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A year in the life of an impala

Impala are one of the most common antelope found over much of Southern Africa. This is a good thing, as they are vital components of the ecosystems that they inhabit. One of the important roles they fill is that of prey animal. Leopards and wild dogs prey heavily on impala. Healthy impala are very fast […]

Helicopters from Hell

The rhino poaching scourge presently underway across South Africa continues: this past week there were two incidents involving helicopters flying without flight plans. One case occurred in the Tugela Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, where a female white rhino had her horns taken off with a chainsaw. Miraculously, the rhino survived after being found by […]

One lion, many habitats

Lions are one of my favourite animals (I have a few) but one of the reasons that I find lions interesting is their adaptability. The diverse habitats that are found in Botswana illustrate this well. In the south and central parts of the country, especially the western half, rainfall is low. Dry Kalahari sands are […]

The BP horror

Map showing the current impact of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Source: ifitwasmyhome.com There can surely be no one on this planet that is not horrified at the ongoing oil disaster taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. It can only be described as environmental rape of the severest kind. It is now two months […]

New date for Wild Dogs fund raiser

The fund raiser for the African Wild Dogs/EWT evening at the Rosebank Hyatt will be on 30 September 2010. Tickets are R500 per person aor R5 000 per table. Please let your friends and family know about this so we can get a full house – it is for a great cause and all proceeds […]

Who is following the sardine run?

This week’s blog post comes once again from the Wild Coast in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The annual sardine migration that takes place here is happening as I write, so I thought I would describe some of the major predators that take part in this wildlife phenomenon. The sardines are only small fish, but they […]

Wildlife Watching – please be patient

I am not writing this week’s post from the bush in Botswana but from the Eastern Cape coast in South Africa, where I am on vacation with family and friends. Every year, between June and July, the annual sardine migration takes place in these parts. Millions of small fish gather together in shoals and make […]

Stubborn Woman, New Friends and New Housing Arrangements

Stubborn Najin We are happy to announce that Najin has finally permanently moved into the large 700 acre breeding area, by Sudan’s side. But it was easier said than done. It took our team about three weeks to get Najin out of the bomas and the 400 x 400 metre enclosure. She simply refused to […]

Canned lion hunting in Botwana?

I have for a number of years been warning that canned hunting is on its way to Botswana. After taking a thorough look at the latest export and import statistics for lion Panther leo issued by CITES in South Africa, I am now almost certain that these and other associated practices are already taking place, […]

My best leopard sighting ever

As it seems that many of the folk who read my blog enjoy reading about leopards, I thought I would share a particularly interesting sighting I had a few years ago. I was guiding out of Chitabe camp with my good friend James Weis. Our morning drive had been quiet and we were on our […]

Substitute Pack

The African wild dog is known to be a highly social animal. Pack sizes range from just a few animals to upwards of 30 dogs in the most successful packs. However, at Mombo camp, deep in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, one wild dog is living a very different lifestyle. This particular female dog was part of […]

Big water and little cats

2010 is proving to be the year of the big flood in the Okavango. Water levels have reached their highest levels in the past 30 years. When it comes to experiencing the annual flood in the Delta, the Jao concession is one of my favourite areas, with its stunning, open floodplains and picturesque palm-tree islands. […]

Botswana’s photographic areas expand

Map, showing NG18 and NG20, courtesy of Wilderness Safaris Some of the most important wildlife areas in Northern Botswana are associated with two major river systems. In the very north of the country is the Linyanti River and its distributaries, the Savuti and Selinda. To the south of these rivers lies the Okavango Delta. Much […]

Rhino syndicate hit hard

A victim of poaching, as published in Africa Geographic September 2008. Photo: SAPS By all accounts, rhinoceros poaching in southern Africa has reached alarming levels. During this past weekend alone, four rhinos were poached in South Africa, one being shot from a helicopter registered with false license plates. A total of 220 were killed for […]

Big open spaces for the Northern Whites

A lot has happened since our last update which was sent on April 20. We sadly said goodbye to Berry White, our expert rhino whisperer, who returned home to the UK. Three of the northern whites were given access to the breeding area. And most importantly, this week, we decided to separate the two females […]

Protea stopped

As most of you are now well aware, after widespread and sustained opposition, Protea Hotels, Zambia has withdrawn its application for a 144-bed hotel along the banks of the Zambezi River. I had hoped to have posted a comment within days of the news, but it has taken Protea this long to reply to the […]

The banded mongooses of Jao

Jao Camp is situated on an island in the Okavango Delta. The island is not overly large, perhaps a kilometre in length, and not quite that wide again. Aside from the human occupants of the camp, the island is also home to a troop of banded mongooses. Living on the island as they do, the […]

Some lionesses have manes!

