Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Life In Botswana: Safari, February 1990

More excerpts from my parent's journal, Life in Botswana.

Barbara G. arrived, and we went up north again. Since this is the tail end of summer and the rainy season most camps are closed. Ed's director and her husband are part-owners of Hunters Africa, a hunting concession company. Hunting season extends from April 15 to Sept 15, so their five camps were closed. They agreed to open one for us, however, and we stayed three days before going on to the Chobe Game Lodge and Vic Falls. We flew Air Botswana to Maun and then took a small Cessna further north to a grass strip which had just been mowed for us. 

The camp was spartan – nice big tents with fly covers, with outside one-holers, open to the sky, and a bucket shower which would be filled with hot water on request. The meals were so-so, prepared and served by the big-game hunter who met us and his wife. The camp is on the bank of the Linyanti River, across which (40 ft) lies Caprivi-Namibia. About 50 yards away the Kwando River comes in from Angola to the north, and this then becomes the Linyanti, which further along becomes the Chobe River.

The game drives were in an open-top Land Cruiser with a ceiling porthole for the person sitting next to the driver and a padded bench for three people straddling the vehicle just behind the cab and the gun rack. When hunting, no shooting is allowed from vehicles, and animals sought (with special licenses) are stalked on foot. Because of the rainy season everything was green and full in the riverine forest, so we didn't see many animals during the first two days other than a number of elephant and giraffe. Lions roared at night but we didn't see any until the third day, when we drove over to the dry Savuti Channel and followed it west to where it joined the Selinda Spillway. 

We saw one pond with over 50 hippo in it and watched them for some time. We saw one hippo, wounded from fighting, tentatively approach the group before entering the water. He evidently was a baddie and was not wanted. Another scene was a pregnant female approaching on land from a small nearby pool, evidently wanting to join the group, was faced by an enormous male who left the water and walked toward her. After facing each other for a few minutes, the female turned around and went back to her pool. We figured that the male was afraid that the female would be attacked, or hurt, somehow, if she joined the pool, and wanted to spare her.

We also say six lions eating a hippo which apparently died after a fight (hippo are vicious!). We spotted a horde of vultures which led us to the site, and when we arrived the large lions moved off, with two juniors being the last to go, reluctantly. As we drove off the vultures flew down to settle in, and we saw one of the juniors come racing across the open field to chase them away and save the meat. We saw a group of about 200 zebra and a group of about 80 lechwe, which are medium-size antelope with splayed feet. They are always found near water, and often run splashing in it.

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