A Tale of Two Swamps – Lechwe

The scenery changed gradually over the next few miles from the usual scrubby African bush, still green but already starting to senesce, to wider grassy plains.  Dotted over the whole landscape were thousands of termite hills – whether the termites were attracted to these tree-rare landscapes or were actually causing the low number of trees is debatable.  Those few trees were also smaller than in the forested areas we had seen earlier and it was not too long before we were wildlife spotting.  Various herons, coloured smaller songbirds and waders were flying or stalking or perching and then a herd of the special antelope that have made the wet grasslands their natural home; the lechwe.  This is an endemic species – the Kafue Lechwe; others are spread throughout other wetlands in the region, but this one is particularly attractive deep orange top coat on a whiter underbelly and their ornamental horns make them look like upturned pitchforks.

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Spot the lechwe

The ratio of waterlogged ground to dry increased and the vehicles splashed through puddles more frequently until we reached the Chunga Lagoon, the largest of a myriad of small lakes that lined the Kafue River right across the flats.  The river itself was a good 10km away from where we rested – a small heavily wooded island in amongst the swamp.  The Fisheries Department kept a boat here and the captain and his small crew would lodge in a few tents strung up amongst the trees.  We parked up at the rear of this woodland, the midday heat now searing down on us, and we cautiously stepped into the deep shade.

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