Tau Pan, May 2019

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Lions from the Tau Pan pride were seen almost daily and very often at the camp waterhole where we were able to get lovely photos of them drinking with reflections in the water. Once we saw one of the males trying his luck on some oryx, however the area was too open and the antelope made their escape. The male lions are well known at Tau Pan for regularly roaring near to camp and on a couple of nights they kept the guests awake and enthralled as their roars almost seemed to make the walls vibrate. We saw the lionesses a few times including one who was stalking a herd of kudu, but the herd picked up her scent and galloped off. We also found a lioness with porcupine quills stuck in her neck after an encounter with the large rodent.

One male was limping, perhaps from a thorn or other foot injury, and he had been staying near to the waterhole where he had been eating smaller prey such as springhares and sandgrouse, however he astounded the guides by managing to bring down a large kudu bull all by himself despite his injury. We were lucky enough to witness this unusual kill. The following day three other male lions came to join in the feast. A brown hyena was seen skirting the waterhole, but this solitary animal kept his distance because of the male lion. We were lucky to see the hyena the following day in a more relaxed state.

A couple of times a tom leopard was spotted along the main road, but this is quite a shy individual and guest had to be quick to take photos before it ducked for cover. A more obliging female leopard was found up in a tree scanning around before she jumped down to the ground. She was also seen again a couple of times near to the firebreak, once posing in beautiful light. Right at the end of the month we were lucky enough to see a male leopard hunting and spent some quality time with him as he stalked springbok, though the open ground was against him and he was not successful.

A female cheetah was found a couple of times and seemed well fed and in good condition. We were able to observe her marking her territory.

Bat-eared foxes were seen at Tau Pan and, briefly, an aardwolf. Guests enjoyed seeing black-backed jackals calling and responding to each other. Honey badgers were also located, sometimes with the jackals following behind hoping to pick up a rodent escaping the honey badgers’ digging. On one occasion we saw a flock of crowned lapwings mobbing an African wild cat before the cat disappeared into the bushes.

Now that the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was in its usual dry state the camp waterhole was visited by all kinds of creatures including giraffe, springbok, wildebeest and a good number of kudu with their calves. There was plentiful birdlife also at the waterhole including helmeted guineafowl, Cape turtle doves and Burchell’s sandgrouse in large numbers. There were a good number of giraffe in the Pan and we were able to see two male fighting for dominance in a behaviour known as “necking”. Towards the end of the month the antelope species, such as oryx, stayed on the eastern side of the pan where they were foraging on tubers that were still holding valuable moisture.

As temperatures dropped and skies cleared the stargazing became even more incredible, one of the features for which the Kalahari desert is famous.

(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, May 2019

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A male cheetah was located moving along but with a very full belly. Guides reported that this animal was looking very healthy due to the large herds of springbok in the area.

A nomadic male lion was in the area for 3-4 days and he managed to kill a wildebeest near the Wildlife Waterhole. This lion did not seem used to safari vehicles and was still a bit shy. A lone lioness was also seen at the same waterhole and eventually the two paired up and starting mating.

There was very good general game in the area, mostly congregated at the two waterholes. Large herds of elephant were seen drinking whilst springbok, wildebeest, impala, zebra, kudu and giraffe all had to wait their turn. Herds of oryx were grazing on Baobab Loop and herds of up to 300 springbok were grazing on the open plains.

A sub-adult elephant died near to the camp waterhole after we had reported it to the Wildlife Officers the day before as we observed a bad injury to its hind leg. This carcass attracted spotted hyenas and a flock of forty vultures, both white-backed and lappet-faced.

There were many black-backed jackals near to the waterholes where they hunted guinea fowl, scavenged and hunted through elephant dung for beetles. A family of four bat eared foxes were located and honey badgers were seen hunting rodents along West Road.

The day trip to see the massive trees at Baines Baobabs was still popular and along the way guests saw oryx, steenbok and other general game. One time we were lucky enough to see a male leopard basking in the sun at the junction of the Baines Baobab road.

Bird species encountered included kori bustard, secretary birds, helmeted guinea fowl and ostriches. Smaller passerines included marico and chat flycatchers, black-chested prinias as well as the colourful lilac-breasted rollers. There were many pale chanting goshawks and we found one feeding on a cape turtle dove. Another time the goshawks were seen flying along behind two foraging honey badgers, hoping to be able to snatch a rodent that the mammals might flush out from a hole.

