Warm greetings to all, from the Shenton Safaris team.
September brought hot breezes that dessicated the land as they blew across it. The tributaries faded into the sands and the lagoons shrunk down to pools of glutinous black mud, forcing the game to travel to the slow flowing Luangwa River to quench their thirsts as the days grew hotter and hotter.
The great Luangwa River has been reduced to mere trickles in certain areas and the deep pools that remain, are gaining new residents daily. Action ensues, as hippos and crocodiles fight for space and dominance over what water remains. Hippos, whom are most unsociable for animals considered to be sociable, consistently fight and bicker amongst themselves as they jostle for space in the pools that remain.
Here at Kaingo Camp and at Shenton Safaris’ Hippo Hide, there has been lots of activity as the dominant bulls put manners on the younger ones.
When we hear the sounds of a large beast moving at speed through the water we know that another young bull has over-stepped the boundaries of his status and is now running from a dominant bull, ready to reprimand him severely.
Early in September guests were treated to such a display. We were enjoying our afternoon tea on the lower deck, when the calm was interrupted by a loud splash. We watched as the dominant bull of the area, proceeded to chase not one, but three younger bulls from his stretch of water. Two bulls ran across a narrow sandy beach to the safety of a pool on the other side, but one young bull headed for the steep cliff like bank the leads to the NSEFU sector of the park. He was obviously the chief instigator of the troubles, as the dominant bull pursued him up the bank to ensure he was well and truly gone. As he retreated to the water the dominant bull decided not to take any chances and jack- knifed himself across the hippo trail, blocking it until he deemed the other well and truly gone.
Bird life has been particularly special this month with the return of the Carmine Bee-eaters. Derek came out to the camp to supervise the erection of the Carmine Bee-eater hide in late August and as we entered into September the activity at the nesting sites started in earnest.
Hundreds of Carmine Bee-eaters returned to their nesting sites on the banks of the Luangwa, very close to Kaingo Camp. Guests have been treated to specular sightings of these bird as they excavate and repair their nests in readiness for their new clutches of young.
The juvenile Pel’s Fishing Owl who has delighted most guests this season is still a highlight of afternoon drives from Kaingo Camp. We first saw it with its sibling, but as is common among predatory birds, only one chick survived to make the journey to adulthood. Here is a reminder of its journey:
Guests were often also fortunate enough to view one or both of the parents in the vicinity of the nest
John Hoffman, who visited Shenton Safaris in September, captured some amazing shots of this beautiful young bird in flight.
September has certainly been a month for action at our hide located within Mwamba bush camp and the birds are taking full advantage of the fresh water source by coming down in their thousands. Lilian’s lovebirds, Laughing doves, Meve’s starlings and Red-billed quelea are all making use of the water to bath and to drink, giving our guests wonderful opportunities to view these beautiful species up close.
It is not just the birds that are taking advantage of the water, with impala and wildebeests making their daily pilgrimage at around 10 o’clock each morning, for their daily intake of water.
and a troop of banded mongoose have been regular visitors to the water hole.
The large number of herbivores have not gone unnoticed: the Mwamba pride have moved closer to camp and now do not move too far away, as there is a steady stream of food making its way to and from the water hole. Both lions and leopards have taken to quenching their thirst right in front of the hide, but unfortunately we always seem to be watching them drink from the wrong side of the water.
Elephants too are almost a constant, with various family groups coming and going throughout the day and some large bulls delighting guests as they come down to drink and to cover themselves in the refreshing mud and cooling sand. They walk into the water close to the hide, tossing `handfuls’ of wet mud and sand over their enormous bodies, at times missing themselves and spraying the watching guests, making for some very dirty, but extremely happy visitors.
The predators in and around both Kaingo Camp and Mwamba bush camp have been very active in September, giving all our guests special memories to take home with them. One sighting which was particularly rare, happened on the 23rd September. Meyam and his guest Michael Weinman, decided to get an early start for their afternoon drive. In the area close to the Hippo Hide they heard a lot of alarm calling and, using all of Meyam’s bush knowledge and skills, they eventually found what had caused such a commotion from all the animals in the area. In the thick bushes they could just make out the shape and colouration of a leopard, with a freshly killed impala. They waited to see what would happen next but the leopard refused to budge from the safety of the thicket.
Soon Sylvester with his guest Jens Hansen arrived. Jens, who had chosen Shenton Safaris specifically for its premium access to predator activity, was delighted with the sighting and more than happy to out wait the leopard. His patience was justly rewarded. As the afternoon passed and night fell, Patrick arrived on the scene with his guests and what unfolded left both guests and guides exhilarated and speechless.
The leopard eventually emerged from the thick bush and to the guides’ delight they recognized her as Malaika’s young daughter Chiphadzuwa. She dragged her prize out from the bushes and everyone waited anxiously hoping to see her drag it up to the safety of a tree. Unfortunately before she could do this she was mugged by seven hyenas, one of whom chased her from her kill, while the others proceeded to feast on Chiphadzuwa’s meal. Chiphadzuwa reached the safety of a tree and could just observe from a height as the impala was all but devoured in moments.
However the action was not over yet! Attracted by the hyaena’s excited chattering’s, a lone young male lion arrived on the scene to investigate. Not wanting to be left out, he decided to help himself to some of the fare on offer and chased the hyaenas from what remained of the impala.
Shortly afterwards, a large male leopard, whose kill had also been stolen from him earlier in the afternoon,
also arrived on the scene, but he could only join the hyaenas and Chiphadzuwa in observing as the young male lion finished the remains of Chiphadzuwa’s meal. There are not many who have been fortunate enough to observe seven hyaenas, one male lion and two leopards trying to share the same meal. . ..
Another interesting evening encounter was observed when our guides and guests came across both the Hollywood Pride and the Mwamba Kaingo Pride occupying the same space. Both prides were on the boundaries of their respective territories and all were in defence mode. Some confrontations ensued, with short rushes and much roaring and snarling, but as the Hollywood pride outnumbered the Mwambas fourteen to six on the day, sanity prevailed just before all out war broke out and the Mwamba pride withdrew.
Elephants have feature strongly in this month’s sightings with Matt and his guests watching with amusement as a family of elephant took umbrage with the presence of the Kapanda pride at the lagoon.
Meyam had a close encounter with an older bull, who `shook the dust’ to inform Meyam and his guests that he was aware of their presence and then continued feeding as if they were no longer there.
And dust-bathing is a common pastime of elephants in the dry season. They use the dust to protect them from the sun’s rays and also to suffocate irritating parasites in the skin.
There have been many crossings back and forth of the Luangwa River, with many of them crossing the dusty banks on their ways into the Ebony groves, hoping that some of the fruits may have persisted this late into the season.
The stump-tailed lion that we first observed in June, returned to court the ladies of the Mwamba pride.
and the two big boys from across the river paid us a visit:
Beautiful Chiphadzuwa showing her teenage side when she snarled her displeasure at our guests’ attentions,
The Kaingo pride were observed by Patrick and some very lucky guests, sitting on the riverbank in the company of a male, watching the cubs frolicking in the afternoon sun,
before Mom called them over for dinner . . ..
John Hoffman took a great many shots of birds in flight and allowed us access to them:
And one from our guides:
Before more from John:
A selection of photographs from Guides and Guests:
As you can see, we love to include photographs from our guests, but unfortunately we receive so few . . . so if you have a photograph or series of photographs detailing an experience with Shenton Safaris that you would like to share, we would be grateful to receive them. Please mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Well that is all until next month.
The Shenton Safaris team.