Climate and Landscape
September welcomed the beautiful month of spring and temperatures hit a high of 39° Celsius, temperatures normally only expected in October so we’ve certainly had a summer feel on Chief’s Island. Lows were very moderate with temperatures dropping to around 12° C in the early mornings.
The hot winds that swept through the Delta made this unique ecosystem a rather dusty and dry one for a while. The landscape has geared for the season’s ever-welcome pula (rain) which is expected in late September; occasional clouds built up, but nothing really meaningful came of it.
The channels and smaller tributaries are drying out at a rapid rate, pushing the game from in front of camp away in search of this precious element; fortunately not that far however, as we are in the Okavango Delta after all. The conditions produced the most beautiful dusty light as a result, and the early mornings and late afternoons made for exceptional photographic opportunities.
Outstanding is all we can say for this amazing piece of Africa: the “Mombo Combo”, as our expert professional guides have nicknamed it, for the diversity of species seen right in front camp. On an average day we can experience up to 12 different mammal species which entertain guests from the comfort of their sofas around camp. In fact, this “sofa safari” is something we could easily get used to.
The iconic big cats of Mombo have all been seen regularly, and often from right in front of camp. The resident big male lion and his newfound female recently decided to go on honeymoon for about seven days in front of camp. We eagerly await their new cubs!
The female cheetah that was spotted last month with her five little cubs (around three months in age) has also been seen regularly. This rare cat has successfully raised all five of her cubs to this stage of their lives, and is often seen feeding on the rewards of her hunting efforts. Another female has also recently been spotted, making these huntresses of Chief’s Island a must-see.
Pula and her little cub were also seen very close to Far Eastern Pan, though lately she has not been without her challenges. Pula is the daughter of the legendary leopard Legadima and has recently lost one of her cubs – to what and where we still don’t know though. Recently, the male known as Blue Eyes, with whom many of our visitors are familiar, chased Pula and her cub, but so far Pula’s clever maternal instincts have protected the cub. We just hope it stays that way. Another unknown female leopard and two cubs were also recently found by the NHFU Botswana film crew in the south of the island, making for some great material for future documentaries. We will keep everyone updated on their progress.
The wild dogs were somewhat scarce this month, though recently they were seen in the far north of the island. A single female dog was seen in front of Mombo Trails, making her a unique survivor. The larger pack successfully hunted and was able to feed all nine pups this last month. The team has been relieved to note no mortalities as yet.
The following section was recently introduced to the newsletter and is one that continues to fascinate our readers. Last month’s unknown beauty created quite a stir as the insect world can stump even the most educated expert. This month we have a beautiful beetle/plant hopper called the mottled avocado bug Parapioxys jucundus – well, that’s what we think. If anyone knows or has an idea of the ID, please be so kind to let us know.
The 22nd September is World Rhino Day and we set up a presentation to educate all our visitors about the importance and preservation of this prehistoric endangered creature. Though the world has set out a specific day for these beautiful animals, every day is rhino day in Botswana. Wilderness Safaris, in collaboration with the Botswana government, continues to work hard, on Chief’s Island in particular, allowing these imperilled animals to be appreciated by future generations. A big thank you to rhino monitors George and Pitso and all involved for the tireless work that they do to keep our rhino safe at all times.
Botswana celebrated its 51st year of Independence on 30th September! This important day celebrates all baTswana culture and reiterates the pride and unity that makes the country so unique. All staff and guests were treated to a unique glimpse into this through song and dance, traditional food, poetry, and many individual staff traits which make this country one of the best success stories of the African continent. An outstanding presentation by Yompy gave all guests and staff a deeper appreciation of Botswana; thank you, Yompy and all of the Mombo team for an exceptional day of patriotism and vigorous support for this country.
Birds and Birding
Summer is definitely here as many migratory birds are arriving back. These include the southern carmine bee-eaters and a lot of raptors such as the familiar yellow-billed kite. Last month we saw the numbers of pelicans rise and this month they have almost doubled in population. To the south some Pel’s fishing-owls were recently seen by our guides. This owl is very rare to see and a highlight of birding in the Delta! They are masters at catching fish and to see one is a real treat.
“The wildlife is incredible and the staff, camp all amazing. I felt very easily welcomed.”
“Mombo Trails, guides and all staff made our trip perfect, so well organized and planned.”
“Rhinos in action! We look forward to returning to the place of plenty.”
September Employee of the Month goes to Oteng “Ottie” Banga. Ottie, who works as a barman and front of house, has one of the most infectious smiles, and through his constant humility has pleased guests’ palates well beyond description this month. His introduction of the “Ottie Special”, a most refreshing summertime drink consisting of passionfruit and ginger beer, was so popular that all guests asked for this winning recipe. Ottie’s attention to detail and memory of every aspect of the dining experience is truly admirable. This month was hot and Ottie, in his spare time, helped in the kitchen to do the scullery work, again something extremely admirable. Well done, Ottie, keep up the great work and never stop smiling – you truly are an inspiration to all.
In closing we, Sean and Megan, would like to thank everyone at Mombo for welcoming us into this special family. It is an honour and privilege to be here and has been a childhood dream to set foot in this, the “place of plenty” since Sean was 14 years old. We are already looking forward to coming back in January next year. Until then we would like to welcome back and thank Matt and Robyn for allowing us time in this very unique camp, Mombo Trails.
Warmest bush regards,
Sean and Megan