It’s Monday 4th September 2006 and the smelly hippo

It’s Monday 4th September 2006 and the smelly hippo

Hippo carcass Each year we seem to have a bad smell develop at Nkwali. No not blocked drains but a dead hippo!

A few days ago we discovered the poor beast just down stream from camp on a sand island in the river. There were no signs to give us a clue as to what it died from so I guess the most comforting idea is old age.

giraffes Fortunately this year the hippo is not too close to camp so we only get the odd whiff when the wind changes. However, it has provided us with some good sighting of frustrated vultures trying to get through the thick skin and also a fascinating spectacle of several crocodiles climbing out of the Luangwa to have a go at the carcass.

An additional bonus last night was the sound of frustrated hyenas building themselves into a frenzy of laughter – they then came charging through camp. I think they must have been a bit confused as the hippo is on the other side of the river! Lions were also calling from the park side of the river as they also realized the only way to participate in the feast was to get wet. As we did not get any shots I have added a cute giraffe photo taken by Emily instead!

Robin set off on a mini adventure this week. He headed up to the Mupamadzi area to look for a new walking route over the Lundu plains. Robin took his trusty mosinet/tent with him and had a night under the stars. I was quite jealous as I would love to pitch my mosi net under the big African sky for a night – hopefully later this year it will be my turn.

Robin's netRobin's Camp site

Big Skies view As you can see for the shots it was quite primitive camping and not the usual RPS standard. Simon has also been out and about this week, heading up to do some walking on the Chendeni Hills. What an adventurous team we have.

Sausage tree flower The sausage trees are starting to flower – such a colourful spectacle. The flowers only stay on the tree for one night and each morning an amazing carpet of velvety blooms are found under the trees. They disappear rapidly as the bushbuck love to eat them. This is the beginning of an important cycle where the fruit bats cling on the flowers to suck the pollen leading to cross pollination and then the sausage fruit develops which once fallen is an important source of food for many animals including hippos and baboons. Indeed it is quite rare for hippos to eat sausage fruit and is particular to this area of Africa.

Wild Dog with collar Kellie Leigh has just finished her August newsletter and here is the link for those interested in hearing more about the wild dog research programme that she is undertaking here in the South Luangwa. Kellie has agreed to partake in another wild dog week for 2007. Those who are regular readers will remember our first effort this year where the dogs did not put in an appearance until almost the last gamedrive – should be increased chances this year as 2 of the 3 packs are now collared! However, everyone had a wonderful time last year and enjoyed the lectures and trips out into the park with an expert on hand.

And finally a couple of random arty shots for Emily to brighten up your Monday.
feathers   snake skin

Stay well and have a great week


Note from Jo

The new community school that we have set up now has 150 children and the enthusiasm is tremendous.  They have blackboards but they do not have any exercise books.  We would like to buy the correct Zambian curricular books and the cost for a set of 6 subjects and 40 books per subject, plus the teachers guide is USD 3280.  (252 books in total).  The fund is currently unable to spend this amount on these books due to commitments of building at Nsefu School.  If anyone would like to donate the money for these books, the community school would be delighted.  Contact Jo – Thank you.

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