Tau Pan, Nov 2018

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November was exceptionally hot and dry, even by usual regional averages for the time of year. As a result, there was almost continual action at the camp waterhole. The Tau Pan pride of lions were there on a daily basis, sometimes all together and other times in smaller groups.

Three of the resident lionesses decided to park off under the luggage rack at Tau Pan airstrip. Luckily they were spotted by the guides and they flashed lights to warn the pilot as he was about to get out of his plane! Another time the same lionesses killed an oryx right at the airstrip. One day we were watching wildebeest herding towards water and saw them unexpectedly divert. We followed up and sure enough there were lions lying in wait for them. One day we found the pride eating on a carcass that we suspected had been brought down by a nomadic lioness who was waiting nearby. It looked as though the larger pride had driven her off her kill. White-backed vultures, hooded vultures and yellow-billed kites were circling above.

A female leopard was spotted a few times in the camp area and also resting in a tree near to the airstrip. Separately, a young tom leopard was also seen near to camp. He was relaxed enough that we were able to spend nearly an hour photographing him on one occasion.

One early morning before game drive we were surprised by two young male cheetah brothers who showed up at Room 6 and then headed straight to the waterhole for a drink. They repeated this behaviour a week or so later so we hope that we will see more of this handsome pair.

A large solitary bull elephant has been living by camp for a few months and on a daily basis he was going to the waterhole to drink and bathe, putting on a high tea show for the guests.

Bat-eared foxes and black-backed jackals have dens in the Tau Pan area and both species were nursing young. Other smaller mammals seen included African wild cat and honey badgers. Guests were fascinated to see the bat eared foxed catching and eating scorpions.

Kudu were often drinking at the waterhole; carefully circling the area and sniffing first to check for lions. A lovely journey of twelve giraffe were often seen, towering above the shrubs and bushes as they made their way between the camp waterhole and the pan where they enjoyed browsing. A big male red hartebeest was seen resting under a shady camelthorn tree.

There were plenty of bird species in the area, and especially around the waterhole where there was almost constant raptor hunting. Yellow-billed kites chased cape turtle doves, Tawny eagles and bateleurs preyed on Burchell’s sandgrouse. Enormous flocks of red-billed quelea gathered and these were hawked by gabar goshawks. Guests enjoyed watching the spectacular mating ritual of the male red-crested korhaan which flies straight up and then suddenly tumbles to the ground as though shot, before gliding to land.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Nxai Pan, Nov 2018

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November continued to be mostly dry, with heatwave conditions reported by the Botswana government. This meant that animals in our desert camps thronged to the waterholes. The Nxai Pan main waterhole right outside camp continued to be dominated by huge herds of elephants, though we also saw buffalo, giraffe, springbok, kudu and wildebeest drinking there.

One morning, as guests were enjoying breakfast, they were surprised and delighted by a pack of wild dogs running through camp. The dogs chased around some wildebeest who were at the waterhole, quenched their thirst and then disappeared into bush. A brown hyena was seen quite often in the early mornings at the camp waterhole and once at the Department of Wildlife waterhole as well.

Elephants were constantly passing through camp, browsing as they went. Guests commented on how much they enjoyed hearing them munching as they lay in bed at night. One lady peeped through her window and said “it was so close I could see its eyelashes”!

For most of the month lions were found at the Wildlife waterhole which is where the majority of antelope were coming to drink. With the hot weather it seemed that they had decided to just conserve energy by waiting for the food to come to them it! After some rains towards the end of the month the lions became a bit more active again, operating between South Gate and the waterhole. We found two lionesses feeding on an elephant calf kill. One of the lionesses had three cubs who were getting quite active, walking around and playing. One time two cheetahs got a bit too close to the lions and the pride of six chased them away. In the evenings the lions were vocalising as they located each other and declared their territory.

The resident female cheetah was seen hunting, but more than once the relentless heat became too much for her and she had to rest in the shade panting. One productive morning we located three different cheetah, two females lying next to each other and a third not far away. They looked hungry. We saw the two females again, drinking from the Wildlife Waterhole. A male cheetah was found near to the southern camp grounds.

