Climate and Landscape
June has been a month of colours with all the teak and ordeal trees turning all different shades of reds and oranges. Their leaves fall to the ground, carpeting the Kalahari sands. The majority of mornings and evenings have been cold as soon as the sun hits the horizon. The lowest temperature of 4 degrees Celsius was recorded on the 23rd. Most of the morning temperatures ranged between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius and warmed up to between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius. Previous years had much lower temperatures than those recorded this year, so it seems that this winter has not been as cold as we were expecting. The month we also experienced windy and cloudy days – something which is quite unusual this time of the year.
Winters in Hwange are usually characterised by leafless trees. However, this June has been different because only a few trees have started dropping their leaves. This might have been caused by a prolonged rainy season. Rains lasted until the month of April which was odd as rains normally stopp mid-March. The trees that have started losing their leaves are the ordeal that can be seen with their golden leaves and the peeling bark ochna. The Zambezi teak still looks green despite the dry conditions.
Grasses have turned brown leaving grazers at a disadvantage as nutrients are drawn back to the roots. Elephants were seen uprooting grasses, digging for the couch grass rhizomes shaking off the soil before enjoying the edible stuff. Big holes can be seen on calcrete areas, dug by animals as they seek minerals to supplement their mineral requirements.
June has been filled with lots of excitement and has been a very good month with great sightings often being spotted in the concession. Five cheetah (a mother and sub-adult young) and two brothers have been spotted regularly in the Ngamo Plains and Linkwasha areas. One interesting sight was that of the four sub-adults lying on the railroad waiting desperately for their mother who had gone hunting. One afternoon, our guests were given a treat when the same cheetah family killed a yearling kudu right in camp close to one of the senior staff houses.
A female leopard was also spotted with a steenbok kill up a tree on the road to the airstrip.
Lions have kept us on our toes as they been killing prey at will. Xanda’s pride killed a kudu bull in front of Makalolo. Xanda then went on to take the whole carcass without any sympathy for the hungry cubs. With frustration, the lionesses left him and then killed a zebra on the airstrip road. On the same day after having her fill, a lioness was spotted at Madison Pan drinking while sable and roan antelope bulls watched from a safe distance.
Hyaenas seem to be specialising in killing kudu bulls, as three kills were seen at two different waterholes with hyaenas feasting. Large herds of elephants and buffalo have been visiting the front of camp waterhole, making viewing from our log-pile hide spectacular.
Herds of sable and roan have been seen around the concession; they tend to favour the Madison Pan area near the airstrip. One amazing sighting at Scott’s Pan comprised a total of 40 sable! The different herds were seen grazing together, their black majestic coats shining against the harsh dry background.
Birds and Birding
Though most of the migrants, namely red-backed shrikes, lesser grey shrikes, European rollers, and a variety of storks have left, we still have good sightings of local birds. The great white pelican is still surviving at Samavundla waterhole. A few other pelicans were spotted at the same waterhole for a number of days; they seemed to stop off to visit and then left.
Other birds that were often spotted flying around are black-chested snake eagles, African hawk eagles and tawny eagles. Secretarybirds were often seen walking gracefully all over the vleis in the concession. Our resident red-billed spurfowls seem to be growing in numbers. One female has three chicks with her. These birds come and drink from the bird baths every day and the thick warm sand around camp make for a good dust bath.
“The intimacy of the size of the camp, the thoughtfulness of the staff. They welcome us back each time when we out. So friendly”.
“Sitting in the woodpile surrounded by a herd of elephants; cheetah family. Sitting around the fire with Elias”.
“Friendliness of staff, competence, perfect guide”.
Staff in Camp
Manager:: Edwin Nehwati, Cynthia Ndiweni, Natalie Chipara
Guides: Elias Chiga, Dickson Dube, Charles Ndlovu, Leonard Mutsvaga, Luke Terblanche