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MDONYA DIARY

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MDONYA DIARY

 

Mdonya Old River Newsletter - March 2015


ENVIRONMENT

This last month of the season has been disappointing in terms of rainfall compared with this time last year.  However, when the rain comes - it batters the camp ferociously and then we are back to brilliant hot sunshine again. 

Some areas of the Park do not appear to have received as much rain as Mdonya - a couple of weeks' ago both the Mwagusi and Mdonya Rivers were running at a healthy level but now, again they are reduced to a mere trickle in places.  Mdonya Falls continues to flow but sadly not at the rate of this time last year.  The Ruaha River however has a healthy level of water, indicative of heavy rain further up towards the source which is encouraging.  Within the camp the grass has grown to such a height now in the old river bed that we struggle to see our resident family of warthog and impalas.  

Striga asiatica  Gloriosa superba

 The flowers, however, continue to appear e.g. the Flame Lily (Gloriosa superba), Witchweed (Striga asiatica) and the Maroon Spikes (Centemopsis rubra) which break up the lush green of the grass.  We have the   The grasses provide a delightful variation in shape, size and colour and include the Giant Crowfoot (Dactyloctenium gigantium) and Goose Grass (Eleusine corocana).  It is however, noticeably obvious that the flowers are a lot later this year, not just in the Mdonya area.

SIGHTINGS

Sightings of the big cats have, predictably been down this month as always during the heavy rains. However  during our last month we had 2 impala kills on the periphery of the camp by our Mdonya pride - usually after the guests had just gone to bed or in the early mornings before sunrise.  

Our last 4 guests staying in tents 0 & 1 were fortunate enough to actually witness 4 lion crossing the path in front of them as they approached tents 2 & 3 but all was well with the trusty Masai aware of their presence long before the guests were!

One morning guests had just sat down to breakfast when we got the call that one of the Mdonya lionesses + 4 cubs was within 2 km of camp so breakfast was abandoned and there they were, walking along the middle of the road.  

Mdonya lioness with cubs

The other lioness + her even smaller cubs weren't so keen to show themselves and the big male was playing shy - all we would see was the rippling of the grass as he walked.  

Happily guests reported seeing many elephant on their game drives - a large number of small calves and good sized herds.

One couple were fortunate enough to be returning to camp and were literally within 1 km of camp when they saw a pair of Honey Badgers around 6 p.m.  Unfortunately they weren't feeling very photogenic but it was a huge thrill for both guests, driver and alike as they are elusive creatures.  

All in all this year, it has been a great season for game viewings - right across the board - not forgetting of course the huge diversity of bird life that Ruaha has to offer.

WILD FRIENDS

Sadly due to the height of the grass in the river bed area it has been more difficult to see our resident family of warthogs and our entertaining business of banded mongoose.  

 Ruaha vervet monkey

 Instead our ever present troops of vervet monkeys and baboons kept the guests entertained - especially the females with their youngsters.

 Ruaha leopard

We were fortunate enough to have a fair number of sightings of Fundi both in and around camp - one night between tents 6 & 7 as the guests were walking back - he is always so unconcerned by the proximity of the guests and I think knows he has become over the years, a major attraction of Mdonya.  

Once the rains arrived in Mdonya the elephants deserted camp and sadly we have seen none of regulars - unlike last year, Sikiu didn't come to say goodbye to us all!  Hopefully next season they will be all back in camp to keep the guests entertained and Sikiu Mbovu will not doubt have some new tricks up his sleeve for us all!

On behalf of the staff and myself as Manager of Mdonya, we would like to thank all our guests for a wonderful season - full of enthusiasm, wonder and excitment and we look forward very much to seeing many of you back next season.  

 Mary, Micol and the Staff at Mdonya camp.

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Mdonya Old River Camp Newsletter - June 2014

News from the Environment

Mdonya Camp in June

So its a start of a new season here in Mdonya Old River Camp. The grass is still green and the impalas still rutting, their bellies full of good nutrients.

Towards the end of june we witnessed a change in the colors that surround the camp, as the drought is getting closer every day.

Mdonya Camp

The Acacia trees are bending from the weight of their pods, and the Combretums are starting to lose their leaves.

Mdoya Camp

News from Sightings

Ruaha Elephant

It's been an exciting month for our guests!

A pair of honey badgers have been seen a couple of times. On both occasions they were on their way back to camp. One time they were back from a honey raid and were busy chasing away the bees that were rightfully claiming what was theirs!…is always amazing to see those fierce creatures!

Cheetah sightings were regularly recorded - and also the most elusive of the african cats, our friend the leopard, was spotted a few times, appearing like a ghost for a few seconds only to disappear into the bush again as if he’d never been there…

An elephant  died of natural causes in the park and that provided  a good meal for a pride of lions for more than a few days.

Ruaha Lion in June 2014

The Mwayembe pride killed a giraffe which also provided a good source of protein for our beloved cats. 

The biggest question of this season is still yet to be answered : what has happened to our Mdonya Pride? How many are there this season?

We’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Your Tracks on our Path

paw prints

 

 "Mdonya Camp where the lion roars

The elephant roams and the eagle soars

A warm campfire and hospitality

Impalas under the banyan tree

Thank you monkey, leopard and giraffe

Thank Mdonya River Camp staff

A fine safari from the start

You’ll be in our dreams and in our hearts."

Reid Noel, Sandi Noel & Jim Henson – Oregon, USA, 7th June

Guest Comment

Click here to read more June guest comments   

Our Wild Friends - Leopards

Ruaha Dik dik

Our giant grey friends regularly visit us, especially Sikiu Mbovu, who still has a particular fondness for our water pipes which he regularly smashes!! Nonetheless is always a privilege and a pleasure to observe these magnificent creatures.

Tracks of leopard were seen on a couple of occasions right in front of the tents - one particular night our cat friend even decided to scratch his back against tent 1 and sleep there for a couple  hours! The guests were thrilled!

Civets, Genets, and even a Serval have visited the camp regularly during the night - the latter was even spotted just after dinner!

The best news is that the Buffalo are back! Just yesterday we saw a quite big herd approaching the camp, hopefully they’ll stay…Tracks of lions the night before tell us that they knew before us that they were coming…well keep you posted!

Ruaha Elephants

 

 


From Mary, Riccardo and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!


 

Mdonya Old River Camp - November 2013 Newsletter

News from the Environment

shimmer of green

shimmer of green

After the arid and dusty conditions of the dry season our patience was finally rewarded the other night with our first “proper” rainfall. We were all woken in the night by the sound of the rain falling heavily on the tent canvas, a welcome awakening for most of us! Within 36 hours we had our first sign of the results, a green shimmer in the Mdonya Old River bed where the new grass is peeking through.

the rains come termites 

The morning after the floor of the dining tent was covered in a delicate carpet of wings shed by the flying ants, which appear as soon as the first rains come before they hurriedly disappear underground again. Hopefully this will be the start of a really good rainy season, which will allow the sand rivers and waterholes to fill up so that the animals can once again have the luxury of an abundance of fresh water.

The rains will accelerate the new growth of the lush new grass providing the much needed nutrition for the animals and soon we will be seeing more of the newly born impala around camp again.

Already the Golden Orioles have been seen and the African Hoopoes, both harbingers of the rainy season. Walking through camp the air is thick with the flying ants and the swifts have spent the last few days since the rains came gorging themselves on the insects in mid flight. Along the paths are the burrows with a constant stream of tiny termites emerging. It is wonderful to suddenly see the park come alive again following just one big deluge.

 

News from Sightings

November has yielded a variety of unusual sightings. Our cheetah sightings continue to be quite frequent, both the mother with her 3 almost adult cubs and the mother with the 3 younger cubs.

Cheetah cubs

Cheetah with cubs

Large herds of elephants have been congregating in the Mdonya dry river bed digging for water, it is a truly magnificent sight to see so many of these wonderful creatures gathered together. The Army still has a presence in the Park and continues to work with Tanapa and other agencies to help with the anti-poaching campaign which does appear to be producing results. Sadly though another 3 elephants were shot for their ivory.

Perhaps our most unusual sighting was the elephant killed by a baobab tree falling on it! Clearly the poor animal was feeding on the bark and the tree must have fallen killing it. When our guests and their driver came across it, the lions had only just moved in to stake their claim to a free meal! Interestingly enough we understand it was one of only 4 collared elephants in Ruaha National Park. Various guests who have learned of the incident have termed it “Revenge of the Baobabs”! Click on the pictures to see the whole gallery: be aware that some pictures can be shocking. Thanks to our guide Kahimba for all the pictures of this session. 

Baobab pulled down by elephant

 

Your Tracks on our Path

tracks
 

We have had a fantastic time. We’ve learned a lot of new things about nature from our guide and driver. The breakfasts and lunches in the bush were fun, the chats around the camp fire and dinner table amusing. How small the world is when all nations get together to enjoy the same things!  Many thanks to Mary and her friendly team.  It has been a wonderful experience.  We are quite sad to leave. Edvis & Heinz (Henry) Kesper, 10.11.13

It will be difficult to top this place. I had an utterly beautiful time here and would like – if I could – to stay much longer! I have been blessed. Thank you all – Prosper & Francis who cared for my bush experience during the game drives, kitchen staff, maintenance staff, management (thank you Marco – you are a beautiful person), the Masai. I will come back and spread the word. Steffi Hiller – Berlin, Germany, 21.11.13

Wonderful place, nice guide & staff.  Lots of animals, very good game drives. Eugenia/Catherino – Italy, 21.11.13 

What an amazing experience! We were blown away by the wildlife here (lion, cheetah & a leopard all before lunch!) as well as the warm and accommodating staff. Our guide, Prosper was knowledgeable about all that we saw and was very interesting to chat with.  Thank you for such a wonderful stay and we look forward to coming back some day to be serenaded by the lions again! Tom & Goli, 24.11.13

 click here to read more november guest comments.  

Our Wild Friends - Cheetah

Sadly we lost one of the members of our regular warthog family, the lions caught up with it just  past Tent 0. 

Cheetah kill

Cheetah kill

Close to the camp recently we had a call to say a cheetah had been spotted not far from our furthest tent, number 1,1 having hunted an impala for her meal.  On arrival at the scene we identified the cheetah as being the female who was wounded some months back a long distance from our camp.  The wound was still evident but almost healed and apparently was no hindrance to her hunting skills.  Unfortunately her prey turned out to be a heavily pregnant female.  We had another cheetah kill close to staff quarters where the staff were able to watch whilst the scenario was played out. 

We had guests from the U.K. staying recently who were collected by Taiko, one of our Masai for dinner but he was a bit early so they told him to return in a few minutes......on his return and as he escorted them to the dining tent Fundi was there to walk with them – albeit in the river bed and not on the path.  He continues to be a real favourite with visitors and his fame has spread to visitors from many continents.

It only remains for all of us here at Mdonya to wish you all a very Happy Christmas as by the time you receive the next Newsletter, the festivities will be over.  Thank you to all our guests – new and returning ones – for being such enthusiastic safari goers!


 

 

CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE THEM AND TO WATCH PHOTO GALLERIES

From Mary, Marco and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - October 2013 Newsletter

 

News from the Environment

We still wait anxiously for any sign of rain, some days the skies have been threateningly grey and the smell of rain has been tantalisingly close but sadly we have yet to receive a shower let alone a downpour, unlike Selous. Most of the bwawas (waterholes) in the vicinity of the camp are now dry and crusted over with lichen,even the thick glutinous mud has dried up.

This is the normal prelude to the rainy season and the signs are there that the rain will come soon with the baobabs blossoming. In some areas carpets of the beautiful white flowers lie under the barren branches.

In spite of the dryness there are signs of some green shoots on the combretum in camp and the different acacias continue to provide a canopy of green in camp.

Most of the game is now concentrated around the few areas where there is still water lying in pools in the riverbed so rich pickings for the carnivores. Soon, once the rains come, the tables will turn and they will really have to work for their food again.

 

News from Sightings

This month has seen a continuation of the amazing number of leopard sightings in the area. Click on the above picture to get an idea of some of the sightings. Just last week one of our guides was out with guests when they came across a large male leopard in a tree being subjected to serious harassment by a troop of baboons. This resulted in the leopard being hounded further and further up the tree until he reached a point where he just could go no further, it then became a question of who was going to give way first. Other guests who witnessed the event later told us the baboons had transferred to a neighboring tree but the leopard was taking no chances and was still being held “hostage” in the original tree.

Cheetah sightings have been very encouraging this month also. A female with her 3 almost grown up cubs has been sighted quite regularly & another female with 3 much younger cubs still exhibiting their manes affording them the disguise of a hyena as protection. Some guests have been lucky enough to witness attempted kills and have been amazed at the speed and agility of these wonderful creatures.  

