The first surge of the annual inundation is certainly not as large as it was last year and is occurring at a much slower rate. I remember last year at the end of March, the water had already submerged the road in front of camp. This year however, the water is only starting to reach the road now. The arrival of the abundant waters causes a flurry of change in the environment and is interesting to observe on a daily basis.
The floodplains before us turn a dull yellow, while in the distance, the edge of the floodplain is still a brilliant green. As the water rises, when the sun catches it at the right angle, the water reflects the rays and the view glistens beautifully. Although the temperature has been comfortable, there was a time during the month when the temperature dropped quite significantly, bringing up a white haze over the plains, making it a magical and eerie place to be observing. As winter approaches, the full moon, when it rises a little later in the evening, is so beautiful to see the changing colour and size as it rises. First it is huge and red as it peeks over the horizon and then changing to orange and then yellow and then white, all the time getting smaller and smaller and turning a dark night into one that hides the stars with its light.
Of course the predators love the moonless nights so that they can hunt under the cover of darkness and this month, during the new moon phase, we have had a new male lion in the area. We have called him ‘The Intruder’. He is a handsome, well-groomed loner, who has been going through the Jao Concession as though he is the new king. Earlier on in the month, there was a sighting of the two young males, which I wrote about in December 2012, sighted on a kill on Hunda Island, some 20 minutes from camp.
We had not seen the resident pride, which reigned in this area, for all of three months now, until the very last day of the month. One of the resident females went across to join the two young males at Hunda and the larger of the males was seen mating with her - all being well, we will have cubs in about three months. Her sister, which we suspect still has a cub, has been avoiding the new males in a bid to prevent infanticide – a dark predatory trait which burns strong within adult male lions. With all of this new testosterone flowing through the area, it was only a matter of time until there was a territorial confrontation between the resident male and the nomads. Sadly for the resident male, he lost badly to The Intruder and has not been seen since.
As always, we had many fantastic leopard encounters this month. They do tend to play ‘hide and seek’, but trying to locate and track them is part of the fun! We have been privileged to view them on the hunt, feeding on a kill, in a tree or snoozing a top termite mounds – no matter the location, it is always magical to view these elusive and regal felines.
One of the highlights for all our guests is the 45-minute boat trip from the airstrip to camp, where the guides skillfully navigate the boats through the channels, often presenting some incredible birding opportunities - the amount of different birds seen on this ride in is really amazing.
Birds are a clear indicator for the change of season. In the beginning of the month, thousands of red-billed queleas could be seen flitting off the branches of the trees around camp – all flocking and getting ready to leave to a warmer climate – then all of a sudden one morning they were all gone.
Florence and MT have guided our guests professionally and enthusiastically for the whole month of April, and so many of the guests have taken us to one side and just complimented the standard of our guides who have made their ‘Wilderness Experience’ a fabulous one.
Managers in camp: Dan and Charmaine Myburg.
Guides in camp: Florence Kagiso and MT Malebogo.