Kafunta News

Updates from the Luangwa Valley

Winter safari

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Autumn has slipped into winter with cold mornings and evenings but beautiful warm sunny days.

On a recent game drive, we saw a leopard hunting in the late afternoon when it was still light. We watched him for about an hour as he crept along the gullies in the plain, stalking the antelope. Eventually the antelope gave the alarm call and he decided to wait until after dark and plan for a late supper. Leopards do not chase their prey like lions and cheetahs, they like to creep up and pop out of the thickets to take the animal by surprise. They may then drag it up a tree, so that the hyenas do not steal it.

We saw also saw elephants crossing the river. The mother and older sibling held the baby between them. The baby had to swim most of the way with only the trunk out of the water. Elephant families are fascinating. Young ones can be seen suckling until they are several years old.Young elephants stay with the mother and her female relatives. Often the babies stray from the group and get a really hard time from mamma to keep them in order. Teenage males live independently, often forming bachelor herds.

Older bull elephants are usually alone and can be aggressive, especially if they are in musth, when they are only interested in eating and mating. Elephants eat for about 22 out of every 24 hours. Frequently, they can be seen and heard crunching their way through the vegetation, eating everything including the branches of the trees. On the way back to Kafunta, we saw a pride of four young lions that had recently killed a zebra. They were so full they could hardly move.

They played for a little while, like huge kittens, and then fell fast asleep, stretched out under the stars, not a care in the world. On the way home through the National Park, we saw herds of Cape buffalo, recently arrived from the hills. On the track approaching the Lodge, we were fortunate to see a porcupine scurrying back into the bushes. Life, here at Kafunta River Lodge, continues to be a safari adventure.

By Jennifer Thomas

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