It’s June 2004 and …

 

It’s June 2004 and …

It’s Monday 7th and the attack of the killer termites

Well we had an incredible sighting last night. Just outside the office Shanie came across what can only be described as a seething mass of what looked like male termites – they covered an area of about half a metre in diameter and were over a cm thick on the ground. They seemed to be attracting sausage flies into their midst and then carrying them to the centre the squirming circle and then they disappeared down a hole as if being sucked into quick sand – it really was quite a disgusting sight but we were all fascinated. Simon was not sure of what was happening and so we sent for Robin, however, this was a first for him too, having never seen termites behave in this manner, in addition it is late to have so many sausage flies around. I think there may have been a few sci-fi type nightmares last night. We have pictures which will be put on the website in a couple of weeks when our webmaster returns from his hols – worth a look as long as you are not eating your breakfast at the same time….

Game viewing this week has been good. Dave Back, who guided here for many years, returned with a group of guests from the UK. They had a super drive seeing several groups of elephant with numbers exceeding 10 to 15 and also a herd of buffalo, around 50 at Wafwa Lagoon.

I guess the highlight was a leopard kill. Guests had just boated across the river and set off on their drive when a puku was heard whistling. The vehicle reversed back to the edge of the lagoon and a leopard was spotted. The leopard grabbed an egyptian goose and trotted off across the lagoon with the bird in its mouth. Slightly less gory than your average kill!

This group set of on a birding morning the next day. Alec Paul who has stayed with us on several occasions had seen 133 birds in a day on one of his trips and so this was held up as the target. Birding highlights were spectacular Lillians Lovebirds, black collared barbets and various raptors including both brown a over the 2 mornings ended up at 158 so all were happy with the final tally. 2 grey headed gulls were spotted when Nkwali were dropping guests at the Tena Tena boat crossing and a crowned eagle was seen in the GMA behind Nkwali camp.

Yesterday morning we had 3 large visitors in camp – big bull elephants. They ambled past my house and up to the chalets, lopping off branches as they went – fantastic to see them at such close quarters.

Tena Tena have been having great fun watching the hyena cubs who are at the same den as last year. Ross and the team have done a fantastic job and the camps is looking beautiful.

Meanwhile at Nsefu Kerri took a group of guests up to the salt pan to look for temincks courser – and found it….In fact they found a pair. What a girl…..

700 buffalo were also seen at Baka Baka Lagoon when Kerri and Aniek drove down to Nkwali this morning. They are coming down for a couple of days off – relaxing by the pool etc……

Stay well and have a great week
Cheers
Kim

It’s Monday 14th and a porcupine conference

Well I have just had a great long weekend. Chris from Chongwe River Lodge in the Lower Zambezi came up to take a look around – we are doing some packages with Chongwe and I had the perfect excuse to head north and show him our camps. Nsefu was our first stop and a walk with Jacob. Whilst driving toward the stork colony, where we intended starting our walking, we not only saw a lovely herd of buffalo but also a leopard sitting in a tree surveying a group of puku. This leopard has only one eye, apparently lost last season but was in excellent condition so it must not be hindering her hunting skill. At the stork colony we spent quite some time studying the youngsters and watching them learning to fly. We spotted a juvenile marshall eagle feeding on one of the young yellow billed storks who had not made it.

After lunch at Nsefu we moved on to Tena Tena – of course this camp holds a special place in my heart as I spent my first season with RPS catering at this extraordinary camp. We set off for our evening drive a little late as I was doing to much catching up with Ross, Aniek and the camp staff. However, Rocky soon spotted a pels fishing owl in a mahogany tree just as the light was beginning to fail. We missed the sunset but no-one was too worried about that.

Then on the way back past this same spot we looked to see if the owl was still there – disappointed. But just a 100m or so further on we saw 2 pels sitting on a dead tree right on the edge of the river – magnificent. We were quite close and were able to see their superb colouring and markings well. We then progressed north. I had not seen a hyena den or pups before and so we thought we would take a look. Nothing seemed to be around so we turned off the lights and waited for a short time. We had just about decided to move on when one of the older pups popped it’s head out of the den and had a good look around – a lovely sighting. Happily it did not say outside for long as it would not have been safe without the mother around. We were now perfectly content to return to camp and yet all was not finished.

We came across 2 porcupine on the road – very clear and we followed them for a short time – one then dived into the bush and another 2 popped up so 4 porcupine in the same frame – amazing. On returning to camp we discovered that the only other animal that was on our wish list had been seen by Ross and another guest – but not one but 5 honey badgers in the Tena second ebony – really who needs lions…. Other highlights were super elephant in family groups and lovely giraffe sightings. On the bird front we saw arnots chat and racket tailed rollers whilst driving through the cathedral mopane outside the park before Milioti gate and a lovely view of african skimmers at the Tena boat crossing.

I have now also started my vegetation education and had a couple of hours learning how to identify different trees and plants – fascinating stuff when you stop and really look and then read up on the medicinal and local uses for many of the plants and flowers.

Back at the computer now but it was fantastic to be out at the camps and enjoying the bush and, of course, I am already saying that I must get out into the park more…..

Stay well and have a great week

Stay well and have a great week
Cheers
Kim

It’s Monday 21st and more wild dogs

Well, today is the winter solstice and so we have the shortest day of the year. Imagine us shivering away in our fleeces – I have now become such a wimp that I am found wandering around in my poloneck and jumper until around mid day and it must be over 20 degs by then – not the hardy farmer out in all weathers that I once was…

Mobile CampSimon has just returned from leading the first mobile safari of the year and had a super group of guests and by all accounts they had a lovely time. We have new tents this year as well as many other new bits and pieces which Shanie has been busy organising and they really do look super.

