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Zambia 2017 / Liuwa Plains NP & Kafue NP, November


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Day 7 (Afternoon)


Well, for the afternoon a good old boat ride was back on the map. I was quite interested to experience the boat during that time of the year, as I really liked it during my previous stays.


The weather still stayed nicely dry.


The main difference on the boat during November / green season, was the lack of light due to the clouds etc. So it was nearly impossible to have some decent pictures from the Kingfishers, as they tend to sit and fly under the trees on the riverbank. As you can see there is a lot of shade and nearly no light. So this does not mean that you don't see them, but just not well enough to take some pictures. But even now it's thrilling to spot a half-collared kingfisher in the dark under a branch above the water level. Something we did again on every boat ride...These bright blue colours are so exciting.


On our way up noth on the river....



A common sighting for the boat ride as asual was the African finfoot.



Here you can see a lttle bit of the orange foot.





Some of the well feed crocs on the Kafue river..Probably one of these who was fighting with the Leopard over the warthog last August...:D




The african skimmer....





Some Hippos..



We wanted to go up river to the 2nd island with the bigger skimmer colony, but we've seen a boat already there and decided to turn around and have some sundowners somewhere else.


Enjoying some G&T's with a different sundowner...






Before it was getting to dark, we managed to get back to the boat pier for a sort night drive back to camp as it looked now for some heavy rains...



A lovely little nightjar on our way back. Shortly after that encounter we hurried back to camp as it started wit the rains quite heavily. We spotted some bushbabies as well but they are very difficult to photograph as they tend to jump around the trees quite frantic...




Another lovely dinner, first time in the main area under the roof and nearby to the bar.....as it was still raining but it stopped down a little bit during dinner.


Enjoyed some nice conservations after dinner and having a good glass of Brandy as well.


We experienced a heavy thunderstorm during the night and i was awoken several times, as it was bright as daylight from the countless lightinings...It was all over on the next morning. Fortunately.

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Day 8


Today the others went on a walk in the morning. I decided to go an a drive to get a vehicle for my one use and having a guide privately.


I was guided by Kevin, who helped in the camp during the absence of Phil and Ty with us in Liuwa. Kevin is a funny guy and it was a pleasure to be out with him on that morning.


We soon found the Elephant bull on the game drive on the same place, close behind our camp, digging for the roots again. But this time there was only 1 of them, more to follow on that topic.




You can see how he's digging with his foot...



Just at that moment, it started to rain again. So Kevin decided to look for a good tree nearby and park the car there. We would have some tea and would wait until the worst is over as it looked like a small shower.


Having our tea only after we were leaving camp 30 minutes before, was quite special, but hey what should we do. We had to stop and therefore the teabreak filled in nicely the gap, especially if the weather would be better afterwards we wouldn't miss anything.


So having the first sip of tea, joking around with Kevin. We heard suddenly some alarm calls from some Pukus in the very near distance on the other side of the road tracks..


We just emptied our cups of tea and hopped in to the car.


Only about 100 meters driving and we stood up on the road and there he was....Mr. Leopard! a good 50meters on the left hand side of the road easily spotted as there was only grass inbetween and he was lying on a mound.


A very nice and big male Leopard which we would see several times in the next 2 days as he was hiding his kill under these bushes.


What a great sighting! We were sitting in a distance, as this Leopard was quite agressive and not that much often seen before by the camp. So he was not very accustomed to vehicles as far as I have understood.


Nevertheless a great sighting which both of us appreciated enourmously as we were joking before we left camp, that we would go out for a Leapard. We were sitting there in a light rainy weather for over 30minutes.



You can see his big wide neck and his round head. More Jaguar like..^_^



We left the Leopard now alone and went further around the area. We would know the place and would come back later to that scene, as the leopard would most probably stay here for a while as he had a full Impala/Puku kill under the bushes not even brought up to a tree. So this must have been quite a fresh one.



The colors were absolutely lovely for some pictures, I really like that green environment, especially compared with the brown colours of the Antelopes.





Yellow Baboon



One of my favourites the Oribi...



Nice sighting of Lichtensteins Hartebeest.



