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Hot spots
Newsletter / 24 oberOctober 2022

Hot spots

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This dry season we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the mild heat of September and October which has proved to be even cooler than the UK summer. That said, it has still been warm enough to ensure plenty of hustle and bustle at the remaining waterholes and riverine areas.

Before we get stuck into our news, we’d like to wish Zambia a very happy Zambia independence day. Today, the 24th of October, marks the 58th year of independence in Zambia! We look forward to celebrating with a football match at the local school near Tafika.

Tafika Camp

With reduced water levels and more aggressive territorial fights, it’s not uncommon for hippos to die at this time of the year. We watched one unfortunate individual that had succumbed to his battle wounds from the banks of Tafika during tea one afternoon. Many crocs had gathered to feast on the carcass – luckily they clean up the river quite efficiently.

The sickly sweet scent of hippo flesh attracted two male lions from the opposite bank. By dinner time, the hippo had been pulled downstream closer to Tafika and the whole pride had joined the foray. The lions jostled each other for space around the undignified upside-down carcass while countless crocs encroached from all angles. It was a noisy evening for all the right reasons!

At least one of the mating lion couples from the beginning of the season has borne fruit and one female has taken over Tafika as her cub rearing sanctuary. She’s very relaxed and has been seen marching through the staff area and workshop to hunt puku at the Tafika waterhole / hide during broad daylight. We’re keeping our distance from her ‘cub nursery-bush’ to avoid disturbance but hope to see more of them all in the coming weeks.

Our spotted feline friends have been enjoying the high density of wildlife around the riverine area and we’ve witnessed some impatient ambushes, skilled hunting and successful kills. Olimba’s 2021 female cub, Mutima (meaning heart), always easily distinguishable by her heart shaped birthmark, has shown off her hunting prowess several times in the past few weeks.

Successful leopards are in the interest of Luangwa’s many hyena which are never too far away to take advantage of their skill. These spotted scavengers are making the most of this time of abundance.

Another hot spot for leopards is the ebony groves which generally accommodate large baboon troops for the night. The acrobatic skills of these cats are put to the test for these hunting ventures.

Tafika’s resident African Broadbills serenade us in the early mornings. Although it’s not bright or vibrant in colour, the Broadbill’s charismatic pirouette display flight is thoroughly entertaining. It’s often heard but is much harder to spot – nonetheless Nick managed to successfully capture one on camera in the throes of its dance.

Kawere lagoon

Bush lunches have been a great way to make the most of our local hot spots like Kawere lagoon. At times it can be hard to get out of the vehicle for lunch though!

Elephant, giraffe, buffalo, leopard, lion and an array of birds are still flocking to this lagoon and its surrounding mud baths. Guests have enjoyed some great photographic opportunities from this hide too, resulting in lovely shots of the lagoon residents like this enthusiastic buffalo and White Crowned Lapwing with its intimidating spurs.

Carmine colony hide

The Carmine Bee-eater hide is a big hit as always, this time of year. It also seems to be a favourite spot for lion as they like perching on the edge of the bank to catch a cool breeze or to follow the pungent scent of yet another hippo carcass downwind (luckily!) of the hide.

One afternoon guests were nestled in the hide when the lions began hunting buffalo on the beach! All the while, Carmines swarmed around the hide. The lions were unsuccessful in their hunt but it still got the adrenaline pumping.

Tafika hide

These days, the elephant visits to the Tafika hide are a daily occurance. The delight taken in communal mud baths are always a pleasure to witness as all sizes big and small seem to revel in this practice. 

Big Lagoon Camp

Big Lagoon has been put on the buffalo drinking roster and every few days hundreds of bovines gather to drink in front of the little bush camp. As you can imagine, lion are often not too far behind. The daily visitors include kudu, zebra, giraffe, warthog, elephant and a range of birdlife. 

Chikoko Tree Camp

Chikoko continues to enjoy their most frequent guests – the local lion pride. We’ve also had some great sightings of roan antelope, a typical sighting at Chikoko at this time of year but rarely seen anywhere else. A new well was constructed last month so guests will enjoy refreshed and abundant water supplies for those evening showers.

Mwaleshi Camp

Up in the North Luangwa, Mwaleshi is looking out onto a much diminished Mwaleshi river now. The limited water is still enough for some refreshing wallows in the shallows. We’ve done a few sleep-outs recently which are always a fantastic way to detach from the real world and feel fully connected to the natural one. 

Takwela Camp

The lions have been abundant up at Takwela too. Sadly one male lion endured a terrible broken leg which may lead to his demise. Wild dogs have also been very active and guests have enjoyed many sightings of the all time favourite painted dogs. The elephants are becoming much more relaxed in the area and family groups often visit camp in peaceful processions. 

This year Great White Pelicans have been prolific and we’ve seen huge numbers flocking to finish off the fish in the remaining water bodies.

The river is becoming the main attraction now and one can see a range of species all together – although sometimes in all of the excitement it can be tough to fit them all into one frame! With the focus being on water, some animals forget to stick to the ‘conventional animosity’ between species and pass each other without a second glance.

The Tafika Fund

We are now supporting 13 school pupils and all are currently navigating their final term of 2022 which ends in some daunting exams. We have continued to receive more lovely packages for the children which we are very grateful for – thanks to all of you who sacrifice your precious luggage allowance to bring out these donations.

All of our scholarship pupils received a calculator and solar light along with their term 3 fees. 

Football for Wildlife

Our football league finished with a high. The Mkasanga Leopards mens team (South Luangwa – Tafika’s nearby local village) took home the title in the final against the Chingozi Lions men (North Luangwa) with a final nail biting score of 2-1. In the ladies final, Yakobe Eagles (South Luangwa) defeated the Chitemwa Buffalos (North Luangwa) with an impressive 4-2 score. 

The excitement at the final was electric and every time a goal was scored the crowds would parade around the field in celebration. 

Pre-match formalities were followed with entertainment, speeches and conservation plays performed before the final prize giving, so it was a full afternoon of action.

As always, our aim for the football league is to encourage conservation, community unity and fuel the appreciation of wildlife in our area through Zambia’s genetic love of football.

At this point in the season everyone’s flocking together to enjoy every sip of refreshment – mammals, birds and reptiles alike – and we’re in the best spots to share these moments!

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