Vumbura Plains - October 2016

Oct 8, 2016 Vumbura Plains
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Climate and Landscape
The month of October proved to be the hottest of the year here in the Okavango Delta and the dry season continues with no rain and humid days. We recorded a high of 47° Celsius and a minimum of 33° C. The good news is we received our first rain drops on the last day of the month – quite a blessing.

Despite the heat of October, animal sightings were amazing on our concession. We still saw the big breeding herds of buffalo across all corners of Kwedi, and with their predictable movement pattern, they were seen quite often. The most interesting thing about this herd has been their newly born calves which in turn have attracted a number of different predators.

Elephant sightings were epic and guests had a great opportunity to view these majestic creatures on land as well as in the water, especially right here in the main channel as almost all the small catchment areas have dried up. Large lone bulls as well as the small family units take advantage of the fresh Okavango Delta water to quench their thirst as well as cool off, and we came across many swimming and playing or just enjoying the cool water in the river. They also feed on the green plants in the Delta channels as it is really dry and hot out on the land. This is the best time to enjoy elephant sightings as they do a lot of mud bathing to coat their skins and prevent sunburn. Watching them suck up huge amounts of water as the calves climb around and roll in the water is also really fun to observe.

Sable antelope are doing well in our area too despite the hot weather. A big breeding herd that consists of one female and a few juveniles was seen very often to the west of our Concession, resting and sometimes feeding.

In this testing time for prey animals, the weaker ones are not able to cope and are taken by lion, leopards, wild dog and hyaena in our area. The latter have proved to be the best hunters and they were very successful on their missions.

Our guests witnessed a most unusual leopard hunt during the month. It all started in the late afternoon after one of the local leopards, Selonyana, decided to go hunting after a long day of resting up in a tree. It did not take long before the cat started stalking so naturally the guests and their guides followed… as they approached the cat took off and pounced on its prey – to their surprise the prey in the leopard’s mouth was a wild cat. What a particularly special sighting.

With the summer temperatures pushing the mercury to its highest point this year, we encountered a number of leopard sightings – mostly resting under trees, panting and trying to cool off. Selonyana was seen very often even though among this month’s leopard sightings we also saw other resident females like Naledi, who was seen west of Paradise resting, as well as strolling toward Mbishi Two. MmaLebala also came to the show when she was found between Ronnie’s and Village roads.

Lions were also among the big cats sighted this month. Two Kubu Pride females were spotted feeding on an adult warthog south of Channel Road; this was after being successfully tracked by the local guides. The Kubu Pride lone female was followed on a hunting mission west of Ostrich Road and the old Vumbura site. She tried her luck on a female adult warthog but she was outrun.

Another big male lion (Manyatela) was found feeding on a female buffalo. This male is recognised as the most successful hunter in our area. The very same male was found the following morning resting with full belly, obviously from the earlier buffalo kill.

Wild dog are well known for their highly efficient hunting skills and the four females from the Golden Pack did not disappoint as they put on a spectacular show during a successful impala hunt that ended with an amazing feeding session. After a couple of days, the four females were seen again near Old Vumbura and after an endearing greeting display began to move towards a big herd of impala which was feeding nearby. They sat in some shade to observe their prey which was not aware of their presence. Without any warning one of the pack members set off, scattering the impalas in different directions. Even though the hunt was not successful it resulted in an amazing display of impala pronking and showing off of their strength and ability to live another day.

Birds and Birding Birding was amazing during October and provided a spectacular variety of birds daily, giving our guests some fascinating glimpses into the nature of these feathered creatures. Species seen ranged from flamboyant crested barbets to their more modestly plumed black-collared cousins. Our Endangered species are doing very well in our area and we were thrilled to see slaty egrets, wattled cranes and southern ground-hornbills.

Staff in Camp
South Camp: Lops, Poppy, Horata, Tumie, Chris, Motty
North Camp: Phenn, Lebo, Anton, Laura, Oabi, Colleen
South Camp: Ban, ST, Emang
North Camp: OB, Ike, Zee, Sevara

Newsletter and pictures by Lopang Rampeba

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