Beho Beho Bushblog – Godlisten – 17th July

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We are well into the new season now; green grasses heading to brown which makes the environment look amazing and the animals are healthy. I have been in The Selous for many years but never get tired of this unbelievable place. A lot of places in Africa are busy, with lots of tourists, so many visitors try to find out the best time to visit to avoid all the people, but for Selous you don’t need to think about that, it’s the perfect place all year round, with very few cars. You won’t believe it when you are in a big game sighting and it’s just yourself and there are no other cars around the animal, which makes you to feel like you’re among them.

 

Last season the number of Hyena were real good around the Beho Beho area, but since the beginning of this season things have changed a lot, now we have more than three different prides of Lion around our area. Black Panther pride is doing great with eight cubs right now. Hopefully if the cubs make it to adulthood, it will be a big pride of Lions, which means they have to look to hunt big animals like Giraffe and Buffalo.

 

The birding in Selous is still stunning as usual, having more than four hundred different species of bird, for sure we can’t complain. Lake Tagalala is still looking lovely right now and it’s a good time for water birds to be nesting. Last week we saw a good number of African Spoon Bill and Opened Billed Stork busy feeding their chicks.

It was unbelievable that one of our guests saw one hundred different spices of birds within just three nights, which was wonderful!

 

The general game is great, you won’t believe the number of animals you will see at the airstrip especially in the morning where lot of animals overnight for their safety (safety in numbers) Giraffes, Wildebeests, Zebra, Impala, Warthogs to mention a few. The number of Elephant is still doing well now at Msine valley and also at the camp area.

 

May, June and July is a good time for Butterflies, this time we have a lot of them like White cabbage butterfly, Africa monarch, Blue pansy, Acraeas, Scarlet tip, Citrus swallowtail and many more. My favourite one is Diadem butterfly, which are everywhere right now. They are cool to watch because the females mimic the coloration of the African Monarch to gain immunity from predation and makes them look different from the male one. Predators confuse the palatable Diadem butterfly with the unpalatable monarch, as the only difference is a small black dot on the hind wing. This is known as Batesian mimicry and is only effective if the Diadem population is smaller than the monarch population otherwise the toxic butterfly population would be diluted by the non-toxic one and predators would then not ignore either as a potential food source.

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Beho Beho Bush Blog – Roel – 7th July

roelblog So it seems for now that, after Bibi’s Pride went missing at the beginning of the ’16-’17 season, we have a new Pride of lions staking a claim to the area around Beho Beho. It is still early days and we will have to see if they will stick around, but the signs are promising. Up to now we have identified ten different lions in this group, three males, six females and one cub. There was another cub just a few weeks ago but we believe that this was the cub that was seen injured and abandoned at our airstrip.

It looks like the three males have come from the Black Panther Pride, the Pride we usually see around Lake Tagalala, and they are quite different from each other. Of the two biggest boys one has no mane at all and the other one only a little scruffy one, the third male is the smallest but he does have the nicest mane. As almost every night we can hear their roars throughout the night and due to the slightly tense interactions with the females I think these guys are establishing themselves as the Pride males of the area and the females. We will have to see though if this is the only group of females they serve as the males’ territories can encompass the territories of more than one group of females.

There are two very distinctive lionesses in the Pride, one is missing the last third of her tail and the other has an issue with her right eye. These two ladies will make identifying the Pride easy if they are in the group, we will work on getting identifying features on the rest of the females as the season moves on. For the females without these supped distinctive features we will have to look at scars and possibly the spot-pattern of the top row of whiskers.

So all of this is still a work in progress and the lions might still decide to find greener pastures elsewhere, but we hope they will stick around and give our guests a peek in to their lives. For now I have added some shots I have of some of the pride members and their identifying features.

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Saningo – 27th June

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It’s a remarkable start of the 2017 – 2018 season, as before the start of the new season, I got an opportunity to fly abroad to South Africa for two weeks, which was my first time to step outside my country Tanzania. So I shall start by thanking the directors and managers of my company for their support. The two weeks I was down in South Africa was quite an adventure. I started in Galenia Estate, such beautiful a place. I was pleased to explore the Estate, and see the olive farm which surrounds the main building, quite a line of planted olives. I decided to grab my camera to take a few pictures, thanks to Mr Cade for showing me around, my special thanks to Marinus for his hosting and planning my days’ routines while I was at Galenia Estate. A big thank you to Patty for guiding me around the Estate, I did envy her geology and botany knowledge. It was a great experience to visit the wine farms and taste their produce, I do not recall all the towns and wine farms we visited in the Robertson Wine Valley as we did a lot of driving that day but we did visit Montagu, Ashton a and other few more. During our drive from one town to another along the road side there were also some great cattle farms that might also give me an idea of how to farm my personal local cattle back home.27061

