Lagoon, Dec 2018

jbowen.cat7lionmom

At the start of the December our guides managed to find a lion den with two females looking after four cubs of approximately one month old, whilst another three lions were resting nearby. Initially the lionesses were keeping their young well hidden in the bushes, but later in the month we were able to see the females nursing their cubs. Occasionally we were lucky to catch them out in the open and playing. One lioness killed a tsessebe and we could tell that she dragged it a very long way to bring it nearer to the den site. Two male lions were seen mating females for much of the month, so hopefully there will be even more cubs soon. We found two lionesses on a tsessebe carcass that they had killed earlier in the morning. Male lions were seen hunting on hippos near to the channel.
 
The resident pack of six adult wild dogs with their 6-month-old puppy were located finishing an impala carcass one morning. In the afternoon they were hunting again, this time trying their luck on tsessebe and wildebeest. The following day we saw them kill two impalas. One time the puppy tried to chase a family of mongoose who balled up together to defend themselves.
 
We found a leopard near to camp, heading towards the brown hyena den and different tom leopard was seen a couple of times, once resting up on a tree, but he was shy and eventually he jumped down and ran into the blue bushes.
 
The brown hyena cubs continued to do well and were seen regularly. The cubs are still playful and guests were able to get lovely shots of them being active. We enjoyed watching them socialising and sometimes nibbling food that they had been brought by their mother the previous night.
 
Spotted hyena were also seen a few times, mainly patrolling and sometimes within five minutes of camp. They were seen near to the brown hyena den, one time two killed and ate an Egyptian goose right at the den entrance, we will just have to hope that our precious brown hyena cubs do not get attacked by the larger dominant species. Once the summer rains started in earnest towards the end of the month our guides noticed that the spotted hyenas were actively hunting on the rainy nights, specialising on wildebeest.
 
General game was reported to be very good, with elephants and giraffes crossing through the marshes, though after rains towards the end of the month the elephants started to head deeper into the mophane woodlands. A small bush fire followed by rain meant that grazers including roan antelope, tsessebe, eland, impala, kudu, zebra and reedbuck were in good numbers enjoying the new shoots of green grass. Baboons also enjoyed staying in the same area as these herds, presumably seeking protection amongst the plentiful eyes and ears. Many of the antelope species had given birth to their young. A batchelor herd of buffalo were found north of camp.
 
In terms of smaller mammals located, serval, civet, jackals, bat-eared foxes, honey badgers, spring hares and mongoose were all seen during December. We enjoyed a lovely sighting of an African wild cat pouncing on and killing a mouse.
 
There were four species of vultures in the area: white-headed, hooded, lappet-faced and white-backed. Migrants such as the woodland kingfishers, lesser spotted eagles, Wahlberg’s eagles all returned to the Kwando Reserve for the summer. At one point there was a feeding frenzy of some 120 lesser spotted eagles near to the brown hyena den. Saddle-billed storks and the elegant wattled cranes were favourites for some of our guests.
 
(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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