As we approach what is meant to be the “peak” of the flood season, we are all feeling a little hard done by. The water levels are, as predicted, rather low, and the pools in front of camp seem to have stopped advancing altogether. The elephants are being more destructive than usual (if that's possible), uprooting trees in desperate search of moisture, and away from the floodplains the bush does seem very thirsty indeed. The male impalas are nursing their wounds, their skinny ribs poking through following an enthusiastic rutting season, a few of them even missing a horn but still gallantly pursuing females. The dusty air has, however, brought us some truly epic sunsets and sunrises, the pink glow on the horizon bringing guests straight through from game drive to the bar for sundowners.
It wouldn’t be a Mombo newsletter without an update on the lion activity in camp. This month there were a couple of interesting lion interactions, one being early in the morning when one of our staff couldn’t get out of her car to start the baking for the day because she was surrounded by lion. The next encounter was just a few days later when the Maporota Pride was seen swimming across from Skimmer Island towards camp. Having thought they were still quite a way from camp a couple of staff members went to blow out lanterns at the rotunda. Just a couple of minutes after they stepped back onto the boardwalk the pride ran past them clearly hunting.
Outside of camp, the cats have been just as entertaining. Two Mombo Boys have been seen mating with the Mathata Pride, and there are four beady-eyed females from Maporota who are breaking away frequently from the group and hunting alone.
The leopards have provided some stunning action for our guests as well this month. Pula, the torn-eared beauty who invaded camp last month, was attacked by a warthog (we guessed her opponent by the gashes on her hind legs). Unperturbed, she has recovered well and is on fine form: she was seen mating with Blue-Eyes and guests even witnessed the rare sighting of both leopards ‘sharing’ a kill following their romantic liaisons. It was not exactly domestic bliss, but still...
A new female leopard was seen with two eight-month old cubs, and Maru, the often elusive female, was seen with a boisterous five-month old. A gargantuan monitor lizard sidled past the female leopard and her cub, and the cub decided (mistakenly) that the reptile was a play-mate. Sneaking up on the lizard, he pounced and received a whopping swipe from the lizard’s tail which sent the cub literally flying through the air. He was not hurt, and picked himself up quickly. Clearly a lesson learnt!
The hyaenas have been very active this month as well, with two new tiny cubs in their den. Entirely unfazed by the vehicles, they tumble out of their termite mound home and roll about near the front tyres until their elders chivvy them back into bed. Tsepho witnessed a heart-wrenching scene of hyaena behaviour recently which brought home to his guests their predatory instincts. A very sick baby giraffe had caught their attention, and although the giraffe’s mother was extremely reluctant to leave it, she eventually had to abandon the poor thing, and the hyaenas took no time to move in. Tsepho and his guests felt very privileged to witness such behaviour, but there weren’t many dry eyes on that vehicle by the end.
There are two more sightings that deserve a mention this month. The first one was of an absolutely massive python spotted sliding through the grass near the road. It was reminiscent of the rather fake-looking anacondas of Hollywood-style, but it was very real. There was much rejoicing in camp a couple of days later when the same guests came home having seen three rhino. In general, the rhino sightings this month have been fantastic: three females, a bull and a baby have been seen on various occasions. It is a stunning reminder that despite the troubles these great animals are facing, they are still out there and we are extremely lucky to catch a glimpse every now and then.
Guides in camp: Doc, Callum, Tsile, Sefo, Tsepho, Cilas, Cisco
Managers in camp: Jemima, Kirsty, Britt, Liz, Dittmar, Cayley