Your Tracks on our Path

 

 

"Definitely the best safari in all regards that I’ve ever gone on!  Such a lovely camp atmosphere (loved eating with everyone), saw a leopard hunting a hyrax and enjoyed the “safari music” each night!  Safari njema sana!", Brett – Canada 6.10.13

"A real Africa experience including lions roaring around the tent at night!  Very knowledgeable guide & careful driver.  Thank to everyone who made this a memorable visit.", Rosemary Gunther. "Amazing first safari for me – Jumani an amazing guide – managed to show us two different leopard on a morning game drive plus a multitude of other species large & small.  Thank you. (and particularly to the Masai who guarded us at night- was a bit of a “wuss” about lion roaring outside the tent but all well).", Patience Cooper – Rosemary's daughter, 8.10.13 

 

Our Wild Friends - Elephants

Sadly this month we have had none of our regular pachyderm visitors. We believe this could be due largely to the unfortunate poaching incident reported in last month’s newsletter. In addition this month has seen a major anti-poaching operation take place in Ruaha, overseen by the Army and aided by Tanapa. We understand this has been largely very successful which is extremely good news. For an update please go to the PAMS Foundation website: www.pamsfoundation.org

Mdonya and all Ruaha's elephants are pleased to introduce you a new friends of our, Trevor Jones:

"H, I'm Trevor Jones from the Udzungwa Elephant Project and I have recently started up a monitoring and research project on the elephants of Ruaha. For most of October, my research assistant Leons and I have been based at Mdonya Old River Camp, from where we are starting to build up a picture of the current status of elephants in the Park. These are tough times for elephants in Tanzania, yet Ruaha is still a fantastic stronghold for them, and it is our hope that our project will help the Park to protect them from the threat of poaching. We have recorded, photographed and identified about 250 individuals so far - but this is only the start, and we will soon be asking visitors to help the database to grow too, by submitting sightings. It has been three decades since there has been any ongoing research on elephants in Ruaha, so we have a lot to learn. One of our first aims is to assess the demography or population structure, to understand whether the population is increasing, stable,  or decreasing - and why. We have also put out 36 camera-traps in a grid centred on Mdonya (part of a wider collaboration with the Ruaha Carnivore Project totalling >150 cameras in the Park!). We are massively lucky to have the support of Essential Destinations and Mdonya Camp, and thanks to Mary, Marco and all the staff for their welcome and hospitality, which has really helped to get the project off to a good start."


CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE THEM OR TO WATCH PHOTO GALLERIES
From Mary, Marco and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - September 2013 Newsletter

News from the Environment

aRuaha Flowers

The temperature continues to rise during the day making the full day game drives a challenge for those not used to the heat! Fortunately the mornings and the evenings are pleasantly cool and we are lucky enough to have a pleasant breeze blowing periodically throughout the day to relieve the intense heat.  We’ve experienced several quite overcast days and one evening we even felt a slight drizzle whilst sitting out under the stars having dinner.  There has been rain in some of the villages outside the park so it could be that this year the rains may come early – we can only hope!

The Acacia Tortilis flowers are just beginning to appear in camp and this could also be a harbinger of early rains.  Colour is provided still by the ubiquitous “toothbrush tree”, Long pod Cassia with the addition now of the delicate shade of Pink Jacaranda. The last of acacia pods have finished but the ever hopeful elephants still shake the trees in the hope of dislodging the last hangers on!

The sad news this month was the discovery of 2 newly poached bull elephants who had been brutally butchered to remove their tusks. Tanapa rangers have been out on regular patrols trying to track the perpetrators down but as yet we haven’t heard if they have been successful. 

Please do find time if you can to look at the following website for the PAMS Foundation that is working closely with Tanapa to try and intensify the efforts to reduce and hopefully go some way to eradicating the serious poaching problem in Tanzania.  www.pamsfoundation.org  

News from Sightings

b

Leopard

 

We have been fortunate enough to have had a real glut of leopard sightings this month. Some very fortunate guests were lucky enough to see 4 leopard in one day, 2 in the same tree with an impala kill. One of the most amusing sightings was close to camp. A large male leopard was spotted up an acacia tree keenly watching the impala below. 3 elephant appeared from the surrounding bush and proceeded to shake the tree trying to dislodge the seed pods. Each time this happened, the leopard had to move a little further along the branch until he could go no further. He executed a very precarious turn and then ran full tilt down the tree trunk past the elephants into the surrounding bush. The whole scenario was reminiscent of a Tom & Jerry cartoon for those who remember the series!
The wounded female cheetah has been seen frequently and she is healing well and hunting successfully and looking quite healthy which is wonderful to see.
It just remains for us all here at Mdonya to thank our wonderful guests for sharing some of their photos and stories around the fire at night and we look forward to seeing you again in the future. Click on Luca Gelmini and Chris Forster photo galleries to watch them fully!

cRuaha birds and game

Your Tracks on our Path

  tracks

Click on the picture from our guest book to read this appeal from Sikio Mbovu, one of Mdonya's resident elephants, as observed by Ray Ross-Magenty.

Guest comments

Guest Comments

 

Guest Comments

Click here to read more Mdonya september guest comments.   

Our Wild Friends - Lions,  Leopards and company.

Our Mdonya Pride continue to vist the camp on a regular basis – usually at night and are regular visitors at the staff quarters.

Fundi continues to be seen also much to the delight of some of returning guests who remember him from a few years ago.

Our genets are not seen so regularly in the office area nowadays but are often seen when guests return to their tents after dinner and appear to favour the staff quarters nowadays along with civet cats who appear to have become regular visitors.

We have a new visitor who appears to be quite a regular these days  – a bat eared fox. It has been seen on several occasions down in the river bed during the early morning so we are hoping that maybe there is a pair denning close by and we could, in time, be treated to the sight of the pups.

A few nights ago we heard a great commotion behind the manager’s tent close to the car park and we were just in time to see a lion pounce and drag off a hyena. The next morning the carcass was totally untouched but the puncture wounds around the throat area were very evident.  

In the photo gallery other September camp friends: our resident elephants challenged again Isaak, our plumber, and Scops Owl and Verraux Eagle Owl were spotted in camp as proof that the Mdonya night calls are real and not played by an artificial sound system!

e

 
From Mary, Marco and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - August 2013 Newsletter

News from the Environment

During this last month of August we’ve noticed the gradual increase in temperature in the early mornings and evenings with great relief. We no longer need to use the charcoal burners under the dinner tables and put the water bottles in the beds at night to keep the cold at bay! The days are getting hotter too and one can almost feel the moisture being drained from the surrounding vegetation. Another sign of the increase in temperature are the sudden gusts of wind that come through the camp, usually late afternoon/early evening, welcome for the most part as they bring a cool breeze. 

In camp the Winter Thorn pods are almost finished but the elephants are determined to shake the very last from the trees. The Paperback Acacia (Acacia sieberiana) pods are still plentiful so it will be a while before the noise of the trees being shaken throughout the night dies out.  Around the park there are splashes of yellow becoming visible along the roadside from the Long-Tail Cassia (Cassia abbreviata) flowers which, together with their very long distinctive pods make them an easy tree to identify.

News from Sightings

Many of guests during this month have been lucky enough to have numerous sightings of our Mdonya Pride – the cubs are growing apace and look really fit, healthy and strong. They can be heard most nights around the camp and have been seen on many occasions up at the staff quarters in camp. 

Some of our guests were lucky enough to see the pride with a very recently killed zebra – just outside the perimeter of the camp. 

2 elephant kills were also seen in the area – one due to natural causes but the other was a mother and her very young calf, clearly taken by the lions. Thanks to Gianluca Scalera for the pictures of the second sighting.

We had reports of what appeared to be a badly wounded female cheetah in the vicinity but it seems the wound looked more serious than in fact it was. A couple of days later she was seen walking and attempting to hunt without any apparent distress – proof of nature’s resilience! Thanks to Joseph Singer to have shared his pictures with us!

 

And click here to watch a beautiful photographic sequence of elephants mud and sand bathing, by Joseph Singer.

Your Tracks on our Path

 

 

"We all enjoyed our experience here and the range of wildlife we were able to see.  The high point has to be the siting of the leopard but we enjoyed the smaller creatures like the hyrax + mongoose as well.  The food was really good and very enjoyable bonhomie around the fire and dinner.  The sounds at night rounded off a perfect day at camp.  Thank you." The Sinfield Family, 20.08.2013

"Thank you for such a special stay. The camp is lovely, the staff are always helpful and smiling. A special mention for our amazing guide Tuesday (Jumane), so sharp sighted, knowledgeable and no question could not be answered and then the extra detail – superb. Mr. C. our driver was awesome, again so skilled and sharp sighted. A winning combination and our lovely meal on our verandah served by the lovely Yusuf! Many thanks. "Karen & Kate, Rossendale, Lancs, U.K, 17.08.2013

"Thank you for everything.  It was fantastic, great, no words to explain our sensations this days.  Special thanks to our guide, Maulidi and our driver.  They were fabulous.  Kind, smart and helpful.  Maulidi is a fantastic guide – we joke with him and tell him that he has super powers like Superman because he can find any animal no matter how hidden the animal is.  He must have a 6th sense for this. Great experience.  Thank you!!" Irene & Antonio (Spain), 3.08.2013 

Our Wild Friends - Leopards

The most exciting news on the Wild Friends’ front is the really heart warming news that Fundi is back in the area on a regular basis! For some weeks since camp re-opened no one had seen him, our Masai in camp included who don’t miss a thing with their eagle eyes and super powerful night vision! He has been seen in broad daylight in some of his old haunts and wandering around camp and in staff quarters at night – only when the lion are not around though. It seems there is a young female who is fast becoming a regular around camp although she is very shy and has only been seen a few times but the tracks have been seen quite regularly around the camp. Thanks to Andrea and Renato Mazzoleni for Fundi pictures.

Our pair of jackals have been seen again around Tent 11 with many of our guests at the far end of the camp reporting regular sightings and just recently they’ve been heard with their distinctive call on many occasions at intervals throughout the night. 

 Click on pictures to ENLARGE them
From Mary, Marco and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - July 2013 Newsletter

News from the Environment

The change in the vegetation has been very noticeable over the last month. Gradually it has become drier and drier and already the elephant are starting to dig for water in the dry river beds.

The water in the Great Ruaha River is still flowing but the level is decreasing and it won’t be long before the male hippo start to challenge each other for the remaining water holes. We still have constant elephant visitors in camp shaking the acacia tortillis trees for the seeds but it is v noticeable that there are less and less falling now. Driving around the park the only splashes of colour remaining at present are the Thoothbrush bushes. Over the past couple of weeks the wind has got up in the in camp and the dust devils have already started. In camp the only remaining colour is provided by the purple of the faidherbia pods and the large numbers of Brown Veined White butterflies (Belenois aurota aurota), Common Leopard butterflies (Phalanta phalanta) and Guineafowl butterflies (Hamanumida daedalus). 

 

News from Sightings

2 guests of this month wanted to share with us their pictures of their safari with us:

Eleonora Lavo portraits about the beautiful sightings of leopards, elephants encounters, the well knowns injured cheetah which has been seen afterwards recovering and still in very good shape and of course Ruaha landascape...

...and Julie Neogy, first safari of her life, impressing on files stories of a dead hippo on the Ruaha River divored by crocs, lions on a fresh kill of a young giraffe...

Your Tracks on our Path

 

 

 

 

Our Wild Friends - Wild Dogs

This month Mdonya  were luck enough to host our special friends: Jan Corlett and Roger Burrows, former wild dog researchers in Tanzania.  Here is their account of their wonderful encounter whilst staying in Ruaha:  

“The highlight for us was, of course, seeing the pack of dogs at W4 – 11. They were beautifully marked dogs but no pups and no pregnant or lactating females amongst them. The dogs behaved perfectly for us: at about 5:45pm, they began their pre-hunt show, jumping & leaping over one another, licking etc., all in full view of us, our patience was well rewarded. The same pack was seen a few days later near Jong, so the pack must have travelled some 30km! This is wonderful and just goes to show the value of photography as opposed to putting collars on the dogs...

As a result of photographic evidence and long term observational data collected over many years, it is apparent that it is the 'yearlings' (18-24 months old) males and females who initiate the long distance movement of their natal packs away from their core denning areas in order to establish contact with yearlings of the opposite sex from other packs. Observations suggest that it is especially the young females who initiate and lead the packs during these movements (in Serengeti in late 1980's early 1990's up to 60 km and in Ruaha 2013 an estimated distance of at least 30 km in two days). At some point the rest of the pack seem to tire of these movements and the yearlings disperse in single sex groups on their own, eventually meeting up with a dispersing opposite single sex group from another pack. This is how new packs are formed. The alpha male and alpha female pup in each litter of wild dogs soon become apparent during play and this status is maintained."

Check out Roger's website to be informed about the wild dogs status: http://www.africanwilddogwatch.org. 


From Mary, Marco and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

 

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Mdonya Old River Camp - June 2013 Newsletter

 

News from the Environment

Ruaha Rangers

"Thanks to sponsorship from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, PAMS Foundation and partners were recently able to provide advanced anti-poaching training to 20 Tanzania National Park (TANAPA) Rangers, in Ruaha National Park. Martin Mthembu of African Field Ranger Training Services was the lead Trainer. The group trained will form the first of two specialised Anti-Poaching Units that TANAPA are establishing in order to help address the poaching scourge that is impacting on Tanzania’s, and in fact Africa’s, elephant and other wildlife populations.
Thank you to Essential Destinations for providing accommodation and other logistical support to the training team. All stakeholders need to support the efforts and work together to achieve success against the common threat facing our Parks, wildlife and the tourism industry.


For more information, visit
www.pamsfoundation.org. Pams foundation

News from Sightings

Lion pride Ruaha

"As the mornings sunrise broke the dawn, the glimpse of tan fur crossed our path. It was a lioness, and with her were ten little lion cubs and several other adults. We watched them for over an hour playing and frolicking in the morning light. Further up the river was a huge herd of buffalo, already trampling up the African dust as they moved through the dry bush in search of food. These were the delights that greeted us during the first morning of our stay at Mdonya Old River Camp. Watch video1 and video2 on this sighting.

