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Kitsafari

@@TonyQ Hi Tony thank you for reading along. My husband reminded me that it was your report, as much as that from Safaridude, that decided his choice for SLNP. So thanks due to you too for our fabulous trip. I thought it was just another pleasant and enjoyable trip, but it slowly reveals its secrets and then before you know it, it has grown on you.

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michael-ibk

Very much enjoyed this installment, Kit. Unshy Bushbucks? I've only ever met the running-at-first-glance-kind. :)

 

The lack of jackals is interesting, what are the theories about their absence?

 

Love the leopard cub!

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JulieM

I think South Luangwa, maybe coupled with Mana Pools could well be our next destination.....although the Patanal is looking interesting too. So many choices!!

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Sangeeta

Michael beat me to it with his question about the vanished jackals. How strange is that? Did anyone hazard a guess why this may have happened?

 

Never seen a non-shy bushbuck either - your guys look remarkably relaxed put in the open like that! The leopard cub is at such a lovely, gangly age!

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Kitsafari

@@Sangeeta and @@michael-ibk, the guide (Alec at Mwamba) said the last jackal was seen sometime in 1980s and that some disease had wiped a lot of them out. I can only think of rabies as a potential disease. H remembered though that Alec added that there were probably still some jackals left.

 

I googled and found that it is side striped jackals that still can be seen if you are very lucky. we saw no side striped or black backed jackals at all during our trip.

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Novelectro

Interesting about the jackals. There are some other interesting tidbits I picked up in SLNP this year too - like how the hyenas do not travel in packs and are solitary, the intermingling of species in herds (moreso than I have seen before) and also the physical size of many species seems to be smaller in SLNP than in other places. The giraffe and impala for example were always smaller.

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Kitsafari

Interesting about the jackals. There are some other interesting tidbits I picked up in SLNP this year too - like how the hyenas do not travel in packs and are solitary, the intermingling of species in herds (moreso than I have seen before) and also the physical size of many species seems to be smaller in SLNP than in other places. The giraffe and impala for example were always smaller.

 

 

I also found some species smaller in SLNP than in other places. oddly i found the giraffes to be taller though.

 

and it was so cool to see all that intermingling of species especially among the browsers and grazers. adds to a sense of relaxation and calm.

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Kitsafari

We visit the hippo hide at noon, close to the hottest part of the day. As expected the hippo families are huddled in the water, not wanting to move around the low waters.




South Luangwa hosts the largest number of hippos in Africa and during the dry season you can’t help but see large pods of hippos trying to lie as deep as possible in the increasingly shallow river. Estimated numbers of hippos range from 6,000 to 10,000 or over 50 hippos per km of the Luangwa River.



Every night we are at camps that are next to the river, we are serenaded by the hippo grunts and deep guffaws throughout the night.



A hippo fest:




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keeping a watch on us



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squeezing



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oh yes, that's the spot



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DSC00993A.jpg

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Kitsafari

i watch 2 young hippos pretending they are grown up bulls fighting for the females. they pretend bite, sink into the water, resurface fencing with their mouths then sink and swim a little way away and resurface to jaw each other. it is a very charming 20-minute entertainment.

 

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ld1

@@Kitsafari love those Hippo pics. Especially the one with the elephant in the distance. It reminds me of a great Father Ted episode "these are small and those are far away"

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Safaridude

 

Interesting about the jackals. There are some other interesting tidbits I picked up in SLNP this year too - like how the hyenas do not travel in packs and are solitary, the intermingling of species in herds (moreso than I have seen before) and also the physical size of many species seems to be smaller in SLNP than in other places. The giraffe and impala for example were always smaller.

 

 

I also found some species smaller in SLNP than in other places. oddly i found the giraffes to be taller though.

 

and it was so cool to see all that intermingling of species especially among the browsers and grazers. adds to a sense of relaxation and calm.

 

 

The impalas are probably no smaller than other southern impalas. Cookson's wildebeest are actually the largest of the wildebeests in Africa.

 

However, Luangwa's elephants are definitely smaller. Thnoricroft's giraffe are also slightly smaller than the normal southern giraffe. Lions also look small (even tiny) to me, but someone on ST disputed that with some scientific facts.

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SafariChick

Kit, love the leopard cub, so adorable - never seen one, hope I will some day! And the hippos are wonderful too!

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TonyQ

@@Kitsafari

Great to see the hippo photos from that perspective. The behaviour of the youngsters is fascinating.

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egilio

I see a few questions arising in this topic onjackals and size of animals in the Luangwa valley.

 

About the jackals. In Zambia only the side-striped jackal occurs. The black-backed jackal might occur in Sioma-Ngwezi NP but I haven't seen any reliable data on that.

