We find ourselves in search of the first proper rains, although this season has been a strange one for us all. From Lake Manze which was flooding to now the areas we normally drive being a dried up Lake shoreline. Also some sporadic rain that fell in August and September, very strange weather patterns and interesting environmental changes, but the clouds have been building up day by day, and looking darker and heavier, so hopefully the first rains will come shortly, drenching the parched landscape, and causing the green to re-emerge.
We have abundance now of little ones running around, from crèche units of Impala lambs, with mom giving burping calls to stay in contact with her own youngster. Let us not forget the little piglets running next to Warthog mom. The hippo pool below camp is a rafting mass of hippo, with the majority of other small pools around, drying up already. Thomas our friendly hippopotamus (so named by Salum), is still enjoying his pool, also waiting for the Msine River to start filling, so he can claim some ladies for himself. You see during this time period of water scarcity, the territorial hippo in the Msine need to put their differences aside and try and get along, in the section of water below camp, which is fed by a spring. However, many of the territorial bulls, stick as long as possible in their sections of the river, in the hope that the water doesn’t dry up completely, and they may stay there until it is a mere mud pool. Reasons for this behaviour is that these males understand that if they move out of their claimed territorial sections of the river, come the rains and the river flowing, they will need to reclaim these for themselves, which may not be possible or they may be unsuccessful, in particular if another territorial bull has moved in. So often we get asked, why don’t they just leave and go to the Lake then, where there is ample water, well, it would mean this bull would then need to come in and take over either a pod for himself or alternatively create a territory there, which may not be possible or in the case of taking over a raft, fatal.
But at least this allows us to enjoy good interaction between individuals, hippos coming to drink from the water hole in front of the main area, and the great numbers in the hippo pool. However, it isn’t just hippo coming to drink from our water hole, we had a beautiful sighting of a young leopardess, who came in to drink, she was scared off several times, by either hippo or hyena, but everyone got to see her. We have been hearing a male call quite frequently around the camp and in camp, so have a good feeling she is in heat at the moment, and he is just announcing his presence for all.
Lion sightings have been good, both at Lake Tagalala and Manze, with us casting a watchful eye on the sub-adult cubs, forming part of the pride of six. Why? You may ask, because the two youngest have taken a liking to tyres, as Salum found out several months back (https://blog.behobeho.com/2014/08/12/beho-beho-bushblog-salum-12th-aug/), so we have been making sure they don’t chew up anymore of our tyres.
We have had some good elephant sightings, both around camp, and at Lake Manze, with us having a big elephant bull, hanging around camp, we have dubbed him Titan, just on the basis of his size and presence.
Some good birds coming back into the area, as from now till January, we have a lot of the migrants returning, so this should add some more to the bird list we do every month (http://www.behobeho.com/birdcount14.pdf), every season our ambition is to get to 300, and the last two we have fallen just shy, with a strong drive we hoping to get the magical 300 this season.