Weather and Landscape
The month of October is well known for its exceptionally hot and dry conditions. This was confirmed with a maximum of 45 °C being recorded at the beginning of the month and the average highs being around 40 °C. Luckily by mid-month, the conditions cooled down a little as we experienced some cloud cover and a soothing easterly wind in the mornings.
The clouds delivered small amounts of rain. This amount was enough to jump-start the plants, which are now bursting with colour and new foliage.
October has come and gone and has brought some spectacular and special sightings of mammals. Elephants as usual are seen in and around camp in large numbers picking and sometimes stretching to the best seed pods on the surrounding trees. We have also seen the giant herbivores swimming to the islands to feed on the phragmites grass.
Lions have also been seen on a regular basis. The feline highlight for the month was when one game drive vehicle got to witness a successful hunt, as the pride brought down a zebra right in front of the vehicle. We had a number of opportunities to watch the lions at mealtimes, as we found them feeding on kudu, impala and a young elephant. We guessed the elephant to be around two years old. Whether the lions killed the elephant or not is a mystery.
The resident leopards have put up quite a show as they were seen more often this month than the previous months. We got to witness these stealthy cats feeding on a few occasions, but we mostly found them hunting or resting. We did experience two very unusual sightings this month with the first being a leopard that was charged and chased away by two large male baboons.
The other rare sighting occurred when two lionesses killed a kudu. Once the prey was down, the lions left the carcass to go and fetch their cubs from the safety of the den to feed with then. While the lions were away, an opportunistic leopard arrived at the carcass and gorged itself quickly. The lions returned with the cubs and immediatly chased the leopard off, but it had already eaten its fill.
We encountered the resident wild dog pack on a regular basis, but unfortunately the number of pups in the pack has dropped from 14 to 10, bringing the total of the pack down to 24.
General game such as impala, waterbuck, warthog, zebra and baboon were seen in abundance every day.
Genet, civet and hyaena were the highlights for the night drives this month.
Birds and Birding
Birding has been spectacular this month with the arrival of many summer migrants. During the last week of the month all in camp got to enjoy a sighting of a steppe eagle sitting on top of a termite mound right in front of camp. Broad-billed rollers have arrived en mass and now add such a vibrant array of colour to the environment.
Birding along the drying water sources is also very productive, where we have found large congregations of African spoonbills, white-faced ducks, African fish-eagles and African openbills wading through the shallows.
Cruising along the Zambezi River has also produced lovely sightings of collared pratincoles, African skimmers and southern-carmine bee-eaters.