This month has seen a slow drop in temperature, with winter slowly but surely creeping in, blankets and warm clothing on game drives are now standard. The cooler weather has not changed the game viewing and we are still enjoying some very rewarding safari outings.
The bush is definitely drying out and we are seeing more wildlife activity starting to concentrate around the rivers and there has also been a marked increase in elephant numbers as the Albida trees start to drop their nutritious pods. Many of the trees are losing their green summer coats and this has improved the visibility in the bush as the thicket areas that are prevalent in the Lower Zambezi valley start to thin out.
Lion sightings have been good this month with the continued presence of the two new male lions in the areas around Nkalange Plain. These two mature males were seen mating with a lioness from the GMA Pride and we are hoping that we are going to be seeing cubs in the not too distant future. The gestation period for lion, averages on about 110 days, so hopefully by mid August we will be on the lookout for new additions to the valley lion population.
The battle over the territory along the Chongwe River, has raged on again this month and the two older GMA males have been patrolling and we have heard them roaring as they stake their claim to this piece of Africa. We are expecting a territorial fight soon as these two males are starting to look a little weathered and it will be interesting to see who will prevail will it be the youthful two new males or will it be the experience of the two older males? Time will tell.
As previously mentioned the elephant herds are slowly returning to the valley floor as the water resource slowly dwindles in the escarpment hills to the north. The river is the focus of their attention as they move towards it to quench their thirst and then to feed on the lush vegetation along the rivers edge. The Albida trees are also starting to drop pods and this at this time of year as the food resource becomes less abundant these prized morsels are quickly eaten by any passing herbivore.
Afternoon canoe trips down one of the nearby channels have proved to be highlight where one can view these large grey pachyderms from the water as they drink and bathe in the cooling waters.
There has also been an increase in the buffalo activity along the Chongwe River with a herd of approximately 150 moving along the banks. General game viewing has been good with kudu, waterbuck and impala in abundance. The impala rams are in the middle of their annual rut and the loud grunts and barks can be heard throughout the day as they lay claim to their small territorial areas, chasing away any intruding males with their white tails raised and their backs arched . The amount of energy these males expend daily is astonishing and all in the attempt to woo some very attractive ladies!!!
Leopard sightings have been good this month and it is always a treat to see these shy and reclusive cats in their natural habitat. They are mainly found on our night drives when the cover of darkness allows them to venture out into open.
The Chongwe House managers (Matt and Anet) were however lucky enough to witness a wonderful sighting from the comfort of their home early one morning. They were woken by the alarm calls of vervet monkeys, baboons and guinea fowl, after a short but patient wait as they scanned the far river bank they were rewarded when out of the bush came not one but two leopards. The two beautiful cats were trying to scare off a crocodile that had taken up position on the river bank and continued to stay in the area for an hour or two.
On that note we bid you farewell for this month and are looking forward to the clear winter days of June. Blankets and hot water bottles at the ready.
Matt and the Chongwe Safaris Guiding Team