August 25, 2017

A Short battle for dominance of a dwindling water hole

Filed under: Savute Safari Lodge — Tags: , , , — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 1:51 pm

The below article is from Andrew Flatt, our Desert & Delta Safaris Marketing Executive, from his recent visit to Savute Safari Lodge. 

I recently spent some time at the beautiful Savute Safari Lodge in the Southern region of the Chobe National Park, as explained by my cool-guy African safari guide Baba, and enjoyed one of my best elephant interactions to date.

On my first game drive on the afternoon I arrived, Baba took us to one of the watering holes to see what would come down for a drink. He explained how during this time of year the water was drying up and watering holes became less and smaller by the day. This meant the remaining ones had to be shared, much to all the animals’ disapproval.

Elephants in the Savute region of Botswana

Two lone bull elephants at the waterhole in Savute

As we sat watching what Baba explained was a bunch of Lone bull elephant’s that had all come down separately to drink, something interesting happened. One bull, an old elephant, did not like the idea of sharing with another approaching, thirsty lone bull. They met at the water’s edge, standing a few metres apart, clearly sizing each other up. The new male slowly advanced and the old boy retreated slightly until they were both standing in the water. After a minute or two of staring each other down, in an instant, they both lunged forward at each other and a colossal, but short lived battle ensued. They clattered and banged, trumpeting and splashing water everywhere! And after 20 or so seconds, they stopped, paused for a second and slowly backed away from each other. Interestingly, they then shared the water hole giving each other enough space to drink.

Elephant bulls fighting in the Savuti region of the Chobe National Park in Botswana

The two bulls sizing each other up

Elephants fighting for dominance Botswana's Savuti Region

Lunging forward in an instant just before making contact

Bull elephant in the Savute region of the Chobe National Park with Savute Safari Lodge

Heads and tusks clashing as they make impact

Fighting elephants in the Savute region in Botswana

Hard clash as the two bulls make contact with each other

It all happened so fast and was such an interesting experience! But I couldn’t quite understand it? So I posed the question to Baba, “What was that?!?” He gave a hearty laugh before explaining;

“In the dry season, the water scarcity causes a lot of movement for the wildlife. The elephant’s are forced to start congregating around the water that is still available. Ordinarily, these animals would choose to avoid this as safety is priority one for most of them.

While elephant’s are very social animals, the older bulls that have been kicked out of the breeding herds tend to wander alone. This obviously leaves them slightly vulnerable and thus they are normally a bit on edge and alert.”

Baba really has a way with understanding and making guests understand.

It turns out, this meeting of two giants was not an act of hatred or anything of the sort. It was a battle of dominance over a scarce resource. We as humans sure know about that! The reason they backed off and happily shared the water, Baba explained, was because there had been a winner, maybe not an out and out winner, but one of the bulls had decided, this isn’t worth getting hurt for, and had backed down to just enjoy the water that would quench his mighty thirst.

This was not the only battle of bulls we saw, but it was definitely the most dramatic! A very interesting afternoon spent by the watering hole!

For more information on the incredible experiences on offer in the Savute Region of the Chobe National Park visit the SAVUTE REGION on our website. You can also read more on SAVUTE SAFARI LODGE as the perfect stay for your Savute safari.

Article and photos by Andrew Flatt

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January 4, 2017

Savute Marsh Pride Hunting Elephant

Filed under: Savute Safari Lodge — Tags: , — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 11:37 am

Savute has once again lived up to its reputation as one of Botswana’s top game viewing destinations with a sighting of a lifetime.

Chris Swindal, who spent several nights with us at Savute Safari Lodge, shared his fascinating experience that unfolded during his stay in the Savute region of the Chobe National Park. Thanks to Chris for sharing your memories and stunning images with us.

“On my first night at Savute Safari Lodge, just as we were sitting down for dinner, someone yelled out, “there’s a lion!”. Sure enough, a lioness was walking out of the bushes on the other side of the waterhole that the camp looks over. She walked down to the waterhole for a drink. Then there was a second, then a third. Then it was six…. and finally twelve lions! They all lined up at the waterhole to drink while we watched from the dinner tables!

Savute Marsh Pride in Savute with Savute Safari Lodge

the Marsh Pride drinking at the waterhole in front of camp just as we were sitting down for dinner.

Later that night, I was woken up (as was the entire camp), but lions roaring and elephants blaring and trumpeting. It lasted for a good thirty minutes before it quietened down. It was clear that at the very least, the lions were chasing elephants in the dry riverbed right next to camp. The next morning at breakfast, everyone was talking about the noises from the previous evening, and guessing at what was happening.

