Kafue National Park

Jul 11th, 2005, 04:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
Sorry the trip didn't come off! It sounded very good...I hope you'll be able to get is organized sometime again soon.

By the way, as a predator biologist, what is your response to safari vehicles following leopards and lighting (alternately) both the leopard and the target prey. I understand that the lodge says they have seen no change of behavior, but I am still troubled by this interference. It's difficult to imagine that any lodge could really tell if they were changing behavior, or the odds faced by either the leopard or prey animals.

What do you think?

BTW, could you email me at (myfodorsname)[email protected] wanted to ask you about something regarding wild dog...thanks!
tashak is offline  
Jul 11th, 2005, 04:53 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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I totally agree with you that there is an interference effect. I imagine that the local leopard have become totally habituated to the circumstances. Lighting the leopards may occasionally blow their cover but my guess is as Mitch suggested the prey is really put at a disadvantage. Most animals are really built to see well at night and light can really leave them disoriented/blinded for a few seconds, and the human/vehicle smells and noises are things animals in habituated areas have largely become comfortable with thus they may ingnore them as safe all the while it is helping to mask the stealthy approach of the leopard. When I spotlight animals I never shine directly on the animal -- you want to catch it in the edge of the light to minimize any disorientation as well as lighting for only a few seconds at a time. Good guides will do it this way but there is certainly still some effect. Something I would be interested in is using a black light. It puts everything in strange color tint but most wildlife is oblivious to it as their eyes do not see that spectrum of light, thus you can light an animal consistently without harming them in any way.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Jul 11th, 2005, 07:36 PM
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Yes, I must say that since guides would prefer to make their guests happy with exciting spectacles, if the guides say that lights disorient the prey then I would tend to believe them...it goes against their self-interest. And when Busanga says it does not change behavior...well I'm afraid I'm skeptical, because it is too much in their self-interest to say this.
tashak is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 10:06 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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As many of you know I have not yet been to Africa, but as someone who has a passion for wildlife I can't imagine going on a night drive like that. When I see images of even daylight safaris sometimes I think the animals must get really annoyed at everyone gawking at them and following them around. I mean, don't get me wrong, I understand it's these dollars that help support them, etc...and I cannot wait to finally go and see this majesty first hand. But to follow them around at night with lights while they're trying to hunt/avoid being hunted? Non, merci.
cooncat is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 10:38 AM
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one small clarification: when lightening prey animals the Busanga Trails people do it like any other good guides - not directly. What I meant in my posting is the possible stress caused by the flash lights of the tourists. I don't know the effects of flash lights on prey, and on night drives with other operators you are rareley in this situation.

If you have contacts to the Wild Dog Research Team, maybe you ask them what they think about those leopard night drives. As far as I know their second team is located at Lufupa Lodge, HQ of Busanga Trails.

Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:45 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1
Can anyone tell me anything about Puku Pan? I am staying there next week (11-16 August). I am a total newbie. I chose Puku Pan because I preferred remoteness over seeing lots of animals, but I am hoping to see something, preferably something fairly large. Anybody know what's around there, or whether day trips up further north (where it sounds like more animals are) are possible?
ekimgreblos is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:53 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 330
In Hwange NP, Little Makalolo Camp, the spotter used an infra-red light for the night drives. I must say it made sightings very difficult and photography (digital) almost impossible. The reason given was that regular spotlights disorient the game, as has been mentioned on this post. However, in Savuti and Tafika, when I discussed this with our guide, both scoffed and said that the disorientation was due to poor spotting and that proper spot-lighting would not yield this effect. I do believe that only well-trained guides know how to spotlight properly.

Rocco, I think you need to overcome your hesitation to pay Botswana's prices. Now that I've been to both Bots and Zambia, I think you will find the experience in Bots camps well worth the price. At least try!
Lin is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 02:06 AM
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If I read your comment on the Botswanean prices it appears to me that you've been a little 'disappointed' with Zambia.

For my part, I can't tell which I like more: the Delta or the Valley.

However, in Zambia, especially the Valley, it's more important at which camp you're staying, such as staying inside the Park or outside in a Game Management Area. Most of the permanent lodges are located outside the Park, and game isn't so abundant here than inside the Park (or around the camps in the Delta). But please note that serious operators recommend these 'larger' lodges only as a start-up for a walking or mobile safari inside the Park.

In Zambia I always try to concentrate on camps inside the parks and have never been disapointed.

Aug 4th, 2005, 07:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
I hope that Lin meant that both are good experiences, but that the Botswana experience is worth the price.
That's my point of view, anyway.
I truly love Zambia, and go there far more often. But Botswana is worth every bit of those high prices. I consistently heard visitors say this--things like "This would have been worth it at twice the price" or "I thought the prices were ridiculous, but now I'm ready to do it again as soon as possible". And these were well-travelled people.

Sometimes things are really good, but really different. And have a different "value".
I think Botswana is like that...It's a wonderland. The heat-shimmered Kalahari vistas. The islands and dream-like waterways of the Okavango....Biggest herds of elephants in Africa cavorting in the Chobe River...all well-managed with minimum tourist impact for your safari pleasure.

