Monday 21st of August – Woopsie
We are still out in the North on one of our camping trips (if anyone’s interested, my eye is a lot better, still purple, pink, blue and weird). We know that one of the lions, a lone male, should be in the same area and we decide to look for him to see how he is doing. Through his satellite collar, we can receive the coordinates of this lion’s whereabouts up to 6 times a day which makes finding him a lot easier. We radio park management and are given the coordinates of the male’s location half an hour ago. We enter them in the GPS, only to find out that he is exactly 200 meters from where we packed up camp 1.5 hours ago… He probably joined our get-together last night without us knowing… He is that sneaky…
Tuesday 22nd of July – Excellent hunters
Since we started this ‘great camping trip to the North’, apart from doing countless wildebeest herd counts, we have followed some very special cheetahs as well. It is a coalition of 4 siblings (3 females and 1 male) that have split from their mother a few months ago. We have seen them daily for 4 days now and have done 3 hunt-follows (following carnivores during their hunt to collect data about hunting behaviour and prey selection). These days have taught us the following:
By today we had already found them on a kill 3 times. All 3 kills were wildebeest calves (which have become quite big at this time of year) and we missed the kills by 10 to 50 minutes EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. This morning we are with them at 07.15 am… 07.15 AM!!!! That means we got up, drank coffee, had breakfast and packed up camp super early in order to watch them hunt wildebeest calves. But when we find them, they have already eaten, half of the carcass is taken over by a hyena and the cheetah stroll away with full bellies. We follow them on their hunt a little longer but they aren’t very hungry anymore (duh, they just ate 80% of a wildebeest calf, that’s 20% of a whole wildebeest each).
We decide that this afternoon, we will try one more time to see them hunt. Usually (I say usually, please refer to lesson number 2) the cheetah of Liuwa hunt in the morning, from sunrise until it gets hot (but if it doesn’t get hot they can keep going on and off all day) and late in the afternoon (from when it gets cooler to sunset). The day is hot, but we will not take any chances this time, we agree that we will be back with them at 15.00. That should be early enough.
Fast forward to 15.00…
We are driving towards where we left the siblings in the morning. I am sat on the roof of the car tracking them and I pick up the signal easily. We feel a little uneasy as we see dozens of vultures land right where we are going. As the signal becomes stronger, the vultures seem to become more numerous. And indeed… they are all landing around the 4 cheetah… Because they are happily eating the wildebeest calf they caught half an hour ago. Final score, Cheetah vs. Daan and Sandra: 4 – 0.
Friday 25th of August – Voicemail
I propose some wizzkid comes up with the following update in the technology of Liuwa’s Radio Communication System: Voicemail. Seriously, I would be instant fan. Just imagine that… Control calls out to Salwella camp for the 20th time: ‘Salwella Salwella for Control’ and then everyone can hear Salwella’s camp attendant on a recorded message: ‘Hi! This is Salwella. Unfortunately we are having trouble with the radio, please stop calling us, leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we have fixed the problem’. Life would become so peaceful and quiet on days that control has called Salwella over 30 times and counting…
Sunday 27th of August – Autumn feels (almost)
When I woke up this morning, there was a very hard wind tugging at trees, the tent and everything loose. Hearing the sound of the howling wind made me want to turn around and just stay in bed under the warm duvet.
Now, a few hours later, the wind is still howling and dry, dead leaves fall off the trees by thousands. Poor Anna and Jukato keep sweeping and sweeping but the leaves keep blowing everywhere. To top it all up, the sky seems almost grey because of all the ash and smoke of the dry season fires in the air.
All of this together kind of reminds me a little bit of autumn… But dry, not rainy… And with lots of sand instead of mud…
Ok, and 20 degrees warmer!