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From our Southern Africa World Edition . Gill Staden on National Parks (part 1)

Images from the Interior

Gill Staden


Mudumu National Park


Mudumu National Park is a little-known park on the edge of the Kwando River in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia. It was raining off and on when I visited in November. The bush was very green; some roads were muddy.

Mudumu, of 1,000 sq km, was proclaimed a park in 1990, so it is quite young. Two villages were moved out of the park so that the animals could have the whole place to themselves. There weren't many animals left then, of course, but Mudumu is a migratory route for elephants and other animals so they are gradually coming back. Over the Kwando River into Botswana, the region is Game Reserve, with privately-run concessions. The Namibian government also brought in a few species to help repopulate the park.

Now, in 2009, the animals are still a bit thin on the ground, but are visible and, even though the bush was thick, we did see a variety of birds and animals. The Park borders the Kwando River for about 15 km. The Kwando meanders through the floodplain and is edged with tall reeds and papyrus. Nestling in between the reeds, the waterlilies find a roothold, their stems leaning out into the mainstream.

The guide at Lianshulu, the only lodge in the Park, told me that he had seen a great improvement in game numbers during the three years he had been there. There is a pride of seven lion; wild dog come and go; elephants, this year, have been too many to count; leopards are often seen around the lodge. Also present are herds of sable, roan, eland, giraffe, zebra, buffalo. There are, of course, the ubiquitous impala and warthog. Other animals include sitatunga, tsessebe, red lechwe, reedbuck and oribi.

Our camp in the park was not in the prettiest site &endash; it was with the game scouts and next to the broken-down grader. There are three 'campsites' at Nakatwa &endash; these campsites consist of a patch of flat grass … nothing else. The campsites were full, so we were allowed to camp with the grader. But we had a toilet and a tap … so, I suppose we should count ourselves as lucky … It was fine.

During the night we heard all those wonderful night noises that are so special when camping. We heard lion, baboons, hippos. We didn't hear hyena but were told that the park has some of the spotted variety.

The roads in the park have not been graded for a while because of the sad state of the grader. With the rains, too, some had become waterlogged. We took a drove around the park, but it was heavy-going in places. Also, because of the thickness of the bush, it was difficult to see for any distance.

Mudumu Park is a park to be seen in during the dry season &endash; July-October. I decided that Mudumu will be on my list of trips for next year. It is certainly worth another visit.

Bird species in Mudumu, it says, are over 400. We were told that, because of the heavy rains in the past few years, the banks of the river have subsided. Carmine bee-eaters usually nest in holes in the river bank, but have now resorted to nesting on the ground.

We found two large herds of elephant coming down to the water to drink, swim and play. The elephants move between Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Angola, following their migratory routes in search of food and water.

This eagle had just caught a land monitor &endash; it is under its talons. After a few minutes he flew up into a tree carrying his meal.

Vervet monkeys were our constant companions at the campsite watching from above and then diving down as soon as we left a bit of food untended.