Sand Rivers Selous

Life in the Selous Game Reserve

Hi. We live and work in the Selous Game Reserve, overlooking a wide bend in the Rufiji River. People from all over the world visit us, and tell us how lucky we are to live here. We're inclined to believe them.

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Sat, Aug 27, 2016

Baobab Tails

Since I have been in the Selous, I have been very privileged to experience what i have so far. This magical land never ceases to impress, and if you truly have a passion for Africa, there is no better place to be. I wake up every morning with a sense of excitement; that feeling you get when you know something incredible will happen but you aren't sure what. This is what the Selous Game Reserve does to you. It gets a hold of you and never lets go. 

This is the story of a young female Leopard called Tana, who, over the past 3 months has captured the hearts of our guides and many clients at Sand Rivers. I will be cataloguing her movements over the next few years, hoping to track down the extent to where her territory reaches and to bring you into the life of one of these secretive animals.

(Tana, relaxing in the noon day heat)

She is currently in an area called Tagalala Mwanzo (The beginning of Lake Tagalala).  This is in the same area where she was born and raised, and we often have sightings of her mother along the ridge to the west. We have seen her more often during this dry season and she has always hunted very close to water, when the animals are coming to drink. It will be much harder to track her in the rainy season when wildlife has spread out, that is why it is vital we get as much information now.

(An overview of the area in regards to where the lodge is. The red box representing where Tana currently is)

Clients were lucky enough to see her about 3 weeks ago take down a full grown male Impala. No easy task for any Leopard, especially impressive since Tana is still quite small. This gives us hope that she will become a remarkable mother and raise some incredible cubs over the next 7 - 10 years. 

(A close up of the red box. Here you can see her movements over the past 2 weeks. The bottom point is where she took down the male Impala, the top point is where she is now).

For the last 4 days we have seen her up a baobab tree with one of our resident males. They have been getting quite cosy in the top branches, and i believe Tana will soon be birthing her first litter. I can't wait to spend more time with her and hopefully she will allow us to get close to her cubs when they are born. 

(This is the male that Tana has been spending time with)

(White dashed lines represent wildlife paths to the lake)

The area where they are now is a prime location. The high and wide branches of the Baobab tree offer a comfortable place to rest during the day and it also gives them incredible views of Lake Tagalala just close by. From those branches they can see all the wildlife coming in to drink and pick and chose their meals as they please. 
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Fri, Jun 17, 2016

The Rufiji River

Boat trips are one of my favourite things to do while in the Selous and I can generally be found in some small corner of the river photographing birds, Crocodiles or Hippo. 
The water level is dropping dramatically at the moment and i think we may be heading into a very dry season. It has already dropped a few meters in the last week, exposing hidden sandbanks and creating more areas for wildlife to be. 

The view from Sand Rivers looking up river

A Croc in stealth mode

African Skimmers in flight. These incredible birds skim accros the water catching fish.

White fronted Bee-eaters dig nesting and roosting holes in the banks along rivers. Here they can be seen clinging to the edges socialising

A close up look

We are at the beginning of the dry season, so over the next few months this river is going to reduce to a 3-4 meter channel, with all the Hippo and Crocodiles congregating within. It should make for an interesting time! The river has so much to offer and every time you do a boat ride you will find something else you fall in love with. 

Tue, Jun 7, 2016

The River Horse!

The new season has started and every one is full is excitement for the upcoming months. 6 days have passed and boy has it been a fun week. The river is slowly drying out, exposing more sand in front of the lodge, and more hippo are beeing seen than in March. 

(Hippo relaxing on the sand bank in front of the dining area.)

At Sand Rivers, we are blessed to have large Hippo populations right in the river in front of us. They move between keeping cool in the water to resting on the sand banks. They are in the process of courting the females right now, and often pull each other into the water for a bit of fun!

(A male Hippo leads the way to the water with a female close behind.)

Although you see Hippo lay side by side in the water, they don't actually form social bonds, and when they leave the water at night, they feed individually. Travelling up to 10 kilometres at night if necessary.

(Hippo leaving the water and crossing the road at 20:00 to go and feed.)

Hippo are herbivores and primarily feed on grass, eating up to 60 kilograms of grass at night. Males and females each weigh over a ton, making them the 3rd largest land mammal behind the Elephant and the Rhino. 

(Another Hippo returns at about 02:00 with a full belly!)

I hope to shed more light onto the lives of some more of these incredible species in the weeks and months ahead. Keep posted for more of these night time images!

Fri, Mar 18, 2016

A great end to a great season!

I have only been here 3 weeks, but it has been a very exciting time indeed. Lion hunting Hippo in camp, Wild Dogs roaming the plains near Lake Tagalala, Fish eagles and Osprey catching fish in front of the lodge, and the ever so elegant Giraffe always present. The Selous is teaming with wildlife and i have experienced so much in such a short amount of time. 

I leave you with the highlights of my stay and i look forward to sharing more stories with you when the new season opens.

Wild Dog on the lookout

Black-winged Stilt feeding at Lake Tagalala

Hippo moving into deeper water during an early morning boat ride

Yellow-billed Stork searching for food

Giraffe, Fish Eagles and an Oxpecker

Egyptian Geese posing for the photo!

Bad hair day! Young male Impala with deformed horns

Gemma fishing for Tiger Fish

A Gecko eating a Dung Beetle Larvae

Common Waterbuck (The bachelors)

This 3 meter Croc moving into the water!

This Lioness has found a new chew toy!

See you all in a few months!

Tue, Mar 15, 2016

The Sand Rivers Pride

It has now been 3 weeks since I arrived at Sand Rivers and I am taking every opportunity I can to go into the bush. However, It will still take a bit of time to get to know the wildlife in this area - I don't mean what wildlife we have - I mean their personalities. Every animal is different based on past interactions with humans and some will allow you to get closer than others. 

I have seen the Sand Rivers Pride 3 times in the last 3 weeks, with the last viewing being 2 mornings ago as they were hunting Hippo in the camp. Each and every lion is different, and each one is more confident than another. On this occasion, we found them before Lake Tagalala, at the base of a ridge, watching Giraffe in the distance. You could tell they weren't too hungry, but if the opportunity to hunt arose, they would take it. 

One lion got quite inquisitive and decided to take a closer look at the car!

The perfect chew toy! At least we have 2 spare tyres!

Giving up on her new found toy, she decided to see where the others where.

A quick peek in the car, before scouting for the Giraffe again.

Hamadi, one of our guides, took this opportunity to turn the car around as he could sense their may be a hunt - Giving his client a perfect view.

This pride kept watching the Giraffe move closer and closer, so one of the Lionesses decided to take up her position at a nearby bush.

No such luck today though! With their incredible eyesight, the Giraffe spotted the lioness and slowly moved off. Not too phased by being seen, the pride kept relaxing in the same position until sunset. 

It was great to be able to spend so much time with this playful pride. We got to see so much of their character and how they live. It was very tense at times, when they were stalking, and you could feel it in the air. I look forward to getting to them over the next few months and years. We may need to get a new tyre cover though!


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