A couple of Oribis lying in the grass.



Most of the time i have realized in the past, I wasn't very keen on warthogs to photograph. So I decided to change that and it was really nice to have them with the green grass..




We tourned around the south loop and i was very keen to have a look around the area, where we saw that baby Hippo which was stalked by the Lions a few days before.


It was still alive (well done!) and was sleeping outside of the water. You can see the mother was on the left, just a glimpse out of the water.


They are cute, especially when they are young....sleeping there like my dog...




We turned round back to camp and in these backyards of the dambo there were tons of Impalas with their young ones.



Pukus....usually they are outnumbering the Impalas during the dry season at Musekese but not so during the green season.



African wattled lapwing..




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Day 8 (afternoon)


Well the afternoon was in terms of game relatively quite. So I only will do a short comparison.


The well known dambo in front of the camp is nice and green, but as you can see it lacks the usual Pukus who spend their daytime in here.




There was less water in it then in August, quite strange but the rains only started 2 weeks before so no wonder.



The weather was getting better and it was getting hot on the sun and quite humid.



Scenery along our drive.



The Elefphant Bull was still digging the roots.



My new friends the warthogs.



Nice sighting of a lilac-breasted roller



There was another couple arriving and we told them were to watch out for the Leopard on their drive in. So the radioed us that they have seen him but he was not in a good mood and even charged their car.


We later one passed the scene as well and had aother look but again from the distance and giving him enough space. It was a challange to spot him as he changed his position only slightly, but away from the mound into the high grass of the plains. So finally we catched him and had a better view on his kill under the bushes as well.


We also could see that he was heavily breathing, so I assumed that his stomach was still full and that he was digesting.


According to Phil, this was the male Leopard we saw in August who was fighting with the Crocs. He then had an injury on his foot and was limping, but I had asked Phil at the beginning of our trip in Liuwa what happend to that Leopard and he assured me that he was fine after the injury, as they have seen nearly at the same place a week later going up to a tree.


He's extremly well-fed and a damn good hunter. I saw this individual now twice and always with a kill.



The kill was still under the bushes and not touched by the Leopard. It looked like that he was still full from his previous kill, he didn't either moved it to a higher tree.



Well another night with a lot of thunderstorms followed and we were lucky to escape the rains during the daytime.


So this was unfortunately my second last night and the next day would be already my last one on Safari for 2017.


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Interesting to see the beetle covered in flies - not even the smallest denizens of the bush are spared that, it seems!

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A short intermezzo, before I'll post my last day sightings.


I had now finally the time over the weekend to put some videos, I've managed to record all together in a very simple form of movie. The videos are quite shacky and sorry I'm not a videographer...


Nevertheless It didn't took my that much time after I've realized that I should switch from a "video" programm back to the old Windows Movie Maker...haha


No, I was just at the point to throw out my notebook out of the window:lol:....thx to Pinnacle Studio 21.....I have absolutely no nerves at all for that kind of editing...


But last but not least the old WMM didn't let me down. I just hope they make that one feasible for 4k videos. That was the main reason for buying that "pro" video software crap....


End of the story here it is, a little video about the Liwa Plains. I also have one about the Kafue, which I will post at the end of this report.




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Great video and it brings back so many memories of an amazing place. The only problem is Nimrod (Enigma Variations) always makes me cry, so I watched the latter part of the video with tears streaming down my face!  :rolleyes: 

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I read your report from back to report @Grasshopper_Club mainly because the first post I saw was the excellent video that you posted. The footage is far from shaky and if you took this hand held with a dslr then 'hats off' to you sir. I have now been back to the start and will read it through properly but Liuwa has definitely got my attention (having nearly booked there for this year). 


You have a great collection of hyena images but the sunset silhouettes are my favorites. Jumping ahead a bit - that distant male leopard looks like a beast. He is huge.


Great report and fantastic photos. I am going to try and pick out a favourite.


Kind regards



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Just watched the video - really excellent hyena footage. I could happily watch them all day long.

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Day 9 (Morning)


Well sadly this was my last day on Safari, nevertheless an enjoyable day with great sigthings. The night was as before, heavy thunderstorms and a lot of rain was brought over us. But fortunately it slowed down in the morning  when we gathared around breakfast.


