting along the beautiful Linyanti River.
Predator sightings and interactions this month have been astonishing and plentiful. The resident LTC Pride has been seen on a regular basis in June. The pride male is still on the other side of the Savute Channel and we haven't seen him around the Kings Pool area for the whole of June. One of the females and her cubs are missing, and we assume that the lioness has perished as she was old – this would then have a very unfortunate effect on the cubs which were not weaned and could not survive on their own. The remaining four lions from this pride however, are still doing very well and we suspect that the coalition of the five Chobe Males will be taking over the area very soon – it is only a matter of time until they encounter the Kings Pool male and overthrow him.
A wild dog pack of nine has started denning somewhere close to the Savute Channel. With the den site being off limits to safari vehicles for the first month as not to put pressure on the dogs to move den sites, we don't know how many wild dog pups were born. Away from the den, the pack has been on top form, hunting regularly and often on the move. Keeping up with hunting wild dogs can be challenging and guests have to hold on tight as the experienced guides follow them at 40km/h through tough terrain in the hope of seeing the hunt unfold. The den site will be open sometime towards the end of July and we can`t wait to see how many newborn puppies there are.
A guest remarked the other day to me: "Wow! Stay at Kings Pool, and every day you go out, you see a leopard!" While this might be slightly exaggerated, the leopard sightings this month around Kings Pool have been off the charts. With up to eight different individuals being seen on one activity - including two cubs that were born this month west of Kings Pool south of Big Open Area - one can only conclude that Kings Pool must be one of the greatest places at this time of year to view this elusive cat in its natural habitat.
General game has too been plentiful with large herds of zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala and a small number of old buffalo bulls being seen daily. Hippo are frequently seen in and out of the water in front of camp. The most cunning predator of the water, the crocodile, is often seen lazily cruising the river back and forth in front of camp at least twice a week. The resident baboon and monkey troops provide daily entertainment and watching them go about their business from the comfort of the deck is always a treat. All the jackal berry (African ebony) trees have sweet fruit which are ready to eat and baboons, monkeys, elephant, impala and kudu are all over the camp every day feeding on the juicy fruits - some of us are also enjoying them!
We have also had some unusual sightings for the month, which included 15 sable antelope together on the eastern side of camp, we also saw three different cheetah this month, one single male and a coalition of two brothers. The two brothers are a little bit skittish but if they hang around this area, we hope that they will get used to the vehicle.
Birds and Birding
Birding has also been great for this time of the year when the masses of summer migrants have left us. The beauty of birding is the fact that there is always something going on which fills in the gaps between mammal sightings, building a complete safari experience. We had some unusual sightings for the month, which included three wattled cranes, slaty egret, and rufous-bellied heron.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Alex and One Mazunga, Rikki Lotter, Kemmonye Wright and Kenny Lugayeni.
Guides: Lemme Dintwa, Yompy-Diye Kennetseng, Khan Gouwe and OD Modikwa.
Newsletter and photo credits: Alex Mazunga.