The side-striped jackals in the Luangwa Valley had a drastic decline somewhere in the early 90's, during or just after a big anthrax outbreak and around the same the African wild dogs in the area underwent a rapid decline. Many people linked the anthrax to the decline of the canids (both wild dog and jackals), but canids are usually not susceptible to anthrax, especially not wild dogs who rarely scavenge. There are reliable sightings of wild dogs after the anthrax outbreak, indicating that the decline of wild dogs was not (entirely) due to the anthrax outbreak. What truly happened will probably be never known, it could have been rabies, or canine distemper virus or another disease but it probably was disease related.

Wild dogs have a great dispersal potential and populations can increase rapidly due to the large litters they can produce. A return of wild dogs has been observed in South Luangwa in the last 10-15 years or so, and especially at this moment there seems to be a rapid increase in number of packs.

Jackals don't have a dispersal potential as big as that of wild dogs, and also jackal population typically don't increase as fast. So it's not that surprising that wild dogs have made a return, but jackals not (yet).

Contrary to what's stated here jackals have been seen inside the park every year since I was there. But each years it's only a few sightings, of only 1 or 2 individuals. The most reliable sightings actually came from Mfuwe airport where a pair raised a litter each year for several years in a row.

 

Sizes of animals. I don't think Luangwa's impalas are smaller than any other impalas, their horns might be a bit shorter but body size wise I don't think they're smaller than impalas from other populations. Bushbuck actually seem to have fairly large horns compared to those from other populations, but again, I don't think there really is a distinguishable difference.

The giraffe, which in the Luangwa valley is an endemic subspecies, is smaller than the other giraffe subspecies. Lions are defninitely not smaller than anywhere else. We've encountered small adult females, but also females which are large (weight wise) compared to females from other populations. The males are definitely comparable to those from other populations. I think we once weighed a subadult male and he was about 210 kg and grew considerably after that.

 

Elephants...many people state that Luangwa's elephants are small, and they are. But they're not small because they're smaller than other elephants, they're smaller because the mean age in the population is young. In the early 80s there were about 100,000 elephants in the Luangwa valley, at the end of the 80s there were about 6,000 left, most of which were probably born during the decade. So currently most elephants in the Luangwa valley have been born in the 80s or after that, and thus they're quite young, and as elephants keep growing throughout their lives, they're quite small. I've seen some big elephants in the Luangwa valley, but not many, and most of them in remote areas and very skittish.

What I have noticed though is that there seems to be relatively many elephants without tusks in the Luangwa valley, which could be a result of selection (by poachers) for this (tuskless elephants are not poached for their ivory because they have none). I've even observed tuskless bull elephants, something which is very rare in any African elephant population.

 

Hope this info helps a bit.

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graceland

Love your take on the hippos.....Maybe (?) I will understand them after more seeing the youngsters! Of any animal wildlife I have seen during my stays in Africa, Hipps frightened me the most......perhaps the stories of overturned canoes; or perhaps that half of them is underwater (lurking, hiding, eyes bulging) -and I am petrified of drowning (from a younger year child incident).

 

But you did give them more of a positive light, @@Kitsafari, and knowledge is power!

 

Of course everything else is superb!

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Kitsafari

@@egilio thanks much for the info. it's very useful and helpful. after i had written that original note, i googled and found out that there have been sighting of side striped jackals (as I mentioned in post #55). so the jackals haven't been really wiped out. but from your info, it does sound that the jackals suffered a terrible disease and there are very few left. :mellow:

 

I didn't hear much about the wild dogs, so your info is most interesting that they are on the increase. We hear that they are always around salt pan in Nsefu sector but sadly we didn't get to see them , although they made an appearance a few days after we had left Nsefu.

 

I also feel that the impalas are not any smaller than those I've seen in other places, but the elephants did look smaller and egilio's explanation for their sizes makes perfect sense!

 

The manes on the male lions are more sparse, and the guides thought it was because that helped the lions cope with the extreme heat in luangwa. initially i thought the male lions looked smaller and darker as the Hollywood males did, but when i saw the Mwamba male, he looked just as big as other males I'd seen in Botswana. and the subadult males are big!

 

we also noticed that quite a few of the elephants had no tusks or are born with just one tusk which Patrick noted as well. He also referred to the poaching years. But what is just as interesting is the permanent "weeping" from the temporal glands. Patrick says the temporal glands are always wet even when there is no stress.

 

I didn't have a chance to ask him why, but hopefully @@egilio you may know?

 

and @@egilio i remember coming across a research report you did on SLNP but I can't find it now. is it possible to get a link to it please? :)

Edited by Kitsafari

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Kitsafari

@@graceland So glad to hear that! hippos are just being defensive about their territories. I had ambivalent feelings towards hippos before the trip, although like you, I'll be terrified of hippos and crocs lurking under the canoe if I'm in one in deep waters. I"m terrified of deep waters too.

