Weather and Landscape
Winter has arrived! The temperatures in the early morning and evenings drop to around 10º Celsius, which is not as cool as it will get in June or July, but the winter woollies and winter gloves have definitely come out of storage already. The weather has been clear and warm during the day with little cloud cover towards the end of the month which made it even cooler.
We are definitely moving through a dry spell here in the Linyanti - we haven't had a lot of rain over the last two years - and as I write this newsletter, the annual inundation should be arriving, but nothing yet. The pans and water sources are drying up rapidly. This has caused the game concentrations to pick up along the Linyanti River.
Large numbers of general game including giraffe, elephant, buffalo, kudu, zebra, impala, warthog, waterbuck, vervet monkeys and baboons are frequently seen on safari drives along the river drinking water or grazing on lush green grass. The more elusive antelope such as roan and sable have started to come out of the mopane woodlands onto the grassland fringes, allowing us some great sightings of these magnificent creatures.
On the predatory side, the resident LTC Pride has gone through some changes. The dominant male, known as the Kings Pool Male, has been patrolling his territory extensively and has crossed into the Selinda area. He has been away from the core of his territory for half of the month – hopefully he will return to his pride and keep out any intruding males. We have also noticed that one of the LTC females has been missing for around three weeks, so hopefully she is still alive. The five Chobe Males are still lurking around as we have found their tracks, but they are keeping a low profile for now...
We have also been having a lot of fun with our resident female leopard (Slender Female). Last year's cubs are almost fully grown and are now independent; we saw the female cub feeding on an adult impala this month. This young female seems to know how to pose for photographs and may have learnt this from her mother, who is always obliging. Our guides have provided a great experience for many a guest as their leopard tracking skills have been spot on this month.
We have been very fortunate with wild dog sightings this month too. The LTC Pack has split up and half of the pack has been seen on a few occasions around camp chasing impala around. One morning they chased an impala straight into the staff village. It is always a bonus seeing these endangered predators because they are always active in the mornings and late afternoon. When the dogs are on a hunting foray, it is very difficult to keep up with them as they run through the vegetation with ease and at pace. Due to the large pack and their high metabolic rates, this pack had to eat twice a day; perhaps this is why the pack has split. The alpha female is now heavily pregnant, and we expect them to den soon.
Elephants are the speciality at Kings Pool Camp during the dry season. We have been seeing fantastic herds in front of camp every day around brunch time. We are seeing hundreds of these impressive, grey beasts along the Linyanti waterways where they often cross the river to the Caprivi Strip and back again the same day or the next day - most of our guests got some amazing pictures during these movements from our double-decker boat. Herds move between the mopane woodland (where food is still abundant) and the Linyanti River to quench their thirst.
Birds and Birding
Birding has been good, with sightings of wattled crane - one day we counted up to twelve birds together.
Slaty egret, southern ground-hornbill, martial eagle and Verreaux's eagle-owl have been heard calling in and around camp on a regular basis. All of the summer migrants have departed, but we are still enjoying a huge variety of birdlife in the area. Raptor sightings have been great as winter is when these predatory bird species breed.
Despite the drop in water levels, we are still doing sundowner cruises on the barge. There is not much that can beat watching the sun set over the Linyanti Marsh, while sipping on an ice cold beverage and listening to the hippo honk.
We have had a fabulous month and we hope to see you all at Kings Pool sometime so we can share the magic of The Kings Pool together!
Staff in Camp
Managers: Alex and One Mazunga, Rikki Lotter, Frank Maule and Freedom Nxele.
Guides: Ndebo Tongwane, Yompy-Diye Kennetseng, Khan Gouwe and OD Modikwa.
Newsletters and images by Alex Mazunga