Exciting elephant encounters and mesmerising moments of murmurations.

As sandbanks emerge, once covered by the flowing waters, another month passes us by on the Luangwa River. The floods of the rainy season have left their mark on the drying valley, with exposing silt deposits and new lagoons. We can happily say that the animals around us are still enjoying abundant water for this time of year. After many seasons of drought, it is with glee that we look on these extended “dry season” lagoons in our northern landscapes that the wildlife can still enjoy.

Every month gifts us plentiful sightings, and August has been no exception to this rule. With incredible wildlife moments that have left us all in awe of the corner of paradise that we call home. One of the less celebrated, but most astounding, of which is the little red-billed quelea. These small birds are often an afterthought on safari when big game surrounds you, but they’re stealing the show here at Shenton Safaris. It’s not a usual occurrence when a flock of thousands of red-billed quelea pulls your gaze away from lions to watch them flutter across an African sunrise. It’s made us gasp in awe of the pure beauty of the wildlife around us, and marvelling these mesmerising moments of murmurations. A gift to our guests, who have let their hearts soar to the sounds of fluttering wings. It boils down Derek & Juliet Shenton’s unique way of safari-ing, to get close to pure wildlife moments such as these.

I know you’re itching to read about our big cats, and there’s a lot of carnivore action to discuss! But let’s take a moment to talk about our friendly neighbours in camp and all the exciting elephant encounters we’ve been having! You will remember the lovely trio of “E’s” that take up residence at Kaingo every year; Eleanor, Edwina and Ed. This year has been no exception and as the Ebony Trees have gone into fruit – so have the elephants tempestively arrived into camp to enjoy them! Kaingo has had many a brunch and afternoon tea populated with these wonderfully wise animals. A new development this year is that Ed seems to be reaching his teens! It’s led to him being a little more assertive and curious in camp, heading off on his own instead of staying with his mother and sister. Ed has been testing out his newfound courage, and Patrick has been teaching him boundaries and camp etiquette when required! Do you know those testy teenage years for adolescent boys? Well, imagine them in an adolescent elephant!

Kaingo hasn’t been the only one getting a lot of elephant action. Mwamba has had more than its fair share! The Last Waterhole Hide is coming into its own, and we’ve been having more and more elephants enjoy staying at our little bush camp. They’ve been an excellent addition to early morning tea, brunch time and even afternoon tea at Mwamba. When down at Mwamba’s photographic hide; guests have enjoyed watching them drink, bathe in water, dust and mud, and play with one another. Elephants are always a pleasure to host in our slice of paradise; their rumbling sounds calls our guests to the hide to see what’s happening. Speaking of which, have you logged on to Mwamba’s Last Waterhole Hide Live Webcam! It’s LIVE! There’s nothing better than reliving your safari by logging in, maybe with a gin and tonic in the afternoon after work, and enjoying the sights and sounds of Shenton Safaris. Get Close from afar!

Well now, let’s get to our namesakes, our lovely kaingo, the leopards. We’ve been immersed in leopard sightings this last month, and there’s been one particular little personality that has stolen the show! Thank you for helping us out in choosing Chiphadzuwa’s cub’s name; we’re delighted to introduce Chidwi ~ the curious one! He’s been stealing all of our hearts and has been one of the most captivating leopard cubs, taking after his mother in her relaxed nature. We’ve been enjoying endless hours of play and discovery; from play fights with Chiphadzuwa to learning how his tail twitches. Chidwi has been a ball of playful curiosity that we all have fallen for, whiskers, spots, tail and all. Though Chidwi has been a big focus of our leopard action, he’s not been the only leopard around! We’ve spent hours with Mchenja Boy, Mamma Kaingo, her son Tangu and Shy Boy: as well as some unknown leopards in the northern territories of both Mwamba and Kaingo. These beautiful felines keep us endlessly engaged; undeniably one of the most entertaining of the big cats.

Now, apart from our usual suspects – the leopards – our other big cats have truly been performing! We’ve had one rogue male arrive into our area, suspected to be the long lost Tangu from the Nsefu sector, but still to be 100% confirmed. He’s had disputes with the Nomads, and we’re still waiting to see the outcome – will they let him live in their territories? The Numbu Boys seem to be all but lost, with one intensely battled scarred and bruised of this trio seen tending to his wounds. The Nomads have definitively taken over the area across Mwamba and Kaingo; they have been seen mating with the Hollywoods, the Kapanda and the Mwamba/Kaingo Prides. There have been fruits to these mating sessions, with five cubs that we have been observing. Who even came in to check out breakfast at Mwamba one morning! Have you read our blog on this?

The Painted Wolves in our areas are suspected to be denning; there were good signs that the alpha females were pregnant. We’re crossing fingers and toes that we’ll be able to watch the pack with their pups soon! We’ve had these stunning creatures den close to our camps for the last four years, and hope that we’ll be lucky enough to have puppy sightings again.

Apart from all the above, August has had unique sightings! From eland to a herd of 24 roans that allowed guests to get close to observe them. To several stunning Pel’s fishing owls on the hunt, to honey badgers doing what they do best. Our most surprising sighting was of a serval cat, not a regular in our area, so incredibly beautiful that we can’t wait to get the footage we have of it loaded online! With all of this abundance of game, of every genre, we can’t wait for what the next month will bring us! Numbu Star Beds and Elephant Hide Star Beds have been enjoyed on many nights: with lions, hyenas and owls – starry night skies and the endless relaxation of the Zambian night that surrounds you.

Thank you all for staying tuned, if you were with us this season and would like to share some of your images with us – we’d love to post them on our next newsletter! If you’re due to come out to us soon, be sure to stay up to date with our blog sightings and live webcams. Mwamba’s Last Waterhole Hide is ever popular, and the Hippo Hide has been producing astounding action shots!

Safe travels until we meet again where the heavens meet the earth…

Salani Bwino

Mesmerising moments of murmurations.