Mdonya lion cubs

The beautiful camp nestled under age old Jackal-berry, Sycamore Fig and Winter Thorns, is perfect for a real African bush experience. Just sitting in camp we watched 3 magnificent elephants feeding on seed pods, and loved examining the lion pug marks that traversed past our tent during the third night. The tracks explained the reason why the nearby grazing impala had made alarm calls just before dawn, where after they run off a further distance from our tent. Our 5 nights at Mdonya Old River Camp were glorious and the wildlife sightings endless. Thank you to all the Mdonya staff for making our stay magical. We will be back." Krissie Clark & Wayne Lotter 

Your Tracks on our Path

tracks 

"Our second stay at Mdonya was again a fantastic one!  It is a beautiful place with kindly staff. Our special thanks to Mary and our guide Fadhili and our driver Ayoubu who made our days unforgettable. Asante sana."
Nina & Gunter – June 2013

"Thank you so much for a fantastic experience.  Everyone is so kind, lovely & helpful and full of fun – love it. Africa for us is “WOW” and we can’t learn enough.  We will take Africa and you home in our hearts – love "
Mary & Martin Twiggs & Janet & John Bickells – U.K. June 2013


What can I say? I’m so sad to be leaving. The experience has been incredible.  The knowledge and kindness of everyone is wonderful and the setting just magical.   Trevor & Katya, Australia – June 2013

"You guys are good lookouts and have good eyes. Love" Zoe age 6, almost 7


"Mdonya Old River Camp
Marvellous staff
Delicious meals
Outdoors in a park.  Cool!
Nice tent
You guys rock!
Amazing wildlife
Asante sana"
Addy age 8 – Washington D.C. – June 2013

 

Our Wild Friends - Elephants

Mdonya camp

Soon it seems that word gets round we’re back! The elephant appear – our regulars in the form of Siku Mbovu, Louis + Charlie.

The great temptation in camp being the ripening seeds on the Acacia Tortilis and at night the camp resonates to the sound of the trees being shaken and the sound of falling seed pods – the reward for their patience! Guests can be forgiven for thinking it is a sudden rainfall as they patter to the ground and in some cases, onto the tents! At breakfast the next morning those who are in tents close to the Acacia Tortilis don’t really have the heart to grumble at their interrupted night’s sleep – the excitement and wonder of having such magnificent creatures so close by takes over. 

Siku Mbovu soon shows us his latest trick – opening the hosepipe tap in the staff quarters and spending a leisurely 20 minutes or more drinking & splashing whilst we all look on powerless to turn the tap off. He loves an audience and defies anyone to turn the tap off – a wonderful sight!

Ruaha elephant

 

 

 

 Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

From Mary and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - March 2013 - End of the Season Newsletter

 

News from the Environment

Ipomea

The month of March has been the pinnacle of the flowering season, with Wild Dagga (Leonotis nepetifolia) its orange petals distinctive through the lush green surrounding, Big-leaved and cream-coloured Ipomoea (kituniensis and tuberculata) together with Crotalaria covering open meadows, even the Winterthorn (Faidherbia albida) has leafed which in June will bring all the apple-ring pod lovers to feast next to our dining tent making mealtimes a close encounter with numerous species. It seems more of a jungle than bush at the moment with the Rhodes and Guinea grass over 2m high and the feel is of spring as flutters of new chick hatchlings are seen with local and migrating birds nesting including the mesmerizing social weavers who are busily building nests on overhanging branches above tents and along the paths. The heavy rains which Ruaha deeply relies on have begun creating flash floods in the rivers and bring new life and dispersing the animals to every corner of this enormous National Park.

Great Ruaha River

 Manu's thoughts...

Clouds on Ruaha

It is late afternoon, dark clouds hang on the horizon yet the strong African sun can be felt as it shines through the trees glistering off the dark green vegetation.

A few giraffe wander past with impala and zebra just behind while vervet monkeys idly claw at the bark in the branches up high. Through the tranquility a rumbling emerges like a build up of wind however its not wind but the flapping wings of a flock of thousands of Quelea flying in unison landing and taking off effortlessly - creating a seemingly endless wave of movement.

Its the last day of the season and we’re all feeling a bit nostalgic. It has been quite simply an amazing season.

Ruaha Giraffes

All Our Wild Friends - 2013 Click on pictures to ENLARGE them

 

Genet

We’ve watched Fundi the leopard grow into adulthood making Mdonya camp his territory and guests have been able to get up close and capture him on film hunting and learning to drag his prey into the trees. We’ve seen our favorite genet on her daily visits and showing off her litter even in her old age. Our resident jackal couple crossing through our camp along the riverbed everyday almost on schedule and all the while the bat-eared foxes have raised a new family right next to camp. We’ve slept under amazing skies and through deafening thunderstorms all while the lions have roared through the nights and been witness to a deadly lion battle zone as the Mdonya pride took on a challenge of 4 young males. We’ve been fortunate enough to follow a mamma cheetah with her 3 cubs, all from newborn to the hunting young adults they are today. Countless elephants, including our residents Sikio Mbovu, Charlie & Louis have roamed through camp regularly, as well as new bulls Louis II and Crazy trimming our trees as they stroll through camp, keeping our Masaai busy. Hyenas and bush pigs gnawing on anything they find, including shoes forgotten outside tents. But most of all we all feel lucky to have seen Ruaha go through all its seasons, which with it’s amazing flora and fauna has kept us stunned at the diversity that this park has to offer. Truly nature’s paradise.

Cheetah

Bat eared foxes

Lion

Fundi

We thank all of you for following us and for being part of this amazing place. We can’t wait for next season. See you in June!

From Manu, Mary and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - February 2013 Newsletter

 

News from the Environment

The short rains have almost completely stopped giving us amazing clear blue skies and star filled nights. During full moon the light allows us to see animals even at a fair distance in these limpid nights.
But not all is well. Human interference with the Ruaha River further upstream has left the Great Ruaha River in a desperate state. Not only is the flow of the river minimal to non-existent the recharge of rain over the last couple of months in the upper catchment seems to have had little impact upon the rivers current water level. Striking photos comparing water levels through the season can be viewed at www.suestolberger.com. 
 

Great Ruaha River feb 2013

Regardless at the moment the park is still green and lush making wildlife watching and photography spectacular. Wildflowers such as Flame Lilly,  Witchweed and Inkflower are flowering in masses with their brilliant red and purple standing out dramatically between the tall Guinea Grass.

Ruaha flowers Feb 2013

 

News from Sightings

Ruaha Butterflie

With the tall grass obscuring some animals there are plenty of others to focus upon. Thousands of stunning migratory birds, entertaining chameleons and shy leopard tortoises, noisy hyraxes and huge monitor lizards, soaring eagles and gorgeous butterflies, and of course the usual suspects such as hippos, lions, hyena, and occasional cheetah and leopards. Thanks again to our guide Maulidi who provided Fundi with mdonya's car shot and lions mating picture!

Ruaha wildlife in te the wet season

While now the buffalo are more hidden in the thick bush, hundreds of elephants gather on the open plains almost as a yearly social gathering, creating a greeting party surrounding the airstrip that makes an aerial landing in Ruaha an exhilarating and welcoming sight.

Ruaha elephants

Your Tracks on our Path

 paw prints


"A lovely time and beautiful place, made more special by the friendly staff. Thanks! We will remember Mdonya always."
Susan and Jan
Chapel Hill, NC USA 01.02.2013

"I had a wonderful stay, wonderful people, fantastic guides, great food. The perfect bush experience."
Moore
Anchorage, Alaska 02.02.2013


"We spent here our best days of our trip to Tanzania. We thank Steven, Eddie for nice tours in the bushes,
Mary for a pleasant stay, Masai and other staff for keeping us healthy :)
Guys, keep on doing what you are doing, this is awesome.
Good luck and come visit us in Estonia."
Anu Eva Taimar 07.02.2013


"We had one of the best safari we ever had before. We enjoyed the stay very much. Thank you to all of the staff."
Sonja and Helmut of Austria 15.02.2013


"Fabulous camp, fabulous staff, fabulous food, fabulous experience. Special thanks to Mary, Chombo and Ayoubu."
Peter Stubbs, England 17.02.2013


"Grazie mille Manu! E grazie mille a tutto lo staff! E’ stato un viaggio incredibile. A presto!"
Silvia 26.02.2013

Our Wild Friends - Leopards

Hyena

hile our celebrity leopard and genet have been spotted less frequently this month our Mdonya lion pride has made their presence known in camp roaring almost every night, exciting guests and giving a few of them some sleepless but thrilling nights. As the impala circle the tents at night at times the thumping hoofs of the herds of impala or zebra can be heard as lions, hyena, or leopard give chase.

Night camera - hyena

night camera - zebra

Visit www.ruahacarnivoreproject.com   to know better how camera trapping together with other methods can help researchers to develop better conservation strategies.

From Pyrou, Manu, Mary and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - January 2013 Newsletter

News from the Environment

What better way to ring in 2013 with our wonderful guests under the Tanzanian sky, lions roaring in the background before the heavens opened up with a gigantic down pour cleansing the air for a fresh start to the New Year. Special thanks to our local Hehe tribal dancers for putting on a spectacular show of traditional singing and dancing.

Mdonya Falls

As we celebrated 2013 so did the park, Mdonya falls commenced flowing and new life is constantly springing into action.

The distinct yellow bell shaped blossoms of the snot apple tree (Azanza garckeana) and seeding of many Combretum species attracting a number of insects and bird life. The delicate purple carpets of purple cleome are interspersed with flashes of colour from the Centemopsis. Within the camp itself there are splashes of blue from the vernonia in the long grass together with the wild sesame and African foxgloves. 

Ruaha flowers

News from Sightings

Ruaha Cheetah

On any given game drive in the park it is unpredictable what you will see - regardless January 2013 has been exceptional! Cheetahs have been almost a daily sighting with some guests seeing up to 8 cheetahs, 2-3 sightings of leopard in a day, and lions, lions & more lions. Click here  to watch beautiful january pictures of Ruaha's cat, by our guide Maludi. Our famous mother cheetah and her now adolescent cubs, which we have followed from the beginning, have again allowed our guests to see them in action stalking an Oribi without success. It is apparent now from the active initiatives shown by the cheetah cubs that they are almost ready to fledge from their mother and start their own lives.

Amazing birdlife has also been spotted with swarms of white storks still circling the park. It is not uncommon at this time of year for the enthusiastic birder to spot over 200 species during a single stay.

White storks

Your Tracks on our Path

paws

13th January,2013
"Tusen takle for et flott opphold her Ruaha og Mdonya! Vi har storhost oss!
Thank you very much for a great stay here in Ruaha and Mdonya We have really enjoyed our stay with you!"
Hilsen Elisabeth

15th January,2013
"Thanks for a great stay. everything is just fantastic! Good luck on the way!
Edward & Tatyena. p.s. And special thanks to Kahimba he is the best!!!"
Kazakistan

21st January,2013. "We had a fantastic safari experience thank you. Excellent hospitality, driver and guide. An amazing hour with the 4 cheetah!" Niger and Lesley Gough Bath,Uk. 

 

Ross Mackenzie (9 years old) contributed to our new guest book with a brilliant illustration of a banded mongoose

Ross Mackenzie

Our Wild Friends - Leopards

Fundi and Hyena

This month we were lucky enough to capture Fundi on our camera trap. In the early hours of the evening he had killed an impala along the path between the lounge and the guest bathroom. Being in such an exposed position he promptly dragged his prey into the bushes as hyenas started to circle round. Just 2 metres from our main path he began to devour as much as he could. The videos captured on our camera trap are gruesome to say the least! Within a very short time of him finishing his meal, a pack of hyena pounced upon it devouring the remains in its entirety.

Click here   to watch the video: consider that some scene may be too cruel for somebody.

On a sadder note one of the baby genets was found dead behind camp, more thank likely falling victim to a savannah monitor lizard. We kept the camera trap up in the vicinity to see if what had killed came back for its prey. In the end a opportunistic jackal got an easy meal right and almost immediately after our resident mother genet came searching following the scent to the small ones last resting place. Almost at the same time another camera trap captured Fundi inches away from one of the guest tents. 

fundi and the tents

From Pyrou, Manu, Mary and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - December 2012 Newsletter

Mdonya Old River Camp - December 2012 Newsletter

News from the Environment

Ruaha clouds

The rains have now settled in their seasonal routine, with short showers transforming the park landscape and vegetation. Rays of light shine through dark clouds creating shades of contrast radiating a beauty of colors that could never be artificially created. Two major rain events were recorded this month with up to 30cm of rain in each event - enough to have caused flash flooding in the Mdonya River before dissipating into the ground and downstream.

With the rains however the ‘rare and unusual’ creatures are out in force with a variety of snakes and scorpions to the fascinating delight and fears of some guests along with ‘cuter’ chameleons and tortoises.

And as usual with the shift in season we have seen a mass migration of birds. Amongst those already spotted are the white storks.

Ruaha tortoise 

News from Sightings

Ruaha Cheetah 

Again this month cheetahs have been spotted in and around camp with some of our guests being fortunate enough to have witnessed a hunt. Although unsuccessful, the vicinity and rarity of witnessing such an event added to the exhilaration of the sighting.

On one of these occasions a female was spotted stalking a Bat-eared fox. The fox was chased away by the cheetah who then kept constant guard at the burrow entrance and lay in wait for the cubs to appear.