Plenty of game was seen including – can you believe it – wild dog. Robin said that they were seen in that area quite a few years ago but you can imagine Simon had the guests virtually jogging through the bush to try and catch up with them. It was a brief glimpse but non the less very exciting. Jo ( AKA Spence – one Jo at RPS is more than enough!) our new mobile caterer is doing a fantastic job and now seems as if she is an old hand in the bush – having spent time in Malawi she surprised her team by being able to converse in the local language which immediately made her a favourite. During the walks the group had a lovely sighting of roan antelope and a big male lion. On the bird front they saw white backed duck, a long-crested eagle and black breasted snake eagle as well as many of the usual suspects. Guests have had to get used to lion and leopard calling at night close to camp – a fantastic sound but can be a bit disconcerting the first time. Music to the ears for those of us living in the bush.

I was driving back to Nkwali a couple of nights ago when a large leopard crossed the road just in front of me. He seemed to be coming from camp but I think he must just have been hiding in one of the thickets behind the staff houses – a beautiful sighting.

Robin and Jo are seeing some super game from their new house too. Robin said that just this morning he saw 9 giraffe whilst having his first cup of tea on the platform at the house. They are also regularly seeing buffalo and herds of up to 25 elephant – maybe we should turn their house into the Nkwali hide!!

Setting outDeb is now fully in Fly Camping mode and the vehicle and trailer left Nkwali piled high a couple of days ago. Her team are busy practicing with the tents and equipment and finding the best spots to place the camps. The camp areas have been designated but now need fine tuning to ensure maximum shade etc. This is a very exciting new venture for us and we are all looking forward to taking our turn at trying out the new camps.

Stay well and have a great week
Cheers
Kim

 

It’s Monday 28th and Debs tackles a python

Well it has been a busy and interesting week in the RPS calendar with the opening of our Fly Camping safaris and some amazing and unusual game viewing up at Nsefu and Tena Tena. I have been up in both camps with some of my family, which from a work point of view was nice to see the camps in full operation but also gave me a good excuse to get out and enjoy the bush.

Our first guests went into our Fly Camps this week and to celebrate the occasion we had sundowners, in fine Robin Pope Safaris style, at one of the sites, with lots of champagne flowing!!. As we speak Shanie is up there with Debs and our first set of guests. We await news on their first outing………….

On the game viewing front we had some different sightings this week!! The most peculiar was a 4 metre python in one of our game viewing vehicles. Fortunately there were no guests on board when the python took up residence but there were a whole bunch of staff on board who very rapidly got off the car!! Python wrestlingDebs was on a pre fly camping excursion when she spotted the python on the side of the road. On getting out of the car to have a closer look at the massive snake it took fright and headed for the only available hiding place which was the vehicle!! As you can imagine all the staff that were still sitting in the vehicle leapt out!! On close inspection the python has squeezed itself into the gap between the cab and the back of car and was not going to be harmed by any moving parts of engine so Deb decided to take the large snake back to Nsefu and try and remove it there. Convincing the staff to get back in the vehicle with this massive reptile was almost impossible, as you can imagine .

Python under the carEvery method conceivable was tried to remove the snake but it was not budging!!! Ammonia was wafted around the snakes head, smoke was tried hoping that it would think there was a fire nearby, ropes were used to try and pull it out but all to no avail. Things were getting a little desperate as the vehicle in question needed to be at Nkwali camp by the following morning for a game drive but had been hijacked by this very large snake Eventually, as darkness fell we parked the vehicle next to a bush and the snake finally left !!! I do not think that the guests at Nkwali would have been pleased it they had to share their vehicle with a four metre python.

Hippo and crocsWe had a couple of really amazing sightings which certainly rate up there with my most memorable outings in the last few years. Just north of Nsefu camp we came across crocodiles feeding on a baby hippo . There must have been twenty to thirty large crocodiles thrashing around, twisting off large chunks of flesh and gulping it down when we noticed an adult hippo approaching the scene. I suspect it was the mother as she sailed straight into this seething mass of crocs and started trying to bite anything in range. The crocodiles were having to take evasive action as a bite from a hippo will certainly kill a crocodile, even a big croc. Amazingly I did not actually see the hippo get hold of any crocs but it was such a confusing scene anything could have happened in the chaos. The crocodiles eventually drifted downstream with their kill, away from the angry hippo.

Hippo and crocs

One morning, on a drive from Tena Tena we saw one of the most extraordinary pieces of wildlife interaction that I have ever seen. A leopard was having a tug-of-war with a crocodile over a dead baboon. The crocodile was in a narrow but obviously fairly deep channel in a small lagoon. I can only guess what actually happened as we did not see the beginning of the saga but I think a big baboon must have gone down to the waters edge for a drink and been grabbed by the croc.

Leopard, (Baboon) and Crocodile

Being a small stretch of water the croc did not appear to have the leverage that it required for a quick getaway and I can only think the leopard nearby saw an opportunity to try and steal the baboon from the crocodile.

Stand-off

We sat for about forty five minutes catching the leopard tugging and pulling at the baboon, half of which was in the mouth of the crocodile!!. The croc knew that if it let go to try and get a better grip then it would lose its kill. The leopard just sat there eating at the back end of the baboon and occasionally hissing at the crocodile and swatting it on the head with its front paw. Eventually the leopard gave the baboon one big tug and it tore off a large chunk and walked off with its prize.

Off with the prize

Quite exceptional gameviewing !

Take care,
Simon

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