Southern Africa Bush Tails

Savuti Camp – May 2013

We hear erratic splashing coming from the water in front of Tent 4….

In the cool of the early morning our guests had been watching the moon set from the main deck. When there is a full moon you can enjoy its last hanging moments reflecting off the Zibidianj a Lagoon before the sunrise takes over the dominance of the sky.

Whilst enjoying a freshly ground ‘Zarafaspresso’ and cheese on toast around the open fire, we heard some erratic splashing coming from the water in front of Tent 4. There are only few situations that could make such a frantic sound. It was not heavy enough to be a hippo and certainly not a bird like an egret fishing. Then came the grunting sounds of an impala’s alarm call which gave it all away – it must be wild dogs hunting.

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We scuttled along the pathway from the main deck to Tent 4, with fever -berry trees providing cover we reached the surrounds of the large tent. It was indeed a pack of wild dog and they were in the process of killing an impala right in front of our eyes. Reuben, our guide, made sure we were all safe, although wild dogs are incredibly relaxed around human beings.

It is something to behold and very difficult to describe in words, the feeling of seeing something like this is just raw nature and your emotions can be l eft exposed as a result. It was over very quickly though with the whole impala being devoured in a matter of minutes. This incredible sighting set the bar high for the month, and we were not disappointed by the end of March.

Although wild dogs have taken the centre stage this month we have also enjoyed quite a variation in other wildlife experiences, notably lion.

The Selinda Pride comprises 17 lion, including two nomadic males. One of the mothers is nursing some small cubs presently. To the north near Selinda Camp there are four other females, known as the Wapuka Pride. One mother has just had two tiny cubs which she continues to hide away from the other females.

The Selinda Pride has been moving in and out of the Zarafa area all month. A highlight was o n the 21st of March.

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Just as we were enjoying our post dinner Amarula drinks on the deck of Zarafa, we heard roaring from a number of lions in the direction of the camp solar panels. Reuben fetched a vehicle and despite it being well past bedtime, we drove to the source of the roars to find 11 lions calling to the rest of the pride. They were fairly stationary, and not in the hunting mood, so we retreated to the comfort of our beds until the morning.

The next day the lions split up and were on the hunt. Three of the females came across a large female hippo we call Metsi, which means ‘water’ in Setswana. We often see Metsi coming in and out of the water just by the main deck of the camp. Metsi must weigh between 2500 to 3000 kg, the weight of a small car. For three lions to tackle a hippo is ambitious at best. Metsi opened her colossal mouth and this alone was enough to deter the lions back into the confines of the bush.

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The lions did not go hungry for too long as they came across a warthog later in the morning. They had decided to have a rest and in the midst of yawning and cleaning their paws, just as you would see in a domestic cat, a warthog trotted towards them. The lions spread out and, using the waters of the Zibadianja Lagoon, cornered the warthog and sealed its fate.

You may think a relatively small warthog would not be able to put up a fight but in its last moments it inflicted a severe wound on the underside of one of the females. Warthog have sharp tusks (tushes) and this lioness will not forget that warthog for some weeks! She will heal in time, as lions repair surprisingly well.

Fred is back. Last year we had an elephant, who was named Fred by Willem and Nienke, the camp managers. Fred would spend hours devouring the lush leaves of our trees and eating the fruits of the sour plums from the deck. He disappeared around November as that is when the rain arrived but returned this month. Wild animals are wild and Fred is by no means a petting elephant. Despite that he is quite happy spending time next to our decks flapping his ears to keep himself cool and just idling his days away. We all love Fred and he really signifies our mission to conserve and expand natural habitats.


In 2012 we installed a bio -gas plant in Duba Plains, Selinda Camp and Zarafa Camp. By adding all our vegetable waste to the plant, we reduce our carbon foot print even further. Once the organic materials start to ferment it puts out quite an odour, something we have found hyaena and now honey badgers really love. The entrance to the unit is at ground level so we found one little guy trying to stick his head into it and start chomping on the decaying matter. The smell is horrific so how he can find this to be a delicacy who knows. It does provide some pretty good sightings of this animal which some say is the most ferocious animal in Africa! Maybe that is because he has such bad breath…. 
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