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LarsS

Musekese, Kafue - A dream come true

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BRACQUENE

@LarsS

Well Lars the Kori is much bigger  but if you  allow me to show me an example of the Black-Bellied look at the spot on the head.

1394_black-bellied_bustard_lissotis_melanogaster_melanogaster_maasai_mara_kenya_20141203_2_1000.jpg

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LarsS

Ofcourse, I enjoyed the safari already a lot up to this point. But it became different to other safaris as we changed our approach for the last two drives. At this point it felt like we were like friends on safari and we just did whatever we liked to do. It became more of a spontaneous adventure. Gareth explained a lot about the bush, which was all very interesting and gave us a much better understanding of the bush.

 

One of the things was the riddle I posted earlier. Time to give you the answer now:

 

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It's the by product of a hippo! When a hippo is grazing, he rolls up the grass until it's a big enough amount to eat it. He then bites in the roll of grass, resulting in the sides falling off. That's why I was holding it like I did on the previous picture. I'd never seen it before, but apparantly if you know what to look for, you can find these a lot on the ground along hippo's highways. Now, it's the most special souvenir in our bookshelf. :)

 

 

Back to the afternoon drive. We were keen on finding some ellies. You can see them quite regularly, but it's not easy to find them.  Sharing stories about the bush, we covered quiet some ground which eventually resulted in finding two bull elephants. They were pretty far between the trees, so we drove around to an open area and waited for them to come out. They were nowhere to be seen, but every now and then we heard the cracking of trees and branches. They were still coming our way. They might have heard us or there was another reason for them to change their direction slightly, as they came out a bit further than anticipated.

 

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The bulls didn't hang around, crossed the open area and disappeared in the bush again. We hoped to see them longer, but Gareth said we couldn't follow them anymore, since the river was behind the bushes they disappeared in. They might cross the river, they might be drinking for a while. Not something you should wait for.

 

"If we only had a boat now..."

 

That triggered Gareth and he said one of their boats was just a couple of hundreds of meters away.

 

"Do you want to take the gamble and get in the boat?" he asked.

 

Ofcourse we did!

 

So we drove to the boat, jumped out of the car and ran to the boat, only taking our cameras with us. Within seconds we were on the river, trying to find the elephants. Would they be crossing? Drinking? Or... could it be they already left the riverside and our effort was for nothing?

 

Luckily we were rewarded for our spontaneity and we found the two bulls drinking on the banks of the river.

 

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One of them wasn't to sure about us, and hided behind some trees.

 

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The elephants were quite shy. The waves caused by our boat, despite being very carefully, distracted them. They continued drinking, but as soon as they had enough they left immediately. No river crossing unfortunately. But where on a gamedrive can you decide to jump out of the car and hop into a boat to continue the elephants sighting?

 

 

On they way back we tried to see if we could find more animals at the river. But it got dark soon, so that was pretty difficult and we only heard some hippos. Still a very nice boat ride that gave us the opportunity to take some nice pictures over the mighty Kafue river.

 

 

On our way to the elephants:

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And on the way back, beautiful sunset over the river.

 

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Back at the car it was completely dark. We used the spotlight, but weren't in the best area to find any of the cats. This was the drive that we found tens of bush babies in the dark. We lost count at around 30 bush babies. A remarkable end of our drive. Back to camp for one last delicious dinner and get some sleep for our last gamedrive the next morning.

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LarsS
7 minutes ago, BRACQUENE said:

@LarsS

Well Lars the Kori is much bigger  but if you  allow me to show me an example of the Black-Bellied look at the spot on the head.

1394_black-bellied_bustard_lissotis_melanogaster_melanogaster_maasai_mara_kenya_20141203_2_1000.jpg

 

Comparing it to this picture, I think you're right! I didn't have any good pictures of it's belly due to the high grass and because we saw it mostly from behind.

 

Thanks for ID-ing!

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Caracal

A great riddle @LarsS and a fascinating answer. If I make it back to Africa I'll be on the lookout for them but if I come across one I'd never be able to make it back thru' Australian customs/quarantine.

They must have an African name - do you happen to know what that is?

I'm rather surprised that you hadn't seen oribi before as I've found them to be quite common in Kafue. They're one of my favourites and I've found that they're usually in pairs or a family threesome.

