Climate and Landscape
The month of October marks the transition between Botswana’s dry and wet seasons, and proved to be a most productive month for game viewing on the Linyanti Concession. The last remaining waterholes have completely dried up, forcing some of the rare antelope such as roan and sable to show up along the waterfront of the Linyanti swamps and at Kings Pool’s sunken hide to drink water from the pumped pan.
We experienced a huge fluctuation in temperatures, averaging just 15° Celsius at midday as a result of minor precipitation and cloud cover, amplified by the easterly wind for several days. On some days we recorded up to 40° C at midday, encouraging enormous herds of elephant to swim and mud bathe in the Linyanti waters.
Around the central part of the concession, between the Linyanti Swamps and the Savute Channel, the landscape is dressed with a mosaic of Kalahari apple-leaf trees along the ancient riverbeds; these form an ecotone with the mopane woodland which has just started budding its characteristic shiny leaves, offering comfort for the noisy cicadas during the heat of the day. The riverine woodland is already covered with new leaves providing shade for all kinds of animals coming to drink water.
The weeping wattle trees are covered with vivid yellow flowers, the rain trees are dressed in their lovely mauve flowers while the mangosteen canopies are dotted with conspicuous orange fruits, all of these trees providing a platform for fruit and nectar-feeders, songbirds such as green pigeons and bulbuls as well as a variety of starlings.
The weather conditions were a complete surprise many times this month. Commonly experiencing dry, harsh and hot days, there were a few days in October where one would wake up to a really chilly morning. With cloud cover towards the end of the month, October was as hot as usual on some days.
Herbivores viewed in large numbers included buffalo, giraffe, kudu, red lechwe and hippo, to mention just a few. We recently recorded a few new-born baby impala towards the month end and we are expecting a huge birth pulse in the next few weeks.
Large carnivores were seen constantly throughout the month. In the category of lions, the Linyanti Pride still maintains its territory on the eastern side of the reserve and they are doing well despite the loss of one cub earlier in the month. The pride is now comprised of two dominant males, two lionesses and two cubs estimated to be four months old. The Bluebush Pride occupies the western territory and they are more reliably seen since both females share a den with at least four cubs at the moment. The cubs are about a month old and we are waiting to see them emerge from the thickets soon.
Our wild dogs, the Linyanti Pack, were sighted throughout the month and are doing well despite the loss of pups and decline in numbers earlier this year. Leopard sightings were good too, and the most constantly seen was Slender and her five-month-old cub. Although the cub is skittish we were lucky to watch her around an impala carcass and we were able to identify her gender. Slender’s previous cub, now about 20 months old, was sighted regularly, on one occasion in the act of losing her impala kill to the Bluebush lionesses.
Birds and Birding
While some of the summer migrant birds, such as southern carmine bee-eaters and yellow-billed kites arrived long ago and are about to complete brooding, many are still to come.
We have also just recorded the first woodland kingfishers and paradise flycatchers in the area.
It was anticipated earlier this year that the carmine bee-eaters were going to struggle a bit with the long, thick grass due to the heavy rains we experienced at the beginning of the year. The flock has indeed divided into smaller groups and has had to relocate their nesting grounds slightly this year. They seem to be succeeding though and we hope they have a very successful breeding season this year, as has been recorded in past years.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Tshepo, Phalana, Jennifer and Olefile
Guides: Bobby, Khan, Ndebo and Fanie
Newsletter and pictures by Bobby Rakaru