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Ruaha lion cub

 

Authentic Tanzania Game Diary 2016

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1000 Buffalo in Ruaha - Lions go hunting by Sven Liebchen


 


A River of Elephants Nov 2015




A River of Elephants - by Sven Liebchen

All day we’d seen elephants going in the same direction and then came across a big herd making their way down to the river. There were over 100.
It was a family safari, with Sven guiding it, so there were kids in the car. Everyone was very excited to see them up close, and for the ellies to be so relaxed about us being there. This was lucky, as Sven had no choice but to turn the engine off and just wait for them to pass, trying to keep everyone in the vehicle as quiet as possible. You never really know how it will go down when you have elephants all around you.
Sven makes a habit of driving through fresh elephant dung when it is on the road as he has observed in the past that when elephants surround the car and smell the dung they remain quite calm.
Later that day we had another herd passing through camp, also heading in the same direction. Elephants are known to congregate together spontaneously and, especially in Ruaha (if you have good safari karma) you can see big gatherings of several hundred elephant. Often an old bull will remain up on the river bank greeting all the families as they arrive, and then the whole river bed is covered with elephants. Sub adults practice their mock fighting, babies play in small waterholes in the sandy river beds, and there is a lot of mud bathing. While you can’t hear anything, you can almost imagine the gossiping and chats that are going on! A very moving experience.

Elephant excitement

 

Night visitors to the Waterhole by Emily Liebchen

Film of night visiting leopard

l lion caught on night camera

Leopard at the waterhole - night camera

We have a few camera traps at our camps and guests are always very interested to see what wildlife has visited during the night. And there is a lot of it! In Selous we get Elephant and Hippo regularly visiting, along with leopard and honey badger. In Ruaha it is lion, leopard, hyena, jackals and civets who are most frequently seen. What is particularly interesting is the timing… the leopard is always in first, just after dark, while the guests are having their dinner. And the lion sneaks down to drink around 4.30-5am. Our Selous camera got chomped by a few hyena, and annoyingly the data card was damaged so not only did we lose the camera, we also lost any cool footage from the mischievous raid! New cameras will be going in for the new season, and if guests bring a head torch with a red light they might even be able to see it all first hand as the game won’t be disturbed by that! We also have a nice video of “soxy” (so named by one of our guests) our very friendly Gennet. In the colder months she climbs into the cars over night to get some warmth, and the guides open up the bonnet over breakfast so she makes her way out before they set off on game drive. She is happy for guests to come close to watch her around camp, although occasionally she’ll do a disappearing act for a few days, most of our guests in Ruaha have got to see her!

 


Leopard Impala story Feb 2016

Baby Impala is no match for a Leopard

- Ruaha Feb 2016 by Sven Liebchen

We were coming back from our evening game drive and heading back to our camp at Kilimatonga when we saw the leopard who regularly visits the camp. He was walking along the road, showing himself off, no care in the world - when he suddenly heard distress noises coming from the taller grass behind the car. We took the binoculars and scanned the area where the leopard’s attention was fixed.

We spotted it! And he had too. He started sneaking from one tree to the other, keeping his body low to the grass so that his presence wouldn't be given away. He was stalking a little impala calf which had been left behind by its mother.

Leopard running with kill

It could be that the mother had seen the leopard and hidden her calf to protect it, but the little one had given herself away with an ill-timed call. lt may also have been abandoned, or become lost after falling behind  by the rest of  the herd.

Leopard with Kill, Ruaha

Leopard on kill, Ruaha

We positioned ourselves to watch the action unfolding as the leopard stalked closer and closer. The young impala had no chance. This leopard has lots of experience with hyrax which are far harder to catch.

Leopard with kill in tree, Ruaha

He pounced on the little calf, and we then watched him take his dinner up a baobab tree. While he sat there having his starters, we opened our sundowner beers and watched for a while.The light was perfect for some pictures, and we then made our own way towards our own dinner. No impala for us, just a yummy roast beef with all the trimmings!

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A boat safari in Selous - by Sven Liebchen


African fish eagle fishing in the Rufiji in Selous

 With one of our private camping groups in the Selous Game Reserve this season,
(see www.authentictanzania.com ) we had a fantastic boat safari.

