The rains have still not arrived in full force, there were a few storms during November, but much less than expected. The few rains that we did have transformed most of the landscape scenery with lush vegetation all around. As the rains increase animals will no longer need to concentrate themselves around water points and this will result in them going deeper into the bush. Viewing is still exceptional and brings with it a new dimensions as animals give them and young ones can be seen amongst the herds and other groups of animals
Mvuu Lodge & Camp
Weather & Landscape:
Seasons have changed at Mvuu. Several rainstorms have hit the camp, usually in the evening, however there is not yet a pattern of consistent daily rain. Humidity is high and daily temperatures are building to high 30’s C with gathering clouds and the feel of coming rain. Sunsets are spectacular. Most trees are now in leaf and the Mopane woodlands are a vibrant green. There are flushes of green grass and flowers emerging in many areas. Some work is required to keep the roads passable. Guests are advised to enter the park by boat via Hippo View Lodge.
At night clouds often mask the stars. Pegasus and Sagittarius are prominent evening constellations. Orion can be seen well early in the morning, and Jupiter, Mars and Mercury are all clearly visible before sunrise.
Elephants still gather at the river in the morning to drink and bathe but then disperse into the woodlands with much less elephant activity around the camp during the day and night. Many young Elephant are being born in the privacy of the woodlands.
In the sanctuary, although reduced, there have been sightings of sable, zebra, buffalo, eland, Lichtensteins hartebeest, and bushpig.
During evening drives
porcupine, several different types of mongoose,
Crocodiles are very evident near the river and at night they roam more broadly. Three very large crocodiles were found on the Lodge path eating a dead Bushbuck. Hippos also emerge to feed on riverside grass earlier in the afternoon.
Bird & Birding
Although animal sightings are proving more challenging, birding is still very good in the Park. Regular sightings around camp include; Bohms bee eater, grey and brown headed parrots, Lilians lovebirds, Meves and Greater Blue Eared Starlings, Livingstones Flycatcher, Ashy and Grey Tit Flycatchers, Black Throated Wattle Eye, Lesser Masked and Brown Throated Weavers, Collared Palm Thrush, Palm Nut Vulture, Trumpeter, Grey and Crowned Hornbills, at least five types of Sunbird, plus a host of commoner birds.
Resident birds have been boosted by migrant arrivals. Spotted Flycatchers, Willow Warblers, Common Swifts, Woodland Kingfishers and a number of Cuckoo species are now everywhere.
Pels Fishing Owl is seen regularly in the lagoons close to camp and can be heard calling deep into the night. A pair of Wood Owls is seen regularly roosting near the Lodge, with two fluffy white chicks.
The river side continues to be rich with multiple species of Kingfishers, Herons and Egrets. A daily roost of over twenty Black Crowned and White Backed Night Herons is right outside the lodge.
A recent walking trip into a nearby thicket turned up Narina Trogon, the first sighting for a while, Four Brown Breasted Barbets, Eastern Nicator and a stunning group of Green Twinspots.
There are more snakes around with the warmer weather. A Black Mamba turned up at the lodge and had to be relocated and a boomslang was found in a nearby thicket, a rare sighting. Tortoises are now active in the woodlands and associated grassland. Many millipedes are actively feeding and after dark both scorpions and solifuges are now evident.
Hundreds of dung beetles are also active, rolling dung and burying the nuptial dung balls. Overall insect activity has increased significantly.
“This is a Malawian success story” Deborah Kippley
“I loved every minute. I loved the serenity of the place. All staff were friendly and welcoming” Trish Dean
“From beginning to end all staff members were extremely friendly, helpful and very well trained. We leave the lodge with a warm heart” Camenzino Ottilia/ M. von Reding
Chelinda Lodge & Camp
Weather & Landscape
The temperature has been pleasant and warm during the day and cool at night. It has also been very windy and dusty at times. The landscape is starting to look fresh and green, and most of the burnt areas are turning green. Animals are still easy to spot in the grasslands, but birds are a little hard to see in the thick forests and with the noise of the wind and shaking trees. We can still see the grass birds.
Game viewing has been very good. Most of the animals have been seen close to the road. Most of the good sightings have been after sunrise and near sunset. Good leopard sightings have been early evening around dusk. Sightings on day game drives have included; large herds of eland, roan, zebra and reedbuck. Some warthogs and bushbuck have also been seen.
