February in the heart of the Okavango Delta has been a month of cloudy sky, light rains and spectacular sunsets. The vegetation in the area is now so lush and green that one would never believe if it if you looked at our winter landscape pictures when grasses were brown and trees had no leaves.
At the beginning of the month it looked like the annual winter flood was already in - and yet it hasn't even started to reach us, according to the satellite images of this vast drainage system. Mombo and Little Mombo were all but surrounded by rain water and high rainfall received elsewhere in the subregion. In the last week of February we started noticing a drop in the water levels in all the floodplains again. Temperatures have been rather variable this month, with daytime temperatures reaching up to 34 degrees Celsius and an average of 24 degrees Celcius.
As in past years, especially February 2006, the Mombo lions tended to start climbing trees. We are not entirely sure why they are doing this - possibly to avoid flies, or perhaps simply to keep their feet dry amidst all this water?
The prides (Mathata, Maporota, Boro and the West Pride) are all doing well and seem to have had a very productive hunting season since they could easily wage attacks on their prey from all the tall grass and thick bush at the moment. They all seem in good health and well fed.
February has been a great month for leopard sightings since we have Legadema and her cubs' den less than four kilometres from camp. She had moved her two cubs last month. Possible reasons could include safety, parasites and most probably lack of sufficient space.
The guides saw these cubs almost every day, sometimes without mom as she would leave on them to go on hunting forays. These cubs are growing fast and it is fascinating to watch them on their journey of discovery - playing and climbing. Legadema too, seems totally unperturbed by the presence of game drive vehicles, allowing amazing sightings of this sought-after predator.
It has been very difficult to find other leopards like the Tortillis Female; however a female suspected to be Tortillis's fully grown cub has been seen, mating with an unknown male. We speculate that she is pregnant and may give birth in the next month or so. Who knows where she will hide her litter?
It has been very difficult to see rhino in the area due to the rains which made getting around the concession difficult. Only three white rhino sightings were reported by the guides and were with full assistance from the 'rhino man' Poster. Every white rhino seen had a newborn calf. Mmabontsho, the only black rhino in the Mombo area, has been recorded once this month.
Buffalo were found in big numbers though it was mostly away from camp. Some hippo have moved out of the permanent swamp areas into temporary pans where they are closer to their best feeding grounds. Some hippo have created seasonal territories here.
Thousands of Burchell's zebra, impala and wildebeest are all evenly distributed on our palatable grass plains. There has probably never been this many zebra in the area before - and the lions certainly aren't complaining?
A good-sized African rock python was spotted in camp. We detected its presence from all the birds and tree squirrels alarm calling. On investigating, we found an adult python of three metres long! Pythons love water, and the snake had a pretty rainbow luminescence as it just came out of the water nearby.
Bush brunches with Simon are still happening almost every second day at the famous hide facing the hippo lagoon - one of the most beautiful spots. Here you overlook peaceful floodplains with all sorts of antelope grazing and running around on them.
We have also been doing bush teas a few minutes' drive out of camp around a spectacular pan called Lethaka; a natural waterhole that only holds water in the rainy season. This bush tea venue has provided a perfect opportunity to watch waterbirds feeding and elephant playing in the mud.
The new lounge area is still under construction - together with a sparkling blue pool and a gym overlooking our bountiful floodplains.
That's all from the Mombo and Little Mombo staff for February.
Taps, Lizzy, Jeremy, One, Alex, Albert, Pete & Sharon and Simon
Guides - Lebo, Malinga, Emang, Cisco and Tsile (Manager guide Little Mombo)