Weather and Landscape
This month, the weather has been warm and a little windy at times throughout the day and later in the night. The vast floodplains have been drying up and Liwonde is getting increasingly dusty. Leaves are starting to fall from the sausage trees and throughout the mopane woodlands, allowing for greater visibility of animal movements through the thickets.
Game viewing continues to be fruitful with the midday heat driving more elephant and antelope herds to the refreshing waters of the Shire. The heat also causes many animals to retreat to the shade of the thickets during the day, so the ideal time to enjoy game drives and boat safaris is during the slightly cooler mornings when the park's inhabitants are more active. It's currently mating season for kudu and the bulls can now be seen in herds with females and their calves. The park's nocturnal creatures such as genet, civet and porcupines are also all spotted on a regular basis.
2nd August: Duncan spotted a herd of 70 elephant downstream from the Namandanje River.
8th August: We had a very rare sighting of a pangolin at Mvuu. This scaly anteater is a unique mammal in that it has large keratin (the same substance as fingernails) scales covering its skin and is the only mammal with this adaptation. The name, pangolin comes from the Malay word "pengguling", meaning "something that rolls up". Unfortunately pangolins are considered to be the purveyor of magic and charms in local folklore and are often sacrificed in traditional ceremonies. A combination of poaching and destruction of habitat have led to pangolins now being listed as an endangered species.
16th August: A pair of crocodiles were seen mating during a boat safari near the Nangondo mouth of the Shire River. This is an extremely rare sighting. Crocodile mating season in Malawi usually commences around June. The courtship process begins with males bellowing, bubble-blowing and fighting, thus establishing dominance. Males also swim with their heads up for display purposes. Mating takes about ten minutes and occurs in the water. Two months later the female lays her eggs, which she buries underground (usually around 50 eggs) and guards by lying on top of the burying site, ferociously protecting them.
Rhino sightings: Many guests have enjoyed viewing rhino in the wild with our exciting activity - the Rhino Tracking Experience. This activity allows you to learn about, track and possibly see black rhino in the wild whilst contributing directly towards the conservation of this endangered species in Malawi. The activity is available to Mvuu Camp and Lodge guests for $40, of which 90% of all proceeds go to rhino conservation efforts. Read more about Warren Baty's rhino walk in the sanctuary here
. Our guests have enjoyed the whole experience and we've had increased sightings over the course of the month - a few are as follows:
4th August: A mother rhino and subadult calf were spotted by a river thicket during a session of the rhino tracking experience. On August 17th, the tracking team and guests managed to spot the same mother and calf and here's what our guests Bill and Tamar had to say: "We felt very safe in the experienced presence of our guides. Their expertise helped us sight a rhino. It was well worth the price and this is definitely a 'must-do' safari activity".
Bentley on the Mend: Bentley (one of the rhinos in Liwonde) was discovered with a wound on his leg. Dr Peter Morkel, a vet from South Africa was brought in to dart the rhino and found that the wound was a result of Bentley fighting with other bulls. Dr. Peter was quickly flown up and driven to Mvuu, courtesy of the African Parks Foundation and Wilderness Safaris. Bentley was then darted, fixed up, fitted with a transmitter and set free. We will be able to follow his movements with greater ease in the future and keep track of his progress.
Birds and Birding
Our birding list for the month includes African fish-eagle, black crake, purple heron, goliath heron, western banded snake-eagle, black heron, southern brown-throated weaver, black throated wattle-eye, Egyptian geese with chicks and a pair of palm-nut vultures to name but a few.
Tree seedling donation
On behalf of Wilderness Safaris and the Mvuu team, Christopher Mvula received a donation of 600 tree seedlings from Mr Paul Yiannakis from Mangochi. The donation is part of Paul's outreach to encourage tree planting in neighbouring communities and is greatly appreciated. The boxes will be shared amongst the local schools in the area such as Nanthomba, Nyafulu and Mvera Schools.
Day 14 of the Put Foot Rally in Liwonde
The Put Foot Rally is a fundraising and awareness initiative that is part of Project Rhino KZN, which is the first provincial anti-poaching associating in southern Africa that brings together a state conservation body, private reserves, rhino owners and leading conservation NGOs and anti-poaching security specialists.
This year the African Conservation Trust partnered with the organisers of this southern African adventure-race to adopt Project Rhino KZN as their key charity beneficiary in 2012. The rally stretched across South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the fourteenth day of the rally brought participants through Liwonde National Park in Malawi. Read here
to find out more about the rally.
Team Mvuu marks World Literacy Day
As part of the Mvuu outreach programme, Christopher Mvula and the Mvuu team donated two blackboards and pencils to the children at the junior school in Mvera Village.
Paul Yiannakis also accompanied the group to deliver more tree seedlings. Village headman Chisawa, the village committee and community members gathered to receive the donation.
"We leaned new things everyday even though we have travelled to Africa a number of times."
"Your lodges rank among the best we have experienced in the region. The river against the backdrop of natural vegetation, borassus palm, etc. is also very unique."
Newsletter by Henry, Warren and Christopher.