Again we saw this beautiful example of a male Kudu in the backyard of the camp.



Impalas with their young ones all over the place.





aren't they cute?



another "Kindergarten"...



It still rained or fizzled a bit and gave this beautiful dark background colours to the scene and the bright surface look of all the plants and logs.




Turning round on south loop for a lookout for the Lions. But we couldn't find them again. But last but not least, the weather was now getting better and the change with the sunlight was quite dramatic in the felt temperatures, especially humidity. Usually in the morning you could use a rainjacket not only for the rains but for the temperatures as well but this was now definitely gone.



We went back to camp and having enough time before lunch, I was on my way back with all my gear stuffed around me and then in the middle of the road another camp local...a couple of Red-throated twinspots








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Ooh Twinspots - gorgeous!

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Kafue looks beautiful in all that Green. Interesting that the Impala are more numerous at that time, I wonder where they are in the dry season. Very cool Leopard sightings!

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Day 9 (Afternoon)


Well it was getting much warmer during our siesta time and I spent a while around the main area before we would meet for tea. The weather was fine now with all these with dotted clouds in a blue sky environment and a lush green background. Everybody who knows Musekese and the main area from the dry season, as I did, will be quite impressed. There was even less water in the dambo now in November then in August in front of camp.


A short overview around in the Dambo in Green Season.






We were making plans for the afternoon around tea and coffee. As this was my last day I wanted to go to the boat one last time. So everyone else was happy with that decision and we went on for a boat ride alltogether.


We went to the vehicles as the pier is about a 10-15min drive away from camp.


We were on our way to the pier, so it was an easy one to stop at the place we've seen the leopard in the days before.


And there he was, just moved about to the next tree line.  This time he killed another Puku and brought that kill up to some trees.


He was seeing us again and was not happy....in the morning he charged the others on the other vehicle....






Shorty after the sighting we left the scene as we have seen the leopard now quite often and wanted to let him alone. Anyway our plan was to go to the boat so we turned back to the road and wanted to go further to the pier.


But James spotted suddenly back on the track some vultures flying around. We stopped and our first thought was that they have seen probably the kill from the Leopard.


But this was on the other side of the road tracks. So not long after we could see more and more vultures sitting around some trees in the distance and with the time we could easily count 50 examples.


This was when James decided to try to drive into that direction, it was fairly well at the beginning with just some high grass to cross over. But suddenly it was thick bush and we managed to drive around a bit and finally found a passage. We were again struck and realised that we are now quite in the center of the theather as the vultures were around us now on all sides sittng in the trees. James stopped the the car and stood up to the bonnet to have a look around with the binos.


After a while he just found the poor animal the vultures were so much interested in. It was a dead Elephant. I could see the carcass now as well with my binos in the distance, the Elephant was lying in the grass we could se his belly and his bum. The grey of his skin was already marked with some white vulture dung. James decided then to have a look on foot and messaged the main camp with the news. We stayed in the car, while he approached the carcass from the side angle.


After a while he returned and told us that the tusks were missing. He radioed then directly in to camp and informed them in a second briefing what he found and that they should send in a team to have a closer look. It was obvious that the Elephant was killed by poachers. I really hoped it was not one of the Elephant bulls who were digging for some roots, as we only spotted one in the morning and the site was quite close to that area.


So not in a very good mood we left the scene for our boat trip, which would be just a short one as we spent a lot of time now firstly with the Leopard and now with this poor Elephant. But naturally it was a very wise decision from James to have a closer look and trying his best to get closer to the point where we could see what was going on, because there must have been now about 100 vultures in the whole area.


It was a rather quite drive for the rest of our way to the pier. Nobody wanted to talk really. I was quite shocked from a point of view how close this was from camp. I would say within a distance of 2miles or so. Only about a 5-10minutes drive from camp.


James informed us that we would be further briefed later by Phil/Ty back at camp, as they would by now evaluate the situatuon at the scene.



Some sightings before we boarded our late river cruise..



