Tau Pan, April 2018

TAU PAN - DMessom.Mammals.African Wildcat

The Tau Pan pride were seen very regularly, and often extremely close to the camp. At one stage the whole pride of ten (five males, two females and three cubs) took up residence next to the Tau Pan workshop, making the servicing of our vehicles a little tricky. The cubs were unfazed and played around the area, but thankfully after a couple of hours they moved off towards the camp waterhole so the mechanic could get back on with his work.

During the month, the pride appeared to be hunting successfully and were seen full-bellied. Guests really enjoyed seeing how tolerant the big males were of the smaller cubs playing with them. One of the females with her two sub-adult cubs split away from the main pride from time to time and they managed to kill a giraffe calf at the camp waterhole. Jackals and vultures descended on the area in large numbers, looking for an opportunity to scavenge. This kill kept the three lions busy for a couple of days before they reunited with the rest of the pride.

A different pride of lions was seen at the Passarge Valley waterhole, resting under a thorn tree.

We enjoyed a wonderful sighting of an African wild cat at Phukwi Pan who boldly came out of the bushes during the morning coffee break and lay on its back, entertaining the guests. It was a remarkable sighting of a species that is usually quite shy.

A lovely relaxed family of four bat-eared foxes were resident at Tau Pan and they could be observed foraging for insects and rodents. Black-backed jackals were often seen.

The day trips to Deception Valley often yielded interesting sightings, including a male leopard near to Letia Hau. A female leopard was also seen at the start of the month nearer to Tau Pan.

A herd of red hartebeest comprising ten adults and three calves were seen at the Tau Pan area as well as an unusual sighting of a single eland. This is not a species that we see often in the Central Kalahari, but it seemed very comfortable grazing alongside some oryx. At Passarge Valley springbok and oryx were plentiful and we saw a female cheetah with two cubs there looking full-bellied after having killed and eaten a springbok.

The Kalahari raptors are beautiful and we saw many different species on a daily basis. A highlight was a lovely sighting in April of two bateleur eagles enjoying the remains of an oryx carcass.

 

(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, April 2018

NXAI PAN - RHebhardt.Cat2NxaiPanelephantszebrasatwaterhole

The Nxai Pan pride were seen extremely regularly during April and were looking in great condition, which is to be expected at this time of year as they have just enjoyed the benefit of the annual zebra migration. There were still plenty of zebra herds in the area and the lions were seen stalking them. Usually we saw them as a pride of 9, three lionesses together with their six very playful cubs. Occasionally they were joined by a male – especially when there was food to be eaten. The pride of ten were seen feasting on a wildebeest carcass for a couple of days. Another time they were all together on a giraffe kill. Despite the size of the carcass, the male refused to let the rest of the lions eat. When the lionesses were without food, the male lion tended to be seen on his own.

A mother cheetah with her two sub-adult cubs was seen hunting right in front of camp however the herd of zebras that she was targeting stood together to chase the cats off. We observed that the female cheetah seems to be teaching the two youngsters to be more independent and they were sometimes seen on their own, but still calling for their mother.  A male cheetah was seen hunting between the Department of Wildlife camp and the main waterhole. A different female was seen resting along the main waterhole road before heading east into the woodlands. This is a particularly relaxed individual and we saw her more than once during the month.

Some elephant bulls were still in residence, although less in number whilst the natural waterholes elsewhere were still full. Giraffe were seen feeding on the acacia trees. Plains game species included springbok and oryx who seemed to enjoy feeding under the trees. In an adorable sighting two steenbok were seen playing with their young lamb. Most unusually a bushbuck was spotted outside the camp gate; this is unusual as this species tend to be found in more riverine areas.

Some interesting smaller animals were seen on the way to Baines Baobabs including bat-eared foxes, jackals, steenbok and slender mongoose. The pan by the historic trees still shimmered with water and although it was starting to dry up there were still aquatic birds such as African spoonbill, red-billed teal, glossy ibis and back-winged stilt. The baobabs themselves were still adorned with a crown of green leaves.

At Nxai Pan other bird species identified included northern black korhaan, ostrich, kori bustard and pale chanting goshawks.

