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Living with Elephants, Walking with Hyenas. Mana Pools 2013.


Whyone?

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Game Warden
we could see nothing more than a few camp fires and what looked like the very gentle glow of oil lamps - just as it should be in my perfect Africa!

 

Sounds timeless and will the be the ideal for probably all of us.

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Part 1: Getting There This years visit to the Mana Pools National Park, between 6th-13th October, was my 12th over the last 15 years. I am fortunate to have friends in-country so it is relatively st

Part 7: Walking With Hyena's   Enough of the local real estate situation...back to what Mana does best, surprising you!   Dawn Breaks:   Another day and another walk. Temperatures were still

Part 4: In Search of Bee-Eaters.   I always enjoy seeing Bee-Eaters at Mana, and in October they are still very much in residence. The eroded alluvial sand banks of the river are ideal for their ne

Whyone?
On 11/28/2013 at 8:11 AM, Zim Girl said:

@@Whyone?

 

I guess that is just wishful thinking but do you think there is anything in the pipeline that might stop it ever opening? I wonder why the works are so far behind schedule?

Sadly not in my view @@Zim Girl so much time, money and effort has gone into getting this development going, nothing short of the sort of random 'act of God' is going to stop this place opening.

 

I suspect it will draw in the crowds as well - Mana is an increasingly well known destination and I am sure there are many people with lots of money who will be willing to visit the African bush without actually experiencing the African bush.

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Whyone?

@@Whyone? ........As Zim becomes a hot destination again and people begin to see the end of Mugabe's reign......

@@Game Warden I find the notion that all in Zim will be tranquility and light once Uncle Bob moves aside intriguing. Whilst I very much hope that Zim will be able to move onwards and upwards, I very much fear that the contrary will be true. There is no obvious succession system (in fact there isn't even an obscure one!) and I worry what the power vacuum left behind result in an unseemly and unhelpful struggle.

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Sangeeta

What a cheeky fellow! That pot looked quite safely tucked away too :)

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madaboutcheetah

So, would you Mana fanatics say, get there before more lodges spring up? It appears to me that more people are going to Zim on safari again and hence the investment? Chinese/Italian venture - who would have thought!!!

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Whyone?

@@madaboutcheetah, yes, that would certainly be my advice. I have seen a marked increase in the numbers of people visiting the park over the last few years. But given the state Zim was in 5 or 6 years ago - no fuel and food in very short supply, it has come back from a very low base. We have been fortunate to have the park to ourselves on more than one occasion, but this is clearly an unhealthy and unsustainable situation.

 

Last year, there were noticeably more people about, and on occasion more than one group of people at a sighting, (yes I have been spoilt) I really didn't like.

 

The great thing about Mana however is you can walk - this means you are not restricted to tracks/roads as you seem to be in many NP's, which in turn disperses visitors much more widely. You can always find your own space at Mana.

 

Camps like Vine are going to put more traffic onto the roads - I may be wrong, and this will be a generalisation, but I suspect that the type of people attracted to luxury camps are not going to be interested in walking for 3 or 4 hours, finding something of interest - and I find interest in hearts of antelope, else's going about their business as well as the more dramatic 'National Geographic' stuff!, and sitting for an hour or two watching the world go by. So fully occupied, I imagine Vine will put another 6 game viewing vehicles each morning and afternoon onto the trails. As well as supply trucks and canoe transfer vehicles with trailers.

 

Another camp, at Mana Mouth, and another at Nyamepi, and both are mooted and I think you get the answer to your question!

 

On the upside, if you visit Mana before the development and the development doesn't happen....you can always go back again at a later date.

Edited by Whyone?
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Whyone?

@@TonyQ no!

 

In fact there was squabbling and bickering amongst ourselves as to where it went!

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Whyone?

Part 7: Walking With Hyena's

 

Enough of the local real estate situation...back to what Mana does best, surprising you!

 

Dawn Breaks:

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Another day and another walk. Temperatures were still relatively cool for October and sleeping was unusually easy, even though it was necessary most nights to wake briefly at about 3am to pull a over a sheet.

 

Many of the usual suspects were about...

 

Warthog:

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Nice Hair-do!

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Impala, so common that they are often neglected, being given locally the slightly insulting nick-name of 'Zambezi Goats', but I always take time to admire them. They really are beautiful creatures. I also wonder about what it must be like living your whole life in a constant state of alertness...when does an impala ever get to kick-back and relax?!

 

I think they may have spotted us:

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Spot the Croc and Legavaan (Monitor)?

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Zebies

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Youngster Moving along Swiftly with Mum:

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Very little fellow:

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Battle-Scared Hippo heading back to the River:

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Early Morning Light:

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Warming Up for the day:

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A mile or so from camp we came across two (Brown Spotted) hyena lying in the part shade recovering from what I imaging to have been a nights mischief making. Whilst it was impossible to tell, I strongly suspect that these were the two who were regularly caught in camp over night by the remote camera. In my experience of hyena's in Mana, away from a kill, the first sign of humans and they high-tail it...or more accurately low-tail-between-the-legs-it.....rapidly in the opposite direction.

 

These two were very different. They watched as we approached, but showed no great alarm or inclination to move.

 

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We settled at a reasonable distance and took photo's.

 

Furrowed brow!

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Then we carried on our way...and they got up, and walked along with us!

 

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Never threatening, sometimes a little way behind us, sometimes to our side, sometimes a 10 yards or so in front. When we stopped, they stopped and stayed with us for 45-50 minutes. Certainly not behaviour I have ever experienced before, but a great privilege to witness and tremendous fun!

