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WILDLIFE SEASONS

There are two very distinct – but equally magnificent – seasons in Hwange:  the dry and the wet. These seasons can themselves also be divided into warm and cool. In the late dry season the landscape becomes stark, dry and dusty, with all the grass having been grazed down to its roots. It is in the dry season when Hwange’s giants (the elephants) are seen in huge numbers – up to 1000 elephants on a single day! The wet season on the other hand, is gloriously lush and green, with lots of surface water, grazing mega-fauna, belly-full predators  and an abundance of migratory birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To give you an idea of what you might see during your visit, here are some month-by-month probable highlights:

 

JANUARY – Warm and wet

Wetlands and pans strengthen and deepen and – if a good rainy season is underway – waterfowl, ducks and cranes may begin to nest if the grass is thick enough. Wildebeest and Zebra numbers steadily increase as the plain’s grass lengthens and grazing improves.

 

FEBRUARY – Warm and wet

Ducklings hatching, young waterfowl are in every pond, sable and waterbuck are calving and lions splash across flooded plains.  The magnificent storm clouds, rainbows and lightning can be a magnificent backdrop for photographs.

 

MARCH – Warm and wet

The rainy season starts to wind down and small groups of bull elephant begin to move in.  The plains are at their most vibrant – lots of grass, water lilies on every pan, and butterflies fluttering about. Wildlife is fat and every herd and troop has gambolling young.

 

APRIL – Dry or wet and warm

Migratory birds gather up and move off. Buffalo herds are scattered through the woodland areas where the lion harass them nightly.

 

MAY – Dry and cool

Pans in the interior of the park begin drying up and Hwange’s pumping program begins. Read more about Hwange's water supply here. Nights begin cool, bugs and mosquitoes disappear. Grasslands start to turn brown and leaves slowly change colour.

 

JUNE – Dry and cool

Cold nights and early mornings = hot water bottles in the beds.  Misty mornings on the plains make for awesome photo opportunities for those who brave the early and sometimes frosty starts.  Pumping at the pans in the park picks up as the surface water on the Ngamo Plains starts to dry.  Camel thorn pods ripen and elephant bulls arrive in good numbers, shaking the trees for pods.

 

JULY – Dry and cool

Big numbers of elephant return from the west and start building up at our pans.  Grazing on the plains has deteriorated enough for some zebra to move off.

 

AUGUST – Dry and warm

Days start lengthening and getting warm again and the first of the bird migrants arrive.  Grazing on the Plain gets poorer and many of the wildebeest move off.  Wildfire season is at its height – haze from both fires and dust makes for magnificent sunsets.

 

SEPTEMBER – Dry and warm

The dry season intensifies and day time temperatures start to climb. Pressure on the waterholes increases and all pans are visited by a procession of elephants well into the night.  Grazing on the plains deteriorates – only small numbers of wildebeest and zebra remain.  Migratory bird arrivals increase.

 

OCTOBER – Dry and hot

The dry season reaches its height – elephant numbers around the water holes peak to the detriment of other animals. Migrants continue to arrive - broad billed rollers from Central Africa and Steppe eagles from Eastern Europe to name a few. The first ammocharis lilies start appearing on the plains.

 

NOVEMBER – Dry or wet and hot

Usually the main rains break during this month bringing relief to the wildlife.  At the first good fall of rain elephant disperse westwards to undepleted feeding grounds.  The rains produce the first alate swarms and a massive influx of migrant birds follows, including both palearctic and intra-African species. There is also a big influx of waterfowl. As the grass gets lush and green again, eland, wildebeest and impala begin to calve.

 

DECEMBER – Warm and wet

As the rains increase so there is a massive increase in spawning of the amphibians coming out of hibernation – another bonanza for the birds such as storks, and of course reptiles such as the big banded cobras.  As grass develops so the wildebeest and zebra return in large numbers and predators stalk the calving herds continuously. Haemanthus fireball lilies are dotted on the landscape.

 

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