Chitabe Camps - January 2017

Jan 16, 2017 Chitabe Camp, Chitabe Lediba Camp
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Climate and Landscape
We experienced a continuation of the rain that started in December. The water channels, the Gomoti River on our northern boundary with the Moremi Game Reserve, and all the water pans in the woodlands – which were all looking barren in December before the rains started – have filled up and are looking beautiful. It is so interesting to see Nature’s ability to recover. This is the best rainfall season we have had since 2015; it has rained a lot more and over a longer period. We reached our usual annual records in just less than a week!

Wildlife
This is the time of year where the smaller species are seen in abundance – including beautiful flowers, insects and many others; we have also been privileged recently to view the spectacular ‘smaller’ diversity of the area, from chameleons, terrapins and tortoises, to pythons and frogs.

The antelope, giraffe, leopard, lion and elephant finally have the energy to do other important things such as breeding, now that food, water and cover for safety are abundant.

One of the female leopards has managed to conceal her newly-born cubs very well, though some guests were fortunate to get a glimpse of the two babies in some tall grasses as she moved them to a different den. For the safety of the cubs, our cautious guide didn’t follow her as the young ones are still too small to walk long distances and are very vulnerable to other predators out there.

Our wild dog viewing improved tremendously this month with both the pack of three and the pack of 23 seen regularly. They all seem to be enjoying the abundance of impala lambs that were born around mid-December. Despite impalas being the most targeted prey at this time of year, their numbers are still high and they are a common sight. The two packs have proved to be highly efficient when it comes to hunting, on several occasions taking down impala with our guests watching – though in most cases it is often difficult to catch up with the hunt as the dogs manoeuvre rapidly through the woodland which is not easy for vehicles to traverse. However, the guests always caught the feeding frenzy in the end, which is a big bonus. Watching the dogs feeding is tremendously entertaining to watch; it’s definitely not an ordinary activity, and our guests experienced it a lot this month.

Large herds of elephant have been frequenting our area; after being confused by the rains and moving to the far north in December, they are now back in large numbers. Drawn to the full water sources they’ve even been seen very close to camp to drink, bath and muddy themselves. These large herds with lots of young calves have been so much fun to watch.

The two dominant male lions were somewhat elusive this month, and we had limited sightings of them. We are guessing this has been caused by the new rivals attempting to occupy their territory. The dominant males are the protectors of the whole pride so in situations where there is the possibility of intruders, they will stay away from the rest of the pride and do regular patrols to keep the enemies away. One day, guests had an amazing morning when they watched them roaring continuously very close to camp; they also kept everyone in camp awake that night roaring back to the intruders who sounded far south. This was to announce that the territory is occupied and to avoid physical contact – which can be fatal at times.

That said, we saw the Chitabe Pride often; this pride has done well in raising their cubs which are all grown up and dependent on meat now and no longer need their mothers’ milk. They were sighted twice on baby giraffe kills near camp; one occasion was near the airstrip, three times on a zebra kill, and once they were found feeding on a buffalo. They have been very active when it comes to hunting – due to the many mouths to feed now. They are looking very healthy and well fed. Another pride, Tsame, which has been fairly elusive for the past three months, is also back in the area and sharing the territory with the Chitabe Pride. It isn’t a problem for females to share a territory as long as they don’t share space at any given time.

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