Little Ongava - May 2010

May 27, 2010 Little Ongava
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Weather and Landscape
We at Little Ongava, on the southern boundary of Etosha National Park, are experiencing warmer days and cooler nights. Namibia's winter runs from May to August; with mid-winter temperatures ranging from 6 - 22 ºC (42 - 72°F). The landscape is dry, with most trees and shrubs losing their leaves, which makes the tracking of animals so much easier. The skies are clear and beautiful, especially at night, when the Milky Way and a million other star constellations are exposed.

For animal and bird lovers, this is the best time to visit Namibia. The days are cooler and some natural waterholes start drying up, which means game will be concentrated where there is water. Most animals come to the waterhole at camp in the afternoons.

A variety of herds pass by camp every afternoon to quench their thirst at the waterhole. Guests can enjoy lunch outside on the deck, while watching all sorts of interesting animal behaviour below them. Most of our guests have been amazed by the eland, which is the largest antelope in the world, with males weighing up to 840 kg (1 850 lb).

During dinner one evening we were surprised by a clan of four spotted hyaena. It seemed as if they were on a mission, scavenging around. They ended up spending the whole evening whooping around camp. Spotted hyaena are both scavengers and very adept hunters. They are less skilled at stalking than lion and rely on their speed, of up to 40 - 50 kph over 4 - 5 km; biting chunks out of their prey, and tearing it apart as it runs. The victim dies eventually from shock and loss of blood.

Some guests recently spent two hours at the hide and took the amazing picture on left of a lioness drinking.

The mother and baby black rhino, pictured left, also came past the hide to the waterhole for a drink. Because of their acute hearing, the mother was quite restless and would move hastily and look around when she heard the slightest sound. The mother black rhino always leads the way and it will defend its baby unhesitatingly against any actual or potential danger. Baby rhinos are not completely weaned until they are at least 12 months old - even then they stay close to mama until they are three or four years old; by which time she may be pregnant again.

Game viewing in Etosha National Park has been very favourable; with large herds of antelope and a variety of bird species. Recently Gabriel came across a herd of about 40 savannah elephant. We haven't been seeing them in previous months because in the rainy season they migrate north towards Angola and west to Kaokoland, and only begin returning at the end of March.

We have been spotting some very interesting birds: African Quailfinch, Kori Bustard, Bare-cheeked Babbler (endemic), Lilac-breasted Roller, Damara Hornbill, a confusion of Guineafowl rushing for a drink in the mornings and the Double-banded Sandgrouse flying to the waterhole at dawn, marking the beginning of the day.

Michael and some of his guests were very surprised when they sighted two Ruppell's Parrots outside one of the guest rooms. The two birds were very cooperative as they posed for a picture. They are common, near endemic and protected. They occur in small flocks in arid woodland and thornveld.

Spotted around the camp are Dusky Sunbirds, who enjoy the juices of the mopane aloe (Aloe littoralis or Windhoekalwyn). This medium-sized aloe flowers from summer into autumn. It is mainly found in Namibia, with isolated populations found in South Africa and Botswana.

We have also witnessed this month some very interesting bird behaviour from the Red-headed Finch: a pair were seen utilising the abandoned nest of a Lesser Masked-Weaver to lay their own eggs. We have learned from one of the guides that these birds can use any bird's nest or cavity to lay their eggs.

Guest Highlights
"The camp; the waterhole life; the exquisite and huge rooms and décor."

"The staff were warm, competent and caring - who could want more?"

"The game was diverse, varied and special. Watching the birdlife bathing in the pool was great. Don't change anything - it's perfect."

"Beautiful accommodation, beautiful food, most of all beautiful people. We loved and will cherish every moment we had. It was a pleasure experiencing Little Ongava and its team. Thank you all for your caring - it shows."

Camp Staff
Managers: Florensia Mutrifa and Michael Kaeding
Guides: Gabriel Haufiku and Michael Haidongo

Thank you to all guests who have shared their wonderful pictures with us.

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