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It's Green Season in Hwange National Park

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14 February 2019

Hwange in the green season is, quite simply, a delight. The tall grass, with fat seed heads, waves in the breeze, trees are in full leaf, and many wild flowers including spectacular red flame lilies, Gloriosa superba, provide splashes of jewel-like colour in the undergrowth. Water is plentiful and there is an air of content serenity across the plains.

The rains so far have been somewhat patchy and sporadic. A destructive storm early in the season caused some damage along parts of Kennedy vlei, the wind blowing off three of the solar panels of the K1 solar unit. Fortunately, only one panel was broken, and thanks to immediate action from Gary, the unit was quickly repaired. Often clouds have built up through the day affording glorious vistas of towering thunderheads only to blow away on the evening breeze. But the vegetation has recovered well, and the bush is thick. The Mabuya Mabema loop road that comes out at White Hills has been worst hit by lack of rain, and although the pumped pans hold some water, natural pans that should be full have been dry until now.

Most of the elephants tend to head down to the south of the park in numbers as soon as the first rains arrive, but some breeding herds have remained around the Main Camp, Kennedy, Ngweshla and Wilderness areas. And of course, the usual resident, statesmen with their mannerly charm are often to be seen around and about.

Lions have been frequenting the Main Camp area, recently Gary was witness to one of the Chizarira boys taking down a buffalo not far from Nyamandhlovu pan. This is welcome news, as it has been the lions tendency to leave the safety of the park and cause havoc in the outlying communities by preying on livestock.

Painted dogs too have been seen taking advantage of the
young impala lambs and newborn wildebeest as their main source of prey. Kudu, impala, waterbuck, roan and sable antelope are glossy and fat with many joyously energetic youngsters afoot. Big groups of giraffes can be seen stripping succulent leaves off acacia and combretum trees and sounders of warthogs boast litters of cute, mini hoglets. Zebra and wildebeest dot the plains, tails swishing, heads down, intent on making the most of the rich, green grass.

The birdlife is prolific with the migrants back in numbers. European and carmine bee-eaters, lesser-spotted eagles, yellow-billed and black kites galore, flycatchers, cuckoos, groups of Amur falcons, broad-billed and European rollers as well as many small waders are just a few of the summer visitors, while the usual plethora of raptors, sunbirds, waxbills, babblers, shrikes, storks, ducks and geese enjoy the summer bounty. A rare Denham's bustard has been seen strutting all around Mbiza Pan.

Sadly, Edmore Ngosi who has been the area manager at Main Camp for the past few years is being transferred to Kariba. We have enjoyed a good working relationship with Edmore and wish him all the best in his new posting.

We extend sincere gratitude to all of our faithful donors, in particular Richard Vaughan who raised substantial sponsorship to walk 32km with a thirty kilogram pack on his back. He selected five worthy causes and divided the spoils between them, Friends of Hwange being one of them. Thanks to Richard, his sponsors and supporters for such a sterling effort on our behalf.

We end with the uplifting news of a good soaking at Main Camp during the past week. Hopefully rain will continue and fill up all the natural pans, dips and hollows. As things stand this year, the solar powered pumps seem set to be well and truly tested in the dry months ahead.

Source: Friends of Hwange Trust - Hwange Green Season Update

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