Weather and Landscape
Temperatures at Mvuu are dropping and the weather is getting cooler and cooler - especially in the mornings. As we head towards winter (which is characterised by dryer days, cold mornings, warmer afternoons and chilly nights), guests are advised to bring something warm to wear on safari activities during the early and later hours of the day.
The river's edge remains lush in appearance, but the floodplains are slowly drying out. Many trees are starting to lose their leaves and large leafless baobabs now create stunning silhouettes against sunrises and sunsets. Some impala lilies are coming into bloom and adding a burst of colour to the park.
Game viewing has been wonderful, as the park's animals are emerging from the thickets around the river in search of water. Most of the natural waterholes in the park and sanctuary are drying up and as water becomes scarcer within the park in the upcoming months, we expect to see a higher concentration of wildlife (particularly elephant and antelope) frequenting the river more often.
We've spotted warthogs mating on several occasions while African civet, white-tailed mongoose, large spotted genets and porcupines were all seen regularly throughout the month. Small herds of zebra, buffalo and Lichtenstein's hartebeest were all seen in the Rhino Sanctuary.
Lion tracks were spotted twice during game drives and once more we know that Titus the lion is close, but he remains as elusive as ever. It has been a fantastic month for elephant sightings because, while many of the herds seem to have retreated over the last few days, some herds have very young calves in tow. Here are some of the amazing elephant sightings that occurred earlier in the month:
30th April: Matthews and his guests watched a herd of elephant for over an hour as they did up to ten different actions; here's what Matthews has to say. "We watched them showing off in front of the vehicle, trumpeting, wallowing, lying down to rest, suckling, play fighting, sniffing, smelling each other, the calves were imitating their mothers' actions, and young bulls were climbing on each other's back to reach higher tree canopies."
5th May: The Mvuu star-beds platform is located just 15 minutes north of the lodge. The structure is located beside a small stream and overlooks the floodplains with excellent views of the river's edge. Samuel reports the following from opposite the star-beds platform: "We saw a breeding herd of elephant near the star-beds. Within the herd, there was a female with a tear in her ear (we have watched over the years and she is easy to recognise due to her distinctive ear shape). The female had a newborn calf with her that was merely a few days old and suckling. The older calves kept trying to suckle and the female kept pushing them away. When she was fed up she trumpeted in the direction of the older calves and chased them away. This female is well known to all the guides at Mvuu. One day when I was on a game drive, another large elephant attempted to charge the vehicle; however this female intervened and prevented the charge. She dragged the larger female away from the vehicle and proceeded to cross the road with her."
Other game sightings remain encouraging. On May 14th, McLoud and his with guests spotted eight zebra, nine roan antelope, 36 sable antelope, a herd of 70 buffalo, three Lichtenstein's hartebeest, 12 bushpigs and fresh black rhino and lion tracks.
Birds and Birding
The list from Mvuu continues to offer a rich variety of birdlife. Sightings include the cross breeding lapwing pair (from last month's newsletter), Böhm's Bee-eater, Pel's Fishing-Owl, Dickinson's Kestrel, African Hoopoe, African Fish-Eagle and Palm-nut Vulture which were all seen regularly.
Brown-breasted Barbets, African Skimmers, Arnot's Chats, Grey-headed Parrots, and Brown-headed Parrots are all back at their nesting places.
During the month, Mvuu guides and their guests took part in the Annual Vulture Census and managed to make some good accounts of the species. Matthews spotted a Palm-nut Vulture and a Bateleur attempting to approach a baboon carcass. Both scavengers ended up being chased away by a group of Southern Ground-Hornbills.
The birding highlight for the month was the mating pair of Palm-nut Vultures which was found about 400 metres south of Mvuu Camp.
The Rhino Tracking Experience
Wilderness guides and guests were on hot on the trail, tracking three black rhino and following their spoor. As the group moved into the thicket, the three rhino were spotted just 50 metres away. The rhino walked towards the mopane woodlands and the group followed them for about 40 metres.
The rhino tracking experience is a new activity at Mvuu Camp and Lodge. Following three hours of tracking (filled with information and learning about the black rhino as well as an opportunity to get involved with practical monitoring of the species), guests then end the activity with a bush breakfast in the rhino sanctuary. The activity costs USD 40 per person and 90% of the proceeds go towards the conservation of black rhino in Liwonde National Park.
"The overall holiday was totally fantastic. It is impossible for us to understand how your Mvuu team are always able to make it even better than the last visit every time. Mvuu has always been our No.1 destination and we will always keep coming back. We'll continue to tell others as well and bring more visitors with us as well. Well done to the Mvuu team, keep up the good work."
Staff in Camp
Guides: Matthews, Mc Loud, Danger, David, Patrick, Samuel, Duncan, Samuel, Justin, Henry and George.
Newsletter by Samuel