She was seen to occasionally poke and prod the holes in the hope of enticing the cubs out. Terry Parnell took some great footage of the cheetah’s desperate attempts. 

Click here to watch Terry Parnell's video.   

 

Another rare sighting this month was two sightings of serval and a marshal eagle making a meal out of a dik dik. 

Your Tracks on our Path

prints 

 

"Dear all of the camp for making this my best camping experience. The staff were great and our guides awesome. I will definitely recommend you to all my family and friends in the future. Best,"

Derrick, 1.12.2012

 

"We had a wonderful time here and I loved spending my birthday here. On my birthday we saw a cheetah with 3 cubs. That was very special! I am excited to come back soon!!"

Mateo Lundstol, 12 years old, 27.12.12

 

"Vi Ringraziamo per l’ospitalita, la grande cortesia e l’eccellente servizio. Atmosfera bellissima in ogni momento della nostra permanenza. Tende accoglienti, pittoresche ed in perfetta armonia con il luogo. Bellissimo il baule nelle tende."

Nuci, feddy, l’omino, Vigi, Mello, From Cuneo (Italy), 30.12.12 

 

Our Wild Friends - Leopards

Now that our baby genets are older they are out and about in camp causing a scene here and there and we are lucky enough to have caught one of them
on our camera trap playfully foraging. With the abundance of insects, frogs and other small creatures about there have been only glimpses of our mamma genet.
Watch video1video2 and video3 taken with our nocturnal camera trap. However regular visits from the usual suspects are always abundant
including the hyenas, bushpig, jackals and elephants, giraffes and zebra back in force.. The elephants with their calves are now making new paths,
through some of our grass fencing if necessary as the vegetation overgrowth in camp has prevented them access to certain areas.  

Cameratrap Pix

From Pyrou, Manu, Mary and all Mdonya Old River Camp Staff... we wish you a great safari in Tanzania!

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Mdonya Old River Camp - September 2012 Newsletter

Mdonya Sept 2012 newsletter

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Mdonya Old River Camp - July 2012 Newsletter

Faidherbia, Ruaha

The dry season isn’t known for it’s bright colours and blooming flowers but if you look closely at the detail you’ll see Winter Thorn flowering and producing seeds similar to orange peel spirals, along with PaperBark Thorn with their tuffs of low hanging thorns, not even the elephants are deterred when they start seeding. On a smaller and more delicate note Peterodendron ovatum’s have also started to seed. These woody pods split into two halves releasing a silky white seed that is then dispersed by the wind. You may not be able to notice these events of nature sometimes amongst the haze of the dust but it is indisputable that the refraction from the sprinkle creates brilliant oranges and red on the horizon that in turn makes those unforgettable sunset views worthwhile. And lets face it the harsh dryness and recession in tree foliage and grass makes this season a memorable time for game viewing!

Cheetah  Fundi - leopard at Mdonya

Photos by Amanda Karlsson

The official peak season for game viewing has started: not only is our Fundi inspecting our cars making sure they are in tiptop shape but he is also posing for pictures. Thanks to Amanda Karlsson for her brilliant head shot of Fundi. A mother cheetah with her three cubs has frequently been spotted out on the prowl with mum demonstrating lessons in hunting. Ramses Bulterys provides a great shot of the three cubs and yet a fabulous shot of the mum enjoying an impala. Unfortunately this month another male lion was discovered dead in Msembe area: his death is suspected to be from natural causes. As the circle of life goes for those that pass new ones are born and this month new offspring game is abundant.

Cheetah cubs, Ruaha 

Phot by Ramses Bakery

“Think Wild” is putting it mildly. Thank you so much for the fantastic experience. Showering with the elephants in tent 5 breakfast with Louis – unbeatable! Thank you so much for the extra mealfor my son. Your staff “Priceless”.

Noor, Hufal, Sohail and Shiraz

"What an amazing place Mdonya is! We spent our second night listening to lions roaring and elephants trumpeting while tucked up snugly in bed! We counted 149 elephants on a day safari – how incredible! Our guides were very informative, fun and skillful (driving). We had breakfast watching a world of animals go by - David Attenborough - eat your heart out!! And lastly – the food – delicious, wonderful taste too. We will really miss Mdonya!"

Jamie, Lyn and Margie from Australia

Ruaha African Scops Owl

African Scops Owl

This July we add to our wild friends’ list with the presence of a sleeping African Scops Owl who has established her resting place in the entrance walkway, sometimes accompanied by her mate. It’s minute size and beautiful plumage uniquely camouflages itself amongst the foliage of a Shaving-brush Combretum tree making it difficult to observe. Thanks to Federico Salgado for contributing his photo. Our night camera traps have captured many frequent visitors this month, including a playful pair of jackals, curious hyenas who resisted taking a bite of our camera traps for once, genets who may or may not be related to our resident genet, bush pigs and civets!

The usual suspects of Mdonya Camp of course made appearances along with some fighting elephants supplying guest with quite some entertainment...

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Mdonya Old River - that amazing Leopard! May 2012

Mdonya tents with zebra

The camp is just about to re-open after a closure for refurbishment during the long rains, and everything is fresh and beautiful - and the animals are waiting for you!

Here are some of the exciting sightings of the last season:

 

August 2011:
A new friend appears around camp

Introducing "Fundi" our newest arrival around the Mdonya area, and what an amazing one he is.

A most beautiful young leopard, estimated at around 8 - 12 months old, with an undying curiosity about everything - from tsetse flags
to our staff quarters to Mdonya vehicles and their occupants. He shows an amazing curiosity and teenager-like playfulness,
and often comes in very close to eyeball our guests.

One guest said that he had always wanted to see a leopard, assuming, if he was lucky enough to see one at all,
it would be at a great distance and he never ever expected to have the experience of looking straight into the eyes of one.

Fundi is regularly to be seen around the Mdonya River bed area, some 10 minutes from camp, sometimes at the outskirts of the camp,
and on one fine occasion, up on the bonnet of one of our vehicles (it is all true!)

 

leopard2  leopard1
Photos by Bobby Jewell

 

Both driver/guide and guests were surprised and amazed as he wandered up alongside our vehicle, climbed up onto the bumper bar,
gave it a lick (and a few scratches our driver is now very proud of) and then settled himself upon the bonnet to peruse the inhabitants of the car
through the windscreen, leaving only when he happened to put his weight on a part of the bonnet that popped under it and startled him
just enough to make him descend again. An event never recorded before at Mdonya, and who knows whenever again

 

Feb 2012:

 

leopard kill

Fundi on an impala kill in the camp - Photo by Mary Kirkby

 

You may have read about our now famous friend 'Fundi' the leopard in recent bulletins. He has been spotted out and about near camp,
but of most recent times, has given the thumbs up to Mdonya ORC as a

fine place to hang out, and has been sighted many times in the early mornings and evenings - killing an impala right alongside Tent No 1,
giving one lucky guest up for an early morning game drive a fabulous up close and personal viewing of the kill (thank you Mary Kirby for the great photo!)
then making himself comfortable on the unoccupied veranda of Tent No 2 the next night, to relax and lick his paws.

 

leopard3
Photo by Matteo Rossignoli

 

Since then he has been seen in and about camp at regular intervals. He is an awesome and very unusual wild friend to have around,
appreciated by us all - ourselves, our guests, our Maasai who love to look out for him and to be the first to spot him,
all except I guess for our resident impalas ¬ who stay with us nonetheless and help out in giving advance notice of his arrival with their alarm calls.

 

leopard4

 

March 2012
As well as many weird and wonderful green-season critters of all shapes and sizes, and so many very tiny, incredibly cute and ungainly elephants
that we don't know which way to turn our cameras
- our wild dogs are back!

 

Ruaha Wild Dog Ruaha Wild Dogs - March 2012


Spotted running fast, as they are wont to do, first sighted in a large pack of around 28, and then again the next day in a group of some 10 individuals,
obligingly moving straight down the road in front of our guests' vehicle, and again the day after, in large numbers, hunting...
we are incredibly excited to have these wonderful, rare creatures back in our midst, and thank Andy and Jane Wilson-Lee for lending us their shots of them.
May there be many more sightings before 'the boys' move on again.

We reckon they den in the area between Kwihala and Mdonya but both camps are not lucky with sightings during the dry season while they reappear
at the end of it (October) and sometimes later on in the wet season we do get more sightings. But let's see... Maybe they will surprise us this June!

So come and see us soon

 

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Mdonya Old River Camp - March 2012 Newsletter

Mdonya March 2012 Newsletter

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Mdonya Old River Camp - February Newsletter

Environment

Grass cutting, Ruaha

‘The wet’ continues, but only in fits and starts, with some wild rain storms which have lashed through camp on high winds, sending out tents billowing and all our daily housekeeping into disarray, but mostly by next morning the skies have cleared again, ready for a great new day of game viewing, and for us back at camp, putting it all together again as if nothing had happened! Along with these some spectacular skies and rainbows right at the end of the ‘yellow brick road’.

Our lads have been madly cutting grass on a daily basis, to keep the tents from all but disappearing, as well as ‘trimming’ around our road signs, without which our guides and drivers would certainly make it back home, but our self drivers may have trouble finding us.

Sightings

Wild dogs, Ruaha

As well as many weird and wonderful green-season critters of all shapes and sizes, and so many very tiny, incredibly cute and ungainly elephants that we don’t know which way to turn our cameras, - our wild dogs are back ! Spotted running fast, as they are want to do, first sighted in a large pack of around 28, and then again the next day in a group of some 10 individuals, obligingly moving straight down the road in front of our guests’s vehicle, and again the day after, in large numbers, hunting...we are incredibly excited to have these wonderful, rare creatures back in our midst, and thank Andy and Jane Wilson-Lee for lending us their shots of them. May there be many more sightings before ‘the boys’ move on again...

Wild dogs, Ruaha  Wild dogs, Ruaha

Your Tracks on our Path

"A memorable safari experience, all the ingredients, drinks by camp fires, eating under starlight, dawn chorus, a red sunrise, the roar of lions, and all the amazing animals. The welcome and service was amazing, wonderful memories. Thank you." Mike and Carol Bracebridge, UK

"I write this with a sad heart as I leave this wonderful place, but with so many happy memories of an uplifting experience of living with nature for 2 weeks. But nature is not man made: hospitality, generosity and warmest of welcomes is, and I thank you all at Mdonya for all of this. A special thank you to Alex and Sara, for making it all possible. Not to forget the animals and birds: especially Fundi the leopard for giving me a once in a lifetime experience! Asante sana to you all. Memories live forever." Mary Kirby, UK

Our Wild Friends - Leopards

Fundi on kill

You may have read about our now famous friend ‘Fundi’ the leopard in recent bulletins. He has been spotted out and about near camp, but of most recent times, has given the thumbs up to Mdonya as a fine place to hang out and has been sighted many times in the early mornings and evenings, killing an impala right alongside Tent No 1, giving one lucky guest up for an early morning game drive a fabulous up close and personal viewing of the kill... thank you Mary Kirby for the great photo! Then making himself comfortable on the unoccupied veranda of Tent No 2 the next night, to relax and lick his paws, and since then seen in and about camp at regular intervals. He is an awesome and very unusual wild friend to have around, appreciated by us all ourselves, our guests, our maasai who love to look out for him to be the first to spot him, all except our resident impalas, who stay with us nonetheless and help out in giving advance notice of his arrival with their alarm calls...

Alex and Sarah,

Mdonya Old River Camp
Ruaha National Park - Tanzania


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Mdonya Old River Camp - January Newsletter

Environment

Mdonya sand river in flood

Mdonya and the surrounding Park has changed overnight with the much anticipated rains, from a dry and harsh environment into a lush and green Garden of Eden. Bone dry riverbeds have turned into flowing rivers, hippos that huddle anxiously in tiny caked puddles of water are now wallowing in deep pools and the elephants are out in great numbers, covered in mud, spraying great streams of water over their backs. The impala’s coats are glossy with health and the zebra fat with feasting.

Mdonya camp office

At camp our little office has all but disappeared into the overhanging foliage. It is a wondrous sight: the Great Ruaha’s waters glinting in the sun as you fly in to land at Msembe. An amazing transformation. What an incredible start to the new year of 2012!

Sightings

Pangolin

It is said that the top 3 rarest creatures to be seen in Africa are the aardvark, the pangolin and the caracal, in no particular order. Guests at Mdonya had the most unbelievable luck recently to find the elusive pangolin, a nocturnal, incredibly shy and rather odd looking creature. This wonderful specimen, large for its species, was spotted trotting along happily close to one of our roads near to the camp. With all the excitement and noise, this fellow, not being a fast mover at the best of times, dug in and stayed put, as pangolins are wont to do in defensive mode: the best option once spotted. He thereby gave all our guests the very rare opportunity to really get a close-up look at one. Chances are that none of us will ever see one again. The clever creature waited until all of us had visited, and as we drove away, we saw him uncurl and walk off, which we would have paid large sums to get a picture of, but none did, and the mysterious pangolin got the last laugh.

Our Wild Friends - Chameleon

There have been so many through the start of this year in and around camp. Herds of zebra – who we don’t see here at all in the dry - have decided to make Mdonya camp their grazing grounds for a while and their many hooves can be heard thundering around in the evenings. Two lions graced us with a stealthy walk-past the dinner table as we had just settled into our starters at dinner – the starters went cold of course... the big cats always steal the news in the dry season.

