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A long overdue return to Zambia where it rained! Cats and Dogs


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1 hour ago, pedro maia said:

if at the end you will change your leopard avatar for one with your beloved lions...

Very good. :P  I am as likely to do that as I would to put in a photo of one other mammal regularly seen but rarely if ever never depicted by me.

How could I possibly choose one out of so many?:lol:


@Galago Thanks for saying so. Yes. I like that one too. And to think we originally called it as "Barred Owlet" at first.

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Fascinating info about the Pearl-spotted Owlet's trick and to see the proof @Galana.

Whenever there is mention of Scops Owl I am reminded of its persistent and repetitive calling throughout the night years ago at Nsefu.

Disturbing to read about and see the video of that harassed lion but otherwise its been great to read about more great sightings.


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Seeing that beautiful but frightened leopard is  not how I remember my night drives around Tafika back in 2014 either ; the first one I ever saw  was at night posing with grace before us as you can see in my report of that trip and returning to camp I couldn’t stop talking about that encounter with our future best friends Judy and Ian  ; even if it is said that the Valley has changed I shiver by the thought of Zambian National Parks becoming like that but let’s end on a positive note with some exceptional sightings you had apart from the painted dogs like that more than decent picture of the Lesser Gallinule and those gracious Cranes which take me back to the Busanga Plains 

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@Galana I am enjoying your report, especially your sightings of the painted dogs. Hope to see them next June when I am in SLNP. Disturbing information though about the behaviour of guides and cars. I am glad I have booked 5 nights in Nsefu as I guess there will be less of that problem.

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10 hours ago, Caracal said:

Whenever there is mention of Scops Owl I am reminded of its persistent and repetitive calling throughout the night years ago at Nsefu.

This Report is making me reminisce more than is good for me.

My lasting memory of an African Scops is the one that 'piped' all night long outside my tent in Mkomazi over twelve years ago.

And when I rose next morning he was still at it.


Doing his best to look like a stump. Unforgettable.


I remember my first leopard too. Jan 1994. Seronera. I kept the enlargement on my wall for years but the negative corroded..

Thanks for the encouragement. It is a shame about some guides behaviour.  It quite marred what was otherwise a happy return.

Stay tuned for more cats and dogs.




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Great sighting ! If you are interested I have a photo of a Scops Owl , not so clear as yours though , in my "historical" report of my first safari to South Luangwa in 2014 

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So on to Day 4.  December 23rd.

The excitement mounts.

And starts almost as soon as we leave Wildlife Camp.


Just outside our camp we meet a group of 50+ ellies walking purposefully to the river. Mothers with young and some bulls spread through the Mopane. This was a clear shot as he headed straight towards us.


Not only ellies on the move..



Several giraffe. Last nights rain must have stirred things up.

Nice youngster.


Inside the park our first encounter was a Business of Mongooses. Or, if a petition to the UK Parliament in 2013, had been acted upon "A gaggle of Mongi" You can't make these things up.



A drive along the Mushilashi bank produced a fine Land Monitor..


Looking every inch a model Komodo dragon.


But I know what you, and my driver REALLY want to see.:rolleyes:



That's right. Lions in action.  As if!!!!!


However I was not to be outdone or frustrated and as we came over the river who did we meet?


The Magnificent EIGHT.  I think they were just meeting up as there was a lot of licking and sniffing so maybe a hunt had failed.  Note the Impala in the background!!


Then the funniest thing happened. Dogs don't see us as either prey or predator and can be quite friendly to us. See my last post. If you lie down they will approach and sniff your feet. BUT if you crouch, say for a photograph, you will get a snarl and growl as they seem to have difficulty with your outline and react firmly.

I tried this once a few years back and after the growl from Alpha female the pack just moved back about five yards and lay down again. NB. You are NOT allowed out of your vehicle in a National Park so don't get your driver into trouble.

So the pack trotted towards us..


With some going left and two others to the right of the vehicle.






All to the left.



But two to the right hand side where our driver was relaxing with his feet spread out and.....



he got his foot sniffed and licked. Both dog and driver reacted and I could not get my camera depressed enough to catch the contact and reaction so I don't know who was most surprised but the dog leaped back very smartly and the driver sat ramrod straight thereafter. I am still laughing about it.


We were not done with our dogs yet. They took up position under a nearby Winterthorn and relaxed whilst we had our morning coffee. Oh how I wished I had brought some dog biscuits!!

Share our enjoyment if not our coffee.







Who me??


And that was the mornings encounter.


The afternoon drive was delayed because of rain and so our sundowner was under a large Baobab at dusk.

We had not seen all that much because of the weather, so placed out the tables and relaxed.

And no sooner had we done so than a lion roared in the distance. 3 km away so we can  finish our drinks before going to find it.

Then another roar much closer followed by a large feline shape on the track ahead and coming this way.

We grabbed the tables and drinks and quickly got back in the car as he drew closer. He was on a mission to beat up the pride of nine.


