Beho Beho Bushblog – Saningo – 19th February

saningoblogAfter Christmas and New Year pass, there have been some great sightings. Amongst the action I saw two spotted hyenas taking down a wildebeest cow. Hyenas in most areas have a reputation of being scavengers, as I recall this is the way I thought about hyenas, I also heard the same thought by the local people about hyenas being scavengers. When I came into the safari industry is when I realize that they can take down big game.

I have never seen hyenas in action like that day, although at the beginning of the season there was a big clan of hyenas that wanted to take down a big old buffalo bull next to the structure at the airstrip, but unfortunately, we could not see the commotion. Eventually they manage to take down that buffalo as well.

This day with the wildebeest started with chasing and finished in a big fight as the wildebeest was also fighting back. It continued until the two hyenas manage to pull the cow down. That is a way the nature always takes its course, there is always a saying in nature which I agree with, that says, wherever there is life, there also must be death.

Other game sightings have included two prides of lions, a pride we call the Beho Beho pride and the second pride named the Black Panther pride that roams the shore of Lake Tagalala. In the Beho Beho pride there are several lionesses with new cubs, I imagine it’s going to be a strong pride by the next season. Bird-wise, we have been so lucky with a nice diversity of migrants and non-migrant birds, this ground horn-bill shot seems to be among the few good pictures of the day.

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Roel – 12th February

roelblogThis story I am writing is from a while back already, the 26th of December 2017 actually. That morning I went out with the Hay family for a drive and we were heading towards the Little Serengeti and maybe even beyond towards Lake Manze depending on what we would find along the way.

We had some nice sightings along the way of Cape Buffalo and general game, but when we got to the start of the Little Serengeti, there where the thick forest starts to give way to the open grassland, we encountered a small herd of Elephants. At first I thought they were a bit nervous as, without me knowing this, we had driven into the middle of the somewhat scattered herd. Normally when this happens the Elephants will either re-group and carry on with their lives or they stay nervous and we move on. After a few minutes the Elephants were still not really calming down but strangely they were not really interested in us and the vehicle, even the Yellow Baboons were more on their toes than normal. So I decided to move on and let them all relax and for us to go see what the plains would bring us.

We did not get far as we barely moved 50 meters and somebody in the back yelled “LIONS!!”, so I stopped and looked to my left and saw an amazing sighting happening. These Lions, they turned out to be the Black Panther Pride, had stumbled across a Masai Giraffe that had just given birth and they were eying the newborn for a meal.

The feelings in the car were a bit mixed but in the end we did watch the sighting unfold until the Lions had taken down their meal. This can be hard to watch as it did take a long time to happen, we were there for over an hour and during that time the mother defended her offspring admirably. But, in the end, she had to leave and rescue herself as she was getting more and more tired. The calf itself never stood a chance as one of its back legs was broken.

A morning never to forget even though it is a though sighting to watch.

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Beho Beho Bush Blog – Start of Season 2018/19

This is now my second season at Beho Beho and what a difference between the two. Last season was mostly influenced by the lack of rain in The Selous with all its accompanying drama and events. This season however is very different.

The rains that eluded us the year before arrived in full force in October already making the reserve look beautiful with the rich green colours of the vegetation and the sparks of colour brought by wildflowers, birds and insects. Very soon afterwards the impala gave birth en mass adding frolicking shades of reddish-brown to the mix. The rains have been very regular and the flush of grasses and abundance of water have attracted many herds of Wildebeest and Zebra to our area.

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We have seen a lot of The Gardener this season as he still comes into camp regularly and diligently picks the weeds from our Aloe gardens with his trunk. At times he can be quite a roadblock as he now seems to think that his best place to rest is in between Banda 2 and the Main Area, blocking the path for the guests coming from that side of camp. Unfortunately we have not seen much of Freddy this season except for a handful of sightings around the Managers Bandas, he might have moved on into a territory of his own now he is old and big enough.

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Since the beginning of the season we have had a new pride of lions around our area, by now we just refer to them as the Beho Beho Pride. Five adult females make up the core of this group and there are three males attending them. The oldest female in the Pride had two cubs in the beginning of the season but lost one very early on, leaving the one cub to harass the older Lions into playing with her. Over time we observed the males mating with most of the other females in the Pride and this has resulted in 5 new additions to the group. One cub was born about three months ago and we just had confirmation that the Half-Tail Lioness has four cubs of her own (sorry no pictures yet, but we will work on that). From what we have observed it looks like at least the Lioness we call Chongo, also has cubs stashed away somewhere. These little ones should provide us with plenty of entertainment over the next couple of months as they get introduced into the Pride and to each other.

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It does seem that the dominance of the Lions in close proximity to our camp has had an influence of the rest of the predators, and rightly so. The three males seem to be very aggressive towards the Spotted Hyenas, and the clans in the area are a whole lot quieter nowadays. The new Lions have killed about 4 or 5 Hyena that we know of, this is not for fun or sport, but to get rid of competition.

