Winter still lingers on. It seems like this year we’ve had a long winter as it’s unusual in the month of August to have freezing mornings, cool afternoons and chilly nights. Hot water bottles (bush babies) were handy in the night as one surprise everyone appreciated; ponchos also are put to work in the morning game drives making your safari comfortable as could be. Duba fire keeps blazing under the clear sky, making star gazing enjoyable at all times!!
Game viewing has been extra amazing with the controversial Tsaro pride still keeping us guessing. The Tsaro pride still continues to rule the Duba concession and the rivalry between the trio has left an interesting phenomenon as to why this family has become foes. The group of 3 (2 females and the dominant male) occupies a large portion of the territory while a group of 6(a sub-adult male and sub-adult female about 5 years old, 2 adult females about 12 years, male and female cubs about a year old) sticking to the western portion of the concession and a group of 5(1 adult female, 1 sub-adult male about 1.5 years old, 3 year old sub-female and 2 young males; 3.5 yrs old and 4yrs old) occupying the north of the concession.
Buffalos find themselves trapped between these aggressive hunters, having to lose one of their own whichever direction they take. This month alone we’ve witnessed more than 8 buffalo kills by the group of 6 which has the advantage of number and also having 2 of the experienced adult female hunters. This group has been seen on a couple of occasions taking down red lechwe in the absence of buffalos. The big question that still leaves many amazed is what will happen with these lions as they continue to practice in-breeding. The sub-adult male who is 5 years was seen mating with his sister who’s the same age and it still remains to be seen if the female will conceive.
The break of the pride has affected the group of 5 with only one experienced female hunter (MmaDitau) badly. The other lions in the group have no experience of hunting buffalos and were seen following them for 9 days trying but failing to catch. On one occasion they were seen at Old Mokoro station hunting. They badly injured a buffalo calf and were chased off by the herd. They had then given up on the hunt for that day as the buffalos moved away and the calf was found dead the next day by the guides but the lions missed that!
The Skimmer pride comprising of one adult female, one sub adult female about 4 years, a sub-adult male and female both 2 and half years is still seen overlapping into the Tsaro pride territory. For a few days the pride was found on the east of the concession feeding on a baby elephant carcass. This pride is very skittish when seen and always tries to avoid confrontation with the Tsaro pride.
The baboons that stay in camp on top of the tall jackal berry trees have attracted a male leopard who predates on them. Twice this month we’ve heard the baboons calling as we were sitting by the fire and when checking out what the alarm call could be about we found this male leopard just next to the main area causing the baboon commotion. A female leopard was spotted out in the concession on top of a tree with a red lechwe kill and at the time it was found it was seen feeding on a large grey mongoose. The leopards in Duba are finding abundant food as the concession hosts a great number of red lechwe and baboons.
Swarovski binoculars have become a great addition for bird watchers in the rich Islands of the Okavango Delta, Duba Plains. Some of the rare raptors like the Pel’s fishing owl brings a big tick for bird watchers who seem very thrilled when they see it in Duba. A Martial Eagle was spotted on one occasion feeding on a monitor lizard and was spotted again feeding a spur winged goose. Giant Eagle Owls and Fish Eagles are spotted on almost every game drive.
The other bird of interest that is found on the open grasslands of Duba would be the Rosy Throated Long Claw. The intra-African migrants like the Carmine bee-eater and the yellow-billed kite seem to have reached the Delta early this year. The Carmine bee-eaters are mostly seen flying alongside the vehicles as they catch insects disturbed by the movement of vehicles. The palaeactic migrants like ruffs have already shown up as well.
We are anticipating an amazing month of September as the grass is drying up and buffalos weakening in due course.
(Images courtesy of Mokopi Ipolokeng and Sylvan Albert)