Looking back on a phenomenal year in the wilderness, we are reminded of our daily privilege: sharing life-affirming experiences from the regions where we operate. From wildlife rescues to conservation and research projects to breathtaking wildlife encounters in the wilds of Hwange or Mana Pools, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia, we are honoured to share these encounters with our social media community – you!
Do you remember these particular Facebook posts? Well, you ought to, as your engagement ensured they came out tops in 2016!
Hope they had their swimming trunks on
Imagine the thrill these guests experienced when this huge bull elephant swung by the Linkwasha swimming pool for a quick drink. Though, as you can imagine, a number of people commented on whether the chlorine would harm the elephant in any way… but as we use a limited amount of chlorine the simple answer is, it wouldn’t. Also, elephants have a strong sense of smell so if they were to sense it was harmful they simply wouldn't drink it – and fairly obviously, because they use their trunks to hold the water, if it burned them they would also avoid it.
Things that not so much go bump, but pad silently around in the night...
Camera trap footage from the boardwalk into camp at Xigera Camp in the Okavango Delta reveals a wealth of thrilling wildlife activity in the wee hours. Xigera also has a daily ‘newspaper’ sand pit at the entrance to this bridge which makes for fascinating ‘reading’, as guides assist guests in identifying the spoor of animals that have crossed it during the night.
Tough Times in the Linyanti
This heartfelt post from Botswana Environmental Department colleague Nic Proust highlights the plight of elephants frantic for water in the pre-rainy season in Botswana’s Linyanti… “It is a time of desperation as literally hundreds of elephants die in all ways possible this year. We have been trying our best to rescue them but there are just too many and we are under capacity to deal with the bigger problem in the greater Linyanti Swamp area … however, a great team effort from the Botswana Department of Wildlife & National Parks, Botswana Defence Force and Wilderness Safaris to try and save what we can.”
Guest and co-owner of C4 Photo Safaris (http://www.c4photosafaris.com/) Paul Irons had the astonishing good luck to see this huge leatherback turtle laying at Rocktail in October and generously shared his memorable moment. Leatherbacks are the biggest of all sea turtles, achieving impressive sizes and weights – of up to 750 kg! Leatherback and loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay here along South Africa's Maputaland coast for a few months from late October and guests may take a ‘turtle drive’ with a qualified guide, with the chance of spotting one of these prehistoric reptiles labouring up the beach, laying or returning to the ocean. However, even seeing just their tracks is a poignant experience, providing much pause for thought.
Wild Dog and Hyaena Pandemonium
A riveting, literally jaw-dropping wildlife sighting at Mombo captivated guests and photographer Dana Allen last month as a pack of wild dogs was robbed of two kills in quick succession by a scavenging cackle of hyaena. Guest Dr Peet van der Vyver captured live footage of the entire event and was kind enough to share it with us too – watch it here.
Leopard Spotted Near Serra Cafema
When you're out on a Kunene River boat cruise and over on the Namibian side of the river you spot a... LEOPARD! This incredible and amazingly lucky sighting was captured by guests Peter Körner & Ute Hachmann from their afternoon activity in late November.
Snared Lion in Kafue – a sad story with a happy ending...
We were delighted to share this wonderful good news story from our hot-air ballooning partner in Zambia: “During a flight over the Busanga Plains, the balloon safari pilot spotted a lion on a kill; however, it had been badly injured by poachers. This lion had been seen months ago with a snare around his neck, and due to the inaccessibility of his location, it was not possible to rescue him at the time. He was thought to have died long ago as he would have been so handicapped, and in his condition would not have been able to hunt properly... however, after spotting him alive, our hope was rekindled! After the flight, the balloon crew was able to track the lion and had the vet team dart him. They were able to remove the snare, fix him up and hopefully it will be a full recovery for him!”
Pictures by Mike Gibson.
So – what we hope you’ve taken from this collection of wilderness wonders is how much of the content was contributed by guests – we trust you’ll take your cue and send us your own thrilling sightings to share with this like-minded community in the coming months!
Meanwhile, here’s to the amazing year we’re about to put behind us and three cheers for all things wild and wonderful in 2017!
Written by Josephine Bestic