Climate and Landscape
The temperatures have started to drop, signifying the approach of winter, with a lot of leaves turning yellow. The prolonged rainfall also prolonged the flowering of the ana trees (Faidherbia albida), leading to some worry as to whether or not we would see the herds of elephant coming for the ana pods. In addition, the large feverberries are touching the ground making it a bit more difficult to find the leopards.
Little Ruckomechi is a haven for predators and an overall diversity of interesting fauna and flora. Elephant and large herds of buffalo are already spending time in the floodplains, looking for the new grasses shooting thanks to the high water level.
There is a symbiotic relationship between baboons and impala, witnessed in their sharing the few brand-new Faidherbia albida pods and tamarind fruits.
Lion hunts are concentrated on impala and baboons – not enough for a pride of 13, so they have split up for survival, regrouping occasionally. The bigger prey animals are preferred as the summer season heads to an end when grazing and browse is scarce. It has been amazing to note that of the five male lions on the concession, three are submissive and two are dominant over the females, and this has created a strong defence against intruders.
Two packs of wild dog have been very active in the concession since the season started in April, with two females from a small pack of four appearing to be gravid. This is very exciting because normally only one pair breeds in a pack and this might be compensatory behaviour as the pack is very small.
Sightings of our concession cheetah were rare due to the growing population of dominant predators such as leopard, lion and hyaena, and there were fears they may have been killed. However, the fears were erased by a single sighting at the beginning of May.
Eland and waterbuck are seen daily, and the sounds of rutting impala fill the air as they come to the end of their breeding season.
Birds and Birding
The water birds are enjoying the rising level of the Zambezi River, while some species of fish have been trapped in the grass in the shallow channels, making easy pickings for the fish-eating birds.
White-fronted bee-eaters are busy excavating warm nests and creating a beautiful show as they cling to the roots and branches protruding from the banks of the river.
“Service and hospitality beyond perfect! Knowledge of Engilbert and Richard outstanding, and learnt so much more than expected. Catering 7-star!”
“Outstanding service and best personal touches we have received anywhere. Informative and educated staff, with a passion to make the guests happy.”
Excellent guide. Food and service at the lodge was wonderful. Beautiful setting and accommodation. Thank you. Hannah Hoover – USA.