Smaller mammals located included bat eared foxes and honey badgers. There was an aardwolf den along Middle Road.
Other general game sightings included gemsbok and steenbok. The springbok had started dropping their lambs and we watched their herds increase in size as more animals started to make their way to the pans in search of the salt grasses that are so important to support lactation whilst the ewes are nursing. Giraffe and impala were seen browsing.
One morning, during the bushman walk, the guides spotted a 3-4 metre black mamba quietly sunbathing on a termite mound.

Keen birders enjoyed seeing returning migrants to the area such as European rollers and steppe buzzards. The male Northern black korhaans were starting to call in noisy displays.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lebala, Nov 2018

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The two males from the Wapuka Pride were seen alone with two of the females and were mating one of lionesses when a herd of thirty elephants came and chased the lions with lots of trumpeting. It was fascinating to see how the elephants protected their calves by keeping them in the middle of the herd. As with the previous month, both Wapuka Pride and the Bonga lions were overlapping their territories near to camp. One night we heard a hideous commotion and in the morning we found the two prides near to each other looking exhausted. It seemed as though there had been a very serious fight.

One of the beauties of driving in the Lebala section of the Kwando Reserve is the wide open areas in which there are many different species of prey such as zebra, giraffe, impala, sable and roan antelope. Although it is an open area, Bonga Pride were cleverly ambushing prey using the base of big leadwood trees as cover. The same lions were often seen near to camp, one day at Room 9 feeding on two wildebeest carcasses that they killed during the night. The two pride males were there with four lionesses and their cubs. Warthogs and wildebeest seemed to be the main targets for the lions in November. Three subadult male lions had been kicked out of the Bonga Pride by the two dominant males. They looked starving and will quickly need to learn how to survive independently of their mothers.

The resident leopard, known as Fisherman due to his preference for the marsh habitats, was seen near to two hyenas who were feeding on a carcass. The guides suspected that the hyenas had stolen the kill from the leopard. We watched as he stalked some red lechwe through the marshes, but in the end the antelope headed into water that was too deep for him to follow. Another time he had killed a warthog up a tree and was enjoying his feast, with a hyena waiting beneath him gobbling up any scraps that fell to the ground. We came across Jane, the well known resident female leopard. Her daughter was now living independently and we found her drinking on another occasion.

A pack of seven wild dogs (six adults and a puppy) were ranging a very large territory between Lagoon and Lebala camps. The guides suspected that they were changing positions regularly in order to avoid other large predators such as lions and hyena who are numerous in the Kwando Reserve. One day we saw them bring down two impala at once. As they were feeding, within five minutes, four hyenas came and tried to steal the carcasses from the dogs. The pack bravely stood its ground and chased the hyenas away who waited until the dogs had eaten their fill. Another time the Wapoka pride of nine lions were on a hunting mission and flushed out the pack. The guides were worried because two of the dogs appeared to be missing afterwards.

The temperatures in November were scorching and we saw many herds of elephants in the river coming down to drink and cool themselves in the mud and water. These breeding herds had lots of youngsters and one evening we watched as the adults helped them across the river by pushing them, some of the calves were holding onto their mothers’ tails. The the river we also enjoyed watching red lechwe jumping across the streams and big herds of zebra and wildebeest drinking.

We came across a dead buffalo along the river with lots of vultures up in the trees. All of a sudden, a clan of eight hyena appeared and began to feed on the carcass, pulling it apart vigorously. Four black-backed jackals came and started to steal small pieces of meat. We also found a jackal den near to the airstrip with four playful puppies. Once we saw the adults coming back and regurgitating food for the youngsters to eat.

After some rains the monitor lizards started to come further from water in search of food. We had some beautiful sightings of monitor lizards, one was eating tortoise eggs and another one was trying to break small snail shells. We saw several small leopard tortoises. Smaller cats such as African wild cat and serval were seen on night drive, we watched the serval pouncing on a mouse. We were lucky to see a rare sighting of a white-tailed mongoose on our way back to camp one night, the animal was hunting. We also saw honey badgers and a large-spotted genet killing mice on different occasions.

