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An Addendum to Optig's Awesome Safari trip report - Malilangwe, Gonarezhou


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I’m starting a new thread as an addendum to @Optig’s Awesome Safari trip report.


His report was sharp, short and sweet and straightforward and I don’t want to hijack or bog it down with my meandering and rambling ways. Since he has given a main overview (link here: http://safaritalk.net/topic/16864-an-awesome-safari/) , I will just delve into more details on what I felt were interesting sightings and interactions.


Optig was at Pamushana three days prior to my arrival. My itinerary was


Sept 22-26 Pamushana, Malilangwe

Sept 26-Oct 3 Gonarezhou Bushcamps



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While in Pamushana, guide Jephat liked to get us off the vehicle to take little walks either to track or follow animals which was good fun. But by the time we heaved our butts off and climbed down with the binos and cameras, the skittish animals were running off.


At one occasion, we tried to get close to 2 sables but as we carefully took each step forward, the ever alert impalas spotted us and snorted an alarm, sending the sables fleeing. bummer.





One cloudy morning... (just to emphasise what a cloudy morning is :rolleyes:)





we spied a lone rhino male with his head on the ground grazing. The light was not the greatest for photography. Jephat got us off the vehicle for a chance to get closer and we (plus a lovely couple from Hong Kong) eagerly climbed down. The bull edged behind a bush and squinted at us (I know that feeling very well since my eyesight is as bad or worse than a rhino I’m sure) between the twigs to see what was invading on his territory and interrupting his tranquil grazing. He decided to tell us this was his space, in not too polite a way.


Optig mentioned about how well protected the rhinos are in Malilangwe (There are none in Gonarezhou - all poached out). Both black and white rhinos were seen, although the black ones were shyer. On my first evening drive, we saw some 8 rhinos all within a close distance to each other.








beating a retreat






Edited by Kitsafari
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The landscape in Malilangwe was pretty varied – from areas of dry mopane bushes interspersed with fallen mopane trees from where new shoots were emerging, to rocky ancient kopjes with ancient Sans drawings. The reserve is fenced but it was not apparent at the places we were taken to, except for one day to see a pride of lions at the very border between Gonarezhou National Park and Malilangwe. Malilangwe is managed by a non-profit organisation Malilangwe Trust.


The list of fauna and flora we saw was astounding even during the dry period.

























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One morning we returned to a pan where we had seen lichenstein’s hartebeests earlier in the morning. Jephat slowed down and came to a halt as he saw a stunning male sable making its way to the waterhole.



sable surrounded by the magical hour that is dusk




We were way away from the pan to avoid panicking the antelope. Jephat made it clear that we were not to make any sound and all we could hear then was the wind blowing, the birds calling broken at times as they flew, wings fluttering, and all we could do was watch as the sable made a slow, cautious path to the water.


Just as the sable moved forward on our left, a rhino came out from behind a bush on our right, walking resolutely but at a steady pace toward the jet black sable. At one point they seemed to meet and the rhino checked out the sable. Satisfied, he moved on.





as two rare species cross paths....















Edited by Kitsafari
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The sable continued its way to the water - at one point, he might have heard some whispering from us as he stopped and stared at our direction. He lowered his head to drink – a signal that all was clear and the other antelopes started to emerge to join in the thirst-quenching event as zebras waited on the side.


It was a magical time, I thought to myself.


But more magic awaited us at the same pan on the next day.











and then the hartebeests ran out to join the drinks party






i was quite taken by the hartebeests having to kneel to drink





the beautiful sable







and after the antelopes quenched their thirst, the quelas were next. its amazing how fast the quelas swoop in to take a quick sip of water and fly out. how they came in waves..







Edited by Kitsafari
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First of all I have to thank my safari buddy@@Kitsafari and life long friend for her photos and comments which have enormously improved my trip report. Her photos of the sable,Lichtenstein's hartebeest and rhinos are all superb. I just loved her videos-epecailly because I got to hear my own voice in them. I just loved watching the video where Japheth managed to convince a white rhino that the was an even larger one,and it ran off. It was simply an awesome display of Japheth's tremendous guiding talent,and the fact that he's already been guiding for no less than 27 years.


I have to say that I'm so glad that she sent her video of that enormous flock of queleas taking turns at the watering hole.I've seen flocks of quells in Mana Pools and other places but never anything like this before. Now that I'm watching her video I get to see just how outstanding is their camouflage. I was simply awestruck when I saw this. I also have to say I appreciated our fellow guest's Greg dry and witty sense of humor. I also liked his wife Kathy and was happy that she was really enjoying herself.

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I just wanted to insert a quick mention of lichtenstein’s’s hartebeests.