Ruaha Chameleon

In the wet we think it right that the smaller creatures get their just coverage. Enter the chameleon, which we don’t see here outside the rainy season: a most marvellous creature that appeared near the office, all flashing green and yellow, and a lot of black, a reaction to all the attention it wasn’t too pleased about. It’s amazing 360 degree rotating eyes watching our every move, its legs jerkily moving forward in very measured and slow turns, swaying gently backwards and forwards, as a means of camouflage, mimicking the movement of leaves and branches. Once safely back in the foliage, it turned a beautiful luminous green.

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Mdonya Old River Camp - November Newsletter

Alex and the fire

Environmental

With still not much rain falling this month and the landscape incredibly dry, bush-fire season was upon us once more, and as feared, honey poachers again entered the Park, and lit fires left unchecked, which when whipped up by hot winds, swept across the escarpment and down onto the plains behind the camp. We saw plumes of smoke and in the distance for some days. With a team of staff we went to investigate: fires of various intensity everywhere.

Mdonya staff battle Ruaha bush fires  Mdonya staff battle Ruaha bush fires

Everyone worked furiously with long branches for brooms to beat out as much as we could, and we successfully stopped them. The blackened soil will fortunately quickly be covered as the rains arrive. Less fortunate were all the small creatures caught in the undergrowth or unable to move fast enough to escape.

Sightings

Ruaha baby lion

Some guests heading towards Mwayembe Springs one afternoon, some 30 minutes drive from camp, were incredibly fortunate to see not just that resident pride of lion, but also their new offspring, usually well hidden away and out of sight at this very tender age. This day they came into full view, frolicked around with the adults and came close enough for some wonderful photographs. Growing very fast as they do, this was a rare and not often repeated treat, finding them again in even a few more weeks will see them still wonderful but changing and not quite as incredibly cute as they are now.

Bat-eared Fox baby

Around the Mbagi area, more very small creatures were spotted, this time the bat eared fox, beside their den, with 4 cubs, between 2 and 3 weeks old. All ears, from whence the adults get their name of course, so much accentuated by their yet under developed frames.

All in a day’s game drive from camp.

Our Wild Friends - Genet

Mdonya resident genet cat

Janet the genet (species: Genetta genetta, family: Viverridae, related to civet cats) has been a loyally regular visitor of ours for the last 8 years. She has come almost every day to perch upon a branch of a tree growing alongside the office and watch us go about our business in evening hours. Over time she has become a firm favourite, disrupting many evening drinks around the fire when guests have been asked whether they would like to see this nocturnal animal at close quarters, to which the answer of course is a resounding ‘yes!’. Recently she changed her pattern, adding morning visits, which concerned us, looking a little old now (life span of a genet is 10–12 years) and then staying away for many days. Fortunately she is now back again, seen in the late evenings trotting confidently from the far end of the camp, past the dinner table, and into ‘her’ tree, to the relative safety of human company. We wish her at least a few more years with us, as Mdonya will not be quite the same without her.

Alex and Sarah,

Mdonya Old River Camp
Ruaha National Park - Tanzania


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Mdonya Diary October 2011

Environmental

Great Ruaha River Oct 2011

The dry season continues, and since our last Newsletter we’ve had very little rain around the camp area to add to our rain gauge inputs. Of far greater concern and import for the animals is the continuing decline of the water levels in the Greater Ruaha River, our main sustainer of all life here in the Park. In September there was still enough meagre fresh water in the river for elephants to drink, but this month, with rice farmers starting to flood their fields upstream (early planting means early release of their crops into the market, and higher prices) and massive mis-use of this vital water source, the now far from ‘greater’ river stopped flowing altogether in mid month. The dire situation in which the hippos and elephants now find themselves is obvious……..we watch and wait with concern.

Sightings

If you’ve read our September Newsletter you will already know about the feats of our guys Maulidi and Ayoubu….in the last week of this month they managed to top the 3-leopards-in-a-day record, with 3 leopards + a kill – all played out within spitting distance of the very, very happy guests on their vehicle.

Leopard kills Lesser Kudu

A close-up viewing of a large male leopard stretched out lazily in a tree turned to incredible excitement, as it suddenly sprung into action, came down the tree, and pounced upon a quite unawares lesser kudu standing nearby with another. The kill was amazingly quick and efficient, showing the extraordinary prowess and power of this beautiful animal, which we have been so fortunate to see so many of again this month.

Ruaha Cheetahs

And to top it off, a gentle meander only 15 minutes from camp for a sunset drive turned into unexpected delight as our guide Emmanuel almost impossibly spotted a pair of twitching ears, which turned out to be a cheetah, which then turned out to be a Fabulous Five cheetahs together.

Our wild friends

Charlie's eye  Charlie feeding on Acacia trees in camp

‘Charlie’ our old friend and camp companion is back! The large male, approximately 40 years old, has been a long-time visitor to camp, coming in almost daily last season, often ambling right up to the lounge to ‘greet’ delighted guests (his main goal of course being our acacia trees, but we like to think he comes to see us also) and strolling right outside our office, often preventing us from leaving it, moving on only in his own good time – because he can.

We hadn’t seen him around since opening camp on the 1st of June, and were concerned for him, wondering whether he’d found more interesting playmates, or simply moved; so we are thrilled at his return.

Mdonya Old River Management and Staff

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Mdonya Diary September 2011

Ruaha rain clouds
Rain clouds gather in Ruaha - Sept 2011

The Environment

Its been a very unusual September here at Mdonya this year, with hotter days experienced than last season around this time our current minimum temperatures are running at around 18 degrees C, to a maximum of around 36.

More surprising than this, we had our first rains! In the late afternoon of the 23rd we could smell it in the air, but didn’t believe it would actually happen, but as we were marvelling at the possibility, a fine mist swept across the camp, followed by some real rain for several minutes (recorded as 0.5mm), dampening the dust and sending up a wondrous scent.

This is very unusual and at the same time very exciting, moving us under canvas for dinner, which we don’t usually do until right up towards the end of the year. By comparison, in 2009 the rains started on the 6th November and in 2010 on the 15th of that month.

Best Sightings

We’ve had great sightings days all through August and into this month, but one stood out and will go down in the annals of Mdonya history.

Ruaha Cheetah
Ruaha Cheetah

On the 20th September, our guests came back from their various game drives full of excitement and chatter all the way from the car park to the lounge, none making it back to their tents but instead gathering around the fire to discuss it all, and open up some celebratory drinks.

Our driver Ayoubu and guide Maulidi, along with their guests, saw amongst many other species, a staggering 80 lions in 6 different groups and areas, 3 leopards, 1 cheetah, plus 2 honey badgers, 1 oribi, 4 bat eared foxes, 20 bush pigs, over 1,000 elephants, 600 buffalo and a vast array of other animals, in one single day’s game drive, leaving at 6.30am and returning to camp at 6.30pm.

This will be difficult to beat! but new records are set to be broken, and one never knows at Mdonya.

A new friend appears around camp

Introducing “Fundi” our newest arrival around the Mdonya area, and what an amazing one he is.

A most beautiful young leopard, estimated at around 8 - 12 months old, with an undying curiosity about everything - from tsetse flags to our staff quarters to Mdonya vehicles and their occupants. He shows an amazing curiosity and teenager-like playfulness, and often comes in very close to eyeball our guests.

Fundi
Looking a leopard in the eyes

 

One said that he had always wanted to see a leopard, assuming, if he was lucky enough to see one at all, it would be at a great distance and he never ever expected to have the experience of looking straight into the eyes of one.

 

He is regularly to be seen around the Mdonya River bed area, some 10 minutes from camp, sometimes at the outskirts of the camp, and on one fine occasion, up on the bonnet of one of our vehicles (it is all true !

 

Leopard on car
"Fundi" climbs on the vehicle

 

Both driver/guide and guests were surprised and amazed as he wandered up alongside our vehicle, climbed up onto the bumper bar, gave it a lick (and a few scratches our driver is now very proud of) and then settled himself upon the bonnet to peruse the inhabitants of the car through the windscreen. leaving only when he happened to put his weight on a part of the bonnet that popped under it and startled him just enough to descend again. An event never recorded before at Mdonya, and who knows whenever again?

 

Mdonya Old River Management and Staff

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Mdonya Newsletter Feb 2011

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Safari to Selous, Ruaha and Zanzibar by Helena and Brian Taylor

Ruaha Cheetah  Giraffe feeding

I cannot believe that a chance conversation over dinner, when someone suggested we think of Adventure Camps for a safari, led to the most wonderful holiday.

We honestly did enjoy every minute - landing at the same airstrip in Selous that we had been to before (we had visited a few years ago with the Selous Safari Company) was fun and then meeting Hussain and Ali our guides from Selous Impala Camp. They had a table hidden behind the jeep at the side of the runway (we didn't get that before!) and had a very welcome drink and some cookies. And on the drive to the camp we saw so many animals it was unbelievable, but for me seeing a herd of elephants with their young, was the most brilliant start - I just love them.

read more....

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Chris and Lucy Harris at Mdonya - February 2010


Selous Great White Egret  Selous lion cub

Chris and Lucy Harris went on Safari in Tanzania in 2010 They have kindly allowed us to put their excellent diary and photos on our website.
The started in the north, continuing to the south in mid February where they stayed at Mdonya Old River Camp in Ruaha and at Selous Impala Camp

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Mdonya Leopards - January 2010


The recent sight of a male leopard just outside the Camp raised our ears and made us think more about Mdonya Leopards we have seen in the area around the camp this last year.

leopardess Mdonya camp 2009
young female leopard - photo by Eva Voogd 2009 Mdonya Old River Camp

Leopard Females sightings are most frequent here. During one of our most gripping experiences with leopards in 2009, Eva Voogd managed to get this shot mentioned as "best picture of 2009 from Mdonya Old River Camp". That evening a family of three leopards was seen, but only one of them, nicknamed Ceci by us, exhibited a special confidence with cars: jumping almost on the roof canvas. At her attempt, with all of us holding our breath, the tree didn't offer the stability necessary to make the leap. Maybe next time we will find out if our roof canvas is leopard resistant!!

male leopard Mdonya camp 2010

Mdonya Males: on the 13th of January 2010 Massimo Dameri’s patience was rewarded. At a distance of 30m the leopard was half covered in the green grass. A few minutes later the leopard made its way to the car.

male leopard Mdonya camp 2010
above photos by Massimo Dameri, Mdonya camp January 2010

With the leopard 5 meters away in the open, a beautiful portrait could be made of this young adult leopard.

Mdonya trap camera shows leopard

Last August 2009, a huge male leopard was caught by our trap cameras, behind tents no.4 and no.3. The picture shows a massive and well fed animal. Comparing with Massimo's leopard, the different body masses show clearly that it was two different animals and a zoomed analysis on the spots confirms it.

So is Mdonya Camp territory of two male leopards?

It is not unusual that leopard territories partially overlap. It has been recorded in Tsavo that leopards share as much as 70% of their ranges. Scratching and scraping ground, spraying urine are avoidance mechanisms as fights can be cruel.

In any case more has to be investigated about the Leopards of Mdonya.

Mdonya Old River Camp can collect data with your help. Pictures can be compared and better sightings map can be created with your support, if you would like to send them with dates taken, to info@adventurecampstz.com

Micol Farina and the Staff of Mdonya Old River Camp
Ruaha National Park - Tanzania

www.adventurecampstz.com/mdonyaoldrivercamp.htm
www.facebook.com/ruaha

Please sign the petition to request Tanzania to withdraw its new proposal to sell ivory again:
www.thepetitionsite.com/1/no-more-trade-in-elephant-ivory

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Mdonya December 2009 - Christmas Butterflies


 

Mdonya November 2009 - "Happiness is in the Air"


baobabdrawing

We have been told it is a crime to describe nature using human feelings, sentimentalism must be avoided
but if you were here today in Ruaha, you would feel a new atmosphere of relief and happiness.

Ruaha in the rains

Woodland Kingfisher         lion in the grass, Ruaha

The Baobab trees have lost their dour and gloomy aspect, sprouting a luxuriant growth of leaves, appreciated by a myriad of creatures: their canopy forms an impenetrable retreat for sy and prudent leopards, and it offers broad and spacious shadows to cool the lion when he takes a nap.

young Impala, Ruaha

The sun's rays penetrate the fresh limpid air as they reflect off the new leaves and they explode in bright green smiles. Young impala perform all sorts of antics, running in circles, leaping and chasing around, sharing their games with vervet monkeys and banded mongoose.

Now we hear the calls of the woodland kingfisher filling the forest with his piercing laugh, while at night hyraxes and crickets produce many kinds of bizarre noises.

Ruaha Sunset

All these phenomena can have scientific explanations: we could speak about continental migratory birds that travel where the food is. They must announce their arrival by singing, about how the rains have cleaned the air saturated by the dust of the long dry season; about the way the new and nourishing grass gives such relief to hungry grazers as they use this extra energy for practising the essential activities of their lives, and about how the easy access to water and food allows many species to enter the breeding season, a time of calls and courtships...

Or we could simply speak about the joy of Ruaha at the beginning of the rainy season.

From the staff at Mdonya Old River Camp, Ruaha.

www.facebook.com/ruaha

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The love of searching
- the story of the Chameleon and the Bird  Mdonya Old River Camp February 2009


A new sound entered our lives this month.

