April Guiding Newsletter

Well here we are moving through the year at a rapid rate, we cannot believe that we are already nearing our winter. Autumn is definitely upon us and the change in the bush is becoming more and more noticeable. The leaves are slowing changing colour and the beautiful hues of yellow and red are starting to appear.

This month we have had a very interesting development in the lion dynamics of our area, elephant numbers are on the increase and we have been lucky enough to have a number of leopard sightings. Unfortunately with the changing of the seasons many of our migrant birds have started the move to warmer climes.

The guides have been busy in the bush with repairs to many of our game drive roads and we have managed to open up a number of new loop roads and we have already seen the benefit of these.

This month started off with a territorial dispute between our two dominant male lions and an interloper that they caught on their patch.  We had been seeing a mating pair of lion in and around the area between house and camp. These two amorous cats had kept their affair private and kept well hidden in the thickets, which made identifying them quite difficult.

It did not take us long to figure out that the male was not one of our territorial males, early one evening we were sitting enjoying a quiet dinner when the evening was interrupted by the roaring of a male lion. We quickly went out to investigate and found our territorial males moving down towards the river. They appeared agitated and we followed to find out more, quickly the reason for their concern became apparent when another male lion was seen running from the area and quickly crossing the river before he was caught in a compromising position with a lioness.

Over the next few days the roaring match continued with gusto, these two battle scarred males were reinforcing their ownership of the area and making it clear that no intruders would be welcome. The pair of young males that attempted to move into their area are still moving considerable distances every evening and we see their tracks almost daily.

This behaviour is typical of young male lions that are coming of age; they are making forays into territories that are suitable and checking if the resident males are able to defend that territory. If they feel that they may have a chance to overpower the resident males then a fight will often result with the victor controlling the territory.

Elephant numbers are slowly increasing on the valley floor as the water sources in the bush all slowly start to dry up. We will also start to see more and more elephant moving down from the hills to take advantage of the pods that are growing in abundance on the Albida trees.

The larger dambo areas are all still relatively full and it is a joy to be able to watch as the elephant herds move in and quench their thirsts in and amongst the carpet of Hyacinth and Nile Cabbage.

The water is always an attractant to many life forms and we are blessed to be able to view these from the quiet and low level of a canoe and if we take time these smaller birds and animals are as beautiful and photogenic as the larger mammals.

 

The birdlife is still fantastic and we have been treated to two different sightings of the rare and enigmatic Pel’s Fishing Owl. This large owl has been seen fishing off of a large Albida tree at one of our crossings.

There has been a lot of activity at the White-fronted Bee-eater colony on the Chongwe and we look forward to many hours watching these flying jewels as their breeding season commences.

Good general game viewing has been had all month with large numbers of waterbuck and impala utilising the areas directly behind camp. The kudu bulls that were seen last season have remained in the area. The new road that we have opened along the edge of the escarpment is providing us with regular sightings of a buffalo herd of approximately 150 animals.

Well that is the news for this month; we will chat again next month with more happenings from our outings into the wildlife paradise that is the Lower Zambezi Valley.

Matt and all the Chongwe Guiding Team.

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Chongwe Safaris – Guiding Newsletter March 2013

This year we arrived back in the valley on the 1st March to start preparations for the upcoming season. Camps all needed to be unpacked and made ready, guiding examinations needed to be completed and vehicles and boats readied for activities.
The high rainfall experienced in the Zambezi catchment area this year has led to record river levels at points higher up the Zambezi. It was decided by the water authority to open 2 half gates at the dam wall. The water levels rose considerably over the next two days and the Chongwe River overflowed its banks. This made for some remarkable boating opportunities up stream into areas that we are usually only able to access by road.
The wildlife has also not disappointed and we have had a number of wonderful sightings already and this can only bode well for the rest of the season.
The guiding examinations were also conducted this month and this process is integral to the development of skills and the progressions of guides in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The examinations take place over a two period and consist of a theoretical examination and a practical assessment. When writing the theoretical examinations a guide is required to achieve a minimum of a 60% pass for game drive and boating and a minimum of 70% for the canoeing and walking papers before they are able to attempt the practical assessment. They are also required to have logged a minimum of 150hrs of practical experience in the field to qualify for any of the practicals.
This year we had a number of guides writing various examinations and are very pleased with the results obtained by our guides. The following guides achieved passes on this year’s examination, well done to everyone!
General Paper (Game Drive):
Nassilele Simasiku – Passed theoretical exam
Mwaka Mwitangeti – Passed theoretical exam
Joseph Simbeye – Passed practical exam and is now qualified to do game drives
Walking Paper
Nobby Chalimba – Passed theoretical and practical examination, qualified as a walking guide
Joseph Mfune – Passed practical exam, qualified as a walking guide
Daniel Nel – Passed theoretical exam
Canoeing Paper
Daniel Nel – Passed theoretical exam
Matt Porter – Passed theoretical exam

Boating & Fishing
Nassilele Simasiku – Passed theoretical and practical exam
Kafusha Mambo – Passed theoretical and practical exam
Morgan Phiri – Passed theoretical and practical exam

The wildlife has provided some great breaks from the hustle and bustle of opening month and we have been lucky enough to have been visited by a number of elephant bulls and the occasional herd as they fed through the lush greenery around the camps. The heat of the afternoon would also attract them to quench their thirst on the banks of the river and some even took the opportunity to have a refreshing swim.
The large White-fronted Bee-eater colony has once again started to nest in the large earth banks of the Chongwe River. The colourful birds are delightful to watch as they are busy excavating their nests and getting ready for the breeding season.