 Rufiji boat safari

We normally spend half a day on the water with each group, exploring the river and lake systems which make this wilderness so uniquely special. Even a full day on the water is possible, with a delicious bush lunch set up on a sand bank.

Rufiji Crocodile

Rufiji Hippo

Bee-eaters nesting

 We had some wonderful close encounters. A Crocodile dashing across the sand, to re-enter the water. There were Hippo out of the water. A herd of Elephants swimming across the Rufiji. Some White Fronted Bee-eaters nesting in the river banks.

Yellow-billed stork on the Rufiji

African fish eagle in the Rufiji

The guide got some great shots of birds on the wing (a Yellow Billed Stork and a Fish Eagle).

 White-fronted bee-eaters in the Selous

White-fronted bee-eaters in the Selou  White-fronted bee-eaters in the Selou

A boat safari is a great way to get up close to the game for some exciting encounters, and it makes for a fabulous way to see the park from a different perspective.   

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Mkomazi Walking Safari - by Sven and Emily Liebchen


Mkomazi

 We recently did a special walking safari with some regular clients of ours: Irene
and Jeff. They have been all over Tanzania with us and come back each year for a
different adventure.

This year Sven took them in to Mkomazi National Park. This is a place that less than 800 people a year see, and that includes researchers and local school visits!

Mkomazi Walking Safari

It really is the last wild walking area left in Tanzania, maybe even Africa. You don’t want
to drive here – the game is skittish and you won’t see much in a car. You also won’t see
many cats. However what makes it very special is that you really see no other people at
all during your visit. And the game you do see is unusual.

Oryx in Mkomazi

Mkomazi vulturine guineafowl

A perfect location for regulars to Tanzania who are looking for something new, and to try their hand at a walking
safari adventure. Along with the normal Zebra and Giraffe, you will see Oryx, Lesser Kudu,
and the long necked Gerenuk. We have also seen large herds of Elephant and Buffalo, and
even the more unusual Striped Hyena and Aardwolf.

Mkomazi dust coats vehicle

Mkomazi dust coats vehicle

Our mobile camp boarders Kenya and Tsavo National Park. The landscape is simply stunning and birdlife is plentiful as well. It is a dry savannah edging to desert, with small lakes focusing the game and birds. The mornings are cool and you often walk in the mist first thing – which lifts to reveal the splendour of the bush. Irene sent us a photo when she got back home which made us laugh. Our (normally) green safari vehicle had been turned red by the Mkomazi dusty soils
as it exited the park at the end of her trip. It serves as a nice reminder why it is a place
for walking only – nobody wants a game drive through that dust!!

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Our Leopard friend - by Sven Liebchen


Leopard in Ruaha

Most safari lodges have regular animal visitors who have got used to humans, lights and noise. The same has happened with our mobile camps.

Kilmatonge camp in Ruaha

Kilimatonge Camp in Ruaha

When we return to our regular spot in Ruaha, we get one special visitor who is particularly inquisitive. As we drive into our camp near Kilimatonge hill, we see him.

Leopard in baobab tree, Ruaha

A beautiful young male, probably between 2 and 3 years old. He is sighted first by the Baboons who give some loud warning barks. Then he breaks cover and strolls through camp.

Leopard in Ruaha - sleeping in a sausage tree

By day, his preferred nap location and view point is the sausage tree. By night, he comes down to our waterhole to drink and then crosses over the dried river bed to hunt for hyrax in the hills. 

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Lions and a baby elephant - by Sven Liebchen


Elephant mother with dead calf in Ruaha

We found a mother Elephant and her young calf, early in the morning close to one of our Authentic Tanzania Camps. Her little one had sadly already passed away, but the amazing thing on this sighting was that Mum did not give up on her little one! She stayed there until the end of the third day.

Elephant mother fending off lions from her dead calf

Even when Lions arrived, she stood her ground.

Lions fighting over the elephant calf

Lions fighting in Ruaha

It got so tense that the Lions even started fighting each other. We visited her each day to check up on how she was doing, and whether she had decided to leave her calf behind. Each day new stories unfolded in front of our eyes, and we were able to sit with her while our guests absorbed the drama first hand. She chased away the Lions again and again, and overnight she stood firm.

One of the most heart-warming moments in this sad story was when another herd of Elephants passed by and they helped chase away the Lions so they could each say their own farewells to the poor little Elephant.

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