Climate and Landscape
The Mana Pools area is now seeing the effects of the dry season. The water pans are drying out at a rapid rate, with very few still holding any water, which has brought many more animals closer to the Zambezi River, making the game viewing spectacular. The grass has now dried out in most of the area, leaving only the fairly green floodplains, which has attracted the attention of all the grazers, closely followed by the predators.
The albida trees are full of pods, many of which should ripen around the middle of June, which will bring more elephant to visit our camp. The Natal mahogany adds its evergreen colour along the river courses and provides good shade for a variety of animals. The fever bark trees, which occur along our dry riverbeds are starting to shed their leaves, which will help a great deal with animal sightings as they cover large areas.
Even though we are rapidly going into our dry season and losing the wonderful green lustre of our bush, we are benefitting from increased animal sightings – wonderful for our guests. Even with the lack of greenery, and our bush looking rather dry and inhospitable, there is still a certain aura surrounding us. No matter what time of year it is, the bush always has a special appeal.
The weather has been really pleasant up to now, but over the last few days, we are finally feeling the effects of the coming winter. There has been a chill in the air in the early part of the evening, and it is decidedly cool in the early mornings. We have now started putting water bottles in the guests’ beds which are really appreciated, especially during the early hours of the morning.
This month has really produced some awesome sightings at Ruckomechi Camp, much to the delight of all our guests. With the inland water drying up, and the bush in general feeling the effects of the dry season, the animals have moved closer to river and the greener ‘pastures’ of the floodplains. The elephant as usual make several appearances in and through the camp, much to the delight and amazement of the guests. One can often see several species, such as waterbuck, impala, warthogs, zebra, baboons and elephant all in one area behind the camp. With the pods soon to be ripe on the albidas, we are all waiting expectantly for the numbers of elephant to increase in the camp area.
The impala rut is now just about over, with only a few males chasing each other around with various snorts, grunts and growls. The nights are therefore a lot quieter, giving us the chance to enjoy the calls of the hyaena and roaring of the lions mingled with the grunting sounds of the hippo. What more can we ask for?
The lions were seen often during the first two weeks of May after which they seemed to go on a long walkabout, finally appearing once again towards the latter part of the month. The wild dogs put on a really good display for our guests, and were seen on several occasions hunting and killing impala in front of the vehicles and guests. Two of the wild dogs have visibly large stomachs and are expected to have pups very soon. We just hope they don’t den too far from Ruckomechi as otherwise we won’t see them for a while. The leopards have also been seen often and have been seen stalking impala on a few occasions.
Not to be left out, on our evening drives back to camp we see civet, genet, hyaena and occasionally porcupine.
We have also been blessed with sightings of cheetah for two days in a row. All in all, another great month!
Wildlife percentages: Elephant 100%, buffalo 60%, lion 35%, hippo 100%, leopard 25%, wild dog 35%, cheetah 5%, spotted hyaena 25%
Birds and Birding
With the advantage of the river and wetland areas there have been excellent bird sightings – enough to keep birders busy and excited for any length of time. African openbills are seen in large flocks while sacred ibis, spoonbills and goliath heron are just a few of the birds seen near the river and wetland areas. Spur-winged geese, Egyptian geese and white-faced ducks are nesting, as are the saddle-billed storks.
The white-backed vultures come to an area close to camp daily where they are seen drinking and taking dust baths. They spend several hours basking in the sun with their wings spread to catch as much of the sun’s heat as possible.
“Personal service and friendliness. Wild dogs on the airstrip. Great food, adapted to our requests.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for making our stay enjoyable! We felt safe, comfortable and at home. I will be singing the camp’s praises when we get back home.”
“Wonderful. Every aspect of the Ruckomechi was perfect. Honest was amazing with his knowledge and humour and gave us so many lifetime memories. Many thanks to Henry, Liz, Rania, Temba and all the wonderful staff, and of course Amy.”
Staff in Camp
Manager: Henry Prinsloo, Elizabeth Mutumhe
Trainee managers: Amy Goosen, Thys Olivier, Ishmael Nzara
Guides: Gadreck Nyamhondoro, Temba Ganji, Honest Siyawareva, Engelbert Ndlovu, Temba Ganji, Godfrey Kunsi.
Housekeeping: Chris, William, Last, Spensor, Tich
Maintenance: Hissah, Jerany, Jack, Saviours, Kelvin, Abiot.
Kitchen: Esshuwet, Moffat, Elias, Rayner, Wilson, Bhobho, George.
Waiters: Brighton, Misheck, Fadzanai, Paul, Nomatter
Staff Village Cook: Tongai