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SimplyRed

A short report on Botswana with photos

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Marks

Great update...love the dog & lounging lion portraits.

I hope your next health recheck provides you with unconditionally good news.

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PCNW

Red your TR reads like my TR to Botswana. FC from ATL to JNB, doorman, INC, Maun, Erica with WS, favorite bird the jacana, moroko rides at sunset, even what looks like the same room at Vum.

 

As bad as that shiner is I'm wondering what you/they would have done if you had needed stitches?

 

@@graceland try Red's suggestion for Snapseed, I agree, best bang for your buck.

 

Really enjoying this report Red, thank you.

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SimplyRed

@PCNW: too bad we weren't in the same places...at the same time. Love meeting ST friends on the road. As for treatment of my eye; the management at Xigera were very concerned. They wanted to call for a doctor immediately. I'm not sure where one comes from but they obviously have access to medical help. Maybe one flies in. My husband could have done stitches if need be. He is a trained medic and has stitched up his fishing buddies when a hook goes astray. Your point is well taken however, had I hit an inch or so closer to the eye, it could have been quite a different outcome. We always know that we're taking these chances when in the bush. Usually worry about snake bites or charging elephants doing one in....not a loose board and a glance at the moon. I should be aware though, my worst broken bone happened slipping off the side of my bathtub at home. A fall of about 8 inches. Humans......such frail creatures!

 

Dentist today, but will try to post a few more details.

 

Cheers!

'Red

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SimplyRed

Fourth camp: Chitabe Lediba (5 nights) At Chitabe we requested and (thank heavens) we got the amazing Phinley as our guide. Phinley is hands down the best guide I have ever had and just a motherlode of fun. Sadly, he has retired from guiding now and is making a career of farming. Such a great lose to the guiding community. We met up with Shay-Tay and Paula again at CL and were able to share a vehicle with them for a couple of drives. It was at CL that Phinley found a mother cheetah teaching her cubs to hunt and where we had our incredible elephant charge. We watched two old male lions squabbling over a warthog one evening. There was no sharing. Phinley said it was payback - as the one brother hadn't shared his catch from a couple of days earlier. Just like home! We had sundowners with a lovely leopard one evening - found sitting in the greenest grass. Eventually pulling out his/her impala snack from hiding. Phinley had the ability to anticipate the moves of animals in a way that no other guide had done. He had a sixth sense of which way they would turn and could get out front so we were always in a great position.

 

My eye was starting to look a bit better by the time we reached Chitabe, but there I was bitten/stung by a blister beetle one night. That really hurt worse than my eye. Huge blister on my neck for several days. You all thought that I had chosen the luxury route with WS.....see how much "roughing it" I did? :wacko:

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SimplyRed

We found a giraffe with scoliosis one afternoon. Phinley said the guides all knew her and she seemed to manage fine. She had mated and raised several young. Quite a sight.

 

In camp there was a lot of LBR activity buzzing around the main dining area. We found the source....chicks in the hollow tree.

 

 

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graceland

Met Phinley while we were staying at main Chitabe Camp and had the chance to spend some time chatting. What an awesome individual. I have to say Wilderness guides are top of the game. We loved all the guides and though we specifically asked for (and were granted) them I think all were amazing.

 

Lion males are grouchy ole animals; we saw one fighting over a buffalo...And such whiners.

 

Love the LBR and of course the giraffe....ouch.

 

Too bad about your continuing eye problems. I'v never heard of a blister beetle...were you in the vehicle? Next time I imagine you will wear safety glasses!

Your report is giving me food for thought on what I may take me with JUST in CASE of an eye issue! Vision is precious on a game drive! So thanks for posting your shiner and then on top of it a blister. Thinking-- painful :blink:

 

I just saw the announcement for this years' WS Green Season rates; sure would love to drop in again :)

Edited by graceland

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optig

There's no doubt that Wilderness Safari guides are excellent; I can't say that I'm ultimate judge as I've only stayed at one camp and that was Tuba Tree last year.

