We have just recently had a trip up to the Falls and Hwange and while staying in Main Camp, we managed to get around to see most of the pans in the area that are now operating with their solar units. We were delighted with the amount of water that is available at the moment, and it obviously remains to be seen how the units cope during the intense heat and dry, but at least there is water at most of the prominent pans without the worry of insufficient diesel or engines breaking down.
One morning two of our party went out on a quick early morning drive and were excited to spot a big male lion and a lioness in the Nyamandhlovu area as well as a magnificent male cheetah that had been seen on numerous occasions according to the office sighting book. On a trip down to Ngweshla, we saw all the usual game – impala, kudu, zebra, giraffe, elephant, steenbuck, wildebeest – and we were chuffed to see five roan antelope roaming across the open vlei. Returning in the afternoon, we saw a group of vehicles stopped at Makwa and found the occupants all looking at a mother cheetah and her five cubs. The female cheetah was deep in the shade of an ebony tree with her five babies hiding behind her. Two warthog sauntered down to the pan to for a drink and a wallow in the mud and on returning the way they had come, the five cubs decided to try their luck at a stalk. It was amusing to watch as they rushed harum scarum out of cover while the warthogs just trotted away, looking rather scornfully over their shoulders – one could almost hear them chortling.. The cubs sat down, looking at each other with rather puzzled expressions on their faces! After that bit of excitement all the other vehicles moved off but we decided to stay put for a few more minutes. We were not disappointed as mother cheetah sat up, chirped for her cubs and began to stroll out into the open fairly close past the car. Mother cheetah -a beautiful animal who, we have been told, is the same mother that raised three young last year – then had a copious roll in some elephant dung with her youngsters leaping about her before they all sauntered off in a line further along the road. Unfortunately, with the approach of another vehicle, they soon headed off into thick bush.
During another afternoon drive, we were delighted to see water flowing under the bridge at Caterpillar and down into the old natural pan. The scene at Dopi is lovely too with water in the old pan as well as the new one. Herds of elephant arrived in their droves to drink and splash, literally pouring out of the bush on all sides, most of the herds with tiny babies afoot. The sight at the sunset was food for the soul.
It’s wonderful to see so much water available and hopefully the solar units will cope in the coming months. We look forward to participating in the annual game count soon when we will once again enjoy the splendour of Hwange.
John and Jenny Brebner