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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.