Climate and Landscape
November was an amazing month at Kings Pool. Despite the fact that this is the time of year that we normally expect rain, we did not have any significant showers this year. We received a minor drizzle that was just good enough to rejuvenate the vegetation and most mopane shrubs are wearing beautiful fresh green leaves now. The grass in the mopane woodland is still dry and flat on the ground, allowing for good visibility of small terrestrial animals, including predators like leopards and other small cats.
Due to the heat we also noted a reduction in the Linyanti River water level, and it was impossible to ignore the thrilling presence of hippos, lechwe and waterbuck in front of Kings Pool, which kept our guests entertained when they were in camp.
General wildlife was mind-blowing this month; we watched elephant crossing from Namibia into Botswana and vice versa. There was also good distribution of buffalo herds in the open grasslands along the Linyanti River as well as dazzles of zebra and journeys of giraffe, while impala have already dropped young ones in reasonable numbers. The resident packs of wild dog as well as the leopards we see in the area have temporarily diverted their diet to focus on young impala.
A sitatunga (a truly rare sighting in both the Delta and the Linyanti) was also sighted along the Linyanti River from a barge cruise this month.
We did observe a few dying elephants and we suspect it is due to low food availability and the extreme heat.
Among the classic sightings we had this month were the five new young Matlhajwa Pride cubs, born to the two females that have taken up residence in the Blue Bush open area. The cubs are now relaxed around the vehicles, which adds to an already-amazing experience for our guests.
The LTC Females and the two big male lions that are now confined to the east with their two cubs were also sighted consistently and the cubs are doing perfectly well. The two males patrol all the way up to camp and thus overlap with the Croc Boys.
The Croc Boys are sighted less often but they still cross over and deliberately overlap with the two big males and the LTC Pride in the east. One of the female adults, the mother of the lioness with the cubs, was seen with one of the Croc Boys, feeding on buffalo on two or three occasions this month. We think she is keeping away from her daughter and the cubs to distract these foreign males from making contact with the younger cubs and increasing their chance of being killed.
The Channel Boys from the Savute Channel also came over into the area and they were sighted walking close to the den of the Matlhajwa Pride, but did not harm the cubs.
Slender was consistently seen and her cub is doing really well, although still skittish. One of our guides was fortunate to photograph them as they were trapped up a tree with lions moving around in the same location.
The Calcrete Female was also sighted within the area and has a cub which is pretty much the same size as that of Slender’s, the difference being that hers is relaxed, as can be seen in the photographs here.
Slender’s daughter, who has not yet been named, has been sighted surprisingly often in our area, near where she was born. She was seen almost a kilometre away from her mother, in hiding. She was also observed a few times this month mating with one of the resident males, Ranoka, who has extended his territory from further west, coming all the way to Kings Pool occasionally.
LTC Pack sightings were common in the area and the dogs are all looking good. The alpha male’s injuries, inflicted by baboons and warthogs a few months ago, have completely healed and the pack is getting on well with the strange individual that came to join them sometime in August.
Birds and Birding
Bird life in the area has been great as well this month and the carmine bee-eaters are still nesting, though the young have not yet emerged. We expect to see them coming out soon as the rains are just about to start and they will be preparing for their migration back up north in the next few months.
Lappet-faced and white-headed vultures were also sighted around an elephant carcass.
Pink-backed pelicans were seen consistently for a week, wading in the drying water puddles.
We are excited to introduce to all our followers and readers of our newsletters the newest members of our family, Nicholas Semple (Executive Chef) and his partner Chantelle Panther (Food & Beverage Manager). We welcome Nicholas and Chantelle to our family and wish them all the best of luck and great success in their career within Wilderness Safaris.
We, the Kings Pool family, are honoured to have this opportunity to share the events and activities from around our camp and we look forward to a beautiful month of December.
Wilderness Family: this is very special to share and we mandate ourselves to continuously sharing with you.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Tshepo Phala, Olefile Sefofu, Mpho Mokaila, Nuno Cardosso, Nic Semple and Chantelle Panther
Newsletter compiled by Khan Gouwe and Tshepo Phala
Pictures courtesy Khan Gouwe