(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, May 2019

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The Wapoka Pride was still resident in the area. One time we were following fresh tracks through the Kalahari apple leaf and a distance away we saw vultures descending, a good sign that there might be a kill. Sure enough we found the whole family of 19 lions including two big males, six females and eleven cubs. The lionesses were finishing off the zebra carcass whilst the cubs were amusing themselves playing with the bones. Nearby one of the resident males started roaring, whilst the other was drinking. We came across the pride many times during the month, one time finding them all with their faces dramatically covered in blood after they had clearly eaten well. Although the pride seemed to be specialising in zebra, we watched one of the lionesses stalking a wildebeest calf which had got separated from its herd. Unfortunately. one of the lion cubs came out into the open and thereby spoiled the hunt. The Bonga pride were also seen on the northern side of the area.

We had been seeing multiple tracks of a female leopard, but they always seem to head off and vanish into the marshes. However, one morning we got lucky and saw the tracks heading inland and to our delight there were also tiny cub tracks. Nearby there was a very relaxed herd of impala, but in the end it was the alarm call of a tree squirrel that gave the game away and we found an impala carcass in the thickets with the female and two cubs feeding on it. Everyone was astonished by the fact that there was a well-camouflaged leopard feeding just a couple of metres away from grazing impala who seemed oblivious to its presence. We saw the female leopard again a few days later, up on a leadwood tree with her cubs.

A pack of six wild dogs were located at Kubu Pan just as we were about to stop for sundowner drinks. In the pack there was one very striking pale female and we watched her drinking at the pan. The resident pack of two dogs killed an impala ram near to Room 8 and guests were able to quickly return back to camp to witness them feasting. Another time we saw these two dogs take down an impala close to the airstrip.

Bush walks continued to be a popular activity giving guests a chance to see species such as giraffe whilst on foot, as well as being able to study tracks of the other animals who had passed through the walking range. One of the sightings of the month was being able to view a pangolin from the ground and to watch it feeding on ants under the sage bushes.

The inland waterholes were very dry and the large herbivores were attracted to the riverine areas. Elephants were moving through the mopane woodland in large numbers, sometimes trumpeting, and herds of buffalo up to fifty strong were also seen coming to drink. We loved watching elephants drinking, swimming and mud-bathing at the river. Hippos were still resident in Twin Pools and guests were able to get some great shots of them yawning in a territorial display.

A lovely herd of 28 sable antelope, including ten calves were in the area. Once we were able to witness two of the bulls chasing each other in a battle for dominance. Other general game included zebra, impala, wildebeest, warthogs, kudu and lechwe.

We found both serval and aardwolf along Vlei Road, both of these smaller mammals digging in holes. A large colony of dwarf mongoose was found sunbathing at the base of a termite mound.

On night drive guests were impressed when a sharp-eyed guide was able to spot a chameleon up in a tree.

A huge flock of vultures were seen feeding on a zebra that had died of natural causes. It was fascinating to sit with them for a while and listen to their hissing and squabbling.

(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, May 2019

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At the start of the month the guides were thrilled to have found the resident pack of wild dogs denning and guests were able to enjoy first sightings of the ten puppies of which four were pale and six dark. It seemed that there were two females with litters; this is unusual for the species but has happened before within this particular pack. The pack moved 100 metres from the initial den to a much more open area and perhaps this was a big mistake on their part as a few days afterwards a different pack found the den site and a big confrontation ensued. A week or so later we saw the dogs chasing and biting hyenas away from the den site. They were hunting regularly and we located them chasing and killing a kudu. Another time they brought down a kudu which they lost to hyenas, immediately killed a second kudu only to lose that one too. On the 15th May the alpha female had a huge fight with the other subordinate female and she suffocated her almost to the point of death.

In addition to the wild dog den we were lucky enough to still have aardwolf denning in the area. Spotted hyena were seen mobile near to one of their old den sites so the guides were hopeful that they may also be having cubs soon.

The brown hyenas are now a lot more elusive than they used to be, but we are still seeing them from time to time. A very relaxed serval was located stalking some ground birds. Two honey badgers were spotted near to camp and an African civet was seen close to Watercut.

A pride of three lionesses with ten cubs, known as the Holy Pride, were seen in close proximity to a splinter group from the long-resident Bonga pride which the guides have now called the Marsh Pride. The Holy pride seemed to be specialising on kudu and guests were able to get some wonderful shots of the lionesses playing with the energetic cubs. The Marsh Pride were seen hunting near to the wild dog den and eventually they took down a buffalo calf. We saw a mating pair of lions, with the other resident male nearby. One time we were following a clan of four hyenas and they led us to lions feeding on a kudu bull. The hyenas tried to intimidate the big cats, but the male lion came to the rescue to defend his family. At the scene four cubs of 2-3 months old were licking blood off the carcass and playing with bones.