As we left for the morning game drive, we didn’t even make five minutes from camp before we came across the lion pride again. It was the same pride from the previous evening, the Marsh Pride, but now they were joined by two big males. And we suddenly saw what the commotion during the night was about. They had killed one of the elephants. We sat with and watched the pride for the rest of the day as they alternated between feeding on their kill, napping, and interacting with one another. We did the same thing the next day.

Savute Marsh Pride cup on an elephant kill in Savute

A Marsh Pride cub sitting atop their elephant kill.

marsh pride on a kill near Savute Safari Lodge

A bloody faced Marsh Pride cub sitting atop their elephant kill.

Savute Marsh Pride on an elephant kill near Savute Safari Lodge

Another Marsh Pride cub walks by their elephant kill after feeding again.

Male and cub on elephant kill in Savute in the Chobe National Park

A Marsh Pride cub with a male as they sat near their elephant kill in Northern Pride territory.

We learned that the Marsh Pride had killed this elephant outside of their territory; they were actually in the Northern Pride’s territory now. The lions stayed with their kill until we happened to be buzzed by a helicopter from the Botswana Defense Force, at which point the lion cubs panicked, and made a run back toward their home territory, followed right behind by three of the lionesses.

Savute Marsh pride cubs in the Savute region near Savute Safari Lodge

Marsh Pride cubs playing as the lionesses sit nearby.

Playful lion cubs in Botswana's Savute region

Marsh Pride cubs playing together.

I also wanted to check on Northern Pride. During my next-to-last day at Savute Safari Lodge, we learned from the other guides and the guys from the Natural History Film Unit, that the Marsh Pride males had attacked the Northern Pride. We were told that there should be 8 cubs in the Northern Pride, but the film crew guys saw one of the Marsh Pride males with a bloody face, and two of the Northern Pride lionesses who should have cubs with them, but there was no sign of the cubs. They were not sure if the bloody face on the Marsh Pride male was from feeding on the elephant, or from having killed the Northern Pride cubs. They also said that later on, they found one of the Northern Pride cubs all by itself wandering around calling to the lionesses, but there were none in sight; the Northern Pride had been scattered by the attack. As the guides were telling the story, the camp staff was aghast and extremely worried about the Northern Pride cubs.”

Story and photos by Chris Swindal.

Thanks again to Chris for sharing his experience with us. Read more about the Savute Region and Savute Safari Lodge on our website by following the links.

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July 18, 2016

Lion Pride Attack A Lone Buffalo

Filed under: Savute Safari Lodge — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 6:02 pm

If you have been on safari to Savute Safari Lodge you may have been fortunate to see the Savute Marsh Pride. They are a formidable pride of lion who have reigned over the Savute Marsh and surrounding areas for some time now. The are renowned for their remarkable ability to hunt large prey such as buffalo as well as elephant from time to time. To fully appreciate the strength and nature of Savute’s lion we recommend you watch the documentary Africa’s Giant Killers by local cinematographer Brad Bestelink of Natural History Film Unit.

On a recent afternoon game drive, Obed and his guests witnessed the power and determination of the Marsh Pride as a lone bull buffalo unexpectedly stumbled onto them. Here is what Obed had to say about the sighting:

Whilst we were out enjoying our sunset drinks, we spotted a lone buffalo bull moving towards the lion we had seen earlier in the afternoon. Unaware of their presence the buffalo walked straight into the middle of the pride as they lay patiently waiting.

Once close enough the large male attacked the buffalo by climbing onto its back. In an attempt to get the male lion off its back the buffalo immediately ran into a nearby pool of water but the lion managed to hang on. With the weight of the lion on its back the buffalo was unable to run and the rest of the pride began attacking it. The buffalo desperately defended itself against the pride and put up a brave fight for over 10 minutes but the pride proved to strong and persistent for the buffalo. It eventually collapsed under the weight of the large male who remained on its back and the rest of the pride closed in on the kill

With the fading light filming and photography was difficult but Obed did manage to capture the entire event on his video camera. The clip is dark but you are able to clearly see the attack as it unfolds. Note how the lion only attack the buffalo from behind to avoid its horns while the buffalo constantly turns in circles to try fend them off. Taking down a big male buffalo like this is not an easy task but this lion pride have a lot of experience and know exactly how to go about it.


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June 23, 2016

Returning As A Guest To Savute Safari Lodge

Filed under: Savute Safari Lodge — Tags: — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 11:54 am

This is a guest post by Maria Henson in the USA who recently revisited Savute Safari Lodge.You can follow her twitter at @MARIAHENSON

Savute Safari Lodge has special memories for me because it was my first lodge assignment as a volunteer for Desert & Delta Safaris when I took a sabbatical from my job in 2008.

