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Everything posted by Sangeeta

  1. Annabelle said on FB that there have been some sightings, so fingers crossed that there is a core population still remaining or at least enough individuals to form a core. What heartbreaking news this is And this was such a success story...
  2. This never ends. Here's more of the same... Not sure if posting this here will help these animals, but the PH mentoned below is a member of the 'ethics is everything' association (ZPHSA) who thinks it is okay to bait & call out animals from a protected area to then kill them in a hunting area. It is my hope some of the Zim Pro Photo Guides on ST will read this and take some action - at least bring it to the attention of their board, or tell us why it is okay to do this. I don't mean to put you guys in a spot but @Doug Macdonald, @Ant Kaschula, and the other photo guides who belong to the association, please could you all follow up on this? Posted today (Sept 21, 2018) on FB. Below is the quoted content from Save Big Cats: "Word coming out from Hwange that a Lion hunt is in progress on the forestry boundary of Hwange & that hunters have set up several bait sites to try and lure out 2 well known lions called "Mopane" & "Sidule". They are apparently doing call-ups & bait to lure them out of the protection of the photographic concessions in the forestry area. It has not been confirmed whether this is a "legal" or "illegal" hunt but there is suspiscion of a "quota transfer". The PH on this hunt - apparently Tim Schultz was also the PH involved in the incident outside Hwange where a South African client was killed by an elephant when shooting into a breeding herd. These lions have become well known photographically & have frequented Hwange Main Camp, Nyamandlovu & forestry areas which are regularly visited by tourists to the park. Time to do what you all do best & fight!!!! Share the hell out of this to bring as much attention as possible.... NOTE - This image is not of the males #SaveBigCats #LionStrong #Lion"
  3. Started on this today, @Caracal - thanks so much for sharing these. It makes for fascinating reading.
  4. Our pleasure, @AandA Definitely Kwara/Selinda for June! No question about that. Kadizora/Sable Alley are good options for peak season at good rates. I am sure they will be wonderful in June too, but Kwara and Selinda are known entities and have reliably excellent wildlife in June, I never quite know what to think of any SA option when you're going to Bots immediately afterwards. But definitely, you'll be ending at a high in Botswana Good luck and do keep posting, including your somewhat disappointing sightings in May. Every report is so helpful.
  5. Hi @AandA, sorry if I confused you! I was saying that SEC is fantastic in June (& even in early November), but sadly, in Aug, it will bust the budget So if you want to go in June, def do SEC - it is a brilliant camp. I am completely in agreement with @madaboutcheetah and @modleski on SEC. In June, you should def add in a Kwando camp too. But if you have your heart set on Aug, then you need other reasonably priced alternatives and the K/SA combo is a good option for you. As are also the K&D options.
  6. @AandA, June is reasonable for Botswana. Selinda Explorers have shoulder season rates through June 15, so def worth doing if you can do that. After that, the prices all go up a lot, so then you should visit first week of Nov after that. I am posting here today because I saw some lovely FB images by Colin Bell from Sable Alley. They have a couple of big dog packs there, it seems. Having thought about it a bit more, I would be happy with the Kadizora and Sable Alley combo, I think. That will be an affordable combo for you in high season and with Mashatu tacked on to that, you will have a very well-rounded Botswana experience and I think enough predators to gladden your heart And with that type of pricing, you could potentially splurge on a few more nights on safari.
  7. Aaah, I wish I had an easy answer for you!! Shinde adjoins the Kwara concession and though much smaller, often the animals overlap the concession boundaries. It was refurbed very recently & will be v comfortable. Okuti is inside the Moremi reserve so a little less freedom of movement, perhaps, but very good wildlife also. This is not a private concession, which is the case both for Shinde & Kanana. Kanana - great for ele crossing channels and overall delta/water activities but perhaps not as many predators. Lovely birding and overall a really good Delta feeling. But you've got to manage your predator expectations. Kadizora also great for the Delta experience & feel & that hot air balloon offer is very alluring. Sable Alley, I don't know yet, but if it is anything like the main Khwai area, I am sure it will be brilliant. Another one you should look at is Motswiri. It is at the very southern tip of the Selinda concession. This also used to be a hunting area until GPC took over and is now a photo & riding camp. You can canoe on the Selinda Spillway here. And masses of ungulates too, including roan, sable etc. Not so many easily viewable predators here, but they do have a pack of dogs. This is a relatively affordable way to see some of the Linyanti in high season, though not as prolific as the prime areas along the Namibian border. All happy problems @AandA - with a couple of these places, you'll be taking a chance. But since you are doing Mashatu & hopefully will see a lot of predators there, I think you should plan with a view to an overall balance of experiences.
