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egilio last won the day on June 23 2012

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  1. This really makes me miss that place! I'm sure you've seen a few hyaenas in Liuwa! Looking forward to the rest of the report!
  2. Wow! I've never seen it that dry! But I guess I've never been there after August or September. In fact I think I've only been there once when Devil's Pool was accessible. As for Zambia as a safari destination. It has a lot to offer. There are places for the hard core walkers, there are places for the avid photographers, there are places for those who enjoy things a little bit more luxurious (even airco in the rooms). The wildlife is fantastic. In some places the density is maybe not that high (Kafue), but this is then made up by the diversity (highest diversity of ungulates in Kafue of any park in Africa). In other places the diversity might not be that high (Liuwa), but this is made up with photographic quality of the area (clear background as there are only very little bushes, so there is little distraction from the focus of your subject). Many places (Kafue, Luangwa) have a very diverse landscape and I have heard many people commenting on how fantastic that is. For the more exploratory travellers there are even remoter places. There are fantastic waterfalls in Nsumbu NP for example, which are rarely visited, I've enjoyed soaking in small, clear rivers in remote GMAs. Little wildlife there, but seeing carnivore tracks and seeing various antelopes and elephants every now and then, gives a real sense of wild Africa is one is after that. If one wants wide plains with animals Zambia can cater for that (Busanga in Kafue, Kafue flats along the kafue river, Bangweulu or Liuwa. However, it's different from East Africa (I haven't been there yet) or South Africa (more of a wild field in Zambia, and in Botswana imho). It's a pity for @janzin that her holiday didn't work out as she intended it to. I think it's important for clients to clearly express what they want or expect, and for operators to honest about what they can offer. Booking agents can complicate or facilitate this, so seeking a good honest booking agent is important too. Don't hold back to express what you want or expect as a client. It's often harder to cater for somebody who up front claims they're happy with whatever then somebody who has a clear wishlist which can be catered for. This gives the operator, guide and camp managers something they can work with. Something in this chain didn't work optimally with the result being a not completely satisfactory safari, which is a pity.
  3. Side-striped jackal in Lower Zambezi (and Kafue, Liuwa, Nsumbu) aren't uncommon. Black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox and aardwolf are largely absent from miombo areas and thus largely absent from Zambia. There seem to be some records of the latter two from the extreme south-west of Zambia, but none from black-backed jackals. Interestingly brown hyaenas have been spreading quite considerably in Zimbabwe (were very rare/absent in Save and now are numerous, were absent from Zambezi valley but are now found even in Mana Pools) and even Mozambique (recent capture of one near Gorongosa where the species had never been recorded before). I'm anticipating the first sighting of brown hyaena in Zambia within the next few years, and probably in Lower Zambezi (depending on how well they can swim, I have no idea about that). You must have nearly gotten to the hot spring indeed, it is past the 'delta' the green area with the cranes, across the road, and then probably another 30-45 min. I never noticed any flies there, but I've grown to get used to them (in my first years bites would sometimes swell considerably for several days over quite big areas, now it just itches sometimes for a few minutes and there isn't any swelling). Even though the safari might not have been completely up to your expectations, I really enjoyed reading your report.
  4. There are very few side-striped jackals in the Luangwa valley (and no black-backed in Zambia). It seems the jackals were knocked down in the 90's around the same time the wild dog population crashed. That might very well have had to do with disease. Wild dogs have a higher breeding potential (bigger litters) and disperse over larger distances so made a return much quicker, the jackals are still very rare. Every year there are a few sightings and for several years there was a pair living around the airstrip of Mfuwe airport. Few hyaena dens are known in South Luangwa, and even fewer accessible by car (I only know of one last year, and none should be visited on foot). Wild dogs typically den June-August in the Luangwa valley and then start moving around more and more with their pups, september could be a bit early. In the main game area there were 4 or 5 packs I think with pups. Not sure if the pack you saw in the south had pups at that time, the pack you saw in Nsefu has quite recently been formed and didn't breed this year. They're in a not so ideal place for wild dogs, if they can they seem to seek out areas with lower lion densities. When it was just the Hot Springs pack in Nsefu they never showed up near the river, now there are 3 packs using the Nsefu area and this new pack, and also the Hot Springs pack are seen quite regularly near the river. There were a number of leopards in the Nsefu area this year I think with cubs. As for the guide, I know he usually guides from Luangwa House. He's been a guide in South Luangwa for a long time and knows the park really well, but indeed he spends most of his time further south and is more familiar with the prides and packs down there. A max of 4 lions together is a bit odd as most prides are bigger than that, but prides are not always together. The Hot Spring can be a long drive, especially from Tena, and a very hot drive as through the salt pan there is no shade. You would also cross a road which is used by people to get from Mfuwe to villages north of the Nsefu. There are a few nice places to visit, but the spring itself is unimpressive and the wildlife there can be bleak when things have heated up. Having said that, it's a bit of a miss or hit place, sightings can be very good too.
