Kwara Reserve, Sep 2018

ALopezSpajani.Cat2Cheeta

Two lionesses had a den near to Mabala Dikgokong where they were raising six cubs. They were seen very often and our guiding team now fondly refer to them as the ‘Splash Pride’. They were often near to their den, feeding on impala, reedbuck, and zebra kills (the pride was so effective that they were collectively described by one guide as “a killing machine”!) The cubs were very active, usually playing around, and we enjoyed watching them nurse from their mothers. One day we had a gorgeous sighting of them drinking at a waterhole, their perfect reflection making for a wonderful photo opportunity. They were disturbed from their original den by two females from the Mma Leitho pride, but continued to be sighted most days. After chasing off the Splash Pride the females of Mma Leitho joined up with two resident males and ended up killing a tsessebe together. Two new male lions were seen to the east of Splash.
 
A big pack of twenty two wild dogs was seen on the eastern side of the Kwara reserve and were regularly targeting impala. The Kwara pack of wild dogs appeared again after about a month’s absence. During their time away they appeared to have lost one of their puppies, but still had ten youngsters, now hunting with the adults. We saw that they managed to kill a red lechwe, a reedbuck and also an impala, although lions drove them off the latter and took over the carcass. A third pack of just three adults with two puppies were found on the eastern side of the Kwara reserve and were seen feeding on an impala.
 
The resident male cheetah, affectionally known as “Special” was following his usual pattern of traversing the whole Kwara reserve from east to west. He was seen feeding on a warthog piglet and we also saw him chase down and kill and impala. He killed an adult warthog near to the Old Mokoro Station where we saw him feasting, surrounded by hungry vultures and side-striped jackals.
 
On one day we saw a fascinating intraspecific competition: the male cheetah killed an impala but was driven away by a leopard and in turn the carcass was stolen by the lions. We followed a new female cheetah as she hunted, although she was not lucky on that occasion. There was also a new male cheetah in the area.
To gain respite from the steadily-increasing daytime heat the leopards were enjoying resting on shady branches of the Sausage Trees which were now in full bloom displaying striking blood-red flowers. We found a male and female leopard together on such a tree, but the female was a little skittish and jumped down. A female leopard in the Splash area was gradually getting used to the safari vehicles and one day was seen drinking at the camp waterhole. We managed to drive around to take a closer look and after initially ducking into some bushes she came out and rested on a termite mound giving us a better opportunity to enjoy her. There was also a young male resident in the area.
 
Spotted hyena were often seen in the Splash area, and inside camp itself.
 
There were lots of elephants in the area, with a breeding herd coming to drink at the camp waterhole in the afternoons. Further afield we enjoyed watching elephants cross the channels and especially seeing how they worked together to help their calves climb up the steeper banks. Bachelor herds of buffalo bulls were seen regularly in the marsh where we watched them feeding and mud-bathing. Overall, the general game was very plentiful.
A honey badger was seen killing a rock python in an incredible tussle.
 
By the start of September the flood waters were high and had attracted lots of waterbirds to the area including herons, slaty egrets and carmine bee-eaters. The heronry sites at Xobega and Gadikwe were both active. Yellow-billed kites had returned to the area for the summer months.
 
(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!)
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