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A unique bush experience

A unique bush experience

A unique bush experience
CHARLES BRIGHTMAN

WEZ CORRESONDENT

Many folk have clocked many years of participating in the annual Hwange game count. As to why do they do this, the answer is simply that game counting gets in your blood!

The Matabeleland Branch of Wildlife & Environment Zimbabwe concluded a very successful 24 hour count over the full moon period, 18-19 September last year, with 266 participants, including a good number coming from America, Canada, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Cyprus, Australia, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. They have all intimated that they wish to do the count again, and we have had a lot of new requests too.

In total, 85 teams were deployed throughout the Park for the 24 hour period. Unfortunately we cannot boast of counting every creature great and small, as large areas of Hwange, for example the middle and southern end, are inaccessible by road. We regard our count as a general overview of the animals and birdlife recorded at each water point we are able to reach, in other words, a static pan count. However, counting as we have in Hwange for many years, trends begin to show, with the experts appreciating the data we provide. In 2013, a total of 35,332 animals were recorded, including 44 species.

A family of wild dog, including seven pups, was recorded at TshebeTshebe pan, with many people getting the opportunity to see them up close. Cheetah sightings are relatively rare, but seven were recorded last year. A pride of 22 lion was recorded at Masuma Dam, including 14 young, quite a sight, with a lot of calling and disruption at the pan.

The number of elephant recorded was 20,373, representing 58% of the total number of animals recorded, with this number only having been exceeded twice in all our years of counting. There was considerable crowding by elephant at some pans, particularly in the Main Camp area, thus preventing some animals from drinking.

A total number of 197 bird species was recording during the count, with a welcome number of ground hornbills and ostriches, which strangely enough were only seen in the Main Camp area.

A good variety of eagles was recorded, including bateleur, martial and African fish eagle. Giant eagle owl were recorded at four water holes. An interesting sighting at Caterpillar Pan was a white-backed vulture bearing yellow wing tags; which is surprising as vulture tagging is being done across our borders in South Africa.

If you want to participate in the 2014 Hwange game count contact pbirch@yoafrica.com

Read more articles from this issue:
Main menu (Issue 16, March 2014)
Full contents listing
Birds & Birding

More from the Zambezi Traveller:
Hwange Destination Profile
Hwange News