Office Africa August 2013
The end of August is approaching; summer on the other end is just starting with already hot temperatures during the day. Always a bit sad to see September coming, as it means the season is flying by and we have only two months left! On the other hand, September also announces the arrival of the Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters, and as I am typing this newsletter, we are on the lookout for the best place to put the photographic hide. It should be up and going by Sep 2 or 3.
Derek took Jules, Saphire and Jayabella back home to Lusaka for the start of the school semester. The giggles of the girls have been replaced by the constant chattering of the long-tail starlings, there are so many around Kaingo this year, it feels a bit like Mwamba actually!
In last month’s newsletter I was excited to announce that we had located the Mwamba-Kapanda pride of lions, with very young cubs. We saw them several times at the end of July, and early August – totalling 8 lionesses and 7 cubs, of which 5 are estimated to be 2-3 months old. They have been a delight for guests, as they were also seen having what we thought was their first meaty meal, on a buffalo kill. This was on August 5th.
Our exhilaration came to a very sudden end, and it is with true sadness that I’ll relate the events of the ensuing days.
On August 6th, our guide Andrew went back to that buffalo kill, and found the Mwamba-Kapanda pride still around. Shortly after arriving at the sighting another pride of lions pitched up, the Mwamba-Kaingo. As explained previously, the Mwamba pride had split a year or so ago, in two sub-prides, as their numbers were too big. So these 2 prides are related, they are sisters, or aunties and nieces. They are maintained by the same coalition of 2 males. The Mwamba-Kaingo pride comprises a total of 16 lions and older cubs.
Andrew first thought that he and his guests were going to witness a nice family reunion. Far from that. It erupted in a fight, with the Mwamba- Kaingo ladies chasing away the weaker pride. Unfortunately two cubs were left behind.
It did not look good.
By that time our guide Patrick had arrived on the sighting as well. It was not long before one of the lionesses, a rough looking one, started circling one of the cubs – to finally break its neck in one single bite. The lioness brought the little body to the side, and went back to give the same fate to the second cub. The pride was very nervous, and acted strangely. Sniffing and licking the little bodies, before proceeding to partly eat them.
Our guides were shocked, never in their career had they seen such an event. Talking with Rachel McRobb of the South Luangwa Conservation Society, she confirmed that she had never heard of such a behavior in the park, although it has been reported in other parts of Africa.
All this was captured on video. We are in the process of editing the footage, but it may take a while before we can post anything on the web, due to our limited internet bandwidth while in the bush. I have created some still pictures out of the videos, so they are not the best, but they certainly depict the tragic events. We hope to receive pictures from the guests who have witnessed this as well.
It’s a hard price to pay for intruding on a neighbouring pride. Because this is all about competition and the survival of the fittest. The fearsome Mwamba-Kaingo pride sees the other pride as a rival for food and by killing the cubs they reduce the numbers of the competitor pride.
The Mwamba-Kapanda pride was seen again in the next days, with the remaining cubs.
But more sad news was on the way. On August 16th, our guide Meyam found a similar scene, near Mwamba Bush Camp. He found the Mwamba-Kaingo pride on a buffalo kill, but next to the buffalo, were also two little bodies of lion cubs. We believe that the Mwamba-Kapanda pride had killed the buffalo during the night, but the dominant pride of the Mwamba-Kaingo came upon them, chased the other lions away and reserved the same fate for 2 additional cubs left behind.
This leaves a count of 3 cubs, but unfortunately to this day, we have only seen one cub, a young one, left with the Mwamba-Kapanda pride. Another sub-adult female has gone missing, so there is still hope of the other 2 cubs being found, but it is slimming away as time passes.
So is the harsh reality of wildlife in the African bush.
POSTSCRIPT TO THE NEWSLETTER: on August 25th, as I had posted the newsletter to the website already, just before sending the mailer out – we heard from Mwamba that the Mwamba-Kapanda were at the hide, in camp. We rushed over, and these are the very latest pictures of that surviving cub. I’m afraid we have no hope for the other two.
Let’s move on to more enjoyable events! We did find the Hollywood pride with very young cubs as well, but they are still too young to be out in the open, so we’re hoping to see them more often in a few more weeks.