Birdlife was also excellent, especially by the river, including egrets, herons, storks and bee-eaters. The trilling call of the Woodland Kingfisher once again echoed around the bush as this beautiful returning migrant came back to Botswana.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, Nov 2018

Lion (Panthera leo), Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

We followed two lionesses until they stalked a warthog. One lioness went halfway into the den and pulled it out. Then, to everyone’s amazement, a leopard appeared and stalked the lionesses trying to steal the kill. One lioness chased the leopard up a tree to round off an incredible sighting. Although these lionesses specialise on warthogs, we also saw them eating reedbuck and wildebeest.

A coalition of three males were tracked trying their luck with some buffaloes at Kwena Lagoon but they were not successful. During the month we found these three male lions fairly often, and they were mating one of the lionesses. The other female led us to a place where she was hiding some very tiny cubs deep in thick bush. We didn’t see the cubs for several days but eventually they came more into the open when we could see that there were four and we were able to watch them suckling. After a few days we watched her moving the two cubs from one set of bushes to another. The two female cubs managed to walk alongside their mother, but the male cubs were lazy and she had to carry them by the scruff of their necks. A single male lion was discovered feeding on an elephant calf. The cat seemed unusually aggressive, so for the sake of safety first we gave it a good deal of space.

The resident pack of six adult wild dogs were located often in the middle of the Kwando concession. They still have one of this year’s puppies with them (out of an original litter of eleven). They were not always lucky on their hunts but overall seemed to be doing well and were usually found full-bellied. One time they killed two impalas and another time we saw them take down a roan antelope calf. At the end of the month they brought down an impala and two ostrich chicks in a single morning.

The brown hyena cubs were still doing well and we were able to visit them at their den where they could be quite playful. One time we saw them feeding on a fresh impala skin, although the mother hyena was never visible when we visited.

Skilled work by the trackers allowed us to locate a sub-adult female leopard. We saw her a few times afterwards, but she was looking hungry and was even unsuccessfully trying to hunt tree squirrels in her desperation for a meal. Life appeared hard for this young female finding her way in the world. Another time she was resting in a tree and we saw her being attacked by a troop of baboons causing her to jump from the tree and hide in the thickets. We were relieved when we found her feeding on a new-born impala lamb. Another adult female leopard was resident in the riverine areas.

The coalition of cheetah brothers was also picked up after good tracking from their marking post. After two and a half hours our team was chuffed to find them resting full-bellied with blood on their faces. Mostly these males were specialising in hunting warthog, but we also found them stalking and killing tsessebe a couple of times during November.

General game was good, with big herds of elephant, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest, waterbuck and zebra as well as the more elusive sable and roan antelope which were thriving in the mopane woodlands. A small herd of eland were also seen. Some of the antelope species, such as tsessebe and impala were starting to drop their young. Elephants came to the river in front of camp in a daily basis to drink and swim.
During night drive our guides were successful in locating aardwolf, honey badgers, servals, caracals and African wild cats.

The carmine bee-eater colony at Kwena Lagoon was still active at the start of the month and we were able to watch adults coming back to feed their chicks, but by the end of the month the flock had dwindled to just a few birds. We watched a martial eagle kill a warthog piglet. It is always a pleasure to see the returning summer migrants and in November we were happy to see broad-billed rollers, black kites, yellow-billed kites and blue-cheeked bee-eaters. Year-round residents such as the saddle-billed stork and wattled cranes were also enjoyed by guests. Back at camp the African scops owlet continued to roost by the fireplace whilst Peter’s epauletted fruit bats were identified in the marula tree by the front deck.

An African python was seen strangling a baby impala at Kwena Lagoon and a black mamba was briefly seen in the riverine area but it disappeared into the long grass.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Splash, Nov 2018

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November was an exciting month at Splash camp. Antelope species such as impala and tsessebe started to drop their young meaning that predators were able to enjoy easy pickings and were making frequent kills. Even baboons were seen feeding on new impala lambs.