As you may have guessed, I'm not big on ranking destinations, 1, 2, 3...or saying that one is "better" than the other. It all depends on the experience you have and the experience you are seeking. Anyway, I don't disagree with Lin-- I think if Roccco went to Bots on the right trip, he would also see that it was $ well-spent. $ tradeoffs are just part of the story. I revel in finding "bargains" and enjoy them thoroughly, but some things are just not available at bargain prices.

tashak is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 08:51 AM
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I've interpreted lin's statement differently, more in the way: 50% more expensive, 50% better. Especially now, after reading her trip report.

Aug 4th, 2005, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Yeah, well my wife is refusing to subsidize her sister's trip for next year, so Greystoke Mahale/Chada Katavi/Mwagusi Ruaha may have to wait until August 2007.

As a result, I may just get to Botswana, after all, if only for a few nights. I definitely want to share South Luangwa and Victoria Falls with my sister-in-law and her husband, but then I think we will head over to Botswana for 6 nights. I am much more capable of getting great pricing in Southern Africa, even Botswana, than I am in getting good pricing in East Africa. So, I am nearly ready to recommit to my Feb/March (2006) Northern Circuit (Tanzania) and Zanzibar tour and then put a deposit on this itinerary for August (2006).

Westcliff, Joburg (1)
Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (4)
Matetsi Water Lodge, Matetsi Reserve halfway between Victoria Falls and Chobe (4) (4th night is free)
Kwando Lebala, Kwando (3)
Kwando Kwara Island, Kwando (3)
Westcliff, Joburg (1)

I will probably not force in a late August visit to Cape Town next year. I will be there next month from the 13th - 17th and even that is probably a bit too early.

Anyway, there are just too many places I want to go. Although I really want to see Kafue, I am not yet satisfied with my options (either Busanga Trails or Africa Experience).

So, this would be the perfect opportunity to get over to Botswana and experience the hardcore gameviewing and game drives for which Kwando is known. Mombo will still be around, as will Duba Plains and Savuti, but for such a short trip, I would prefer Kwando.

Here...I'll be a nerd like on the cruise forums and post my upcoming trips on the bottom.

9/2005 - Kasaka River Lodge (3), Chongwe River Camp (3), Luangwa River Lodge (3), Puku Ridge (3), Twelve Apostles (4), Simbambili (3) BOOKED & PAID

2/2006 & 3/2006 - Moivaro Coffee Lodge (3), Manyara Tree Camp (2), Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2), Olduvai Camp (1), Nomad Masek Camp (2), Nomad Piaya Camp (2), Mbuzi Mawe Camp (2), Emerson & Green (2), Palms Zanzibar (3) BOOKED W/ 25% DEPOSIT

8/2006 - Westcliff (1), Luangwa River Lodge (4), Matetsi Water Lodge (4), Kwando Lebala (3), Kwando Kwara Island (3), Westcliff (1) TO BE BOOKED NEXT MONTH

I had been committed to Makalolo but I was very surprised that Lin did not see lions. I thought that this would be the best place for them, but I think I will have equal opportunity lion viewing in South Luangwa and then the best game viewing in Kwando.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 11:47 AM
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Rocco, I'm definitely interested in the trip to Mahale, Katavi and Ruaha, but, and I forget the operators name, they require a fixed arrival at Mahale and Katavi and a set duration, whereas I prefer to be more flexible, even if it requires private charter. I'm pretty well committed on trips for the next year or so, but Gombe or Mahale and Selous are on my radar for 2007. My upcoming trips, not as detailed as yours:

Leaving TOMORROW for Ukraine (Kiev and Lviv) and Berlin

October -- long weekend trip to Churchill, Manitoba to see polar bears (with Tundra Buggy Adventures)

November -- London

December -- I'm considering either Myanmar or Laos, but I'm also considering Cyprus or Tunisia

April 2006 -- Mt. Rushmore and climb Devils Tower, Wyoming (this is a maybe, but I do like to get to a US national park and new state each year -- this July I visited Grand Canyon)

July 2006 -- Mana Pools (or maybe Hwange) and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

I like to use miles for Asia and Africa so I need to plan relatively far in advance.
thit_cho is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:01 PM
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Michael, bon voyage!
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,367
The reason that these high intensity spotlights are not flashed directly in the games eyes is that many believe that it effects their night vision and is disorienting to the animals. Noone is sure how long it effects various animals, but it maybe enough to say 'blind'or interfer with a lion's ability in locating a kill for many hours or the prey enough to become an easy target.
I was at a lodge in Kenya(the mid '80's) that had a resident pride of lions nearby. They would often take the opportunity to go for the kill when the spotter would shine its spotlight in the eyes of antelope. It was also the 1st time I ever saw a live goat put out as bait-evening ritual- to attract a leopard each evening while the guests drank sundowners.
luangwablondes is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 859
Did they actually let the leopard kill/eat the goat? This is just too much interference in my humble opinion. And just plain wrong.
cooncat is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 02:13 PM
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I saw them hang a dead goat as bait for leopards in Samburu in 2003, but the leopards didn't show. Sometimes interference is necessary because the parks are artificial in their boundaries. Waterholes, afterall, are "interference" and most don't find them objectionable.
thit_cho is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 02:16 PM
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I saw it at Serena Samburu, too.

And I know about at least one lodge in the Mara where they are doing the same.


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