On the last day of October, an effervescence of dragonflies fizzed the shade and skies around camp; an immaculate incandescence, prompting a frenzy of hyperphagy – the glut of softly whirring insects easy prey for hawking kingfisher, bee-eater and roller. The flare of lapis wings barred azure almost hypnotic in the dappled shade, a living flash of light drawing flame. Now they are gone – dispersed or eaten, and the hazy dome of blue seems empty without their iridescence.
The lions in camp this morning proved sufficient distraction however, rousing heart and soul in the thrumming quiet of first light with calls that echo in both pulse and thought. The sun rose, gilding its customary path and with it the waterhole in front of Mushika deck, to reflect the dripping jaw and grizzled mane of one of the big Chakwenga males, Blackie, slaking his thirst in the rapidly warming dawn. Sated, he stalks off up the river bed, huffing the sand with each measured stride, triangulating a meeting point with his two brothers in the morning shade.
Over the past few days the heat has abated (somewhat) from the scorching temperatures we’ve experienced over the past two weeks (highest in camp was a cool 46̊ C) which comes as a relief to humans and animals alike. We hope that the clouds bearing the rains will start to build soon, breaking on the dry escarpment, to soothe the eddies of dust and to quench the waterholes further afield from the river.
Words: Tara Vivian-Neal
Image: Tayla McCurdy