(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, April 2018

Capturefile: G:My Pictures (BackUp)Botswana 200720071102.006DCIM100EOS1D_DM32209.CR2 CaptureSN: 537519.000000 Software: Capture One PRO for Windows

The Bonga Pride of thirteen adults and three young were seen extremely regularly throughout the month. These lions are beautifully relaxed around our vehicles meaning that we can spend great quality time with them. Although this is a large pride, it is mainly made up of sub-adults and their inexperience with hunting can make it a challenge for the lions to catch enough food to feed the fast-growing youngsters. Luckily, one of the older more experienced females is an expert hunter and she seemed to be specialising in targeting giraffes so the family were seen feasting on these large carcasses more than once. We also found them feeding on other prey species including zebra, kudu, warthog, wildebeest and hippo. One time the pride chased a male wildebeest which ran into a waterhole to escape them. They surrounded the pan and spent the whole day waiting for him to come back out straight into their teeth and claws.  It seemed as though our resident prides were starting to move back towards their more usual territories with the Bonga Pride moving towards Halfway Pan and the Wapoka Pride coming back to the concession from the south. The two territories were starting to overlap and towards the end of the month, the two males from the Bonga Pride were seen chasing away one of the females from the Wapoka Pride.

A female leopard with two very young cubs was discovered and seen more than once. At the end of the month they had an impala kill beneath a Feverberry Tree, but a hyena came and took the carcass from them. The following day, the mother was not around and there was only one cub waiting for her up on the tree, so we will have to wait and see if the second cub reappears. We saw a leopard hunting lechwe through the marshes, but unfortunately, he was unlucky. A sub-adult was seen trying his luck with impala a couple of times, but he didn’t succeed. In any event, he was being closely tailed by two hyenas who would have stood a good chance of overpowering him to steal the kill.

A pair of two wild dogs were back in the area and returned in style, chasing down and disembowelling an impala right in front of the safari vehicle. After eating their fill, they moved off to a nearby waterhole to drink.

There was an active hyena den near to Skimmer Pan and we were able to see two cubs. The hyenas were seen following lions as well as leopard, though they were keeping a respectful distance from the formidable Bonga Pride.

Guests were pleased with sightings of sable and roan antelope, as well as eland. There were large herds of zebra and wildebeest in the area as well as red lechwe who were enjoying the flooded pans. Other plains game species seen included giraffe, warthogs, impala and kudu.

The tall grasses made it a little harder than usual to see some of the smaller mammals, but we managed to spot species such as dwarf mongoose and yellow mongoose. Both back-backed and side-striped jackals were commonly seen. There was an interesting sighting of an olive grass snake eating a lizard.

Some of the migratory birds were starting to depart for warmer climes, but we still had plenty of ticks for keen birders including wattled cranes, kori bustard, tawny eagles, bateleur eagles. There were large flocks of wading birds such as yellow-billed storks and spoonbills. Black-winged pratincoles were seen in significant numbers.

 

(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, April 2018

LAGOON - davidlloyd-cat7-hyena

A pack of six wild dogs were seen in the area and the guides were excited to note that two of the females were pregnant. This is heard of from time to time, but quite unusual as generally it is just the alpha female who gives birth to pups. We tracked the pack until we discovered them them feeding on a young kudu by the airstrip at the middle of the month and they were seen very regularly thereafter. We saw them hunting impala, warthogs and kudu and witnessed them making kills more than once.

We found a highly active spotted hyena den towards the end of the month. During April we saw six adults and two cubs, but from the tracks we suspected that there were more who were still in the den. We had a lovely sighting of a cub being suckled by its mother before the two started playing a great came of chase around the den site. Eventually the female lifted the pup in her powerful jaws and took it back down inside the burrow.

The resident female leopard and her two sub-adult cubs were seen often, sometimes just 100 metres from camp. The cubs were getting more independent and we encountered them singly as well as with their mother. We enjoyed some fun sightings of them playing together on their own. One time the young female made a brave, or perhaps silly, chase of a hippo that she saw outside the water. Luckily for her the hippo ran into the waterhole rather than attack her. A different female leopard with cubs of 3-4 months old was seen in the Cheetah Valley where she had made a kill.

We were pleased to see the coalition of cheetah brothers in the area and saw them every day in the middle of the month. At one stage we tracked them to discover that they were feeding on a female ostrich, a dangerous and difficult prey for a cheetah as ostriches kick forward viciously to defend themselves and their long claws can do a great deal of damage. When we observed them the following day we noticed that one of them had a fresh scar under his belly, possibly from the ostrich encounter, but it didn’t seem to deter them as a few days later we found them feeding on yet another female ostrich.

