Splash, June 2019

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The pack of eight wild dogs were denning close to Splash and were visiting camp almost every day to kill an impala and then go back to regurgitate for the alpha female. She was heavily pregnant at the start of the month and the guides think that she gave birth during the second week as then she stayed down in the den.  Sometimes the resident lions tried to come and steal kills from the dogs. On the 28th June we got our first glance of the eleven puppies that this pack had produced and continued to see them daily thereafter.

Towards the end of the month there was a conflict between the pack of eight and the smaller pack of four wild dogs. We saw the two packs fighting and although the four dogs managed to escape the larger pack went to their den and spent the whole day lying in ambush. Over the next few days they continued with this ambushing behaviour and we feared for the lives of the smaller pack’s puppies as we hadn’t seen them since the big confrontation, but right on the last day of the month we were relieved to see that the three puppies from the smaller pack were still alive and doing well. This story then took a very interesting turn in the weeks that followed – stay tuned to July’s sighting report for the next exciting instalment!

Big herds of elephant and buffalo could be seen coming down from the northern part of the concession to drink at the permanent water channels on the border of Moremi Game Reserve. Guests loved watching the elephant procession as they swam, fed and mud-bathed. One time we were lucky enough to witness the incredible sighting of an elephant giving birth. The big buffalo bulls were observed sun-bathing and wallowing in mud; some of the females were nursing their calves.

The Splash pride were seen at the waterhole in front of Kwara camp – perhaps looking for a sneak preview of the rebuilt camp which will be opening in September! We saw the pride feeding on a freshly killed warthog, but the prey was a sub-adult so there was not enough food to go around, leading to lots of exciting purrs and growls. On the east of the Kwara Reserve two intruder male lions killed a big male buffalo and we found them looking extremely full-bellied after their huge meal. We also saw the dominant males bring down a buffalo bull and they feasted on that carcass for a few days. We saw one of the resident males trying to court a lioness from the One Eye Pride, but she did not seem receptive.

The lion kills attracted many scavenging hyenas and jackals.

We were fortunate enough to find aardvark a couple of times during night drive, although the creature was quite shy. A very relaxed aardwolf was seen frequently on lechwe plains foraging on snouted termites and harvester termites. A honey badger with a young cub were to be found foraging along the pathways at Splash camp. Serval and genet were located on night drive.

The resident male cheetah known as Special was seen hunting often with prey species ranging from warthog to kudu calves. One time we were lucky enough to watch him stalking, then chasing and killing an impala. Another time we saw him losing a kudu carcass to a clan of hyenas. Right at the end of the month he killed a warthog piglet very close to Splash Room 1.

A young female leopard was seen stalking regularly near to Splash camp, one time being followed by a hyena hoping for the chance to steal a kill.

Other general game included roan antelope and sitatunga.

A pair of endangered wattled cranes were usually to be found on the Kwara flood plain. Four species of vulture were identified. Guests enjoyed photographing a goliath heron finish his kill of a frog with the amphibian’s legs dangling out of the bird’s bill. Other sightings included saddle-billed storks, ground hornbills, short-tailed eagles and tawny eagles.

(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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