Night drives sightings have included; hyena, jackals, night jars, serval cat, porcupine, and bush pigs.
Birds and Birding
Birding has been very good, and the migratory birds have added to the numbers. Sightings have included; bee eaters, wheatears, swallows, Denhams bustard, bar tailed trogon, moustached green tinkerbird, olive flanked robin, mountain thrush, Chapins apalis and many more. The less common birds sighted included; Baglafecht weaver, yellow crowned canaries, and black headed oriole.
Forest birding is also still good, though the thick foliage sometimes makes it difficult to spot the birds.
Weather & Landscape:
It has been hot and humid here, and cooling down after the rains. The vegetation is lush and green and birding has also improved.
With mango in season, the vervet monkeys are frequently seen in the gardens because they are chased away by people from the villages.
Birds and Birding:
There have been some good bird sightings including, collared palm thrush, pearl spotted owlet, olive thrush, greater blue-eared starling, black-headed oriole, palm nut vulture, swallow tailed, pin-tailed whydah, African & green wood hoopoe, helmeted guinea fowl, African fish eagle, Southern red bishop, and blue spotted dove
Rhino Darting Operation
Rhino monitoring & research ecologist in Liwonde
National Park, sent a report on the most recent rhino darting operation which
was led by Dr. Pete Morkel in mid-November. The
days were long, with 4:30am starts each morning. Dr. Pete Morkel was assisted by Dr. Amanda Salb
(veterinarian from the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre) and other team members.
James Kamtsokota’s (African Parks Majete) exemplary
tracking skills and push to succeed were key to
tracking efficiency and success in finding the rhinos. Kristian along with
his partner, Orsi were also actively participating
in field operation helping out with the many tasks. Overall, the entire LNP
Rhino Protection Team
The team also had to treat two juvenile elephants (a three and a four years old) of serious snare injuries. Dozens of wire snares were collected while tracking rhino, both in and outside the rhino Sanctuary. Some of the wires were fashioned to kill large game.
Poaching is still a severe threat (i.e. using wire snares; hunting dogs; bows & arrows and rifles) and the scale of destruction is profound. Despite their apparently dwindling resources (e.g. fence materials) to make wire snares, some poachers are now reported to be using extremely strong fence wire targeting large game (e.g. buffalo and rhino).
Thanks must go to all those involved and the supporting institutions including; Rhino Force, Wilderness Wildlife Trust, African Parks, Malawi DNPW & Wilderness Safaris Malawi.
Root to Fruit – Tree Nurseries Update
The 4 sites are still on target to reach the 90,000 seedlings goal for the year.
Community club development continues with some training also taking place to ensure optimum survival rates for the trees.
There have water shortage problems at Bandawe, and have been running 4 drums of lake water from Chintheche Inn to the site to compensate. Hopefully with the onset of the rains the problem will be alleviated substantially.
Most of the people living adjacent to Liwonde National Park use the three-stone fires to prepare their meals. This is an inefficient way to cook, because a lot of energy is lost in the process. ‘Total Land Care’ designed of a strong & fuel efficient cook stove, called the ‘Rocket-Stove’. Orsi Bedo and H.E.L.P. Malawi volunteer, Harmen Bouter have been helping the local communities in the construction and use of these stoves.
Eco club children from the nearby Nanthomba Primary School have also taken up this idea and are now sharing it in the communities. (NB – summarized from a report by Orsi Bedo)
Eco Club visit Liwonde National Park
Wilderness Safaris invited 15 children from Nantomba Primary School Eco Club to a safari experience in Liwonde on the 30th of November. Orsi Bedo with assistance of H.E.L.P. Malawi coordinator, Samantha Musser, picked up the kids along with 2 teachers. At the Mvuu Education Centre, a presentation was done on the history of Liwonde National Park, discussed the importance of protected areas, the crucial role they play in supporting wildlife and also covered related topics i.e. clean air, water, nutrient cycling, pollinators etc. Also covered were topics on poaching and its severe consequences on animal populations and the wilderness ecosystem.
Duncan Muhango the Wilderness Safaris guide then took the children on a game drive and through the Rhino Sanctuary. For most of the children this was a unique opportunity for them to experience and appreciate their wilderness heritage and the hope is that they will share it with their families and friends. (NB – summarized from a report by Orsi Bedo)
Management & Staff of Wilderness Safaris Malawi would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Festive Season and best wishes for a prosperous 2014.
We look forward to serving you in the new year!