Southern Africa Bush Tails

Namibia News – January 2014

News from our Camps: Weather and Sightings
Damaraland Camp had a very hot and humid month with a tiny bit of rain that fell over a few days with spectacular lightning storms. The elephants are in the vicinity of the camp and delighted guests with their antics. One group in particular stayed close to De Riet and showed off the new baby in the family. The area is still very dry and most of the game has moved away towards an area that is a bit of a drive from camp, but here guides and guests enjoyed wonderful sightings of elephant, giraffe, brown hyena, mountain zebras and even black rhino and lion. Some un-collared lions have moved into the river bed close to camp and the guides had amazing sightings of these three females. All photos below were taken by Willem Retief.

– A stunning sunset at Damaraland Camp
– Two of the female lions that moved into this arid area
– Cool down time in the shade

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The Doro Nawas Team reported a total of around 30mm of rain in the area which were very welcome in this area. The local community are happy with this amount and said they can already see an improvement in their goats and sheep, though the cattle are still struggling since they prefer a longer type of grass. The highest temperature during January was around 42 degrees Celsius but the evenings cool down to between 12 – 15 degrees. The guides recorded a 100% success rate when looking for the elephant groups. Rosie’s group were the favourite since there is a tiny baby of around 6 – 7 months and a larger calf of just over a year old. The young calf is still struggling to come to terms with its trunk and large ears, delighting all the guests with his antics and typical of a younger sibling; he is very playful with his bigger sister. Other sightings included Oryx, springbok and steenbok as well as some incredible birding during the month including African Bul Bul, Olive Bee-eater and Lappet Faced Vultures. Johan, one of the managers found a Parabuthus Transvaalicus and promptly caught it and showed it to the guests having a pre-dinner drink under Black Light/UV light.  The scorpion performed well by scraping its stinger over its back making the rattling sound it is so well known for. It was later safely released.

– The Parabuthus Transvaalicus caught and later released by Johan

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It was an exciting month for our team on the ground at Hoanib, when the river came down! Flip Stander, the Desert Lion researcher, had to struggle through raging rivers to get to some of his camera traps on the flood plains. All of the photos below were taken from Dr Flip Standers website, www.desertlion.info

– The Hoanib river Flip had to navigate through to get to some of the camera traps

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These efforts to retrieve the camera trap data was definitely worth it. It showed records of brown hyena, a total of 214 photos of were taken between 1 November 2013 and 20 January 2014 of brown hyena moving west to east. The camera trap is situated 23.9km (in a direct line) east of the seal colony at Mowe Bay. There were 38 photos taken of individual brown hyena carrying Cape fur seal pups toward their den. Another camera trip is located on the western edge of the Hoanib Floodplain (close to the dunes and the coast) and this has captured photos of an adult male leopard. According to Dr Stander, this is the first record of a leopard this far west along the Hoanib River in the Skeleton Coast Park. Our roving Terrace male XPL68 was spotted at the Sarusas spring. Towards the end of the month, they had a very exciting giraffe hunt, unsuccessful, but exciting nonetheless. Flip also took some incredible photos of Bat eared foxes with two pups in the dune belt close to the Hunkap river.

– A Brown hyena carrying a seal cub
– More photos of this elusive predator
– An exciting photo of a male leopard, the first record of any leopard this far west

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– The Terrace male resting close to the Sarusas spring
– XPL 10 and two of the musketeers
– Bat eared foxes photographed in the dune belt close to the Sarusas spring

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During the last few days of January, Desert Rhino Camp recorded about 15mm of rain during a two day period. Green seems to be the dominating colour at the moment and the animals from all over the concession concentrate in these green areas. On some days the guides saw up to five hundred plus springbok and hundreds of mountain zebra. January was also a good month to see elephant, lion as well as brief sightings of cheetah and leopard. Summer flowers are coming out giving the guides something new to identify other than the red rocks that they are so used to. Some of the flowers seen include the beautiful Hirpicium gazanioides from the Daisy family (Asteraceae). Even shy steenbok are seen browsing on the fresh vegetation. After the first rains of the year, sightings of the black rhino have been up the steepest hills as they find new and fresh browsing against and on the top of the mountains. Our favourite black rhino is called “Don’t Worry”, who is a bull that roams south of the camp and is the most relaxed of all black rhino around. We also saw dominant bulls starting to court the receptive females within their territories.

– Great sightings of mountain zebra recorded during January
– Summer flowers blooming between the rocks
– Don’t Worry – everyone’s favourite Black Rhino

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The Ongava Reserve has transformed in a green oasis thanks to some rain that fell during the last part of 2013 and in January. Even though the waterholes on the reserve are quiet now that there is so much water around the sightings on the reserve are still really good.

– Some of the older cubs relaxing and just waiting to cause some havoc
– A baby warthog was caught by one of the lionesses

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Conservation
The Serra Cafema team is continuing to monitor the smaller crocodiles in the Kunene River. They usually go out on a quick boat cruise after dinner with interesting guests and catch, measure and release these young crocodiles. The guests love this addition to the Cafema activities and love taking part in this small conservation project the camp has started.

– Young crocodiles caught to be measured and weighed
– One of the young ones back safely in the water
– Guests gets a chance to get up close and personal to the young ones

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– Serra Cafema organised a whiskey themed dinner for their guests as well as pool dinners, deck dinners and dinners in Serra Cafema’s wine cellar

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Revamps and Rebuilds
– The Andersons Camp sunken hide is completed and guests are getting fantastic sightings of Black Rhino etc. up close and personal
– This kudu obviously heard a sound coming from the hide but he had no idea where the guilty party was
– The new swimming pool at Andersons is also in progress and the hole was dug to start the construction

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The long awaited upgrade of the main area of Ongava Lodge is complete. The change is truly spectacular and plenty of cozy seating areas has been created to make guests more comfortable and at home.

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