I just have to say that Kwando Camps also enjoy a sterling reputation which I'll attest to through my own experience, so it's not a given that Wilderness Safari guide's are always superior. Please note that serious safari goers on this site genuinely enjoy Kwando Safari's lodges.

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SimplyRed

Well...."serious safari goer" or not...we saw some lovely things with Phinley.

 

 

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SimplyRed

On one of our best days we found a mother cheetah teaching hunting skills to her four sub-adult cubs. There were three boys and a little girl. The little female was quite lame in her left back leg. It appeared at first that she shouldn't be able to walk at all, but we found as the day rolled on that not only could she walk, but she could run a fair speed. Not quite as fast as her brothers, so she was always lagging behind in the hunting photos. However, we observed the boys waiting for her as they traveled. I wonder if she is still o.k. The cubs were fairly good at the catch, but hadn't a clue what to do from that point on with the little impala. You'll see in the photos that after catching the impala they would just hang on to it as if awaiting further instructions. If the mother didn't catch up quickly, the cubs would simply begin to play with the little impala. I couldn't for the life of me figure why the little guy stuck around -- other than he was exhausted after the run and would simply be chased again if he took off. Eventually, they would all come together and after catching their breathe, the hunt would start afresh. We watched this repeatedly for a couple of hours before heading back to camp. Others who stayed longer reported that they eventually turned the impala loose. I was amazed they didn't kill it in the end.

 

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offshorebirder

@@SimplyRed - great trip report, thanks so much. Looks like y'all had some good Karma going with some very neat species. Best wishes for a full recovery and many more safaris for many years to come.

 

@@graceland - I hear you on the aversion to Photoshop. Despite being a computer security geek for my primary profession, I have not taken the plunge either. Not to criticize anyone who does so, but for some reason heavy post-processing of wildlife (not landscape) shots is not something I am drawn to - feels a bit like cheating. Maybe it's my Luddite impulses surfacing again...

 

I use a free, open-source program called GIMP - GNU Image Manipulation Program. It can be downloaded from http://www.gimp.org/ I think it has plugins you can get that do sharpening, various effects, etc. but I just use the standard package for basic stuff like cropping, resizing, brightness and/or contrast adjustment, and adding a copyright watermark. But I usually just crop, resize, and watermark...

Edited by offshorebirder

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madaboutcheetah

I have Chitabe on my list of places to get to .............. Thanks for the report @@SimplyRed

 

I flew low over the Chitabe landscape while transferring back to Maun from the delta about 10 days ago - Simply stunning!!!

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TonyQ

@@SimplyRed

Great to have you posting this report!

Very engaging writing and many superb pictures - including the birds.

The poor baby impala...

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michael-ibk

The cheetah - impala sequence is just extraordinary, love it! Glad the little one got away in the end. :)

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Marks

The impala sure got a lucky break. I've seen a few photos/videos in which cheetahs didn't kill them immediately after catching them, but actually letting one go? Guess you never know what an animal may do!

 

The LBR nest is a really nice find.

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graceland

There's no doubt that Wilderness Safari guides are excellent; I can't say that I'm ultimate judge as I've only stayed at one camp and that was Tuba Tree last year.

I just have to say that Kwando Camps also enjoy a sterling reputation which I'll attest to through my own experience, so it's not a given that Wilderness Safari guide's are always superior. Please note that serious safari goers on this site genuinely enjoy Kwando Safari's lodges.

@@optig, I agree given @@madaboutcheetah's recent report from Kwando camps. I'll have to give Lebala a spot on the itinerary, if I do get a return to Bots; but Chitabe and Vumbura were big hits for us as well.

 

Serious Guides for Serious Safari - goers :)

 

Red. Wow the cheetah/impala interaction..I'd be rooting for that sweet baby to get away. Surprised it did. Animal behavior strange at times!

