The month of June means our beanies are out and the elephants are in! As winter settles on Duba Plains the bush dries up and the water levels rise to the maximum, both these changes making for fantastic game viewing. Game drives have been extra exciting as our “Puddle Jumper” Toyota Land Cruisers become amphibious to get around the concession.
Life in and around camp is always entertaining as there is no way of telling which animals will decide to stroll through camp. At this time of year elephants are a part of daily life and are particularly active at night. You hear fantastic nocturnal sounds from hippos grazing, elephants feeding and lions roaring. On occasion, the baboons wake up to alert everyone that there is a leopard strolling along the very pathway that you’ve walked, escorted by your guide, back to your tent after dinner. This month in particular we have seen leopard tracks through camp on several occasions and some guests were even lucky enough to spot a young female from the dinner table one night!
Around mid-month the lions were after the buffalo only a few minutes’ drive from camp. There was a lot of splashing through the water and the face off lasted for days before the lions finally won, this time anyway. At this time of year the buffalo start becoming weaker due to scarcity of food so the lions tend to have the upper hand but they do still need to deal with all the water. This also means that the buffalos have had to migrate in order to look for food but they always come back in the end.
We had some very lucky sightings of the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl. Guests spotted one in a tree just as they drove out of camp on their very first game drive. Just three days later one of our guides, Kops, spotted another one from the front of house area and we could all have a good look at it before enjoying our dinner.
Leopard sightings have remained prolific throughout the month, in some cases guests staying for three nights saw two different leopards and on every game drive at that! We are all very excited about seeing leopard so often since in this area they are more rare than usual. Photographers got some fantastic shots of leopards in trees and even with a baboon kill.
The month ended on a sadder note, when the dominant male lion and his two lionesses attacked a lioness of the Tsaro pride. The fight happened near the bridge shortly after everyone had gone back to camp for a snooze after lunch. We heard a huge commotion and decided to check it out. The lioness was badly outnumbered and suffered some serious injuries. She sadly died the following morning. This lioness was well known for her incredible hunting skills and was indeed an expert in buffalo hunting. She was close to 10 years old and although she bore many scars from the endless collisions with buffalo and other lions she was still strong and in good condition.
This sort of event always affects us but we need to remember not to place our human feelings on these wild animals. Lions are a vulnerable species but are not at risk from hunters or poachers but from themselves as well. Witnessing this fight and the death of a lioness is never easy on the emotions but we are fortunate to see nature in its truest and rawest form.