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I have a newsletter ready for you with lots of good stuff, as the game viewing has been quite spectacular. As the bush dries out, the action starts along the Luangwa river!
Anke & Ron were down at the bush camps (Three Rivers and Island) and brought back the report of inreasing game at the waterholes. So without further ado, let’s get the images rolling!
Check out the unique Cookson’s Wildebeest behind Anke & Ron
Three Rivers Camp – it’s Wild!
Three Rivers has been very busy in September with the number of guests at its highest so far.
And that’s not counting the number of elephants who visit on a daily basis. The pond within camp, and the winterthorn trees are exactly what they are looking for at this time of year, when the bush is so dry.
More often then not, managers Anna & Sverre and the guides are driving guests back to their tent, bypassing the elephants!
How about that for a welcome!
Ellies on their way to the pond
And why not a piece of afternoon cake?
So the game viewing from camp has been incredible. Come the afternoon, the lagoon is crowded with all sorts of antelopes as well as zebras and giraffes, and we even saw one Cookson’s wildebeest (unseen so far in the area) and 6 bush pigs in the day time!
Lions are heard calling most nights, competing for audience with the hyenas and the hippos.
If animals are a bit skittish once our guests are on board safari vehicles, there is no shortage of sightings at the camp itself.
These pictures of a lonesome male lion were taken earlier in the season by Sverre. The lion was just opposite camp.
It’s really pure wilderness down there, lions are fighting for territories as you can see this one has a wound on his foreleg.
But more action was to come.
One night, a fight unmistakably took place between 2 males, as all the staff reported hearing the angry roars.
The next morning this beaten male took refuge right in camp to mend his wounds and recover his energy, before crossing the river again.
Lions are only kings once they’ve won the battle!
Not an everyday sighting… Even the pukus are curious!
But best not to linger too long!
Even when Ron & Anke were there last they had to wait for a lion to move further away before they could return to their tent, .
You just never know what the next day will bring, isn’t it? That is the essence of a real safari.
Another example of exceptional sightings are these giraffes crossing the Luangwa River. They were seen on several occasions, right from camp!
And unexpected visitors too!
This beautiful civet (Civettictis civetta) made for another surprising morning, when it was found in this soakaway under construction.
It was carefully removed of course, and let free – and the maintenance staff quickly completed the work to avoid finding any distracted wanderers the next day.
Kudos to CSL & ZCP!
Unfortunately, remote areas across the national park are also an opportunity for malevolent people to try their luck at poaching. Snaring is the most common and most appalling poaching method used in South Luangwa. Anything can get caught in these strangling wires, and in this particular case the victim was a young lion.
When it was spotted not far from Three Rivers Camp, the team immediately called Conservation South Luangwa and the Zambian Carnivore Program who dispatched their rescue unit as soon as they could. For Sverre it was a unique opportunity to get close to a lion, and witness first hand the incredible work done by the men and women of these crucial organizations.
CSL’s vet, Mwamba Sichande in action
When darting an animal, the vet uses this opportunity to take blood samples and collect other information that will be useful for conservation in South Luangwa.
Three Rivers Camp Manager Sverre, with Kafunta guide William and Conservation South Luangwa driver Alick Banda.
Snared animals can only be saved if found in time by the various safari guides and Zambian Wildlife scouts while on activities, throughout the park. It is one of the reasons why operating new safari camps in more remote areas is as important now as ever. And leading anti-poaching patrols in areas where no one goes is one of the main objectives of Conservation South Luangwa.
Although this event makes for good content on a newsletter, I so wished that they were not happening in the first place. So here’s a call for help… These organisations can only operate with the support of donators. The cost of immobilising a carnivore like this lion is $250 (this includes drugs, equipment, man power and transport – it would be $500 for an elephant!). A 6-men anti-snaring patrol costs $60 for a day patrol and up to $250 for a 10-day patrol. CSL and ZCP, like many other conservation organisations, are in constant need of funding and support.
Here is the link to CSL’s donation page if you want to help conserve our Luangwa wildlife. Believe me, it’s a good cause!
All right, let’s move on to a more optimistic subject! Little furry lions!
You may remember the awesome pictures of Leslie Polizoti featured in our last newsletter, of this tiny lion cub. Turns out there are several cubs now to be seen in the general Mfuwe area. The cubs are Ginger & Garlic’s little ones, and more are on the way as several lionesses seem pregnant still.
These photos are incredibly cute!
Mothers, and one of the fathers – Garlic
While the cat’s away the… other cat plays!
On the above photos, the lion pride is full and sleepy. They had a large buffalo feast overnight and every member of the pride was close to what we tend to call a food coma!
So driving away from the above scene, we passed the carcass of the buffalo, expecting vultures or hyenas – your typical scavengers. But instead, we found this female leopard, nervously taking a chance at the free meal!
Leopards are opportunists and will scavenge when given the chance. But it is quite rare to see one on a buffalo, our guide actually said it was his first sighting of such occurence.
More good stuff!
Amongst the other many sightings we’ve had recently, I’ll point out large herds of buffalos, lions killing a hippo right near the pontoon crossing, and several leopards on kill sightings. And of course the beautiful Carmine bee-eaters.