 

Great shots; and loved seeing Safaritalk Magazine front and center! As well as handsome Phinley with you two.

Edited by graceland

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SimplyRed

Here are a few stills from our elephant "charge". I have already posted some of these earlier. During an afternoon drive we encountered a small herd of elephants browsing near the road. We stopped to watch. They were quite near our vehicle. There were a few babies and the mothers seemed quite young. Fairly quickly, one of the young mothers became agitated. She displayed with a lot of ear flapping, dirt tossing, and a few snorts and calls. Then she did the most unbelievable thing......she dug her tusks into the earth and began pushing a mound of dirt toward us. It was something we had never seen before. She came no closer after this display, but others in the group began to circle behind the vehicle. We decided to move on.

 

We started slowly down the road and surprisingly the elephants gave chase. That I had never seen before. Usually moving along will calm an animal. Isnt' that really all they want? Not this time. They really started running at us. So we sped up. Then LOTS of elephants emerged from the surrounding trees and were running along side the vehicle. All told, there may have been near 40 - a lot of very young ones. We reached a clearing and for some ungodly reason Phinley decided to stop again. I'm certain he was deranged, but the whole episode was so exciting and interesting that we just kept filming. At the time, I didn't think much about being killed -- but have given it some thought since. :o There was a lot of mock charging from the young mothers in the group. Then the big mama stepped up to show us who was boss. Like the other, she came quite near the vehicle and dug her tusks into the earth, pushing dirt toward us. While she did this, the rest of the herd were slowly moving away into the bush. Maybe she was just trying to distract us. Maybe she was trying to convey what would happen if we didn't make haste. So we did! It was thrilling, and scary at the same time.

 

These photos of the event are stills pulled from a very shakey video, so the quality isn't very good, but you'll get the idea. We talked to a lot of guides about this incident and posted here on ST -- this isn't a behavior that is well known.

 

Enjoy!

'Red

 

 

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Marks

Wow, you must have been flooded with adrenaline. Really interesting behavior, too. Estes describes head tossing/jerking as a display of aggression in the Safari Companion, but this appears to be distinct from that.

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egilio

I have never seen the 'sticking their tusks in the ground' behavior but I'm sure it's some kind of warning. However, if elephants are displaying warning behavior (head shaking, mock charges, tossing stuff etc) it's very likely they will chase you if you move away. Just to be sure you're really moving off. That's why when Phinley stopped they moved off (after a bit more warnings by the matriarch).

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Whyone?

Like others, I have never seen (or heard) off the 'tusks in the ground' behavior, but on two separate occasions (years apart) I have been in a stationary vehicle then female elephants got upset with us.

 

The situations were quite different. On one occasion we were running along a track with fairly tall, dense bush either side of us, and as we rounded a corner we inadvertently (and unavoidably given the forward vision) ended up between a small group of females and a calf. Inevitably there was much trumpeting, ear flapping, trunk swinging and mock charging. The situation wasn't helped by the calf getting distressed. We decided gently and slowly moving off was the best course of action, and once clear of the ele's, gently accelerated - the females kept coming after us, much like your experience @@SimplyRed.

 

The other occasion was in much more open ground (similar in many ways to that in your photo's). Family group feeding / drinking peacefully perhaps 75 yards from the vehicle and apparently quite relaxed as we watched for 5 mins or so (we were downwind, so reasonably certain they knew we were there). Then something changed and a couple of them showed signs of agitation, so we slowly moved off...same thing, they mock charged and chased for a little way.

 

Probably overly anthropomorphic, but I interpreted this behaviour as 'go away and stay away'.

 

Based on these vehicle-born experiences, we always give females / family groups a very, very wide berth when walking at Mana.

Edited by Whyone?

