Splash, Aug 2019

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We continued observing the resident wild dog pack who adopted three puppies from their neighbours. The pack now numbered eight adults and fourteen young including the new additions. It was interesting to note that all of the puppies were being treated equally by the adults. At the start of the month all seemed to be doing well, however during the month one of the “kidnapped” puppies disappeared, presumed dead. The puppies were at a very playful age, providing great entertainment for our guests. We were able to follow the pack many times as they chased and brought down their prey, mainly impala.

The resident male lions were found feeding on an elephant calf. A couple of days later the remains of this huge feast was being finished off by a clan of fifteen hyena with large numbers of vultures waiting for their chance at the carcass. These lions were targeting substantial prey and we also saw them feeding on a kudu bull and a buffalo. The two males were also seen marking their territory by spraying on bushes, an important activity because three new males were seen in the Kwara Reserve for the first time, appearing from the east and travelling towards Splash. A new pride of two females with seven cubs was also found; although the six-month cubs were very shy their mothers appeared to be well used to vehicles.

Meanwhile at the start of the month the resident Splash pride were looking hungry. We saw the two females trying to hunt zebra, but their six cubs were more of a hindrance than a help and scared the prey away. They eventually started managing to make some kills including warthog and by the middle of the month were seen feasting on an elephant carcass. One day we found them chasing a pack of wild dogs.

One Eye Pride were located hunting initially without success, but a few days later they we found them feeding on their target prey of waterbuck.

A resident female leopard was located up on a tree, eyeing up a nearby herd of red lechwe and a male was found with a porcupine kill up a tree; it was no doubt a tricky manoeuvre to lift this prickly carcass into place and the meal kept him busy for a couple of days.

There was plenty of cheetah action during September, with sightings on 23 separate days. The resident male spent about three weeks hunting near to Splash camp and we were lucky enough to witness him hunting impala and making a kill. He also was seen feeding on steenbok. A female cheetah with her three sub-adult cubs was hunting very successfully in the area and we saw them feeding on reedbuck and impala. A different lone female cheetah was spotted hunting at sunset. We revisited the area in the morning and found her feeding on a reedbuck. She was also seen with her sub-adult son feeding on impala.

A clan of four spotted hyenas were observed nursing their cubs.

Night drives were productive. A drive after dinner one night yielded springhare, African civet, African wild cat, bat-eared foxes, six hyena, a serval and a marsh owl. Other smaller mammals seen during the month included honey badgers and porcupines.

Good numbers of general game species could be found grazing on the edge of the floodplain near Tsum Tsum including a lovely herd of sixteen sable antelopes and some eland.  We were excited to discover sable and roan antelope were also turning up at the Splash camp waterhole. Zebra were plentiful. Big herds of buffalo could be seen heading towards the permanent water channels and family groups of elephant could be observed drinking, playing and dust-bathing.

There were some interesting raptor sightings. A bateleur eagle was seen feeding on a side-striped jackal whilst a martial eagle killed and ate a yellow-billed stork. One morning a Verreaux’s eagle owl was seen eating a snake. Endangered wattled cranes and ground hornbills continued to thrive in the Kwara Reserve.

(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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