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After those three days of my first week in Galenia Estate, Mr Marinus drove me back to Cape Town where Mr Joost and Katherine received me and hosted me in the city. It was a big wow when they took me out for dinner at the waterfront, it is a very beautiful town and there is so much to see. I thank Katherine and Joost for showing me around, while I was in Cape Town. I also got an opportunity to climb up Table Mountain, the mountain that I have been hearing of in the last few years, I was more than excited when I got to the top as it was not an easy way up; on our way down we used the cable car, which was so lovely seeing that also, my particular thanks to Mr Joost for taking me up the mountain and afterwards he took me also to the big harbor in Cape Town. I also thank Katherine for taking me to the Red Bus tour in Cape Town. I was a bit nervous when she dropped me off and left me, I thought I would have got lost as I was just by my own, but after a little while I did forget of been lonely and started the tour.

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The second week, which was also my last week, was my flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and straight drive to Ulovane Environmental Training center, for my birding course. I was so thrilled to share my experience with other guides from different places in the world. During my stay at Ulovane in Amakhala Game Reserve, I got to see some new birds species and sub-species, like Red-wing starling, Hartlaub’s turaco, Denham’s bustard, and many more. It was an experience also to mingle with other guides from other game reserves. There were a few guides from different reserves, Rudolph Van Niekerk from Lallibela Game Reserve is among them. I did enjoy his guiding flow when he was on his final FGASA level three assessment, with our trainer Mr Peter from Ulovane on his left side, and me sitting in the back with my class mate Laura from UK. I guess Rudolph did pass his assessment, although I wasn’t the one to give marks. Although it was a bird course, we also saw some big game nevertheless like White rhinos, Elephants, and Hippopotamus as well. As I am always fond of antelopes, I was also very excited to see some new antelopes that I have never seen, like Springboks, Blesbok and Nyala, and other antelopes that I have seen only once in my life which was an Oryx. I thank Mr Peter from Ulovane Environment Training for sharing his knowledge with me and the other guides from different countries and even different continents, there guys from Australia, Europe and Africa. So it was an opportunity to mingle with others and share experiences.

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Finally I would like to send my families regards to the company that supports me. Mr Charlie Bailey I wouldn’t skip mentioning your name as my father mentioned your name as well, thanking you for supporting me to travel abroad. My mother also sends her regards to Mama B. and she said Shikamoo, (it’s Kiswahili word of greeting someone of above your age).

 

 

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Tricia – 23rd June

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Finally off the Market

 

While the rains were falling on Kipalala Hill on the 8th April, Phil and I shared the happiest day of our lives basking in sunny Wales. Yes, you read that right.

 

Normally we spend our long leave hopping from one town to the next during our annual visits. But this year, we were spoilt to have our loved ones come to us for a glorious weekend at Caer Llan in Monmothshire. Our family and friends travelled from Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Tampa in the US; from Hoedspruit in RSA; and from London, Glasgow, Farringdon, Southampton and Bristol in the UK.

 

After a lot of contemplation, Phil and I chose ‘our journey’ together as our wedding theme. With 8 places that had been pivotal moments leading up to our commitment to each other, each table bore the name on a pennant flag with photos from our time there. Each guest’s nameplate had a story from the 8 places so that our guests – who may only know us from one part of our lives – could share in the other stories. Although many tables had people from different stages of our lives, they could all share in the threads of our history together.

 

We decorated the rooms with bunting my mom made and old photos hung between the windows – documenting our lives and honouring those who couldn’t join us. Friday evening was spent introducing the two sides of our families and friends, telling stories, singing songs around the piano, and finishing the little details for the next day.

 

We tried to weave our life in Africa through various aspects of the wedding with Tanzanian fabrics and safari animals added to the Groomsmen buttonholes, and my mother’s corsage.

 

The morning light played on the misty Valley of Usk, as my make-up artist, Alex, arrived at 7:30am to make us photo ready for the day. By 8am we were breakfasting with our weekend guests, and by 9 Lisa had arrived to style our hair. Before I knew it the clock showed 12:30pm. Within 30 minutes our groomsmen were followed by our parents, step-parents and Grandma Jean, processing down the aisle to A Song of Ice and Fire – for all the Game of Thrones fans out there. Shirley and Dan, thanks for convincing us to find a space for it!

