Tubu Tree – April 2018
Climate and Landscape
Beautiful rains fell in the first two weeks of March at Tubu Tree Camp. Every day was the same thing… sunny mornings led to clouds building over lunch and siesta time, after which we’d have spectacular thunderstorms during high tea. The rain, thunder, lightning and wind were just enough for us to doubt whether the afternoon game drives would actually happen. However, our fantastic guides were ever the optimists – getting our guests onto their vehicles, armed with ponchos and the anticipation of seeing what Hunda Island has to offer. This paid off time and time again, as the afternoon sun would break through the heavy clouds, providing the perfect backdrop and light for amazing photography.
Although the rain was full-on for the first two weeks of March (and most of February), it is not ‘the season’ yet. Our channels are still fairly dry and boating is something we will have to look forward to in the weeks and months to come. The rains have transformed our island into a green oasis, lush and ready for the promise of the inundation due to arrive on our doorstep very soon.
The cats dominated the predator scene on the island this past month. Though the wild dogs were not absent, they were not seen as regularly as in previous months. However, the sightings our guests did have of the dogs were not just any ordinary sightings. Our guests saw them playing like a couple of real puppies, rolling about in the green grass and tackling each other, always with one lazing in the shade, not interested in playing.
Lion sightings were also very special. Besides a number of kills, seeing how the lions interact with each other had the guests talking non-stop at the dinner table, comparing stories and theories. The family bonds and relationships between these big cats are fascinating.
Guests told a beautiful story after one of their observations – they saw two young male lions (brothers) playing and wrestling with each other. The mother lioness approached her two sons, joining in their fun. They gave her one look, walked away, and continued playing a couple of metres away. Seems like even in the animal kingdom, kids are embarrassed by their parents and would rather be alone sometimes.
Large towers of giraffe were a game drive regular. Herds numbering as many as 12 were seen together, with some heart-meltingly cute toddlers among them. It is the most frustrating thing to hear people speak about giraffe as “general game”. These animals must be the most gracious of all. Their slow movements, slender physique and creative patterning all add together to make a truly magical creature. They were observed playing together, fighting and some guests even saw babies suckling.
The marula tree that houses our in-house bar is heavy with fruit at this time of the year. Not only is the marula the key ingredient in the popular cream liqueur Amarula, the fruit is also a favourite among elephants. With the ground in front of our Tubu dining area, lounge and bar littered with semi-ripe marula fruit, the elephants regularly visit us for a morning or afternoon snack. Nothing compares to watching a small family of elephants chomping away at your feet, so close that you could almost touch them. A magical experience for many of our guests this month.
Leopard sightings were way too prominent not to mention. These elusive cats were seen on numerous occasions, each feline more elegant than the last. That was until guests saw two of the females getting into a real cat fight over territory.
A couple of guests had their first buffalo sightings of their safaris. These impressive animals were seen grazing in herds as big as 200 – surely one of the most impressive wildlife sights in the world. One big unit, all protecting each other and their young from Hunda’s predators.
Night drives under the starry African skies were eventful with the smaller cats such as genet and African wild cat spotted. These were joined by honey badgers, porcupines and even a leopard tortoise.
Birds and Birding
Lions were not the only predators seen with kills this month. Our birds of prey were spotted red-handed (or should that be red-clawed) on more than one occasion. This included a Verreaux’s eagle-owl feeding on an unlucky francolin.
One of the most beautiful sightings our guests saw was an African fish-eagle with a catfish in its claws. An iconic sight, which our visitors will not easily forget.
An all-time favourite, and something many birders spend a lot of time and effort looking for, is the Pel’s fishing-owl. This beauty was spotted at our boat station looking very relaxed, giving our guests time to observe and take in this bird in all its glory.
With our species checklist available for guests in all of our rooms, it makes it easy for everyone to identify and record what they have seen on drives and around camp. Some of these guests shared their lists with us, and included a variety of doves including laughing dove, red-eyed dove, Namaqua dove, Cape turtle-dove and emerald-spotted wood-dove.
The birds seen around camp are just as big a highlight as the birds seen out on drives. This is perfect as guests can enjoy the birds of the area while having a dip in the pool, a drink at the bar or even while just relaxing and reading a book on the spacious verandas of their rooms. Birds seen around camp include Levaillant’s cuckoo, Meyer’s parrot, fiery-necked nightjar and coppery-tailed coucal.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Jared Zeelie, Philile Hlongwa, Pierre Cronje, Andriana Botes, Marius Neuhoff, Sharon Nyamangara, Boitumelo ‘B2’ Badubi
Guides: Kambango “Delta” Sinimbo, Kelebeng “Steve” Mahupe, Seretse Xaeko, Maipaa Tekanyetso, Kesentse ‘Kaizer’ Rams, Oduentse “Chaps” Ngenda