A tom leopard was seen stalking a herd of impala close to camp however the antelope spotted him and started to make alarm calls so eventually he gave up. Some fresh tracks led us to a female leopard hunting, but she was mobbed by baboons and eventually decided to rest up on a leadwood tree.

Large herds of elephant and buffalo were seen throughout the month as the seasonal dry and cool weather continued. Kwena Lagoon had good numbers of eland, roan and sable antelopes. Grass Pan was another hotspot for plains game including zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala and wildebeest.

Crocodiles were seen feeding on a hippo carcass near to the Namibian border.

African skimmers were seen near to Muddy Waters. We saw an African Fish Eagle swoop down on a snake which was devoured in less than five minutes.

(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, May 2019

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During May the Kwara Reserve lived up to its well-deserved reputation for fantastic sightings, averaging a remarkable three predator sightings per day.

At the start of the month the pack of eight wild dogs made it almost a daily ritual to visit Splash camp, kill an impala and go back to the den to regurgitate for their pregnant alpha female.

We saw the resident male lions responding to the calls of wild dogs as they tried to steal their kills, sometimes successfully. Once they killed a kudu and it was interesting to see how they dragged it under a bush and covered the carcass with sand to prevent other predators being attracted by the smell. There were two new male lions to the east of Splash camp; we saw them laying with very full bellies after they had killed a big buffalo bull. Probably because of the new males being in the area, the resident lions put on some terrific roaring performances during the night to proclaim their territory. Once they were joined by two lionesses at the camp waterhole; the females then decided to rest directly under Room 11 so we needed to drive them off a little so that the guests could safely enter their room for their own siesta! We saw this pride of four lions being chased out into the open by a herd of elephants, but then a big herd of buffalo also came to join in the action and there was an awesome sighting of lions and buffalo chasing each other around.

The Splash Pride comprising two lionesses and six cubs had been on the Kwara side of the reserve for some months, moving even further west out of the area, so guides were happy to see them back with us at the waterhole in front of Kwara camp

The male cheetah known as Special still continued to delight our guests and we saw cheetah on 29 out of 31 days! We saw Special try his luck on a warthog without success, but the same evening he managed to take down a kudu calf but as it was late in the day he lost the kill to hyenas. We also saw Special demonstrate his incredible acceleration to take down a common reedbuck, fortunately he got to keep his meal that time. The resident female cheetah was also spotted.

A young female leopard was seen looking relaxed and well-fed as we found her under spotlight on night drives. We saw a male leopard hunting during the day in the marsh area west of Kwara camp, although he was not successful.

An exceptionally relaxed aardwolf was seen regularly near to the mokoro station during night drive. Other smaller mammals observed included African wild cat and African civet.

Big herds of buffalo, up to 400 strong, were seen coming down from the northern part of the Kwara Reserve, heading towards the main channel. General game was concentrated in the areas near the channels and included giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest and large herds of elephant. This was breeding season for the impala and we observed how the males became vocal and highly territorial.

Despite the low rainfall in the Okavango Delta this season we are blessed to still have great access to water and the mokoro trips remained as popular as ever. Gliding through the water provided the chance to see creatures such as painted reed frogs, long reed frogs and we were even lucky enough to see a spotted necked otter.

A pair of wattled cranes were seen regularly near to the flood plains. We are glad to report that endangered vultures are doing well in the Kwara Reserve and on one buffalo carcass we saw four different species: hooded, white-headed, white-backed and lappet-faced. Jackals were also seen scavenging. Two adult southern ground hornbills were seen feeding their chick. Trapped catfish in the drying pools attracted fish eagles looking for an easy meal.

(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, Apr 2019

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As a dry spell of weather continued the animals started to disperse and for a while the Tau Pan pride appeared to have followed prey animals out of the area, but by the 9th April we found three of the lionesses back on the firebreak near to our airstrip and halfway through the month the whole Tau Pan pride was back in its usual territory near to camp. On one morning two of the males responded to a lioness who was roaring near to the camp waterhole and then they started to fight. At Deception Valley a healthy pride of four adults with three cubs was found relaxing in the shade and another time four males were feasting on a fresh oryx kill. Meanwhile at Passarge Valley some loud roaring led us to discovering a pride of nine lions who then stopped to drink giving us the opportunity to capture lovely photos of their reflections in the water. Another time we watched the same pride hunting although they were unlucky.