There are many opportunities to make a fool of yourself when you’re a field guide. I was once leading a group on a game drive at Mombo, when we came across a pride of lions. Mombo is well known for its healthy lion population. We spent some time with the lions, and I carefully described […]

Are male lions lazy (or just heavy)?

There’s a perception amongst people that lions are lazy. Not only lazy, but that male lions in particular are even lazier, and don’t or can’t hunt for themselves. And there are many reasons for this perception. A scientific paper once claimed that lions sleep 22 out of every 24 hours. But consider that safari-goers most […]

An Exciting Week for Our New White Rhino Community

The Final Translocations Since our last update, we had one more day of translocation on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, on the 10th of April. The day started early, with the aircraft going up first to spot the elusive mum and calf that had evaded us the previous day. It was a tense time for the […]

The Return of the Rivers

If you know anything about the northern half of Botswana then you will know that the prime wildlife areas are heavily dependent upon three, life-sustaining rivers: the Okavango, the Kwando/Linyanti/Savuti (which is in fact one river with many names), and the Chobe. In the past few years there has been a marked rise in the […]

Scrambled legs

On a game drive out of Savuti camp one summer morning, we came across a large pool of rainwater that was showing a lot of amphibian activity. As we walked around the edge of the pool, we saw that the disturbance was being caused by groups of toads mating. The water in the pool was […]

Rhino Translocation Week

Preparation for the Release At the start of this week the Ol Pejeta Conservancy was once again host to old and new friends from the UK and the Czech Republic. Our guests had no time to relax as we began an action-packed week to prepare the new northern white rhino breeding area for the eventual […]

Stop Protea Hotels

Ian Michler Protea Hotels, a mass-market operator by any definition of tourism you may choose to use, wants a slice of near-pristine wilderness along the banks of the Zambezi River. Its Zambian subsidiary is proposing a 144-bed hotel and conference centre on a prime site in the Chiawa Game Management Area. The concession is adjacent […]

Rivers, Boundaries and the Border Boys

The March issue of Africa Geographic features a well-written article by Stephen Cunliffe describing the situation that exists between communities and conservation in that part of Namibia known as the Caprivi Strip. I found the article especially interesting as one of the parks featured in the article, Mamili National Park, lies directly north of the […]

Eating the oceans

Ian Michler According to a recent IUCN Red Data press release, sturgeons, one of the oldest surviving fish families, are the most critically endangered group of species on the planet. There are 27 species within the Acipenseridae family, and of these 17 are listed as critically endangered and four as possibly extinct. And the primary […]

Ivory traders get tusked

Ring one up for the elephants! The most recent CITES meeting in Doha, Qatar has drawn to a close and amongst the numerous resolutions, there was a significant victory for elephants and those opposed to the ivory trade. The proposals from Tanzania and Zambia to downgrade the conservation status of their elephant populations and to […]

Reunited At Last

We have very exciting news to share this week! Last Saturday, on the 20th of March, Sudan finally got his chance to go out and rejoin Najin and Fatu in their current 400 by 400 meter enclosure. As reported last week, the three animals had been given as much contact as possible through the fences. […]

Gentle Introductions at the Bomas

  Warming Up for the Re-Introductions Fatu and Najin, our two female northern white rhinos, have been getting extra contact with Sudan this week in an effort to slowly re-introduce the animals in preparation for the April release into the big enclosure. he first day went extremely well. Fatu and Najin were out in the […]

A Busy Week at the Bomas

Progress with the Fence Fence completion for the larger enclosure is set for the end of this month. It looks like we have a long way to go but the posts are going in. Stringing the wires will only take a few days. One major hurdle will be removing all large wildlife from this area. […]

Just another rainy and muddy week on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy!