The Splash pride of ten were often around camp, the two male lions very vocal in the evenings. One time the two lionesses relaxed for the day between rooms two and three. Although on their own that time, the two lionesses had three cubs each and we found the six cubs of the Splash pride were increasingly left on their own whilst the adults went hunting. Once, surprisingly, they were alone with the fresh kill of a steenbok lamb. A few days later we found two of the cubs separated from the other four and for a worrying time we didn’t see those two at all. Eventually by the middle of the month, to everyone’s relief, they had reappeared. One of the resident males from the Splash pride was seen fighting with a nomadic intruder. Three females from the Mother Eye pride were seen with a male and the youngest lioness appeared to be pregnant. Two males were seen feeding on a dead hippo surrounded by vultures awaiting their turn at the carcass.

The resident pack of eight adults and nine puppies were seen regularly, mostly specialising on impala but we also saw them hunting zebra. One time they came right into camp hunting, so guests and guides quickly abandoned their early morning breakfast to try and keep up with the dogs. On another occasion two adult and two young wild dogs made a kill of an impala right by the parking area whilst the guests were out on game drive. A different pack of six adults and four puppies were located once with their faces covered in blood.

The resident male cheetah known as Special was seen frequently. One morning he led us on a marshland exploration, stalked a herd of red lechwe and with explosive energy killed one antelope and dragged it to the shade. He lay panting for fifteen minutes before starting to eat and enjoy his reward for a successful hunt. We followed the female cheetah hunting and watched as she brought down and killed an impala. She was also seen hunting reedbuck and feeding on a red lechwe lamb.
Spotted hyenas were seen every few days including a female nursing two cubs at a den near to the old Kwara camp.

November was a good month for sightings of the smaller mammals. An aardwolf den was located on Cheetah Plains and the animals allowed us good time with them. We were able to enjoy a wonderful sighting of an African civet which was unusually relaxed and our guests were able to take great photos under spotlight. We also located serval on more than one occasion as well as African wild cat. A pair of bat-eared foxes have a den west of Impala Pan.

The resident female leopard made a kill of a Common Reedbuck near to Sable Island and feasted for two nights, but she left the carcass on the ground and eventually it was stolen by hyenas. A pair of young leopards who had been moving around as a brother and sister appeared to have separated and we saw the male more than once. Another male leopard was concentrating on hunting the area west of Impala Pan. Not for the faint-hearted, guests watched as a leopard ate a minutes-old tsessebe calf.

As always in the Okavango Delta the mokoro excursions are popular and allowed guests to see smaller creatures such as the painted reed frogs and enjoy beautiful water lilies. More than once after mokoro activity herds of elephants and bachelor buffaloes came to drink and wallow at the mokoro station much to the delight of guests who quickly swapped fishing rods for cameras to capture the moment.

Guests were thrilled to spot the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl during a boat cruise and we also saw barn owls and eagle owls. An unusual highlight for some keen birders was a black-chested snake-eagle taking down a night heron.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Tau Pan, Oct 2018

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The Tau Pan pride of five males, two females and three cubs were seen drinking at the camp waterhole and resting at various places nearby. One day four of the males were resting when two male cheetahs approached the waterhole and we witnessed an exciting confrontation between all six big cats before the cheetah were driven away. As usual these resident lions were extremely relaxed around our vehicles. The cubs are at an extremely playful age but they were learning to be quieter when their mother was hunting; she often looked for prey alone as her cubs stand a better chance of eating if they do not have to share with the dominant males. Sometimes the males separated which then meant a lot of roaring across the plains as they re-established contact again later on.

A different pride of three females were in the northern part of Tau Pan area, towards Passarge Valley, but they occasionally ventured south and used the camp watering hole if they were in the area.

A single male leopard was seen drinking at the camo waterhole in the early morning. A lovely sight for the guests to enjoy as they sipped their coffee.

Two cheetah were located at Lion Den looking full-bellied and in good condition.

Guides were surprised to still be seeing a lone wild dog in camp. There is no sign of the rest of its pack, so they thought it was probably an individual dispersed from its natal pack trying to find others to start a new family.

A lone bull elephant is still frequenting the camp and guests enjoyed watching him drinking and mud bathing at the camp waterhole in the afternoons. Often he just lay in the cool water to escape the relentless October heat.

Honey badgers were seen often at Tau Pan busy digging for prey such as lizards, mice and ground squirrels. They were sometimes accompanied by pale chanting goshawks or black-backed jackals looking for an opportunity to snatch the prey before the badgers.

