Splash, Sep 2019

WMorgan.Cat1Leopard in tree Lebala

A pack of wild dogs comprising eleven adults and thirteen puppies were found resting after a successful hunt; the puppies were extremely playful making for some great photo opportunities. One evening during dinner at Splash camp the same pack made a kill of an impala between rooms four and five. As the lions were not far away, they heard the commotion and came in to take over the carcass. The following morning, we found the dogs highly mobile with two puppies missing and lions roaring in the direction that they had come from. Sadly, the two puppies never reappeared.

We watched in amazement as a different pack of fourteen adults and twelve puppies managed to kill three impala during a single chase.

The resident male cheetah known as Special was seen looking healthy and well-fed. One time we saw him bring down and kill a common reedbuck right in front of the safari vehicle. We also saw him chasing and killing a young warthog and a sub-adult reedbuck. A female cheetah with two cubs was new to the area, but was still skittish around vehicles so the guides were careful to give her lots of extra space until she gets used to us.

A female leopard, known as Splash girl seemed to have developed a taste for side-striped jackal and we saw her feeding on a remarkable four jackal carcasses during the month. A male leopard was seen south of Splash camp with a common reedbuck carcass up on a tree; we were able to revisit the animal over a four-day period, but still the leopard was quite shy.

The Splash pride of two lionesses with their six cubs were found hunting and they killed an impala. Later that evening they came through to Splash camp, the first time they have been seen there since they were pushed further west by the arrival of two new males late last year. Another time we heard zebra distress calls as we were still having early morning coffee in camp and started the safari only to find Splash Pride feeding on a carcass close to Room 1. Guests were able to take fantastic photos in great light. A few minutes later we came across two lionesses who are new to the area with their cubs. They had blood stains all over their faces so the guides suspected that they were the ones who had taken down the zebra, but Splash Pride had taken over their kill.  Splash Pride were also seen making unsuccessful attempts on reedbuck and warthog during the month. The cubs were very playful and enjoy climbing trees to the delight of our guests.

We saw the same new lionesses with their cubs a few times. The lionesses were still being careful to hide their newborn cubs in the marsh area, but we saw the adults on a warthog carcass, surrounded by vultures.

The two resident male lions were lucky enough to find a sick buffalo who they finished off and then enjoyed eating for the next three days. We also saw them trying to hunt tsessebe, but these fast antelope moved off too quickly for the lions

Mother Eye Pride managed to kill a tsessebe but lost it to spotted hyenas; the lions were up on a mound covered in blood watching the clan devour their meal. Another time we watched as two spotted hyenas made an attempt to chase some impala, but they didn’t manage to make a kill.

General game included giraffe who were feeding on sausage tree fruits in addition to their usual browsing. As the dry weather continued, there were big herds of elephants along the main channel. Guests enjoyed watching breeding herds drinking and mud-bathing. A roan antelope bull could be seen drinking at the camp waterhole in the mornings and afternoons. On the boat cruise we saw plenty of crocodiles and also had lovely sitatunga sightings.

The guides were delighted to discover a new aardwolf den. We were able to enjoy wonderfully relaxed sightings with a range of smaller mammals on night drive including serval, civet, African wild cat. A shy honey badger was seen close to the Splash parking area and another with a cub was seen digging for rodents by the side of a tree.

A beautiful group of four ostrich with their twenty-two chicks let us spend good time photographing them. It was breeding time for many of the birds in the region; at the Xobega heronry we found a good number of yellow-billed, marabou and open-billed storks nesting.

(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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