 

but after this trip to SLNP, which is predominantly of hippos, and after getting used to their grunts in the middle of the night, I'm seeing them in more positive light!

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Kitsafari

On one side of the hide is a short bank where a small group of white throated bee-eaters are building their nests. At the top of the bank, a puku pokes around for food, to be replaced by a male impala half an hour later.

 

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Kitsafari

sorry guys, i have to break up my posts. I"m having difficulties posting a series of photos. i tried 6 times, and i've just given up. so, i'll post in short bursts instead.

 

At the far end, two elephants on our left run to the river for relief, and on our right, a bull elephAnt slowly trundles down the bank to the river edge. The two elephants are curious about the lone ellie and moves closer. A fourth ellie emerges and joints them.

surrounding the elephants are baboons and impalas milling around the river, painting a very idyllic background scene of browsers and grazers as the hippos erupt into rumbling guffaws again.

 

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Kitsafari

Other animals at the hide are:

 

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Kitsafari

Our first evening is a quiet leisurely drive through guinea fowl plains again, catching sight of a crash of crawshay's zebras, which like the thornicroft's giraffes, are endemic to South Luangwa. They are relaxed while we watched the youngsters' antics.

 

 

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A word about zebras, giraffes and wildebeest (Please don't hesitate to correct me if I get anything wrong!)

 

Crawshay's zebras have stripes that go around the belly and down the entire legs. the subspecies of the plains zebra is native to the Luangwa River but it has found its way out of Zambia as well, as far down to Gorongosa in Mozambique. The stripes are also narrow and do not have the yellow shadow in between the black stripes. whenever I see a zebra, I remember what Tsile has drummed into my head: zebras are white with black stripes.

Thornicroft's giraffes also known as Luangwa giraffe or Rhodesian giraffe is endemic to the Luangwa valley. Only 1,500 of this species are left in the wild, although this seems to be higher than the 800 estimated four years ago. This species is very tall and have darker patches (but as egilio has said previously, they are slightly smaller than the southern Afrian giraffes). geographically, the Thornicroft giraffe is unable to venture beyond the valley because of the surrounding highlands. It is the iconic symbol of Zambia.

Cookson's wildebeest is also endemic to South Luangwa. all the guides describe it as a prettier version of the black wildebeests, with a slightly bluish skin and black stripes along its upper body. we only see them twice, and each time there is a single wildebeest accompanied by its pals the impalas. Other guests have said they have seen a herd of about 15-20 wildebeests.

 

More zebras:

 

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and here's a short video of zebras horsing around. hope this link works.

 

Edited by Kitsafari

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Kitsafari

a roadblock of two female kudus curiously eye us as we watch them in return.

 

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A herd of elephants quietly walk along the dry bed of a stream as a very young bull peeks out from a bank ahead of us, and clambers through branches and calmly walk past the vehicle. He spots only one tusk and Patrick says the elephants born in recent years have either no tusks or have only one.

 

There used to be 100,000 elephants in the 1970s. The large number of elephants and the lack of understanding of elephant ways and the mushrooming of human settlements that block their historical migration routes gave rise to numerous human-elephant conflicts. The Zambian govt resorted to culling, and Norman Carr himself started as a contractor to cull elephants in the 1930s. Carr pioneered walking and photography safaris in the 1950s, but that didn't stop poaching which reared its ugly head in the 1980s, leading to the wipeout of all rhinos and the reduction to elephants to only 7000 in the 1980s. right now, there is an estimated 10,000 remaining in the park which seems to indicate a slight bounce.

 

Now, Patrick confidently says, there is no poaching now. But much of the park is closed for at least half a year, and poachers can still enter the park from the Muchinga escarpment. Anti poaching teams are dropped off on the dry land when the lodges up north close for the season to stave off any poaching attempts.

 

 

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lilian's lovebirds

 

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common waterbuck with the toilet seat mark

 

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P1050071.JPG

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graceland

Love the zebras "horsing around". I always enjoy seeing the wildlife "playing" as they spend hours every day foraging for food, protecting their kids, defending their territory; staving off predators....I'd be so stressed out!

 

It brings a smile to know they bond with their playing. :) You did a great job capturing it Kit!

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Kitsafari

@@ld1 sorry i missed your post! who or what is Father Ted? I like that picture too because of the different species in it.

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Kitsafari

@@graceland I know what you mean. isn't it just nice to watch them playing, having some moments being carefree and totally relaxed? most of the time we see them alert, worrying about predators that they have no moments of just chilling out. so it was great to capture these moments.

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