 

Our dear friend Nick officiated the ceremony for us finely balancing the reflective tones and communal spirit of a wedding with our quirky personalities. And after committing to my ‘trusted minion’, we recessed from the ceremony to Hopipolla – often heard at the end of the BBC wildlife documentaries.

 

The speeches were perfect. A tear-jerking reflection from my papa, words of gratitude and love from Phil, and a Best Man’s speech from Keir generously dabbled with humorous anecdotes from the past and hopeful insights for the future.

 

Having given up on any sort of formal dance lessons – not many dance instructors came to visit last year – we joked and avoided each other’s toes while lovingly swaying to Ellie Goulding’s ‘How Long Will I Love You’ before inviting everyone up with the Waterboys original.

 

The entire weekend perfectly encapsulated who we are individually and to each other. And although our Beho Beho family couldn’t join us in person, they made an integral cameo in our celebrations. Thank you to our Beho Beho family and to all of our guests who shared in this journey.

 

** All pictures courtesy of Clare Adams – LoveSeen Photography

 

 

 

 

 

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Beho Beho Bushmail – Start of Season 2017/18

The blessing of rain has transformed the plains and hills around Beho Beho; lush verdant grasses, with a scattering of wildflowers and fungi, extend as far as the eye can see. We returned in May to periodic showers and an audibly flowing Msine River. Day by day our skies turn bluer and the sun warms the earth, as vultures soar amidst the thermals. As the moon rises, nostalgia sets in staring out onto the Southern Cross, the constellation, and now a familiar friend, which always greets our return to Beho Beho and welcomes our guests to the beginning of a new season. Our nights would not be complete without the laughter of hippos and roar of mighty lions, as elephants feed on grasses and snap small branches during their night-time wanderings.

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As we started to open camp, we were greeted by some familiar faces – Fred has appeared outside of our houses and the Gardener has started to catch up on his pruning work. After these rains he has quite a lot of work to do!

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As usually happens, drives down to the airstrip or (Phone) Signal Hill surprised lions who – over our two closed months – forgot that humans frequent this area. Further inspection, revealed tracks of cubs alongside those of adult lions. One afternoon as Idrissa returned with weekly supplies from Kisaki, we got the call that wild dogs were coming to camp – quite literally walking up the road from the airstrip to our car park. And though we have good sightings of wild dogs, the unpredictability of how long it might be before seeing them again can still break up afternoon work to sit with them for a while, waiting for the moment when they rouse to greet one another in their usual evening ritual.

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In a rare and special sighting, Phil and Roel spotted two crowned eagles circling the area in front of camp. We rarely see crowned eagles in camp, and even less frequently up close, but that afternoon one swooped in, perching on the dead tree near the water hole. To their delight, a pair of these stunning eagles were seen again landing in a tree near banda 3. We’re hoping it’s the start of many more special bird sightings this season.

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As we wrap up our second week of the new season, we are grateful to have already made some remarkable new memories with our guests. Taking in stunning sunrises with a cup of coffee; driving out towards the airstrip to find seated giraffes rising in the morning light accompanied by plenty of zebra; elephants drinking from the waterhole soaked in moonlight.

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It’s no wonder that June has long been a favourite month of ours. The time we get to re-explore an unspoilt Selous, soaking in the beauty all around and anticipating all of the new adventures that lie ahead! We look forward to welcoming our new – and quite a few returning – guests and sharing in the Beho Beho delights of the new season!

 

Wishing you a pleasant safari, where ever you may be!

 

Until the next time,

 

Phil, Tricia, Roel, Nico, Godlisten, Saning’o, Idrissa,

and the entire Beho Beho family

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Roel – 20th June

roelblog  Beho Beho game activities are in full swing with the first guests of the season and we have gotten off to a great start. In the first week of the season we have had great sightings of Lions mating, Wild Dogs, several herds of Elephants, really muddy Buffalo and, to top it all off, the Black Panther Pride and their eight cubs are still around.

Opposite of the previous season, we have had fairly heavy rains till the end of May. This means that the bush is still looking extremely lush and water is plentiful out there. But as the sun is doing its magic the bush is slowly drying out, the grasses especially are done with producing their seeds and are starting to go yellow.

