November is usually regarded as a month of new life and reprieve from the exhausting heat of October. This year has been no different, with our rain starting with a great downpour on the 5th November, catching us all a bit by surprise. It was only 6mm, but started a change in the bush that continues with each subsequent storm and shower. One huge 40mm storm tested the camp and we came out relatively unscathed. November has brought around 130mm of gentle, soaking rainfall, which has settled the dust and brought a green blanket of grasses to cover the ground. Water lies in round puddles of mud tempting warthogs to wallow at any opportunity while platannas, bullfrogs and terrapins sneak peaks and breaths of air above the surface.
While the tsessebe and zebra had already dropped their calves in October, we were anxious to see other babies in November. The fawn-coloured (and much camouflaged) wildebeest calves now run ceaselessly on their delicate legs and the newborn impala, skittish as always, congregate in large nurseries.
The rainy season brings many migrant birds to this part of the world. We've all been searching the depths of our memories to remember calls of birds we heard over eight months ago. We've heard numerous cuckoos and thrill to hear the trills of Woodland Kingfishers. A new heronry has formed in a couple of trees in the newly flooded area of the lagoon. We lie in bed at night listening to the stereo frogs and toads calling from puddles all around, in vain attempts to attract a mate through the cacophony.
There have been three wild dog packs moving through the Selinda during November: one pack of eight adults, another of nine dogs (three adults and six pups) and a third, newly formed, pack of two adult females and an adult male. All are very relaxed and spend a lot of their time resting in and around the Zibadianja Lagoon and hunting around our headquarters.
It seems as if some members of the Selinda pride have split from the rest. We regularly see a mother with three youngsters (two females and a male) together away from the rest of the pride. They brought down a wildebeest near the edge of the lagoon one morning. The guests returned in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day with them watching the process. They returned to camp, amazed by how much effort and energy the lions spend in opening the kill as well as getting the meat from the bones - it is not an easy process.
The two cheetah brothers that moved into the area a couple months ago have not been seen much in November and choose to spend their days around Savuti. The elephants, too, have chosen to spend more time away from the lagoon, now that the mopane trees have put out new leaves and water is lying in large pans in the woodlands behind camp. Occasionally, they amble across our view, perhaps in search of fresh water.
Leopards have not been scarce in November, with one particular male making Zibadianja a regular stop during his nightly forays. We often see his tracks down the pathways and hear him calling. One night he killed a young male impala and pulled it into the tree above out gym deck. We did not notice until the following evening when, just as we were leaving our tent, we caught a glimpse of a feline shape and distinctive curled tail moving across the gym deck. We had seen his (and some hyaena) tracks the previous day, but did not put two and two together until we saw him in the tree that night. So he had probably spent the entire day in the shade of the Jackalberry, watching us go about our daily business!
During November we've been testing our newly installed solar farm. It was commissioned at the beginning of the month and has faired extremely well, despite the very cloudy skies. We have only needed to run the generator for 30 hours during November, reducing the running time from about 300 hours in previous months, thus significantly reducing our fuel costs and carbon emissions.
From a green and 'green' Zibadianja Camp,
The Zib Team