Am much enjoying your TR.

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BRACQUENE

@LarsS

 

The belly is indeed  often the problem  but happy to have been a help on this one  and what a great pursuit of your report ; the product of a hippo then I should have guessed  it and those sunsets and elephant pictures ; Kafue here I come " again " !

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Bush dog

I'm almost certain that it's a black-bellied bustard.

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Galana
2 hours ago, LarsS said:

Not sure, may be someone can confirm which bustard it precisely is?

Black-bellied. Keep it simple. I don't think Kori occurs in Zambia! I have never seen one there.

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Atravelynn

So the hippo "rolls his own."  Very clever of the hippo and of you to photograph it.

 

"The second voice is one of the other guests - George from the US, in case you know him ;) "  I don't know the George from the US, but I do know the one from Tanzania! 

 

I saw that same ele (I am guessing) in the same spot as your first post in #52!   My photo looks just like yours.

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LarsS
On 1/14/2020 at 3:36 AM, Atravelynn said:

So the hippo "rolls his own."  Very clever of the hippo and of you to photograph it.

 

"The second voice is one of the other guests - George from the US, in case you know him ;) "  I don't know the George from the US, but I do know the one from Tanzania! 

 

I saw that same ele (I am guessing) in the same spot as your first post in #52!   My photo looks just like yours.

 

Must be his favourite 'bar' for a drink then!

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LarsS

The last gamedrive was all about leopard tracking. Not a drive to see what is around, but purely focussing on finding a leopard. The days before we already learned to recognize behaviour of other animals when they know/suspect a leopard is around. The pukus all facing into his direction and getting closer in numbers. Vervet monkeys running towards the trees. Baboons calling into leopard's direction. You probably know the drill as well.

 

That said, the plan for direction changed within 25 meters from the camp when we spotted ellies in the distance. :) 

 

A good decision, because the first sighting turned out not to be elephants, but a lone hyena instead. A said hyena though, he was limping and struggled to move around. He only had 2,5 leg... Two legs he could actually use and a half one on which he managed to stand/lean a bit so he wouldn't fall over. That's not even all. He also had a big wound in his neck. That guy was in a really bad state.

 

You can see how difficult it is for him to stand normal.

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A blurry pic, but it shows his wound in his neck

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The hyena was determined to walk into a certain direction though, so we assumed he would have smelt something. So might not have been a bad decision to change direction from the camp...

 

First we passed the ellies we had seen from camp.

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And then, the hunt for a leopard was on.

 

We drove a bit further until Gareth smelt something weird. He stopped, wasn't sure and got out of the car to check the road and grass right next to it.

 

"Oops... let me get in the car immediately," Gareth said.

 

It appeared he got out of the car right next to a fresh impala kill. And where there's a kill, there's a predator nearby...

 

A very effective hunt, we thought, already finding a leopard (probably) at the start of our hunt. Only the thing was, we couldn't spot a leopard anywhere... Not on the ground, not in the trees. We circled the kill a few times, looking everywhere. Nothing. That didn't make sense. A fresh kill, but nobody was feeding on it or watching it.

 

We looked for tracks and soon found a few fresh ones on the road. No need to say we followed them. They led us to a more open area where the tracks went into the grass. Gareth expected the leopard to went for a drink, since the river was behind the bushes on the other side of the open area. We stood still, looked around and noticed some pukus were on high alert. Sure there was a leopard somewhere in the grass. We stared in the same direction as the pukus, continuously checking which direction they were facing. It was clear the leopard was moving.

 

And then...

 

All of a sudden there he was! Just out of nowhere he came out of the grass and would quickly disappear again. That moment where your patience pays off and you see a beautiful leopard walking in a dry ditch: priceless!

 

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He went straight to the river. Gareth told us to hold on as the terrain was really bumpy. I remember looking to the ground and seeing the big holes between the dry soil. You would have trouble even walking there!

 

We moved steadily and got closer to the leopard, but then...

 

... we got stuck! We slipped a bit in a ditch, it was quite steep and the car didn't get any grip anymore. Not forward, not backward, stuck. The right front wheel was up in the air and therefore did nothing to get us out of there. That could be fixed quite easy. Just sit on the hood!