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One of the best things coming with these rains is the eventual arrival of the Northern Carmine Bee-Eaters. They have arrived in big numbers this season, so have many other species of birds, and entertain us with their aerial acrobatics as they swoosh around the vehicles as we bumble along. This can also be observed when they do it to other larger animals, who, as they move around, flush insects like Grasshoppers that the Bee-Eaters can then swoop down onto and eat. Just before Christmas I observed an irate Southern Ground-Hornbill snapping its bill at the Carmines as they were grabbing the food right from under his nose.

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There have been a few changes in camp too. Phil and Tricia decided that after their many years in the Bush of Africa it was time to move back to civilization. They left Tanzania at the beginning of November to start their new lives, although Phil will be arranging safaris for people and will guide some of these him-self. It just shows that once Africa is in your blood it is very difficult to separate yourself from its magic.

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So, as you cannot run a camp like Beho Beho by yourself, I have had some help over the busy Christmas period. Elizabeth has come all the way from South Africa to assist with the running of camp and adding a female’s flourish to the place and bringing with her many stories of travels through Africa and the rest of the world. Another old bush enthusiast is Sal, the man-with-the-plan in the kitchen. His experience in running bush-kitchens made quite the difference as meal after meal came out to entice the guests over the holiday period. “I was not that hungry but still finished my plate” is a quote that I heard many times over the last few weeks. On the guiding front we had Mike (Michael) join the team, coming from South Africa. He brings with him many years of guiding in some of the prime places in the Kruger Park area of South Africa.

Our trainee guide, Idrissa, is doing very well and we are confident that soon our guests will be entertained by him as he will start taking out drives by himself. He is interested in a broad number of subjects in the bush and likes to get out with other guides whenever he can to learn more. Both him and Saning’o have expressed the desire to further themselves and become qualified walking guides, so when you visit do not be surprised to see one of these two join for a walk, as experience is the best teacher out there. Godlisten can attest to this as his persistence paid out and he is taking walks out regularly and enjoys it a lot. Being out on foot just gives and extra dimension to guiding.

So now we are in 2018 and in only three months or so camp will close down for the main rainy season. We still have quite a few guests to welcome to Beho Beho and The Selous, and we are looking forward to it. In a place like this you never know what will happen and where but we will try and be there when it does.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

saningoblog    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

It has been quiet for almost a month guests wise, but during our quiet period there were ongoing maintenance-works at camp. We did miss going out on game drives, walks and boating excursions, so when our guests arrived we all were keen to go out and explore.

After a few days with guests in camp it was my turn to go to the lake for boating, but on the way toward the lake there is always a nice casual drive to see what we can find. From the start at camp early in the morning it was full of general game in the open plains, but there was no any sign of any predators in the area. Finally when I just concentrate my thoughts to the lake, was when I saw vultures going down and as I switched of my engine to figure out how to get there, it was an opportunity for me to hear some hyenas giggling with little bit of a fighting sound as well. That was a great sign to me that there should be something interesting happening over there. All of a sudden we saw this pack of wild dogs and hyenas that were trying to take their kill. What the kill was we do not know as we only saw wild dogs with red lips as an indicator that something had been killed, probably it was an impala. It was a nice number of 22 wild dogs, many of them are still youngsters. They are always much more active and playful while the adults sleeping.  The guests were pleased to see these rare animals that they were not even expecting.

There was other general game all over the game park, majority are buffaloes, impalas, elephants, troops of baboon, giraffes and warthogs. There are some prides of lions that been roaming quite frequently in our immediately area, but since the day we receive our guests till the day they left we only saw one lioness by the Beho Beho airstrip. This lioness last month came to camp, it seems like she was searching for a nice place to give birth, as she was heavily pregnant. So that morning we saw her on some open ground and a few minutes later she walked into thick grass and some shrubs, and we started hearing what sounded like little cubs. The rest of the pride seem not too far away because every evening we could hear them calling down the Msine river valley.

Bird watching has been so spectacular; many migrant birds like European rollers, carmine bee-eaters and white stork have entered the area. The weather has been cloudy but humid during the day, but oin the last day for all our guests  there was a big shower that started very early to almost late morning, afterward the weather was so clear and nice. The scenery is so stunning, all the open fields look green, plenty of life happening. And so now we are looking forward for the Christmas and New Year to come soon.

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Mike – 5th December

     The evenings have been filled with the sounds of lions roaring and in the last week, rather spectacular thunderstorms have moved over The Rufiji River Valley. Rain has fallen now and the bush has turned green in just a few days. Impala fawns can be seen everywhere and the wild flowers are making a return. It was my first opportunity to go out on a drive with the manager Roel and the other guides and see the property upon which Beho Beho prides itself and its visitors. Giraffe can be spotted on almost every outing and the landscape, with its tall palm tree thickets provide for some exceptional sightings. Wildebeest, Zebra, Buffalo, Eland, Wathog and of course Elephant were also on my first few drives. A couple days ago Saningo and Godlisten reported seeing three bush pigs walking past the camp water hole. There are no guests in camp at the moment and I have been using this opportunity to get to know the staff and fellow guides and have been orientating myself with the procedure to expect when they arrive.

