Duba News – May 2013

The Okavango Flood

The famous Okavango Delta flood officially reached Duba Plains in May. This is always celebrated in the region, with countless debates around the camp fire, postulating when the flood might arrive. “Is bigger then last year, or 2005 or 1982” , there is plenty of room for nostalgia amongst the guides and veterans of Botswana of how big the flood might be this year. What is the famous flood of the Okavango?

The Okavango Flood in one sentence: “The December to February rains from Angola, 1500 miles away, take three to four months to arrive in Botswana and when they do they flow into the Okavango Desert, the largest inland Delta in the world”.

It is all down to the geology of the area, fault lines on the southern reaches of the great rift valley direct the waters in to the Kalahari and not into the ocean. This is a natural annual flood which supplies and supports the area with its lifeline for many thousands of years.

Boating at Duba

The flooding of the area provides the opportunity for spectacular boating experiences, opening up access to areas which vehicles cannot go to.  Duba Plains is one of the most remote camps in Botswana, and exploring in one of our aluminum boats has allowed our guests to experience areas that are otherwise impossible to access by game drive vehicle.  Photography from the boats offers a very unique angle, such as this shot of the  stunning water lilies of the Okavango.

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It is only possible to get such low angle shots whilst boating

 

The Battle of Duba Plains

Duba Lions

(click to enlarge)

Duba Plains is on an Island in the Okavango Delta.  The map above maybe able to provide a feel for the intimacy of the region.

One male lion, who is king of all three prides, dominates Duba Plains – he is called the Skimmer Male.  He has upwards of 20 adult lions to watch over and this is proving to be a struggle as the younger males get older and compete for his patch.

The Lion diaries of Otlwaetse, OT

“The Skimmer male lion is in his prime time but on the other hand  feels threatened by his own son who is growing at a great pace. Spike and OB  (our Duba Plains guides) were guiding a professional photographic group . Our guides know very well when it is the right moment. Sitting there in the car, silently waiting as the lions approach the buffalos as part of a calculated move.  With years of experience watching these lions they have become very intuitive.  

With cameras at the ready, just from nowhere, the dominant Skimmer male appeared and started harassing and splitting  the pride up, beating up his maturing sons who attempted to challenge to him but were not quite powerful enough. The photographers shutters were going wild as a big fight ensued – father versus son.  This was the moment the battle for Duba began”. 

Despite the  Skimmer male’s size the two sub-adult male sons in the pride are now posing a threat.  We are suspecting that soon they will be chased off the pride and will become nomadic for a period. They are only three years old now and they are getting stronger every day and the Skimmer male will not want them around.  Once they peel off then who knows what will happen next.

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The Skimmer male dominates during a Buffalo kill

 

Our elderly lady is injured

From the Duba lion map above you will be able see there is a reference to a 20 year old Grandmother.  Along with the infamous Silver Eye, the two are the most mature females at Duba Plains.  A recent extract from a professional photographer’s blog caused huge excitement as “an elderly lion” was gored by a buffalo.  Reports from the guides were that she had been hit in the neck and was now struggling to hunt and also feed with the other lions.  It appeared that she was now becoming thin.  It was revealed to be the grandmother lion, the mother of Ma Di Tau.  Updates are she is getting better now despite her age.  20 years is unprecedented for such a lion.

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The Camp is Alive

Hippos continue to keep the night lively with their honk honk honk keeping you company. Whomever came up with the camp architecture is a genius making it very easy to get so close to these large water mammals in safety.

You may find yourself sitting at the fire place watching stars and enjoying an evening drink whilst a hippo minds his business navigating through the marshes below.

 

hip

 

Jackals and Bat-eared foxes often roam the Duba islands as well as the young female leopard, suspected to be 2 years, still being spotted in shade island assuring us that it will survive in the land of large predators.  Lions do not like leopards so it is incredible that she is still in the area with some good sighting this month.

sel lep

 

The staff are forever playing hide and seek with baboons as the jackal-berry fruits are ripe now and the primates won’t move from the camp. They have named the pictured troublesome baboon Sejeso (Curse), he is very naughty and likes to chase the housekeepers forgetting that they have their brooms handy so they can chase them back.

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Next month at Duba Plains

– What will happen to the Skimmer male’s adversaries, will they still be there?

– The Grandmother, will she recover to hunt another day?

– The 2013 flood, how far will it get?

We will keep you posted.

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