Weather and Landscape
Despite a dry spell at Mvuu earlier in the month, towards the end of March, we have been experiencing light showers and rainfall in the early mornings and afternoons. Sometimes a drizzle simply falls lightly through the sunlit skies and at other times the rainfall has been heavier.
The floodplains remain dense with vegetation and their appearance vibrant and lush. Following the rainfall, some breathtaking rainbows can be seen across the Shire River.
We can hear Titus the lion roaring again and we're sure that it's only a matter of time before we have another sighting of him. We have heard rumours of more lions in Liwonde National Park and have yet to acquire a confirmed sighting. We are however planning to give the lion population in Liwonde a boost, by introducing a few females into the park sometime in August. We're keeping our fingers crossed in the hope that the lion reintroduction will go smoothly and help re-establish the population in the area.
Elephants are starting to slowly frequent the river again and as the end of the green season approaches and the area dries up a little more, we're hoping that these majestic mammals will visit the Shire more regularly. The park's zebra continue to be seen near the airstrip and sightings of buffalo, civet and large spotted genet have continued through the month.
Some of the highlights for the month include:
On the 16 March, fresh rhino tracks were seen by our guides, Samuel and McLoud whilst out on game drive. Our guides suspect that these tracks were made by a male rhino who has become known as Roger. We hope that Roger will follow a similar movement pattern this year as he did last year. A serval was also spotted close to Ntangai Drift on the same drive.
On the 28 March, during a boat safari, we saw two hippo bulls fighting in a show of dominance. The unlucky male that lost the battle ran out of the water to hide on land, but the winner was not going to let him get away so easily and followed him. Luckily for our defeated male, the dominant hippo missed his trail and went searching in the wrong direction.
Birds and Birding
It has been yet another exceptional month for birding at Mvuu. Justin Mwaiwatha reported a strange looking Blacksmith Lapwing, and our guide and resident expert on lapwings, Samuel, tried to get a picture but with no luck. Samuel believes that the strange lapwing (which was not very active and had white patches on its black head) could be a hatchling of the hybrid eggs that hatched in December.
On 1 March, our guides spotted the extremely rare Speckle-throated Woodpecker on Masanje Road and on 4 March, we spotted a Grey-headed Parrot feeding another adult parrot which in turn went to feed its hatchlings in a nearby baobab tree hole. On the subject of feeding young, a pair of Brown-breasted Barbets were seen feeding their young in their nest. We had a keen birder in camp at the time, who visited Mvuu to photograph and record the barbets and successfully got all the material needed.
Our regular birds for the month were: adult and juvenile African Cuckoo Hawk (increasingly common near the camp), African Hawk-Eagle, Bateleur, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Brown Snake-Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Marabou Stork, Red-headed Weaver, Palm- nut Vulture, Martial Eagle and Lillian's Lovebird to mention just a few. Crowned Eagle and Long-crested Eagle was seen along the river as well as Racket-tailed Roller.
This month, we are happy to announce that we have launched a new activity which is known as the Rhino Tracking Experience.
The objective of this new activity is to enable guests to track black rhino and see them in the wild on foot whilst getting involved with practical monitoring and contributing to the rhino conservation programme in Liwonde. This activity is being run by Wilderness Safaris in a joint venture with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW). The programme is run and funded by both these parties who have assigned the Rhino Protection Team (RPT) to monitor and protect the black rhino in the park.
The next two years will see a crucial new direction for the project where the sanctuary fence is gradually dismantled and the park itself becomes the "sanctuary". By participating in this activity, guests will be contributing directly to the funding of the rhino conservation programme as 90% of the additional activity fee will be allocated to it.
The activity itself includes a briefing on the plight and history of the black rhino in the area, a three-hour walk with RPT scouts and Wilderness Safaris guides into rhino territory, monitoring and observation sheets for the guests to fill in and a bush breakfast or dinner depending on whether you chose an morning or evening walk.
for more details on this exciting activity.
Wilderness Safaris and the team at Mvuu continue to reach out to the surrounding communities, and part of this outreach is achieved by encouraging guests to visit some of the rural communities around the park. Most of our guests opt to visit the villages and thoroughly enjoy the excursion. These trips often leave an impression on the guests, who often go the extra mile to improve the living conditions for these rural communities. One example this month was the Hosanna Group which donated bars of soap to the community near Mvera.
Staff in Camp
Guides: Matthews, Mc Loud, Danford, Etienne, Danger, Duncan, Samuel, Justin, Henry, George and Warren.
Newsletter by Samuel