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Zambia Dogs Cats & Shoebills


NSY
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Posted (edited)

Just back from a brilliant trip to Zambia.

South Park, North Park, Bangweulu & Lower Zambezi, sorting through the photos…1477243881_shoebillwingspan(1).jpg.1414bee886591945d34f3ecf2f4a53c9.jpg

 

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soleson

Looking forward to this report.  Still need to get to Lower Zambezi.  Where was the cheetah?  Was it one of the ones reintroduced to Bangweulu recently?  

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Posted (edited)

Yes cheetah was one in Bangweulu. We found the one in photo a big male and also a couple of miles away a female that just walked out of bushes to see us.  

 

Lower Zambezi was good for Lions 17 seen, Leopards 6 seen, Dogs 26 seen on a hunt. & the scenery was very nice. & hundreds of Elephants

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missed 2nd half
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Tom Kellie

~ @NSY: Thank you for posting the images above.

 

Your sightings are terrific, judging by the assortment of photos above.

 

It looks as though you saw natural beauty in numerous forms.

 

Many thanks!

 

      Tom K.

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Atravelynn

Key finds!  Nice going in Zambia.

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BRACQUENE

Well @NSYthis is a fantastic coincidence as I am leaving on Sunday for Zambia : North and South Luangwa and Bangweulu ! Wild Dogs and Shoebilll are of course on my shortlist : impressive teaser pictures by the way  :)

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Will you be going to Tafika?  It's in a spectacular setting and managed by people who clearly care deeply about wildlife and the local community.  The food is exceptional. We then went to Takwela in North Luangwa which was equally well run, the area was a lot wilder and wildlife harder to spot.  Bangweulu is completely different, spectacular when flying in.  Birdlife incredible and of course the Shoebill amazing.  We were also lucky enough to see two of the introduced Cheetah whilst we were there.  Give our regards to Rory - the RAS pilot.  Hope you have a good trip but sure you will.

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BRACQUENE

@NSY

We will end the Safari at Tafika where we will be for the second time after 2014(see my trip report on that safari) and can’t wait to see the Remote team again ; finally we will have visited all their camps after doing the walking camps in 2014 and now Takwela, Mwaleshi and Shoebill Camp!

I couldn’t agree more with you on Tafika and you can count on us to pass your regards to Rory;)

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Kitsafari

we loved Tafika too!

@NSY

I hope you're doing a more detailed trip report - your initial photos hint at a very productive trip!

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1st day Bangweulu. Today wake up is at 5am, breakfast at 5.30, 6am drive to airstrip for early flight with Rory in the RAS air Cessna.

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 Happy to be flying at this time of day as it will be a much smoother flight and a lot cooler too.  There are some good views of the North Park escarpment and woodland before we see the wetlands ahead.

The flight in to Bangweulu is spectacular.  Wetlands spread out before us, sparkling in the sunlight and thousands of Black Lechwe grazing. 

 

After landing we are met by quite a contingent and welcomed to Bangweulu.  Lloyd has flown with us and will be our guide.  Lewis is the local trainee guide. We are escorted to the Land cruiser driver and drive a few hundred yards to the canoes.

We are polled through marshes which range from 200ft wide pools to 3ft wide channels.  There are an abundance of water lilies – some that flower during the day and some that are out in the evening time. There are lots of birdlife, mostly waterfowl but not exclusively so.

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Once at lodge we are walked to the tents and have pick of the 5 as we are the only guests. The tent is basic but everything we need is there. 

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Lunch is served, quite an abundance of food on the table too – it’s a pity there is just the two of us and Lloyd to try and do it justice. 

After a siesta we go off in search of Shoebill and half an hour later the guides see one. We stop about 100yards away and start taking photos, then move to 50 yards away more photos, them 25 yards away. The Shoebill was hunting and made one failed attempt to catch a catfish in its beak. It is an incredible, ancient looking bird with its massive beak and standing 5ft tall with an 8ft wing span.

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After half an hour we leave it in peace and move on to 10,000 Black Lechwe. After walking for half an hour we are amongst them and they part and just wander a bit away. This must be the largest group of animals we have ever seen anywhere.  It’s just mind blowing to see so many and so relaxed.

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During the night there is a lot of shooting nearby and 11 shots are heard, then lots of shouting.  It keeps us awake and feels slightly unnerved by it and fear for the animals.

 

2nd Day at Shoebill Camp. Today after breakfast we canoe to the airstrip and get into the Land cruiser. We drive to Cheetah tracers’ camp & pick up guy with tracking device

We drive across open grassland for about half an hour and every so often tracker turns on radio tracking device and eventually he gets some bleeps. Then he directs driver to the direction of the Cheetah.  As we are driving across grasslands we see Zebra, Wildebeests, Lechwe and Wattled Cranes. 

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We see a female Cheetah come out of the bushes and she just sits there waiting for us to drive up to her. The tracker informs us she has not been successful on her hunts and needs to be lucky soon.

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The tracker says there is a big male about but he is very reclusive and doesn’t like to be found.  He directs driver where to drive as he was seen yesterday. We get multiple bleeps but the Cheetah keeps moving through tall grass from one bush to another. We see a Hyena and then after a lot of searching find the male Cheetah in the centre of a bush island.  Very, very difficult to see him, he is so well camouflaged.

As we get to our canoe there is a party of about 5 or 6 scouts getting ready to patrol in the bush for a few days anti-poaching.

Just as we about to get to camp the guides spot another Shoebill, we quickly alter our plans and canoe over to the bird.  It’s another great view and we see him spread his wings and fly off – what a sight!