Four male lions who recently moved into the area were seen at the start of the month, though their movement was not predictable as they were covering large distances marking their territory.  At one point two of them feasted on a buffalo kill for a couple of days. A different pair of male lions was also seen near to the airstrip. One of the two had fresh scars and the guides wondered if they had come into contact with the larger coalition. This pair linked up with two lionesses, one of whom appeared to be pregnant. These lionesses were seen stalking and hunting zebra without success but they did manage to bring down a warthog whilst we were watching. Unfortunately for them, the clan of hyenas heard the commotion of the warthog squealing and came to steal it from the lionesses. After staying towards Lebala for several months now, the Bonga Pride were occasionally seen at Halfway Pan, getting closer towards their old territory again.

There were plenty of elephants in the area; one day we heard a loud commotion and were lucky enough to see two of them mating. There are some lovely relaxed herds of sable and roan antelope in the area, including calves. Other general game sightings included hippo, giraffe, eland, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, impala, warthog, ostrich and giraffe. We had wonderful sightings of the smaller carnivores including African wildcat, bat-eared foxes, small spotted genets, large spotted genet and jackals.

An African harrier-hawk was observed feeding on the chicks of a Burchell’s startling, having discovered its nest in the hole of a tree. A family of four ground hornbills was seen hunting for frogs at the pans. Raptors seen during the month included martial eagle, tawny eagle, brown snake eagle, African hawk-eagles, secretary birds and bateleur eagles. In an unusual sighting more than ten black herons were seen at one waterhole. We also located a pair of Verreaux’s (giant) eagle owls regularly. Large numbers of vultures were seen on a carcass of a young wildebeest.

 

(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!)

Kwara, April 2018

KWARA - BGordon.Cat4wilddogshunting4.jpg

We were excited to see that the alpha female of the wild dog pack of eight was heavily pregnant and that she was busy digging around termite mounds as though looking for a den site. Her chosen location appeared to be very close to Little Kwara’s staff village, so the dogs were seen hunting impala in and around the camp island very regularly. Right at the start of April they came into conflict with a smaller pack of three dogs and a big fight ensued. Luckily none of the dogs suffered fatal injuries, although one of the dogs from the pack of eight lost half a tail. After this, the pack of three moved further to the west of the concession, but the larger pack stayed close to the camps and we stayed hopeful that they would den nearby. Watch this space….

Spotted hyenas had already started denning and in April we were able have lovely sightings of the mothers suckling their cubs. The two cubs were believed to be a couple of months old and were starting to be playful.

A resident female leopard was also believed to be pregnant; this individual was relaxed and in great condition. She was seen stalking reedbuck through the marshes and on another remarkable occasion was seen killing a civet right in front of the vehicle. Towards the end of the month, after not seeing her for a couple of weeks, we picked up her tracks and found her walking along the side of the runway. We were delighted to see that she was lactating, so hopefully we will have some new leopard cub sightings soon. There was a different female on the east of the concession, towards Splash and we were able to watch her hunting a few times. A handsome male leopard killed a female impala and dragged it up a sausage tree where he stayed for at least three days. Very conveniently, this was on the road between the camp and the airstrip, creating some special first and last impressions for guests. The kill attracted hyenas who waited at the bottom of the tree, hoping that some juicy morsels might fall to the ground.

At the start of the month guests were lucky enough to see the resident male cheetah, known as “Special” mating with a female. They stayed together for three days. This individual regularly clambers up onto a large rain tree as part of his territorial marking and it is always a remarkable sight to see this tree-climbing behaviour. We also saw him hunting both zebra and impala. A mother cheetah with two cubs was seen regularly, but the guides were worried for them as she didn’t seem to be having much success with her hunts and the cubs looked hungry.

As always, there was plenty of lion action at Kwara. The Mma Mogotla Pride killed a zebra in broad daylight. Our guides noted that the sub-adult males were growing their manes and fighting with their sisters to get first share of the kill. On the eastern side of the concession near Splash there was a pride of two males and two females in great condition. They were found on a zebra kill and the males were roaring the whole night.

Big breeding herds of elephant were seen and guests enjoyed watching them feeding and bathing. Giraffe were plentiful and mothers could be observed suckling their calves. Impala started their rutting season with the males vocally advertising their territories and vigorously defending their harems of females.

The sunset boat cruise produced beautiful sightings of malachite and pied kingfishers, different bee-eaters species, crocodiles, hippos and water monitors.

Right at the end of the month we had a lucky sighting of a female aardwolf.

 

(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!)