It’s Monday 15th October 2012 and news from the Shire

Hope you are well and had a fabulous weekend and are ready for the week ahead. This week I thought we would hear from the team at Mkulumadzi Lodge. So it’s over to Emma:

“Another year is drawing to a close and what an exciting one it has been for us (becoming a Big 5 reserve being top of the list!). Temperature has started to rise here in the lower Shire and the bush has thinned out quite considerably making it even easier to see game.

It’s amazing how the same park can look completely different from season to season. Remnants of the green season can still be seen along the river where most of the game is found wallowing trying to cool off during the heat of the day; much like our guests who are in the pool as soon as they are back from the morning activity. The elephants are still seen down at the river most mornings giving guests spectacular sightings playing and crossing right in front of the boat.

We’ve had a few firsts over the season – unfortunately with no photographic evidence at hand. A not so shy aardvark was spotted during a night drive (by a very nice guest who was staying with us for 17 nights – also a first). As well as mating lions! They seem to have settled in rather well and are enjoying their new surroundings making their way through what’s on the menu. This sighting is wonderful news as it fills us with hope for future cubs in the park, a first in a considerable amount of time.

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A leopard has been spotted for the first time too, at the water hole in front of Thawale and everyday we’re seeing fresh tracks not too far away from the lodge on walking safaris. It’s only a matter of time…

Another amazing phenomenon that we’ve seen over the year is a group of Bateleur eagles (which many of you will know is unheard of) hanging around with each other at our river crossing. We can’t seem to find a collective noun for Bateleur eagles and as such I will put forward a “Brood of Bateleurs” for consideration. It is fast becoming a must-see here in Majete with some guests requesting to just go and sit at the river to watch them. We’re not sure why this strange behavior is happening but we’re glad that we are able to witness it.  Bateleur eagles are extremely territorial as adults, though they will be tolerant of young eagles in their territories but very rarely will they stand other adult eagles.  The crossing seems to be a neutral zone where they come to drink and stand on the sand banks in the river to bathe and cool off.

Many migratory birds are now frequently seen around the park on the game drives, boat safaris and walking safaris from Southern Carmine bee-eaters to Rock Pratincoles.

Two crocodiles managed to pull down an eland a little further upstream from the lodge. We unfortunately didn’t witness the battle but came across the crocodiles trying to make their way through what they thought was Christmas dinner. Their eyes were unfortunately too big for their stomachs and they left the vast majority of the poor eland for us to deal with. Not so glamorous but all in a days work for a lodge manager!

A very lucky guest had an unbelievable drive two weeks ago. She was indecisive about whether to stay at the lodge for a swim or go out on an afternoon activity, we managed to convince her to try her luck and boy did she succeed. They came across Lundu, the dominant male rhino, in broad daylight. A fleeting glimpse of him charging across the road was all they got to begin with. But Samuel, our guide, knew that if he turned off the engine immediately and they waited patiently in silence, the curious rhino would come back to find out what on earth he just saw, and Lundu did just that. The photo of Lundu was taken by a thrilled Samuel on the drive.

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Later on in the evening they found fresh lion tracks and followed them down to the river edge where they saw all three. They’ve made the Northwest of our concession their usual stomping ground, which happens to be very close to an African Parks scouts’ camp and I can just imagine what the brave scouts think of three lions hanging about. I envisage tents trembling during the night when the lions call one another, scouts leaping into each other’s arms or tripping over tent strings trying to get to safety like a good old-fashioned comedic silent film. Lions may have a sense of humor after all.”

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Thanks Emma! Great to hear that the lions are getting on well!

So that’s it for this Monday. Have a great week ahead!

Emily

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