Imagine how it was to find the words written with leaves and seeds on my bed’s duvet in chalet No. 5: “Feel at home.”

Did I ever. Within a few minutes a herd of elephants emerged from the bush, ambling toward the water hole outside my room. I counted 30, plus three kudu. Babies were among them. The occasional trumpeting sound filled the air. I could only count my blessings along with the jostling elephants as I watched from my deck.

A waitress whose name means compassion told me she had been at the lodge 11 months and had never seen so many elephants arrive at once. “They are your welcoming committee,” she said.

I’ve no doubt all of us guests felt that way.

We all had excellent game drives, with sightings of wildebeests, kudu, giraffes, ground hornbills, elephants, warthogs, impala and lilac-breasted rollers.

For me to have just one night in Savute was painfully brief, but I savored the chance to see guides and staff who were my friends and lodge managers Setch and Lucky. (Setch and I were still laughing at the mistakes this American made in talking on the radio and figuring out what strange-sounding vegetables I was supposed to set aside in the mornings for the chef. I had not encountered a pattypan or a baby marrow by name before those days.)

Setch and Lucky at Savute Safari Lodge

Setch and Lucky at Savute Safari Lodge

I also saw Score, the 66-year-old bar man who has shown quiet, personalised attention to guests for more than 16 years at Savute Safari Lodge. When I first met him in 2008,, he was preparing to go on time off. Where will you go? To the cattle post. My big faux pas occurred when I asked, “How many cattle do you have, Mr. Score?” To which he replied, firmly, “Mma Pula, you never ask a man how many cattle he has. It is like asking how much money is in his bank account.”

On this day of my return, he greets me.  “How long you stay, Mma Pula? Weeks? Four nights?”

He referred to me by the name I was gifted in 2008 by Botswana people who said I brought the blessing of plentiful rain. Pula, among several definitions, means rain here, precious and anticipated.

“Ah, Mr. Score, I am here only one night.”

“No. No,” he said. “You have broken my heart.” He clutched his chest –- in authentic disappointment — before giving me a long hug.

I felt the same way, feeling the tears well up. Once you come under the spell of Savute and its people, you are forever linked to this place. You will always feel at home.

Score at Savute Safari Lodge

Mr Score the barman at Savute Safari Lodge

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February 4, 2016

The Elephants of Savute

Filed under: Savute Safari Lodge — Tags: , , , — Stuart Parker @ 9:14 am

Elephants are one of my favourite animals to photograph, especially when they are in a large herd and interacting around a waterhole. I can sit for hours observing how they interact with one another. They are gracious creatures and their family structures are complex, often beyond our understanding.

The Savute Safari Lodge deck is one of my best spots for photographing elephants. With the waterhole and Savute Channel in front of the lodge, the area is a hive of elephant activity, especially in the dry season. I can sit for hours on that deck taking pictures as they make their way down to the waters edge to drink.

I am fortunate to have been to Savute Safari Lodge several times. Below are some of my favourite elephant photos taken from the lodges deck overlooking the Savute Channel.

Bull elephant in Savute in Botswana from Savute Safari Lodge

Old bull elephant making his way down for a drink

Young elephant rushing down to the water

Young elephant rushing down to the water

Elephant in the Chobe National Park in Savute

Walking down the dry Savute channel

With the deck facing the setting sun, the opportunities to capture intense sunsets and silhouettes are endless. On one of my visits we spent the afternoon at the lodge instead of going out on a game drive to photograph the sunset from the deck. The elephants continued to come down to the waterhole as the sun disappeared behind the horizon. With the deep red sky and dust in the air from all the movement, the silhouettes were spectacular.

Elephant at sunset in Savute, Botswana

A young elephant in the late afternoon kicking up dust

Sunset from Savute Safari Lodge with the elephants

Calming walking in front of the setting sun

Elephant sunset in Savute with Savute Safari Lodge

Young boisterous elephant kicking up dust

Elephant silhouette from Savute Safari Lodge

Elephant silhouette in the late afternoon

The below image is perhaps one of my favourites. I took this with the camera on a tripod as the sun had gone below the horizon and there wasn’t much light. Standing on the deck we could hear the elephants rumbling as they hung around at the waterhole.

Elephant herd in front of Savute Safari Lodge in Botswana

Elephants at the waterhole in the late afternoon

For more information visit Savute Safari Lodge on our website. You can also follow the link to read more about the Savute region. 

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