KATAVI UPDATE – 2015 Season

KATAVI UPDATE – 2015 Season

The past season was one of ups and downs in Katavi as it was through most of Tanzania.
For various reasons tourism was down on average about 50% on previous years owing to several factors which included the scare of Ebola at the end of 2014 in West Africa. The Tanzanian Elections, which passed peacefully without any significant problems and the general malaise of the world economy.

In Katavi the year was marked by a change in animal distributions and unlike most years the great herds of buffalo made themselves scarce and hung around in areas devoid of road access, mainly in the NW of the Park. This also affected the sightings of lions, some of the traditional prides had to wander much further afield for their favourite food!
If lions were scarce for much of the dry season there were exceptional leopard sighting and a lucky few were privileged to see Cape Hunting Dogs a few times in the main game drive areas around the Katisunga.

Unfortunately the effect of poaching of elephants for their ivory was noticeable and in the more peripheral areas of the Park the effect of poaching gangs was evident in the behaviour of the normally relaxed herds. Also some of the larger ivory bearing elephant bulls have either fallen victim to the poacher’s bullets or have deserted their normally peaceful home ranges. The poachers were brazen enough to kill elephants close to the Ikuu Bridge and the ranger post only a few kilometres away.

Let us hope a much tougher line will be adopted by the new President and his Government to combat this epidemic that is threatening the elephant’s future survival!

The rainy season started early this season and heavy rains turned the bush a verdant green from early November. Over a month earlier than normal and with the greening of the floodplains the huge herds of buffalo and their attendant prides of lions returned to their normal rages. Also the seasonal congregations of large groups of elephant, sometimes 200 to 300 strong, were a regular sighting in the floodplains between Katisunga and Paradise. The absence of most of the large mature bulls was noticeable however.

Camp saw several of the bandas being upgraded to thatch rather than mkuti (palm frond panels) and this work will continue during the coming season, which we are all looking forward to!