Day trips to Deception Valley yielded other good lion sightings at Letia Hau and in Deception Valley itself. Cheetah were also seen there, including at the woodland area known as ‘Mark and Delia’s’. This area is named after the camping spot of the couple who famously researched in the area,  documented in the book Cry of the Kalahari.

The eastern part of Tau Pan was the productive in terms of general game and we saw many species such as springbok, kudu, wildebeest and giraffe coming to the camp waterhole to drink. For now this was the only water available in a vast arid area, so there was almost always some kind of action to be seen in right in front of the lodge main area.

There were many kori bustards down on the pan, together with secretary birds who we were able to see roosting in their favourite tree each evening. In the mornings large flocks of Burchells sandgrouse and Cape turtle doves flocked in huge numbers to the camp waterhole where the yellow-billed kites, a returning summer migrant, lay in wait for them in order to catch an early breakfast. As the dry weather continued the numbers of queleas started to increase into their thousands.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Nxai Pan, Oct 2018

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The ongoing dry weather meant that we saw a wider range of animals coming to drink at the Kwando camp waterhole, including some of the more unusual species in the area. We were excited to see a pack of six wild dogs quenching their thirst before going on a hunting mission to the western woodlands. A few days later we were watching jackal hunting guinea fowl at the waterhole when the birds flew up into a tree and the jackals started acting strangely. We were thrilled when a rare brown hyena appeared and we were lucky enough to see it on a few different days afterwards. Other species seen at the waterhole included spotted hyena, buffalo and springbok.
 
All of these animals were seen in the early morning, stealing the opportunity to drink, because by mid-morning every single day huge herds of elephant arrived from the woodlands to the west of camp and dominated the precious resource right through until the middle of the night. This included big solitary bulls, small groups of bachelors and breeding herds. One time a small calf got itself into the waterhole and couldn’t manage to find its way out to the huge consternation of its mother. Eventually it was rescued to safety.
 
The resident pride of eight lions, comprising five females and three males, were usually seen at the wildlife waterhole, where they tended to rest during the day, with an opportunistic eye out for a meal from the visiting antelope species. Two different lionesses were seen there one day and by looking at her teats the guides thought one of them could be nursing, although there was no sign of the cubs that time. A few days later we got lucky and found her three tiny cubs, no more than a couple of weeks old. She was busy hiding them in a bush to protect them from other predators. The next day the guides were very pleased when they managed to locate her den site.
 
We saw a male cheetah kill an ostrich chick and quickly eat it out in the open before a group of jackals could try to steal it from him. We saw him later in the month looking very well fed. The resident female cheetah was often found on the eastern side of camp, favouring umbrella thorn trees for shade from the strong sun. One time we saw her heading towards the wildlife waterhole for a drink, but she spotted some lionesses and quickly changed her direction to avoid a conflict with the larger cats. A few days later we saw her trying to hunt some springbok, but she was not successful.
 
Towards the end of the month an adult aardwolf was seen back in the same spot where a pair denned last year, so we will be watching with interest to see if it looks like they will be having cubs there again.
Day trips to Baines Baobabs yielded big herds of oryx grazing on the open plains. Tracks of wild dogs were also seen along the road to Baines.
 
General game was good, especially at the Department of Wildlife waterhole where several species such as springbok, kudu, impala, giraffe, wildebeest, elephants and ostrich could all be seen at once.
Birders enjoyed sightings of Southern pale chanting goshawks, green-backed pytilia, camaropteras, violet-eared waxbills and cape penduline tits. The dry weather attracted large flocks of birds such as guineafowl, sandgrouse and doves to the two waterholes in the National Park.
 
After a rainfall in the middle of the month, a large number of birds were seen feeding on harvester termites including lanner falcons, swallow-tailed bee-eaters and kori bustards. Summer migrants, including the blue-cheeked bee-eater, continued to return to the area.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lebala, Oct 2018

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A young female leopard, named by our guides as Jenny, was seen walking on the road and we watched her as she started to hunt squirrels. She jumped up a tree to hunt the squirrel and was successful in catching and eating it, though this would be a very small snack indeed for a leopard! We watched a female leopard make a kill of an impala, but unfortunately two male lions came onto the scene and chased her up into a tree. She waited in the tree for quite some time, but eventually gave up on the kill and ran away. A very shy male leopard was picked up under spotlights on night drive. He was not one of the resident toms, but an intruder from another area. We saw him later in the month with a kudu kill up a tree.

