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Oh my, the year is almost over, and I STILL haven't started my Mozambique report. So better get going!


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No need to build up any suspense if we have or haven't seen the Dogs in Gorongosa, the crown jewel of Mozambique's National Parks. We have - plenty of them! If you love the Dogs (I do!) this is definitely one of the top places to go!


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And even more so if Waterbuck are your thing. A bit of a weird thing admittedly, but hey, I'm not judging. Where else in the world can you be in a park with a staggering 80,000 Waterbuck! 


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And plenty of good old safari classics here too.




Absolutely fantastic birdlife in the park - got 223 species in seven nights. Don't worry, won't post them all. ;)


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Gorongosa is just beautiful - one of the most varied parks we've ever been to.




Never a dull moment on safari here!


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Admittedly not "properly wild", but still an incredibly nice experience being up close with a Pangolin.


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Not so nice being that close to one of Africa's most feared snakes - Black Mambas are better admired from a safe distance.


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This Waterbuck definitely wished in his harrowing last moments he would have kept a safe distance from the Dogs - too late for that, too late for everything! This was the type of kill you would never see in one of the nature documentaries - too brutal, too raw, too painful to watch. 




Bush AND Beach I said - we thoroughly enjoyed the coastal part of our trip in Maputo Special Reserve. Talk about pristine - here at Anvil Bay Lodge you can walk the beach for kilometres either way without ever meeting a single human soul!


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And the wildlife is not too shabby!


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Enough teaser stuff, hope you are interested in hearing a bit more about Mozambique, because I guess at least four pages of more detailed stuff will be coming up here. Sooner than later hopefully, I'll try to do my best! :)

Edited by michael-ibk
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Thanks for sharing, your photos are so beautiful!


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Let's get some of the logistics out of the way, this was the itinerary:


14/10   Departure at 19:00 from Vienna (Austria), Flight with Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa

15/10   Stopover in Addis, arrival in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, at 14:00

            o/n in Maputo, Hotel Cardoso

16/10   2 1/2 hrs city tour of Maputo in the morning, Mabeco Tours

             then car transfer to Maputo Special Reserve

            Arrival there at 15:30, o/n at Anvil Bay Lodge

            5 nights here

21/10   Car transfer to Maputo International Airport

            Depart from domestic terminal to Beira at 13:15, with LAM (Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique), arrive in Beira at 14:30

            Short bush flight to Gorongosa NP, arrive there at 15:50, with Safari Air

            o/n Gorongosa Wild Camp

            7 nts here

26/10   Day trip to Mt. Gorongosa, requires car drive of 3 1/2 hours one way

28/10   Bush flight at 11:30 to Beira, depart from there at 15:00 with Ethiopian Airlines, stopover in Addis

29/10   Stopover in Frankfurt (Germany), arrive back in Vienna 08:10


This was by no means an "adventurous" safari. We were actually surprised how smoothly everything went. Certainly not more complicated than a trip to any of the classic East and Southern African behemoths like Kenya or Botswana.


Thanks to @Doug Macdonaldwho organised the whole trip and guided us in Gorongosa (only). He did a splendid job - as always. Originally we had planned to do a Gonarezhou and Gorongosa combo already for 2021, together with three more Safaritalkers. Due to COVID that never happened, and we ended up visiting Gonarezhou separately last year. And our travel partners could not join in for the new Mozambique dates, so it was just @AndMicand me.

Edited by michael-ibk
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Can’t wait for more .... what a teaser!!

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Dogs and much more!  Looking forward to this report!

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That's a very shaggy looking Waterbuck!


Definitely interested in this report, since I know nearly nothing about Mozambique.

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Doggies!! what a fantastic start. have a great NY eve party first, and then look forward to hearing more about Eden of Africa. 



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A great introduction. I had been hoping you would do a TR for this trip.

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Dave Williams

I seem to remember when I enquired about Mozambique on ST I seemed to get a negative response and so I dismissed the idea, Interested in your report Michael.

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12 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

I seem to remember when I enquired about Mozambique on ST I seemed to get a negative response and so I dismissed the idea, Interested in your report Michael.

You've got yourself a big "sell job" here Michael!