It was looking now for more rains again as in the direction we "sailed" more and more clouds were building up. It was a rather quite boat ride, we had some great sightings of half-collared kingfishers as well but no chance for pictures that time. Under the branches of the river were they tend to sit and wait normally was just not enought light. Nevertheless the rivers is always nice to relax, especially after that shocking moment we had before.

Some regulars.



There was already a boat on our skimmer island destination so we decided to have our sundowners in the middle of the river.




We had afterwards a short nightdrive with some good sightings of a wild cat and some bushbabies.


Back at camp I just bounced my gear into my room and headed for the main area for some more news. Having a beer at campfire Ty briefed me already shortly about the incidendt with the elephant, but told me Phil would do a full briefing later on when all guest would be around the campfire for some snacks. As it was already in our minds, the Elephant was definitely poached and his tusks removed.


Later on, Phil gave all of us a very detailed and honest briefing about the events.


A short summary:


  • The Elepahnt was shot by poachers
  • Tusks were taken by the poachers
  • was shot within a 24-36 hours timeframe
  • Most probably shot during the night before
  • They reported the incident and asked for an "after poaching intervention team"
  • This was the first Elephant poached in the area since they were here.


The "good" news were that after the briefing to the authorities the request for a special anti poaching intervention team was granted for the next day (I can't remember if thery had a Helicopter as well). This was caused most possibly by the fact, that an elephant was poached. I've discuessed this Issue quite a lot of times with Phil in my previous visits and the problem they had in the past that they dont't get a response team, when requested. This was also a reason to try establish an own conservation entity.


It reminds us again that these things do still occur and they occur in the areas we visit as well. Normally we don't see them and maybe expect that the poaching problem is a problem somewhere else. I have known about Issues with some big problems in the area especially snaring, as others have also reported here in the Forum. The Lioness which was desnared and witnessed by @wilddog a year before.


This Lioness was fortunately desnared by  ZCP and survived and has now 2 young cubs. So thats why it is so important to protect these areas and put more and more efforts into that field. Fortunately Phil and Ty were able to establish this year Musekese Conservation. An NGO with the emphasis to protect and help the National Park Authorities to protect this core area.  I can highly recommend it to everybody to have a  more sophisticated look at their new webpage for more information.  http://www.musekeseconservation.com/


The change in wildlife here over the years was dramatic to witness and especially this year were I've seen so many Elephants in this area as never before. As it was the year before with the Lions and the year before with the Antelopes (Pukus etc.). Also the change in the habitat with all the broken trees and bushes in the far backyards of this area, are a symbol how thriving this part of the park is especially in terms of Elephant numbers recently.


Sadly this was not left unnoticed by poachers as well (not only by Safarigoers...).



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Another little video, this time about the Kafue in November...;)






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Loving this report @Grasshopper_Club . Tragic that you found the elephant and so close to camp. Phil and Ty must have been very upset too. The efforts they are making there are huge and the new initiative will surely help. 


Thanks for the update on 'my' lioness (well I did touch her ?). So good that she now has cubs. At least that was a happy ending.

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Lovely video @Grasshopper_Club and it was especially interesting to me as you shot it in November, the time that I'll be there this year. Finding the ele that had been poached was tragic. Years ago we found the same thing in the Luangwa Valley, a five year old female. It's a very upsetting scene to witness, isn't it? So pleased you mentioned Musekese Conservation, they're doing great work.

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@Grasshopper_Club I particularly loved this video because I'll be going to Kafue so soon. Liuwa Plain,Bangweulu and Kasanka  are all places which I'll see in the future.

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Awful to hear about an Elephant poaching so close to camp, I´m sure you must all have been devastated.

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@Grasshopper_Club - I've thoroughly enjoyed this detailed and beautifully illustrated report. Thank you and sorry to hear about the elephant poaching so close to camp (well I'm sorry to hear about any elephant poaching!) but it always feels a bit more poignant when close to home

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Excellent posts. Your twinspot photo is really remarkable.

Sorry to hear about the poached elephant - not what anyone wants to see on safari. But you're right that it's an important reminder that these things happen even in tourist destinations and of the challenges faced by conservation.

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