There has been huge excitement at Mombo this month as we have had multiple sightings of a female black rhino as well as several discoveries of tracks spotted not too far from camp. Guests have sat around the fire with Poster in the evenings, listening enraptured to his talks about the Rhino Project at Mombo, only to be delighted the next day by an encounter with living proof of the project’s success. With the continuous climb in numbers of rhino poached in South Africa forming the basis of many dinner conversations with guests, it is a great boost to the morale of the researchers, staff and visitors alike, to know that there are happy and healthy rhinos in our midst.
There have been some other awesome sightings that stand out this month. Two of our repeat visitors to Mombo were thrilled to see not one, not even two, but THREE Cape Clawless Otters bobbing their heads in and out of the lilies. Having only been awarded a brief glimpse of one otter during the course of my two years in the Delta, I was extremely jealous when the guests returned to camp and announced what they had seen.
Honey badger sightings have also been on the up this month. There have been numerous encounters, but one that was particularly intriguing was witnessed by Callum and his guests one afternoon. They were tracking the wild dog through the bush when they heard a commotion of growling and snarling up ahead. Around the corner they discovered the lone wild dog and her jackal 'team' mobbing a honey badger mother with her baby. The honey badger had made a kill and was guarding it fiercely, and despite the dog’s best efforts, she could not prise the meal away from the honey badger.
Apart from this unsuccessful encounter, our wild dog is doing well and has been seen regularly. We see her frequently at the beginning of a hunt, or lying under a tree with a full belly which indicates that she’s just had a successful one. But it is a rare and special treat to see her taking down her prey. Following a pack of wild dogs on the hunt is a challenge enough but following a lone dog as she tears through the acacia scrub and bell bean, even with her trusty jackals showing us the way, is a somewhat daunting task.
We have been spoilt with a number of owl visitors in camp recently, not just by our regular Pel’s fishing-owl breeding pair flitting between Tent 8 and Little Mombo, but a hungry pearl-spotted owlet was seen outside the office as well. We were alerted to his presence by the frantic alarm calls of squirrels and starlings that were screeching indignantly around a fallen tree in front of the office. Their accusatory jabbering pointed us towards the nonchalant culprit enjoying a tasty lizard breakfast and ignoring squirrels, starlings, waiters and managers alike.
Other visitors to camp this month have been of a larger and more destructive nature. There is a herd of elephants that parades past the main camp nearly every afternoon, leaving a few infamous stragglers who cannot resist the jackal berries and palm nuts that now litter the boardwalk areas. One particular elephant with a short and stumpy tail and a very squeaky trumpet has become a very familiar figure. She rumbles past the office almost every day and hoovers up all the tasty goodies she can find in and amongst the pathways. As she is still relatively small, she can duck in and out of some of the boardwalks, but there are other, larger members of her family that are not as agile. One very large and impressive bull elephant delighted guests at breakfast one morning by leaning up against a palm tree adjacent to the guest loos and giving it a good shake, so that several palm nuts rained down on his head, which he then scooped up with his trunk. Unfortunately, some of his breakfast fell just out of reach, which did not deter him too much, and he left a path of destruction on our boardwalk in his efforts to get to them. Fortunately the maintenance guys took it in good humour.
The leopards and lions of Mombo have been busy again this month. The Western Pride killed a giraffe on a little island that was, fortunately, reachable by vehicle, so guests watched as Mmamoriri and her family gorged themselves for a good few days, the growing cubs rolling around on their fat bellies and sleeping with their heads resting inside the remains of the giraffe’s rib cage.
The Moporota Pride have had it tougher with the arrival of a large male into their territory. The females are safe but the boisterous young males are having to dash for safety, unable to challenge the size of the new brute. It has caused some pride politics to be reviewed as they are pushed to the extremities of their territory. Once again, we wait with bated breath to see if the six youngsters will regroup and chase off this latest challenger to their territory, passed on to them by their father and uncle.
Pula and Blue-Eyes, the amorous leopards, are at it again, mating for days on end and bringing new hope of cubs in the near future. With the bush drying out more and more each day, the dust clouds are growing and it is becoming increasingly difficult for the cats to hide their cubs from predators. However, hope lies with the rains that will come in November, a safe haven that may be just around the corner and may well coincide with their gestation period.
August promises to be another amazing month as temperatures start to warm slightly and the water recedes, allowing new shoots to flourish and animals to feast. Fish traps, grazing areas and arrivals of herds and birds promise to bring new adventures to Mombo. We look forward to welcoming new guests as well as some familiar faces to our little jewel in the Delta!
Staff in Camp
Managers: Graham, Dani, Sean, Jemima, Kirsty, Dittmar, Cheri
Guides: Cisco, Callum, Sefo, Tsile, Ona, Moss