Jacana Camp – April 2014

Apr 30, 2014 Jacana Camp
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Climate and Landscape
The water is up and still rising, as it has for hundreds of seasons in the Delta. In April, the first inundation came in and settled, and now possibly the second rising of water is starting. The early mornings show a later rising sun while the sunsets roll forward earlier and earlier.

You find yourself reaching a bit more readily for a scarf these days when starting your day, and you find your closed shoes are much more appealing than your sandals. However, once you’ve had your morning coffee and conquered some of your morning duties, you find a more appropriate place for the scarf as you warm up. By brunch, those closed shoes are making you feel a little claustrophobic so back you go for your sandals. Winter is steadily making its way here! And by midday, it feels like summer. The day progresses quite calmly and suddenly, out of nowhere, a wind finds its way through to ruffle your hair. We have also had random spits of rain, with a total of 33 mm for the month. It should be the last of the rain until winter is over, but then one can never tell with the weather, can one?

Jacana is a small island in the middle of a vast expanse of water, with other similar-sized islands dotting the horizon. But don’t let its size fool you. Just the walk to your tent with your eyes and ears open will showcase your fellow inhabitants. The butterflies have been abundant and flit around as you walk down a pathway. Brown-veined whites, blue pansies, orange-tips and African monarch butterflies are just a sample of what you would find. You may hear scuttling in the foliage around you and if you’re fast enough, you will see the delicate tail of a striped-skink seeking shelter under a fallen knobthorn branch. On one particular stroll, this ‘scuttling’ was more of an ambush when an almost one-metre-long water monitor made itself known giving some of us a bit of a fright – there’s definitely a big difference between a skink and this Jurassic-like creature!

‘Dirty Harry’, as some have fondly come to know him, is our resident hippo. After hosting one evening, William made his way home and, lost in thought, he and Dirty Harry unexpectedly met each other. They gave each other a quick once-over and both decided to head back in the direction from which they each came!

There is also an elephant that visits the fringes of the island every now and then. He is unmistakable as he has one very straight tusk and one that gently curves inward. He is mild mannered and very accommodating when any of the guests want to take photos. We couldn’t quite say that he strikes a pose but let’s just say he doesn’t disappoint!

Our little resident vervet monkey family often spends the night in the sycamore fig that shades the main area. The baby is incredibly vocal and will pretty much moan at anyone he sees. If you pay him attention (and most folks do as he is as cute as a button), he will then bob his head and dart up and down the branch in excitement. He is our top-rated in-house entertainment at this point!

Birds and Birding
The breeding pair of Pel’s fishing-owls in the area has sometimes been accommodating and sometimes not so much. Like everything in nature, you can only hope to bear witness to its wonders – we had some guests see the Pel’s for the very first time, while others searched in vain. One particular guest was incredibly content as after 25 years of searching for this shy, nocturnal owl, she got to see the male gently dozing in a mangosteen tree.

Camp Activities
With guests visiting from as far afield as Finland and Malta, we have cultures spanning the globe sharing the dinner table. The fireside conversations are always diverse but what really made a ‘Jacana Legend’ this month was a group of eight guests who decided the traditional evening was to have a personal stamp. The elected chief for the evening nominated the men to lean on one knee and in the light of the raging fire, remind their ladies what it was about them that they loved the most – both tears and giggles followed! The ladies thought they were in the clear when the chief decided that, as good African tradition goes, the ladies should dance for their men. The expected reluctance never took place. It took only a heartbeat for the ladies to gather, choose a song and choreograph a masterpiece!

Staff in Camp
Managers: William and Angie Whiteman
Guides: Tshenelo Mahongo (TH), Kambango Sinimbo and Moruti Maipelo


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