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USAnimalfan

South Luangwa NP- Kafunta

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USAnimalfan

Wife and I just returned from a week in eastern Zambia at the Kafunta Lodge and Bush Camp.

 

Highlight of the trip was DOGS! DOGS! DOGS! Actually just 4 wild dogs and they were actually outside of the National Park in the Game Management Area east of the Luangwa River, which is about as good as the NP for animals, in spite of some licensed hunting being permitted there. Our Zambian guide told us that this has been an unusually good year for dogs in the Luangwa Valley, with sightings much more common than in past years.

 

This is an experiment to see if I can post a picture:

 

ZamDog9.jpg

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USAnimalfan

OK, how do you post pictures?

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twaffle

I hope the dogs aren't allowed to be hunted in the GMA? Look forward to your report.

 

Others will be more descriptive in telling you how to post photos but I click on the little picture icon in the menu bar just above your reply box (that you type your message in). Then you put the link to the photo in the box which appears. You need to have the photo loaded onto a site somewhere, I think you can use the gallery here, I use Picasa. I hope that helps.

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USAnimalfan
I hope the dogs aren't allowed to be hunted in the GMA? Look forward to your report.

 

Others will be more descriptive in telling you how to post photos but I click on the little picture icon in the menu bar just above your reply box (that you type your message in). Then you put the link to the photo in the box which appears. You need to have the photo loaded onto a site somewhere, I think you can use the gallery here, I use Picasa. I hope that helps.

 

 

Well I used Photobucket, but evidently didn't do it correctly.

 

No, wild dog hunting is not permitted anywhere. It's a situation where they charge for each animal taken plus a license, so it's an expensive proposition. There isn't that much hunting, but some poaching of antelope for food on occasion.

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Game Warden

USAF - I had a quick play with your original post: the only reason the photo didn't display is that it had two:

 

http:/ /http:/ /

 

Fixed now: great photo, feel free to link us to your photobucket account if you wish so we can see the rest.

 

Matt

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twaffle

Matt's marvellous! He can fix everything. :)

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madaboutcheetah

Hello,

 

Great sighting, indeed!!!

 

Would love a short summary of your trip, with highlights if time permits.

 

Thanks,

Hari

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Guest nyama
4 wild dogs and they were actually outside of the National Park in the Game Management Area
Do you remember the location, USAnimalfan? How far from Kafunta Lodge, north or south?

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USAnimalfan
4 wild dogs and they were actually outside of the National Park in the Game Management Area
Do you remember the location, USAnimalfan? How far from Kafunta Lodge, north or south?

 

 

It was along the road that parallels the east side of the Luangwa River in the GMA- it is really a pretty poor track for much of its length. This was maybe a mile or so south of the Kafunta River Lodge turnoff from that road. It was on our return from Kafunta's Island Bush Camp (no longer on the island, by the way). There is a group in that area that is studying the dogs and has several packs with a collared dog in the pack. Our guide said he thought these might be new dogs because none had collars (I couldn't tell, but these Zambian guides can spot a bug on a branch a mile away, so I believe them). There are other dogs on the east side of the river and other guests had seen dogs inside the National Park a week before. I was told that unlike lions and some other animals, dogs do not have territories, so you never know where you will encounter them.

 

Because of the relative frequency of dog sightings in the Luangwa Valley this year, there is speculation that they might be thriving in that area. Guides said the sightings in 2008 were infrequent. We felt very lucky to have seen these rare animals.

 

I will try to do a few other pix, but am going to take the Game Warden's advice and do a report in sections.

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USAnimalfan

ZamDog10.jpg

 

Zambiakudus.jpg

 

ZambiaFishEagles1.jpg

 

Zambialionsinroad.jpg

 

OK, maybe this will work. Some of our better pictures (there were plenty of bad ones).

 

Lions were not so easy to see as we experienced in other places like the Mara. I have no idea why, as there is plenty for them to eat with zillions of puku, buffalo and impala. These were cats from the Chichile pride walking down the road in the NP. One of the things about South Luangwa is that unlike other places, the guides do not have radios to talk with each other- they do stop when passing each other and communicate that way. When we saw the lions, nobody else was around.

 

The kudus is one of my favorite pictures. Usually shy, this mother and baby posed for long enough for us to get the picture.

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Guest nyama
This was maybe a mile or so south of the Kafunta River Lodge turnoff from that road...
Thanks, USAnimalfan. The wild dog researchers are from African Wild Dog Conservation (AWDC). Indeed it looks like wild dogs are thriving in South Luangwa. Last August AWDC found 5 new packs within 10 days. Wild dogs also re-appeared in Nsefu Sector where they hadn't been seen for a long time (one pack was around Tena Tena a week before my stay last October).

