“My name is Ngakaemang but in the tourism industry I am known as Doctor which is a translation of my name in English. I was born in the Pan handle of the Okavango Delta in a small village called Gunotsoga. I started working in the safari industry as a waiter in 1996 but I always had that drive of self development so I obtained my guides licence three years later. I started working for Ker and Downey Botswana in 2015. The passion of working with nature, my love of people and the pride I have for my country has motivated me to continue pursuing my career in the tourism industry”
Doctor is one of the guides at Kanana and for those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting him, you will know that he is an extremely knowledgeable guide and all round fascinating individual, guests are guaranteed a laugh a minute on a boat trip or game drive guided by Doctor. He describes himself as a carnivore so his favourite item on the menu is the traditional Botswana beef dish of Seswaa.
In this discussion Doctor touches on two pertinent topics which he feels are key to the Kanana experience at the moment; The Heronry and The Eastern Pride.
“Birds are a very important part of our Eco system and we are lucky enough to have one of the biggest Heronrys in Southern Africa at Kanana”
“It is important to see the different species of storks nesting alongside the Pink-backed Pelicans at the heronry”
“Stalks,believe it or not, are descendants of Vultures. Marabou stalks have remained the most similar to the vulture; you can see that it does not have feathers around its head and it is also a scavenger, feeding on carcasses and scraps. When the water recedes before the floods, there will be lots of pools and pans drying up, the stalks and pelicans will eat these dying fish and as a result remove any rot or bad smells from the water.”
What have you noticed about the heronry this year?
“There has been a dramatic multiplication of Yellow billed storks and African Openbill storks, thousands of Openbill stalks can be seen currently, making them the dominant species at the Heronry as we speak”
“The Heronry is my favourite part of Kanana, the birdlife and the scenery is amazing – it is a very tranquil and peaceful setting”
The Eastern Pride
“There is a lot of action at the moment in terms of Lion activity. There are two male lions who we call The Eastern Pride, they used to roam around the Western side of the concession but recently they have changed territory and now occupy the east of the concession, not too far from camp”
“These males found a female with three cubs who were not from their gene pool, they killed two cubs and have left a third unharmed. These males have now been accepted in the area and have been seen mating with the resident female, hopefully this means more cubs in 2017”
What do you want the world to know about Kanana and Botswana?
“I would like to share this with the whole world, who ever is reading, I hope that it reaches them. I love Botswana, It is the most peaceful country, it’s politically stable and the people are so friendly. If you meet a Motswana you know you will have a great time. I want people to experience one of the last areas of wilderness left in Africa”
The pink-backed pelican is one of our resident water birds we find at the Kanana Heronry amongst others such as the Marabou Stalk, African Open Bill, Yellow-Billed Storks, Goliath Heron, Rufus-bellied Heron, Black-Crowned Night Heron, African Darters and Little Egrets.
The pink-backed pelican is found in a range of aquatic habitats, but prefers quiet backwaters with shallow water, avoiding steep, vegetated banks making the Heronry the perfect habitat for this species.One will find them Nesting in trees very close together,these nests are used every year until the tree collapses. The nest is a large group of sticks of sticks and at the Heronry, these nests are found mainly in the Gomoti Fig trees.
Birding experts, Mark Muller and Alison Flatt, visited the heronry recently to document the breeding patterns of the Pelicans and the other resident birds that inhabit the heronry, they came out with astounding findings and images on the Pink-backed Pelicans drinking.
See below for the series of shots taken by Mark of the Pink-backed Pelican Drinking on the wing, “Where there is a nice open stretch of water they will pick up water on the wing – a process that I have documented in the series of pictures, you will see how, once they regain their stability they lift their heads up high to swallow the water they have picked up” Mark Muller
Information and images: Mark Muller & Alison Flatt
Bojus and Tebby are part of the team that contribute to making Ker & Downey Botswana's Okuti the friendly, delightful camp that it is.
Kewame Moabi, known as Bujos when he is in the bush, was born and raised in Maun. He was born into the tourism industry as both his parents were camp managers in the Okavango Delta which is where they met and had Bujos so he is certainly a “product of the industry”. Bujos worked for a few camps before joining Okuti and he built himself up from the bottom to where he finds himself now which he believes puts him in a better position of running a high profile camp like Okuti.
