Southern Africa Bush Tails

Namibia News – April 2014

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News from our Camps: Weather and Sightings
Little Kulala had rain! After a few months of watching the clouds build up and rain in the surrounding areas, it finally pushed through to the Kulala’s. The days following the small rainstorm were still very hot and humid and the camp is still hoping for more rain. One can always see a difference in the wildlife in thismarginal area after the rains, young springbok lambs were prancing around and the small Namaqua sand grouse chicks were seen following their mother around where previously they didn’t venture outside. Some guests were also incredibly lucky and had a sighting of two brown hyenas on one night drive.

Kulala Desert Lodge is still reporting some very hot days but a few interesting animals were seen around the lodge; Elwert noticed some movement down in the riverbed and upon closer inspection, saw a warthog with a young one in the shade. This is possibly the first recorded sighting of a warthog this far south. Due to the drought at the moment, kudu came down from the mountains as far south as Kulala Desert Lodge’s waterhole; this is also an incredibly rare sighting on the reserve.

– The photo showed the clouds building up in the vicinity of Little Kulala but no rain. photos © Lodine Liebenberg
– Two kudus spotted at the waterhole at Kulala – photo © Bradwin Wilhelm
– An Oryx on the plains around Kulala Desert Lodge

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The Ongava Reserve reported hot and humid conditions with temperatures ranging between 16 and 38 degrees Celsius with humidity up to 60%. The reserve also had some rain during the month and recorded a total of 50mm. Ongava Tented Camp had an incredible cheetah sighting at their waterhole and Emsie saw a leopard in broad daylight, while driving on the reserve! We had good rains at the tented camp with a total of 50mm recorded. The rain tested the sense of humour of guests and managers alike at Andersons with a reported 28mm that fell in a few hours. The area is beautiful and green but the rain has affected the game viewing. The animals don’t have to come to a waterhole to drink as there are puddles all over the veld. Birding was incredible this month on the Ongava Reserve and Little Ongava reported great sightings of the Shaft-tailed whydah.

– A Cheetah at the Ongava Tented Camp waterhole
– Leopard as seen by Emsie in the middle of the day
– Dinner with lions at Ongava Tented Camp.

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As the month came to an end, Desert Rhino Camp was blessed with almost 39 mm rain which was recorded in two days. The temperature ranged from the minimum of +/- 18 degrees to the maximum of +/-35 degrees; most mornings were much cooler after the rain. There were some difficulties finding rhinos on the concession this month due to rains that has scattered the animals. The rhinos and most animals have moved to specific areas for better grazing and water respectively. Despite all of this, the guides reported quite a few elephant, rhino, and leopard and lion sightings in the area.

– The incredible rain that fell at Desert Rhino Camp
– A chameleon camouflaged against the rocks
– Big herd of elephants on the slopes looking for some greenery

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– The guides had to really work hard to find rhinos but, it was well worth it!

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The maximum temperatures at Damaraland rose to around 35C during the month but for one whole week the area was covered in fog and some scattered rain showers and thunderstorms occurred. The guides reported wonderful elephant sightings during the month including one where a mother was teaching her little calf to tear bark from a tree. Since the rain fell, the elephants have moved out of the riverbed and this means the guides are doing full day trips with their guests to go and find them in the mountainous areas. General game viewing included Oryx, Springbok, Kudu, Steenbok, Ostrich, Black Backed Jackal and Giraffes. Keen bird watchers were able to spot a rare colour form of the Mountain Chat, Sabota Lark, Black Chested Snake Eagle and the Benguella Long Billed Lark. The highlights this month though was a sighting of two healthy looking Cheetahs in the riverbed and a pair of Brown Hyenas in the middle of the day. Both the Cheetahs and the Brown Hyenas were very relaxed and guests took some incredible photos. Guests spotted two young bull Black Rhinos, who first ran off but, the guide managed to sneak up on the one youngster to enable the guests to take some lovely photos.

– The elephants have moved away from the riverbeds and the guides had to work hard for their sightings
– Very relaxed Brown Hyenas in the middle of the day – a very rare sighting

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– A rare sighting of two relaxed cheetahs in the riverbed at D.Camp
– A young male Black Rhino found quite unexpectedly by D.Camp guides

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February was hot and dry for the most part at Serra Cafema with temperatures reaching 39 degrees in the shade. No one expected a last minute reprieve which started on the 21st of February with strong winds that brought massive clouds over the area but no rain, until a few days later. The rain started falling on the 25th of February and everyone breathed a big sigh of relief. The rain continued for the remainder of the day and into the night. The water level of the Kunene had risen quite significantly, submerging most of the boat landing and the water pushed through under the bridge. The crocodile research is continuing with guests getting more involved and guides becoming more adept at finding the young crocodiles at night.

