Lowveld rainy season and funky frogs; Elephants, and more elephants…

October…Suicide month…alternating bouts of heat, with panting plants wilting in the intense sunlight, and then, overnight, cool blasts of wind, bringing slanting rain and lightening streaking across the Gonarezhou wilderness opposite Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge.
This is a month of transition; plump and pregnant impala does waiting out the heat, crocodile eggs incubating in warm sand bars flanking the Save and the Runde rivers, guarded by vigilant, monolithic mothers.

On a recent trip along the Runde River with Ian and Jane Craig of Lewa, Kenya, and Willy and Sue Roberts of Sirikoi Lodge, Kenya, we fished between dozens of these lady monsters, who slipped around us as they guarded their precious eggs…read that story in my blog, Malilangwe Magic; Crocodile Mothers…..

The first splattering drops of rain bring promise of more, and the tentative emergence of Giant land snails on the pathways at Chilo Gorge heralds the official start of the Summer……

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We have a mollusc specialist from Europe visiting Chilo, and within less than one metre square of leaf litter and soil, she has discovered at least 10 different species of terrestrial snails! Ranging from microscopic to fingernail-sized, these diminutive creatures form a vast ecosystem beneath  our feet…a sobering thought  – every time we take a step, we are standing on countless living things…

Cute Chiromantis tree frogs have, within the last two days, revived themselves from their Winter aestivation and are variously decorating picture frames and porcelain basins, adapting their skin colour to their surroundings and merrily chirping their welcome to the rain-dark skies…

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These frogs are a delight to me, subjects of many sketches…

Lin Barrie sketch of Chiromantis tree frogs

Lin Barrie sketch of Chiromantis tree frogs

 

For two days an army of tiny Pygmy toads has hopped the pathways, out from their dry season hideaways…hard not to step on them as they bounce everywhere!

tiny toads emerging from aestivation

tiny toads emerging from aestivation

 

Grey skies and a cool breeze decide me..today I will write this blog upstairs , on a sheltered, favourite balcony overlooking the Save River…

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From here I can keep an eye for the five young bull elephants, who have been crossing the river morning and evening to raid their favourite plants in the Chilo gardens!

Striletzia nicolae and Phoenix reclinata palms have been the flavour of the month in the Chilo gardens, as has the bark of the fig and Albizia trees…

elephants have stripped the bark of this fig...

elephants have stripped the bark of this fig…

Perhaps, now that the rains are looming, the elephants will move their attention elsewhere!

Elephant hieroglyphs in the bark…

elephant hieroglyphs in the bark of a doomed tree...

elephant hieroglyphs in the bark of a doomed tree…

Maybe the pachyderms will head back to the Fayderbia albida trees on the Runde River to browse on the apple ring pods of those pretty plants…

albida pods

albida pods

a delicious and nutritious food, these pods sustain all manner of animals at this time of year, from elephants……

elephant  foot and albida pods

elephant foot and albida pods

Meanwhile, with helpful advice from Ian Craig and Lewa  in Kenya, we are planning elephant fences to suit our needs, both at Chilo and at the developing community project,  Jamande Wilderness……

Still daydreaming about elephants, I ponder the state of the Fayderbia albida trees on the Runde River, in Gonarezhou National Park, where the elephant bulls are pushing huge trees over to get at the pods…hopefully with the fast approaching rainy season, the pressure on these gorgeous old trees will be lessened.

My mind drifts back to Mana Pools…where we recently shared a Safari with various dear friends, including  Gwen Wawn, and travellers extradordinaire Brian and Dee Keating, of Going Wild, Canada.

 

For that story, please read my blog,  Going Wild in Mana Pools!

Here is the wonderful inner lining of a bull’s mouth, as he reaches high into an albida tree…

elephant reaching into albida tree

elephant reaching into albida tree

 

and his look of contentment as he chews…

delicious....

delicious….

From my refuge in the balcony at Chilo Gorge, I can happily reminisce, daydream, and plan paintings such as the two I am currently growing in my mind…abstract Persian carpets of colour reflecting the glowing shapes of albida pods …

gorgeous albida pod

gorgeous albida pod

and kigelia flowers …..favourite snack for Kudus…

kigelia beauty

kigelia beauty

………I can also indulge peacefully in a cup of fresh brewed La Lucie coffee……

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And a home baked scone….appreciated also by the juvenile Mocking chat who comes to join me in my quiet place of retreat!

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ahhhh…..!

the quiet joys of Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge…….

 

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About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues. This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil. Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation. Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas. Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.
This entry was posted in Africa, African flora, african wildlife, aloes, amphibians, art, beauty, birds, Chilo Gorge, conservation, eco-tourism, elephants, flowers, frogs, gardens and flowers, gonarezhou national park, great limpopo transfrontier conservation Area, insects, landscape, Lin Barrie Art, molluscs, Uncategorized, zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Parks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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