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Month: April 2013

Tau Pan April 2013

DJSmithBig5lion Tau

Some good sightings of cheetah this month, with a female that was found at Lekhubu area, having just killed a baby springbok. The cheetah was still panting from the exhaustion of the chase. The next day, a healthy male cheetah was seen close to Tau Pan, relaxing in the shade. In the middle of the month, a male cheetah spent a couple of days around Tau Pan, and was calling through the area, looking for any females.

The Tau Pan are itself attracts lots of game, with over 250 springbok being seen, giraffes and kudus moving across. 20 of the kudus came to drink at the waterhole, a nervous business as they are vulnerable when bending their head down to drink, in an area that they know lions and other predators come to drink often.

At San Pan, a male leopard was found stalking bat eared foxes – the cover was not very good, with the grass very low, and the foxes soon saw his plan and escaped. A few days later, a leopard (possibly the same one) was found relaxing in a tree at San Pan.

One day at Phukwe Pan a pride of seven lions were located, to be followed the next day by 8 lions not far from the lodge – the Tau Pan pride of two females and their adult off spring. Although they were relaxed at this stage, times are tough for them, and later in the month they were seen fighting with the two intruder males that moved into the Tau area about three months ago. The young adult males of the pride are still not big enough to overpower two fully grown males, and need the help of their sisters and mothers. Even with eight lions against two, the sheer aggression of the male intruders was enough to make the pride extremely nervous, and they now come in to drink at the waterhole very shyly. On the 22nd of the month, the two males were found on a giraffe kill – a big meal for just the two of them, but they are unlikely to share it with the pride of eight, unless the pride can force them off the kill themselves….

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Nxai Pan April 2013

Peguese.Cat2Springbok Nxai

Although Nxai Pan was a little quieter this month in terms of the numbers of guests visiting, we still got to show some lovely game to the visitors that stayed with us. There are still plenty of springbok around, and we are beginning to see small breeding herds of elephants, in addition to the bulls that are with us the whole year around.

We had great cheetah sightings – in fact, we saw cheetah every day for ten days in a row from the middle of April. One particular sighting was very amusing, where two adults were painstakingly stalking some springbok, only to lose their quarry when a jackal that was following them made a noise and spooked the springbok. They must have had some success eventually, as two days later they were found relaxing with full bellies. Not too far from them, a male and a female lion were seen mating.

Another day, and it was all happening at the main water hole – two cheetah were drinking at the waterhole just as a group of kudu also decided to drink. The kudu were extremely nervous, and the cheetah’s tail flicked from sided to side, watching them ou out of the corner of their eye – but leaving them alone for the time being. A little later, two lions were seen relaxing not far from the waterhole. Highly unusual, the next day the two lions and two cheetahs were back at the same waterhole, at the same time. Both species of animals seemed uninterested in the other, and continued to drink and relax next to the waterhole. Whilst all this was going on, zebra, springbok, ostriches, wildbeest, jackals and elephants continued to come in towards the waterhole, and await their turn, nervously!

The 29th of April was a wonderful day at Nxai Pan, with the arrival of 6 wild dogs! A very rare sighting in the Nxai area, the dogs were found between the Wildlife Camp and the West Road, chasing springboks around the plain. Jackals followed the dogs at a short distance, in the hope that these amazing predators would catch one, that they might then have the left overs! Sadly, the dogs moved off without having any success in their hunt – at least as far as we were able to see.

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Lebala April 2013

April is that in-between time – the nights are getting cooler, and the days can have a brisk wind to them, in spite of the bright sunshine overhead. Last years flood waters are at their lowest, and soon, the new years flood will start moving in.

As with Lagoon Camp, the elephants and buffalo herds are now ever-present in the area around Lebala.

A pack of six wild dogs were found sleeping and relaxing close to the airstrip. Both this odd little pack and the Southern pack of dogs will no doubt be starting to survey potential areas for dens. We hope they will select a place close to the camp, though this will not be for another month or so, and it is unlikely that the smaller pack will risk staying in an area where two large packs (including the Lagoon pack, which makes occasional forays) frequent.

