Splash, Mar 2019

BBreiding.Cat4Cheetahs splash

The male cheetah known as “Special” by our guides was seen often and we held our breath as we watched this favourite resident being stalked by a lioness from the One-Eyed Pride. Luckily for the cheetah the wind changed direction as the lion got very close and when he picked up the bigger cat’s scent he bolted away. This is the second time that the same lioness has targeted Special. As with the previous month, Special was having some luck targeting ostrich and we were lucky enough to witness one of these kills. Another time we saw him try for a warthog, but the sow aggressively defended her piglets and managed to drive the cheetah away. We also saw him hunt impala more than once, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.

A female cheetah with her cub were seen a few times, including a remarkable sighting where we were watching them with a fresh impala kill. Suddenly, a male leopard appeared and chased away the cheetahs to take over the kill. After about an hour two hyenas came over and started fighting with the leopard over the carcass and then, having successfully won it from the cat, the hyenas then started to fight each other for the prize! An incredible morning’s action for our lucky guests to witness.

There were three resident packs of wild dog in the Kwara Reserve during March, a pack of sixteen towards Kwara, a pack of nine near Splash and a pack of four towards the east. We had an amazing sighting when we started following the dogs during afternoon game drive, only to find that they were leading us back towards camp again. They started to chase impala and were getting away from the vehicles when camp radioed through to say that they had made a kill right in front of the kitchen. As it was almost sundowner time guests disembarked the vehicles to see the dogs whilst on foot at the main area. That particular day, aside from the wild dogs, there were elephants in front of camp and hyenas coming in to try and steal the kill, interacting with the dog pack!  Towards the end of the month one of the pack of nine went missing but we were not sure if it had been killed or whether it had naturally dispersed from the pack to find a new territory.

As in the previous month, the Splash pride were still residing more to the west after two big male lions known as “Puffy” and “Big Man” took up the territory nearer to Splash camp. These males were in prime condition; they mostly hunted at night but one time we watched as they made an awesome attempt on a zebra, running right in front of our vehicles. They also took over a kill made in camp by the wild dogs – the pack’s second kill in camp that month. The lionesses on the Splash side of the reserve are known as the “One Eye” pride. These two lionesses had two cubs, but during the month one disappeared so our guides assumed that it had died. We found these animals feeding on a wildebeest. We managed to stay in touch with the Splash pride and in one unusual sighting we watched as the cubs were playing with a water monitor. It was interesting to see how the lizard defended itself by whipping its tail.

Two young male leopards were located at Honeymoon Pan; they appeared to be having a territorial battle.

There were a good number of hyenas in the area. One morning the guests could see a hyena from the camp fire and it turned out that it was eating a jackal.

Big herds of elephants were moving south through the Kwara reserve so that they could get access to water at the main channel. Guests enjoyed seeing them drinking and bathing. Due to the dry conditions general game was also pushed closer to the river; species included plentiful zebra, giraffe, impala, wildebeest, tsessebe, red lechwe, reedbuck and warthog.

Birdlife was excellent and summer migrants such as the carmine bee-eater, woodland kingfisher and purple rollers were still in the region. Raptors included African fish eagle, bateleur and Ayres hawk-eagle. Tawny eagles and vultures were seen perched on trees waiting for predators to finish eating. Lesser jacana, African jacana and malachite kingfisher were spotted during the boat cruise. Different types of hornbill were identified, including the endangered ground hornbill. Secretary birds were seen feeding and were being followed by lots of carmine bee-eaters hawking the disturbed insects. One day distress calls from starlings and hornbills led us to a two-metre black mamba at the base of a large fever berry tree.

(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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