Lebala, Dec 2018

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The coalition of two male cheetah brothers were located next to Skimmer Pan. We watched them drinking and followed them as they tried to hunt, however unfortunately they bumped into a pride of eight lions and ran away in fright. Later in the month we were thrilled to see a new coalition of four male cheetahs; they were a bit shy but we were able to watch them from a distance.
 
The three cubs of Wapuka Pride were sometimes left behind whilst the adults were hunting. One time as we were watching the youngsters a clan of seven hyenas came around trying to kill the cubs, but the little ones were clever enough to climb up a tree and escape. One time we tracked the whole pride as it was moving along the woodland and saw them taking down a zebra foal. The two resident males, known as Sebastian and Old Gun, dominated the kill and chased away the females. We also saw the pride lying full-bellied after eating a wildebeest and a different time the males were found feeding on a warthog. Old Gun gave our team a good early morning wake-up call one morning by roaring right outside the staff village! We were quickly able to get out on morning drive to find him.
 
Bonga Pride were also in the area and these lions seemed to be specialising on blue wildebeest as we saw them a few times on different carcasses. One time the pride we were watching the lionesses and the two big males came in to take over the kill. The females started roaring and we heard other lions respond. We went to check on who was calling and found it was a different pride altogether who were busy hunting baboons.
 
A clan of three spotted hyena were scavenging on the remains of an elephant calf.
 
The resident pack of two wild dogs popped up one morning as guides and guests were enjoying a morning tea break. We quickly packed up and followed them hunting impala and red lechwe. Later in the month another pack of six adults and one puppy were tracked for almost three hours and we found them lying under the trees. We returned in the afternoon and the patient work of the morning was rewarded by a hunt, culminating in them bringing down and eating an impala lamb. We saw this larger pack hunting a few times and once finishing off a warthog.
 
The resident female leopard known as Jane was in the area. One time we followed her hunting, but she seemed reluctant as she was being followed by a hyena who seemed to be hoping to steal a kill from her. A few days later we were watching her as a warthog ran out of the bushes. Jane then investigated further and found a warthog burrow. She proceeded to kill all three piglets, one after another. The following day, we were thrilled to realise that she was nursing newborn cubs and we were able to see her carrying them from one den to another. Jane’s now adult son, known as Fisherman was tracked until we found him. It is so lovely to see different generations of this same leopard family continuing to thrive in the Lebala area.
 
Right along the airstrip road there was an active den for the black-backed jackals with four playful puppies. A serval was often seen stalking prey along the edge of the marsh and a couple of times we found an African wild cat hunting.
 
A fallen strangler fig near to Twin Pools attracted a very large herd of breeding elephants who seemed to loved feasting on the tree. Some of the elephants were lying down horizontally whilst still managing to feed.
 
A herd of twelve buffalo were grazing along the road being followed by lots of cattle egret who were snatching up grasshoppers and other insects disturbed by the large bovines.
 
At the start of the month there was extremely good general game in the marsh area; the animals were hanging near to the water as the natural waterholes dried up. Species seen at the time included elephant, giraffe, impala, red lechwe, wildebeest, zebra and hippo. A very relaxed herd of six adult roan antelopes and their two calves were found near to Baobab Pan. In the same area we also located a herd of eight sable, also with two calves.
 
We had lovely bird sightings near to the marsh including openbilled storks, black herons, kingfishers, egrets, swallows and steppe eagles. After some summer rains fell a large number of eagles were seen feeding on termite alates, also known as “flying ants”. We had a great sighting of two rosy-throated longclaws – a very prized sighting for keen birders. There were still a good number of carimine bee-eaters in the area.
 
(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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