  8. As a TO/TA myself, let me just jump in and say that Porini does not give a smaller commission to travel agents. That's not the case at all. Their conservation vision and their access to some of the richest wildlife areas of the greater Mara & Amboseli ecosystems makes them a wonderful choice for many people. Their appeal is to hard-core wildlife lovers and to people who like a more 'earthy' safari - and not so much to people looking for a glamping experience, so you do need to make sure that you're a good fit. To me, Ol Kinyei especially is like a private Botswana concession, and stunning to boot.
  9. @AandA I like the K&D package - it is reasonably priced, and in combination with Mashatu, will give you a very good experience. Another good combo for you could be Kadizora plus Sable Alley. I think Kadizora offers a complimentary balloon flight for 3 night stays, and it is in a very nice area of the delta, very close to Duba. I have not been to Sable Alley but it is in a wonderful location and on a huge private concession. Hopefully the wildlife there is settled now & if so, it will be lovely.
  10. Glad to see you get to this post-haste, Vikram! Looks like a fun time being had by all.
  11. This link below is the actual academic paper from the census. Interested readers can find tons of information on the Great Ele Census all over the Internet and it has been discussed here on ST as well.
  12. @douglaswise, thanks for your measured response. I will admit I was being flippant in my reference to your gloom (but only because of that 'ecstasy' jab ) As a matter of fact, I don't disagree with a lot of what you say in your last post at all. But I think we start out at different places when we look for our solutions. Yes, it is indeed my contention that when there are so many African range states with such a paucity of elephants (mainly due to poaching), that I believe we should first be looking for solutions that increase and improve habitat, before we get anywhere near considering lethal solutions. Whereas the 'wildlife management' side of the debate seems to come down immediately in favor of hunting or culling or some other lethal solution. There may come a time when the planet is 'full up' but we're a long way from there. And I don't think we can kill & cull our way out of the problem anyway. As I am sure you know, Dr Chase headed up the Great Elephant Census, and it is thanks to that extraordinary project that we now have some understanding of how eles are faring throughout the continent. The project didn't just produce a bunch of satellite markers and images, but a wealth of data that can be used to tackle the most vexing issues of habitat loss, corridors, poaching etc. It was the abysmal numbers reported by this project about the decimation of the ele population in the Selous & their marked decline in the Rungwa-Ruaha ecosystem that finally prodded the Tanzanian government into some semblance of action. Likewise in Niassa in Mozambique. All of which makes me an unabashed fan & very glad there is someone who can see the forest, and not just the trees. Happy to call it truce for a bit
  13. Possibly, @offshorebirder, but I certainly believe that few people can have the perspective that Dr Mike Chase brings to this discussion. The names you mention are all legends, of course, but their work focuses on ele behaviour and local ele populations. With all due respect, I believe Mike Chase's thoughts are more relevant when we're discussing issues related to pan-African distribution, the problem of 'refugee' elephants, elephant movements, ele corridors etc. I can't think of another person who has a better continent-wide macro understanding of the African elephant. Though open to hearing & reading more if you can suggest some names.
  14. These dogs are quite pale, @monalisa What a lovely TR so far and thank you for sharing.
  15. Well, I must confess that I am as ecstatic as @optig and not at all surprised to read that you're mostly glum about the latest non-hunting developments, @douglaswise @inyathi - do your guide friends know how many areas have indeed been converted into photo? I am looking for a concession-by-concession map that might show the transition (or lack thereof) but not had any luck so far. The transition may be longer than hoped for (the wildlife also needs time to stop being skittish), but take the example of Wilderness Safaris in the John Calitz hunting area (I shared a link in one of my previous posts) - Calitz was a big ele hunter before the ban. Take another example of NH18. This is part of the community owned Khwai concession, but before the hunting ban it was a hunting area. All of you know how good Khwai is for wildlife, but we mainly traverse NH19. NH18 has now been taken over by Colin Bell's new company and is home to Sable Alley, a really well-priced new camp in a prime area (that extends from the Khwai all the way up to Chobe and Linyanti). I wish I had the time to do this research myself and post a map for all to see. Will try to do that later in the year, if someone else does not have the data at hand already. The number of elephants and overpopulation is a whole other issue, but STers may be interested in reading this interview with Dr. Mike Chase of Eles Without Borders - someone we should be all listening to as we discuss this issue.