Spending so much time in a single place we get used to the usual daily noises and the unusual cannot be missed. It has to be said that the rainy season brings new harmonies: frogs and toads tune themselves with hyenas and hyrax while cuckoos and kingfishers spread clearly the news of their arrival. But we are prepared for these sounds that come every year.

The normality broke up a week ago in the evening: a hollow sounding, mournful wailing voice, starting low and rising in pitch at the end and repeated every few seconds, became our obsession. Searches made clear that it wasn’t an owl. But face to face contact with the call originator eluded us. The call, audible by night and on overcast days, was coming from a thick canopy of bushwillows: a fortress of branches and leaves so intricate that no light could pass through it.

The curiosity and interest spread rapidly. Most of the Mdonya Camp Staff had a clear idea of what was going on. They told us that at home, in rural conditions, rains start and the same noise arrives… because chameleons give birth! The popular belief says that chameleon females give birth in such a dramatic way that it can only be described as an explosion. So painful it is that the poor female has to scream before she dies.

Chameleon  Chameleon 

Chameleon
some of the Chameleons disturbed by our searching

Science says that chameleons are almost mute: they do give notice of their mood by changing colors, so they don’t need a voice. In many chameleon species the female lays eggs while others give birth - but they don’t die. However all legends originate from a basic truth.
Experience proved that to be true in this case. Any time we went in search of the originator of the mysterious call we found a chameleon! Chameleons and the call originator appear with the rain; just a matter of coincidence of timing generated a myth.

But our mystery wasn’t solved.
We worked on with patience and constancy: torches pointed in the direction of the howling, which was making a mockery of us.
But finally a glimpse - and it was a bird: quail size but with peculiar red breast and head, spots everywhere else. No way it could flee the identification! Buff Spotted Flufftail, Sarothura elegans. Not recorded yet in Ruaha National Park and few data from the very north of Tanzania.

Buff spotted flufftail
Buff-spotted Flufftail

Confirmation came from an amazing cd-rom: Birds of Southern Africa
and from “la crème de la crème” of Africa bird experts (who you can find on www.tanzaniabirdatlas.com).

From the staff at Mdonya Old River Camp, Ruaha.

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Mdonya Newsletter February 2009


February 18th 2009

baobabdrawing

Finally it came. 9th of February 2009, Mdonya Sand River became a Water River.

Mdonya River Sept 2008

It took longer this year before we could start to see any water on the surface of the river bed. In the dry season the external appearance of the river seems dead, but still we know there is life around: water is not visible but it is there underneath. So all animals, from elephant to warthog, have to work to gain one of the most important sources of life. Digging the sand is a daily activity: warthog’s holes are enlarged by zebra and impala, buffalos in turns drink and lay down in the mud created, elephants' trunks find water much deeper. These holes in the sand, from July to October, get bigger and deeper… and dryer. In November and December if good rains don’t come, buffalos and elephants need to move; dark clouds seem to approach but they don’t arrive, so better to go towards the clouds, where the water is!

Mdonya River Feb 2009

The last two years January was the month of the big change, the rains arrived earlier than this year and better distributed on the escarpment from where Mdonya River emerges.
Anyway, anytime the sand river starts to flow is a unique moment!

Kudu in the Mdonya River

The transformation involves everything and everybody. It starts with the noises: from Mdonya Camp we could hear water running! It happened during the night and the impression was that of somebody having left a water tap on… then one could hear the happiness of frogs and toads. A few hours later the news had spread over the rest of the park: hammer kops, fulvous whistling ducks, three-banded plovers were all in the Mdonya River getting the best positions. Some rays of sun cut through the heavy clouds, four buffalos lay in the few centimetres of water, a family of greater kudu crossed - all were giving us an impression of satisfaction.

Micol, Nick and the Staff of Mdonya Old River camp, Ruaha

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November 2007

Hi guys!

I introduce myself, my name is Marco, I will help Nick in managing this beautiful camp till the end of January. I arrived here a few days ago and yesterday, after dinner, a pride of seventeen lions, the owners of Mdonya came to welcome me.

All around we could hear the alarm calls from the impala signaling that our resident pride of lions was in camp. we scanned the surrounding bush with our torches to see in front of us six lionesses and eleven cubs of varying ages

They were standing about thirty or forty meters from the table, completely uninterested in us and more in impalas and buffalos. We hoped to see a night lion hunting but they desisted from it. Anyway the experience was really amazing

to be continued

ciao

Nick & Marco
Mdonya Old River camp

Ciao gente!

Mi presento, sono Marco, aiutero' Nick a gestire questo bellissimo campo fino alla fine di gennaio. sono arrivato da pochi giorni e ieri, dopo cena, un gruppo di diciassette leoni, i padroni di mdonya, sono venuti a darmi il benvenuto.

Tutto attorno sentivamo i segnali di allarme degli impala a informarci che il nostro pride di leoni era nel campo. Abbiamo perlustrato i dintorni con le nostre torce vedendo di fronte a noi sei leonesse e undici cuccioli di eta' diverse.

Stavano a circa trenta o quaranta metri dal tavolo completamente disinterresati a noi ma molto ai bufali e agli impala. Speravamo in una loro caccia notturna ma hanno desistito. Comunque l'esperienza e' stata davvero incredibile.

alla prossima

ciao

Nick & Marco

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Ruaha Lions

22nd January 2007  

Hi to everybody! Sorry for the absence of newsletters, Christmas was a busy time. We are back!!!!!

The rainy season is officially started. The Greater Ruaha River started to flow again with all its beauty and power. The rain is a magic tool which every year makse the savannah flower again with an explosion of colours, scent and life. The seeds hidden in the soil sprout, the roots of the Graminaceae awaken and the dry fields are covered by a mantle of tall and sparkling green grass, flowers with bright wonderful colours bloom everywhere, all the trees are dressed in their full foliage. Colourful butterflies fly from one flower to another. New birds, migrated from far lands, populate the many water pools and fill the air with their song while the silence of the night is broken by the loud croaking of thousands of frogs. All the animals enjoy this rebirth, the water and food abundance give them a healthy appearance.

The rain, with a magic that repeats itself year after year, transforms the arid, dry and yellowish world of the Savannah in a world luxuriant of life.

See you soon!

Daphne and Nick

Ciao a tutti! Scusate l’assenza degli ultimi tempi, siamo ritornati!

La stagione delle piogge è ufficialmente iniziata. Il fiume Ruaha ha ripreso a scorrere con tutta la sua bellezza e la sua potenza. La pioggia è il magico strumento che ogni anno fa rifiorire la savana con un’esplosione di colori, di profumi e di vita. I semi celati nella terra germogliano, le radici delle graminacee si risvegliano e le aride distese si coprono di un manto di erba alta e di un verde brillante, sbocciano fiori dai luminosi colori, gli alberi si rivestono delle loro chiome rigogliose. Farfalle dai variopinti colori volano di fiore in fiore. Nuovi uccelli migrati da paesi lontani popolano le numerose pozze di acqua e riempiono l aria dei loro richiami canori. Tutti gli animali godono di questa rinascita, l abbondanze di cibo e di acqua restituisce loro un aspetto sano.

La pioggia, come per una magia che si ripete anno dopo anno, trasforma l’arido, secco e giallastro mondo della savana in un mondo rigoglioso di vita.

A presto!

Daphne e Nick

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Great Ruaha

The Great Ruaha in flood, Jan 2007


28th November 2006

Hi to everybody!

This time we have a really exciting story which happened inside the camp. Seven lions, two wonderful males and five lionesses, hunted and killed a buffalo behind one of our tents!

We listened in the night to the hunt and the sad moans of the buffalo dying and the next morning we found the lions eating the kill.

The lions stayed at the camp for three days, just the time to enjoy the large meal. We didn’t have guests in that side of the camp…

It has been thrilling having dinner in the light of the candles with the lions 100 metres far from us roaring and quarrelling with some hyenas rushing in to conquer some mouthfuls!

Our guest appreciated it a lot, even if somebody tried to hide his face behind a napkin!! But…no panic…it has been a peaceable cohabitation for a few days.

See you soon

Daphne and Nick

Ciao a tutti!

Questo mese abbiamo da raccontarvi un episodio particolarmente eccitante accaduto al campo…sette leoni, due magnifici maschi e cinque femmine, hanno cacciato e ucciso un bufalo dietro una delle nostre tende!

Abbiamo ascoltato nella notte la caccia e i tristi lamenti del bufalo morente e la mattina seguente abbiamo trovato i leoni intenti a mangiare la loro preda.

I leoni si sono fermati al campo per tre giorni, giusto il tempo di gustarsi il pranzo abbondante. Non avevamo ospiti in quel lato del campo…

E’ stato emozionante cenare alla luce del fuoco con i leoni a 100 metri da noi che ruggivano e bisticciavano tra di loro e con qualche iena accorsa con la speranza di conquistarsi qualche boccone!

I nostri ospiti hanno apprezzato molto l’esperienza, seppur qualcuno tentasse di nascondere il viso dietro al tovagliolo! Ma nessuna paura…è stata una pacifica convivenza per qualche giorno.

Alla prossima!

Daphne e Nick

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Lion kill at Mdonya

Lion kill buffalo at Mdonya camp

10th August 2006

Hello to everybody,

the park is dry, now, much more then it was last year in the same period. Mdonya has been full of animals in the last month, particularly elephants, buffaloes and lions.

All these animals go to drink in the river bed, were there is a large deep and almost dry pool with some water remaining in a couple of small caves under the steep bank of the water hole. These caves are surrounded by deep and sticky mud.

Our story is about the mud and the elephants. Some days ago we went in an afternoon game drive just around the camp. We headed towards the mud hole as it is always a rewarding site. There were buffaloes, big males, two lionesses 200 meters away and elephants coming from the opposite direction, among them a tiny tiny one. We got close to the water hole and we noticed a small elephant stuck inside one of the caves.

I thought it was dead, we could see the back half only with the legs spread out. Then Moses, the guide, noticed that its tail was moving. The herd which had been drinking there for a long time was already moving away, the calf still alive and still there.

It was very sad, looking at the herd going, the calf still stuck there, the mother following the herd, not knowing what to do The calf, hearing the vibrations of the herd leaving made a frantic effort to get out and managed to pull back very slowly. It took almost 5 minutes for him to walk his way out of the mud, but then he was free. He started moving towards the herd, 200 meters away but then decided to come back to the water. It was obviously confused and lost. The herd was going and the lions were too close, looking at it, we were losing hope.

Then the young and inexperienced mother glanced back to the mudhole and saw the calf. All the herd came back and surrounded the calf in a very protective way. It was incredible, one of the most touching moments, filling us with emotion.

Pietro
Manager, Mdonya Old River

Ciao a tutti

Il parco è secco ora, molto più secco di quanto non fosse l’anno passato nello stesso periodo.
Mdonya è piena di animali negli ultimi tempi, bufali, elefanti e leoni particolarmente. Tutti questi animali vanno a bere nel letto del fiume dove rimane un po’ di acqua in alcune buche profonde contro la sponda della pozza secca. Queste buche sono circondate da un strato di fango, profondo e appiccicoso.

La storia di oggi riguarda il fango e gli elefanti. Qualche giorno addietro siamo andati a fare un giro nelle vicinanze del campo nel tardo pomeriggio, ci siamo diretti verso la pozza al fiume perchè è un punto che regala sempre qualcosa. Infatti vi abbiamo trovato bufali, grossi maschi, leoni duecento metri piu in là e elefanti che stavano arrivando dalla parte opposta, tra di loro uno davvero davvero piccolo. Gli elefanti raggiungono la pozza e noi ci avviciniamo. Dopo 5 minuti ci rendiamo conto che l’elefantino piccolo è incastrato in una delle buche.

Io pensavo fosse morto perchè non sembrava muoversi, potevamo vedere solo metà del corpo e le gambe tese all’indietro, poi Moses la guida nota un movimento.. è ancora vivo. La mandria che aveva bevuto a lungo si stava allontanando, il cucciolo sempre vivo e sempre incastrato. Era tristissimo vedere la mandria allontanarsi, il piccolo impotente, la madre che seguiva il gruppo senza saper cosa fare Il cucciolo sentendo i passi della mandria in marcia cercava disperatamente di uscire e alla fine qualcosa si è mosso, era libero ma le gambe ancora nella morsa del fango. Ci metterà 5 minuti ad uscire in un area secca. Ora elefantino inizia a dirigersi verso la mandria lontana 200m almeno, ma poi si gira e torna verso l’acqua. È ovviamente perso e confuso. La mandria stava andando e i leoni erano troppo vicino e interessati, stavamo perdendo la speranza. Poi la giovane ed inesperta madre si gira e intravede il piccolo, torna sui suoi passi seguita da tutta la mandria.

Lo hanno raggiunto e circondato con aria protettiva. È stato incredibile, uno dei momenti più toccanti che abbiamo visto, pura emozione a scivolare nelle nostre anime.

Pietro

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Baby elephant covered in mud

Baby elephant after it was freed


15th August 2006

Here I am, hi to everybody!!

For those who don’t know me yet, my name is Daphne and, after I spent three fantastic months in Mdonya last year, I have decided to come back again to work in the camp for the whole season.
The presentations are not finished…here is Ugo, the mascot of our camp! (see photo on right)
Ugo comes to visit us almost every morning to have his breakfast with grass, bushes and acacia. Sometimes he comes alone, other times he comes with a friend and while he finishes his large breakfast, entertains our morning and gives us one first taste of the bush!
See you soon!
Daphne and Pietro
 

PS: thank to a Pietro’s brilliant idea, we have won the battle against the bees that disturbed the breakfast of our guests (as many of you remember for sure …) - it seems that the bees don’t like at all the “perfume” of the burned elephant dung, so, before the arrival of the guests, the waiters spread the smoke produced and every bee around disappears!
So…thank you Pietro and…thank you Ugo!!


