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Elephant at the bar


You were introduced last week by Rob to the troublesome teenager in Nkwali Camp – an elephant. This young bull started coming through camp months ago and it was not an issue. 

Elephant at the bar

Elephants often come through camp.  But the key word is “through”.  However he has now become somewhat of a resident and rather too familiar!  We need to be very careful walking around corners.  But the annoyance is being trapped.  I have missed afternoon tea a number of times as he is outside the office. Here is Ray – trapped!

The first time he walked INTO the bar was quite a moment.  Here is the story from the guest who experienced it.  “It was our first afternoon at Nkwali, in fact our first day ever in Africa when we had a very close encounter with an elephant!  Following lunch, we went to sun ourselves on the deck over the river.  After a while we heard a noise and an elephant appeared. We watched with excitement as he made his way closer to the bar, snacking from the trees. However, our excitement turned to a bit of anxiety as he came closer and closer.  We moved into the bar. By then we were feeling very nervous so we slowly started backing up toward the rooms.  As we did so, the elephant actually stepped up into the bar, knocking over a few chairs.  Not finding anything of interest, he turned around and walked down the deck stairs, then back down the riverbank. Quite a moment on our first day in Africa”

Well soon the ebony trees will stop fruiting and he will hopefully abandon camp.

On the Lundu Plain, just south of the Mupamadzi River where we operate our five day walking safaris, there is a humongous baobab tree. 

If I remember correctly it is 27 meters in circumference.  That is a big tree.  Like many large baobabs it is hollow but generally we avoid entering this splendid natural tree cave as there are huge bees’ nests in the tree.  Last year there were over fifteen.  As it happens Robin is allergic to bees and avoids them when possible.  However, this year there are only two hives and so recently he had his group leave camp at six, in the cold winter air, to get there before the bees woke up, or do they just warm up? Not much was going on in the hollow except it was home to a small colony of bats.  From inside, looking out through the entrance, they saw a herd of 16 roan antelope.  Seeing a roan is rare enough but not many people can say they spotted one whilst standing in a 27 meter round tree!  I am giving you four photos and hope you really get a feel for the size.

Whilst Robin was in Liuwa Plain they found a snake that he could not identify. 

Jalla’s sand snake

Being Robin he followed it up and sent the photo to some snake experts in South Africa.  Here is the answer we received.  A reminder that there are many species of snakes, insects, trees etc that are very hard to identify with 100% certainty.  There is much to be learnt about these wild places.

“Not 100% but fairly sure that this is Jalla’s sand snake (Psammophis jallae). It enters Zambia from the west and only been recorded in Western Province.  Seems too brightly marked for Psammophis subtaeniatus, the western stripe-bellied sand snake, but I could be wrong.  This genus is often confusing.”  Cape Reptile Institute.

Jo Pope’s monday newsletter provides a weekly bulletin from the Zambian bush. Sign up at http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/

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