A very relaxed female leopard was seen more than once fairly near to camp.  This is a well-known individual in the area and she never seemed to be disturbed by the presence of the vehicle. A tom leopard was seen looking rather skittish as he ran away from the lion den.

A female cheetah was located feeding on a young springbok near to Phukwi Pan. Two male cheetahs were located at Deception Loop and were seemingly interested some oryx calves who were grazing with their herd. However there were plenty of eyes and ears to spot the predators and so a plethora of warning calls meant that the cats were unsuccessful. These two individuals are well known to us and we have seen how they travel long distances from Passarge Valley all the way to Deception Valley. At Passarge we found the carcass of a young oryx that we suspected the cheetahs may have killed.

As the prey species started to disperse the general game was grazing in mixed herds of springbok, oryx and wildebeest in order to still achieve safety in numbers. Breeding season was starting to get underway and so testosterone levels amongst the male antelope appeared to be running high. One day we were observing a large herd of gemsbok at Tau Pan when all of a sudden two bulls started a dramatic fight over a female. Male wildebeest were also fighting for dominancy and one individual came running the whole way across the pan before kneeling to graze, but seemingly the main reason for doing this was to assess his opponent and after a few minutes the two bulls started to fight. Giraffe bulls were also located fighting by swinging their necks at each other to land blows with their horns in a behaviour known as “necking”.  Other lovely giraffe sightings included herds drinking and also browsing the umbrella thorn trees in a classic African panorama.  A good-sized herd of red hartebeest were found by our guides and kudu were frequent visitors to the camp waterhole.

We were able to watch an African wild cat hunting a ground squirrel. Honey badgers were also found, sometimes being followed by pale chanting goshawks, the raptors hoping for an opportunity to swoop down on any prey that the honey badgers may have flushed out.  Bat eared foxes were also seen foraging. Towards the end of the month a brown hyena was briefly seen at the camp waterhole.

We were able to watch a flock of vultures finishing up an oryx carcass which appeared to be from the night before. Guests enjoyed watching a gabar goshawk taking a bath at the Tau Pan waterhole.  Other raptors observed drinking at the camp waterhole included tawny eagles, bateleurs and secretary birds.

(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, Apr 2019

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Lions were seen regularly at Nxai Pan during April, particularly during the second half of the month. The resident pride consisting of three females and three sub-adults favoured a shady spot close to Room 1 and were frequently located at both the camp and wildlife waterholes. We found a mating pair of lions which was particularly interesting as the male appeared to be new to the area.

The resident male cheetah was seen looking healthy and full-bellied.

A female leopard was seen stalking steenbok along the airstrip road before disappearing into the thickets.

A pack of five wild dogs was located along the main road near to the turnoff to Baines Baobabs. They were just finishing off the carcass of a steenbok.

As the weather dried up elephants started to return to both waterholes in large numbers and breeding herds up to 100 strong were seen. The elephants were often seen right inside camp, sometimes taking a cheeky drink of our swimming pool creating some amazing photo opportunities.

At the start of April there was still very good general game in the area including herds of zebras, springbok, wildebeest and kudu, but as the month progressed the numbers of zebra started to reduce as the annual migration headed back towards the Boteti area. A tower of giraffe was seen licking the soil, a behaviour that helps them to absorb vital minerals.

Lots of black-backed jackals were seen scattering around elephant dung in order to forage on dung beetles. There were several families of bat-eared foxes in the pan area. Honey badgers were also seen digging for mice a few times.

Kwando’s desert camps are always a good place to observe some of the smaller dramas that play out daily and guests spent quite some time watching a dung beetle roll up a ball five times its own size. A highlight for others was watching a black mamba hunt and eat a striped skink.

Bird species identified included pale chanting goshawks, marico flycatchers, crimson-breasted shrikes, lanner falcons, pallid harriers, secretary birds and kori bustards. A flock of over 100 white-backed vultures along with a few lappet-faced vultures were seen bathing at the camp waterhole. Also at the waterhole there were large flocks of Burchell’s sandgrouse and cape turtle doves. Over 100 cattle egrets were seen following wildebeest; these birds taking advantage of the animals’ movement through the grass to disturb insects. Crowned lapwings were nesting and we were able to observe them camouflaging and defending their nests. Northern black korhaans were displaying to attract females.