Diligent work by the guide and tracker team led us to the Wapoka Pride of lions lying down on the road, we went back after a while and followed them hunting where they brought down a wildebeest – our guests rewarded for their patience by a spectacular kill sighting. The Wapoka Pride were then not around for couple of weeks, but returned towards the end of the month. They seemed nervous and were regularly climbing trees and mounds as they hunted; our guides suspected that they were being so vigilant because they knew that the Bonga Pride was also in the area. A couple of days later Wapoka Pride brought down a buffalo bull near to the camp at night. Our guides were flabbergasted when Bonga Pride also showed up at the carcass and the two prides ate side by side without any apparent friction. This was highly unusual behaviour and a fantastic sighting, to which was added hyenas and jackals trotting around and vultures roosted in the trees waiting patiently for their turn. By the next morning it was just Bonga Pride lying round-bellied at the carcass. The vultures came down and started to feed and hyenas tried to sneak a few mouthfuls but were too scared of the lions to feed properly.

We saw Bonga pride hunting and bringing down two wildebeest right in front of the vehicle and watched with interest as the two pride males refused to let the lionesses eat, only allowing the cubs to approach the carcass and join in the feeding. The following day the pride killed a big male warthog but once again one of the male lions took the carcass and ate it alone. Once we followed them as they were stalking a herd of kudu which were hidden in the bushes, but the antelope saw them in time and took off. The lions continued heading towards the marshes where they often hunt warthogs and aquatic species of antelope such as red lechwe. Another time we tracked the lions to Tsessebe Pan where we were able to get lovely shots of them lined up drinking, with reflections in the water.

The resident pack of just two wild dogs were seen lying down in a pool of wet mud to cool down before trying to hunt impala. Unfortunately for them the long grass impeded their hunt so they eventually gave up and went hungry. A different pack of six adults and one puppy were ranging between the Lebala and Lagoon sides of the Kwando Reserve and we found them a couple of times in the Halfway Pan area, always looking well fed with round bellies.

Big herds of red lechwe were in the area and our guests enjoyed photographing them as they splashed through the water in the marshes.

A huge herd of buffalo were seen grazing very close to camp. Elephants were also plentiful and guests enjoyed watching them mud-bathing. A lovely herd of endangered sable antelope comprising twelve adults and five calves was in the area.

A big number of carmine bee-eaters were still by their nests at John’s Pan and summer migrants, such as yellow-billed kites, were busy coming back into the area.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, Oct 2018

Brown Hyena Helen Apps Screen Grab

The brown hyena cubs continued to be big favourites with our guests. They were mostly seen playing in the mornings. The youngsters are growing past and were starting to separate to occupy different dens. Their mother remains elusive, visiting them in the middle of the night to bring them food that this month included an impala carcass.

Bonga Pride were sometimes seen by John’s Pan and Lechwe Corner, but in general have been towards Lebala camp over the past few months. This has opened up the Lagoon territory for several new coalitions of males and during October we saw a group of four, a group of three and several pairs hunting buffaloes. Two very big males and a female were found at Kwena Lagoon feeding on an elephant carcass and mating. Several lionesses were roaming the area including three pregnant females who have broken away from the Bonga Pride.

Spotted hyenas were regularly sighted around the area, mostly at abandoned buffalo carcasses that the nomad males had killed, including some exciting interactions between lions and the hyena clan.
Other times spotted hyenas were seen patrolling the area or cooling themselves in the muddy waterholes which were drying out

Female leopards were seen patrolling and hunting during afternoon drives. We had lovely sightings of a female with her kill up a tree and a male with a warthog kill on the airstrip road.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were found resting under a tree.

The pack of six wild dogs (five adults and one sub-adult) were found well-fed and quenching their thirst after a successful hunting expedition. We tracked them hunting a couple of other times but they were not lucky on those occasions.

