It’s Monday 4th April 2005 and the Reptiles step forward

Kim is in South Africa on leave and I am flying, with Robin, to Lake Malawi tomorrow for a five day break. So there will be no one here on Monday who knows how to set up our now-not-so-simple newsletter. So I am in fact writing this on Saturday!

Each week we ask around the staff for the news. During the busy season there is almost too much coming in from the bush camps – hard to choose what to write. During the now named “Emerald Season” – when there are so few of us and no gamedrives it does become more difficult (especially as we tend to obsess about the river levels and weather all the time! Limited topics). With Nkwali now open the game drives again are giving us lots of news for you. We have had another spectacular “dogs, lions, leopards” week – especially the dogs. But you have heard about them for two weeks now. However we do have another source…..

rock monitor lizardblue headed tree agama

Debs and Kerri have been running a training program for our new guides. It has been intensive and long…but most importantly for the office it is a great source of unusual sightings. This week they had a “reptile day”. They found a rock monitor lizard – the rarer of the two monitors in the Luangwa. Large head and very dark. They also found the unusual blue headed tree agama. Their defence mechanism is to put the trunk of the tree between itself and danger. Clearly it viewed a camera swinging Kerri as dangerous and so kept scuttling to the other side !! Kerri called for assistance from the guides and one by one they went over to chase the elusive creature. Eventually it took everyone – all six – chasing itround the tree before Kerri got the shot.

herd of ellys with an hyperactive youngsterhyperactive youngster

On the way home they came across a herd of ellys with an hyperactive youngster. He went through the whole family trying to get them to play. He spent ages pushing and shoving another youngest who simply was not interested. So he ran off to find a bush to play with – who, it turned out, was very obliging and provided lots of fun (sitting duck?). I had to add this picture of the yellow bill storks who were near by. So birds do have a sense of humour !

hyperactive youngsterbirds do have a sense of humour

And meanwhile….back on the camp game drive … more reptile excitement. Whilst watching a chameleon on the road, a boomslang slithered into view. The chameleon retreated to a bush nearby. The snake promptly sprayed it with venom. It hung on and the snake withdraw. Then out again and another shot fired. Changing colour the chameleon wobbled – then toppled off it’s perch and fell into the waiting jaws (well not literally). An extraordinary bit of viewing!

chameleonboomslang

So I am off to spend five days swimming, diving, sleeping – at Kaya Mawa on Likoma Island and Nkwichi in Mozambique. How wonderful. Think of me….as I pick my daisies!!

All the best,

Editors note from next week: Boomslang snakes do not spit, spay venom or fire shots! Ali had recounted this story to me, and her information was second hand. In her excitement she perhaps embellished a little. She is after all our “hostess with a mostest” and NOT our leading naturalist.

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