Tebby was born and raised in the south western part of Botswana in the Kgalagadi region. Before she joined Okuti she used to work in the capital city of Botswana, Gaborone, in a fitness centre until she decided that life was just too fast, busy and demanding in the city. Her bubbly personality, beaming smile and happy disposition make her a perfect fit to manage Okuti alongside Bujos.
Having both worked at Okuti for a long time, Bujos and Tebby have many stories to tell. They love to interact with guests at meal times especially as Tebby says “It’s great to sit down with guests from different walks of life but we love it when the guests have a sense of humour, “She mentioned a time when they sat for lunch; “I remember one of the guests was asking how we name our children in the Botswana culture, the guide at the table mentioned that we name our children after a situation that is happening at that time. The guest said he would call his child Tsunami as at the time there was an outbreak of tsunamis in their country of residence”
Bujos takes pride in the menu at Okuti as he believes that it is a variety of international cuisine from different cultures and he agrees with Tebby that the favourite item on the menu among guests is the traditional Motswana meal of Seswaa and Pap. Seswaa is tender beef that is cooked for hours and shredded with a variety of traditional spices; it is served hot with pap which is a maize dish popular in African cuisine. Bujos is convinced that he has some Italian in him as his meal time favourites are Melanzane Parmigiana and lasange.
When Bujos and Tebby were asked what they love most about Okuti, their replies were:
“Okuti is a place of beautiful people and it has the best choir in the world. If you come to the bush and you leave without visiting Okuti then there is something missing from your safari. The structures of the Massasas (tents) are so unique and different, it is a combination of canvas and the traditional Motswana wall and the roof is made from reeds – they are so spacious” Bujos
“The team spirit that shines out of the camp, reflects onto the guests and they often say how they have travelled to other camps and the synergy at Okuti is unlike any where else” Tebby
Last weekend the lovely people of Botswana joined together in celebrating the 50th independence anniversary of the country. A truly remarkable milestone achieved through perseverance, pride and team work. The Ker and Downey Botswana camp’s created their own programs as to how they thought the day should be celebrated and these celebrations that took place were a true microcosm of the pride and joy that the country was reflecting as a whole
Okuti decorated the entire verandah area after dinner so that when guests arrived for breakfast they were surprised to see that camp had been transformed into the colors of the Botswana Flag, as Bujos the Okuti Camp Manager said “When the guests saw this they knew they were in for a great day”. The day carried on as normal until high tea when the team set out the tables and chairs under the trees and gave the guests a brief explanation about the history of Botswana and the Okavango Delta.
Tswii and Samp was on the menu for dinner at Shinde, Tswii is a dish made from grilled water lily stems and cuts of tender beef. This is served alongside samp which is a type of grain popular in many traditional African dishes. Dessert in all the camps was the famous vanilla sponge cake decorated with blue, black and white icing.
After the cutting of the cake took place, all of the camps put on a show which involved traditional singing and dancing and most of the guests joined in, a truly happy end to a special day in the history of Botswana.
The large male Sitatunga lifted his head, laying his long spiral shaped horns down along his back and watched the aircraft turning onto finals as we approached to land at the Kanana airstrip. We were on our way to carry out a survey of the Kanana Heronry that lies within Ker & Downey Botswana's concession in the Okavango Delta. It was a great start to a really lovely trip.
After lunch in the beautifully sited & well-shaded camp we jumped into a boat & made our way leisurely up the lovely clear papyrus & reed-lined channels leading to the heronry. We motored slowly past a small school of hippo that lay quietly & unconcernedly watching the boat and a short distance past the Hippo we stopped to watch a a small breeding herd of Elephant come down to drink. Further up, we watched several Giraffe feeding while surrounded by a large herd of Lechwe that were grazing out in a beautifully green meadow of grass. These sightings were quickly followed by a wonderful close up sighting of a family group of Sitatunga feeding in the Papyrus & reeds right next to the channel.
