Beho Beho Bushblog – Roel – 14th August

roelblogPhil and Saning’o went out on drive the other morning, taking the guests to a boating trip on Lake Tagalala. As Phil got to our airstrip he noticed a clan of Spotted Hyena harassing an injured looking Cape Buffalo bull. To add to the excitement the neighbouring clan was also in the area in numbers, seemingly also trying to get to the injured Buffalo. Both vehicles enjoyed the sighting for a while, where the Hyenas would alternate between harassing the Buffalo and challenging the other clan. Unfortunately for our guests the action then moved further into the bush and everybody moved off towards the lake.

A little while later I went down towards the airstrip to see about this Buffalo bull, having an injured bull in and around camp could present us with a possible dangerous situation for both our guests and staff. When I got down to the access road to the staff village, I discovered the Hyena had actually managed to take down the bull and were feeding ravenously on it. It soon became clear that the other clan had not given up its claim to the meal and was still around on the side of the terminal building. They were voicing their claims loudly and were hoping more members of their clan would join them.

Eventually the numbers of Hyena on the actual kill were going down as with their bellies filled individual members would move away from the kill to rest. This did not go unnoticed by the rival clan and soon they surged forward, chasing off the remaining Hyena and claiming the kill for themselves. They wasted no time getting stuck into the remains, but always keeping an eye out. Soon the first clan re-grouped and moved back towards the kill-site, regaining the kill they would have worked hard for.

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But unfortunately their victory did not last long as the three dominant male Lions showed up and chased all the Spotted Hyena away. We even discovered the carcass of a Hyena near our staff village the next day, likely it was mauled by the Lions and died of its injuries.

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Saningo – 10th August

The new lion pride that has settled in our area are proving to be a very successful pride especially in terms of hunting and defending their territory from other competitors like hyena, whom are very active in our area. Since the pride we called Bibi’s pride disappeared from our area, at the beginning of the last season, Hyena’s have ruled over the Beho Beho area. Some lion prides tried to make the area their own, but were not strong enough to compete against the strong hyena clans.

These lions are different because they are strong in number and experience being 4 adult females and 3 strong males with only one cub to feed. I have been finding them frequently recently with my guests and we have had some fantastic sightings. On one occasion we found them with a fresh wildebeest kill. On another occasion we found them on Tamlyn plains with a zebra meal and they are often seen with very full bellies. I am really pleased that they have been roaming around our area so much and really hope that as the land dries out and the game moves towards the lake that this pride still sticks around and becomes the Beho Beho pride.

 

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Beho Beho Bushblog – Phil – 18th July

philblogThe last few weeks have produced quite a few sightings of African wild dogs and there is nothing to get the adrenaline going like trying to keep up with a hunting pack. It’s a ‘hold on tight’ warning before pulling off the two-track and trying to avoid dips and bumps as we try to keep up with the relentless pace set by the pack. In fact if they are really chasing potential prey in earnest it’s near impossible to keep up.

 

However we have managed to stay with the pack and watch them try to disrupt a troop of baboons, which is ambitious even for wild dogs as big male baboons are immensely strong and have a set of canine teeth that you definitely want to keep away from! This resulted in a back and forth chase and a stalemate broken when 3 big male baboons asserted their authority and chased the offending dogs away.

 

Next target – Wildebeest and a prolonged effort to force one away from the herd and isolate it for the kill, again though their efforts are thwarted as they are presented with swishing horns from the defensively formed herd at every rush.

 

Abandoning that, almost immediately impala are spotted. Too small to stand their ground like the wildebeest, it’s a straight chase with us bouncing away behind quickly losing ground on the action. After about a kilometer of chase the impala runs into riverine forest with the dogs in hot pursuit. It’s the end of the road for us though, so we take a deep breath and collect ourselves after the action and head onwards.

 

On another occasion, we bump into the dogs and they are already in the easy loping run that covers ground well and can quickly turn into a chase as soon as a target is spotted. We swing the vehicle around and follow. Into the river they go and into a thicket on the other side, immediately we realize something is not right – a chilling braying and growling emits from the bushes. The dogs have encountered a leopard! A few moments after the growls subside out trots a dog with an impala leg. We hope the leopard had eaten its fill before it was chased off of its hard earned meal.

 

Towards the end of one afternoon, we bump into some lions and are busy watching the pride as they start to stir after a long, hot day of rest, when an impala male is suddenly spotted running at full pace right towards the lion. What is it doing? Running away from wild dogs of course! One lioness takes advantage of this and takes up the chase of the impala, she times her burst a little early though and the impala veers and bounds ahead of her.

The dogs pull up faced with the pride of lions and the following interaction between two predators is a fascinating stand off to watch. One lioness does try to chase two dogs. But the dogs have got the lions number and seem to know the safe distance from which to harry the pride without repercussion.

 

What amazes me is that these are just glimpses into the lifestyle of a pack of wild dogs! In one hour on one of these drives they affected the lives of 6 different species of animals – baboons, wildebeest, impala, warthog, giraffe and lions. If we then include the hyena and vulture that often follow the pack – wild dogs just send everyone into hysterics, including us!

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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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