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General News - June 2010

General News - June 2010

Migration moves early - 21 June 2010

Migration moves early
21 June 2010

The migration is on the move with large groups of wildebeest already arriving in northern Serengeti Mara region ... latest reports received document larger numbers in Grumeti Reserve as well however! 

As a result Serengeti Safari Camp is on the move to Bolongonja which just goes to show why we use a flexible and mobile migration camp rather than a permanent lodge!

As ever very unpredictable but we'll be posting regular reports on the migration movements to keep our guests staying in Kenya or Tanzania up to date.

19 painted dogs seen in Mana Pools - 17 June 2010

19 painted dogs seen in Mana Pools
17 June 2010

News from across Africa

Mana Pools National Park - Zimbabwe

19 Painted Dogs seen and followed.  We counted 19 animals in the pack and watched them take down a Baboon  - a mere snack prior to a good breakfast of Impala!!

After this exciting start to the day, we enjoyed a three hour canoe trail, and in the afternoon a game drive which included a short walk tracking a lioness.

The evening spent over a great meal, good company and talking about our day.

This all took place in Camp Zambezi on the banks of the Zambezi River in the World Heritage site of Mana Pools National Park.

Victoria Falls

Rafting season is back with a bang and the rafts are once again shooting the river.

South Luangwa National Park

The Chikoko Trails camps are now open and welcoming guests. After a month of camp rebuilding, a team of 48 men, armed with a banana boat and a canoe, successfully floated fridges, heavy dining tables, mattresses etc. across the Luangwa River and portaged them overland into Crocodile River Camp and Chikoko Tree Camp - a small price to pay for the freedom of a walking wilderness free of roads and cell phones!

Mwaleshi Camp in North Luangwa opened on the 15th of June. Five wild dogs have already been sighted behind camp and a pride of seven lions spent one afternoon sunning themselves beside the Mwaleshi River, opposite camp. The last rhino translocation (see article below for more details) took place on the 26th of May bringing the total black rhino gene pool in the North Park to 26 Rhinos - and the slight possibility of seeing rhino on foot in the north again!

Tafika continues to enjoy day time leopard sightings - and a newly born baby giraffe!

Masai Mara - Kenya

Leopards are not actually that rare. They are incredibly successful predators and their numbers are, in the main, not under threat. Nevertheless they can be difficult to see and sightings can often be fleeting. Fortunately for myself and Rekero regulars - Brad and Jasmine - our experience this last week was much more than just a glimpse.

With dawn approaching, John Kaelo took us along the banks of the Olare Orok River to the aptly named point “smelly crossing”. We pulled up to the edge and looked down onto the rocks on the other side. Sat there with her face bathed in the soft morning sunlight was Olive – a leopard many of our guests have been lucky enough to see. It wasn’t long before she started to call, the very same sound that we had been hearing in camp these past few days.

Moments later one of her 10 month old male cubs appeared and they greeted each other with much affection in that distinctive feline fashion. After a few minutes they moved off into the long grass on the other side, so we forded the river to gain a better vantage point. Olive and cub moved out into the sunlight and she called again. This time the second cub bounded onto the scene with youthful exuberance. We watched them for the next 10 minutes or so as they played together, providing a unique and golden photographic opportunity. Then as the sun rose Olive led her sons away into the thicker bush leaving behind some very happy safari goers.

Vulture population count - 2 June 2010

Vulture population count
 2 June 2010

The first "Vulture Count" day took place on 1st June 2010.  There will be others later in the season.  For more information, contact Rory MacDougall
Another concern is the status of one of the Zambezi Valley's most charismatic and beautiful avian "specials" - Lilian's Lovebird.  These delightful little jewels were once common in the Lower Zambezi National Park/Mana Pools area.  However, recent records indicate that they have become scarce on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River, and that their numbers may be diminishing even in Mana Pools National Park

The fear is that trapping of these birds by the "caged bird" market may be occurring.  If you see Lilians Lovebirds in the Zambezi Valley, please report your sighting to Rory MacDougall (as above) and Dave Rockingham-Gill


It's the end of the rainy season, but the waters of the Upper Zambezi catchment are still are still tumbling over Victoria Falls and into Lake Kariba which, at 90% full and still spilling, is the highest it has been for decades.  While this provides beautiful new Kariba vistas and water-filled creeks for houseboaters, fishermen and leisure-seekers, it is a serious problem for wildlife.  With the waterlevel now at the tree-line, all the shoreline grassland has disappeared, leaving nothing for grazing animals to eat.  

Wildlife on Kariba's islands is particularly susceptible to this problem, as there is no mainland interior to escape to.  Starvation Island, which you can see as you look out over the lake from Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is a case in point.  Aptly named during Operation Noah when hundreds of animals were trapped there by the rising waters of the newly-filling lake, this island has once again become a wildlife disaster in the making.

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is appealing for help to provide hay bales and stockfeed to sustain the animals on Starvation Island for the next few months until the water level recedes and the grassy shoreline returns.  The Zambezi Society has offered Bumi some fuel assistance and has agreed to spread the word through its networks.   
Richard Vickery from Bumi Hills has just sent this report:  "A visiting group from the conservation support organisation, SAVE Foundation (Australia) had their lunch interrupted by a group of waterbuck swimming from Starvation Island to the Mainland.  By the time I spotted them, the two males were already lagging and they were only two-thirds across.   the 2.5km crossing.  We rallied the troups into two boats and sped out to them.  The boats managed to grab one male each by his horns and ferry it to shore safely.  My boat had to race back to the group to rescue a female which had cramped up and could no longer swim.  We got her to shore safely and she recovered enough to walk after about 20 minutes.  The three rescued waterbuck would not have made it without our intervention!  The swim across the gap is now 2.5 km.  If more animals attempt this crossing in their weakened state most will perish!"

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