Yesterday afternoon I was out learning roads with the Roel, when we came across the Beho Beho pride of lions. We were lucky enough to witness courtship behaviour between the Yellow-maned male and one of the lionesses clearly in estrous. It’s a typical love-hate relationship when lions mate and the growls and snarls could be heard for some distance away. The general game in the area didn’t seem too bothered by the lions and some watched eagerly from the edges of the clearing where the mating pair were. A while later we were able to enjoy a view of a small breeding herd of elephants that happened to stroll past without even taking note of the big cats.

Leopard vocalization can also be heard at times, particularly in the evening and I am waiting in anticipation to see my first one here in The Selous. The first thing that struck me about the reserve is the diversity of habitat types that one finds and also how fast the habitat changes into the next. There are Miombo woodland areas adjoining vast open plains and there are palm tree thickets as well as riverine forest areas. We also find dense rainforest on the slopes of the surrounding mountains and giant Baobab trees are scattered throughout the reserve.

Mention of the birdlife at Beho Beho must also be made as it is some of the best in Africa. Bee-eaters, kingfishers, rollers and cuckoos to name a few are some of the most colourful birds one might encounter and they are abundant this time of the year. Eagles, accipitors, storks, waterbirds, communal birds and vultures can also be seen on a daily basis. The area around Beho Beho is alive with animal life at the moment and it is an exciting time of the year for guide and guest alike. I look forward to the coming weeks as it can only get better. My only hope is that the Beho Beho pride will continue to grow in number and that they continue to take up territory here.

It is a humbling experience to guide at Beho Beho and one becomes immersed in its marvelous diversity of fauna and flora. Having been here only a short time I already rate it very highly. What a wonderful place it is and if you have not yet seen it, I thoroughly encourage you to do so.

 

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Saningo – 10th November

saningoblogThe short rains that started recently have turned the scenery green. It has also made the antelopes more active and they are enjoying this weather. A few days ago when I was out on an afternoon drive, I drove towards the battlefields where I saw a nice herd of impalas that were actively leaping all over the place. On the other side there was an elephant matriarchal herd, it seemed like there were two herds that encountered one another there and formed a bigger herd.

Predator sightings have been quite good, we often see the Beho Beho pride that lives around camp. In this pride there is at least one lioness that looks like she is pregnant, she has been walking in camp and sometimes sleeps on the flat stone pathways, it is this behaviour which made us think that maybe she is searching for the place to give birth. This lioness is more distinctive from other the lioness because of her short tail and new wound on her shoulder.

African wild dogs have been so elusive for almost two months, as they have been denning we have not seen them moving around. About a week ago, there was a nice pack of wild dog we saw on the plains in front of camp as we were having breakfast. We drove towards them and we found them with many puppies, as there were no other guests in camp, we took Mama B (Sarah Bailey), Mr. Simba and all the management and guides. At some point we saw these wild dogs start greeting one another and making a little whistling and eventually start hunting, it was so nice to see them chasing waterbuck. It was such a special evening.

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Saningo – 19th October

 As we have reached the height of the dry season, there have been some great sightings of game congregations close to the water sources. Some of the permanent water sources we have in the Selous Game Reserve include natural springs, lakes and the great Rufiji River. Lake Manze is among the lakes in the Selous that tends to attract a great number of different game species, which includes herbivores, predators and giant reptiles like Crocodiles. The drying out of this lake and the other water sources is the main reason for all these different species to gravitate to the much needed water and interactions between different species abounds. Lake Manze as it keeps drying out much more rapidly than other lakes means that in order to get to the water, the animals need to negotiate large sections of cloying mud flats and some times they get stuck! A few days ago my drive started as a relatively quiet morning, but by the time we were approaching the lake we started seeing plenty of herds of wildebeest heading down toward the lake to drink. Reaching the lake and we had a very good sighting of a dead wildebeest that was stuck in the mud, crocodile were the first to scavenge from the carcass, it was so nice to watch crocodile scavenging on land and not in the water as we would normally see. A few minutes later came some vultures and hyenas to share the dead wildebeest, it was a very active morning but the action did not stop there. It seems like the lions must have been hiding in the bushes and after seeing the vultures landing in the swamp they came to inspect what was going on and that is when they found vultures and a few hyenas feeding on the wildebeest. So the lions eventually took over the carcass in the end but everyone got a little share before them.

Another great sighting that I had in the last few weeks when I went out on an afternoon game drive towards Selous Grave and I found a small herd of elephant were crushing and munching on the palm bushes, little did we or the elephant know but under one of the bushes there was an African civet hiding away, but now pretty much surrounded by elephant and losing his palm bush cover fast. He eventually escaped his precarious position but not without a bit of a chase from the elephants.

One of my “lifers” sighting was at our hippo pool when I saw a crocodile crawling on the back of a live hippo. The hippo seemed not too bothered at all. I have never seen this happening and it was a great excitement to me and to the guests.

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