  5. There is a Hot Springs pride too indeed (often only appearing in the Hot Springs area late in the year) and there was a Saltpan pride, which were 2 females who had split off from the Hot Springs pride. I saw them meeting one day near the spring. Very odd. The 2 saltpan females had left their 2 cubs and walked towards the spring, we followed them. Near the spring they encountered most of the Hot Springs pride (can't remember how many, but around 10 of them). They all laid down about 25m from each other, watching each other. I didn't notice any aggression, no growling, no tail sweeps, just watching each other. After 10 minutes the 2 saltpan females got back up and moved back to their cubs. The Nsefu pride in the past never used to get to the delta or spring, but I've been told that now they sometimes do.
  6. I think a few things contributed to not having seen cubs. One is just lack of luck. You only saw a few prides, ZCP monitors about 15 prides in SL, and there are cubs for sure. The other things is that prides fluctuate. The Nsefu pride which used to reside around Nsefu camp, stork colony area (and sometimes crossed to the other side of the river), now uses areas further towards the Hot Spring. When I was there this pride had 7 adult females, and had several years where cubs were born each year, but which vanished each rainy season. Until they had a few litters one year which survived. Some of those original females are now dead from old age and such a thing can often lead to sub-groups and eventual pride splits. I do think that the lion hunting closure might have contributed to you not seeing as many cubs, but in a different way mentioned here before. In the years there was no lion hunting (2 years) many more cubs were born and quite a lot of those survived. So relatively many females still have depended older cubs and sub-adults and aren't ready yet for a next litter, thus there might be relatively few young cubs around at the moment (although there are, just not in the areas you were. There are young cubs in Big pride, Luwi pride, Chamilandu pride for example).
  7. @Ritsgaai Dr Clay passed away some years back.
  8. I lived in Bozeman for 2,5 years. While I did go to Yellowstone in winter, I didn't go as often as I wanted. There's only one main road open to cars, but the cross-country skiing is really nice! You can book trips with the snowcoaches but I never did that (being a grad student on a grad student budget). The best times I had in Yellowstone were in winter (close sightings of moose and martens while cross country skiing) and spring. In spring there's actually a period (in both Yellowstone and Glacier) that the roads have been made snowfree, but they're not open to cars yet. So you can bike, without any cars around. The weather is hit or miss though, as there can still be snowstorms.
  9. I stayed at Nanzhila once and didn't see elephants there. In fact, I saw lots and lots of elephant sign in the southern sector, but only once saw one young animal which shouldn't have been alone run across the road quite far ahead of me. What I remember from around Nanzhila was that reedbuck almost seemed more abundant than impala! I really love the diversity in Kafue, it's such a great place, and the potential is even bigger. I've seen lots of grysbok in the Luangwa valley. I'm sure some of you must have seen them there too!
  10. Lovely report so far! Was the snared elephant (you can see the snare behind its leg) reported? I wound like that can heal if treated, but will be fatal if it isn't treated. In you picture of a mixed flock of birds there are red-billed teals too!
  11. Lovely photos again! Looking forward to the rest of the report!
  12. Great to see a picture of Luambe! Do you have more? Years ago we took a collar off him. The collar was put on him during leopard research in Luambe NP. It was supposed to be a drop off collar but never dropped off, and he moved to South Luangwa, beyond the reach of the research study in Luambe. They tried for a bit to de-collar him, but then the study ended. We (ZCP, SLCS with great help from Shenton Safaris) set up a trap and were lucky that he was the first animal in there, on the second night. As leopards keep growing throughout their lives it was really necessary to take the collar off as it was way too tight. Collars on cats always look tight, because they have so much loose skin around their neck and the neck is wider than the head, but in him it was really too tight. I've been following the Kaingo blogs and see his name mentioned often, but never saw a picture of him anymore. Would you maybe have a picture of him from the side?
  13. Lovely sighting of the Spice boys! And by the looks of it you did indeed beat the other cars to the sighting! @amybatt @wilddog it's not the darker one who is the odd one, it's the lighter one, ginger! Garlic is just a normal coloured lion, ginger isn't. The contrast might make Garlic appearing darker than you'd expect. Ginger doesn't have any black pigment (look at his nose and tail tip for example), a condition as far as I know only known from 1 lion currently alive, him! It is true that the extent of black hairs in manes varies from male to male, and it is thought this is related to testosterone levels. All males (except white male lions, and Ginger) have black hairs, some more than others. The size of manes also varies, with generally the ones in colder areas being more extensive (like the Kalahari or Busanga) and in with longer hairs in more open areas (again Kalahari, Serengeti, Busanga). While it has been shown that females seem more attracted to larger manes and darker manes, it's not clear if those males are the 'dominant' ones. Adult males are dominant over adult females, and between males there might be dominance, but with lots of prey and many females to attend to this might not actually mean much in the sense of more feeding and breeding.
  14. What a great report! Looking forward to some tortoises!
  15. I should explain it better. Of course he would usually switch off his car. But he noticed that when would switch the engine on to re-position, the leopard would move. Or at night drives they sometimes switch on to make sure the spotlight isn't draining the battery. He noticed that those were actually the times the leopards would make a move and were often successful. So since then he refuses to switch on his engine to re-position even if guests request it (yes, that can cause issues too). When he sees a leopard he parks and that's it if potential prey is nearby and the leopard is interested in it. It happens regularly that leopard stalk behind and even under cars. A great experience for tourists, not so much for the targeted pukus and impalas. South Luangwa has many great guides and I know many of them, and this one is definitely in my top 5.

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