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Guest nyama
Lions were not so easy to see as we experienced in other places like the Mara...
I guess this is because we mainly move along the rivers. There are huge areas in South Luangwa which are not much disturbed by humans. One place with regular good lion sightings is Lion Plain [sic] in the northern part of the park.

 

 

Btw, nice fish eagle picture. :)

 

I also like your lion shot. Looks like they talk to each other while walking the road. Good story. Much better than those typical lion pictures.

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ZaminOz

Hmmm... I still can't see the pictures. Maybe it is work that is blocking them? I will have another look when I get home.

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Hebog

Hi USAnimalfan,

 

Nice to see the dogs in the GMA. Part of the AWDCs work has been to establish a corridor from S.Luangwa to the lower Zambezi NP which goes through the GMA.

 

If you can remember the day and rough location AWDC might be interested in your pictures as they have an ID book on many of the Dogs in the area. Each Dog has a unique set of splodges different on left and right sides. They are also looking at setting up a rear end ID book (!) but don't know how far that's got.

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USAnimalfan
Hi USAnimalfan,

 

Nice to see the dogs in the GMA. Part of the AWDCs work has been to establish a corridor from S.Luangwa to the lower Zambezi NP which goes through the GMA.

 

If you can remember the day and rough location AWDC might be interested in your pictures as they have an ID book on many of the Dogs in the area. Each Dog has a unique set of splodges different on left and right sides. They are also looking at setting up a rear end ID book (!) but don't know how far that's got.

 

We passed a researcher going south on that road an hour or so before we saw the dogs and he told our driver that he had seen 2 dogs further north earlier in the same area- one large dog and a small one and to be on the lookout for them. Obviously not the same dogs, as all 4 of these dogs were grown and the same size.

 

Anyhow, we picked South Luangwa because we had never been to Zambia- we were originally going to include Kafue also, but decided that we didn't have time to do 2 parks this year, so we settled on S. Luangwa, which is "supposed" to be the one park to see in Zambia if you can only do one.

 

We picked Kafunta after looking in the Brandt Guide for Zambia and also after a prior post on Safari Talk. We travel enough such that we are concerned about the expenses and Kafunta is a lot more reasonably priced than the expensive Robin Pope and Norman Carr camps that can charge over $ 1,000 a day for 2 people. I won't pay $1,000 a day to stay anywhere! Now in my opinion the food was good (not gourmet or anything) at Kafunta and the house red wine (Tall Horse from SA- my wife drank it- I drank Mosi beer!) was acceptable, but we didn't go to Africa for the food or to drink, so we were quite satisfied with what they offered and I think we got the best "bang for the buck". All of the S. Luangwa safari camps were hurting this year- we got a small discount, and if you are planning to go, I think a little bargaining is in order now.

 

I will also say that after 5 trips to Africa, I have never been to a camp or lodge that had a wildlife view like the Kafunta River Lodge- It is impossible to sit on the deck there and NOT see wildlife- there are always puku there with impala and often elephants- we saw the resident leopard one night and a hyena 2 nights, as well as hippos (at night), wart hogs, water birds and even a big group of banded mongoose one day in front of the deck in the river floodplain. In the wet season this area is flooded, but this time of year it is low floodplain and good grazing for puku. The chalets are nice and had the same views as the deck by the main lodge. See picture below from out our back porch of our chalet on the last day. The picture with the antelope was taken from, and is typical of what you see from, the main lodge- the tree line in the distance is the west bank of the river inside the NP. We had never seen puku before on our other Africa trips, as they have a limited range on the continent but are common in the Luangwa Valley. The males have an unusual habit of whistling loudly to mark their territory and for various other reasons.

 

Zambia-chaletview1.jpg

 

Zambia-viewfrommainlodge.jpg

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twaffle

The views from the lodge look fantastic. Look forward to the next report instalment.

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Guest nyama
Part of the AWDCs work has been to establish a corridor from S.Luangwa to the lower Zambezi NP which goes through the GMA.
Wow. These are at least four GMAs to cross of which only one has a "prime" status (West Petauke). Good luck to them. I guess there's still a lot of work to do before this dream comes true.

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Atravelynn

Great luck with the dogs! I hope they are thriving in S. Luangwa. You had some other good sightings too. The mother & baby kudu is great.

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USAnimalfan

As far as antelopes, lots of impala and puku, some waterbuck and a few kudu. We saw bushbuck occasionally and once in the GMA what was IDd as a Grysbok (Sharpe's Grysbok is supposed to be in this park). Roan and sable antelope are supposed to be in the western part of the Park up and near the escarpment where there are few or no roads and where very few people ever go.

 

As far as cats are concerned, they are all supposed to be here, except maybe cheetah, but we only saw leopard a few times on night drives and the lions one time. So here are the obligatory lion pictures. Even though I have seen it before, I am still amazed how lions walk along the road totally ignoring the vehicle, not even aware (or concerned) there are people that are not just part of the vehicle. I was told serval sightings here are very rare and caracal- well, we saw one in India, but never in Africa. More later.

