SAVUTE ZEBRA MIGRATION
With the early advent of winter, a lot of tree leaves and grasses have already started to wilt and turn brown. A few patches of clouds are visible everyday in the sky but not convincing enough to produce a downpour. These are commonly cirrostrastus and altostratus clouds. However, the clear skies at night offers an opportunity to do stargazing which is fantastic coupled with the fact that Savute has short vegetation. Sightings of impalas, steenbok, roan, giraffes, elephants, burchells zebras, gnus,and a klipspringer were very common on the drives.
We also had a suprise sighting of a gemsbok antelope. Gemsbok occur in the Kalahari desert in Botswana.Therefore, it's very rare to see them up north. It's possible that this gemsbok might have joined the zebras when they started migrating.
An elephant bull showed us what he is good at by using his tusks to dig the ground. A trunk was then used to pick up the chunks of soil and put them in the mouth (geophagia).We could see saliva dribbling out of the bull elephant’s mouth as he fed. Moreover, there were different sightings of elephants drinking, feeding on grasses and tree leaves, acacia tree pods, as well as shaking acacia trees to get the pods or throwing dust over their bodies.
We were also lucky to see three wild dogs resting in the shade of kalahari apple leaf trees. The female that was amongst them was heavily pregnant and I believe it's only a matter of time before she starts denning. We also spent some time watching a female leopard hunting although she was unsuccessful.
At night, we heard the lions calling. The following morning we tracked them and saw them lying down on the road between sable hill and bushman painting hill. It was two males and one female. There were some signs that one of the males could have been courting the female. After spending quite a long time with them we decided to go and have tea and coffee along the river. At the river we saw five hippos playing and calling and we enjoyed their interaction while stretching our legs.
We then continued with our drive and saw close to 200 burchell’s zebras moving northwards in a single file, which clearly indicated that they are migrating. It is a common phenomenon for burchell’s zebras to migrate towards Linyanti in the dry season because of the reliable supply of fresh water and grasses along the floodplains.
Posted: Savute Under Canvas by Keiditsemang Jeremiah Gabogolelwe, Date: 20 April 2012