Climate and Landscape
September at Kwetsani is always a bittersweet month. The Delta waters recede and with the summer rainfall still some weeks off the floodplains become very dry. We had a hint of rain, but so far just thunder in the distance and gusts of wind. Throughout the month the average temperature was a very moderate average minimum 17° Celsius, with an average high of only 33° C. The mercury topped out at 37° C, but with the daily breeze it was more than bearable.
Having dealt with the bitter in the climate above, we get to the sweet: the sightings.
The Jao Pride is back and they are back in numbers. The excitement surrounding their four new cubs is contagious. It is always great when guests tell you how excited their guide was to see the sighting – this adds tremendous authenticity to the fact that we are not just out here for a salary, but for the passion of Africa.
On the greater Kwetsani Island we have many mokolwane palm trees, a large number of them being female trees that carry the mokolwane nut. In September when the surroundings dry out somewhat, so do these nuts. Elephants have a notorious sweet tooth and they excel at learned behaviour, so they know how to shake these nuts out of the palms. It makes for very entertaining sightings watching a ‘hephalump’ shake a palm tree and then squirm away when the nuts fall on him. He will then spend an inordinate amount of time finding these nuts. Some chew and swallow the nut whole and some chew and spit it back out. It truly is an amazing sight to behold the whole process. And the adorable innocence of a calf trying to mimic the action of picking up a mokolwane nut with its inexperienced little trunk is entertainment in itself.
A radio call came from one of our guides, Dennis, announcing that he had just seen thutlwa. Our immediate reaction was utter surprise as giraffe haven’t been on our side of the floodplain for years. “Where?” Immediately followed by: “On the Kwetsani floodplain, near a closed road turnoff.” This made us jump out of our seats, grab cameras and promptly head out to the reported sighting. Seeing these elegant, elongated beauties on our side of the Jao Concession was one for the books. They even stopped and posed for a photo – giving us a few minutes to capture their graceful incongruity.
The even-more-elusive sitatunga was spotted from one of our boat shuttles across to the island one early morning: a bull standing in full view of the guests. At this time of the year we can’t easily stop for water sightings on the Hunda crossings and so there was no photographic proof. In the afternoon however, we managed to catch the female.
Staff in Camp
Managers in camp were Jacques Bester and Nadia Botha.
Our professional guides for the month of September were Dennis Smith and Moyo Kapinga –thanks guys for a fabulous guiding month.