We are asked what we want to do in afternoon and go for a short birding walk around camp so a lazy afternoon, the only one of the holiday!

Again at night there is shooting but only about 3 shots.  

 

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madaboutcheetah

Hmmm gun shots every night??  I'm glad Lloyd came along with you ........ 

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Kitsafari

how wonderful to get two viewings of that magnificent dinosaur bird!

 

that;s rather concerning about the shooting though. is this area next to the hunting concession or is there a lot of poaching going on in this park? 

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Shooting started at about 1am and sounded near to lodge. Was told may be people coming over from DRC but not sure. It was good to here Hyena's calling earlier in the night but not the shots. Once shooting started we could here hundred's of Lechwe splashing in the water to get away. It was worth the trip to see the Shoebills.  

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Posted (edited)

Tafika camp

Camp is in a beautiful spot overlooking river. After we have had a quick look at our Chalet we go for lunch & very good meal.

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Later, after afternoon tea we go on a game drive with Lloyd the guide & Justin the spotter. Soon find a pride of 7 lions - one big male, two females & four cubs. They are just sleeping with just the odd movement from cubs.

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As it is going dark we retreat back a bit for sundowners. Then drive back to lions but no action.

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 Then it’s a night drive with spotlight seeing 3 Civets, a White tailed Mongoose, etc.  We make a quick visit to room then back to table for 9 for dinner, which is very good indeed.

 

Wake up call 5.30am. Snack breakfast and leave on a game drive with Lloyd at 6am. We return to the place the lions where at last night.  We observe just 3 cubs there. One of the 4 cubs was a lot bigger & may have gone off on a hunt with the adults

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Further on into the drive and we come across a Thornicroft giraffe – found of course only in Zambia.  He was ambling in front of us on the track and seemed very reluctant to move, in fact he didn’t and we quite correctly gave him right of way and followed for several hundred metres behind him until he took a left turn into the bush and left us to continue our journey.

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Day 2: Today we make our way to the Yellow Billed Stork colony, one of the biggest breeding colonies in Zambia.  The storks nest mainly in two African Ebony trees.  The noise is incredible!  This is mainly due to Olimba a female leopard leaving her cub Mitima in one of the trees to practise catching storks. There are hundreds of them and a few Malibu storks looking for carrion under the trees.

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There is one young stork on the ground a couple of hundred yards from tree which looks injured. 

Mitima & her mother Olimba are the stars of ‘Leopard Legacy’ a wildlife program that Will & Lianne Steenkamp has been filming for 3 years. 

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Day 3: This morning we have a flight to Takwela at 10.30am so before this we go on a game drive.  We arrive back at the Stork colony and this time the poor storks have a Martial Eagle for company. We also see a Martial Eagle eating a young stork, possibly the injured one we saw yesterday as it was in the same area.

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Before flight we stop at hot springs for tea & cake.

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madaboutcheetah

@NSY- Were the film crews around this season? This is probably Olimba's cub from last season, correct?  Wow - so nice to see!!

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3 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

@NSY- Were the film crews around this season? This is probably Olimba's cub from last season, correct?  Wow - so nice to see!!

Yes the BBC film crew is still at the lodge & Will & Lianne Steenkamp filming Leopard Legacy. When we were driving to the airstrip for our flight to Takwela Will & Lianne where stopped by the track having their morning coffee break.  They asked if room on our flight for them & they would carry our bags!

Not sure if Mitima is last year’s cub. But told Olimba had left cub at Stork colony to practice hunting

 

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North Luangwa National Park at Takwela camp

We are flown in by Rory the RAS pilot and after a fast circuit to clear any wildlife on runway we touch down at the remote Mwaleshi airstrip.

We are met by Special, a guide from Mwaleshi camp who drives us part way to Takwela where we are met by Alex who drives us to the river. Then it is a 2min boat ride to camp just outside the park at the other side of the river. 

Takwela is another camp in a beautiful spot by the confluence of the Luangwa & Mwaleshi Rivers.

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Day 2: Takwela camp

Our game drive this morning includes dropping off a couple from Bolton at the airstrip.  Just near the airstrip we see a group of wildebeest which scatter as Rory flies over in the Cessna.  After dropping the couple off, we continue our drive, seeing elephant, zebra, warthogs, impala, and kudu.  The mid-morning coffee stop is by a waterhole with lots of birdlife and of course hippos.

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Our hut/tent is great with an open front onto the river bank. Lunch is a match for ones at Tafika. In the afternoon there is a game drive across the river, although we do not see much, we did have an elephant mock charge us.  Alex was very calm though and just waved and talked to the elephant from the jeep to let him know we meant him no harm.  

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For the afternoon drive we cross the river and then drive to and across the Mwaleshi River which is about 2ft deep.  On our drive back we see lots and lots of Chameleons.

After another delicious evening meal it is to bed serenaded by Hippos.

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Day 3 Takwela camp

In the morning we cross river and walk north seeing Warthog/Impala/Hippo & crocs.  It’s always exciting to go on a walk and see things from a different perspective.

Alex also finds an Aardvark hole and we can see where its snout has been pushed in looking for food.  It’s an animal we so want to see but at least we are a step closer!

At 4pm we walk north on camp side of river seeing Warthog/Hippos & crocs.  

Alex is an amazing guide, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his subject but he also ran the camp and so far was the only one able to work the new boat for the short crossing across the river.

I don’t think we ever so him sit still for too long!

 

 

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