It is hard to believe that August is almost over, time flies when we are having fun!
We have had an interesting month weather-wise. Going from warm to cold to warm again. And on August 9th, something that even the old-timers of Luangwa could not recall… it rained! And not just a little shower. It rained for the better part of a full day and night. All over the park, and most of the country including Malawi. This is exceptional in August.
It certainly took us all by surprise, the staff, our guests and the animals! And even the grass which only a couple of days later starting springing from the muddy grounds. But all this is now far back in our memories, with only a few pictures left to remind us of the strange episode. These two were taken the morning after, when the sky was clear again but the Luangwa River was really foggy.
We have continued to have amazing sightings in the last month, especially tiny lion cubs. The first story comes from Patrick, and this really surprising event of a male lion killing a cub in front of our heartbroken guests.
This was on July 23rd. Pat and his guests at Mwamba were having their morning tea around the fire when they heard noises in the bushes across the Mwamba River, in front of the camp. It sounded like a buffalo snorting. Suddenly, they saw this buffalo shooting out from the bushes with eleven lions riding on his back!
The kill happened in front of one of the chalets (Fig chalet), but on the other side of the riverbed. Witnessing a kill is always a privilege, it is rare indeed, as Pat would tell you. But there was more to this sighting…
One of the lionesses brought out of the thicket 2 very tiny cubs, probably 4 to 6 weeks old cubs!
However another dramatic thing happened just then. Two males lions arrived on the kill and the females didn’t welcome them, they tried to chase the males away. But the males insisted and managed to get to the kill chasing away most of the younger lions.
But before they got to the kill, one of the males went for the tiny cubs, and killed the little male cub. The situation was quite confusing, because only new males wanting to take over a pride usually do this. Things eventually settled down, and the distressed mother was able to save the second cub. Later on in the day, and the next one, the male lions were seen relaxed, with the surviving cub around. Most of the pictures below were extracted from the many video clips taken by the guides on the sighting.
In fact this same mother and cub were seen a few days later, near a warthog hole. A family of warthogs decided to venture out of their burrow while a couple of lions were sleeping nearby, which created a bit of mayhem, but it was an unsuccessful hunt for the lions. The lioness however was very curious, and decided to investigate the hole leaving her little cub on the edge. These pictures are of lower quality, as they were extracted from a video; they show the lioness disappearing completely in the hole!
Another section of the Mwamba Pride has revealed a litter of three newborn cubs. Meyam captured amazing pictures of these 2 or 3 weeks old cubs, when they were being moved by their mother. These same cubs were found alone in the rain on August 9th, as witnessed by our guests, and luckily survived the wet and cold 24 hours, and reunited with mom.
Thank you to our guest Christopher Moran for sharing these pictures below taken the day it rained.
These newborns should soon join the other 5 older cubs which we have seen regularly since the beginning of the season. Those older cubs have also spoiled us with amazing sightings, such as when they were called by their mothers to join in on warthog kill.
Thank you to our guest John Selby for sharing these pictures below, of the cubs on a warthog kill.
And only a few nights ago, we finally came across the newborn cubs of the Hollywood pride. We knew they were around, but hadn’t had a chance to “meet” them yet. These 2 new cubs have not been introduced to the rest of the pride yet.
Sneak preview of the Hollywood cubs – sorry for the poor quality of this picture, extracted from night time video.
August however was leopard month, with both Kylie and Elliott, and many other leopards were on stage for our guests. On one occasion, Kylie was seen in a tree on a baboon kill, but her now 3 ½ year old son Elliott was circling around hoping for a share of the dinner. Kylie tried to move the kill jumping from a branch to another but lost her prey… which Elliott rapidly snatched away! Naughty son, really!
As many of you know, our trademark is our network of photographic hides. We are actually in the process of setting up the Carmine Bee-Eater hide now that we have spotted the first colony of carmines to settle on the banks. Our hides were recently featured in a couple of article. This link will take you to the newsletter of Cazenove + Loyd, talking about photographic hides in general, while this other link here will take you to an article written by Chris McIntyre, and published on Forbes’ website.
Our hippo hide has been quite busy, and not only with hippos! This picture below was taken from inside the hide, when a bull elephant decided to join us for a drink! Quite a close up indeed.
We would also like to share with you part of the newsletter of the South Luangwa Conservation Society, and its alarming news on the increase of poaching in South Luangwa. Read our blog here, and you may decide to support the Society to allow Rachel and her team to continue monitoring the poaching in the park.
Travel wise, adding to the confusion already in place following the use of Kwacha, another airport tax will be implemented as of September 1st – this tax will be payable at the airport at the same time as the exit tax, but as it is new, it would not have been included in most of the international tickets, so even for an international departure, passengers will have to line up to pay this tax. Read here for more information. Until this new tax is slowly integrated in international flight tickets, we expect some delays at the airports (mainly Lusaka which sees many international departures at the same time of the day) prior to being able to check in. On a bright note, Proflight has informed us that they are working towards integrating the domestic exit taxes (as well as this new infrastructure tax) in their domestic flight rates/tickets, which will save all of our guests the hassle of having to pay this at the airport. It won’t be until early 2013 that this can be implemented but it is certainly very good news indeed.
And finally, as usual now, we are ending this newsletter with the winning photographs of our Picture of the Month competition. The theme for August was “Hooved”. Interestingly enough we selected this winning picture from our pool of guest pictures, but we could not trace back the owner of this shot! So if it is yours, let us know! Congratulations also to Peter Chadwick and Paul Waldron for the runner-up shots.
That is it for now, till September.
PICTURE OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2012
Our theme for August was Hooved. Our theme for September is “Miscellaneous” and for October it is “Ellies”. Make sure to send your favorite shots (must have been taken while visiting Kaingo and/or Mwamba)
AUGUST 2012 WINNER
Unfortunately we do not have the author of this photograph. It was taken in August 2009. If you recognize your picture, let us know!
AUGUST 2012 RUNNER UP
Cookson’s Wildebeest by Peter Chadwick, August 2011
Having been coerced into my first trip to Africa by my wife 15 years ago I have developed my own passion for the continent and with that a love of wildlife and photography.
From that first African experience and subsequent trips to Tanzania, Zambia, India, Sri Lanka and my native outback Australia I have learnt that wildlife comes in many shapes and forms from migrating Flamingos and desert foxes in Kuwait, where I currently reside, to the majestic Bengal Tigers of India and stunning Asian Leopards and Sloth Bears of Yala National Park in Sri Lanka.
Settings: Nikon D80, n/a
AUGUST 2012 RUNNER UP
Waterbucks by Paul Waldron, October 2011
I started to get interested in nature photography in 2004. In 2005 my wife Katie and I decided to take our first trip to Africa so I bought my first Digital SLR camera and soon found myself addicted. I find that spending time outdoors observing and trying to photograph nature is a wonderful escape as well as a never ending challenge. I enjoy photographing all forms of wildlife from beetles to whales but I particularly like the excitement that a safari provides, that feeling of never quite knowing what will be around the next corner!
This image was taken on my first visit to Kaingo in October, what a great place from which to experience South Luangwa!
Settings: Canon EOS 7D, 1/640 sec at f/4.0. Focal 420mm. ISO 500.