Smaller predators encountered included African wild cats, servals, mongoose (yellow, dwarf and banded), bat-eared foxes and honey badgers. Black-backed jackals were denning and guests were able to see the cubs.

General game was frequenting the hot spots along the flood plains. There were plenty of eland , sable, roan, buffalo and heavily pregnant plains game species, some of whom started dropping their young after a storm build-up in the middle of the month. There were big herds of elephants all over the area throughout the day. Other species included zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala, red lechwe, waterbuck, warthog and tsessebe

Aquatic bird species were seen wading and foraging on the flood plains. Summer migrants continued to arrive in the area. Carmine bee-eaters were still nesting at Kwena Lagoon and John’s Pan. Guests enjoyed sightings of kingfishers, including giant and the colourful malachite. Four different species of vulture were identified feeding on the buffalo carcasses (hooded, white-backed, lappet and white-headed).

(Note: Accompanying image is a screen grab from a video that was sent to us from a guest who stayed at Lagoon earlier this year. Thank you Helen Apps for this amazing footage!)

Kwara Reserve, Oct 2018

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There was incredible predator action at Splash during October with lions being seen every single day.
 
On average our guides and trackers managed to find three predator sightings per day and on some dates there was a “full house” of lion, leopard, wild dogs, cheetah and hyena.
 
A pack of four wild dogs, two adults and two sub-adults, were seen chasing impala around camp and were successful in bringing down their prey making a fantastic end to the afternoon safari that day. They were seen often hunting around the camp after that, sometimes making kills. One time they interrupted early morning breakfast with a kill right by the front entrance, Another time they almost lost their kill to leopards. A different pack of five adults and four young were located near to Motswiri Pan where they had just finished devouring an impala. A third pack of eighteen, the dogs who denned in June at Little Kwara, were seen one day resting next to the airstrip, much to the delight of departing guests who had mistakenly thought that their safari was finished. When staying on the Kwara Reserve you shouldn’t pack your camera away until the very last second!
 
An alarm call from a side-striped jackal alerted us to the presence of a predator one morning. We picked up cheetah tracks and followed them until we found the beautiful resident female looking relaxed and well-fed. A resident male was seen on the majority of days during October. He was mostly resting or patrolling his territory but a few times he was hunting and we were lucky enough to be able to see him make his kill.
 
The Splash pride of lions was seen in front of camp drinking water, making for a wonderful photographic opportunity. The pride consists of two males, two females and six cubs. The mothers were very protective of their cubs, always hiding them away in the Kalahari Apple Leaf during the days before venturing out to drink at the camp waterhole. A male lion was heard roaring north east of camp so we explored in that direction and came across him with two females relaxing in the early morning sun.
 
Two male lions known as ‘Puffie’ and ‘Big Man’ had killed a hippo but they were displaced from their hard-won carcass by the two resident males of the Splash pride. When we visited the area the next day all the lions had gone and been replaced by an impressive clan of twenty three hyena gorging themselves on the huge carcass, surrounded by vultures. We also came across spotted hyenas bathing in water, trying to find relief from the soaring temperatures.
 
We enjoyed tracking a leopard to New Bridge and our guests appreciated the effort taken to locate the handsome tom. After an hour and a half we found the cat in the process of killing a baboon. Spotted hyenas were also in the area as they had also been following the leopard, but the tom was successful in driving them away and hanging onto his carcass. Two female leopards, a mother and daughter, responded to the call of a side-striped jackal. We followed them as they discovered that the jackal was alarmed by wild dogs who had killed an impala, but the wild dogs had finished their kill by the time the leopards arrived and moved off.
 
General game in the area was rewarding, including beautiful roan antelope. Elephants, giraffe and buffalo were plentiful. Other plains game species included zebra, kudu, wildebeest, warthog, waterbuck, impala and red lechwe. Troops of baboons and vervet monkeys entertained guests with their playful antics.
 
We saw an encouraging number of vultures in the area including hooded, white-backed and a few white-headed. We were excited to see lappet-faced vultures nesting east of Splash camp. There were plenty of ground hornbills, some of whom had chicks. A pair of secretary birds was nesting near to Impala Pan.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)