He told me this as he went by with hardly a change of pace.

We followed him for a while but whilst he never varied his direction we had to leave him when he entered ground where we could not follow.




See! I do like to see lions on occasion. So nice not to have other trucks around too.

This stranger had a nice black mane and was not known locally. Perhaps he was looking to take over  a pride himself.


One the way home we found our 5th leopard but she was not really cooperating and simply went by us seeking her supper. Again we had her all to ourselves and I had the drivers phone!




And that was another day in South Luangwa.



Edited by Galana
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Concerning Wild Dogs I would be verry happy to meet  "the magnificent seven " because I am still waiting to see my first painted wolf as you might know and  every sighting makes me excited and  , let's be honest , a bit jealous but I am confident 2020 will be my lucky year in South Luangwa NP :)

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3 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

I am confident 2020 will be my lucky year in South Luangwa NP 

I am sure you will have success.


@Biko Absolutely. But their terrible reputation is undeserved. They are just dogs but not wanton killers. I have seen them touch nuzzles with a passing Zebra that came up to where they were lying.

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@Biko @Galana


I would just like to say that wild dogs are wild animals whose primary concern is to feed.  Unlike cats, they are unable to kill their prey before devouring it.  As a result, they begin to devour it alive.  They cannot do it otherwise.  I also believe that we must avoid indulging in too much anthropomorphism and that therefore a certain number of adjectives describing human attitudes, such as vicious or ferocious, cannot be applied to the natural behavior of wild animals.

During one of my safaris, while I was enjoying my sundowner outside the vehicle, a wild dog came up to me, sniffed my shoes and then immediately left.  I don't know if they smelled bad, but what I'm sure is that it stank.

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1 hour ago, Bush dog said:

I don't know if they smelled bad, but what I'm sure is that it stank.

Like all dogs they roll in either 'dirt' or putrefying remains. Sure their fur stinks a bit then, just like my old Labs but they can sniff my feet anytime they choose.


Here is a short clip of them rolling at 2.21 and again towards the end.


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Just out of curiosity, who was your driver/guide at Wildlife Camp? Was it River?

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@Kitsafari, thanks so much for tagging me on this, Kit, else I might have missed this altogether wonderful report!

@Galana, I am 100% with Kit on this one - you need to give us many more reports here on all the ones you have skipped on! :D This has been such an enlightening and entertaining read. Very very impressed by your recall of specific trees with birds on them. The leopards gave you a show, and the doggies & lions and everyone else too :)

Thank you so much for coming out of non-reporting mode and plunging into the thick of things. Really enjoyed reading it, and @Kitsafari, let's do the island, let's!

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Too kind.

I mostly DIY my trips and by the time I have planned it, been there, shepherded and cosseted guests if not solo, and got home again I am tuckered out and planning the next one. I do do reports but mainly for the amusement of myself and friends and they are not always suitable for a wider readership or those of a nervous disposition..I often take liberties with safety issues and would hate it if any person or animal got hurt because of what I did or did not do.

Enjoy Tsika if you go. Stay at least three nights. Come back safe.

Edited by Galana
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Day 5. December 24th.

It's Christmas Eve in South Luangwa. The day that all the lodges and schools come together for a Carol Service in the open air with many lodges putting on stalls for drinks for their guests. It used to be held on the bridge by the park gate and I well remember the many voices raised against the background of a stormy sky and peals of thunder with the hippos adding their Bass too..



If wet in Mfuwe Lodge.


Now it is usually held in a large open field near the South Luangwa Area Management Unit.


Our day was organised to cope with this event even though it meant missing out on the evening drive.

Such a sacrifice,


So we made our way into the park and our first contact was with a large group (Tower) of giraffe. We counted over thirty in the immediate area.1-DSCN4503.JPG.1e6ad9356a8d433ecebb5e40e3f7d0f5.JPG


Rain was threatening off and on but we managed several bird sightings including this better rendering of Swainson's Spurfowl. Easily distinguished from the more familiar Red-necked Spurfowl by the black/brown legs.



We also were treated to a family unit of Slender Mongoose.

1-DSCN4529.JPG.c9d231b8a4f0cecf06bf229cb0ecc07c.JPG Often seen singly this time we had four.

Sadly the more visible refused to show its face but its mate behind the log obliged.

So we have  a full Slender Mongoose in two parts.


Another plus was a total failure to find that darn pride of nine lions. Pity that!! (Not!)


But our small pack of dogs were more than happy to come to our aid when we found them resting up near the Mbangula loop.




Obviously well fed.


And that was about it for our drive except we improved on our image of the lovely Dwarf Bittern as several fresh birds had just migrated in.


This is a bird that I will always associate with South Luangwa as I have often seen them there but nowhere else.


After lunch we spent time lounging and record keeping as well as watching the comings and goings of the local ellies before it was time to head off for the Carol Service.

Sad to relate but, as we all assembled under threatening rumbles of thunder and helped ourselves to a drink while the local Priest led prayers and the choirs got into "Once, in Royal David's City" with gusto, the heavens opened and despite wearing capes it was obvious that this was no mere shower.

