Sighting: Notes from Nyika
Location: Chelinda Camp, Nyika National Park, Malawi
Date: October 2009
Observers: Samuel Chihana
Photos: Samuel Chihana
Aside from the usual roan, eland, bushbuck, reedbuck and zebra seen daily from camp and on game drives we have recently had a few unusual sightings and exciting discoveries in our excursions on the plateau and even in my home village outside the Nyika National Park.
On a night drive on 19 September via the airstrip and Lake Kaulime we saw no fewer that three serval (a mother and two sub-adults), five Spotted Eagle-owls, a side-striped jackal and a Ruwenzori Nightjar. On the 28th we were happy to find the orchid Holothrix pleistodactla at Usangule, before the big rock as you come from Chosi View Point. Pictured at left is Holotrix tridactylites, one of eight species of this genus found in Malawi (a total of 56 species are distributed in southern Africa, tropical Africa and Arabia).
The next day, on the 29th, we drove to the Chelinda Waterfall and saw a pair of Wattled Cranes at Chelinda Bridge, a side-striped jackal and also the orchid Herscheliathe baurii.
Perhaps the most unusual sighting of the month though was a zebra in my father's maize field at Chankhalamu Village outside the park. The zebra was first seen at 06h00. My young brother came to report to me that "one of your animals is outside, people are chasing it and one of them has got an axe!" I followed them, shouting at them to stop chasing the zebra. I then phoned the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) at Thazima Gate who responded within an hour by sending two armed officers. I was on my way back to camp, but put my bags back in the house and took the officers to the zebra. We reached a village in Mwazisi where we got the information that the zebra was seen walking majestically past in several villages! Nobody did any harm to the animal since the message had reached these people by telephone so they knew not to hurt it. I left the officers following the zebra towards the villages of Bawa and Kapatamoyo and hope that it made its way safely back into the Park.