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Posted (edited)

Many thanks @madaboutcheetah, @Pictus Safaris, @Atravelynn, @Kitsafari, @TonyQ, @Treepol, @janzin, @BRACQUENEand @Dave Williams!


16 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

You've got yourself a big "sell job" here Michael!


I will do my very best Lynn!





As already mentioned we used Ethiopian Airlines for our internationals, and it definitely was the best choice for this trip since they fly to/from Beira four times a week. Of course it would also be possible connect from Beira to Joburg and thereyby to any airline of your choice but it did save us a lot of time and was very convenient. We have flown with Ethiopian often and have no complaints. Maybe not the top notch service quality of Quatar for example but perfectly ok and always on time. And Addis Airport has become a much more comfortable stopover airport since they restructured it and introduced a very nice lounge.




The boarding area itself is still quite a nightmare, though - incredibly crowded!


Immigration in Mozambique was quite chaotic. Not signed very well, and two planes landing simultaneously made the situation worse. A lot of people with evisa queued in the wrong lane and then had to go back to the start. We observed several heated (and fruitless) discussions. It took us almost an hour to get to the visa booth, but fortunately everything was alright. We had a stamped visa (obtained at the Consulate in Vienna) and were glad about that, because it seemed quite complicated to fulfill the evisa process, or at the very least it was difficult to work out where to go when for what. Mozambique recently lifted the visa reguirement for quite a lot of countries but we still needed it.


Once through we soon got our bags (always such a relief). Had to have them scanned again on the way out but that did not take long, and we were out quickly. Our driver from the hotel was already waiting. First we exchanged some money which is easy to do at the airport, and the rate is ok here. EUR 100,-- are about 7,000 Metical, the local currency. So prepare for a big wallet afterwards! I assume it's possible to pay in EUR or even USD at some of the bigger lodges and restaurants but we wanted to have the local currency for tipping purposes especially.


Worth pointing out that the national langauge in Mozambique is Portuguese, and only very few people do speak English. But not an issue, our driver, the hotel receptionist and all our local guides were fluent in English. 


Just a short 20 minutes, and we checked into our hotel.




A very comfortable 4-stars-venue with good (albeit a bit overpriced) food. Breakfast especially was sumptuous, dinner ok. To our surprise it was quite cold, so we did not make use of the otherwise very inviting pool. But it was very nice having a beer (and more) in the beautiful garden that overlooks the city bay. The Hotel was not very busy in the afternoon and evening, but for breakfast dozens of soldiers showed up. 




While the garden is not huge I did see quite a number of good birds there. Unfortunately it was raining next morning so did not get much of note photowise when I was "hunting".


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Black-collared Barbet




Nice view from the hotel to the Maputo - Katembe bridge which opened in 2018. Saves a lot of time when you want to go to the South, as we did.




Doug had organised a short city tour for us, and despite the rain we enjoyed it very much. Our guide David was very knowledgeful - and a funny guy. Arts teacher, drummer, guide - a true allrounder. All the major sights are pretty close, and also close to the Hotel, so even though we only had less than three hours we were able to cover quite a bit.


A precursor of the Fortress seen above was first built by Dutch troops in 1722. Later Austrian forces built a new version until the Portuguese came in and eventually built the Fort as it is seen today in the late 18th century. Today it houses the Military History Museum.


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The railway station was our favourite - a really beautiful buidling. The dome, often incorrectly attributed to Gustave Eiffel, was in fact designed by José Ferreira da Costa and executed by the Johannesburg-based firm Evans & Plows, in the early 20th century. In 2009, Newsweek ranked the station #7 on a list of "Train stations as grand as the journey", and described it as "probably" the most beautiful terminus in Africa.




Lots of exhibits at the station, including many historical photos.


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Mozambique's history as a Portuguese colony is very much in evidence here:


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Afterwards we visited the market, always a fun thing to do in Africa. A lot of smells and colours.




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Praca da Independencia, the Independence Place. Dominated by a statue of Mouzinho de Albuquerque, the former governor-general of Portuguese Mozambique.


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Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, a really beautiful church. Completed in 1944.


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This is Casa de Ferro, the Iron House. Again, popular claims that the building was designed by Eiffel are unfounded. Originally built in Belgium, the structure was bought by the Portuguese colonial government and reassembled in 1892 in Maputo (at the time named Lourenço Marques). It was intended to serve as the residence of the Governor of the District of Lourenço Marques. But it was far too hot for anybody to actually live in it!