The other morning we found a pack of Wild Dogs lying out in the open on The Battlefields, this struck me as kind of odd as in the early morning they are usually quite active. As we approached the situation became a bit clearer. The pack was surrounded by about 7 Spotted Hyena also lazily resting in the morning sun. It seemed like the Dogs were unwilling to go and hunt with such a large group of Hyenas in tow as the Hyenas, being more powerful, would surely steal any kill away from the Dogs. As time passed the Hyenas lost their interest and started to move off one by one. When the last Hyena had moved away the Dogs sprang into action and we were surrounded by the pack as they went through their greeting rituals. Not too long after the whole pack moved off into the bush, perhaps hoping to make a kill before it got too warm.

I should also not forget the birds. We have had a great variety of species come through already, with some specials like Crowned Eagle, Zanzibar Red Bishop, Eurasian Buzzard, Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture and Racket Tailed Rollers to name but a few. For one of our guests we have already positively identified 79 different bird species and we are confident we can push that to over a hundred during their stay.

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Beho Beho Bushmail – End of Season 2016/17

Another season draws to a close and we are able to revisit the events of the year to get the bigger picture of life in the Selous for its myriad inhabitants.

 

The season has, for us witnessing events, provided some ongoing stories, punctuated by spates of sightings of particular species.

 

The season started with a very welcome spate of leopard sightings, normally particularly elusive in Selous. The first 3 weeks saw more than a dozen sightings which included leopardess successfully hunting a scrub hare, leopardess and her cub on a few occasions, and stalking prey through the Msine dry riverbed. 3 sightings of 3 different males either nonchalantly walking by us or draped over the branches of a sausage tree completed a great start for the predators!

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The story of the lion prides provided us with a season long mystery and the saga is anything but clear still. Bibi’s pride, our resident pride of the Beho Beho area was spotted twice at the beginning of the season, never to be seen again! Likewise with the 2 musketeers, our 2 dominant pride males, disappearing in July and we have not seen them since. Whether they have fought and been killed by other lions or simply pushed out is unclear, but the mystery remains as to who is going to stamp their authority on our prime territorial area here. The Black panther pride would have been the favourites, but have not done so. The elusive lions of the Phantom pride have been in and out of the area frequently from their usual base in the north, but seem reluctant to stay. And who will take over as pride male in the area is yet to be seen. Apart from seeing some relatively young male lions, on and off over the course of the season, there seems to be no clear candidate up to the job. We shall have to wait and see what the new season brings to find out.

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As the dry season drew on, we were treated to a period of a couple of weeks with the wild dogs taking centre stage! Using our Msine valley as their hunting ground they came through in a whirlwind of excitement, disrupting the lives of our resident impala herds especially and showing the hyena clans who’s boss! Numerous instances of us trying to follow their frenetically paced hunts took place and sometimes we would get to see the whole hunt and the subsequent fight for the spoils.

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The dry season went on and on – October no rain, November and December (the short rains) nothing but drought. And it took its toll on the animals. Impala lambing season this year, a bit of a failure. Ewes did not have the valuable nutrients available to them for good milk production and so lots of weak lambs became easy prey. The same for the warthog. The herds of buffalo descended daily to the only water available in the area directly in front camp and as the drought continued they were the most visible to be losing condition and the hyenas noticed! Usually an adult buffalo is too big for hyena to take down, but not in times of drought. The hyena started taking down buffalo every couple of days, camping out at the buffalos favoured drinking point and plucking of the weakened animals fairly easily.

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The hippos did not escape the crisis either with every week or so a new hippo carcass being found succumbing to malnourishment and fights with other hippos under similar stress and strain. This continued all the way until late January/early February when at long last some good rains brought some fresh vegetation and much needed relief to the struggling herbivores of Selous.

 

During all of this a very important event occurred: the centenary of the death of Captain F.C Selous on the 4th January 1917. A great man to be remembered for his achievements and for his part of the history of Tanzania and the making of what it is today.

 

As we wrap up the season and prepare to go home, we should of course give an update on the friends of Beho Beho as most guests always wonder how they are:

Tina Turner – our funky-haired airstrip warthog – is doing fine after successfully avoiding attention from the wild dogs recently.

Fred – our bushbuck – is as always in and around camp, in good condition and drinking all the water from the bird baths as usual. Our two favourite bull elephants are still visiting regularly; Titan ruling the roost as usual and the Gardener living up to his name pruning camps’ trees and grasses.

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We would like to thank all of our guests this season for sharing in our experiences; we hope to see you again here in the wild heart of Africa.

 

All our best wishes and see you in the new season!

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Phil, Tricia, Roel, Nico, Godlisten, Saning’o, Idrissa and the whole Beho Beho family.

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