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Wild dogs and Lebala (w/video clips)

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Aug 3rd, 2008, 05:28 PM
  #1
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Wild dogs and Lebala (w/video clips)

Just back from 5 nights at Lebala plus a few more at Savuti.

The highlight at Lebala, by far, was the wild dogs. The Lebala pack numbers 7 adults, including an alpha male and alpha female. They all seem healthy and in good shape.

We were especially lucky to also see the Lagoon pack, which was denning with its 15 or so puppies, all from the same mother. Absolutely awesome, and they, too, seemed very healthy. The puppies are now 7 weeks old, so some of the greatest dangers to their well-being has passed.

It will take me a while to get photos up on the web, but I do have a couple of video clips.
The first one is the pack from Lebala, and this is their afternoon “meet and greet” session. Before the evening hunt, the dogs go through a ritual where they will cavort with each other, jump up and down, and generally resemble a bunch of schoolboys playing and wrestling. The second video is of the puppies. The third video comes with a caution: the video was taken just a few minutes after one of the dogs had taken down a steenbok, and some of the images could make some people uncomfortable. Consider yourselves warned.

http://vimeo.com/1460950 -- meet and greet
http://vimeo.com/1461114 -- puppies
http://vimeo.com/1461153 -- steenbok for dinner

(Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out either how to do any video editing or how to get real HD in the files I upload to Vimeo.)

The water levels in northern Botswana are incredibly high this year, due to the abnormal rains earlier in the year in Angola. This has led to lots of interesting phenomena – for example, parts of the Savuti Channel are seeing water for the first time in more than 20 years. This has generally made it more challenging to find game, as there are many more watering holes than would usually be the case in late July/early August.

The new tents are in place at Lebala, and they bear only a passing resemblance to the old ones. The canvas is gone, replaced by full-length screening and a hard-sided roof. You enter the tent by a sliding screen door – no more zipping and unzipping tent flaps. The tents still have a veranda that looks out onto the plain. The toilet/washing area offers more privacy than did the old tents, and the outdoor shower area now has space for two people to shower. The tents have 24-hr electricity, which simplifies battery recharging. It’s certainly less rustic than before, and each person will have to decide whether the changes are overall for the better or worse.

I don’t have enough energy right now for a real trip report; this will have to do for the moment.
DonTopaz is offline  
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Aug 3rd, 2008, 07:28 PM
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Hi Rizzuto,

Welcome back!!! You certainly had some great viewing. Thanks for your quick update. So, the Selinda pack (pack of 7) are yet to den? Did Spencer mention if they are close to doing so, or if any of the guides have seen them trying to look for den sites?

Relax, rest-up and can't wait to see more!!!! including highlights of all the gameviewing from both of the concessions.

Regards
Hari
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Aug 3rd, 2008, 07:29 PM
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PS: Did you make it out to Twin Pools area on a few drives? I.e., close to the Selinda boundary?
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Aug 3rd, 2008, 09:46 PM
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sniktawk
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After all of the bad news earlier yesterday this makes for a very nice early morning.

I am just so sorry we will not be there again until Christmas.

At least the tents are no longer torn (this is a joke!), and appear from your description to be as promised in the plans.
 
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Aug 3rd, 2008, 11:32 PM
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Thanks Rizzuto, great to see the two packs, especially the young pups!

I'll look forward to your photos and report.
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Aug 4th, 2008, 01:38 AM
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Hari, the Selinda pack has not yet denned. One of the females got separated from the pack one morning (and later reunited), but it wasn't clear if she was looking for a spot to den. Spencer thought that the Lagoon pack was getting ready to move to another den site, as their current one is likely becoming unsuitable.

Did not go to the Twin Pools area as such. However, the Lebala airstrip is not usable because of the flood, so made the long drive between Lebala and Selinda to travel between camp and an airstrip.

For those planning on going to Lebala in the near-term, plan on a 2- or 2.5-hour drive between camp and the airstrip, with much of that drive on Selinda property and thus unavailable for off-road travel. Realistically, this means that most people miss much of the afternoon drive on their arrival day and much of the morning drive on their departure day. Very bad news for anyone who only books 2 nights, and also very inconvenient for the Lebala staff.

BTW, Lebala also has a new fleet of vehicles since my previous visit in Aug '06. The new vehicles are 6-seaters, with 2 rows of 3 seats. On several occasions I saw the vehicles with a full complement of 6 -- not exactly an ideal situation, esp if you get a middle seat.
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Aug 4th, 2008, 02:16 AM
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Thanks for the info! I can't wait to be on safari ......
HariS is offline  
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Aug 4th, 2008, 05:21 AM
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Thanks for the videos.

Very interesting that the dog feeding on the steenbok not only seems very comfortable around the vehicle, but brought its part of the kill closer to the vehicle.
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Aug 4th, 2008, 06:31 AM
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skimmer
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Thanks for the update on the dogs. Unfortunately, I won't be there this year.

Did you see the Selinda pride while there or where they most of the time at the Selinda side? The last couple of years the Selinda pack wasn't seen much or not at all during these months at Lebala.


Best regards,

Johan



 
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