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The Tunduru Gardens are  beautiful, and I bet birding would be excellent here. But the now very heavy rains made sure we did not linger. At least we saw some Flying Fox.:)

Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)



We returned to the hotel and then started the drive to Maputo Special Reserve at 11:00. Our driver was "Mr. Coffee", a pretty quiet but friendly man. The car was spacious and clean with A/C. It's a bit more than 100 km to the entrance of Maputo Special Reserve, or Maputo Elephant Park, as it' s also sometimes called. Despite the heavy rain we got there in less than 90 minutes. The roads are brand-new, recently built by the Chinese (of course). Maputo Special Reserve is getting a good number of Kruger visitors who add on a bit of beach time. Just a matter of three or four hours to get there.


Note for self-drivers: The rules are very strict, if you are caught speeding by law that means your license is gone! In reality, though, it then comes to how much you have to pay to the respective police officer to forget about the law. Corruption seems to be quite a big problem in the country. Experienced it myself when we left - the security control people at Beira airport also demanded money from me (for no reason), but I refused. Just walked, and was quite relieved they decided not to give me me any more trouble.


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The only Giraffes of the trip, soon after the entrance.


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Not the most thrilling photo, but the only Side-Striped Jackal we saw in Mozambique. There are no Cats in Maputo Special Reserve as I understand, so this was the only predator we saw here.


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Southern Reedbuck are all over, they are this park's Impala almost!


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Southern Crested Guineafowl, an odd bird I quite like.


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Purple Heron freezing, hoping in vain we would not notice it.


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More Reedbuck


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Natal Red Duiker, an exciting sighting for us, our first. If I remember correctly - with ebird I always know which bird I have seen where and when, but I don't have a database for my mammal sightings.


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Cape Bushbuck or "Imbabala". Bushbuck taxonomy is pretty complicated, it seems there is no clear consensus about the range of this species (if it is one!) and Harnessed Bushbuck.


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African Golden Weaver


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Common Duiker, pretty bold here. I guess the lack of predators explains how nonchalant this one reacted to us. Often they bolt as soon as they see a car.




Lake Maxai, very close to the Anvil Bay already. The roads were ok but due to the rains not that easy, definitely 4x4 needed. Our driver had asked David, our city tour guide, to come along to have a helping hand especially on the way back just in case. We arrived at the lodge at 15:20.


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Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)




For Anvil Bay I'm not gonna follow my usual (extremely creative) chronological day to day approach since that would probably be too repetitive. It was mostly sleep, eat (a lot), bird a bit, one acitivity, eat (even more), take a nap (because of the eating), maybe one activity again, eat again (even MORE, oh my god) and then sleep. Oh, I forgot the drinking part! B)


Seriously though, there's quite a lot you can do: Game drives, Whale excursions, snorkeling, birding, cayaking, stand-up paddling, swimming of course (or at least jumping around in the waves), and we did most of that. A bit later in the season one can also watch Turtles laying their eggs, sadly we were just a tad too early for that.


All these activites and the pristine location of the lodge drew us to it, and we enjoyed our stay very much. Quite impossible not to fall in love with this beautiful place. The one downside, however, is that while all these activites are offered the lodge is obviously not very much used to people with a more intense interest in wildlife, and they were quite surprised (and a little taken aback) how much we wanted to do. Most people come for the beauty of the place and the excellent food. So it could not really be described as a wildlife lodge, and while all staff members were very friendly and accommodating they do lack proper nature guides at Anvil Bay. For example, even though they do advertise birding activites nobody is able to tell apart a Bulbul from a Kingfisher.




Anvil Bay Lodge is far away from the park entrance, and is the only one of its kind in the park. Which means there's absolutely nobody else around. You can walk kilometres either way on the beach and you won't meet a single soul. Paradise! Not many other guests there, first two brothers from Denmark with three kids, later a couple from the Netherlands, that was it. Oh, and on the last day the owner and his nephew with a friend showed up.




The cabins - "casinhas" - are just lovely.  Nestled in the dune forest on stilted wooden decks, each with its own stretch of beachfront. 