 

We had no choice if we wanted to get out of there, but still... just a minute ago a leopard disappeared in the high grass right before us. Yes, we suspected he walked on to the river, but we didn't know...

 

So there we sat, right above the wheel to get in down with our weight, getting more grip and with some big bumps that almost made me feel off the car, we got out.

 

This picture is one of the fondest memories, it just shows what an adventure it was!

 

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As Beyoncé would say: "Who run the world? Girls!"
Two man wasn't enough. We needed the extra help of Tess, the lady hanging on the side, to finally get out.

 

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It took us quite a while though, so no chance anymore of finding the leopard again.

 

Talking about what to do next, we thought it was strange that the leopard just left his kill on the ground, unprotected. Surely we had to go back and find out if the hyena or other scavengers had found it...

We all paid a lot of attention of the location of the kill, so it was easy to find it again. But... there was no kill anymore...

 

Obviously a dead impala can't walk very far, so where's the predator or scavenger that took it? Again we circeled the area, again nothing. We looked for tracks of dragging the kill. Nothing on one side. Nothing on the other side of the bush.

 

We parked the car and were quite confused. What happened here? Is anyone fooling us?

 

But then, we found the kill again. It was hidden really well underneath some bush. Almost totally out of sight. Still, no predator or scavenger on it. It couldn't be the first leopard we tracked to the river. We parked the car and decided to just wait. We enjoyed our coffee and tea inside the car. When dead animals start moving around, it's definitely not safe out of the car ;) 

 

Our eyes were fixated on the kill. Nothing happened. Then one of us looked to the other side from the car: and there was the leopard! He must have been there all the time, hiding and watching us. He was really shy. As soon as we discovered him, he got up, looked at us for a few moments and ran off. We tried to find him by taking a loop to the other side, but no sign. We didn't want to change him, so gave up quickly.

 

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We continued our drive to another area where there was a treeline along the river. Also a good area for leopards.

 

The first excitement however was caused by a bird sighting: a violet backed starling.

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Just before we arrived, we knew we were in the right place. Some vervet monkeys were on high alert. And then we found two baboons making alarm calls.

 

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The alarm calls went on for a long time, but we never saw the leopard they probably was around. We weren't the only ones missing out on the leopard sighting. It looked like this baboon didn't know where to look either

 

Not to the right

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And not to the left

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From here it was back to camp to pack our bags and get in the car for a 7 hour journey to Lusaka.

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BRACQUENE

@LarsS

What an adventure !

Lucky you finding your leopard seeing the hyena which I did see in 2014 in South Luangwa , heard in Ruaha even close to my tent but never saw  ; again a few weeks before you went in Kafue heard several hyena’s at night but again saw none which was a pity for my son who never saw one in two safaris ..... but he was in heaven with the cheetah sightings in Tanzania Ruaha where they are rare and the incredible cheetah kill in Nanzilha just after 6 in the morning !

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LarsS
1 hour ago, BRACQUENE said:

@LarsS

What an adventure !

Lucky you finding your leopard seeing the hyena which I did see in 2014 in South Luangwa , heard in Ruaha even close to my tent but never saw  ; again a few weeks before you went in Kafue heard several hyena’s at night but again saw none which was a pity for my son who never saw one in two safaris ..... but he was in heaven with the cheetah sightings in Tanzania Ruaha where they are rare and the incredible cheetah kill in Nanzilha just after 6 in the morning !

 

It's not easy to see hyenas in Kafue. Their population is very small. Therefore they don't form clans and live (mostly) soletary. Quite unsual for hyenas. I can't recall hearing them at night. 'Only' lions, which isn't bad either.

 

I can't recall having seen hyenas on my two visits to S. Luangwa either. Looked it up on safaribookings and there it says common though. Luckily there are always other things to appreciate :) 

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LarsS

The previous update ended with saying that we returned to camp. I didn't say wildlife viewing was over. When we were almost back at camp, we already could spot some visitors. A few elephants walked between the tents. Just in time back at camp. We went to the viewing deck and enjoyed every last minute to the fullest. I kinda get used to elephants as a goodbye committee. We're probably very lucky, but we've had ellies several times at the camp/lodge just before we left or as a last sighting leaving the park/reserve. Sometimes we just saw them, this time they made it a bit more special by enjoying the last bits of water and mud in the canals in the dambo. They sometimes look so clumsy with their big, heavy bodies :) 

 

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What do you do when somebody is in your spot? You just lie on top of him until he moves out!

