The game over the last few months has been concentrated almost entirely around the prolific Ngamo Plains, but midway through the month of May, there was a very definite shift. The small herds of zebra, waterbuck, and wildebeest that had become resident in front of camp were joined by larger aggregations. The buffalo that had been conspicuously absent from the wide-open areas emerged from the dense teak forests to drink at various waterholes around the concession – a sure sign that the surface water remained from the rains is fast drying up. Herds of elephant too have been congregating around the waterholes and spending most nights weaving between our guests’ tents as they enjoy the vegetation around camp. Predator sightings were also frequent this month.
A coalition of two lions, with three females in tow, enjoyed lots of success this month and were seen feeding on wildebeest, kudu and eland. Another lioness has been denning in the Backpans area, where her little “secrets” have been well hidden, only appearing on a few occasions to confirm that she has three cubs to tend to.
Xanda and his pride seem to have established themselves around the Makalolo Concession, and with seven young mouths to feed, they have also been hunting extensively. With rival prides established around this territory, and the game a little sparse there in the wet months, this pride had been spending a lot of time hunting buffalo in the forestry area, just on the park boundary. Now, with more and more animals flocking to the reliable waterholes, they have moved right into the heart of the concession.
The cheetah too have been regular visitors to the camp, though they were seen more often in the wide-open Ngamo Plains – the perfect place for them to hunt. From the summit of a termite mound, the endless expanse of flat land offers a panoramic vista for them to pick their target. A mother and her four offspring have developed a knack for the oblivious wildebeest and impala that graze there. Around the Backpans area, the two cheetah brothers have been causing a similar disturbance amongst the plains game and the resident waterbuck and impala are on constant high alert for their presence.
Around Makalolo Pan, chance encounters with the usually elusive leopard were undoubtedly the highlight of the month. Their secretive disposition typically means that their visibility is fleeting but this was not the case in any of the sightings, as three different leopards, on different occasions, were seen openly grooming themselves, strolling along the road or feeding on a steenbok without a care in the world!
Birds and Birding
With many birds having escaped to warmer conditions, away from the Hwange winter chill, there has been a drop in the number of birds seen in the area. The sightings have still been very interesting though, and one guest was lucky to witness a tawny eagle swoop down to catch a guineafowl.
Around camp, the collared palm-thrush keeps the guides on their toes, with its broad medley mimicking a number of other birds, including fiery-necked nightjar during the day.
The lone pelican at Big Sam was joined by six other pelicans for a few days, before they continued on their migration. He seemed to enjoy the company!
The return of the capped wheatear surely signifies the arrival of the dry season, preferring to fly low over the short, dry grass (as opposed to the dense bush of the wet season), from where it can feed on its favourite meal of ants.
“Great stay! Great People! Great Food! Great sightings!”“We love the people, the camp and the real nature!” “Any better time would be illegal!”
Staff in Camp
Camp Managers: Jeremy Claringbold, Joe Hanly Managers: Avias Ncube, Yeukai Chihambakwe, Bridget Mack Pro Guides: Joshua Magaya, Tendayi Ketayi Learner Guides: Livingstone Sana, Eustace Mativire, Garikai Bvumbi, Lovemore Nauwakhe