September is always a great month to spend time with the giants of Africa. The water is drying up from most water holes and elephants need follow the main streams. September is a warm month and to enjoy the cool breeze of the night, complemented by the soothing smell of wild sage one has to keep the tent flaps up. There is nothing that brings you closer to nature like getting a surprise visit of an elephant coming to eat next to your tent in the full glow of the moon. Duba’s tents are built under the canopy of tall African Mangosteen trees, attracting elephants that hoover the fallen flowers. It is always the first conversation at breakfast as guests talk excitedly about the elephant next to their tents – ”It was so close I could touch it.”
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. It is at this point you will be able to see the monstrous teeth of these water mammals as they yawn and call, celebrating their existence and marking their territory.
The afternoon game drive never stops delighting, all the way back to camp. With the use of the spotlight, some amazing sightings can be seen. We’ve found leopard feeding on a buffalo calf and a few times they have been seen skulking through the concession in fear of meeting the lions that rule Duba.
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 at night. The aardwolf and pangolin have also been spotted on several game drives.
The Tsaro pride still continues its controversy. Last week we saw, for the first time, the new male being challenged by the young male from the sub-pride of 6 that 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 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 end in a battle but the young male kept pushing the dominant male back, marking around the invaded territory. This is one moment we are waiting to see; if the young male form a bigger sub-pride will win the territory or a possibility of a coalition.
The lions and buffalo hunts continue daily 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 and buffalos crossing the deep water before lions could make their catch. The lions then needed to reassess as they fear deep water and rather choose to cross over the wooden bridge to get to their prey. The hunt may go for hours as the bull buffalos keep coming back to the rescue of any one of their herd in trouble. 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 horns 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 during discussions 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 get 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 into the Tsaro territory. We’ve realized that the pride is shy and prefers to walk in the cover of the bushes, fearing confrontation with the Tsaro pride. The last time they were 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.