Eccomi qua, ciao a tutti!!
Per chi non mi conosce ancora mi presento: sono Daphne e, dopo aver
trascorso tre fantastici mesi qui a Mdonya l’anno scorso, ho deciso di
tornare e questa volta mi fermerò a lavorare qui tutto l’anno.
Le presentazioni non sono finite…ecco a voi Ugo, la mascotte del campo! Ugo
viene a visitarci quasi ogni mattina per una colazione a base di erba,
cespugli e acacia. A volte viene da solo, a volte si porta un amico e
finchè non ha terminato la sua abbondante colazione, allieta la mattinata
dei nostri ospiti che si gustano così un primo assaggio di savana!
Alla prossima!
Daphne e Pietro
 
PS: Grazie a una brillante idea di Pietro abbiamo vinto la battaglia con le
decine di api che disturbavano la colazione dei nostri ospiti (come
sicuramente la maggior parte di voi si ricorderà…): sembra che le api non
gradiscano affatto il “profumo” delle feci di elefante bruciate, quindi,
prima dell’arrivo degli ospiti, i nostri camerieri ne diffondono il fumo e
come per magia ogni ape di passaggio si volatilizza!

Beh, grazie Pietro e…grazie Ugo!!

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Mdonya tent
A guest for breakfast
26th June 2006
Good morning to everybody
 
 
We are again here for a new adventurous season
The camp was opened the first days of june, Malcolm started and now I am here - also Daphne is back as assistant manager.
The park is very beautiful, even if I always tell you so, it is the pure truth.
The grass is still tall and a bit green but the yellow is already starting
to dominate, the wonderful thing is the flowers, there are a lot, the last
goodbye of the rainy season.
The animals are fit, still widespread due to the abundance of water that is around.
There are also plenty of birds making Severything more joyful. But even more beautiful are the diurnal insects that we find near the flowers.
This is the reason why I am sending you the picture of the most incredible insect we have seen so far. The name already tells everything, it is a Picasso bug.
 
Ciao ciao to everybody
 
Pietro
 
 
Pietro Luraschi
Camp Manager

Mdonya Old River Camp



Buongiorno a tutti

 
Siamo ancora qua per una nuova avventurosa stagione.
Abbiamo aperto il campo ai primi di giugno, Malcolm ed io ci siamo
alternati ed è ritornata anche Daphne come assistente.
Il parco è bellissimo, anche se vi dico sempre cosi è la pura verità.
L’erba è alta ancora un po’ verde ma già il giallo sta iniziando a
dominare, la cosa meravigliosa sono i fiori, ce ne sono tanti, ultimo
saluto della stagione delle piogge.
Gli animali sono in salute ancora un po’ sparsi data l’abbondanza di acqua
che ancora si trova ma sempre tantissimi.
Ci sono tanti uccelli in giro che rendono tutto più allegro, ma ancora più
belli sono gli insetti diurni che si trovano attorno ai fiori; proprio per
questo vi mando la foto dell’insetto più bello che abbiamo visto fino ad
ora, il nome dice gia tutto, si chiama Picasso bug.
 
Ciao ciao to everybody
 
Pietro
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Picasso Bug
Picasso Bug, Ruaha

15th February 2006


 Here comes the rain again!

We had 41 mm on the 11 th of January and 37 mm on the 14 th.
All the animals were waiting the rain, life was too hard; there was some
water around but the grass was finished. You could see very thin and weak animals, expecially the buffaloes.
Then the rains stopped again and all the new grass started drying, the life was hard again.
Eventually yesterday, after one month we had a big night shower of 60 mm. Now, in only a few hours  the grass is lush again, new life from the
apparently dead leaves.
It is amazing how nature can regenerate fast, lots of birds are  back and in the camp we can hear all through day the calling of the woodland
kingfisher.... ki-krrrrrrrr     ki-krrrrrrrrrrr
It is a very special bird, electric blue, white and black  with an orange
and black bill.
You can see it hunting in the same way as its cousins who live on the river, but instead of fish our Kingfishers have mainly insects and instead of water they have grass.
I love them because  their singing  all around expresses to me the joy of all the animals for the new rain.

Pietro

Pietro Luraschi
Camp Manager
Mdonya Old River Camp


È tornata ancora la pioggia!

 Avevamo avuto 41 mm l’11 di gennaio e ancora 37 mm il 14.
Tutti gli animali stavano aspettando le piogge, la vita era osi difficile,
c’era ancora un po’ di acqua in giro ma l’erba era davvero scarsa, si
vedevano animali davvero magri e deboli specialmente i bufali
ma  improvvisamente l’acqua aveva riportato la vita .
Ma è durato poco, le piogge si sono fermate di nuovo, tutta l’erba nuova ha iniziato a seccare, la situazione a farsi difficile.
Finalmente ieri abbiamo avuto un bel temporale notturno, 60 mm di acqua.
Ora  in sole poche ore l’ erba è tornata rigogliosa, nuova vita dalle
foglie apparentemente morte.
E’ incredibile come la natura possa rigenerarsi velocemente, molti uccelli sono tornati e al campo possiamo sentire tutto il giorno il canto
del........  ki-krrrrrrrr     ki-krrrrrrrrrrr
E’ un uccello molto speciale blu elettrico, bianco enero con un becco nero e arancio.
Lo si puo vedere cacciare nello stesso modo dei suoi cugini che vivono sui fiumi solo che al posto dei pesci ha gli insetti e al posto dell’acqua una distesa di erba Mi piacciono perché col loro canto mi ricordano la gioia di tutti gli animali per le nuove piogge

 Pietro

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Woodland Kingfisher
Woodland Kingfisher, Ruaha

21st December 2005


Hello to everybody I am back home for Christmas holiday... and of course it feels great! I have been missing Mdonya so much! I have been here a week and only went out for transfers to the airport and I already saw leopard three times and wild dogs once... The park is incredibly dry, the rains haven't started yet and the animals are so thirsty that the other day a beautiful sunbird came to drink from my glass.
The camp is fantastic, all the animals are still around and actually we have a new civet. As you know I am on a mission to let people know different animals than the usual lions, leopards etc so the picture of the day is a porcupine.

Ciao ciao   Malcolm Ryen
Mdonya Old River
Camp manager-biologist
Ruaha N.P.-Tanzania


Ciao a tutti, sono tornato a casa per le vacanze di Natale... e ovviamente
sono contentissimo! Mdonya mi e' mancato un sacco! Sono qui da una
settimana e benche' sia andato solo all'aereoporto per qualche transfer ho gia' visto tre leopardi e 28 licoani... Il parco e' estremamente secco e le piogge tardano ad arrivare. Gli animali sono cosi' assetati che l'altro
giorno una nettarina (una specie di uccello simile ad un clibri) e' venuta
a bere dal mio bicchiere... Il campo e' eccezionale, tutti gli animali sono
qui intorno e a dire il vero si e' aggiunta anche una civetta (un'animale
simile ad un procione)
Come sapete cerco di far conoscere animale un po' insoliti.. quindi la foto di oggi e' di un istrice.
Ciao ciao
 
Malcolm
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Porcupine
Porcupine at Mdonya
27th November 2005

Hello to everybody

 
We are back again to annoy you with our stories.
The day before yesterday we started a late morning game drive, we went on the road passing behind the camp.
We reached the Mbagi  area around midday; there is still some water in the Mwagusi river that’s why lot of animals moved to this area.
Impala with tiny calves, giraffes, warthogs shared with us the first part
of the safari, then suddenly they disappeared….  strange.... from one
kilometer to the other we couldn’t see any herbivore,  immediately a
suspect rose… and here they are!  In the open  dry savannah we spotted two lions, a male and a female.
They are a mating couple even if in this moment they are resting.
We remained there watching until they stood up and moved towards us to
mate just a few metres from the car... she bored, he a noisy bully!
We left the lions to their intimacy….only to stop a hundred meters ahead
of the lions....  his highness was there.... a leopard!!! He was up on a
young Rain tree… from where we were we could see  both the leopard and the lions…it was fantastic!
The leopard came down, crouching in the grass, it was targeting something.
Suddenly he started, jumping into the bush with an incredibly fast run, we
lost it, it was a while… had it caught something??... No!.  A hare flew out of
the  other side of the bush at supersonic speed.
The leopard lost the meal but we enjoied a wonderful show… and we believe that the hare is happy - at least we are.
 
So when are you coming back?
 
Pietro and Daphne

P.S. On the road towards the camp we saw a female impala.... she had
delivered her tiny calf a ew minutes before... she was eating her own
placenta.....



Ciao a tutti,
 
siamo di nuovo qua per annoiarvi con i nostri racconti.
L'altro ieri siamo partiti un po’ tardi per un game drive, abbiamo preso la
strada che gira dietro al campo.
Siamo quindi giunti nella zona di Mbagi verso mezzogiorno; c’è ancora
qualche pozza d’acqua nel  fiume Mwagusi per cui tanti animali si sono
spostati in quella zona.
Impala con i piccoli, giraffe, facoceri ci hanno fatto compagnia per tutte
la prima parte del tragitto, poi di colpo non ne abbiamo più  visti…
strano, da un  chilometro all’altro  non si vede più un solo erbivoro,
subito ci viene un sospetto, ed ecco,  nella piana aperta di fronte a noi individuiamo due leoni, un maschio e una femmina.
Sono in accoppiamento anche se in questo momento riposano.
Stiamo a guardare fino a che si alzano e si dirigono verso di noi, si
accoppiano a pochi metri, lei svogliata, lui prepotente e rumoroso.
Lasciamo i leoni alla loro intimità e proseguiamo….. per fermarci poi a
meno di cento metri dai leoni…. C’è sua maestà…. un leopardo!! è  su un
giovane rain tree…. da dove siamo possiamo vedere sia lui che i leoni… è
fantastico!!!
Il leopardo scende e si appiattisce nell’erba, ha visto qualche cosa e lo
sta puntando….
Di colpo parte e si butta nella macchia con uno scatto rapidissimo, lo perdiamo di vista … è un’attimo .. avrà preso qualcosa?? ... No…. una lepre
scappa dal lato opposto di gran carriera.
Il leopardo ha perso un pasto ma noi ci siamo goduti una scena bellissima,

e crediamo che anche la lepre sia felice……..almeno quanto noi. Allora??  Quando ci si rivede?? 

Pietro e Daphne
 
Ps nella strada per tornare abbiamo visto una femmina di impala che aveva
partorito da pochi secondi… era lì col suo piccolo e mangiava la placenta….
 
 
Pietro Luraschi
Camp Manager

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Leopard in Ruaha
His Highness the Leopard
29th October 2005

Hello to everybody
well I am leaving to town again, sad and with a little tear...
Though I have been very lucky in the time I spent back home. Especially because the wild dogs came to visit me again. We had them for 3 days in camp! They run twice in the morning through the tents, looking for impala. The whole pack, 19 adults and 12 pups three and half month old. Fantastic! We saw them hunting, playing, sleeping... Incredible animals.
I am looking forward to come back to Mdonya already, hoping to see them
again next time.

Ciao ciao
Malcolm



Ciao a tutti
sto per tornare in citta', triste e con una piccola lacrimuccia... Pero'
sono stato molto fortunato nel periodo trascorso qui a casa. Specialmente in quanto i licaoni sono venuti a trovarmi. Li abbiamo avuti per 3 giorni nel campo! Hanno rincorso gli impala tra le tende per due mattine. Tutto il pack, 19 adulti e 12 cuccioli di tre mesi e mezzo. Fantastico! Li abbiamo visti cacciare, giocare, dormire.. Animali incredibili.
Non vedo l'ora di tornare di nuovo qui a Mdonya, con la speranza di
rivederli ancora la prossima volta.
Ciao ciao

Malcolm

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Wild dogs and bush pig
Wild dogs with bush pig, Ruaha
12th October 2005
Hello to everybody, this is Malcolm again... I am back home,
here at Mdonya and it really feels fantastic! I was missing the camp life a lot.
Everything is beautiful as usual... showering under stars and dining looking
at the moon were feelings I was missing a lot... all the animals around the camp
are still here, the buffalo, the giraffes, the impala, the genet, the bush pigs,
the hyenas.
Anyway I went for a picnic on Sunday and saw 26 lions and 2 leopards...
you can call it luck, I call it home...

Ciao ciao
 
Malcolm Ryen
Mdonya Old River

Camp manager-biologist

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Leopard in Ruaha
Leopard in the Ruaha

 

27th September 2005
Hello to everybody...
 