Very spacious and comfortable, equipped with a fridge full of all kind of drinks, water heater for coffee and non-stop electricity. So we could always charge which is getting even more important with the new battery-hungry mirrorless cameras. BTW, we only encountered the European C and F socket type, so did not even need adapters. We brought them since we had read the (South African) M socket type is also used. Later in Gorongosa they had multi-socket type chargers. @Atravelynn, I apologise for not having photographed the plug-ins, shame on me!








Could get used to this. Very, very relaxing napping or sleeping here and hearing the waves crashing in. 


But enough of comfort and ahs and ohs, time to spice things up a bit with something nasty. Please don't look at the next photo if you are squemish about spiders:


You have been warned!




Urgls! One of my more memorable encounters with African creepy-crawlies! Came back from dinner, turned on the light, and was on my way to the loo - barefoot. CRACKSSQHAKWs, felt something very weird under my foot suddenly. Fortunately I (inadverdently!) had killed my opponent with one stumpy step. A Baboon Spider I´ve been told later, although I'm not quite convinced. Does not really match the photos I've found online so if anybody has a better idea what I squashed here, please.


Let me make up for this nastiness with something a bit more cute - Vervets were often hanging around our casinha. They don't seem to go in though. Baboons don't occur in the park I've been told, so no problem with them.


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There is no main building as such, the lodge tries to operate under a "small footprint" approach. The mess tent is where all meals are served if the weather allows it. 




Quite cool eating here and scanning the sea for Whales.




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Or just enjoy the view.




The kitchen area, where we had dinner or breakfast when the weather was a bit more unfriendly. There's no wifi in the rooms, but a strong signal here and it also works in the mess tent.




I mentioned the excellent food. This was really quite incredible, enjoyed this far too much. A lot of freshly caught seafood, but also delicious meat.




Best Sushi of my life:




Don't be fooled by the healthy looking fruity breakfast board, this is just the starter.




It would be quite a lie to say we did not gain weight here. Almost impossible not to. :D



Edited by michael-ibk
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Dave Williams

Looks like a perfect piece of paradise Michael.I regret not driving over the border now ! 

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Peter Connan

I'm hooked. I've only had two forays into Mozambique. The one was a very short business trip with not much to report, the other was a bit of a disaster, so I have somewhat mixed feelings about the place.

I do think it may have a lot to do with being a self-driver in a foreign-registered vehicle. One is far more at the mercy of corrupt officials in that instance. But Gorongosa remains a dream destination for me.


I think the spider is a Rain Spider. Palystes superciliosus. It's a common visitor inside houses at certain times of the year.




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Zim Girl

Excellent teaser photos, Michael.

The location of Anvil Bay is stunning.

Looking forward a lot to reading this TR, so sorry we missed out on this trip.

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Very interesting report, I've always thought that Anvil Bay looked very nice and although I've never been, I have suggested it as an option when people have asked me about Mozambique, but I don't know anyone who has been, useful to know that they don't have great wildlife guides, I would hope that they might try and improve on that failing, as the amount of wildlife in Maputo National Park increases. You said that there are no cats in Maputo, but aside from small ones which I presume must be there, I certainly hope that there are cheetahs, because Peace Parks reintroduced them a couple of years ago, I posted a PPF video about the cheetah reintroduction in one of the threads on Zinave NP last year, I know from that, they brought some in, in December 2021, but the project started before then, sadly one got out through a fence into the buffer zone and was killed in a snare, I would hope that the others are doing fine, but I'd assume they're not yet common. There are certainly no lions and I'd assume no leopards assuming none have just turned up. Some AWDs did show up, but PPF decided they didn't want them in Maputo NP and caught the dogs and moved them back to SA, they were on the edge of the park so could have got into trouble with local communities and clearly PPF don't think Maputo is ready to have AWDs just yet. They have though just reintroduced Spotted Hyenas. What is interesting is that there is a debate going on in SA as to whether or not to drop the fence (put up in 1989) on the northern boundary of Tembe Elephant Park in the north of Kwazulu-Natal, the park connects to Maputo NP via the protected Futi Corridor, this would reunite the elephants which were once all one population, what makes it interesting is that Tembe is a Big 5 park, and thus has lions and leopards, that would then be free to move into Maputo, this could be a problem for local communities, that might be one of the main stumbling blocks. I'd imagine that PPF have plans to reintroduce rhinos at some point to Maputo, but Tembe has both species, so they could perhaps also return naturally, if the fence is removed, the benefit to Tembe is that it is overstocked, allowing wildlife to move again would help with that and reconnecting what was once one ecosystem would be great, if it can be done. Tembe is known for its huge tuskers, I'd imagine a few people in SA will be concerned about their safety if the fence is dropped, I'd hope that PPF are confident that they can ensure that they are still well protected, I'd imagine that PPF have already improved security in Maputo a great deal and will ensure that the rangers are up to the job especially if they do plan to restore rhinos. There's a video on PPF's YouTube Channel explaining that they are conducting a feasibility study, protecting the Futi Corridor and adding it to what is now Maputo NP, was the first step to achieving what has always been PPF's long term aim of making the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi Transfrontier Conservation Area part of the Lubombo TFCA, a reality. I only really know what I know about the park, from PPF videos, so it's good to hear about it and see photos from someone who has visited.  


