So here I am just about midway through my third season in The Selous at Beho Beho and it is turning out to be a unique season yet again.
But first I want to start with a rectification. In the previous bush mail it was reported that The Gardener (the Elephant bull that likes to hang out in camp) had died near our airstrip. It turns out we were wrong, the bull that died looked a lot like The Gardener but was not him. The behavior of the injured Elephant, where he came into camp while badly suffering and the lack of any appearances in camp after the death, made us think it was The Gardener that died. A couple of days ago now The Gardener re-appeared in camp like nothing had ever happened and he has returned to tend to the green foliage a few times now. Looking back at it is always easier, it was likely that Titan (the largest bull Elephant in our area) being in musth was pushing The Gardener away. Titan would have been extra aggressive due to the high testosterone levels he was experiencing and he would have made his claim to be the boss of the area known to all Elephants in our surrounds. Only a much larger bull or another bull in musth would have stayed around and confronted him. Only a week or so earlier we finally started to notice Titan dropping out of musth and thus becoming his old relaxed self again and there was The Gardener again, risen from dead. Safe to say we were all very happy to see him again and we hope we will see him often in the months ahead.
To get back to the beginning of the Bushmail, why is this a unique season this time around? Well, we had some early rains already in the last week of September, mostly to the north of us. Right in areas that had been impacted quite a bit by bush fires over the July and August months. Now there is a proper flush of luscious green grass in the area around the Beho Beho forest and the Old Airstrip area, drawing in large numbers of game. Now if you have visited Beho Beho before during these months you will probably remember going to Lake Manze and Lake Tagalala as those were the places where game would congregate. That has been different over the last few weeks as the animals did not need to travel all that way for water and thus we have been travelling to other parts of the reserve, parts that we would usually only visit during, traditionally, wetter periods. We are not complaining, it is not far from us and the sightings up there are stunning.
An interesting by-product of the earlier rains has been that the Impala have started to drop their fawns already, a full month earlier than last season. Impala are very reactive to rainfall patterns in their reproduction and the good rains last season and the early showers now would likely have influenced the early births. Funnily enough there has been a long standing myth that Impala can delay giving birth if the rains come late, this is false. In this case the fawns just do not survive or, due to the bad condition of the ewe, the fetus can be aborted or re-absorbed by the ewe. There are indications however that, when the rains come early, the Impala can give birth earlier, likely due to the improved condition of the female and a drive to make use of the good forage that will allow a female to produce quality milk.
So hopefully we will be getting regular showers from now on that will keep the grasses lush and nutritious, bringing more game to our little part of the world that we can enjoy with our guests. And speaking of luck, on a recent morning safari the pack of Wild Dogs that is denning somewhere along Kipalala Hill was found near the airstrip. The difference with this sighting was the presence of the Alpha female of the pack, still heavily lactating. Usually she will stay with her pups at the den while the rest of the pack goes out to hunt. This might indicate that the pups are getting old enough now to be left alone and soon the pack will abandon the den to start their normal wanderings around the reserve, hopefully they will swing past our area soon so that we can see the new additions to the pack for the first time. In the sighting however it was very cool to see how the Alpha female claimed the majority of the remains of two Impala fawns that the pack killed.
Lion sightings have been good, but since the rain has fallen the Beho Beho Pride has become more difficult to find as they have moved into the vast wilderness to our north where there are fewer roads. They are however still doing very well and all the members of the pride are still looking strong and healthy, they were spotted just a few days ago relaxing near the Beho Beho River. Luckily the Black Panther Pride has stepped up to the challenge and they have been regulars around the Lake Tagalala area. A particular sighting stands out where the whole pride joined a standoff between 4 Wild Dogs and a clan of Spotted Hyena. The Hyena and Dogs dispersed pretty quickly after the heavyweights of the African bush ran in to investigate the noise, however one of the adult lionesses charged after the Hyena into the bush and after some pretty scary noises walked back out blooded. We were not sure if the blood was hers or if she got hold of a slow Hyena.
Right now we are planning some more changes to the camp, some big some small, but I will not give away anything yet. At the beginning of next season we will reveal what we have been up to, although some of the guests coming to visit us from December might already notice a few changes. I will leave you with this cliff-hanger and we hope to see you soon,
Roel, Heribert, Vanessa, Godlisten, Saning’o, Idrissa and the whole Beho Beho family.