The construction of the fence – for the rhinos’ new 701.5 acre enclosure – is ongoing. Our team is working as hard as they can to stay on schedule for the release of the rhinos the first week of April. Our four rhinos – Sudan, Suni, Najin and Fatu – have become much more relaxed […]

A New Release Date, Adapting to the Wild and More Mud Baths!

Important Notice ~ The release date of Najin, Fatu, Sudan &amp, Suni has been postponed from March 25th until the first week of April 2010. We will keep you posted on the new date as soon as we have additional information. Rhino Update Since last week’s update, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy has seen more rain […]

Release Date Set, Boy’s Time Out and More Rain

Release Date Set We are now in a position to confirm dates for the next phase of this project. In this next phase, Najin and Fatu will be reunited with Sudan and will have their first steps into what will become our breeding area and their home. We are working to a release date of […]

Unexpected Rains and Time Outside the Bomas for All

We have suffered an abnormally hot week on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which was thankfully broken by three days of unexpected rain. Rain is not usual this time of year in Kenya, and we would not expect rainfall until the beginning of April. But it could not have come at a better time. There was […]

An Update on the Northern White Rhinos – Big Step for the Girls

On Wednesday, February 3rd, the two female northern white rhinos – Najin and Fatu – took their first step into the 400 x 400 meter fenced enclosure on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. This really was their “first taste of Africa!” Until today, they were kept within the confines of their holding pen, with limited daily […]

Jackals, humans and the bigger picture

The black-backed jackal is an animal that is heavily persecuted by farmers in many places in southern Africa. The jackal is an interesting and intriguing animal in its own right. Jackals exhibit a range of interesting behavior and social characteristics. They are monogamous. Mated jackal pairs sometimes have offspring from previous years acting as helpers […]

A Little Leopard Luck

On the 5 November 2009 I was on a game drive out of Savuti camp when we got called to a sighting of leopards mating. We don’t see this happening that often, and what was even more unusual was that the pair of leopards were in an open area, which meant we could see the […]

Eyes wide open

It is a well known fact that the two species of oxpecker that occur in southern Africa, the red-billed and the yellow-billed, both feed on parasites that live on or in some of the larger plant-eating mammals that they share habitat with. If you watch them really closely though, you may notice something a little […]

The Rain on the Plain

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana is a very large protected area, covering some 52 000 square kilometres. Until very recently, the reserve had almost no development within its borders and anyone wishing to visit had to camp in the designated camping sites. These sites are well situated but very basic, even lacking […]

Fish out of Water

Some years ago, I encountered my first many-spined climbing perch at Jacana camp in the Okavango. The perch was out of the water and making its way along the edge of a road. I was completely taken aback to see a fish walking on land! Unfortunately for that particular perch it was also noticed by […]

When Hunting Stops

The wildlife management areas of northern Botswana are divided into parcels of land known as ‘concessions’. These are often located close to or bordering game reserves and national parks and, years ago, most of these concessions were utilised for the purpose of controlled hunting. In the early days, there were more people visiting Botswana to […]

Expectations and the Importance of Rising Early

The area known as the ‘waterfront’ in the north-eastern corner of Chobe National Park is one of my favourite places. On many of the safaris that I lead we routinely spend time on a midday boat ride viewing the numerous crocodiles, hippo, impala, waterbuck, kudu, warthog and elephants that are abundant here. There is an […]

Termites In a different Light

Summertime in northern Botswana is the period for dramatic thunderstorms and rain. It is also the season of heightened activity among many species, including insects such as the fungus-farming termites. These termites, also known as macrotermes, live in mounds. Colonies comprise thousands of sterile workers and soldiers, and a queen and king. Aside from these […]

Cats and Dogs of the Wild Variety

A little more than a month ago, during my stint of acting as a relief manager at Savuti camp, I drove to the east of camp early one overcast morning. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may realise at this stage why my permanent career as a camp manager never amounted […]

Wild, Wild Dogs

One of my favourite animals is the African wild dog. Few other creatures have the energy to spare that the wild dog has. On a recent trip to Chitabe camp in the Okavango, we had the good fortune to encounter a pack of approximately 16 wild dogs late one afternoon. We spent an hour and […]

Of Raptors and Captors

One of the things I find quite frustrating when leading safaris is trying to convey to clients the sheer power and presence of some of the larger birds of prey that occur in our region. The frustration comes from the fact that it is almost always difficult to get close enough to these birds to […]