I think PPF will begin the rewilding of Banhine National Park this year, so some of Maputo's wildlife will soon be moved there, as some of the species brought back to Maputo NP have done very well, thanks to all this work, I think the south of Mozambique is becoming more and more interesting and in time all of its parks will certainly be worth visiting. Looking forward to reading about Gorongosa, as I still haven't been. 

Edited by inyathi
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I’m also hooked by this trip report and waiting eagerly for the Gorongosa part ; like @inyathi I am a bit disappointed that there seems to be a lack of good guides and especially good birding guides in Anvil Bay ; I had the idea of combining Kwazulu-Natal which is one of my favorites for this year with southern Mozambique but now I am not so sure anymore 

My recent safari to Akagera NP in Rwanda showed me that though this stunning park apart from a recent big 5 territory is a treasure for bird lovers but like Maputo NP the full possibilities are not exploited by African Parks 

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Awesome pics so far!  It's on my list! :D

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Posted (edited)
On 1/2/2024 at 11:55 AM, Dave Williams said:

I regret not driving over the border now ! 


Plenty of opportunity in the future Dave. ;)


On 1/2/2024 at 3:27 PM, Zim Girl said:

Looking forward a lot to reading this TR, so sorry we missed out on this trip.


Sure would have been fun to have you along - I think you both would have enjoyed this.


On 1/2/2024 at 6:25 PM, BRACQUENE said:

I am a bit disappointed that there seems to be a lack of good guides and especially good birding guides in Anvil Bay


Let me get back to that after I'm through with our (limited) game drive time.


On 1/3/2024 at 7:38 PM, gatoratlarge said:

Awesome pics so far!  It's on my list! 


Surprised you haven't been Joe - you have been everywhere!


@Peter Connan


About Gorongosa being a dream destination - rightly so Peter, it is an awesome place. A bit of patience, I'll cover Maputo Special Reserve quite quickly, then we'll get to the main act. FYI, at the moment self-driving is not allowed at Gorongosa unfortunately because of the still pretty cranke Elephants. Hopefully that will change.


Thanks about your ID help, about the Rain Spider - Wiki says the body lentgth is just 36 mm max? Would you agree with this? Because my victim was definitely much bigger, half the size of my foot.


@inyathimany thanks for all that info, just goes to show that I really should have done some research. Actually we never really planned to go to Maputo Special Reserve and do safari, I just told Doug I would like to spend some time at the coast for birds, whales and turtles. He come up with the idea of Anvil Bay, and despite all shortcomings of it as a wildlife lodge it still was a very good one. I asked the staff if there were any cats, and they said absolutely not. I googled a bit, and nothing has been mentioned about Cheetah for years now. Interestingly a recent post about the Hyenas said they would introduce Cheetah soon - so used the future tense there. So who knows what's going on here, haven't found anything else since the report of the demise of one Cheetah.


"The new(Hyena) clan will act in a supporting predation role to the cheetah that are hoped to be introduced soon"


We did not see (or hear) Hyena.

Edited by michael-ibk
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Peter Connan

I think that 38mm would be body only, and in a non-flattened state.

Even then, it seems a bit small and I'm pretty sure I have seen larger ones here in my own home.


Legs stretched I think they are about the size of a smallish soup dish?

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