It is certainly safe to say that winter is on the way! Whilst midday temperatures continue to reach the 30° C mark, during the night and early mornings we are seeing chilly lows of 13° C. Due to the wind picking up over the last couple of days, cosy fleeces and woolly hats have been a regular fashion statement on the decks of Vumbura Plains!
As the water from the rains vanishes, so too does the lush green landscape, leaving behind far dryer and browner vegetation. In contrast, we have been seeing a steady rise in the water levels of the floodplains over the past week. Whilst watching the trickling of water and forming of streams take over our roads we are reminded that the time is coming for the rediscovery of alternative routes around the concession.
The game at Vumbura continues to impress and wow all those who are lucky enough to explore our ever-changing land. The lion activity has been particularly impressive due to the arrival two new males intent on taking over the territory in the concession. They have caused chaos within the two resident prides that roam the area, having created a split within both the Eastern Pride and the Kubu Pride. This new duo actually cornered the Kubu Pride and physically fought the young males. One was holed up at the Giraffe Pan area for a couple of days and to date he cannot find the rest of the pride. It is difficult for them to locate each other by vocalisation because they risk being heard by the other males. This tells us that the tracking of one another by scent or other means has so far been unsuccessful.
The resident female leopard has been sighted with an incredibly adorable new-born cub that is one month old now. Her older cub which is around two-and-a-half years of age continues to do well and is often seen not too far from camp. One cheetah sighting close to the airstrip has also been recorded this month. The healthy male was spotted hunting tsessebe along the woodland fringes.
The wild dogs are still a regular sight on the Vumbura circuit. The two alpha females from the Golden Pack and Mmapula Pack are both heavily pregnant, with the expectant Mmapula mother likely to have her pups first as has been the case over the last few years. We actually had a particularly dramatic scene unfold right in front of camp last week. Shortly after everyone departed for their afternoon activity a single impala appeared, at speed, followed by a lone wild dog. In a desperate attempt to escape the jaws of the predator, the impala headed straight into the water. This was to be a fateful decision made by the young antelope, as to everyone’s amazement a particularly sinister three-metre-long crocodile raised itself high out of the water and with its jaws wide open took the impala down never to be seen or heard from again. Quite a “jaw-dropping” moment!
On another evening during a soup stop (one of our wintery wow activities) the famous Golden Pack made a surprise visit. Again it began with one impala swiftly followed by a single wild dog. They went right through our stop and were shortly followed by the remaining 22 in the pack. Curious to know what on earth we were doing sipping soup on their patch, they soon lost interest and trotted on. Our guests on the ground described the sighting as “phenomenal” and indeed, we all agree.
Continuing along the antelope theme, the majestic sable are still grazing happily on our pastures whilst breeding herds of elephant continue to fascinate everyone in camp as they munch and crash their way through on a daily basis. We also have the most gorgeous week-old calf on the concession, who seems to be going strong, discovering what his apparently cumbersome trunk is actually for. Although often sheltered by a rather protective mother, he is certainly one of the big “aaaaah” factors at Vumbura right now. As are the hyaena cubs, popping up out of the den to bid a good evening, diminished in size by the most enormous female most of us have ever seen.
As far as birding goes, a rare visit was made by a large flock of pink-backed pelicans that were seen for a number of days at Kgogong Loop Pan. Such a special and surprising sight, we hope to welcome them back here regularly. Marabou storks have also been plentiful in the area this month, searching for new fishing traps as pans have been drying up.
“Vumbura is perfection in every way”
“I wish I could be here my whole life”
“Thank you for a truly magical experience. The team have refined hospitality. Until next time…”
Staff in Camp
Managers: Conny, Annabel and Jared.
Guides: Zee, Laz and Moronga.