Shumba Camp - September 2017

Sep 11, 2017 Shumba Camp
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Climate and Landscape
Summer is here and although still cooler in the mornings it warms up very quickly now and by 10am the layers have all been peeled off.   Average temperatures for early mornings are around 13° Celsius with the days heating up to an average of 36° C. The coldest morning was a chilly 10° C with the hottest day in September reaching 42° C.

We had some windy days, which are normal for this time of year due to the seasons changing; the winds bring in the clouds in preparation for our green season rains which normally start in November. This wind also brings some respite from the heat of the day, cooling us and the wildlife down!

We have noticed the ink flowers blooming – these are white in colour but tend to turn into an inky-blue colour as they dry out, giving them their name. Combretum flowers, which have a beautiful red hue, are also out.

Wildebeest, zebra, big herds of roan and sable antelope, oribi and an impala were spotted in the Busanga Plains, which is very unusual for these parts! Elephant are being seen in large numbers now along with many calves, which is always a joy to see.

One of the highlights was seeing Shy, the male lion of the Papyrus Pride (second litter from Queen, our collared lioness), make a buffalo kill. He managed to keep this kill from the rest of the pride for a day before his secret was out and the rest of the pride joined in the feast.

We had an interesting sighting in the middle of the month – a honey badger feeding on a terrapin. His entire head was inside the terrapin shell and he was clearly enjoying his feed.

On the same day, guests had a wonderful sighting of a python which had raised itself up completely to see what the vibration was that it could feel (as the vehicle was passing by). We start seeing pythons around this time of the year – which is most likely due to it now being spring and the time pythons reproduce.  

African rock pythons are oviparous and lay between 20 and 100 hard-shelled, elongated eggs in a protected area such as inside a termite mound or a hole or an old burrow which the snake may have found. The eggs take around 90 days to hatch and the female python shows a very maternal instinct, unusual for snakes in general, by guarding the hatchlings for up to two weeks after they hatch, to protect them from predators.

With the rise in temperatures, leopard have been seen climbing up trees and making the most of the shade in the heat of the day. Incredibly, a leopard kill, right at the camp manager’s room, was discovered. This was completely unexpected – Newton was searching for sausage tree fruits behind Ondyne’s room and came across a puku carcass in the tree; Newton estimates it to have been there for about a week and a half.

The guides think it could possibly be the same leopard from July which made a kill and dragged it up the fig tree next to the manager’s room. The leopard is intelligent and knows that the lions and hyaenas will find it hard to come into a staff area, near people, so this is the perfect spot not to be interrupted or have its prey stolen. (By the way, sausage tree fruits are a wonderful natural remedy for any bites and stings, and provide instant relief from swelling and soreness.)

Our Papyrus Pride has given us plenty to keep us entertained this month. Just after guests had left camp to find the lions, they surprised staff standing on the deck who suddenly noticed members of our resident lechwe herd running. We realised that one male lechwe had been cut off from the rest of the herd, and the lions were closing in. The lechwe made a lucky dash and escaped. The lions then walked right past Tents 1, 2 and 3 before passing close by the main area deck, with guides and guests following in hot pursuit.

Several days later, guests witnessed a standoff between the pride and a herd of 22 buffalo – the bad boys. The lions had been lying down and decided to move to the shade, out of the heat of the sun and surprised the buffalo, which probably thought the lions wanted to make a meal out of one of them! So instead of waiting for this to happen the buffalo chased them away. It was a big chase with Queen and Killing Machine watching the buffalo go for Shy, who must have seemed to be the lion which could cause them the biggest danger. Queen and Killing Machine were trying to create a barrier between themselves and the buffalo, to allow the cubs to make a safe getaway. Very interesting and highly entertaining for all guests and guides to witness.

Our two resident buffalo, Oliver and Henry, continue to amuse everyone – this month they had no idea where the lions were and were happily grazing on grass between Tents 1 and 2, when the pride walked past on the road leading towards our back of house area. Neither buffalo nor lion realised the other was there! We thought that maybe one of our dagga boys was not going to see another day, but they escaped through complete ignorance!

In the middle of the month Isaac and Newton also noticed that Maggie looked heavily pregnant. Then on the 29th Newton was with guests, who were enjoying their second visit to Shumba, when they heard the sounds of cubs in a thicket to the east of Shumba Camp. They waited in vain to see if the cubs would show themselves but were not lucky enough. Newton thinks the cubs were born within four to five days of this date.

Elephant have been seen in great numbers in the Busanga Plains – the enticing fig tree fruits are falling heavily now, bringing in the ellies to feed on one of their favourite foods in these parts. One particular bull has decided to camp out next to our guides’ tents and back-of-house area. He trumpets at anyone walking nearby and has pushed down several smaller trees, trying to get into the palms that surround these tents.

Birds and Birding
With spring officially here, we have seen new migratory birds such as sandpipers and Caspian plovers arriving in the Kafue. Fülleborn's longclaws and beautiful common waxbills were also spotted, much to the delight of guests.

An extremely exciting bird sighting was of a martial eagle killing a squacco heron. The heron was busy hunting and therefore not keeping a look out for possible predators and this is how he landed up being lunch for the sharp-eyed martial eagle.

Birds that have now left our area are dabchicks, lesser jacanas and common moorhens.

Guest Comments:
“I have been to most safari camps in Africa but this one is special. The staff are so super attentive. Bravo!

 “Thank you is not enough to say to all of your wonderful staff! Cannot imagine a more fantastic lodge to end our magnificent vacation in Zambia. You all rock!”

“There are not enough superlatives to describe this wonderful stay here. The staff are all fantastic and friendly. We feel so sad to leave, it’s as if you are leaving family. Thank you all so much.”

“Shumba, a wonderful place with great staff and beautiful surroundings. The highlights were the action between buffalo and lions and the amazing ballooning!”

 Staff in Camp
Camp Manager: Ondyne Dobeyn
Assistant Manager: Mwamba Lombe
Trainee Managers: Mutale Yumbe and Tsekai Mwanza
Head guide: Isaac Kalio
Guides: Newton Mulenga, Emmanuel Sauti and Golden Kalindawalo

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