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SimplyRed

When I posted these photos early this year after returning from Botswana, John R. posted this reply:

 

 

This elephant behaviour is documented in Trevor Carnaby's Beat About the Bush (p242, 2010 edition), my favourite book for both normal and rare animal behaviour. He says it is a warning display which is a sign of a serious threat. He saw it in Sabi Sands where mature bulls in musth used it to warn him when they wanted him to move his car. He was stationary and not blocking any path.

Edited by SimplyRed

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ld1

We were chased by a young bull into our tent at Footsteps camp in Botswana. After asking our guide was it ok to go back to the tent to pick up a set of forgotten binos and his reply was "yes because you are walking by the side not across his path". Said Ele changed his mind just as we approached and swung roung to face us. Much footscraping, head shaking ensued and he launched at us in mock charge (which incidentally doesn't feel terribly mock when you are on foot). In a desperate attempt not to run, we ended up looking like John Cleese at the ministery of silly walks making gigantic, slighty jumping steps in order to dive in the tent. Apparently, it caused much merriment for those guests still at breakfast, thankfully nobody captured it on video. It didnt feel funny at the time, but now its a jolly anecdote to add to all the rest, although its not an experience Im keen to repeat.

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madaboutcheetah

We used to see that sort of behaviour very often in Kwando ............ Yes, it sure is a threat of a full on chase.

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marg

Very brave! After our first trip to Africa I finally admitted to my husband that I was afraid of elephants. We had so many mock charges in the South Luangwa. Nearly every time that we came around a corner we surprised one, followed by those charges. It did not help that in our first camp a couple told us of an elephant whose tusks went through the back of their vehicle on a previous trip. Luckily no one was sitting in the back row. It is better now...better behaved ellies.

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SimplyRed

Fifth and final camp before heading home: Savuti (4 nights) Savuti is a lovely location on the, now full, channel. We encountered lots of elephants in the water. During the season of our visit, the mopane was extremely thick and difficult to navigate. For that reason, I wasn’t wildly enchanted with the area. However, we had nice dog sightings here and spent a wonderful day at the nesting grounds of the spectacular Carmine Bee-eaters. We did have a spitting cobra living under a log outside our tent, watched a python devour a squirrel for lunch one day and had a lovely visit to our tent by the tiny little owlet, mentioned in my birding post.

 

We made a full day trip to see the Carmine-Bee-eater nesting grounds. It was a long hard drive, but well worth it. The site covered approximately an acre of ground. The nests are holes in the earth. So surprising given the coming rains. I would think the chicks could easily drown in the right rain. There had been the big terminte hatch a few days prior, so the birds were in a frenzy of feeding the recently hatched chicks. I can't tell how many birds as they were up and down in clouds of pink. I'm only guessing when I say at least a thousand.

 

They are relentless scavangers. Birds were constantly pulling food right out of the mounths of rivals. It was a real scurry to get a bug and into the nest before the bug was taken away by another. Watching the birds dive at full speed, head first into the nesting holes was pretty amazing. I kept wondering what kept the chicks from being speared as their mum returned.

 

The photos aren't great quality as I don't own either a great birding camera or lens. However, I kind of like the flurry of color and movement in the photos. It reminds me of ballet. Enjoy!

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SimplyRed

Our very first sighting at Savuti was on the airstrip. Our guide asked what we had on our "wish list" that we hadn't seen so far. When I mentioned roan, he said they hadn’t seen roan for months. (I swear it happened this way)---- just as he spoke those words, a roan sauntered out of the bush and across the air field. Our one and only roan of the trip, but he did put in an appearance for the camera. I accused the guides of giving us a go, but they insisted they had not seen roan in quite some time and camp management backed them up.

 

Lots of elephants in the water around Savuti. We spent one evening with sundowners watching this herd cross and browse (or do they graze?). The little ones were especially cute when crossing the water. I think the one is attempting to use his water reed as a snorkel. Others were determined to get the tastiest roots of the water plants and would dive head first in the attempt.

 

 

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