Lagoon, June 2019

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Night drives at Lagoon were productive during June yielding sightings of African civet, serval, genet and porcupine. We were even lucky enough to see aardvark and even MATING aardwolf! There was also an active aardwolf den at Grass Pan where were able to see the cubs.

As the dry weather continued herds of buffalo up to 300 strong could be located near to the channels and the Bonga Pride of lions who have always enjoyed specialising on buffalo were never far behind them. We saw many kills, of which this is one example: we had stopped to admire a pearl-spotted owlet sunbathing when our guide heard vervet monkeys giving an alarm call. Moving in that direction he saw a huge cloud of dust caused by buffaloes stampeding. Then right in the middle of the herd he spotted a sub-adult male lion who was chasing them, but the buffaloes mobbed the cat and drove him away. Just when we thought it was all over, a lioness attacked the buffalo herd from the rear and managed to take down a calf as the buffalo scattered in confusion. The rest of the pride appeared and kept the buffaloes at bay whilst the lioness suffocated the calf. Eventually the buffaloes moved on and the rest of the lions came to join in the feast.

At the start of the month a single lioness who had isolated herself from the Holy Pride was seen lactating and so guides were excited that she might have cubs hidden somewhere. She is a warthog specialist and was often seen actively hunting or feeding on a kill. The rest of the pride comprised six lionesses with ten small cubs and we saw them nursing often, their cubs making adorable noises as they begged for milk. It Was interesting to observe how the lionesses cross-suckled each other’s young, a behaviour not seen in all predator species. The two resident male lions kept calling to mark their presence in their territory. One time we saw the pride feasting on a buffalo which they had killed at night. All the lions had very full bellies and the cubs were being extremely playful and climbing trees. The lions stayed on this huge carcass for three days before moving off.

A resident female leopard had been seen hunting in the morning. She kept going up into the trees to look for any possible danger as well as trying to find prey.

The resident pack of wild dogs had ten puppies at the start of the month and we were able to witness lovely scenes at the den site as the puppies played with each other and interacted with the adults. We also saw the adult dogs hunting as they went out without the alpha female to look for food. However unfortunately another pack came in and found the resident pack. A big fight ensued and the alpha female had so many injuries that she was unable to nurse the pups and they died. The pack then temporarily relocated out of the area

The two resident cheetah brothers were seen hunting, climbing up onto termite mounds to scan the area for prey. Eventually they killed a warthog and we found them with full bellies the following day. We watched as they rolled on the ground to leave their scent and then they moved off, stopping to spray bushes as part of their territorial markings. We saw them a few days later feeding on a fresh warthog kill.

A female spotted hyena was running around a former old den site with a piece of meat in her mouth so we hoped that they had also come back for denning. Two hyenas were located with full bellies after they stole a waterbuck kill from a lone lioness.

General game was excellent. We saw herds of zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala, wildebeest, especially near to the permanent channels. An extremely relaxed herd of fifteen sable antelope were enjoying the shorter grass on our firebreak and allowed vehicles much closer than this shyer species would usually accept. Roan antelope were also regularly sighted. There were plenty of hippos in front of the camp basking in the sun during the cold winter mornings. Elephants were seen very frequently, one time they came for a morning drink at Muddy Waters, ignoring the fifteen lions lying nearby!

Good numbers of hippo and crocodile were seen on the boat trips.

Birdlife was fantastic both on land and in the water. We had beautiful sightings of giant kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, storks, ibis, herons and egrets on the boat trip.

(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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