Climate and Landscape
We were expecting a lot rain at Tubu Tree during the month of January, but to our surprise the heavens only opened late, towards the end of the month. We had a total of 22 mm of rain for the month of January – the most being 11 mm in one day. Although we were very grateful for the rain it was predominantly a very dry month out here on Hunda Island. The average minimum temperature was 21° Celsius with the maximum reaching 34° C. Our hottest day this month touched 40° C, leaving everyone wishing that we could have had more rain.
Yet again it was a great month for wildlife sightings on Hunda Island though.
The wild dogs put on a spectacular display this month. The pack of five appeared to be turning into residents, based on all the sightings we had of them out in the open floodplains and in front of camp as they dashed back and forth from one end of camp to the other.
The five dogs put on quite a show for our guests at the beginning of the month as they were seen rolling around in the sand under a sycamore fig tree as well as on another occasion when an impala came crashing out of the thickets with the pack chasing in hot pursuit. Our guests quickly grabbed their cameras and got some amazing photographs of the spectacle happening right in front of them, all while enjoying their sundowners.
The cats did not disappoint either during the month of January. Some fortunate guests saw three leopards in one day! The leopards were seen on separate occasions relaxing up in trees, enjoying the shade during the guests’ mid-morning activities; they showed no interest in their spectators snapping away and getting some great photographs of the elusive cats.
A leopard was also seen on one of the afternoon drives out at Kupira Lagoon, and by a stroke of luck was later seen stalking some baby warthogs. The leopard was unsuccessful, and it was a close call for the baby warthogs which made a narrow escape.
The lions were heard calling in the middle of the night on quite a few occasions, clearly nearby as everyone from Tubu Tree Camp heard them. The two male lions were seen quite a few times this month too, either relaxing during the heat of the day, or on the go, looking for their next meal. One afternoon the two males were lazing around comfortably when a herd of buffalo came rushing out of the treeline, sparking both of the males’ interest.
On another occasion one of the male lions was successful on a hunt, though both of them enjoyed the reward at the end. The resident pride of females only made one appearance this month. Although reduced in numbers, and not knowing where the remainder of the pride was, the few that were left were seen drinking water at one of the waterholes.
Baby season is in full swing this month with a lot of young giraffe, impala and elephant seen all across Hunda Island.
The hippopotamuses are still around the area despite the lack of rain and water, and were seen across on the eastern side of the island in the deeper waters of one of the channels.
A small breeding herd of elephants was seen on a daily basis around camp enjoying the fresh vegetation. Once the rains came however, they moved off to greener pastures.
One standout sighting this month had to be a hyaena crossing in front of Little Tubu in the early morning, dragging his breakfast towards the open floodplain. Guests were enjoying their morning cup of coffee when the scavenger appeared; we discovered later that the hyaena had stolen the fresh piece of meat from the pack of wild dogs.
Birds and Birding
While sightings of game have been excellent, the birdlife has been equally outstanding. Around camp the likes of hamerkops, thick-billed weavers, orange-winged pytilias, red-billed firefinches, grey-backed camaropteras and African paradise-flycatchers were seen in abundance.
The sighting of the African paradise-flycatchers was unbelievable as it was a pair, right outside of the office up in a tree, in the middle of their mating ritual. Meyer’s parrots were all around camp this month as well, and were heard screeching up in the massive shade trees at the front-of-house.
Earlier on in the month some Retz’s helmet-shrikes were seen catching insects up in a tree and six ostriches were seen in front of the camp, in the floodplain right in front of camp.
The woodland kingfishers put on quite a display this month too, their bright colours flying high in the sky. They were quite visible and audible as well, with some of our guests seeing them diving into the swimming pool. A black-headed oriole shrike was heard around the area but we had quite a hunt to find it, until the bird’s pitch-black head and bright yellow underbelly gave up his location.
Many birds of prey were also seen this month, including an amur falcon up in a tree by one of the management rooms. A bateleur eagle was also seen, soaring high in the sky taking in its great aerial view of the camp and island.
One of our greatest avian sightings this month had to be the rosy-throated longclaw spotted on one of the afternoon drives by our guests. The excitement on their faces, as well as the guide’s, was unquestionably the cherry on top of a great day.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Jared Zeelie, Philile Hlongwe, Pierre Cronje, Adriana Botes, Marius Neuhoff, Piet Hein Stutterheim
Guides: Kesentse “Kaizer” Rams, Seretse Xaeko, Maipaa Tekanyetso, Kelebogile “KB” Lesotho, Oduetse “Chaps” Ngenda