And dogs are back!
Just recently we’ve had the chance to see the very small pack (down to 3, but maybe with pups) of wild dogs hunt in front of Kafunta River Lodge.
It’s great to see the dogs again, and we hope to see young ones in the weeks to come too.
Lisa hadn’t even left her house yet, when she took these pictures early on Sunday. I particularly like the ones with the jumping dogs chasing away vultures, even if the distance made it difficult to obtain sharp images.
Be our guest! Save African Rhino Foundation
At the end of last month we had the pleasure of hosting Ian Fairnie, veterinarian extraodinaire, avid supporter of the Save African Rhino Foundation, and tour leader of "vet safaris" for SARF.
Here’s what Ian had to say about his organisation, and his recent visit in South Luangwa.
Save African Rhino Foundation was founded 30 years ago by Nicholas Duncan after he became aware that poaching of black rhinos would lead them in extinction in his lifetime if he didn’t do something about it. So he did! SARF is one of the oldest and most productive donors to rhino conservation anywhere in the world. Its main focus has always been Zimbabwe plus a neighbouring country. This year I chose to go to Zambia. As a bonus we got to visit the veterinary school at the University of Zambia after we flew back from Mfuwe.
Our Vet Safari has run every year since 2010, and is one of a number of safaris auspiced by SARF every year. Most of the participants on my trips are veterinarians. The focus is wildlife conservation and we are always keen to look at any local research efforts which is why we went to the carnivore research centre (Conservation South Luangwa – CSL) near Kafunta.
CSL was very impressive and we had a good chat to the vet there, Dr Mwamba Sichande.
We saw so many animals including a pride of lions and several leopards, and as usual it was the birds that were the bonus. However meeting a pod of hippos every time we crossed raw river was a wonderful start and finish to every day. Lameck was an excellent guide.
Thanks to all of you at Kafunta River Lodge for a great start to Vet Safari 2017.
Cheers — Ian
Photo: Lameck and his spotter Peter, Ian (behind Peter) and his Vet Safari 2017 group: Pete, Keith, Michelle, Michele and Peter.
In the Spotlight… Edward Selfe
At the same time as we had Ian and his group of vets, we also had the chance to host Luangwa-based wildlife photographer, Edward Selfe.
Edward is a professional safari guide and photographer who has been living and working in South Luangwa for nearly 10 years. He leads safaris combining authentic wildlife experience with excellent photographic guidance, tuition and opportunities. Edward holds both of South Luangwa’s coveted guiding qualifications and enjoys discovering the unusual and taking time to allow behavioural situations to unfold. His safaris are ideal for true safari-lovers who seek a personal experience with Nature.
Edward will return to Kafunta River Lodge next year. Here are the dates of his 2018 "Prime Luangwa" safari. In the meantime we can have a look at some of the photos Ed took during his time with us, and in recent months in Luangwa.
I realize I talked a lot about Three Rivers today, but I wasn’t going to end this newsletter without a word about Island Bush Camp of course!
The camp is doing very well, under the supervision of Eugene (and Mr. Zambezi) and continues to delight our guests in search of rawness and authenticity.
There is something about the simplicity of Island Bush Camp that always captures the senses, a bit like an "escape from it all" and a resourcing of the soul (well, let’s not get too overly deep).
I think that’s one of the reasons Ron & Anke never miss a visit to the camp when they’re "in town".
The apex this month was the visit of Klaus Fenger, who was our camp manager for a couple of years. All the staff enjoyed Klaus’ visit, and not only at Island! It was great to see Klaus in good form, leading his German group as enthusiastically as ever! I know a lot of our readers will be happy to see him well.
Klaus and Eugene, his successor as Island Bush Camp Manager
Klaus surrounded by his guests
Last month we sadly had to wave farewell to our long-term volunteer Jessica, who went back to college in Chicago, USA. Only a few days later, we were welcoming Madita Rapp, freshly out of school in Germany, who will be with us until December.
We also welcomed Andrew Fullerton from South Africa who came as reinforcement of our Front of House team. Andrew left behind the bushveld of Greater Kruger for a few months, to get a taste of what South Luangwa is all about! I trust he likes it at Kafunta so far, as he’s already walked into a lioness and a leopard (on 2 separate occasions of course) meters from his room!
Welcome to both, and happy times in South Luangwa!
Last but not least… The 2018 Safari Awards!
Yep, it is that time of year again, where we sollicit a bit of extra work from you! The 2018 Safari Awards are open for votes, and we would LOVE for you to cast your votes on one (or several) of the many nominations we have lined up this year.
Click on any of the logos below to connect to the Safari Awards website and cast your vote again! Thank you very much!
PS: the link takes you to Kafunta River Lodge, but of course you can also choose to add votes for Island Bush Camp and Three Rivers Camp, as all our 3 properties have nominations.
And now comes October
The heat is full on, the ellies are seeking shade (and sweets) under the Fig Tree, the impala ladies are getting rounder and the warthog piglets will soon come out of their burrow.
This is October coming!
I’ll most likely be in the same state as that lioness below (heat exhaustion) but I promise I’ll be back in a month’s time, with more news, and more exciting images of life in South Luangwa.