  16. @Alexander33 your photos of the family grooming in the clearing are stunning! Many other wonderful photos too, but I was really taken by those
  17. Not that you said anything here @aholman 😄 But thank you for reading the thread & fingers crossed we can persuade you to hop aboard! That will make up the magic 6!
  18. Hi everyone, We are running a short (3-4 night) group trip to the Upper Omo Valley in conjunction with our safaris to Zakouma in Feb/March 2018. This trip will not visit the many tribes on the eastern side of the river, but just the Surma on the less-visited western bank of the Omo. We have a wonderful trip report on the Suri/Surma/Omo Valley here on ST and some lovely photos by @divewop, so do check that out to get a sense of what to expect. We are 3-4 already signed up & looking for 2-3 more to make the charter flight costs viable. If interested, please PM me and I will send you the details. Thanks a lot - Sangeeta
  19. I think both safaris will work well for you. But heed @plambers advice, it is always nice to give the children options to stretch their legs - the troops can get restless if cooped up in a car for 9-10 days at a stretch
  20. Agree with everyone above. Such good news, @Julian and hope you both enjoy a restful and reviving safari & glad all the yuck stuff is behind you!
  21. I agree with everyone above Distances and road conditions everywhere mean that you should at least double the amount of time you think it will take you to get from place A to B, especially if there is a flight to catch at place B! Jinja & Wildwaters is a lovely idea, but allocate enough time - at least 3-4 days to do this. Otherwise, if you want to start on water, consider Pineapple Bay at Lake Victoria. They are a sister property of Clouds & you'll probably get good rates if you do both & it will save you a very long detour to Jinja by road. After that, get a flight to Bwindi. It is simply too long to do this with a young child and older parents in tow. Spend 2 nights at Clouds for the trek and to enjoy the lodge, and then nip over by car into Rwanda - spend a night here near Volcanoes NP and perhaps do a golden monkey trek? Then drive to Kigali and fly directly to northern Serengeti (you can do your hot air balloon here). You will save a lot of time & effort if you do this. Do not drive these Bwindi roads yourself. They are winding, tortuous, slippery and most importantly, they can get very rutted & flooded when it rains, which it often does (almost everyday) in these parts. Then you can certainly do a road safari in Tanzania, including time in the Serengeti, Crater, Tarangire, then cross over into Kenya - Amboseli etc. If you've spent sufficient time in the Serengeti, there is no huge reason to go to the Masai Mara, unless it is a must-do also. Rather, enjoy one of Kenya's lovely private conservancies & do something special & kid-friendly in Laikipia. Then back to Nairobi & Giraffe Manor. Finally, the Zanzi section. But having said all this, I too think this is too many places & will be very exhausting with your family members of such diverse ages. My suggestion is perhaps it would be best to prioritize the experiences, get a budget in place, and then look at the logistics and see how best you can do all the things you really want to do while still having a wonderful family holiday.
  22. Very poignant post, @Matias Cox - sadly too many 'last of species' stories. Thanks for sharing the Brauer interview link.
  23. @Geoff - amazing to think that someone right here saw her as a youngster. When we measure most things, 2002 doesn't seem so long in the past. But with Africa, it seems like a whole era has gone by since then. Thanks so much for sharing your encounter with her. Always look forward to your posts. @egilio Ditto what @wilddog said. My heart goes out to all of you who interacted with her so closely, and to Herbert Brauer, for bringing her story to light. @Caracal - thank you. Nice to beback on here and reading all my old buddies again
  24. @FlyTraveler, I am not sure what your companion calls basic, but honestly, it is sheer luxury to have a campsite in the middle of the park with fantastic views over the valley. Staying at the Park bandas will be many steps down from the mobile camping option. Btw, if he/she is concerned about toilets, you should know that they have flushing toilets at these campsites (and were in good operating condition when I visited). How basic is your basic option? I suppose we each have our own soft spots, but for me, camping wins every time because as lovely as lodges can be, they simply cannot replicate that feeling IMO. Yes, do try and schedule walks with the rangers. It is a very special park for walking. And since you're keen on culture, perhaps you can do that Ik hike if you are fit? And report back to us. A very tough hike from what we heard, though. @Botswanadreams your night drives look like they were very productive, long grass or not. In Murchison, I stayed at Baker's Lodge & Paraa and don't know the others you mention personally, but I do know people who have used Pabuka and have been mostly happy, though it is busy.
