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Month: January 2013

Lagoon January 2013

MPAzevedoCat2Leopard LAGOON

Three female lions (two adults and one subadult) were found sleeping south of John’s Pan at the beginning of the month, but sightings of lions were sparse for the rest of January.

Leopard sightings were good, with relaxed females and males being seen – including one which was seen when the guide was walking guests back to room number 4 at night! A female leopard was also seen several times in the area around the BDF camp – she was very relaxed.

The cheetahs remained absent, not having been seen since the lions chased them nearly two months ago. However, right at the end of January, the three brothers suddenly reappeared in the mopane scrub area, looking fit and healthy

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Tau Pan January 2013

DElledgeBig5LionTeeth TAU

Tau Pan lion pride (currently just the two females and six young lions from the litters two years ago) had a good start to January, and killed an oryx on the southern side of the pan. They were seen feeding on it, after having taken it down during the night.

By the middle of the month, they had killed another oryx, which they seem to finally be developing a skill at catching!

A couple of days later, a cheetah was seen hunting to the west of the waterhole, and managed to catch a duiker. He was able to feed on the duiker for some time, before the jackals that had moved in on seeing him catch something, irritated him too much and he left.

A large number of white storks arrived in Tau Pan- 105 to be exact (!)… – and spent the days feeding on insects. The jackals – several families live on the Pan – tried their luck at catching them, but were unsuccessful. Jackals have an interesting family structure – the parents normally mate for life, and one or two pups from the first litter they have stay with the parents to help raise the next litter, before moving off and finding their own mate.

Our lovely visitors from last month – the wild dogs – also came back this month to the waterhole in front of camp. Numbering seven – two adults and five sub adults – spent time running through the waterhole and playing. All look healthy, though the alpha female does have some scars on her shoulder and back, but these seem not to be bothering her. Last month there were eight in number, so we are hoping that the missing one was busy out hunting at the time they were seen.

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Kwara, January 2013

amills.big5_LionCub  KWARA

January had lion sightings almost every day, including regular sightings of the Solo pride, (two males and four females). One of the females has two young cubs. We’ve also seen mating lions this month, so hopefully in a couple of months time, there will be even more cubs in the area!

Hyenas were also seen – both on drive and in camp! A pair of eyes glowing back at you as you are walked to your room, gives everyone a start, but they turn and move off with that easily-recognisable loping gait of a hyena. Out on drive, one car also came across four hyenas having an intense fight. After the fight, one of the hyenas had a broken leg, and the three other hyenas left him. It’s going to be a very harsh, short life too for that hyena, as it is essential that the hyena can hunt for him/herself, in order to survive.

Lots of general game throughout the concession, with large herds of zebra in the Splash area in particular, and many groups of giraffe dotted everywhere. One afternoon game drive found five giraffe sitting down together – an unusual sighting, and once they realised that we were watching, they clambered to their feet.

On the 7th January, three cheetahs were found to be hunting. The guests were lucky enough to see them chase and catch a tssesebe in front of the car. The cheetahs were seen several other times during the month.

The wild dogs were also fit and well, with the pack of eleven seen most often. They caught impala regularly, and with the odd variation in their diet of other young antelope. In addition, an adult female and two male dogs were found in the Splash area. They also had luck with their hunt, and were feasting on a young impala. Towards the end of the month, the pack numbered eight adults and five pups, so it’s likely the dogs are just hunting in different areas, separating for a little while before rejoining the main group.

Sometimes, a guest takes the time to write about what he or she has seen, rather than the guides filling out the sightings book. Here an extract from an anonymous guest, that sums up a couple of days at Kwara:

“We stayed for two days and had brilliant sightings. Day 1 – three cheetah brothers set up a fantastic and successful kill. Saw vultures attacking a baby zebra carcass. Caught three male intruder lions marking new territory. Saw a beautiful female lioness devouring a baby warthog. Had evening tea with more than 30 hippos basking in water with a beautiful sunset on one side and the rising moon on the other.”

Other great sightings this month included guests who recorded 95 bird species in the three days they were at Kwara, and a very rare sighting of a sitatunga antelope whilst out on the boat.

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Nxai Pan January 2013

NEarly.Cat7 Zebra Family NXAI

A phenomenal month at Nxai Pan with the zebra migration in full swing. The foals are already quite big, and all the herds look in great condition – apart from the odd one or two that show tell-tale signs of having a close shave with a lion.

Everywhere you look on the pan, hundreds and hundreds of springbok are milling around, with their young offspring bouncing and pronking (yes that is a real word, it describes the vertical springing jump with arched back that springbok make!) . Not exactly sure of the cars, the young sometimes approach closer than the adults out of curiosity, before moving off, with their out of proportion rabbit-like ears flicking to and fro.

With there being so many zebra around the park, the lions have dispersed, as there is no need to stay close to the waterholes, hoping that something will come down to drink. In addition, three days of heavy rain – the most rain northern Botswana has seen in 40 years! – meant that there are pans in many more spots, rather than the few isolated waterholes. Two male intruder lions were seen at the beginning of the month, but the young pride also saw them and moved out of the way quickly! Sadly, it’s thought that these male lions then moved out of the park and into the surrounding areas to the west, where they spent several weeks in January catching the much easier prey of domestic cows. There was a report at the end of the month of farmers shooting these ‘problem animals’.

The cheetahs, however, are still around, and we have had some lovely sightings. One of these included a young male who was seen close to the road, only a few minutes after heading out of the camp on morning game drive. He was posing elegantly, and was very photogenic. At one point, he decided that he needed to practice his hunting skills, and instead of focusing on one of the numerous springboks that were never far away, his attention was drawn to a very suspicious looking pile of elephant dung. He leapt and pounced on it, and created his own game of football with the dried dung, much to the amusement of the on-lookers!

The waterholes do still draw different species together, though perhaps not with as much angst as it can be during the dry season, it’s still important to be cautious when drinking. That must somehow explain the interesting meeting of a zebra and a leopard tortoise at one waterhole one afternoon. The tortoise had made it to the edge of the water, and was about to drink, when an approaching zebra startled him. He quickly withdrew his head and legs into the safety of his shell, but the sudden movement in turn startled the zebra. The two animals then proceeded into a ‘duet of startlement’ as each one alternately relaxed, then noticed the other one, made a quick withdrawal, in turn startling the other animal. Eventually, both animals realised they were not under immediate attack, and managed to get on with the business of drinking.

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