It is December now, our season is slowing down with only a few weeks to go.
We’ve had sporadic rains, but nothing serious so far.
Anke & Ron are back at Kafunta, for their last visit of 2019. It is at this festive time that they thank all our staff for their hard work, but also sit down with our management team, reflect on the season and plan ahead whatever maintenance and upgrades need to be done at our properties.
November remained busy throughout, with the lodge being quite full with a great variety of guests from France, Great-Britain, USA and many from within Zambia too.
And you can see from the photo to the left that they’ve had quite some amazing sightings!
With the high temperatures, this leopard was looking for some good shade, and found it under our vehicle. Luckily another member of the NatureTrek group, Roger Weasley, was quick to capture this photo from the opposite vehicle! He sure did have a better view!
Another memorable sighting was the one captured here by Véronique Morel, with the Let’s Go Africa group led by French wildlife photographer Tony Crocetta.
The group of lionesses didn’t appreciate the agressive behaviour this male lion had towards their young ones.
The message is clear: keep away from our youngsters!
And although much more peaceful, this sighting was really amazing! Ann Walsh & Helen Huggett from Canada had the incredible chance of spotting an eland on their drive back from Three Rivers Camp to Kafunta River Lodge. A very rare sighting indeed, despite our guides driving that road multiple everyday!
Cruel Circle of Life
Savage. Ruthless. Cold-blooded.
Predators get a pretty bad rap when they prey on helpless animals that rarely stand a chance.
To quote one of my favorite furred heroes : "Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance"
An African safari is about being immersed in the wilderness, nothing is forced or artificial. We’re in the present and we don’t choose the channel (no remote control). Sometimes we come across sightings that will haunt us for a long time, in their fascinating way of showing us the intricate balance of things.
Here are two examples. This male lion has no pride or coalition, he needs to fend for himself. He’s an opportunist, and this newborn baby elephant was an easy target despite a protective mother, but she knew her offspring was not meant to survive, it was born with a disorder, our guide (who witnessed the previous scene) thought it was actually still born.
So yes it is sometimes hard to witness these events, but they are part of the bush. The predator has no foul intention or pleasure, it is what it needs to do to survive. It belongs there, in the wild.
In this second example, our Hospitality Manager Courtney Hoffman probably saw her ghastliest sighting so far in Luangwa. It started well, having hooked up early on with a pack of 11 wild dogs. It also quickly got exciting as the dogs were active and started hunting, a safari-goer’s dream.
Wild dogs are the most successful hunters in the African bush, and it didn’t take long for this pack to single out and take down a female impala, then a second one. It all happened so quickly.
But it was an upsetting moment for all present in the vehicle when suddenly one of the dogs hauled something out of the impala’s belly. It was an unborn calf.
The circle of life.
(PS: isn’t it thought-provoking that most official definitions of cruelty actually mention "inhuman treatment"? When in fact we, humans, seem to be much more intentionally cruel towards each others… )
All right, enough of the gory stuff, Halloween is far behind us!
A safari is an intimate insight into a wilderness that hasn’t been tamed, it brings you in the heart of it all and surrounds you with mesmerising perfection, astonishing beauty, with a riveting musical score in the background.
Once witnessed, the impact it has on you is lasting, for life. We call it the African bug.
Hush now… listen… imagine your’e in the Luangwa bush…
Let’s just enjoy a few of these magic moments.
Hope & Resilience
Now let’s end our African dream, with a tale (not tail) of survival and achievement! And it’s about Wild Dogs again but this time I will only show you uplifting photos. And great news!
I wanted to end the year with a large emphasis on the wild dogs because they have been one of our prevalent sightings this season.
And by coincidence I recently received an email from the Zambian Carnivore Program on that very subject.
You might remember this older infographic to the right.
It explains that Wild Dog 73 (the oldest recorded male in the Luangwa when it died in 2018) was rescued from a deadly snare injury in 2014 and his survival might very well have saved the species in the Luangwa, or certainly contributed to its revival we see today. It is now considered that over 160 pups are direct descendants from this one dog.
PS: the photos shown below are unrelated to the dogs in question, they were all taken by our guests this season.
In today’s email, ZCP’s CEO Dr. Matt Becker tells another story. This time of Wild Dog 635. That same year in 2014, ZCP found a young pup with a snare cutting deep through the back of his mouth that prohibited him from eating. Together with DNPW and Conservation South Luangwa, ZCP team darted the pup and treated his wounds. He made a full recovery. For years, Wild Dog 635 roamed the vast expanse of the Luangwa Valley to find his perfect female and form his own pack.
Matt Becker continues :
"This August we were treated to a great surprise when the rescued pup 635 reappeared as the alpha male of a 16-dog pack in South Luangwa National Park’s Baobab Forest! This new pack ranged widely before denning late and raising four new pups, becoming mobile with them just as the rains arrived.
Like many wild dogs in the Luangwa, the Baobab Pack would not have existed without over a decade of intensive anti-snaring work on wild dogs by ZCP, DNPW, and CSL. Today, the Luangwa holds the country’s largest dog population and is one of Africa’s premiere places to view this endangered species.
We hope Wild Dog 635 follows in the footsteps of his father*, an alpha male who lived to a record 12+ years and sired over a dozen packs and 160 pups, grandpups and great-grandpups"
(*Wild Dog 73 in the infographic!).
And we direct Matt’s final words to you all, our guests and partners:
"Work like this is made possible by your support. We thank each and every one of you for your generosity and commitment this year to conservation here in Zambia, and we look forward to a great year ahead."
And of course we thank ZCP, CSL, DNPW and all those who spend their days in the field looking after our wildlife!
Before ending the newsletter I wanted to briefly come back to what will probably remain one of the most memorable moments of 2019 for those very people dedicating their life to conservation in South Luangwa.
As mentioned in our last newsletter, the prestigious Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award was granted to CSL’s Benson Kanyembo who travelled to London end of November accompanied by CSL’s CEO Rachel McRobb, ZCP’s Matt Becker and several other patrons supporters of conservation in South Luangwa, and received the awards from the hands of His Royal Highness Prince William.
CONGRATULATIONS to Benson and to all the other 2019 award winners!
Please take a few minutes to watch these videos.
What an ending to another wonderful year! These will be my last words for 2019, as my next newsletter will most likely arrive early 2020.
Needless to say it’s been a pleasure to share all this content with you and I need to thank our amazing guests for sending us their photos! Please continue do do so!
All of us at Kafunta Safaris wish you a fantastic Festive Season and Happy Holidays!
Izzy, Kafunta Safaris
Mfuwe, South Luangwa, Zambia