Climate and Landscape
Hot, dry and exciting! That’s the best way to describe October in Savuti. Known to be the hottest time of the year, we surely felt it in the area during the month. Temperatures were consistently above 40elsius during the day, with quite a few days going above 45° C, and once reaching a blazing 49° C! Strong winds played their part and we even had a couple of days with a little bit of rain! Just a quick shower, but we hope it’s a sample of what the coming months will bring. The bush is very dry and the few parts of the Savute Channel still running proved to be the only water sources around.
Luckily there’s still plenty water running in front of camp and it extends all the way to the backflow, which keeps the animals in the area. We almost don’t need to leave camp to see them! The resident hippo are keeping cool in their pools and herds of elephant come to drink and cool down right in front of camp several times a day, especially during the hot hours. Impala, warthog, waterbuck, baboons and even herds of buffalo are also frequently observed from the decks. It’s fantastic to see all this life roaming around when you would think the dry grass, leafless trees and waterless pans would make everything disappear. We realise how amazing nature is in adapting to the different seasons.
Despite the heat and dryness of the area, game viewing was absolutely fantastic around Savuti Camp during October. Elephant are a constant around the channel: small family groups, lone bulls, and even big herds all congregate where there’s water to drink and cool down from the scorching temperatures. On one occasion, guide Onks and his guests had the amazing sighting of a herd made up of more than 175 elephants, playing around in the Savute Channel, a once-in-a-lifetime sighting for everyone in the vehicle.
The high temperatures also make the antelope species less shy (as they don’t want to waste precious energy running away), and very good numbers of kudu, impala, waterbuck, reedbuck and even roan antelope were seen in the area, together with zebra and wildebeest.
Another big highlight was the massive herds of buffalo in the area. Patrolling up and down the channel, in numbers that ranged from a few roaming bulls to breeding herds of 400 individuals! It’s an absolute delight to see them spread out in the open floodplains. And where the buffalo go, the lion follow…
October was a crazy month for lions at Savuti. Currently, two prides are based in the area, not very far from camp, with two big males spending time between both. East of camp, three females and five young cubs were spotted a few times, while to the west, two females with five teenage cubs were seen! Needless to say lion sightings were recorded more than often throughout the month. Leopard were also active around the area, with one female and a cub seen, and one young male starting to establish his territory.
On one occasion, one of our guides was driving east of camp when he saw plenty of vultures perched in trees around a big open area where the channel is running dry. He quickly identified the reason – a dead elephant (most likely the victim of the extreme heat and lack of nutritious food) and as they approached the gruesome scene, they came upon the three lionesses and their five young cubs, feeding and playing with their food respectively. A few minutes later, the guide saw something approaching through the bushes… a hyaena! Attracted by the smell of the carcass, it couldn’t resist approaching and harassing the big cats. The result was an impressive chase from two of the lionesses that ended with a quick skirmish with the lone scavenger, leaving the hyaena bruised, although not severely.
Over the following days the pride was seen often, feeding on the elephant, with the two males joining in a couple of days later. Vultures and marabou storks showed up in big numbers and later on, the hyaenas returned and feasted on what the lions left behind, with the pride moving on in search of fresher meals. Although it was a sad sighting, the death of a magnificent animal like an elephant helps sustain many other species from lion and hyaena to vultures, and so on. It is the circle of life, as is the way of the bush….
Birds and Birding
A few interesting birds were spotted around, with the summer migrants starting to show up as well as large numbers of vultures and other birds of prey, and even a secretarybird!
Staff in Camp
The managers at Savuti Camp during October were Sally, Nuno, Mpho, Kay and Julia.