Southern Africa Bush Tails

Namibia News – May 2013

ONGAVA TENTED CAMP

Weather and Landscape
This month all in Namibia were really lucky as we received some much -anticipated rain – most likely the last for the season. This month we received a total of 26 mm. We were all amazed at how quickly the environment responded to the rains as there has been an explosion of new shoots and flowers, flooding the landscape with colour. In terms of temperature, we have not experienced cold conditions as yet, with the average temperatures ranging in the low 30s (Celsius). The average low for the month was 18° C, which indicates that winter is slowly creeping in.
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Wildlife
Wildlife sightings have been pretty good this month but due to the rain, much of the wildlife has dispersed as there is more surface water available. The late flush of budding vegetation has also caused the herbivores to spread out. This in turn has resulted in the predators changing their hunting strategy and dispersing with the prey species. This meant that sightings at the camp waterhole declined a little, but out on game drive we had no problems finding wildlife.

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The mystery bat species which we mentioned in last month’s newsletter has finally been identified as a Commerson’s leaf -nosed bat. Bono managed to identify the bat after spending much time reading the field guides and researching the subject.

Another exciting natural occurrence which occurs annually has begun. The impala have started to rut and this is always quite a spectacle to witness a s the large males become extremely territorial and invest all of their time and effort into herding females and chasing off other males. The process can be very audible as the males fight with one another. Given the focus of the males on their territorial duties, they don’t pay much attention to predators and become easy prey.

Guest Comments
‘We would like to thank you sincerely for the kindness and attention you have shown to us during our stay -it was exceptional. The private dining when Stuart was ill, your thoughtfulness about everything you planned and did for us. All the outings with Bono were fantastic. Everything was a joy!’
‘The food was incredible and we loved it when camp chef Kauna joined us after dinner in her traditional Herero outfit. Keep up the great work!’
LITTLE KULALA
Weather and Landscape

At the beginning of the month we experienced some extreme conditions as almost every day the mercury would be pushed up to a toasty 42° C. Luckily the conditions cooled down during the second half of the month as we edge closer to winter. By the end of the month, we were experiencing cool mornings at an average temperature of 18° C. We also had one day of rain which was most welcome. The clouds have continued to build up, so hopefully we will receive one more burst of rain before winter.

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Wildlife
Sightings this month were incredible! An African wild cat was spotted in front of the guest rooms early one morning. It seems this feline has settled around the camp as it is seen regularly and is very relaxed in the presence of people. A Cape cobra was also seen in the camp parking lot. When one takes the time to view this snake, it is a very attractive snake, as far as serpents are concerned.
On the larger side of the predatory scale, we have enjoy ed some great sightings of cheetah and brown hyaena. On the 9th of March, six cheetah were seen not far from camp. There are currently lots of springbok in the area, no doubt the reason for attracting the cheetah to the area. A little later in the month, all in camp were elated when a brown hyaena came for a drink at the waterhole in front of camp – what an incredible sighting!
At the end of the month, some guests got the opportunity to witness a springbok giving birth – a truly amazing occurrence to witness.

Camp News
Camp staff have been very busy this month with training programmes. Two of our chefs have visited other Wilderness camps in Botswana. Back at camp, a number of staff renewed their First Aid qualifications, while some new staff received training for the first time.

DAMARALAND CAMP
Weather and Landscape

February left us with high expectations for rain in March, but unfortunately we only received a few smalln drizzles and cloudy days, but no serious rain. Generally speaking, the temperatures w ere quite high, but things would cool down a bit in the afternoon as the cool breeze rolled in from the Atlantic Ocean. The mornings have been a little chilly, a reminder that winter is knocking on the door. The landscape was cloaked in mist on a few mornings, which was burnt off as the sun heated the landscape. The afternoon winds coupled with the dry conditions did create some dusty situations here and there.

Wildlife
As the landscape becomes drier and drier, the herds and congregations of wildlife have split up and spread out in a quest to search for moisture and palatable food. Game sightings along the Huab River have been rather good, as we often encountered kudu, oryx, steenbok, baboon, ostrich, springbok and elephant along this ephemeral river.

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On the subject of desert -adapted elephant, we are pleased to report that both the Oscar and Rosie Herds have returned to the area. We have often seen the two herds together, creating a large group of 26 individuals. A bachelor herd of five bulls has been following these breeding herds throughout the month. Along the Springbok River we have seen giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and rock hyrax – species that are not too common along the Huab River and so round off the experience nicely. Birding has also been productive this month, as many raptor species are preparing to nest. We have enjoyed some outstanding mammal sightings when out birding. On one occasion, we came across a black rhino which was a huge bonus.

Community News
Jacob Basson Combined S chool at Bergsig received a generous donation from camp guest, Mr Monko. The donation was then used to purchase two washing machines. The entire school and hostel staff would like to thank Mr Monko for his donation and care for the community.

Guest Comments
‘We have been here before, loved our stay here again and will definitely see you in the future.’
‘Charles was a spectacular guide who went out of his way to accommodate our interests.”
‘The visit to the local school was very interesting; also meeting local people gave us some insight to how
people and animals survive in the desert area.’
‘Our highlights were the warm welcome, the beautiful singing, the breath -taking bush breakfast, the desert elephants, the romantic bush dinner, Maggie’s bubbly person ality and Willem’s calm and knowledgeable company.’
‘We love the kindness shown by everyone, the dinner when there was singing and our own guide Usko was amazing. He really knows a lot about everything and how to explain it.’
DESERT RHINO CAMP
Weather and Landscape

In March, there was no rain to speak of until the end of the month. The landscape is very dry due to lack of rain and thus no greenery is visible. Daytime temperatures ranged from 15° C to the lower 40° C mark. On the 30th of March we had isolated showers and the next morning thick mist clouds covered the whole area and only cleared out at 2pm that afternoon. Since then it has started to get bit colder in the mornings and at night time. Winter is on its way!

Camp News and Upgrades
This month the camp was closed and underwent a small revamp. A team of dedicated workers build a brand -new swimming pool, a brand -new kitchen and laundry facilities with their respective storerooms in quite a short space of time despite some delays with the delivery of materials.

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In short it was hectic but the results were very rewarding and everyone is certainly looking forward to make use of the new facilities in the best possible manner. As the camp was due to open at the end of the month, everyone was very excited to entertain the guests and share our new camp with them as well as get out into the bush. The camp opening went off perfectly, and our guests were very impressed by the new upgrades. This month we also welcomed Rudolf, Erika and Thereza as manager s and Nestor as a guide. We hope they have a great time at Desert Rhino Camp and look forward to working with them.
Guest Comments
‘The staff were incredible – very friendly. The food was awesome and we would change nothing at all!’
‘The camp staff made our stay – they are super knowledgeable, passionate and personable.’
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