Our drive back was along a road that more resembled a river. We got soaked.

Such a shame!

Why don't they have Christmas when the weather is better like they do in Australia?

We had shared our transport to the service with an Indian family. We never saw them again.


So to bed on 24th wondering what Christmas day would bring.

Hope I get something nice.

Edited by Galana
Corrected text.
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I’m very envious of all those dogs sightings, I’m yet to see one and they are on the very top of my wish list.

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Those dogs are now already part of my daily wake up present but full marks this time for the Swainson’s Spurfowl and a splendid Dwarf Bittern ; nice to see Christmas Eve in an African perspective by the way !

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6 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

Those dogs are now already part of my daily wake up present

Spoiler alert. We never saw any Wilddogs on Christmas day. They are kept indoors in case they eat the passing reindeer!

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4 minutes ago, Galana said:

 They are kept indoors in case they eat the passing reindeer!

:lol: Very wise. Reindeer would be a great family meal. 

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Do they know it's Christmas over there? They do now!

Day 6. December 25th.


We looked outside. There was no snow. We rose and dressed in our best clothes which are fairly similar if not the same as our worst as we travel very light.:o

And so into the National Park to wish the lions a Merry Christmas.

Except they were not to be found. I wonder if it was something I said? What sensitive souls they must be!


Nope. The only cat we could find were leopards.

Stuck up a tree. Monarch of all he surveyed.






No apologies for over egging the cake as I think he is worth every pixel. He even gave us a rendition of "Good King Wencelas" for good measure and sent Christmas greetings to all ST members.

Did I mention it was Christmas?   Well it WAS for me!

Lost count. Is this Leopard #6? and the day has scarcely begun.


I like this "Who goes there? pose.



Then he climbed down and posed some more.


Darn Grass stems!!



Oh! That's very nice.


Eventually he stalked off and our audience was over. The fact that we had had him all to ourselves just added to our pleasure.


Off we went to Lupunga in high spirits but it was relatively empty. I can't think where those lions have got to.

No dogs either.

But as we drove towards home, pleased as punch with what we had seen #7 stalked off the grassy in plain sight.



Obviously on a mission she walked right in front of the car (which was stopped of course) and proceeded on her way.


TWO spotty cats before lunch is nice. Any more would be plain greedy.


And so we commenced our drive back to Camp where we passed Hermann and family on their way out with son driving. I told him I had just had the best leopard photo opportunity ever which pleased him.


We all had a lovely Christmas lunch together. Thank you Hermann and family. No Turkey but I sinned. I tried the Warthog. One meat I had not tried before and my lady wife's favourite safari animal. It was a bit dry, as all wild meats are, and tasted very sweet. Great crackling too!:D


The afternoon drive started a bit late but we were to the gate in good time and headed west along Wamilombe drive.

And found another Leopard at the foot of a sausage tree looking very wistful. #8?




He climbed up and then proceeded to pick the fruit and play with them like a tough ball.

I have never seen that before.

He kept it up for quite some time. The camera says 20 minutes but of course a lot of the time he was leaping about up high and obscured by foliage.


Then he came down again..



And went on his way after sniffing one of the fruit he had dropped.

If TWO leopards in one day was 'nice' is it really greedy to have three?


Other trucks had arrived so we left him for others to enjoy at 17.42 and went on our way delighted..


But our luck was not to run out just yet!!

(I wish I could organise these photos so that later ones are hidden until after you have read the text. Can you fix that Matt @Game Warden?)


17.49 we stopped the car and there was #9.



Lazy as you please. If three is greedy what is FOUR?

The light was by now fading and the lady was inside a wooded area so the quality is not brilliant!

ISO 3200, F6.5 at 1/30sec, hand held in a truck but that's how it goes.

Good enough for me and it shows what the P900 can do for @pedro maia if asked.


So off we went and blow me if our spotter Margo did not find something else to show us.


Flap-necked Chameleon.

Chameleons got their name from the Greek  ‘khamai’ for 'on the ground' which is rarely were you find them and 'leon'  so we got our lions in a way and this one was even moving!:P


And that was what we did on Christmas day in South Luangwa so we just need to wish the House Gecko "good hunting" and turn in for the night.


26th, Called "Boxing Day" in most calendars,  wonder what sport we may find tomorrow.

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Number 6 beats them all I think ; fabulous as is the Chameleon : what a Christmas😊

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What a wonderful way to spend Christmas Day, the leopards were a perfect present.

Good to hear you wore your best clothes :)

Edited by TonyQ
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2 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

Number 6 beats them all I think ;

I agree. I am currently having to find space on a wall to have it mounted. I fear my wife may leave me if I don't leave some space for flowers.;)

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I certainly would not dare to contest your wife’s preferences but that leopard 6 with mouth wide open would have a special place on my wall and my wife who is as obsessed by safaris as myself if not more , would agree instantly 

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