Lagoon, Sep 2019

KJONES_CAT2_WildDogs

At the start of the month the resident pack of five wild dogs were doing very well and we usually found them looking full. One day the pack was located feeding on a roan antelope near to the boat station. Another morning the dogs passed right through camp so we followed them as they moved on marking their territory and eventually, they killed an impala. At the start of the month this pack comprised two males and three females, however after a few weeks a male and female went missing, leaving just a pack of three. It is not certain whether the other two dogs dispersed naturally to find another pack, or whether some harm came to them. However, given the depleted numbers of this resident pack (which had originally started as seven), we were excited to find a new pack in the area which the guides named Rra Mosetha after the extremely pale alpha male. We saw this new pack make a kudu kill. Right at the end of the month we saw the pack of five fiercely attack the smaller group of three who eventually retreated.

A leopard was spotted resting close to a fallen baobab at the beginning of the month, but afterwards we didn’t have a leopard sighting for a few days. Then one morning one of our guides was doing early morning wake up calls and heard the call and growl of a leopard. The guides went to investigate and found a half-eaten impala carcass in camp. They followed the tracks through some Kalahari apple-leaf trees and were lucky enough to follow the beautiful cat for a while until she rested up on a sausage tree. Another morning we were entertained as she launched into a small tree to catch a squirrel at the end of a very thin branch. We also saw her catch and kill a steenbok. Towards month-end we were luckily enough to find two leopards mating at night.

As we were driving along the riverine area enjoying the beautiful early morning light, we came across a herd of antelope enjoying the green flush along the edge of the floodplains. We heard lions roaring and headed in their direction where we found two males and four females trying to cross a channel, but hesitating because of the presence of crocodiles. After an hour they started making contact calls and we heard cubs responding across the channel. Eventually the lionesses crossed over and the males followed thereafter.

The Mma Moselha pride comprising two females and three cubs were found eating a warthog at Kwena Lagoon. Another day, guests were enjoying their sundowner drinks when a herd of buffalo came down to drink. All of a sudden, the buffalo started to run and as we watched we saw a cloud of dust and heard a calf screaming. The gins and tonics were hastily packed away and on taking a closer look we saw that two lionesses were suffocating a calf. We watched for some time until the lions started feeding and dragged the carcass off into some bushes.

The huge Holy Pride comprised some 19 lions and were targeting big game such as elephant, buffalo, eland, kudu, wildebeest and zebra. They were hunting successfully and were seen on many different carcasses. The warthog specialists known as Mma Dikolobe Pride continued to deliver superb sightings. When we followed them hunting these skilled lionesses were almost guaranteed to make a kill.

One morning a lioness with three cubs confidently walked along the river in front of camp whilst guests were enjoying their early morning coffee in the main area.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were found resting on a termite mound and we were amazed when they bravely, or perhaps rashly, decided to try their luck on a passing herd of approximately two thousand buffalo. Not surprisingly they were unsuccessful. We also saw two new bigger male cheetahs in the area again; they were first seen the previous month.  These new arrivals seem older than our usual males as they are much bigger and stronger physically.

General game was abundant all over the area. We encountered big herds of buffalo and elephants as well as roan and sable antelope. A pair of impala rams fighting was named as a highlight for some of our guests.

More than ten crocodiles were seen feeding on a hippo carcass near First Lagoon. There is one huge crocodile which has been nicknamed Hanad by the guides. Although it has a short tail the animal is estimated to be over five metres long and guides therefore think it could have attained the maximum life expectancy of 70 to 100 years.

We saw honey badgers during night drive. An unusually relaxed porcupine was seen feeding on rhizomes during the day. A serval was hunting rodents along the flood plains during the day, but he switched to fishing at night. Spotted hyenas were seen feeding on an elephant carcass.

The breeding colony of carmine bee-eaters at Kwena Lagoon continued to increase in size, creating an amazing spectacle for birders.

(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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