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Vumbura Plains – August 2013

August 12, 2013 Southern Africa Bush Tails

Life on the edge of the Okavango keeps us on our toes. As the waters move towards us, wildlife wade in and out, out and in, and we tread a bit more carefully these days. It’s still the wet season and the terrain is still shifting beneath our feet.

We are certain of a few things: it’s halfway through the year and the bulk of winter is behind us. As days stretch longer now, our anticipation of spring also grows. Not that winters in the Delta are known to be especially cruel, but temperature fluctuations often catch guests off guard. This month, the average high was 28° C, with a low of 10° C. In the mornings we clutch coffee around the fire and watch our breath; come afternoon, we’ve shed our scarves and are sunning pool side. 


Also shedding prolifically are the jackal berry trees. We’ve been utterly assaulted by the small, yellow oblong fruit; however we measure our complaints, as what litters our decks also draws the insatiable sweet tooth of kudu, warthog, porcupine and a myriad bird species. We’ve also been visited in steady droves by elephant, which vacuum our walkways and probe every surface for this sugary fruit, making for some spectacular armchair sightings. A seasonal delicacy for the people of the Delta as well, daily, staff members are found filling buckets and pockets full of these berries that have a taste and texture similar to a date.


Not to be overlooked this month was a notable happening in the night sky. The moon, on its elliptical path around the earth, came the closest it has to us in two decades. This Super Moon, as it is popularly known (or a perigee full moon), provided the perfect opportunity to look skyward and refresh ourselves on the workings of our solar system. Improvising with a flashlight and an orange, our general manager gave a mini fireside science lesson, explaining why we see the moon in its different phases.


But plenty of action took place right here on the ground (well, mostly). We glimpsed a four-metre-long crocodile in the floodplain within view from the dining room. Guests witnessed the young Kubu Pride of lions pursuing a variety of endeavours: sleeping clustered together on a termite mound, feasting on a buffalo kill, terrorising a leopard and (not so successfully) stalking guinea fowl.

The prize for the most unusual sighting, however, goes to a solitary wild dog who took shelter near camp for a few days, during which time he killed a baby kudu, ate it by himself and then lingered a day or two more looking for other opportunities. Who knows what the normally social, pack-bound dog was doing on his own or how he managed to take on a kudu. Any predictions?

Well, if full moon really does awaken strange behaviour, how much more so a super moon…

by Hailey Gaunt