(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, Apr 2019

tour operator: Stephan Tuengler camp: Kwara guide: Stephen Matija

A pack of five wild dogs killed a kudu calf right next to the staff village but before they could finish eating the carcass was stolen by a clan of three hyenas. Later in the month we found them chasing down and killing another young kudu which they quickly devoured. The usual resident pack of two dogs were also spotted in the area chasing medium sized antelope such as impala, red lechwe, bushbuck as well as warthog. They once killed an impala right in front of camp. Whilst they were still feasting a lone hyena came and ran away with the whole carcass.

One time the trumpeting of an elephant led our guides to investigate what was happening and he came across the Wapoka Pride which now has nine cubs, three older ones and six small cubs. One of the females was drinking water and the rest were lying in the shade. We found this fast-growing pride many times during the month, once their growls led us to find them enjoying a zebra kill. On another occasion three females and their six cubs were drinking at a waterhole when they quickly disappeared. All of a sudden, the two males known as Old Gun and Sebastian appeared and they seemed agitated as though they were worried about an intruder in the area. The next day the males were with the rest of the pride enjoying the last of a kudu carcass. The complete pride of sixteen were also seen feeding on sable, kudu and warthog, on the latter occasion the males kept the meat to themselves and wouldn’t let the lionesses or their cubs eat at all. Guests enjoyed watching the cubs nursing from their mothers.

Another resident lion family, the Bonga pride, was still roaming the Lebala area. One evening they caught a warthog very close to camp. We watched them eating and after finishing the carcass they went to the nearest water to drink with their cubs playing nearby. Two spotted hyenas came and started to gobble the carcass.  This pride was seen targeting a wide species of prey ranging from warthog to giraffe. Towards the end of the month the two lion prides came across each other and after a combat they retreated back from each other’s territories so that they were no longer overlapping.

Keen eyes by our guide and tracker team spotted the flicking tail of a leopard in the marsh area and discovered our resident tom, nicknamed Fisherman, hunting in his favourite habitat. The resident female known as Jane was also located hunting reedbuck, moving from tree to tree as she tried to stalk her quarry although she wasn’t successful on that occasion.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers was seen along the road stalking impala, but their prey spotted them from some distance away and bolted leaving the cats looking hungry. Later in the month we found them with an impala kill, but it was stolen by the ever-opportunistic hyenas.

The lack of rainfall in the area influenced the movement of certain species and elephants in particular. Individual herds of elephant could be seen coming out if the woodlands heading to the riverine areas where they congregated in huge numbers. Guests enjoyed watching elephants playing and bathing in the water.

General game included impala, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, red lechwe, kudu, warthog, bushbuck, giraffe roan and sable antelope.

Bird species identified included saddle-billed storks, wattled cranes, herons, African fish eagles, and egrets.

(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, Apr 2019

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We were very fortunate to still have good amounts of water in the river at Lagoon camp, despite the drier than usual rainy season. Boat activities were able to continue as usual where we encountered hippos yawning in a territorial behaviour before ducking under the water as the boat approached closer. Elephants were drawn to the river for swimming and drinking and one in particular, nicknamed Pedro by the staff, spent a lot of time in camp enjoying the fruiting marula tree near to the main area.

Hippos were seen out of the water during game drive, one standing his ground very firmly and marking his territory causing our guide to wait at a safe distance until the animal relaxed.
We were excited to discover a breeding pair of aardwolves denning in the area. Other smaller mammals encountered during April included springhares and families of bat-eared foxes. Lesser bushbabies were observed leaping from branch to branch during night drive.

The sub-adult brown hyenas were still found to the east of camp, but tended to be seen at night on the move and not so much at the den compared to when they were cubs. Once one of the brown hyenas was flushed out by a lioness. Spotted hyenas were seen patrolling along the flood plains and also following the dogs whilst they were hunting

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were in the area; they looked hungry when we saw them at the start of the month and a couple of days later we saw them hunting although they were not successful.

The resident pack of wild dogs were playing as a pack and then suddenly started to look serious about getting on with some hunting. The following day we saw them finishing up a warthog kill. Some days later we saw them hunting again, but this time they were disturbed by a lioness prowling through. A few days later we found vultures feeding on the remains of a kudu carcass that appeared to have been killed by the dogs judging by the tracks. One time the pack ran straight through camp and appeared to be in a hunting mood.