– The boat landing at Cafema
– The Kunene pushed through under the bridge between the main area and room 6, 7 and 8
– A young crocodile caught as part of the crocodile research project started by the Cafema guides

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It was an exciting month at Hoanib and Emsie, based at the camp has sent through some incredible photos. The rivers came down again due to rain in the area and the elephants have found a new gathering place, the management units and the camp’s waterhole. Dr Flip Stander has also been really busy in the area and there have been some interesting developments. “Charlotte” of the Hunkap pride was located in one of the upper Mudorib tributaries where she was with an unknown male. He was darted and fitted with a VHF radio collar so his movements could also be monitored. Everyone’s favourite lion, the Terrace male, had quite a month. Firstly he moved into a conflict situation north of Purros where he killed several donkeys, making him unpopular with the local community. Luckily he moved away from the one conflict situation but straight into another when he moved into the Hoanib River, right into the territory of two Hunkap males. There was some fighting and the Hunkap males displaced the Terrace male to the south. He was later seen with some injuries to his hind legs and the tuft of his tail missing. Flip monitored him closely but it seems like his injuries didn’t bother him much because he was photographed catching a grown Oryx male.

– Flowing rivers – all photos © Emsie Verwey
– Elephant in the valley right where the camp is being built
– Dust bath at Hoanib Camps waterhole

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The Elephants are already incredibly comfortable at the management units as well as in the staff village – photos © Emsie Verwey

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– The darted unknown male, now XPL94 – all photos © www.desertlion.info
– The Terrace male without his tuft of tail
– The loss of some of his pride by the Hunkap males didn’t hamper him when he caught the oryx a few days later

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Gudi and some of the Consultants went on a site inspection to Hoanib:

“On Sunday 16 February, really, really early, Constance, Namasiku and I, Gerhard our ‘nou gaan ons braai’ guide from the Namibia Explorations department, Olwen Evans and her daughter Nicole, departed from Windhoek and drove via Henties Bay and the Skeleton Coast National Park to Moewe Bay, arriving late afternoon. Two Ministry of Environment and Tourism houses were allocated between everyone and dinner was started which basically entailed Gerhard braaing. The team set off North along the beach. A light mist had engulfed the coast with the sun catching the dunes in the distance. Some of the shipwrecks visited included the Suiderkus, Karimona and the Ventura Bomber which crashed along coast in 1942. We also visited the Moewe Bay museum, watched the seals playing in the surf and a short drive to Hoanib River Mount before driving inland to Klein Oase and slid down a steep roaring dune in the vehicle. The drive to Hoanib Camp took the rest of the day, we drove through dune fields, stopped at Auses spring and arrived at the camp with a bull elephant drinking at the waterhole. Chris and Tier welcomed us and soon Gerhard braaied again and everyone reminisced about the days adventures. The next morning we drove via the Hoanib, Mudorib and Hunkab Riverbeds to the Kharakauob Plain. The scenery was stunning and the sightings awesome, including mountain zebras, ostriches, jackals, oryx, giraffe and much more.


The trip was an experience of a lifetime, no words can express the beauty, serenity, sights and sounds, it was a privilege to have been part of this group.”

– Early morning sun catching the dunes – all photos below © Gudi MacRobert
– The Karimona wreck, what is left of it
– Auses spring

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Our Service Offering: It’s all about our Guests

Damaraland Camp outside breakfast
– Valentines dinner at Doro Nawas
– Sleeping on the roof at Little K is a highlight – photo © Dan Myburg

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The Little Kulala Pool is very popular with the guests, especially at night, for a drink or for dinner – the first two photos were taken by Me-Gusto Busch and the 3rd one by Dan Myburg

A Moroccan inspired dinner in the main restaurant – this ensured the win for the set up competition for February.

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Community
Something very special and rare happened this month at Serra Cafema. All the Himba from different villages in the area gathered together in camp on the 13th of February to register for the next political election of Namibia. The Electoral Commission Team reached the camp with a helicopter and they spent two days to make sure that each and every staff member as well as any of the Himba who want to vote was registered and given an electoral card. All the Himba had pictures taken and got their personal card to enable them to vote in the future. A few guests came along to spend some extra time with the local tribe and witness the proceedings.
– The Electoral Commission team setting up a temporary office back of house
– Long lines of the Himba patiently waiting for their turn in front of the camera
– The day was quite long but great excitement formed part of this historical day
– Everyone was very proud to show their voter registration cards

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Our People
Our very own Chris Bakkes was voted as one of the top 25 safari guides in Africa by Conde Naste Traveller. He is no. 7 on the list and this was the write up: “Bakkes is an author, novelist, and guide extraordinaire who, as a game ranger in Kruger National Park, lost his left arm when he was attacked by two crocodiles. He has a biologist’s knowledge of the flora and fauna, and a poet’s eye for the landscape (one of the highlights of a safari with him is his recitals of epic poems around the campfire). He is passionate about this remote desert wilderness, and although he’s now the warden of Palmwag conservancy and not a day-to-day guide, he’s always looking for excuses to take guests into the wilderness

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