 

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One of the stops we made in the company of the hyena was to investigate a tree which was humming very loudly indeed:

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The afternoon was spent sat drinking wonderfully cold Windhoek beer and watching this timeless scene:

 

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Elephants with added Quelea:

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And as is inevitable, the day ended with a spectacular sunset:

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Just in-case anyone missed it in amongst the discussions of Mana building projects....forgive the repeat posting, but quite possibly one of 'our' hyena:

Edited by Whyone?
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@@Whyone? - walking with hyenas... truly amazing!

 

We only saw hyenas in the evening during our stay at Chessa camp.

 

I've spotted the croc and I think I have spotted a log (monitor?)

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Zim Girl

Wonderful hyena behaviour. This year was the first time we had good daytime sightings of hyena as well.

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wilddog

Walking with hyena, a new dimension to Mana. How fantastic! :)

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Africalover

Nice TR and pictures, as i understand you are selfdriving. Do you walk with an armed guide or do you simple walk unarmed ?

I am aware that it is allowed to walk by your self i Mana.

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Whyone?

@@Whyone? .......I've spotted the croc and I think I have spotted a log (monitor?)

 

Well done @@Maki....you win, err, well nothing really!

 

But you are quit correct, the 'log' is actually a legavaan. I didn't realise he was there until I was going through the pictures after the trip. :)

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Whyone?

This year was the first time we had good daytime sightings of hyena as well.

 

 

Interesting. @@Zim Girl I guess some of the hyena have got a little more habituated to people? It isn't surprising that hyena are wary of people. I know the park rules say you should do nothing to disturb the animals, but I am quite sure that we are not alone in having shouted, sworn and chased hyena found rummaging through our possessions.

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ZaminOz

"Then we carried on our way...and they got up, and walked along with us!"

 

@@Whyone? ... Yes, isangomas will do that from time to time ;)

Edited by ZaminOz
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@@Whyone?

What a wonderful day - especially the walking with hyena!

The photos really create the atmosphere - I love that tiny elephant!

The video was worth a replay!

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Whyone?

"Then we carried on our way...and they got up, and walked along with us!"

@@Whyone? ... Yes, isangomas will do that from time to time ;)

:)

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Sangeeta

Sorry - deleted double post!

Edited by Sangeeta
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Sangeeta

At one point after seeing those trailcam vids, I'd thought that you'd named the TR incorrectly - that it it should have been Walking with Eles and Sleeping with Hyenas. Now I know better :) That must have been such a neat experience. Real and authentic and unexpected interaction. The best kind!

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Whyone?

8: Close Encounters of the Elephant Kind.

 

Mana is rightly renowned for its elephants. It is rare to see large herds, the largest number I have ever seen was in 2012 when a huge old fig finally gave up its fight with gravity and came crashing down one evening behind our camp at Mucheni 2 (in the abject darkness, a huge tree crashing to earth a few yards away is quite possibly the most unnerving sound I have ever heard in the African bush!) It had been a long, hot dry season and food was scarce. As the sound of crashing and cracking old branches subsided it was replaced by elephants trumpeting both near and far...as far away as Zambia. All night we could hear elephants wading across the river. Once dawn broke there were well over 100 elephants feeding on the fallen tree. But this is unusual (certainly in my experience). In the harshest of dry seasons, elephants split into smaller and smaller groups - sometimes just pairs, often pitifully thin females with a single youngster.

 

October 2013 was not a difficult time for the browsers and grazers. Indeed the wildlife was not as prolific on the narrow strip of floodplain as usual. However elephants were to be found in nice, large groups....what I imagine to be extended families, but I have no idea if this is actually the case.

 

Where else but Mana?

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One afternoon we loaded the Landcruiser with a chest of cold beers, some crisps and chairs and headed off in the general direction of Mana Mouth. Along the way, just before the little used Chessa Camp, on an attractive vlei we found one such group of el's and decided it would be a good place to while away the afternoon.

 

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After a little sitting and watching, I went for a wander.

 

Cattle Egrets:

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Not quite Namibia!

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But still very beautiful:

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The largest of the males with the group of elephants we were admiring had separated and was feeding alone from one of the Acacia Albida trees. After ensuring that he knew I was there (a little chat) and wasn't bothered by my presence I was able to take a few photo's.

 

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As I headed back to the car, I noticed he was heading in the same direction....and even a slowly walking elephant covers the ground at a remarkable pace!

 

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Yours truly with new companion:

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There was no charge, or signs of aggression, though I was a little concerned when I noticed that the rest of the herd were also heading in the direction of our vehicle.

 

Eventually the large male stopped ~10 yards from were we were sitting and just looked at us for a few minutes whilst the rest of the herd filed by, then he turned and followed them - perhaps a protective gesture? I don't know. There was no drama (other than having a large elephant standing a few yards away staring at us!) - no signs of upset or distress, indeed he ate a few leaves from that small, hippo-poo splattered plant in front of him whilst waiting, he just seemed keen to keep an eye on us!

 

11328155415_c4849fc56c_o.jpg

 

Sunset time! (the birds flying above the sun are Quelea, heading back to their roosts in Zambia).

11328322703_492018c1b8_o.jpg

Edited by Whyone?
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A great read and an awesome last image, that's quite a few of yours I'd have had printed large and on display in my living room. With no direct experience of elephants I can comment on the behaviour other than to say it's another great story for the rocking chair.

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@@Whyone?

Beautiful images of the environment - and wonderful to see the elephant folowing you and getting so close

Fabulous sunset with elephant

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Whyone?

Thanks @@Big Andy and @@TonyQ.

 

There is no doubt that the Lower Zambezi Valley does a very good line in sunsets during the month of October!

Edited by Whyone?
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