All to quickly we arrived at the Heronry to find that the only birds that had moved in to breed were Pink-backed Pelicans. We motored slowly around the breeding islands to see if anything else was hidden away in the dense stands of Gomoti figs that the birds breed in. A large flock of Black-crowned Night Herons flushed out of one clump of figs and a small group of White-backed Duck with four small ducklings swam away as we approached them, it was a truly idyllic setting.
In the late evening we made our way slowly home, watching the sunset in a glorious array of colours.
Early the next morning we once again made our way up to the heronry, birdlife abounded as we watched a Fish Eagle being dive bombed by an irate Blacksmith plover and little Malachite Kingfishers darting away like little blue spitfires as we approached them. As we traveled on a large crocodile slithered off the edge of an anthill on which it had been basking. We watched him make his way slowly through the crystal clear water toward the channel & parked the boat virtually over his back as he lay in the shallow water at the edge of the Channel.
On arriving at the Heronry we spent the next three hours counting the numbers of breeding Pelicans & then once that task was complete we drifted quietly around the area to see what we could find. A lone Bull Elephant fed contentedly on the roots of Papyrus next to the channel as we passed close by him.
On returning to the Heronry we were greeted by the sight of a camp boat that had brought us out lunch. What an unexpected treat as a table was set up and we enjoyed a beautifully presented lunch!
After lunch we spent the afternoon, parked off trying to film the unique drinking behavior of the breeding Pink-backed Pelicans – this drinking technique had never been observed before and, with patience, we were able to film these great birds drinking on the wing like some kind of Giant skimmer.
Late in the evening we returned to camp & after a leisurely shower, we were whisked off for a bush dinner, arriving at a pan that was set up with tables, food and a great fire by which we could keep warm. Dinner under a magnificent starlit sky was followed by a lovely night drive home during which we watched a Genet trying to catch roosting doves high up in a tree.
Story and Images by Mark Muller and Alison Flatt.
It was a beautiful morning at Shinde, there was not a cloud in the sky and a gentle cool breeze had made for a very pleasant start. Once we had energized ourselves with a cup of coffee, my guests and I took off for a morning game drive. I decided to take my binoculars out and scan the open before we got too far out of camp. I saw some movements in the distance, it was Wild Dog, Africa’s most endangered predator and most successful hunter.
A few metres ahead of them was a small herd of Zebra and a few Red Lechwe, both species looking fairly alert and agitated. I could feel a twinkle in my eye as I knew that there is always action and excitement when there are Wild Dog around.
I stopped the vehicle and explained to my guests that they should have their cameras ready and waiting. When we got closer we saw the dogs attempting to stalk the zebra, they moved around the herd working as a team to corner them off, however events did not work out as planned for the Wild Dog.
The Zebra began to stamp their feet and snort loudly, and in defence, suddenly turned on the dogs. The Lechwe joined in and before the Wild Dog knew it, they had a wall of patterns running towards them.
In the end the zebra were victorious in defending themselves and the Wild Dog skulked off with their tails in between their legs. This was such an entertaining sighting and judging by the sounds coming from the back of the 4x4, my guests thoroughly enjoyed it too.
Story and Images by Bee (professional guide at Shinde)
At Shinde there is a beautiful place called Four Pans, the reason for the name is because this area has water throughout year that is spread out amongst four inter-connected pans. Four Pans will never let you down in terms of game viewing, it so rich in a variety of species of animals and it full of aquatic birds. If you drive past Four pans you are likely to see large herds of Red Lechwe, Tsessebe, Zebra, Wattled Crane, Saddle-billed stork and, finally, my favourite, a troop of Chacma Baboons who seem to spend most of their days hanging around the water.
It was a beautiful spring morning; my guests were looking slightly weary from the early wake up so I decided to head to Four Pans first for, what I hoped would be, a bit of comic relief from our resident primate family. Everybody thought I was crazy, Boy OH Boy!
From the moment we stopped and watched the baboons they started posing for the camera and behaving like they were on stage. There was one particular young male baboon who was sat on top of a termite mound, I told my guests to take their binoculars out and focus on him.
He had everyone in stitches of laughter as he sat there like an old man, pondering life, elbows resting on his knees. At one stage this male baboon had lifted his foot quite close to his face as there was obviously an obstruction there that seemed to be bothering him, he looked at it for a while and then, without hesitation, went on to put most of his toes in his mouth.