A lioness with three cubs of about six months old provided an entertaining sighting for our guests with the cubs playing as they walked along. We saw them a few times during the month including a hunt of reedbuck. Another lioness was located hunting warthog unsuccessfully by herself and a few days later the pride together managed to kill a warthog. The two resident male lions were seen marking their territory and seemed to be well-fed. At one stage they were mating one of the lionesses. We saw the males feeding on an impala and one time we came across a dead aardvark that we believed had been killed by lions.

General game included eland, impala, kudu, giraffe, tsessebe, red lechwe, zebra, warthog as well as sable antelope. A lovely herd of fifteen roan antelope were seen near Watercut.

As the natural waterholes dried up we saw huge flocks of pelicans (up to 120 at a time), egrets,  herons, and vultures feeding on the trapped fish and amphibians. Many species of stork were observed in a feeding frenzy at Watercut including saddle-billed, openbilled, yellow-billed and over 200 marabou.

(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, Apr 2019

 

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April was an incredible month for predator sightings and we successfully found lions on 29 out of the 30 days! The two young resident male lions were still in the area near to Splash and we found one of them mating a female very close to camp. On one dramatic night some of our vehicles were following the resident males and other guides had picked up the tracks of the different males, the “Zulu Boys”. The lions were roaring as they made their way towards each other and the evening culminated in a dramatic chase as the two sets of male lions clashed in a territorial fight. After a few days the lions clashed again and the resident males chased the intruders for a long distance to the west of the Kwara Reserve where they promptly stole a kill from some lionesses. One time the resident males came across the carcass of a kudu bull that had apparently been killed by another kudu and so they enjoyed that bonus feast for a couple of days.

The Splash pride comprising two females with their six cubs were further to the west and seemed to be in good condition at the start of the month. We were very happy to see them reunited with the father of the cubs, one of the males who was driven from the Splash area some months before. It is the first time that we have seen him back with his pride since that time. However right at the end of the month the guides were worried that three of the six cubs were missing. Mother Eye Pride of four adults was found feeding on a waterbuck in the marsh area.
A very relaxed African wild cat allowed us to photograph it for quite a number of minutes and we were also able to see serval, water mongoose, springhare, African civet during night drive. Black-backed and side-striped jackals were visible during most drives.

The resident male cheetah, well-known as “Special” was seen extremely well fed. We were able to watch him hunting, although on one occasion he was so full that that he completely ignored some kudu grazing surprisingly close by. A female cheetah was located hunting east of Splash camp and managed to kill an impala. She initially had two cubs but unfortunately lost one early on and the second disappeared towards the end of the month. The female seemed very stressed and went for three days without eating as she called for her cub.

A pack of eight wild dogs were seen almost daily at the start of the month. We were able to follow them until they came to drink at the camp waterhole and a couple of times we saw them feeding on impala. The smaller pack of four wild dogs were highly mobile and covered large distances. The alpha females of both these packs appeared to be pregnant and we think that they will give birth during May. A spotted hyena was fighting with the dogs over a kill.

Yet another pack of thirteen dogs were located feeding on a female kudu that they killed in front of the Kwara camp lagoon. Vultures were waiting hungrily on the ground, but the dogs kept chasing them away. Once we saw this pack chase a sable bull, but he ran into a waterhole to save himself.

Three spotted hyena were waiting underneath a leopard in a tree with its kill, presumably hoping for some bones to drop down to the ground. Later we found them drinking at a waterhole. A different leopard dragged a calf up a tree and gorged on it for almost two days. A shy male leopard was found looking down nervously at two nearby lionesses who appeared to have treed it. Eventually it found its opportunity to escape and jumped down.

Different herds of elephant, totalling about fifty in number, were seen every afternoon on the way down to the boat station. Guests enjoyed watching them feeding, playing and bathing in the soft sand in the Splash area and crossing at the mokoro station at sunset with their small calves. Herds also visited the camp waterhole to drink. Giraffe were plentiful and were spotted in groups of up to 21 individuals. Zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe and baboons were commonly found.

As the waterholes started to dry up we saw birds such as white-headed vultures and lappet-faced vultures feasting on trapped fish. Martial eagles were located nesting. On night drive we successfully found the largest owl in the region, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, and also one of the smallest, the pearl-spotted owlet. Two red-necked falcons were spotted fighting over a dove which was killed by one of small raptors. Red-faced mousebirds were enjoying the fruits of the red star apple. Other notable bird sightings included African hawk-eagles, fan-tailed widowbirds, secretary birds, wattled cranes, lesser jacanas and different families of southern ground hornbills.

(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!)