Climate and Landscape
Another month has passed: the grasses are golden, the leaves on the trees are disappearing, the water in the pans is drying up and the general game is starting to the flood the plains. The location of Mombo Trails showcases a variety of general game in large numbers grazing the floodplain in front of the camp.
We had beautiful night skies this month, perfect for star gazing. With an average temperature high of 25° Celsius and low of 10° C the weather made for very pleasant day trips out in the bush, allowing our guests to enjoy the abundance of game.
Lions, lions and more lions. After one of the resident males’ routine territorial walk-arounds we awoke to find that there was an unusual object sitting up against a termite mound in front of Mombo Trails Tent #8. On closer inspection we noticed that the two male lions were feeding on a giraffe. They spent a good week on the carcass feeding and roaring into the night with little to no disturbance from any hyaenas, jackals or the ever-so-patient vultures.
The female cheetah is still providing for her cubs and doing a sterling job of mothering. The cubs are growing bigger and bigger as the months go on and guests are able to view them on a regular basis.
The famous Mombo leopards have been seen almost daily. One particular female, Marothodi, who was mentioned in the March newsletter, is still trying to find her own piece of Chief’s Island to call home, but is constantly bumping into other leopards such as her mother, Pula, and her aunt Phefo. On the day she met her aunt there was a serious scuffle between the two and she was lucky to walk away with only an injured paw. She has also been spotted feeding off the same carcass as Pula.
Unfortunately we have not seen any sign of Pula’s two cubs for the past few weeks and we are assuming the worst. It is a common occurrence for hyaenas, lions or even other male leopards to kill cubs in order to cancel out any future competition. The process of Pula going into oestrus and seeking a suitable mate will happen again soon and the circle of life will continue.
The tiny wild dog pups are getting bigger and their little coats are starting to change from fluffy black to the beautifully ‘painted’ colouration that the dogs are so famous for. Another pack of seven dogs has been spotted in the northern part of the reserve and the alpha female of the pack seems to be lactating which indicates there could be another den of tiny black pups at the opposite of end of the island.
We decided we will start a section in the newsletter for an insect that we find interesting, as they are often overlooked out here in the bush. This month’s Interesting Insect is one that regularly makes its way into the office and is often commented on due its beauty and iridescent green, peacock-lookalike colouring which has many staff and guests alike interested. This little green beauty is known as a cuckoo wasp. A cuckoo wasp, which is also known as an emerald wasp, comes from a large family of over 3 000 described species. This parasitic insect gets its name for the way in which it lays its eggs in a host nest belonging to another species of wasp or bee, and uses its camouflage and trickery to fool the host. It has only recently been found that the beautiful colour that the wasp boasts is actually light reflecting through the open spaces between six layers of cuticle in the wasp’s exoskeleton.
Birds and Birding
The flocks of red-billed queleas continue to grow in size while an impressive number of other different species are seen in the floodplain in front of camp. We came across a group of southern ground hornbills recently – always a special sighting. Our resident western barn owl was heard numerous times but it is yet to be seen. The female martial eagle has not been spotted for a few weeks but its young chick has been seen perched on the outskirts of the island on which Mombo Trails Camp is built.
Congratulations to Setshaba for being awarded our Employee of the Month for July 2017. Setshaba is one of our staff chefs. Feeding the staff at Mombo is a huge task and it is always done with a smile on her face.
The Mombo soccer team won the local league and our heads are held high going into the new season which kicked off last Saturday.
Until next month…
Matt and Robyn