This year’s dry season has brought us some fantastic game viewing out of Beho Beho. As the grasses wither, regressing to the quick and drawing all their nutrients and goodness underground, hiding from the harsh desiccating sun; a number of the tree species drop their leaves, standing stark, bare in the yellowing landscape ready to tough it out until the rains come. When will that be? These organisms never know. The time for growth and production is gone, its time for survival mode. In Africa you never know when the next drop of life sustaining moisture will hit the parched earth.
However where the flora have no choice but to wait it out, the fauna can move in search of water and lucky for them Selous is a well-watered reserve with numerous permanent water points across the landscape.
One of which is here just below Beho Beho; the Msine River and the springs seeping up from the earth provide fresh water and draw animals from far and wide. Big herds of buffalo visit almost daily and often twice a day. Elephants dot the landscape in front of camp as they spend their time between palm forest and the fresh pools in the river and often visit camp to drink and bath at our waterhole.
This season the two musketeers (once 3) and the dominant male lions of the area have been spending much time around the area of camp, roaring close by at night and we have had the opportunity to see them often both on drive and on foot.
However the herbivore populations are affected by the lack of available nutrients out there and as the dry season draws on, behaviors start to change in response to this. Recently we have noticed indicators that times are tough. Impala and warthog find themselves in a catch 22 situation whereby they are exhausting the browse and graze material in the open areas where they can go about their business in a relatively safe environment with good visibility, and so they are being forced more and more into thicker forested and bush land, an area with a lot bigger risk of ambush, but needs must and so off to the forests in search of sustenance they go.
The buffalo and kudu are looking particularly skinny and we have had 4 sightings of the secretive bush pig in 2 -weeks , an animal we would perhaps see 4 times in 6 months, but they too are changing their behavior and coming out into the open more to try and gain some variety in their diet in these tough times.
So wild life is feeling the pinch, part of the ebb and flow of life in these savannah ecosystems and of course provides us with some great viewing opportunities.
Some stand out events from the dry months include a few consecutive days of multiple leopard sightings, one of which had no less than 2 kills up a tree, a bush pig and an impala. Then just days later Heribert took guests on a walk during which, amazingly, they witnessed a leopard hunt and kill a Tanzania Sykes monkey in the trees!
The lions should not be left out though and with vast herds of wildebeest and zebra coming down to Lake Manze to drink daily we have witnessed a few hunts out on drive. On one occasion we watched a pride of 5 lions hunt and kill two young wildebeest at the waters edge, with another being taken in the confusion by a crocodile!
For those of you that have visited us here at Beho Beho, you will know that it is not just about the animals here but the people too. We live in this wild place as a family, but sometimes though family members move away to pastures new, they remain family, just a little farther away, and so it was with great sadness at their departure but with happiness for them in their exciting new venture that we said farewell to Walter and Karin, who are extending and growing the family with a new company property in Montagu situated in the Western Cape of South Africa. We are yet to visit, but we have seen lots of pictures and it looks stunning. We wish them the best of luck in their new adventure and we know their new spot will become a great success. But of course we will miss them greatly and look forward to their visits.