Shumba Camp - September 2014

Sep 30, 2014 Shumba Camp
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It feels like the season has only just started for us at Shumba Camp and we can’t quite believe we are about to roll into our last month up here in the Busanga Plains. Our rebuild project this season have made it a very short one, but my goodness has it been an active month this September! We’ve had talented photographer Dana Allen in camp taking shots of the new Shumba – have a look at these on the website to see what we have been up to.

Climate and Landscape
The weather this month has been quite strange; the winds are playing up, making life difficult for our balloon pilot Eric. We’ve had a couple of cases of the balloon heading off in completely the opposite direction to where it usually goes. Thankfully our bridges are all holding up and we’ve managed to reach all of the different landing sites! We also had a very odd, full day of drizzling rain mid-month. Cue lots of running about and moving cushions and suchlike under cover! We wonder if the rains are going to come early this year. There have been various predictions on the date of our first storm amongst the guys in camp, but seeing as they are all very different we aren’t holding our breath yet.

Lows of 6° mean the mornings are still chilly but the highs of 38° mean the swimming pool is finally coming into its own as people jump in to cool off between game drives. The generally dry weather means Hippo Pools has become very small and there are regular fights between the male hippos for space.

Now on to the wildlife…
Our much-loved old male lion, Mr Busanga, leader of the Busanga Pride, has being given a real run for his money this month by a newly-formed coalition of four male lions. This group is made up of the aptly-named Short Tail and three others that have recently arrived on the scene. Mr B, as we call him, is getting on a bit now and probably other males in the vicinity sense a possible takeover of the Busanga Pride.

One particular morning, whilst out on drive, our guests saw no fewer than 21 different lions and witnessed a fight between the new coalition and the Musanza Boys just a few kilometres from camp. As this was playing out, the Papyrus Pride arrived on the scene and also got involved – a real power struggle and never have our lions been so active! We all wait in anticipation to see who will make the next move and worry that by the end of the season Mr B is going to have been pushed out to the fringes and the hostile takeover will be complete.

As the weather heats up, we are seeing more and more incidences of the game coming to us in camp and being able to ‘safari’ from the comfort of the main area. Ours lions seek the shade under the decks of our tents or catch the breeze up on the boardwalks while also checking up on the puku and lechwe situation from the decks’ elevated vantage points. A few guests have had to remain sipping tea in the main area during siesta time as the new arrivals made it impossible for us to get them back to their rooms.

Leopard here in the Plains can be tricky to track down and we tend to head out to the treeline to try and locate them. This month however a number of these beautiful creatures have, much to our delight, been roaming the Plains near Shumba Camp. A couple of weeks back, we had four new guests coming into camp via a pretty amazing game drive from the airstrip. They found not just one but three leopards all together! If that wasn’t enough, just further down the road, perched on top of a mound, two cheetah were discovered and as the sun set the lions joined the party and started roaring close by. What a welcome to the Busanga Plains – it was one of those evenings where check in happened in the dark!

Our big buffalo herd disappeared for a couple of weeks but made its reappearance mid-month just in time to be seen meandering past the front deck over brunch by our guests in camp.

On a different afternoon, another great herd was sighted but this time it was elephant. An excited radio call from one of our guides let us know he was watching no less than 150 elephant emerge from the treeline just south of camp. It’s been a very long time since a super-herd like this has been seen in the Busanga Plains.

We’ve had two different ‘kill’ sightings this month, the first being a martial eagle taking out a baby warthog and the second was an African fish-eagle swooping downj to collect a rather surprised mouse in its claws. Other interesting sightings have included a mating pair of honey badgers and ‘Tripod,’ our resident three-legged hyaena.

The sable and roan have finally arrived in the Plains – more than a little late this year. We suspect that the waterholes in the woodland have completely dried up, so they are now being drawn to the Busanga to drink. Return drives to camp in the evening are often punctuated with a sighting of our resident serval roaming the area around the back of Tent 1 or the staff village.

Some sad news this month is that one of the lionesses in the Busanga Pride is not very well. She’s looking very skinny and one side of her face has gone rather black. By chance we had a group of four veterinarians staying with us who saw her close up. Their diagnosis of a tumour in her mouth means that the outcome does not look good and we aren’t sure how much longer she will last. But then that is nature’s way I suppose.

Camp News
In a quick roundup of Shumba Camp news, we have erected two new water tanks and now have a completely gravity-fed water system. This has allowed us to reduce our generator hours as we don’t have to run a water pump – excellent eco-friendly news.

A new back-of-house dining and kitchen area has also been completed so it’s all smiles in the staff village, particularly from our staff chef Chris who now has a proper working space.

That’s it for now…over and out from the Busanga Plains until next month.

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