The first three weeks of February were unseasonably dry and hardly any rain fell at all during this period. Some rains and cooler weather returned toward the end of February, however due to the results of the first three weeks the roads becoming quite dry, and many of the seasonal pans becoming quite shallow and muddy. Elephant viewing was good through the month as a consequence, and at times elephant densities were similar to what we see in the dry season. Some herds were close to camp, but most were seen along the Linyanti River.
We enjoyed some good sightings of all the major carnivores, with the single male cheetah that frequents the area showing up twice, once on the airfield and once near Dish Pan. He appears to be doing well despite the loss of his coalition partner some time ago.
There were a few lion sightings that took place. Most were of the lioness known as the Savuti Female and her two sub-adult male offspring. For February they seemed to be spending most of their time to the west of Savuti, and we found them eating a kudu quite close to Zibadianja Lagoon. We are hoping they will cross the river and move a little closer to their old haunts around Savuti in the months ahead. The Linyanti Pride was also seen on a few occasions, usually to the north of camp.
The Linyanti wild dog pack put in some good showings for us too. All four pups are still alive, and the pack is maintaining its size of 11 animals in total. They were finding it a little harder to hunt than in the earlier months of the summer, when baby impala were easy pickings. They caught a baby kudu close to the Linyanti early in the month that we were able to see. Late in the month they moved east and out of our game drive area.
Spotted hyaena sightings remain quite consistent, especially in the area along the Linyanti.
Undoubtedly the star of our month in terms of the carnivores was the DumaTau male leopard. He was seen a number of times, two of these occasions found him mating with females. In another incident we watched him attack an adult female warthog. As he was trying to subdue the warthog, her two adult companions attacked the leopard, one from each side, butting him with their tusks in his side. He let go of his victim, but after they had all fled, managed to follow the wounded warthog and finish her off. Aside from a bit of a limp, he appears to have come through the warthog attack in one piece and was seen again a few days later again hunting warthogs. He obviously has a taste for them despite their dangerous defences.
The Savute Channel itself is maintaining quite a high level. On some days there are hippo in front of camp, and waterlilies are growing along the channel in profusion. Carmine Bee-eaters added colour to the grassy edges of the channel.
Photographs courtesy Anna Butterfield and Grant Atkinson