 

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Success!

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Despite the presence of the ellies, we weren't blind for other wildlife. You just don't know where to look, there's so much going on in front of camp.

 

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Galago

When dead animals start moving around, it's definitely not safe out of the car  

I laughed out loud. This should be added to all bush safety briefings 🤣

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wilddog

Just watching those ellies must have been sublime. Such fascinating animals... Never a dull moment. 

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BRACQUENE

@LarsS

 

Thanks for your comments on the hyenas ; if you are interested you can see some photos of them in my historical report South Luangwa 2014 even at night 

Great elephant sightings in front of the camp ; I think next time I will definitely go to Musekese just before the rains.

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LarsS
8 hours ago, Galago said:

When dead animals start moving around, it's definitely not safe out of the car  

I laughed out loud. This should be added to all bush safety briefings 🤣

 

Would love to see some of the reactions of people! :) 

 

6 hours ago, wilddog said:

Just watching those ellies must have been sublime. Such fascinating animals... Never a dull moment. 

 

Yes, it was the perfect ending. We didn't leave until the ellies were gone ofcourse!

 

1 hour ago, BRACQUENE said:

@LarsS

 

Thanks for your comments on the hyenas ; if you are interested you can see some photos of them in my historical report South Luangwa 2014 even at night 

Great elephant sightings in front of the camp ; I think next time I will definitely go to Musekese just before the rains.

 

I'll have a look (and maybe also my older photos from 2013 to see if I remember it correctly or we had seen hyenas after all)

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LarsS

@BRACQUENE just mentioned going to Musekese just before the rains. Well, that's what we aimed for as well. During the days, that worked out fine. But it wasn't dry all the time.

 

The second night, I think it was just before midnight, a huge thunderstorm passed over camp. We were asleep, but I think I woke up at the very first thunder. What a sound! And those lightnings, wow! I never experienced a storm like that on safari. Lying in a tent, with the frontside open (no curtains), it was a cool experience. The lightning lit the entire tent. And with the frequency of lightning and thunders, it was almost more light than dark inside :) A bit disturbing were the cracking of the trees and branches. We could hear several branches coming down, not sure the size, but it sounded pretty big. We could also hear some of the stuff getting out to check on camp and put some stuff in a drier place. It made me appreciate the comfort of my tent even more. In the end, the storm lasted about half an hour and as soon as it had passed, we fell vast asleep again.

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BRACQUENE

@LarsS

 

In the extreme dry period that Zambia has been going through every shower counts ; worst I saw in mid september last year was the Nanzilha Plains where the pool in front of the camp had almost disapeared !  I saw you went the last days of october which is the transition period so it could have stayed dry even until mid november . At Musekese where the construction of the chalets is very reliable even if the front is open you were rather safe but I suppose Ntemwa Busanga where we suffered from the strong winds is a different story .

 

 

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LarsS

A final media contribution in this TR. I've just finished a 2nd video of our stay at Musekese. I hope you like it again. I was happy I had quite a lot of audio about the background stories, so you will hear not only me, but also other guests and the guides Gareth and Ason.

 

 

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BRACQUENE

Well you did it again @LarsS bring back all the memories and emotions from Musekese and the Kafue just as they were starting to fade away "very slightly " in preparation of my next adventure to S and N Luangwa next summer ; amazing those two "wounded" predators still managing to impose themselves and even in their bad luck be heard and feared by their congeners and prey 

Great Elephant scene difficult to leave and a royal finish to an amazing safari and TR !

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LarsS
5 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

Well you did it again @LarsS bring back all the memories and emotions from Musekese and the Kafue just as they were starting to fade away "very slightly " in preparation of my next adventure to S and N Luangwa next summer ; amazing those two "wounded" predators still managing to impose themselves and even in their bad luck be heard and feared by their congeners and prey 

Great Elephant scene difficult to leave and a royal finish to an amazing safari and TR !

 

Thanks @BRACQUENE! Happy to hear my video took you back to your stay with them!

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