News from the camps - January 2023

Mdonya Old River - Ruaha National Park Tanzania - January 2023

It is a shocking green, not mild nor soft green. It is a green that hurts the eyes. It has absorbed all the light of the sun of Africa and reflects it to send a strong and clear message: Life!

January in Ruaha has been a mixture of sun and rain, perfect condition for the vegetation to grow non-stop. Grass has reached an already important height where the shortest animals disappear in it making the search for them more interesting.
Some grass species have already stopped growing and have started the production of inflorescences and seeds which are at the base of a long food chain in this rich ecosystem. Among the many species that feeds on grass flowers and grains we find the vervet monkeys standing on their hind legs to be able to feed on the grass and at the same time to check the surrounding.

Other grass species will continue to grow until April, to the point that in some part of mdonya area they will reach 4 meters of height, for the happiness of our elephants.

Elephants in camp are assisting Taiko, Keke and Elya, the 3 Maasai in camp, to keep the grass short along the paths for safety reasons. While most of the adult elephants are roaming the park and rarely seen in the camp, the young ones are still in the area. We have seen the two Jino moja (a certain day we shall give them two different names, for now they are sharing the same name, which means one tooth, one tusk), Sikio Mbovu Ndogo, Dining (weird name we know but it was due to the fact he was always going close to the dining tent) and others.

The Combretum obovatum bushes, the spiny combretum, are in flower now and butterflies and more are contributing to create the special atmosphere in camp.

Vervet monkeys have been seen feeding on the mushrooms growing from a termite mound in front of the dining. The Termytomyces microcarpus mushrooms are one of those mushrooms which live in symbiosis with termites. Like in other symbiotic relationships, and in this case both species, termites and mushrooms, benefit from each other’s presence, to the extent that it seems proven that termites purposefully collect fungi spores from outside the mound to bring them inside. It is called insect fungal cultivation. Inside the termite mound the fungi find the perfect conditions of heat and humidity to grow and in turn the termites feed on this fungi (to be exact a mixture of fungi spores and substrate is elaborated by workers to produce combs, combs are left to rest and then eaten by the termites). When fungi are ready, they will grow to reach the surface of the mound and once there, will grow the cap from where the new spores are released. In Mdonya we witnessed how the vervet monkeys have a sweet tooth for these mushrooms. They were able to pick them one by one, millions of tiny mushrooms in development, with nothing left behind. For this season no new spores of the fungi are released for the termite mound in front of the dining tent. Tomorrow is another day…

Thanks to Ayoub Yaledi Nyang’ango for his pictures.
We hope to see you soon.
Mdonya Old River Camp Team

Lake Manze - Nyerere National Park Tanzania - January 2023

It has become a green wonderland with an abundance of new life all over.
Very large mushrooms have sprouted up out of nowhere and are the size of a person’s hand as they stand out above the greenery. Hairy worms with blue heads and a cute yellow nose were seen eating away on the green leaves. What will they become? A Large Orb spider that we had to remove from the kitchen to a safer haven. It is amazing what the rain brings out of nature.

Having to stop the vehicle and coax a chameleon to move back into the bush, you need the patience of a saint. Slowly but surely it got the message and moved on.

Seeing Elephants after a mud bath changes their whole appearance but this mud is needed as it protects it from the sun and cools them down.

The wild dogs are back and close to camp. We had an impala run past the dining at full speed. Unfortunately, the dog behind the Impala saw our presence and made a hasty retreat. Sorry guys the action happened so quickly we could not get the shot.

The first month of 2023 has rushed past us but our sightings have been awesome with a massive amount of birdlife around the camp and the lake.

Not long before this season comes to an end, but we hope that you guys have started planning your next trip. They say if the safari bug has bitten there is a desire to return just to satisfy that urge.

Safe travels.
Shaun, Milli and the Lake Manze Camp team


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