Photos and videos from guests & staff for January to July 2015
Photos by Charlotte
Cheetah with Impala kill
The Lone Ranger….
Photos by Chris
Pictures from the Mushingashi conservancy (Delai Camp)
A Close Encouter of the Lionine Kind – Logs by Tim Rayner
It was a clear day. Our party landed north of Island 1 and headed inland looking for lions. Tracker Mike soon found the trail: a smattering of pawprints in the chalky dust around the base of an anthill. Large prints. We followed the prints westwards, carving an arc back around towards the river. Soon we saw vultures – at least 10 of them, lazily spiraling around a cluster of candelabra trees. Stealing towards them, we were confronted by a grisly sight: the carcasses of a female buffalo and her calf, both literally reduced to skin and bones, all meat and organs stripped from their frames.
Lion prints were everywhere. We followed them back along the river, sliding like ghosts beneath the trees. I had my camera set to video, convinced that we would be set upon at any moment. But, 200 meters from the boat, we still had not found them. When we paused to identify a bird in the branches overhead, I sensed that we were losing hope. I thrummed with frustration. Where were those big cats?
At this moment, I noticed a yellow log in the clearing ahead. ‘What is that?’ I muttered. Just why I found the log interesting is hard to say. Perhaps on some level I processed that logs did not come in quite that shade of yellow in Zambia. Or perhaps it was the broken branch that it extended to the sun, which looked curiously like a paw. Then the log rolled over. ‘Lion, lion, lion!’ I hissed. On cue, a beautiful young adult male lion burst into the air not twenty meters away, and the clearing erupted into life.
Everything happened fast. Mike was stumbling back, raising his rifle. I was fumbling with my camera, trying to bring the video back to life. I barely glimpsed the three females lions who had been lounging in the sun as they took to their feet and evaporated into the bush. My only clear recollection is of the young male dancing sidewards away from us, shielding the females in his flank. His gutteral roar split the air as he disappeared behind an anthill.
I was half hoping that he’d reappear on the other side of the anthill and challenge us. But the lions had better things to do. They were gone. Shaken and elated, we hurried back to the boat. I had missed my chance to film a lion on foot, but I had a story for the campfire and a recollection that will last forever.
Tim Rayner, McBrides Camp, 25 June 2015
Photos by Kellie Whittam and Meegan Treen
Photos by Trish Channing
Logs by an Australian scientist.
Thursday 11th June 2015
Walk from Fly Camp to McBride’s Main Camp
Chris McBride, Proprietor, McBride’s Camp, Kafue National Park, Zambia Trish Fanning (Sydney, Australia) Caroline Lawrence (Sydney, Australia), Associate Professor, Environmental Sciences Mike Thompson (Austin, Texas, USA) Stephen Mwale (Lusaka, Zambia) Moses from McBride’s Camp, Zambia
After a quiet night in our tents at the beautiful Fly Camp, we consumed an early breakfast of mealy meal porridge, fruit, eggs and toast, and headed off at about 9.40, the sun already hot. We soon left the well-trodden trail behind, and there were no track markers of any kind!! We were confident that Moses would safely find the way, but Chris also had a hand-held GPS, and every now and then would correct the direction we were walking. The distance between camps is 8 km, in a northeasterly direction, and would normally take about 3 hours, but we ended up at just short of four and a half hours, not because of losing our way, but because of the large number of groups of wildlife we encountered. It was an unexpected and rare treat!
We didn’t see any animals for the first 3 km, just the occasional holes dug by aardvarks, corms that the bushpigs grub for, and the quartz gravel and duricrust outcrops. Chris suggested stopping for a drink and rest at a waterhole, but when he checked the GPS we had passed it, so settled for the shade of a tree in the middle of a big burnt patch. Chris says the game wardens light the fires, and the fresh grass attracts the wildlife. Well…he was right. As soon as we set off again, we spotted animals on the edge of the open patch, in amongst the trees. Zebra and big red hartebeest, as well as the ubiquitous impala and puku. A group of warthogs came into view, behind the antelope. As we crossed the cracking clay plain, the spoor of many animals formed a palimpsest on the surface: huge round depressions made by elephant; the horseshoe shape of zebra hooves; the double points of impala; the round split pads of buffalo feet, amongst others. A little further on, we saw more zebra and hartebeest, and a small antelope called oribi. We walked towards them so we could take some photographs, and they took off soon after but we were close enough to get some good images. We walked on over the grassy plain towards a big tree on a termite mound that we thought would give us some camouflage, but the animals had gone. It turned out to be a tree consumed by a strangler fig, with its foliage festooned with the nests of weaver birds – many tens of them – looking like lanterns swaying in the breeze. Magic!! There was fresh buffalo dung all around in the shade of the tree.
We came across the skeleton of a hippo in a grove of trees. All the bones were spread around a bit but we managed to find both halves of the skull and put it back together for some photos. What a huge animal, yet it was likely only a juvenile, according to Chris.
Moving beyond the trees, a group of animals was spotted that turned out to be wildebeest!! About 10 of them. They let us get some photos before moving off. What a treat!!
Time was getting on so we picked up the pace a bit and made a more direct line for the base camp. As we neared the river, we encountered more warthogs, only a few meters ahead of us. They took off in a hurry, their tales straight up in the air. On the edge of the miombo forest was a group of four buffalo. We skirted around them and continued on our way, and finally made it to the river, but not before coming upon a pair of kudu who took off in a cloud of dust, and a troupe of monkeys clustered on a termite mound.
By then we were all hot and bothered and very glad to see the river, and the boat heading across to pick us up. All in all, a great walk, with so many different animals – ten different species, and many many individuals. We knew we had experienced something really special.
Photos by Caroling Lawrence