It’s Monday 5th October 2009 and unusual sightings

Unusual sightings. In the last month we have had a few very rare sightings. A pair of caracals seen by Adam & Carol Johnson …. we had literally just arrived at Mfuwe airport, after 3 flights from the UK, to be happily whisked straight off on a game drive by Kanga, so when we saw the pair, we hadn’t actually arrived at camp yet! Having never heard of caracal, we just responded to Kanga’s urgent plea to “get photo’s”, only realizing how rare sightings are when we got to camp just in time for dinner and realized that no-one would have believed us without proof! We then had the strange experience of arriving at the other camps to the reaction of “so you’re the ones who saw the caracal”, and finding that a very excited Kanga had texted some of the other guides! It’s quite an experience to see something so unusual that your guide is as excited by it as you are – a rare privilege. “

rare sighting of a caracalA pair of Caracal - seen by Adam & Carol Johnson

Later on they saw a honey badger catching a lung fish. And finally a monkey that had everyone in deep discussion! Rob will tell you all about that… over to Rob.

“Twice in less than a month: now we are breaking records. Once again Jo has asked me to put pen to paper. Before I go onto the monkey, news about Attitude.

Young Nkwali (elephant) now aptly renamed ‘Attitude’ is still at large and until recently doing very much as he has been throughout the season. Seek and eat as many Mchenja fruits (ebony fruit), as possible. Some days he is so eager he can be seen almost running up to the various trees in anticipation of the tree’s delights. He remains even more oblivious to human presence than before. Needless to say there have been some hilarious, near heart attack, moments when people walk round a corner and almost bump into him. John our delightful young office assistant is petrified of anything that might inflict pain but is also that ‘eager to please’ person, performing every duty and instruction on the run. On one such occasion he was asked to let Melissa (Nkwali hostess) know of the imminent arrival of guests, so true to form, he took off as fast as he could. Before he knew it he was retreating in a cloud of dust, eyes as big as saucers. John, at the best of times has a bit of a stutter, so you can imagine how difficult it was for him to form the two syllable word ELEPHANT! He did see the humor of his actions! Young ‘Attitude’ on the other hand was totally oblivious to the whole incident as he had his back to John the whole time.

honey badger with a catch of a lung fish honey badger

Alas, the mchenja’s have stopped fruiting and ‘Attitude’ is not seen too often any more. He is wandering further and further afield seeking out his new latest food pleasure – marula’s! There are more entertaining stories of the exploits of Young ‘Attitude’ which I shall save for a later date.

Young Nkwali in pursuit of his favorite fruitsJohn, Nkwali's office assistant

On a different note we have once again been blessed with a visit from the Cousins’ (senior) who have made this annual pilgrimage to the Valley and RPS for the last 20 years. It is always a joy to have them. One late morning Zebron came bursting into the office to say “Graham (Cousins) has seen a monkey and he is convinced it is not a vervet.” Sure enough on the other side of the river there was a large very dark looking monkey. We speculated the three options – a Maloney’s monkey come down from the escarpment, a Samango monkey or a very dark colored vervet!! At this juncture Keyela said “let’s go”. We all piled into the boat, crossed the river and leaped into to the land cruiser. Zebron stayed at the bar, radio in hand, to give us directional instructions. With as much stealth and cunning as we could muster in a two ton land cruiser, brisling camera lens, we approached the area where the monkey was last sighted. We managed a short glimpse.

As we continued to forage through the undergrowth, in the distance the puku and impala alarm calls caught our attention and Keyala and I looked at each other – both thinking leopard! Down playing this we drove in the direction of the alarm calls. Meanwhile back at the bar, Zebron was totally oblivious to our new quest and was busy transmitting frustrated instructions on what we should be doing. Little did he realize our radio had been switched off. We were once again in stealth mode! We carried on driving slowly and we managed catch a few brief glimpses of a young leopard with a sizeable male impala. The leopard was skittish and felt very conspicuous being out in the full sunlight. There was also an array of impala and puku looking on throwing insults in the form of snorts and whistles, which I am sure did not help the leopard’s demise. The leopard retreated into some thick bush and we decided that we would give the animal time to settle and to eat its well earned meal.

Maloney’s MonkeyA young leopard with a good size male impala

Later that afternoon the impala was found abandoned, the leopard obviously felt it would save the meal for dinner is stead of eating lunch.

On the Maloney’s Monkey front! Emily and I were out on a drive early afternoon on Thursday last week and we managed to spot the elusive monkey again. An interesting animal, it was not particularly arboreal (preference for climbing trees) and preferred to stick to the ground. It was very shy and used all the cover to best advantage. A guide from another camp drove up along side us to ask what we were looking at and when I told him he looked at me sideways, as if to say ‘Yeah right!’ and drove off. If you are thinking the same thing, Emily did manage to get a picture! I am sure that when looked at hard enough the colouring is different to that of a vervet – unfortunately the monkey remained some hundred meters or so away from us and was well hidden in thick grass so the image is not conclusive and I ask for you to use a little imagination!”

Thanks Rob. The reaction to Jane and Michael’s story last week was amazing. Most of all it showed how a safari can leave such a lasting impression, that 32 years later you want to return! Many thanks for all the emails.

Until next week…..have a wonderful time

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