Other than lion stories, I wanted to celebrate our “kaingos” in this newsletter. Kaingo means leopard of course, and we’ve had really beautiful sightings of them over the past few months. Kylie and Elliott, as well as many others. Here is a portfolio of the most recent pictures, from guides and guests alike.
From our guides Meyam and Patrick:
From recent guests Richard Barrett, Ron Dunglison, Peter Smart and Pieter Louw:
And the last one from me, because I thought it was cute!
LEOPARD was also our theme for our August Picture of the Month competition. We’ve selected the 3 winners among older pictures from our guests, and you can find them at the end of the newsletter.
From the professional photographers who visited us recently, we have received pictures from Peter Smart and Judith Gawehn, and are delighted to feature some here:
We are looking forward to receiving some pictures from Marius Coetzee, who was here in July, but it may be a while as he is actually due to return to Kaingo in early September. We are also looking forward to the visit of Anna Bulleid of Australia.
While we are waiting for the installation of the Carmine Bee-Eater hide, our hippo hide has been a great hit with our guests. Backtracking a little, let’s have a look at these pictures taken by our guide Patrick while setting up the lower level of the hide, in June 2013. Some are a bit gory. By the way, make sure to check our next themes for the Picture of the Month selections.
Something we don’t talk about very often in our newsletters, but which our guests at Kaingo and Mwamba experience on a daily basis, is the growing of the fruit and vegetables at the Shenton plot near the Mfuwe Airport. Derek was a pioneer in South Luangwa when it came to planting and growing most of the vegetables to be used by the camp. Few other camps have access to such wonderful home grown fresh fruit and vegetables. Our plot employs about 6-8 people during the season, and guests can enjoy delicious produce, including fresh eggs from our hens. Kudos to our team there.
On the travel news front, we would like to remind our upcoming visitors that it is illegal to remove any flora or fauna from the National Park. This includes obvious items such as bones, skulls and teeth, but also the not so obvious items as feathers, porcupine quills and seed pods.
The Zambian Wildlife Authority is conducting thorough searches at airports and other exit points in the country. Possession of any “trophy” items without a permit of ownership will be considered a criminal offence. The park authority is treating such cases with the utmost seriousness. For your own protection we request that you observe this park law and leave everything in the park where you find it.
Finally we would like to once again invite you to vote for Kaingo Camp and/or Mwamba Bush Camp in the 2014 Safari Awards (The Good Safari Guide annual awards). The voting will end on August 31st.
Before closing the newsletter, let’s congratulate the winners of the July and August Picture of the Month competition.
July’s theme was ACTION, and the winners are Marc Mol, followed by Mary Guy and David Gardhouse.
By Marc Mol, October 2011
Settings. Nikon D3S, 1/200sec at f/4.00. Focal 500mm. ISO 6400.
About this image: it was taken at the very end of our 2011 safari season, on October 30th. It was quite late already, and Marc’s series of picture of this buffalo kill is truly exceptional. Have a look at our February 2012 newsletter to see more of Marc’s pictures.
By Mary Guy, October 2012
Settings: Canon EOS 7D 1/640 sec at f/9. Focal 124mm. ISO 100
About this image: this is a photograph of “useless croc” surnamed that way because out of all the tentative kills witnessed by our guests, he was never seen catching anything. You can see “useless croc” live on this video clip available on our YouTube page:
By David Gardhouse, September 2012
Settings: not available
August’s theme was LEOPARD, with winners Pieter Louw, followed by David Tickner and Christopher Pullen.
By Pieter Louw, August 2008
Settings. Canon EOS 5D, 1/15 sec at f/5.6. Focal 400mm. ISO 100.
About this image: it has been the emblem for Shenton Safaris in the past few years! Thank you Pieter!
By David Tickner, September 2010
Settings: Canon EOS 5D, 1/500 sec at f/4.0. Focal 500mm. ISO 6400
By Christopher Pullen, August 2009
Settings: Olympus Digital E-520, 1/800 sec at f/4.5. Focal 208mm. ISO 800.
About this image: it is almost identical to Julie Hull’s picture which was also a runner-up in our very first Pic of the Month edition in September 2011.
Our next themes are FEATHERS (closing Sep 20th), GORY(closing Oct 20th) and EXPRESSION (pictures depicting an emotion or eye contact with the animal – closing Nov 20th). Email your pictures (under 500kb please) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember that they must have been taken while being a guest at Kaingo or Mwamba.
Till next time,