Vumbura Plains - December 2013

Dec 31, 2013 Vumbura Plains
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Weather and Landscape
What a month of contrasts! We all started December very worried that we were not going to get any rain but by the end of the month we were praying for some respite from it! It really was fascinating to see our landscape spontaneously erupt from a desert to a bright green, tropical Eden.

As the rains steadily increased, the trickle of herbivore births escalated into a baby boom! Soon the thirsty plants were sporting a fashionable stubble of new green growth and flocks of baby impala, tsessebe and wildebeest could be seen exercising their shaky legs. The warthogs have also had a successful breeding season and scores of young piglets could be seen running throughout the concession with their tails high in the air.

Then came the wild dog. Almost daily the pack of 12 came rushing through the herds of grazers taking a brutal toll on their young. We experienced numerous exciting hunts, many in the vicinity of the lodge, with the pack generally emerging victorious.

In terms of larger predators, the cats have provided us with endless interesting sightings. On one occasion extremely fortunate guests experienced the fascinating spectacle of a male and female leopard (Commando and Selonyana) trapped in a tree by the dozing Kubu Pride of eight lions below. This was the first time we were able to view this male leopard properly as he had no choice but to stay put and be admired. He is named Commando due to his propensity to melt away instantly as soon as a vehicle comes anywhere near him. He is a beautiful specimen and we have since come across him on two more occasions. On the first sighting we found a large kudu cow killed near Paradise with a female leopard and her cub skulking in the vicinity. We could not work out who had killed the cow as it was far too big for the slight female leopard. The mystery was only solved when one of the guides came across Commando a few days later having just killed an adult kudu cow at Egyptian Pan.

On another occasion; a leopard cub was seen playing “cat and mouse” with a warthog family. She stalked them for quite some time; around and around the pan. Soon though, enough was enough and the warthogs raised their hackles and trotted off. She then nonchalantly disappeared into the sedge grass on the floodplain. Making a nice cool hiding place to wait for Mum’s return.

The resident Kubu Pride thrilled onlookers with their frequency of successful kills. The pride of eight have recently split into two groups of four so we have been getting twice the bang for our buck! Towards the end of the month we came across half of the pride on a zebra kill on Bazanga Road. The same afternoon we found two of the dominant males in the area feeding on a baby buffalo nearby.

Around Christmas the rains set in with a vengeance. We feared the worst as it rained continuously for seven days. But what a bumper wildlife experience it turned out to be. As we pressed on, wrapped in our ponchos, beyond the sheets of rain a huge array of wildlife presented itself. Every hue and size seemed to emerge onto the floodplains. Herds of zebra with numerous foals were out in large numbers. Wildebeest and large nursery herds of impala played and gamboled on the emerald green plains. Inland pans filled with water overnight bringing elephant, buffalo and warthog as every hollow became a wallow. The lions too had a field day, killing prolifically. The Kubu Pride killed a baby giraffe just metres from guests who enjoyed the sight of them feeding behind the curtain of rain. Two days later they killed another baby giraffe on the staff soccer field. The same night the Eastern Pride killed a kudu behind the workshop. A lot of action so close to camp! Of course all of these kills were fiercely contested by the large hyaena population we have on our plains.

We would be remiss not to mention the termite irruption that occurred during the month. Those fortunate enough to experience this annual spectacle of nature’s bumper harvest soon overcame their squeamishness after some gentle educational tips from the guides, appreciating how fortunate they were to be part of this explosive protein fiesta. The irruption brought colourful rollers and southern- carmine bee-eaters, engaging in spectacular aerial displays in pursuit of this instant and nutritious feast. It also provided the perfect opportunity for the guides to educate the guests on the ‘keystone ecological function’ that these insects provide in the Okavango ecosystem.

Over and beyond the wildlife sightings it was simply thrilling to see the area instantly transformed into a full-blown Okavango wetland. Birds of every colour, shape and size descended en masse. It was indeed an incredible month in every aspect.

Guest Comments
“We had such a good time we stayed for an extra two nights! Amazing time, thanks for everything!”

“An incredible and wonderful few days. Thank you to all the staff. We cannot wait to return! Fantastic

“Simply the best. Thank you all!”

“Fantastic flip over the Delta with Helicopter Horizons”

Staff in Camp
Managers: Alex, Annabel, Jared and Busi (Trainee).
Guides: Russell, Moronga, Zee and Luke.


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