The first push of the annual inundation started to come in during February, and but the water was not noticeably any closer to camp throughout the month of March. We are wondering then if the mass of water is going to be as high as it has been over the past two years. No matter what, the water cycle and pattern is very interesting to observe. With the different patterns, the wildlife is affected differently – so the question is what does 2013 holds in store for us?
When one lives out here, you are very aware just how delicate the balance of life really is.
Everything is dependent on one other, from the smallest to the biggest organisms. This month, so many of our guests wanted to be just as aware – to stop, observe, smell and listen. When they did this, a whole exciting new world opened to them, in their immediate natural surroundings. Under the excellent guidance of our guides, MT and Florence, the guests learnt that when they stop and observe certain animal behaviour they would be led to a predator in the area.
Often our best sentinals to alert us to the presence of lion and leopard are the monkeys and baboons. The birds chatter incessantly warning each other of a snake or bird of prey in the area. On the several occasions that we have responded to baboon alarm calls, we have been brought right onto the trail of a leopard.
We had the oppurtunity to watch a mob of birds dive-bomb a black mamba and chase it off. On one afternoon, our attention was caught by the warning chatter of the birds dive-bombing an African harrier-hawk that was raiding the nests for eggs and chicks – he was however, not deterred by the dive-bombers at all.
The lionesses have stayed north of Kwetsani for the whole month, while the male has made his territorial rounds, to ensure that any would-be competitor understands that he is still the boss in this concession. He has had his son following in his wake on his territorial rounds – he is being taught well to be the future king of this territory. Our sense of hearing was put to the test to try and listen to who was roaring and when – the king or the prince?
This being said, the Intruder Male, who has come roaring onto the island, kept us all up one night when he roared until the ground trembled every hour or so. The next day of course we were tired and he slept. We never heard him the next night but we did see him walk across the floodplains early one afternoon and disappear on a small island. A little later a herd of elephant walking close to where the lion was lying, all of a sudden smelt him and the matriarch signalled to the rest of the herd to surround the babies and run - this resulted in a spectacular view with the water splashing high before them as they ran. We took our guests to go see the lion and found him with a lechwe kill – after he fed on it for a while, he proceeded to hide the carcass away from the hyaena in the area, which no doubt would come out looking for food a little later.
Being at Kwetsani, we have the opportunity to do both game drives and water activities, as all our game drives are done either at Hunda Island or Jao Island. At this time of the year we boat to either of the islands for the game drive. We therefore get the best of both worlds – with the lion that are often on and around our camp island and then more often than not, we find the leopard when we drive on Hunda.
Dan, who is a really good photographer, spends a lot of time with the guests helping them get to know their camera, highlighting what they should be doing to take wildlife pictures and then he helps them with a bit with the photo processing. So many of the guests leave here really grateful for the hints and tips – being photographically enriched, knowing that they can go home with some really awesome shots that they have taken.
Florence Kagiso and Moengotsile Maleboga (MT) were the guides on duty for the month of March. MT’s knowledge of the stars is really good and he takes the time on a clear night to show the guests the different constellations with his personal telescope – this has proved to be a highlight for so many people.
Managers in camp were Dan and Charmaine Myburg.