It’s Monday 18th January 2010 and the party et more

I think this week I will have to indulge myself with a long letter. There is too much news building up…..so firstly…..as Robin and I are on count down to the end of the month when we move to Lusaka things keep happening that make me think “what am I doing?”.

The other day the tractor driver, who had been collecting sand from a stream in the woodland behind camp, came into the office to tell us he had been passing 12 wild dogs hanging out all morning. The entire administration team jumped into a game viewer and we rushed off to find them. Easily found and as we sat there I realized I had not seen dogs for a couple of years. Despite the numerous sightings in the park I am in the office most of the time and do not get out enough! So this was a real treat. But I don’t have enormous patience and soon I was twitching. “Simon – I have lots to do, can we go now. There is no action here.” Well as I said this, a troop of baboons started walking towards the dogs. I could not believe it – straight at them. It ended up with a game of chicken – the 7 pups chasing the male baboons who then charged back. Lots of noise, action and certainly great fun.

wild dogs and baboon in South LuangwaAWDC collaring a wild dog South Luangwa

Meanwhile we had radioed Matt of AWDC who arrived with Rachel of RATS to dart and collar one of the male dogs. This pack had been seen for over a year on the non park side of the river but very sporadically. So Matt has wanted to collar one to find out how far south they travel. Finally he managed that day. Matt and Rachel really do make a great team!

lions in South Luangwa National Parklions in South Luangwa

So back in the office, some hours later a radio call comes from a very excited Lucinda. “There are lions behind the workshop and they have just killed a warthog. Quick, come!” So again, we all stopped typing and piled into the land cruiser and sped to the location. And there were four lions finishing off a young warthog. Yes – I always feel sorry for the mum – what a lot of effort gone to waste (in genetic terms as least!).

greater flamingo in South Luangwamoth in South Luangwa

And before I get to the real story of the day….Robin boated up to Nsefu this week and saw a very rare sight. A flamingo – in fact a young greater flamingo. Yes really! Very very occasionally they pitch up here, on their way to who knows where and have a quick rest. In my 22 years, this is the third time RPS has seen one. A less rare sight…..a very beautiful moth. Quite stunning. As Simon says they have quite a “cool life cycle”. It feeds for a rainy season then goes into the ground to pupate. It emerges in the summer i.e. beginning of the next rains and lives for around four days in which time it has to mate. In some areas the worm is thought to be a delicate treat for sundowner snacks! Not by me I can tell you. So this stunning creature is short lived and we are lucky to find them.

Robin Pope Safaris guides in South LuangwaRobin Pope Safaris team - South Luangwa

This week the guides had their end of season treat. They have already been to Lake Malawi, Lower Zambezi, Livingstone and Shiwa Ng’andu. This year (admittedly “global” year) they went to Lusaka. At first they said they did not want to go and look at cars passing! However, when I explained the itinerary….staying at Chaminuka and the Protea, visiting all the other hotels, dinning at Raphsody’s, city tour…they were all very excited. They came back positively bouncing.

Robin Pope Safaris staff partyRobin Pope Safaris staff dancing South Luangwa

But my best day of the week….the party! We had a few days without guests and we took the opportunity to hold a party for all the staff. Normally the annual staff parties are camp by at Cool Runnings (Daudi’s bar), so a great chance to have it at camp. We invited every member of staff – 120 plus wife/husband/girlfriend. Around 200 came and what a great day it was, simply fantastic. I walked around with a glow afterwards. We had drinks, dancing, lunch and the Seka play followed by drumming and very funny entertainment. It was wonderful to be sitting with the staff who were all screaming with laughter, whistling, shouting!!

Robin Pope Safaris staff party South LuangwaRobin Pope Safaris staff party - South Luangwa

So after a great week here….hope you are all coping with the Big Freeze in the northern hemisphere and enjoying the summer in the southern!
All the best from RPS…..

PS Final final….I went to a photo exhibition recently and bought the following photos from Patrick Bentley (of course large sized!). He is a photographer who has lived in the Luangwa Valley for a number of years now and his collection of photos is quite amazing. Have a look at his site www.patrickbentley.com and blog www.livingluangwa.com.You can buy some of his photos from the site. Contact him for further details.

Baobab Star TrailsSkimming

lion in South Luangwaelephants in South Luangwa

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