Climate and Landscape
The month of December arrived, bringing a fair amount of rain and thunderstorms, and encouraging the rapid regrowth of vegetation in the Linyanti Concession. The mopane woodlands turned lush and thick overnight.
A small collection of rainwater in the inland pans influenced the sudden migration of both elephant and zebra out of the area, making elephant sightings something of a rarity at the moment.
The rain had the same effect on those most elusive and usually well-camouflaged predators, lions and leopards. While we know they are territorial and do not migrate, but rather protect their territories against competitors, they were a little more difficult to spot in the woodlands due to the regrowth of foliage.
Beautiful flowers have started shooting, illuminating the landscapes with their breathtakingly bright colours, only enhanced by the sight of the colourful avian summer migrants like kingfishers, cuckoos, bee-eaters and others.
Game viewing was great throughout the month, with leopards topping the sightings followed by wild dogs.
Our resident female leopard Slender was super active, hunting and chasing down baby impalas in her efforts to feed her now grown-up cub. The cub is slowly getting used to the vehicles, creating better chances for wonderful photography.
The two shy male leopards in the area, Ramakwapa and Ranoka, were also seen occasionally. Ramakwapa gave us a breathtaking sighting as he dragged a baby kudu carcass up a tree to keep it away from his competitors, mainly lions and hyaenas.
We recorded fairly low lion sighting numbers this the month. The Matlhajwa Pride that was denning to the west of Kings Pool left the area when the rains started. With the seasonal pans filling up, prey species have dispersed all over the concession, leaving the river and its surroundings (where they all congregated in the dry season as it was the only place to drink). And so we think the Matlhajwa Pride might have followed their prey, mostly buffalo, into the thick mopane woodland. The Channel Boys, which seem to be the fathers of the Matlhajwa cubs, came through our area a couple of times to check on their family while on their territorial patrols.
The LTC Pride has moved to the east of the area to try and expand their territory and to accumulate as much prey as they can. This movement gave the Croc Boys a chance to settle in a little bit, and they were sighted occasionally just east of Kings Pool Camp.
As far as the wild dogs are concerned, the LTC Pack was super active as well this month, hunting, chasing impala into the lagoon in front of camp (giving the crocodiles free meals) and tearing apart baby impalas with guests watching.
Towards the end of the month the Zib Pack came through from the west. They stayed around camp for two days and pushed the LTC Pack further south into the mopane woodland.
Birds and Birding
Birding is amazing in our area at this time of year. With the onset of the rains a lot of insects have emerged, attracting a good number of insect-eaters. These insects included swarms of millions of flying termites that came out after the first rains. Birds attracted included bee-eaters, both yellow-billed and black kites, herons, egrets, eagles, kingfisher and many others
Our summer migrants will still be around until the beginning of winter while the colourful carmine bee-eaters have now left their nesting site and are out feeding and training their young before migrating north again before winter approaches.
Notable Wildlife Highlights
- Sitatunga, very rarely seen in the Linyanti unless one is in a helicopter carefully scanning the floodplains and inaccessible deeper marshland areas, were seen grazing along the Linyanti River very close to Linyanti Tented Camp.
- Slender, the resident leopard, killed a python that she left for raptors, including a juvenile bateleur eagle, to feed on.
- A lot of us have been in the camps guiding and managing for over 10 years, and in a first for all of us, Mother Nature presented us with a special sighting of leopard tortoises mating.
- December 25th. A minute number of people tend to pay attention to the activity of one the smallest members of the Okavango Delta and Linyanti’s keystone species – however, we were blessed the night of Christmas, after two days of heavy rains, when one of the colonies just outside the lodge released its alates for a termite wedding party. We saw thousands, if not millions, of these special creatures fly through the lodge. Many of our guests appreciated the walk to the mound itself, where we observed all the soldiers outside the mound protecting the colony, while the workers were seen sealing the openings after all the flying alates had left. It was like a military operation and a most fascinating sighting of these very important creatures for our ecosystems. Together with elephants and hippos they are considered a keystone species as their main role is being responsible for starting islands on the floodplains that eventually become homes for many other species. A once-in-a-lifetime experience indeed!
Staff in Camp
Managers: Tshepo Phala, Olefile Sefofu, Chantelle Panter, Nicholas Semple and Phalana Siya
Guides: Reuben Kaye, Fanie Mpiping, Evans Keowetse & Lesh
Newsletter by Fanie M and Tshepo P
Pictures by Tshepo Phala and Reuben Kaye