Close-up of a baby warthog running with an adult warthog

Game monitoring at Hanchi

Location: Water hole

Date: Tuesday 4th February 2008

Start: 12:30

Finish: 17:00

Weather: Hot and sunny

The first water hole count of the year at Hanchi Horseback Project was a successful one. We saw many giraffes and warthogs, as well as many birds.

The game monitoring started at 12:30 pm, and when we arrived at the hide we were surrounded by giraffes, a total count of 14 to start with. We watched them for 1 hour and 20 minutes, observing their behaviour and social group. We recorded 16 giraffes in total, two males (senior), nine females, and five sub-adult males were seen browsing, drinking from the game trough, scratching on branches and vocalising. We even heard two males huffing, these two males (sub-adult males) were also seen to be demonstrating strength of dominance - banging of heads, pushing of bodies and standing beside each other in opposite directions.

We also suspected a pregnant female giraffe, as she was looking rather full in the stomach region. There were also two senior females, which were covered in bodily warts. It was so fascinating watching the giraffe, although we were keeping the noise to a minimum the giraffe was curious in our presence and came within a few meters of the hide to investigate.

At 12:55 pm shortly after arriving three warthogs appeared at the hide to wallow in the mud a few meters in front of us. We watched them for a few minutes wallowing in the mud, drinking, foraging and sheltering in the shade; it was amazing watching the two adults (one female and one male) and the juvenile.

1:10 pm we saw a male nyala passing in the background of the trough, unfortunately, he did not stop for a drink but it was brilliant to see - MY FIRST NYALA EVER!

After an hour at the hide two more male warthogs gathered at the waterhole. It was so fascinating to watch, they were aware of our presence but were not able to detect where we were, both males were smelling the air, snouts lifted and came within a few meters of the hide, it was incredible. My first real opportunity to see how they looked up close and behaved. Once they had settled into our unusual smell, they wallowed in the mud and rubbed up against the trunks and branches.

After a hot and sweaty wait, we saw three more warthogs arrive at the water hole at 2:25 pm two females and one juvenile, wallowing and drinking in the mud. We noted that one of the females had incredibly large tusks. We then saw an incredibly large male warthog join the water hole with the two younger males. This massive warthog immediately went to wallow - the two young males were instantly submissive, lowering their heads and backing away from the mud. This male had a left broken tusk and appeared to be relaxed, the male only hung around for a few minutes leaving the two younger males to continue wallowing, rubbing on branches and drinking before heading off into the bush.

The two young males then reappeared at 3:50 pm they still showed skittish behaviour and curiosity to the hide.

At 4:25 pm we saw two male Nyala drinking at the trough before heading off into the bush browsing.

Our last sighting was a fair estimation of 20 female impalas and six juvenile impalas browsing and grazing behind the hide. We saw two young impalas suckling and one female rather full in the stomach, maybe pregnant - but unusually late if so! Amongst the impala was the nyala male also browsing.

As well as plenty of animals sighted we also saw an array of birds:

  • Glossy starling
  • Brown-hooded kingfisher
  • Dark capped bulbul
  • Fork-tailed drongo
  • Red-billed ox pecker
  • Bronze-winged prinia
  • African wood hoopoe
  • Black collered barbet
  • Francolin
  • Emerald spotted wood dove
  • And the sound of Black cuckoo and yellow-billed hornbills in the trees behind the hide.

Location: Water hole

Date: 20th March 2008

Start: 06:41

Finish: 14:31

Weather: Cool with a slight breeze

The second water hole count was very successful for bird watching although not a great amount of mammals were seen perhaps due to the cooler weather, and the animals not being as water-dependent in the cooler weather.

The first animal sighted was at 7:36 am, which were two male warthogs, wallowing in the mud, drinking and rubbing against trees.

Shortly after sighting the two warthogs, two giraffes were present at the game trough, this was at 8:22 am.

There were two young males with what seemed to be the youngest one being the darkest, we watched them for about 20 minutes - unnoticed, drinking from the trough, standing under shaded trees chewing the cud and behaving slightly suspiciously of the hide although they did not detect us!

At 11:40 am two females and one juvenile warthog were sighted wallowing in the mud, drinking, rubbing against trees, searching for food, digging in the mud and rolling. It is to be noted that one of the females had extremely large tusks.

12:23 pm Another three warthogs were seen wallowing in the mud, drinking, rubbing on trees, sniffing and appearing fairly relaxed. Among these three males, one was slightly larger than the other two.

The last sighting was at 1:07 pm, with one very large male warthog seen to be wallowing, drinking and rubbing on trees. It was thought that the left tusk was shorter.

In total 31 bird species were sighted and heard whilst in the hide:

  • Wood hoopoe- perched and also on the floor probing at the ground.
  • Black-collared barbet- heard and seen perched
  • Black cuckoo- heard calling
  • Blue waxbills- calling and flying from trees
  • Bearded woodpecker- beating on logs
  • Dark-capped bulbul- perching
  • Violet-backed starling-perched, flying
  • Chinspot Batis- looking for food, flying
  • Black-backed puff back- calling and perched
  • Red-eyed dove- calling
  • Rattling Cisticola- perched and calling
  • Francolin- calling
  • Grey go-away bird- calling, flying, drinking and perched
  • Emerald spotted wood dove-calling
  • Fork-tailed drongo- Calling, flying, perching and feeding
  • Speckled mouse bird- flying, perching, feeding
  • Cape turtle dove- Feeding on ground, calling
  • Brubru- calling
  • Yellow-billed hornbill- calling, flying, dominating grey go-away birds
  • Glossy starling- Calling, perched on top of a tree
  • Black-headed oriole- perched on a tree
  • Red-billed Oxpecker- perched
  • Bronze-winged prinia- perched by water
  • Brown-hooded kingfisher- calling
  • Purple crested turaco- perched in a tree
  • Guinea fowl- sand/dust bathing
  • Flappet lark- calling
  • Spotted flycatcher- perched
  • Golden-breasted bunting-perched
  • Olive Thrush- on-ground feeding
  • Paradise Whydah- perched
  • White-faced ducks- in water
  • Grey heron- in water

Report by Charlie Bullen, game monitoring and behaviour