Lion Update: Keeping Up With The Lions of the Busanga Plains

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Shumba and Busanga Bush Camps (BBC) have been open barely a month and already we’ve had amazing sightings around both camps! Isaac Kalio updates us on some of his recent lion and other predator sightings in the Busanga Plains...

It’s been an exciting start to the season as the lions showed themselves on our very first game drive. A few occasions saw a divided Papyrus Pride with Machine spending a lot of time with her two young cubs while the collared female was seen around her sub-adults and Princess, the only cub from last season. Talking about Princess, she is noticeably bigger and has interesting male-looking features and appears to be developing a bit of mane. I had to look twice to make sure that she was not Prince but definitely Princess!

The Papyrus Pride is now the dominant pride of area with the disappearance of the tree-climbing Busanga Pride which hasn’t been seen for some time.

What has been exciting for us is to see Machine with cubs after struggling a few times in the last two years. We have had a good look at them and we think they are two males. The pride appears to be missing one of the sub-adult males from the original three sub-adults (two males and a female).

We had an amazing sighting on 5th June when the whole pride emerged close to Busanga Bush Camp – which appears to have become their playground now. They number a total of nine cats including the males formerly known as The Musanza Boys who we now individually refer to as Mohawk and Slit. We had some exciting moments with these boys, watching them in the mist in a playful mood with a lot of roaring.

Cheetah have been sighted in the area four to five times now, twice on kills. The coalition comprises two collared males (who came in to the area last year) and sightings have been concentrated around Kapinga Island and BBC. So far we haven’t seen the resident coalition of two, one of which has a collar.

So far we’ve seen four or five sightings of leopard in between Shumba and BBC, Kapinga Island being the host area where we’ve seen a lot of tracks of adults with cubs. On 26th June Idos witnessed a leopard pouncing on a crowned crane which it quickly disappeared with into the thick bush of Kapinga.

Serval have been sighted most on night drives, around Busanga Crossing, which is 2 km south of BBC.

General game has included great numbers of lechwe and puku (or you can call them puchwe if you like!), a few dagga boys (lone male buffalo) around Hippo Pools and massive numbers of hippos as there is still enough water for them.

Roan antelope, wildebeest and zebra are still restricted to the edge of the treeline with Twin Palms having hosted about 24 roan for some time now. Slowly they are advancing as water recedes. We have seen plenty of birds including African skimmers seeking out the pristine breeding grounds of Busanga Plains.

Some specials have lately become common sightings and include rosy-throated and Fülleborn's longclaws.

I will keep you updated with more exciting sightings and news and in the meantime I hope you enjoy our first month in the Busanga Plains as much as we have.

Written and Photographed by Isaac Kalio, Wilderness Safaris Guide at Shumba Camp, Kafue  

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