We have been kept very busy this month not only with camps full of fantastic visitors but some outstanding wildlife viewing too. The temperatures have started to climb as we head into the beginning of summer and the bush is starting to show signs that our winter season is coming to an end.
Blossoms and fresh green shoots on many of the trees are a welcome sign of the change of season. The bright red flowers of the Flame Creeper are visible all over the park and add a dramatic hint of colour to the landscape. The sweet scent of Jasmine and Woolly Caper flowers permeate the air and blushing pink pods of the Shaving Brush tree are a joy to see.
We are seeing vast numbers of elephant feeding on the ripe Albida pods and we were entertained by some of the bigger elephant bulls of the area as they moved from tree to tree and shook them so that a rain of pods fell all around them luring in any other elephants in the area to the free bounty of food.
The river has become a huge focal point for wildlife and we are seeing more and more animals utilising the river as the temperatures start to climb, elephant, buffalo, hippopotamus and large numbers of crocodile have been seen on our many boat trips on the Zambezi. We are moving into nesting period for crocodiles and it should not be long until we see many of these large reptiles actively defending their nesting sites.
Birdlife is unbelievable at the moment and there have even been some early migratory arrivals with Carmine Bee-eaters and Yellow-billed Kites both being seen this month. The White Fronted Bee-eater colony along the Chongwe is once again a huge drawcard with the brightly coloured birds providing endless photographic opportunities. It still amazes us the spped at which these birds can enter their nests at.
The wading birds have made their way into the valley and are utilising their fishing skills as they wade the ever drying pools and shallow bank o9f the river in search of a meal.
Predator viewing has been phenomenal with lion sightings being very good, leopard sightings have been fairly regular and we have even managed to locate some of the spotted hyenas that we hear more often than see.
The elephant carcass that we spoke about last month, took the pride a further few days to finish and we were fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time with this fantastic pride of lions. The six new cubs were all in good health and the lionesses are providing nicely for these growing cats.
The split in the main pride has also become more noticeable with the splinter group of 4 sub-adult males and a sub-adult lioness spending alot of time away from the rest of the pride. These sub-adults are approximately 18 months old and are seen in the company of an adult lioness. This split would seem to be caused by the presence of the new cubs in the pride.
The highlight of the month however was a sighting that occurred not too far from Chongwe House, the two GMA Male lions brought down an adult bull buffalo early one morning, proving that these two ageing lions are still a force to be reckoned with. The pair spent the following five days feeding on the carcass and providing us with some great sightings. The carcass also attracted the attention of other predators and we were lucky enough to find a leopard, which had to spend an uncomfortable hour or so high in the branches of a thorn tree after he was chased by the two lions. The carcass was eventually finished off by hyena and the ever present vultures.
Matt and the Chongwe Guiding Team.