News from the Environment
With the start of August we have felt a change in the weather. The days have been getting noticeably hotter and the nights warmer. Most of the trees have lost their leaves and the Long Pod Cassia Cassia abbreviata has burst into flower adding a dash of colour around the camp. Not only does the Cassia tree have pretty yellow flowers the roots are traditionally used for treating malaria and pneumonia and it is said that the smells of crushed levels drive snakes from their holes. Quite a useful tree to have in camp!
The water levels have continued to drop at a fast rate and our boat operators inform us that in the 8 years the camp has been running they have never seen the water levels this low in August. It is thought that the rapidly dropping water levels is due to the heavy rainfall that we received earlier this year which resulted in the channels naturally becoming deeper by the sheer amount of water draining from the lakes out to the Rufiji River. The deeper channels are now draining more water from the Lake Manze than usual. The boat trips are still a great way to get out and see things. Hippos and crocodiles aplenty are seen in the deeper pools. The baby storks are getting bigger and leaving the tree top nests and are seen along the banks.
The low level of the water does have an upside. It makes for very good fishing. We had two records set this last week of August for the most fish caught on one trip this season which was a grand total of 13 fish and the biggest catfish caught which weighed 28.5 pounds (13 kg) caught by Chloe and Reuben.
Though it is not just us who are enjoying the good fishing big flocks of storks, pelicans and other birds are seen gathering round low streams catching fish in the shallow water.
In some areas of the reserve they have started doing controlled burning and we can from time to time see the fires burning in the distance.
News from Sightings
August has been a very good month for seeing lions stalking, killing and eating their prey. It is almost every day that we hear reports back from our guests that they have seen lions on a very fresh kill and some guests even saw the lions take down a zebra on one occasion and a wildebeest on a different occasion. Some of the lions decided to change their menu and took down a young hippo. This was an unusual sighting as it is difficult for the lion’s teeth to penetrate the hippo’s tough skin and the hippo’s strong neck makes it difficult for the lions to strangle the hippo to death.
Our guide Samwel provided us with this picture of the lions with the hippo kill, sadly this will be his last contribution to our newsletter as he is going on to further his education, we wish him all the best.
Wild dogs have not been seen as frequently in the area this month as they were in July however we have still had some great sightings of them and they even ran through camp early one morning sending the resident impala into panic mode. Two of our guests this month were treated to an unusual and magnificent sighting of two big male Kudus fighting. The quest for finding the elusive leopard has continued to challenge our drivers and guides. Though one day they managed to get the jackpot of not only seeing three leopards in one day but seeing all three leopards in one big baobab tree! It was a mother leopard and her two cubs. Thank you to Paul and Sarah for sharing some of your photos of this beautiful sighting with us.
The most unusual and rare sighting this month has got to be a “White Buffalo”. This buffalo was seen amongst a herd of around 300 buffalo, it stood out against the rest and from a distance we initially thought that it must have been rolling in some light coloured dust but from a closer look we could see that it was in fact the colour of the animal’s skin. We had heard stories of alleged “White Buffalos” being seen high up in the Udzungwa Mountains but not of any being seen here in the Selous.
Your Tracks on our Path
"As a family, we have loved our experience here at Lake Manze. The array of wild animals has been spectacular, our guide / driver Bakari has extensive knowledge which has been fantastic too. Thank you for the hospitality." Rachel, Illi, Alisi, Eva and Jonah, 3.8.14
"To all at Lake Manze, We can here for the first part of our honeymoon trip, never having done a safari or been to Africa before. We have been utterly amazed by the beautiful setting, friendly staff and the wonderful wildlife we have seen. We never expected to see a herd of 30 Elephants drinking at the river, stunning Kingfishers on the lake or even the oddly sweet Hyena cubs. It has truly been the trip of a lifetime made all the more special by our last night’s candle lit dinner overlooking the lake in our tent, visited by the resident Elephant! With many many thanks for a trip we will never forget."
Chris and Rowena 4.8.14
"Wow! A huge thank you to everybody at Lake Manze camp. An incredible safari experience, with wonderful guides and brave drivers. We saw everything from tiny birds to the big cats (including the elusive Leopard) and have loved every minute. We leave sadly but contently and with very full stomachs! You have all made this an amazing honeymoon that we will never forget."
Sarah and Paul 9.8.14
"Thank you for 3 of the most memorable days of our lives. Our first safari and we really could not have enjoyed ourselves more. Special thanks to Alfred, Herbert and Elton for Guiding and driving us. They played a huge part in making it all so special."
Rick, Clare, Alice and Tom 10.8.14
"AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We don’t want to leave, fantastic place, lovely staff, and many memorable experiences!! Thank you for making the start of our honeymoon so unforgettable. Everyone has gone out of their way to do this for us. We won’t forget any of you and we are going to start saving so we can come back! See you in 10 years."
Kate and Ted (Jonas)
"A wonderful quiet spot to sit and recharge, a choice of activities if we wanted which you were awesome at coordinating. Loved having the animals so close! Awesome service."
Janet Mann, Jim, Karen, Andrea and Erica Scott.
"This was the best experience of our lives, we came expecting a lot and it far exceeded our expectations. The staff are very warm and friendly and the food was great. The all-day safari was amazing, we saw a fresh Lion kill and all the animals we had hoped to see. We would definitely love to come back."
Jan, Tim and Ollie 24.8.14
"This was our first safari and what a wonderful time we have had. We have enjoyed every moment from the sun rise to the sunset. The staff are all so friendly and can’t do enough to help. We are all so sad to leave. Thank you so very much for making this the most wonderful and memorable holiday."
Jane, Chloe and Reuben Fishlock (Dorset, England) 27.08.14
Our Wild Friends - Elephants
The ripe Doum Palm nuts in all the Palm trees around camp has made the camp a popular place for the baboons and elephants to hang out as the feast on these delicacies.
Our resident breeding herd of 16 elephants and their calves have been in camp very regularly much to our delight and we have been fortunate in getting some special sightings of the interactions within the herd such as this interaction between two of the calves as is seen in this video clip.
The older one was protecting the younger one (Dundee) by getting him to go round to the far side so that the bigger calf was protecting him from us.
Watch the video clip of baby elephants from Steve.
Another occasion that same calf was walking past the lounge area during lunch with his mum and big sister and he decided that it was time for a nap and lay down and went to sleep with his head on the path.
The mother elephant wondered off leaving the older sister to stay and babysit the sleeping calf. She was clearly not impressed by the calf’s choice of place to nap and nervously kept watch over him.
After about 20 minutes she decided she had stayed for long enough and gave him a little kick to wake him up and off they went to join the rest of the herd.
Just as I finished writing last month’s newsletter on how we hadn’t seen much of Lyagos in July he turned up on the 1st of August and he did his usual round of saying hello to everyone by walking past the lounge and office, squeezing through the gap in the fence and stopping by the kitchen and then going past the manager houses on his way out.
We have seen him several times since then, one morning he even put on an impressive show as he claimed the camp his territory by chasing off another big bull who was wondering through camp.
Watch the video clip of Laygos shaking a tree while Jabba watches admired.
The baboons have been spending most days in the trees and on the ground around the lounge picking and eating the ripe palm nuts.
Having them around provides regular meal time entertainment though also presents a challenge of getting in and out of the lounge without having a falling nut land on you.