September News – Duba Plains, Botswana

September is a great month to spend time with the giants of Africa, elephants, as the water is drying up from most water holes making them follow the main streams. It is a warm month and to enjoy the cool breeze of the night that is complemented by the soothing smell of the wild sage one has to keep the tent flaps up. There is nothing that brings you closer to nature like getting a night surprise visit of an elephant coming to eat next to your tent in the full glow of the moon outside. Duba tents are built under the roofs of tall African Mangosteen trees, attracting elephants that hoover the small flowers that fall from it. It is always the first conversation of the morning breakfast as guests explain the elephant proximity to their bed; ”It was so close I could touch it.”

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It is evident that hippos are territorial as we see hippos still holding on to drying ponds of Duba. This is the time of the year where you can drive to a water pool to enjoy a sighting of hippos as they display their amusing character or their swimming skill. It is at this point when you will be able to see the monstrous teeth of this water mammal as they yawn and call, celebrating their existence.

The afternoon game drive never stops amazing all the way back to camp. With the use of the spotlight, some amazing sightings can be spotted. We’ve found the leopard feeding on a buffalo calf and a few times it has been spotted slinking through the concession in fear of meeting lions that rule the Duba concession. It has always been a dream for many to see an Aardvark and the dreams have been realized in the Duba paradise. The guides have been doing a great job of spotting these beautiful creatures that are mostly seen in the night. The aardwolf and pangolin have also been spotted on several game drives.

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The Tsaro pride still continues its controversy. Over the last week we’ve seen for the first time the new male being challenged by the young male from the sub pride of 6 which occupies the western part of the concession. The new male who moves with 2 females has contributed highly to the separation of the pride and it has been a moment we’ve been waiting for to see him being challenged by one of the upcoming males in the sub-prides. He is about 6 years of age and the young male who is challenging him is believed to be of the same age if not younger. Guests had a great morning as they watched these 2 males roaring at each other and every now and then giving each other a snarl. It did not go into a battle but the young male kept pushing the dominant male back, marking around the invaded territory. This is what we are waiting to see; if the young male will win the territory or if there is a possibility of a coalition.

Lion and buffalo hunts still continue, with spectacular hunts happening regularly between the prides. As buffalos move from one area to another, they run into the territory of another sub-pride. We’ve seen the chase start next to camp, buffalos crossing the deep water before lions could make their catch. The lions then needed re-strategizing, as they fear deep water and rather choose to cross over the wooden bridge to get to their prey. The hunt will go for hours as the bull buffalos keep coming back to the rescue of the estranged beast. It therefore takes high anticipation and patience to experience this all to the end. The male lion has earned himself a descriptive tag of ‘lazy’ as he is seen lagging behind, sitting in the shade at every tree as the females keep the chase going, risking the sharp horn of the buffalos. What surprises many is that when the kill happens he is the first one to feed. It is always interesting to explain the role of the male lions around the fire as they are hardly seen doing anything except sitting in the shade and being pampered by females. Male lions act as protectors of the whole pride, therefore they need to eat and keep in good shape so that they can go around marking the territory and keep enemies away. They sometimes go into brutal fights if a new male comes in trying to take over. To prevent another male from taking over and killing all the young and breaking prides apart; the males need to fight with all their might to defend territories.

The Skimmer pride is seen often crossing in the Tsaro territory. We’ve realized that the pride is shy and prefers to walk in covers of the bushes fearing confrontation with the tsaro pride. The last time it was seen there were 2 young males and 2 sub-adult females, missing the adult female. They are mostly spotted eating on the carcasses that have been left behind by the Tsaro pride.

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