We did not stop laughing for the duration of the viewing and tired eyes turned to happy hearts for the rest of the day.
Story and images by Bee (professional guide at Shinde)
It was time to set out on an afternoon boat trip at Kanana, everyone was eagerly awaiting the visit to the Heronry, one of Southern Africa’s most important Pink-backed Pelican breeding sites (Watch this space for the blog). What we didn’t realise was that the trip to Heronry would bring us just as much excitement as the destination itself.
We ambled up the Xudum River, marvelling at the beauty of the Jackalberries, Mangosteens and Gomoti figs that form the banks of this river system. As the River narrowed we began meandering through the narrow serpent-like channels, unique to the Okavango Delta. We spotted a couple of small crocodiles hiding in the papyrus as well as a few interesting species of aquatic birdlife. As we came around a tight hair pin bend in the channel we saw them, two Sitatunga antelope (Tragelaphus spekii) a female and her sub-adult offspring. They were surprisingly relaxed as these animals are generally very shy and quite skittish.
At times, these specimens are over-looked and the rarity of a sighting is often taken for granted. The Sitatunga is Africa’s only true amphibious antelope, they live in reed thickets and muddy swamps and their long splayed hooves allow for it to move in this marshy environment without sinking into thick vegetation.
We viewed the pair of Sitatunga for about five minutes before they started moving off into the thick papyrus and by this stage we had taken a sufficient number of photos and it was time to carry on to the heronry. We had hardly pulled off when we came across a herd of Red Lechwe grazing in a flood plain to the right of the channel, we stopped to view the herd and strangely enough, camouflaged amongst the Lechwe was a beautiful male Sitatunga.
It was truly spectacular to have witnessed these two sightings and it really makes one appreciate the unique experience of the Okavango Delta!
Story by Doctor (professional guide at Kanana)
Images: Mark Muller & Alison Flatt
It seems the first traces of spring have brought with it a renewed romance to the animal kingdom. My guests and I were on a Sunday evening drive when we came across a Lion and a lioness lying lazily in the grass. The two were situated on Dead Tree Island in the Moremi Game Reserve, the sun was low in the sky and Venus, the planet of love, had just showed herself creating what seemed like the perfect setting for a romance in the wilderness.
I knew by their body language that they were in the process of mating, the female was looking around and flicking her tail in a slightly ‘flirtatious’ manner. I was very pleased to have come across this sighting and having worked in the bush for a long time, one does not experience these moments very often. I explained to my guests what was happening without giving away the likelihood of the events about to happen next.
The two started growling at one another, the male was circling the female while she pretended not to notice what was going on. Just minutes later the act of mating took place. Even though copulation is short, it is a very memorable experience watching two such powerful animals interact like this with one another.
Lions mating in this manner will be repeated over an approximate four-day period and the act occurs every half an hour.If they conceive, the gestation period is about one hundred and ten days and the average litter size is between two to four cubs. Crossing fingers that we will have new cubs around Okuti in the next few months, WATCH THIS SPACE!
Blog and images by Solly (professional guide at Okuti)
Lions, being part of the greater feline family, are known not to favor water unless they are re-hydrating and in saying this, their bodies are adapted to go without water for days if need be. This particular afternoon, on the banks of the Xudum River at Kanana, made me realise how adaptable these animals really are.
I was on an afternoon game drive with my guests and it was time to head to the edge of the river for a sundowner. I was driving towards the water when I spotted two figures on the bank of the river ahead of me. Slowing down, I focused on these two objects, and to my surprise I saw our two resident male lions.
Something on the other side of the River had their attention and they both seemed quite alert. It was about five minutes later when they started moving forward into the water and without any hesitation the pair of them began swimming across the river.
Both my guests and I were completed fascinated by the sighting, these majestic creatures were completed submerged in the water, all we could see was their heads and a bit of fur from their manes. The pair emerged on the other end, shook themselves off and started walking into the bush until they were no longer visible.
I explained to my guests that these animals have adapted to living in a water abundant habitat that is the Okavango Delta. It was a spectacular end to a day at Kanana and everyone had beaming smiles on their faces as we pulled into camp for the evening.
Story by Doctor (Professional guide at Kanana)