Friday, August 19, 2011

They're back

 As any of the KP staff could tell you, I was getting impatient. By the start of August last year, elephants were frequently meandering along the river bank through camp. This year, however, perhaps because the rains lasted longer into June than usual, the ellies have been slow in returning to the riverine habitat around Kiba. To put it simply, I missed them.

But a week ago, they came back. One evening they showed up right on our doorstep as we were about to sit down to dinner. An hour later, our food was cold when we finally made it to the table. We all gathered around the pool as a dozen elephants, and two very young calves, ably picked up small wild dates off the ground.

It was nice to see a couple of young calves with the herd. One (not pictured), was still small enough to fit under her mother's belly, meaning she's less than 6 months old.

Even Michael, one of our waiters, was happy to see them come back. For him, elephants can be a challenge as he sometimes has to dodge them when bringing food from the kitchen to the table.

Of course 5-ton visitors do have some drawbacks. Guests have been late for their flights because the ellies blockaded their rooms. We are now subject to sudden wake-up calls in the middle of the night as elephants smash their way through the bush. And while elephants are only too happy to use our well swept paths to move through camp, they never hesitate to fell trees and branches that block our way.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Impala Split

Camp managers love oddball animals, and I am no different. Horns are strong, but they can be broken or deformed with great effect at creating ugly ducklings. I found this impala near some of our local lakes here in the Selous.

Like other impala, this ram has gracefully curved horns. Atypically, however, his are all askew.

It's impossible to know why his left horn juts forward at such a weird angle, but it will almost certainly hamper him in fights with other rams for dominance of mating herds. And without winning dominance, it will be nearly impossible for him to secure maiting opportunities, so it is unlikely that his genes will be passed on.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Rufiji Haul

There's more than one pace to life in the Selous. You may cruise up river, the wind in your hair, or you might sit quietly, drink in hand, in the shade of our hide overlooking the garden. Or you might grab a fishing rod and a beer for an afternoon on a sandbank trying to hook a prized tigerfish or a tasty catfish.

Even a pensive afternoon fishing includes some great wildlife sightings, as shown by this photo of Godlisten and some guests rousing a raft of hippos from their watery retreat.

On this particular trip, Jake won the day with an impressive 5-Kg golden catfish, complete with a little squeaker inside. Michael, one of the waiters at KP, held up the prize fish before frying it up for pre-dinner snacks.

So what can you expect to catch when you fish the Rufiji? Well that certainly depends, but if you're lucky, you might just be able to match Jake's giant catfish or--if you're really lucky--the remarkable haul of one recent group of guests:

11 catfish
8 squeakers
5 tigerfish
1 terrapin

And that excludes the croc that fought the hook for almost 10 minutes before finally (and fortunately?) snapping the line!