 

Zamlions1-1.jpg

 

Zamlions6.jpg

 

Zamlions7.jpg

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Game Warden

Obligatory lion pictures are always welcome on Safaritalk. How dare you be using their highway...

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USAnimalfan
Obligatory lion pictures are always welcome on Safaritalk. How dare you be using their highway...

 

 

And when they decided to take a rest in the middle of the road, we went around. Animals have the right of way in S. Luangwa and there are signs posted that say this as well.

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USAnimalfan

Today's installment....

 

The Luangwa River is chock full of hippos and crocs. I am told that when you approach a croc on land, it will avoid you and slip into the water, but if it is in the water and you are too, well, the tables then turn. I have never seen so many hippos- at night they come up right into the Kafunta River Lodge grounds, but spend most of their time in the water during the day.

 

The river continually loses water during the dry season until the first rains come in November. Because of this, a great time to come is Octiober, as the game is concentrated in the fewer wet areas in and near the river. But it is supposed to be pretty hot then. They say that the hippos are really crowded in the reamaining river then and they fuss and fight with each other more frequently.

 

Lots of elephant, buffalo in big herds and warthog in the park and GMA, but curiously no jackal at all.

 

The zebra, common in the Park, are Crayshaw's Zebra, a subspecies of the Burchell's zebra which lack the shadow stripes of the more common Burchell's zebra seen elsewhere. The giraffes are also a subspecies, called Thornicroft's giraffe, with a more striking coloration, particularly in males, and no color patches below the knees. The old males are particularly attractive as they get really dark patches. The other Luangwa specialty is the Cookson's wildebeest, but we did not see them as they are found in the northern part of the park, as well as in Luambe NP area and North Luangwa, and we did not go that far north.

 

ZambiaLuangwaRiver2.jpg

 

ZambiaLuangwaRiver1.jpg

 

Zambiazebra1.jpg

 

Zambiagiraffe1.jpg

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madaboutcheetah

Some lovely sightings, overall ....... thanks for sharing!

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USAnimalfan

This is a drinking establishment in Mfuwe on the paved road to the airport. The paint on the sign looks recent, but a friend suggested that the accent after the "O" means it refers to an Irishman. Interesting!

 

ZambiaObamaPub.jpg

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USAnimalfan

In summary, I think there are positives and negatives about our visit to South Luangwa:

 

Positives: Luangwa River is a real African River in a natural state with little or no pollution- lots of crocs and hippos and NO dams. The Park is huge (much of it is roadless and therefore pristine) and the visitors are relatively sparse so you don't see the crowds like in Ngorogoro, for example. Also, you don't have drivers radioing each other so that there are 10 vehicles looking at a lion pride. When we saw lions and dogs, nobody else was around. Lots of the common big animals, elephant, buffalo, puku, impala, giraffe, zebra. etc., with some local subspecies. Also, Zambia is far enough north that the winter days are a perfect temperature, albeit a little cool in early mornings and evenings. And I really liked Kafunta River Lodge, with its spectacular view of wildlife and more reasonable rates than a lot of the properties there. Night drives are permitted and we saw leopards on three occasions. And with the sightings this year, South Luangwa just might now be the best place in Africa to see WILD DOGS!!!

 

Negatives: Not quite the diversity of species I have seen elsewhere (like the Mara). Rhinos are poached out (although they are being reintroduced to N. Luangwa). No cheetah or jackal. Serval sightings are rare. Lots of birds, including a lot of water birds, but some big ones are missing: no ostrich, secretary bird or cory bustard. Hard to get to for us. We flew from Atlanta to Joburg and after spending the night, had to fly to Lusaka the next morning and then on a commuter flight (Proflight) to the Mfuwe airport which is an hour from the Kafunta River Lodge, arriving too late for the afternoon game drive. A lot of time travelling.

 

No regrets about going there and we were thrilled about seeing our first dogs. More dog pictures below- wish they had been in the sun more. The last picture was of an animal behavior I had not seen before. This was a lagoon (seasonal pond) with what they call "cabbage" growing on the surface, occupied by a few hippos. The jacanas (Jesus birds) would stand on top of the hippos and haul the cabbage plants up out of the water onto the hippos and then peck and poke the plants for insects. Amusing to see the birds treat the hippos as their dining room tables.

 

We think Uganda might be next, including a mountain gorilla hike. We are Africa-addicted for sure.

 

ZamDog2.jpg

 

ZamDog3.jpg

 

ZamDog7.jpg

 

ZamDog8.jpg

 

ZamDog11.jpg

 

Zambiahyena.jpg

 

ZambiaJacanahippos.jpg

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