For us two-legged 'animals' we use words to express ourselves. We talk, scream, shout, laugh, cry and sing to communicate to others about how we feel and what we have to say. For our four- and (feathered) two-legged animal friends, they all have their own way of communicating.
For instance, after we received 2 mm of rain on the 29th, which is very strange for July, some were singing because of it and others were crying because of it. Joy and sadness, expressed to communicate.
The temperature has been rising throughout the day, and topped off on our warmest day at Savuti at 35º Celsius. The evenings are much cooler at about 8º. The Savute Channel water level is still dropping and is at a point where the sandbanks are now visible in the channel.
This however, has brought some new friends to our resident camp hippo Grumpy’s lagoon. We have seen and heard him fighting with the other hippos with full-on open-mouthed attacks, chasing the visitors out of his lagoon. Hippos have a very distinctive grunt, and Grumpy is our new 5.30 am wake-up call every morning.
Lions are very vocal animals. When they walk around and roar they tell all the other lions where they are, a vocal marking of their territory. They also use roaring to locate other members of their pride if they have been separated for a while.
One of our Chobe Boys has been mating with a Savuti female. If you haven’t ever seen lions mate before, it is a quick and loud act of copulation. Mating sessions vary in time. In the beginning when a female comes in heat, the mating sessions can be every seven to nine minutes for the first few days. After a while the time between mating may increase to 12 to 15 minutes. Mating lasts between four to seven days. Another one of the Boys has been hanging around waiting for his older brother to finish so he can take over. Whenever he approaches the pair, the mating male growls and even roars to tell his brother to stay away from the female. He also always positions himself between the female and younger brother to make sure they all know who the dominant male is. The three Chobe Boys were seen around Savuti throughout the month during game drives, freight runs and even transfers.
On more than one occasion this month, we have heard the local female leopard coughing around camp. We also saw her with her cubs close to camp. Finally we can say we have a 'Camp Cat'. There is also a new young male leopard living alongside the Savute Channel. In the last month he has been spotted with a few impala kills, always feeding up in a tree. The Calcrete Female has clearly marked her territory close to Livingstone Hide and has been hunting impala. Our leopard population and sightings in the Linyanti are definitely on the rise.
When fortunate enough to see a pack of wild dog playing, hunting or just doing their waking ritual, you understand that communication is key to their survival. Wild dog hunt in packs and rely on 'talking' to each other to make a successful kill. Our packs have been doing really well and all three alpha females from the packs, LTC, ZIP and DumaTau, have denned! The fourth, the Savuti Pack, has not been seen in the last month. Our guides have been trying to locate the dens but with no success – yet. Hopefully soon we will have a bunch of wild dog puppies running around causing the adults headaches, as any children will!
Other shy and very special animals that were sighted in July were three bat-eared foxes, honey badger, hyaena, serval, and even seven roan antelope.
Birds and Birding
Our feathered friends sing lovely lullabies, make warning sounds and announce the time of day with their ‘voices'. The southern ground hornbills have been spotted numerous times. We have also had a new record of 35 openbill storks roosting in the tree in front of the bar. The African fish-eagles have been seen fighting and calling out to protect their territory.
If there are two very distinctive African sounds, it is the roar of a lion and the call of an African fish-eagle.
So folks, next time you hear a bird singing, your dog barking or when you hear a lion calling, remember that it is more than a sound they are making, it is the way they communicate.