One male lion found along Boundary road, apparently looking for the rest of his pride.

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Lagoon April 2013

LSelchau.1Big5.Leopard LAGOON

The lions are being quite sneaky – lots of tracks are seen moving in and around the water cut area, but only one male lion seen in a couple of weeks, snoozing.

The middle of the month heralded the return of the leopards after a quiet week before: two different leopards were located, including the female with two cubs. Another relaxed female was found hunting, but she was very relaxed and did not bother about the car being in her vicinity.

Since the long absence of the three brother cheetahs from the area, good news in the form of a female cheetah with two sub-adult cubs – a male and a female – were seen moving through the area.

Lagoon pack of wild dogs being seen fairly regularly, in spite of covering large distances moving to the northern sections of the concession, and then down towards the Lebala camp. The dogs are often followed by jackals at a distance, hoping to scavenge any tidbits left over from the kills the dogs make. The tables turned quickly one day, when the dogs had had enough, and turned tail on the jackals, chasing them instead of their more normal prey! This was just enough to make the jackals think twice about following them at such close quarters!

Breeding herds of elephants abound and are very entertaining to watch, particularly in the afternoons when they come down to the river to drink. They cross the water slightly to the west of the lagoon in front of camp, in a wonderful parade of trumpets and rumblings.

Although the month started with mostly buffalo bulls, by the middle of the months, the large breeding herds had begun to move in. This is just the beginnings of the groups, and the numbers will slowly increase until we can be viewing herds of more than a thousand individuals.

Two grumbling honey badgers – the only way to describe the funny noise they make in their more vocal moments were seen on a night drive, fairly close to camp. The staff often have to contend with these individuals as they are also seen moving around the outskirts of the staff accommodation, in the hope that something has been accidently left out to be carried off into the bush.


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Kwara April 2013

DJSmith.mammalschettah - KWARA

Dogs are getting very confusing, with the resident pack of 11 still being seen regularly, but with occasional sightings of one pack of 8 dogs (two pale male dogs, and one pale alpha female, and five sub adults) as well as another small grouping of two tawny coloured male dogs, and one dark female. The resident pack are running between their previous dens, inspecting the area. The alpha female does not look pregnant as yet, but the alpha male is sticking close to her.

Two young male lions from the Solo pride have taken several opportunities to fight the large male lions this month – as the young lions have matured, it appears they do not want to leave their natal area, and are prepared to take on lions bigger than themselves to make that point clear. They have been moving back and forth through the territory, trying to establish it for there own, even trying to force the other lions off kills. These aggressive two young males have perhaps resulted in six of the males from the ‘magnificent seven’ being seen together several times this month – a great thing to be able to see. The four intruder males have not been seen this month, but are probably around the Shindi area, as we can hear roaring from that direction quite often. In addition, the female lioness from the Splash pride looks as though she is nursing – the cubs have yet to be found, and are hidden away somewhere in the north eastern side of the area.

Three male cheetahs are spending a lot of time in the Splash area – providing excellent sightings most days (seen for 13 days out of 16 days!) – and they have yet to move back to the Tsum Tsum area. They were found with several different kills, after which they generally find time to relax and ‘unwind’ for a while. There was a spectacular sighting this month where the three cheetahs and pack of wild dogs met shortly after the wild dogs had made a kill. It’s unusual for cheetahs to come up against a predator that is lighter than themselves, and the back up of there being three of them gave them an extra bravado. A stand off occurred, but both sets of animals were unwilling to risk injury by a direct altercation.

This month we also saw some lovely herds of elephant – around 30 individuals in number – and a group of 70 zebras, including 10 young, that were seen out in the open grazing areas of Splash. Other unusual sightings included a serval cat, and a porcupine.

One of the normally rarest sightings in the Delta, proved to be not so rare, when five different boat drives managed to see a sitatunga! Add to that, a special sighting of an otter – these animals inhabit the waterways, but are very rare to see.

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