The park is drier every day… the only water remaining is in the great Ruaha
river. The animal’s concentration is absolutely unbelievable, elephants, giraffes,
zebras, impalas, buffalos and lots and lots of other species are obliged to
stay nearby the river, the only source of water.
That makes the predator’s life much easier, specially the lions have only
to stand and walk a few hundred meters to have their hunting chance.
Some days ago we were on the road bordering the Ruaha when we saw a big
pride of lions sleeping very close to the water on the other side of the river.
After some minutes the lions stood up and started slowly to cross.
Within about ten minutes all the 18 lions had climbed the bank and passed
ten meters from the car.
The only visible prey were a group of 4-5 giraffes slowly moving some 200
meters from the lions ... straight in the direction of the road.
The lions started walking slowly, spread on the plain, stopping every now
and then to get some shade, but all of them with a precise direction: the
giraffes.
It was amazing to see them proceeding with a clear target.
A family of warthogs drove the attention of a lioness away for a while;
she attempted a totally useless short run but then gave up.
The unaware giraffes entered the bushes, the lions followed slowly, we
remained behind on the road not to disturb the hunt.
After 5 minutes the advanced lions attacked, we could see only dust but we
drove immediately following the road towards the point where the last
lions had gone.
A small giraffe was  covered by a mass of growling lions, it was still
alive but it didn’t last long.
The show was impressive, red faced lions full of blood and a terrific
noise; a constant background of growls of different volumes and tones.
After about ten minutes everything got quieter, the lions started eating
with more calm and it was also ftime for us to go back to the camp.
We left the the stage of the drama of the daily struggle for life lit by sunset rays.
Ciao ciao 
Pietro 
 
Pietro Luraschi
Camp Manager

Mdonya Old River Camp


Lions on giraffe kill near Mdonya

Ciao a tutti.. eccomi di nuovo qua…
 
Il parco è sempre piu secco… ormai rimane acqua sono nel grande fiume….
La concentrazione di animali é assolutamente incredibile, elefanti, giraffe,
zebre, impala, bufali e innumerevoli altre specie sono costrette nelle
vicinanze del fiume, l’unica fonte di acqua.
Tutto ciò rende la vita dei predatori molto più facile, i leoni in
particolare non devono fare altro che alzarsi e decidere di andare a
caccia, nell’arco di poche centinaia di metri avranno garantita la
possibilità di trovare qualcosa da provare a cacciare.
Qualche giorno fa’ eravamo appunto sulla strada che costeggia il Ruaha,
abbiamo visto un grosso pride di leoni che sonnecchiava molto vicino
all’acqua dall’altra parte del fiume, dopo una manciata di minuti i leoni
si sono alzati e hanno cominciato lentamente ad attraversare.
In circa 10 minuti tutti e 18 i leoni avevano risalito la scarpata del
fiume fino alla strada dove stavamo aspettando, e tutti e 18 hanno sfilato
a non più di 10 metri dalla macchina…
Le uniche prede visibili erano un gruppo di 4-5 giraffe in lento movimento
a circa duecento metri dai leoni… proprio in direzione della strada.
I leoni, si sono incamminati, lentamente, in ordine sparso,  fermandosi
ogni tanto a riposare sotto un cespuglio, ma tutti con una direzione
precisa: le giraffe.
Era uno spettacolo vederli avanzare con un chiaro obiettivo.
Una famiglia di facoceri sotto un cespuglio ha distratto per un attimo una
delle leonesse che ha tentato uno scatto peraltro infruttuoso.
Le giraffe ignare si sono addentrate nei cespugli, con calma, i leoni le
hanno seguite, noi siamo rimasti indietro per non disturbare la caccia.
Dopo circa 5 minuti l’avanguardia dei leoni è partita all’attacco, non si
vedeva altro che polvere, ma immediatamente siamo partiti seguendo la
strada verso i luogo dove si stavano dirigendo anche i leoni ritardatari….
Una piccola giraffa era sostanzialmente sommersa da una massa di leoni
ringhianti, era ancora viva, ma per poco.
Lo spettacolo era impressionante, leoni completamente rossi di sangue e un
rumore terrificante; un sottofondo costante di ringhi a volumi e tonalità
diverse.
Tutti i leoni cercavano il loro spazio per partecipare al banchetto ma
quelli che già stavano mangiando non volevano lasciare la posizione e così
improvvisi scoppi d’ira regolavano le diatribe, fauci spalancate e zampate
possenti rimettevano in riga chi cercava di accaparrarsi zone migliori ma
già occupate… il tutto toglieva il fiato a noi spettatori.
Dopo una decina di minuti le acque si sono chetate e i leoni sono diventati
più ordinati. Era tempo anche per noi di tornare al campo e cosi con le
luci del tramonto abbiamo lasciato il palcoscenico della ordinaria lotta
per la vita.
 
 
Ciao ciao
 

Pietro

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Lions on a Giraffe kill
15th July 2005

Hello to everybody,
I wanted to say goodbye to you all, at least for a while, since I am going
back to Dar for a period, though Pietro has arrived and will be continuing
to update you with our news. Everything is fine over here, as usual, though
it is getting a bit cold... This year it appears to be very good for
leopard, since we keep seeing many, the other day we saw one trying to hunt
a warthog but it didn't succeed... and a few minutes before we saw hyena at a
carcass of a giraffe. There are two new male lions in our area that kept
roaring all night yesterday. The season is getting busy and the Park is
very beautiful, though getting very dry already.
Looking forward to seeing you soon
Ciao ciao

Malcolm




Ciao a tutti
volevo mandare un saluto a tutti voi in quanto sto per tornare a Dar per un pochino. Pietro e' arrivato e continuera' ad aggiornarvi con le news dal campo. Qui tutto va bene, come al solito, sebbene cominci a fare un po' freddino... Quest'anno sembra essere particolarmente buono per i leopardi, in quanto li vediamo spesso, anche l'altro giorno ne abbiamo visto uno in un tentativo di caccia ad un facocero che pero' non e' riuscito a portare a termine, e pochi minuti prima abbiamo visto delle iene su una carcassa di giraffa. Ci sono due nuovi maschi di leone nella zona del campo che hanno ruggito per tutta la notte ieri. La stagione sta entrando nel vivo e abbiamo parecchi clienti. Il Parco e' sempre bellissimo sebbene molto secco.
Spero di rivedervi presto
Ciao ciao

Malcolm

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Hyena near Mdonya
Hyena on a giraffe kill
28th June 2005

Hello to every body,
well the past week end has been a special one! I had Roger Burrows and Jan Corlett as guests, two fantastic persons who were studying wild dogs in the Serengeti some years ago. As many of you know, wild dogs are my favorite animals so it has been a pleasure and honor for me to have Roger and Janet in camp and I had the chance to learn so much more about the dogs. And Destiny made us a great present! In fact we saw wild dogs! My first sighting of the season, 24 beautiful animals, belonging to the Kipepeo pack. It is always good to see that the pack is still doing fine and that the animals are in good condition! As well we have some new born in camp, the bush pig came the other night with 3 small piglets!

Ciao ciao

Malcolm




Ciao a tutti,
il week end appena passato e' stato speciale, infatti ho avuto Roger Burrows e Jan Corlett come ospiti al campo, due persone fantastiche che hanno studiato per molti anni i licaoni nel Serengeti. Come molti di voi sanno, i licaoni sono i miei animali preferiti per cui e' stato un piacere e un onore avere Roger e Janet al campo e ho avuto modo di imparare molto da loro. E il Destino ci ha fatto un bellissimo regalo! Infatti abbiamo visto i licaoni! Il mio primo avvistamento della stagione, 24 bellissimi animali, del pack (gruppo) di Kipepeo. Fa sempre molto piacere vedere che il pack e' in salute e gli animali sono in buone condizioni!

Inoltre ci sono state delle nuove nascite al campo, i bush pigs (potamocero, una specie di cinghiale) l'altra sera sono arrivati con 3 nuovi piccoli!

Ciao ciao

Malcolm

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African Hunting Dogs of the Kipepo pack, Ruaha
Wild Dogs of the Kipepo pack
24th May 2005

Hello to everybody!
Well I am back home at Mdonya. A new season is starting and we are opening the camp. It is good to be able to smell the bush and to walk barefoot again... The last rainy season has been very scarce, the grass is already yellow and the water is drying up. Though it is so good to be back and see that all our animals are still here. Our friend the genet came to visit as soon as we arrived and heard some  people's noise! Last night I was going to the staff quarter and had giraffes, hyena, impala and the two usual jackal on the path. Then at night the welcoming party started... lions had killed something behind camp and the fight with hyenas kept me awake until midnight.
For the coming season we have added some new tents, specially designed for family, being much bigger and having four beds. As well we have renovated our previous ones, as you will see on our web site. I hope I will see you again this year Looking forward to it
Ciao ciao

Malcolm Ryen
Mdonya Old River
Camp manager-biologist

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.

Resident genet cat at Mdonya
Mdonya resident genet cat
25th March 2005

Hello to everybody
well time to go has come... we are closing down camp and getting ready for our holidays. Though I am a little bit sad...since the park is fantastic now, the big rain have started and the rivers are flowing, there are thousands of flowers, butterflies and is green everywhere. From a touristic point of view it is becoming a bit difficult, since the roads are getting bad, you can't cross all the rivers and lions are very difficult to be found (though they were roaring in camp last night!).
So I wish you all a good Easter and I hope I will see you all next season, we will open again on June the 4th. Looking forward to seeing you soon
Ciao

Malcolm

.

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Imapala in camp
Imapala in camp
20 th February 2005

Hello to everybody, here in Ruaha days are particularly hot lately and it hasn't rained since more than a couple of weeks. The sky is clear and blue. The grass is turning yellowish and the water holes are drying up. Many animals have come back to drink at the Mdonya river and we find lions near water again. The park is particularly rich in elephants and close encounter are always good fun! A few days ago we saw wild dogs, they were going hunting and we followed them for half an hour, then we lost them in the thick bush. But they are always a strong emotion!
Greetings to everybody
Ciao

Malcolm

P.S. Zebra are crossing over the camp while I am writing...

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Curious Elephant
A curious elephant
4 th February 2005

Hello to everybody
As I told you some days back, rains seemed to have stopped in the last few weeks.

Though a thunderstorm is always possible.
We were trying to get to the waterfalls...

Regards

Ciao

Malcolm

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Landrover in the Mdonya River
The Mdonya in flood
1st February 2005

Hello to everybody, I am back with some updates from Mdonya. The rains have slowed down a bit, though it is very green everywhere, but the viability of all the roads is very good again. Animals are still all around the camp, many zebra, giraffe and impala. The buffalo are around though not as much between tents but I am not too disappointed by this... Lions were roaring loud near camp the night before yesterday. As some of you may know, I am preparing the final map of the Park, with all the roads, and the other day I tracked (mapped with the GPS) one road to a ranger post on the far north-east end of the Park. More than 350 Km of safari through the "mountains" of Ruaha. A very interesting area very different from what is usually visited in the Park. Miles and miles of Miombo woodland (an association of different plant species, Brachystegia, Jubernardia and Isoberlina), which is vaguely similar to our forests. I saw the river that borders the north-east section of the Park, very beautiful! and the roan and sable antelope, absent species in the typical savanna environment. I am still missing a couple of roads going to the farthest end of the Park and when I track them I will have seen it all! At least by roads... and the map will be complete.
Greetings to everybody
Ciao

Malcolm

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Roan Antelope
Sable Antelope, Ruaha National Park
25th December 2004

Hallo to everybody. Well after the fire the rain arrived, luckily, and now everything is very green. Quite amazing to see the changes...
There is water almost everywhere and the animals are scattered all around. Plenty of zebra arrived around the camp and at night you can hear them running.
Just a few days ago we saw wild dog!!! You know they are my
favorite animals... It is the same big pack (Kipepeo) that sometimes pass through camp, but now they have 14 new cubs, so the total number is 37!!!
Well I wish you a vary good Christmas and a happy new year!
Ciao
Malcolm e Pietro


Ciao a tutti. Bene dopo il fuoco sono cominciate le piogge, per fortuna, e adesso e' tutto verdissimo. Incredibile vedere il cambiamento e la velocita' con cui l'erba improvvisamente cresce verde e rigogliosa. Ora c'e' acqua pressoche' ovunque e gli animali sono sparsi in tutto il parco.
Moltissime zebre sono arrivate al campo e di notte le si sente galoppare nel campo. Qualche giorno fa abbiamo visto i licaoni! Sapete che sono i miei animali preferiti... E' lo stesso grande pack (gruppo) che a volte passa per il campo, ma ora ci sono 14 cuccioli, cosi' che il numero totale e' di 37!!!
Bene, auguro a tutti un buon Natale e un felice anno nuovo!
Ciao

Malcolm e Pietro

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African Hunting Dog
African Hunting Dog
Mid November 2004

This time I have to tell you about a story not regarding animals.
The other day we saw smoke coming up behind the camp, we went to check and just after a couple of km we saw a big fire and realized we couldn't do much to stop it. When the flames were visible just 200 meters from camp we briefed between ourselves and we decided to fight the fire with fire.
Armed only with matches we started burning the grass on the other side of the access road to the camp, that is also our fire brake.
After six hours we managed to create a burnt are around the camp where the fire could have not come through.
It was already 7 pm and we wanted to make sure that nothing would have happened to the camp, so we split into groups of two and organized turns of 1 hour each to patrol the fire brake road through out the night. It has been very hard, but we managed, thanks to the staff of Mdonya that demonstrated to be expert and trustable. The fire went on for days, and burnt a huge are over the hills, but at least now it is far from the camp.
It was a weird day, it started with a leopard killing an impala in front of Malcolm's tent, in the night. The park in general is literally amazing! Two clients in the last 24 hours saw 60 lions and a leopard that stayed on top of a baobab tree over their vehicle for more than 15 minutes... All the animals are near the little water that has remained and we are all waiting for the rain to come. Best regards to you all
Ciao

Pietro

Bush fire near Mdonya Bush fire near Mdonya
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