Tag Archives: Rooiputs

Botswana 2010 : Rooiputs Part 2

When we drove into the Rooiputs camping area the first thing we saw was a small tent tucked away in a thicket of trees and bushes.  It belonged to the engineer working on the new road – a site he had occupied for more than a year.  Apparently he chose this unconventional habitat in preference to proper digs at Twee Rivieren/Two Rivers and because of this he was very knowledgeable about the comings and goings of the lions in the Rooiputs area.  He told us that Rooiputs was the best place in the Park to see lions and warned us that they came through the campsite at least three times a week.   He spoke of a pride of thirteen lions in the vicinity.

We didn’t have to wait long before the deep roar of a lion really close by broke the silence of the night. The next morning Jon was up at first light and noticed lion paw prints in the road within a meter or so from where we were both camped.

Lion tracks in the campsite

We wondered at what stage of the night it had passed by – was it while we were asleep or when we were enjoying a braai outside the A-frame?  Had we been sized up for dinner and found wanting? (Note:  We always had a car parked near where we were sitting for quick refuge in case of a visit by lions)

Lion bait  Jane & Rob Lion bait  Hillary & Jon

Morning ablutions forgotten we dived into Jon’s car and headed down the short track to the Rooiputs waterhole.  Lions can be quite difficult to spot as they blend into the bushveld scenery and at first we didn’t see anything.  Luckily campers from a nearby site pointed out the lone lioness on a dune quite near the waterhole.

Lone lioness

Our delight at seeing her magnified when we heard a loud roar and she jumped up and made her way to greet a magnificent male lion accompanied by three other lionesses.  She was obviously expecting them and they had a joyful reunion.

Happy reunion

Group reunion

We couldn’t believe our luck when one of the females later left the group and made her way a short distance along the road in front of us to greet yet another male lion.

Old male - Mfaas

Now there were six of them.  We later learned that the Park rangers kept tabs on these males and they were named Moertoe and Mfaas – Moertoe being the younger male who now headed the pride.  Old Mfaas, although respected, kept his distance from the pride when they were cooling off in the heat of the day.

Young male - Moertoe

The lions spent the rest of the day lying under trees, moving only to follow the shade as the sun rose in the sky.  The jackals gave them a wide berth as they came cautiously down to drink.  One lone springbok made off at great speed when one of the lionesses stood up and did a small charge, but she obviously wasn’t too keen on hunting as she quickly flopped down to the ground again.

Young male - Moertoe

What a magnificent lion sighting.  Any other animal activity on offer that day would pale into insignificance after such a display.

Botswana 2010 : Rooiputs Part 1 | Botswana 2010 : Rooiputs Part 2 |
Botswana 2010 : Rooiputs Part 3 | Trips

Botswana 2010 : Rooiputs Part 1

Our six night stay at Rooiputs turned out to be the highlight of our Botswana 2010 trip.  This idyllic spot is less than 30 kms from the Twee Rivieren border post and sits on a hill just above the Nossob River.  One has to take a detour to this camp but the road is no challenge and it doesn’t take long to reach the six well-appointed campsites.  The sign maker either had a sense of humour or didn’t know how to spell!

Crazy spelling

Within hours of settling in we had dramas unfolding before us that had us grabbing our cameras to catch the action.  We were sitting in the wooden A-frame having some tea when Hillary noticed an animal movement behind us.  It was a mother polecat carrying her baby to a new hiding place.  Rob and I positioned ourselves next to the hole, cameras in hand, and had rather a long wait until she briefly popped her head out to see what was happening.  After doing that once or twice she decided to remain in hiding until she could get away under cover of darkness.

Polecat

Back in the A-frame we heard a scratching noise above us and were excited to discover a big barn owl in the broken rafters.   Birds are always a priority for us so Hillary filled a pan with water and attracted some of the many sociable weavers in the area,

Sociable weavers

but she hastily had to move it away from their van area when she realized who else was partial to a drink.  Check out the trail that the puffadder left in the dirt leading to the pan.

Puffadder visits our camp
Puffadder trail

That evening we took a drive along the road to the Kij  Kij waterhole and saw our second lion of the trip – a very emaciated cub that didn’t look like it would survive very long.

Emaciated lion cub

Back at the campsite later we were having a braai when we saw a Cape fox sniffing at the hole where the polecat and her baby were hiding.

Cape fox smells polecats!

Hillary was most upset and wanted to intervene to stop the baby polecat being eaten.  The mother, who had been very wary of us in the afternoon, suddenly decided that we could help her protect her baby and , acting as a decoy for the fox, she ran right into the A-frame where we were standing.  Soon we had fox and polecat running around us totally oblivious of our presence.  Funnily enough the Cape fox wasn’t interested in eating the mother polecat – his main aim was to get the baby.

Mother polecat in the open

This went on for quite a while until the polecat decided it would be safer to deposit her baby in a burrow right next to our braai fire, which she duly did when the fox was distracted.  We never knew the outcome of the polecat saga, whether the baby was moved safely during the night or eaten, but the Cape fox came back to our campsite night after night.  These were both truly magnificent animals and all the more pleasing to see because they are not so common.

A short stay in the bush makes one very aware of the food chain and how every animal is in danger of being eaten.  One soon understands why the animals are so nervous, or  alternatively, relaxed around other beasts that don’t pose a threat to them.

Our stay at Rooiputs had certainly started on a very positive note – we looked forward to what the next few days had in store for us.

Botswana 2010 : Rooiputs Part 1 | Botswana 2010 : Rooiputs Part 2 |
Botswana 2010 : Rooiputs Part 3 | Trips