It’s Monday 5th June 2006 and the plover lover

Rob under the jeep Firstly, I have to embarrass our illustrious leader – Rob Clifford – yes for those of you who do not recognise him for this position – he is the one under the jeep – having got his vehicle stuck in the sand. Who had to come along to tow him out… yes, me! in my trusty Nissan – as you can imagine, the lady driver jokes have been quite quiet this week!

Robin was invited to witness the arrival of 5 new black rhinos this week and has written a piece on the day – over to you Robin.

“Yesterday I was invited to fly into Lubonga airfield in the North Luangwa National Park to witness the arrival of five Black Rhino from South Africa by airfreight.

My flight from Mfuwe in a Beechcraft Baron was superb with still, very clear air.  I was able to see the bends and lagoons known so well by so many who have visited the valley. We flew over Lunga lagoon and Baka Baka before heading over the stork colony. The salt pan then appeared on the right hand side of the plane and later the Lundu and Chfungwe plains extending away on the left of the plane towards the horizon and the Muchinga escarpment.

On the reasonably small Lubonga airfield (Marula Puku) close to the Head quarters of North Luangwa Conservation Society were a number of aircraft and a gathering of volunteers, safari types, spectators, friends, wildlife and government officials as well as people connected with the North Luangwa Project, The Conservation Foundation and Luawata Conservation and of course others involved in the safe movement and care of the Rhino.

Plane arrivingUnloading the rhino

The arrival of the Hercules C130 aircraft was awaited, rather like the expectant wait for a bride at a wedding. Zawa scouts The scouts were out in full regalia to welcome the rhino. The aircraft had been delayed by three hours but did a low level pass over the airstrip, turned and despite a cross wind, did a perfect approach and landing, which took up most of the runway. Everyone was very impressed and this success provided the pattern for the rest of the day’s rather strenuous activities. The crated and sedated Rhino were off loaded, and transported to their stockade/boma quarters where they will remain to acclimatise for the next two weeks or so under continuous supervision. They shall also be joined by a further five Rhino on Tuesday.

One day in the next month, the gates of their boma will be quietly left open during the night and the Rhino will be free to leave and to establish themselves in their new home.

As our aircraft approached Mfuwe airport at last light, the run way lights were turned on a salutation to a very successful day.”

On the wildlife front Tena Tena has been seeing Leopard after a quiet first few days of opening. A new leopard cub has been spotted at Tena Tena’s first ebony grove, although shy we hope it will get used to the vehicles and show itself soon.

Last year (see 25th July) we mentioned the leopard 2:2 who had a cub, and we are happy that it has survived and was seen with 2:2 at Lunga lagoon. The pair had an impala kill under a bush – the cub managed to drag it out into the open. After the pair had had their fill, our guests were lucky enough to see mum playing with her cub and even licking its face. Then the next morning the spot was revisited and the guests saw both leopards being chased off their kill by several hyenas. Talking of hyenas, Rocky and guests have seen two pups in the den so far, which is always a wonderful sight – so cute and cuddly.

However, the most amazing sight this week was a kittlitz’s plover’s courtship ritual. The young man stood behind his intended stamping his feet and hopping from one leg to the other before jumping onto the lady and tucking his legs under her wings. He then grabbed her, with his beak, on the back of her neck and pulled both of them over in a sort of back somersault so they landed in a heap on the ground with the lady on top of him!

Exploring with ObiChris surrounded by her grandchildren
Friday saw the departure of the North Family from Nkwali – they are just the most wonderful family and an absolute pleasure to have staying with us – three generations came and stayed at Robin’s House plus camp. The children were full of fun and Obi enjoyed taking them out. They have sent a few shots which I have included below – Chris surrounded by her grandchildren at sundowners is just lovely.

darts competition And finally – we are now holding a weekly darts competition – team building – well an excuse to drink a few more mosis, if truth be known! The first winner was Emily and the loser – yes he had to wear the hat all night, was Dunc – a temporary resident at Nkwali!

Some of you may recognise Dean who is a guide for Bushcamp Company.  Dean came over for the night and although he did not uphold BCC’s honour in the dart stakes, overall he did not let them down, and managed to hold his own in stiff competition on the mosi front.

At the pontoon

Stay well and have a great week.

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