  25. A Goodbye from SafariChick and Sangeeta: Our Eulogy to Lady Liuwa Lots of you already know the story of the Last Lioness – and the resilience that helped her survive all alone in a remote Zambian park after her entire pride had been hunted down. With the help of humans, she went on to thrive and lived the remainder of her life with a new pride she eventually called her own. Hers is a story of hope and despair, both for her species and our own. @SafariChick has already written a great trip report detailing our trip to Zambia, but I was very moved by her passing and thought it would be fitting to talk today about the back story of our safari to Liuwa Plain NP in November 2014. At the time, this was the maddest trip we had ever planned. Sometime in the summer of 2013, Jane & I (and @KitSafari too, though she was not able to join us) got a strange bee in our bonnets that whatever else we did or did not do, we were going to see Lady Liuwa and Busangadude before they passed on, so help us God! Both these lions were old and had already lived long lives in the wild, and we were infected by a strange sense of urgency to make this trip happen nownownow. Liuwa is best visited in early November (or May) but that’s also when it buckets down on the Busanga Plains, and the camps there (wisely) close for the season by then. That was also the same year that Robin Pope had discontinued his Liuwa trips and suddenly, there was nowhere nice to stay in Liuwa and no easy way to get there either. The upshot to all this was that we had no place to stay on the Busanga Plains (for Busangadude) and no place to stay in Liuwa (for Lady Liuwa) You’d think we’d have thrown in the towel, but no, no, the fever raged on unabated. We wrote to everyone we knew (and many we did not) in Zambia and every last person told us that it was impossible, foolish and very unwise to try and get to the Busanga Plains once the rains had arrived. So Jane and I measured the kilometers outwards from the Busanga tree line to see if we could possibly prevail on someone do a day trip for us. And we wrote one last time to none other than our own @KafueTyrone. Tyrone & Phil were our knights in shining armor on this trip (against their better judgement, I think). But they were great sports and Tyrone eventually agreed to drive us all the way up to the plains and back again to Musekese – though we needed to be ready to spend the night in the vehicle if we got mired in Kafue’s infamous black cotton soil! Stuck in the mud? Tsetses on the Busanga treeline? Pffft, when was that a problem? High fives everywhere as we had Busangadude sorted! Now what on earth were we going to about the Lady? There were simply no camps open in Liuwa, so where could we possibly stay? After a lot of research, we finally settled on Bundu Adventures, a mobile safari outfitter who came to us highly recommended and who agreed to drive us from Kafue to Liuwa, rain or no rain. But the safari numbers they came back with were scary for just the 2 of us. And so off we went again – this time, looking for prospects to join us on the trip. We first stumbled upon a really nice young man from Chicago, equally smitten by the Lady, who was also looking for safari companions for his return trip to Liuwa. Then we were three. We still needed 1 more person to make this work and Jane finally roped her massage therapist in! Poor AM. Her first safari to Africa was going to be a road trip that crossed half of Zambia, had her staying at the Hollywood Motel in Mongu, in little dome tents and 43 degrees Celsius in the park, dark common loos with big spiders lurking and Lady-obsessed safari companions who were happy to park beside the sleeping lions for hours at an end! If there’s someone else besides Tyrone who needs a medal from this trip, it’s AM. Since then, I’ve often wondered why it is that so many of us get these bees in our safari bonnets. What is it that pushes us and pulls us and forces us to be accommodating, intrepid, persistent, annoying, adventurous and so much more? What is it about these parks and these animals that beguiles us over and over again? Sometimes, it’s just the stories… I was enchanted by Busangadude the moment I saw Swamp Lions, and was fascinated by the many stories about him that I read through @Safaridude and others who were fortunate to see him many times over his remarkable life. We never did get to see him on that trip to Zambia, but at least we know we tried and that makes us happy. He was no ordinary lion. He was a character unto himself and lived a full and storied life, doing things that you don’t expect lions to do. The Last Lioness was a haunting movie that sucked me into the life of a lonely lioness, and along with many thousands of her fans the world over, I too rooted for her to bond with the transplanted males, to have cubs (and was sad when it became clear that she could not), to enjoy her time with her new pride. Nor was Lady an ordinary lion. She too was a character and lived a full and storied life, doing things that you don’t ordinarily expect lions to do. It is sad but fitting that she passed away yesterday, on the eve of the International Day of the Lion. An Ambassador for her species until the very end. RIP Lady Liuwa. We’re so glad we made it out there to you.

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