Vumbura Plains - December 2016

Dec 29, 2016 Vumbura Plains
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Climate and Landscape
The rainy season, also known as the green season, is upon us here in the Okavango Delta and it is that time of year when we experience more moderate temperatures in this part of Africa. The minimum temperatures recorded during December were in the low 20°s with a high of 32° Celsius.

We had some exceptional, and often surprising, wildlife sightings, amplified by the beautiful landscape that has been transformed into a lush, green backdrop of lagoons and pans thanks to the spectacular rains we have received. The green season is also most guests’ favourite too, as predators are attracted by the abundance of new-borns of the antelope and many other animals.

Our guests were fortunate to have some excellent lion sightings this month; the most interesting was observing a few unknown males invading the resident lions’ territory – something that brought much drama to these big cats.

A coalition of three new males was seen chasing one of the adults from the Eastern Boys coalition after an epic encounter. The fight went on for days and unfortunately ended with the big male succumbing to this attack. It was really sad to lose this formidable male lion. The three foreign males were seen regularly during the month, with another encounter occurring near the camp at Letlhalerwa Pan where they were feeding on a buffalo cow. The feeding went on for three days before they allowed other predators on the kill, including hyaena which were seen skulking around while the boys were feeding; vultures finished the remains. After this encounter they appear to have moved out of our area as they were not spotted again and our guides reported finding their tracks heading out of our area.

As there is always great need for pride members to collectively defend their territory, we are grateful to report that our resident lion pride, Kubu, managed to hold onto its own territory despite the ferocious battles against intruders this month. A big surprise was finding Manyatela, the big male, with a kill. This male is well known for his exceptional hunting skills and this brute was seen on the same spot feeding and sleeping near the carcass, too full to move. Luckily he was never challenged for his meal.

Selonyana, the resident female leopard, was observed attempting to hunt but unfortunately the baboons saw her and launched into a barking frenzy that ensured the cat’s mission was unsuccessful. Our shy male leopard was seen around Mogonono Pan as well, feeding on an impala kill… as usual he was a bit skittish though. Another resident female leopard that came to the show this month was Naledi; she was also located with a baby impala kill at Xhakhecha Pan.

Towards the end of the month good cheetah sightings were noted, this after these cats had been absent for quite some time. This time around we saw four new, unknown boys. On one occasion they were followed by our guides and guests on a very successful impala baby hunt in the north-west of the Kwedi Concession near Phiri Pan.

The month we were blessed with sightings of our other top predator when a new pack of eighteen wild dog took down an impala in the Phiri Pan area; the pack was seen taking a rest in the same area while guests were out on their afternoon drive. Another unknown pack of four rocked up one afternoon on a hunting mission, though unfortunately their impala hunt wasn’t successful. Our resident pack, the Golden Pack, also did not disappoint as they came close to camp around the helipad trying their luck on some impala. The very same pack was seen thereafter heading toward the west of the concession before they disappeared into a thicket.

This time of the year is very exciting as it is full of new life. The tsessebe antelope showed off their not only adorable but very photogenic babies, giving our guests outstanding photographic opportunities. Big breeding herds of elephants also did not disappoint as they presented their tiny new-born babies – really quite special sightings for our guests. Other animals with babies included impala, wildebeest, hippo, warthog, and not forgetting buffalo, which are still seen around all corners of our concession. The most special sightings were of roan and sable antelope with their young ones.

Among all the epic sightings this month, we will never forget the water monitor lizard with its toad kill – what a sighting that was! This closed our month of December on a very high note.

Birds and Birding
December was yet another awesome month for amazing birding. The rain waters pushing through the floodplains and other catchment areas created abundant fishing opportunities for most of the aquatic birds, including pied kingfishers, herons, hamerkops and fish-eagles.

Our birding ranged from the world’s biggest bird, the ostrich, to much smaller birds such as woodland kingfishers, blue-cheeked bee-eaters and carmine bee-eaters. A special and unusual sighting of a beautiful crowned crane was also observed.

Staff in Camp
Vumbura South
Managers: Lops, Onnie, Taps
Guides: Emang, Ron, ST

Vumbura North
Managers: Kci, Tumie, Lebo, Poppy, Oabi
Guides: Zee, Lazi, Chris, Speedy

Newsletter compiled by Lops Rampeba
Pictures by Speedy Senase

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