Greg, half of the couple in our game vehicle, had said this species and the red hartebeests were rare. I checked the IUCN and it returned a Least Concern on the hartebeest. But searching further I found that the numbers of lichtenstein’s hartebeest in Zimbabwe had plunged after years of poaching, hunting and civil wars such that the Zimbabwe government has put a hunting ban on this antelope as well as on sables.


Some reports said the lichtenstein’s hartebeests were the rarest among mammals in the country. So we were really fortunate to watch the uncommon hartebeests twice, each time at a lengthy period.



hartebeest baby










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Magnificent Sable Antelope photos and video @@Kitsafari! What a magical encounter with the Rhino and Sable together.


In the video clip it looks like biting insects were bothering the Sable - were they Tsetse flies or something else?


That is an interesting tree hide in post # 3.


Thanks for this supplemental TR - good additional info and eye candy.

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Very cool you had such good Lichentstein´s sightings - and I just love the Sable/Rhino shot. Looking forward to much more!

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What a magnificent animal the Sable is - and so beautifully photographed. MrsQ and I have just watched the video with the queleas and we both agree it is an amazing sight.

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@@offshorebirder I didnt really notice the flies until you mentioned it. But i doubt if it was tse tse flies as we were at the same spot earlier in the morning and we werent bothered by the flies.


Sables are just stunning.

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@@michael-ibk thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll remember to drop by again when you return. And will eagerly look forward to hear from you then.


@@TonyQ thank you for the compliment and i hope you both are well.

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@@Kitsafari. Is there any more beautiful antelope than a male sable? Sables were always my mother's favourite and your photos have really captured their magnificence.

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@@twaffle absolutely not - its elegance and stature put it so ahead of others.

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Since the pan was so productive, we wanted to return to it again and the next day, we raced from a coalition of sleeping male lions in an attempt to reach the pan for sundowners. The sun had dipped below the horizon leaving a faint glow in the sky and we were in that twilight hours where clarity in the air was diminishing.














As we (I meant Jephat and Difficult, of course) got the drinks out, two elephants headed separately to the pan, taking either ends of the pan.






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A crash of four white rhinos cantered towards the pan. Seeing us, the lead rhino, dubbed by the Pamushana guides as the long horn (she had a beautiful long thin horn), came towards us to check what drinks we had to offer. By then, the light was fading and my camera struggled with getting clear pictures (so please excuse the quality of the photos) but i persevered, guided by Jephat.






Long-horn female





Jephat warned that she could be fierce (she chased away elephants one day), but she got bored with us and didn’t like our drinks selection and moved towards the waterhole where the elephants had staked their space.



Greg decided he would be brave and face long-horn head on. Good luck mate!







Elephant on the right showing its displeasure at its peace and solitude broken by the rhinos




A meeting of two iconic species of Africa




Here's the video - Please ignore the chatter!


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The darkness of the night was closing in when a black rhino decided to join throw in his weight in the party. But it saw us and walked towards us. Even the guys (the human kind) clambered onto the vehicle by now. Unhappy with our presence he snorted and mock charged. Since the vehicle wasn’t about to move off on its own, he decided to run off. By then, it was too dark for my bridge camera to cope and I gave in to the pleasure of watching the scene unfolded.






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@@Kitsafari so enjoying this! that video of the eles and the rhinos is great - that ele just did not want to share the water!

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One morning, I decided to go on a boat ride. Boat rides aren’t really my thing. Mokoro or canoe boats are strictly out for me (i’m too terrified of hippos and I can’t swim; the life vest adds little comfort), and I've always thought boat rides yield little in terms of sightings. But I was assured that the boat at Pamushana was amazing. Optig was on one earlier and though he recommended the ride he did say his was a little quiet.

But because I decided on a ride, Jephat also decided that whoever was in his vehicle would have to go along which meant poor Optig had to go a second time. I do hope the second time was even better than his first. But for me, it turned out to be one of the highlights in my Pamushana stay.

The boat glided along the lake so quietly on the placid lake as the sun rose, casting those glistening gold rays on the surprisingly large number of birds. my enjoyment of the ride was definitely enhanced by the lack of engine noise. The sounds of birds awakening to a new day provided rich fodder for the senses. I’d definitely recommend doing this.

I’ll let the pictures (and it's a lot so i'll have to censor many) do the talking now.






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and then there was the funny, relaxed giant kingfisher who was so chilled that when the boat glided by him, we all held our breath praying he wouldn't take off. he didn't flinch. he dived twice into the water and we thought he missed the fish. but after the second dive, we realised he was taking a quick bath so he could thoroughly clean, preen and groom himself. what a thrill!


so here is my little ode to the little Giant Kingfisher who made funny faces at us, and danced and bootie-shake his butt for us.











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@@pault I did cut out a lot - fearing I would bore you guys and didn't want to drag this thread out too long. ^_^

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And then there was also this jewel - a tiny brilliant malachite kingfisher



















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