Lebala, Dec 2019

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The resident Wapoka pride was located on 29 out of 31 days in December. This large pride comprises five females, eleven sub-adult cubs and two males. We were able to follow them as they hunted and took down a buffalo bull. They were also taking full advantage of the herbivore breeding season by feeding on impala lambs and zebra foals. Once we saw that the two male lions had been left to babysit whilst the lionesses went hunting. In a bold move three male lions came across from Lagoon as far as the Lebala airstrip. Meanwhile the resident males were enjoying the carcass of an elephant calf along with the female with three very small cubs. By observing circling vultures, we were able to locate two sub-adult males and a sub-adult female feasting on a large giraffe.

Guides were excited to see the resident pack of wild dogs as they had been absent for a little while. This is a small pack of just two adults and two sub-adults. The youngsters were very playful, running around and even splashing through water.

A female cheetah with four cubs was located. In a fascinating encounter, we were able to watch as she gave the cubs a lesson in hunting. She had caught an impala lamb but deliberately didn’t finish it off herself so that the cubs could learn and practise the killing skills they would need later in life.  We also came across the coalition of two cheetah brothers a couple of times on kills.

In a rare sighting for Lebala, we were lucky enough to come across a brown hyena. Spotted hyenas were located more frequently and once we had a lovely sighting of them bathing and playing in a pool.

A tom leopard was located highly mobile; we followed him for a while before he headed deep into the mopane woodland.

Most of the general game animals were in full breeding mode with babies at foot. Species included kudu, impala, warthog, steenbok, eland and wildebeest. We enjoyed lovely sightings of red lechwe leaping as they crossed channels, however on one dramatic occasion a lechwe was attached by a crocodile. They fought for about thirty minutes before the antelope finally managed to get away.

Elephants were in the area, coming down to the pools to drink; once we saw them chasing off a pride of lions. It was wonderful to see breeding herds crossing the channels with their calves. Guests enjoyed seeing hippos playing and opening their mouths wide “yawning” in a territorial display to show off their tusks. An unusually big herd of sixty giraffe were seen alongside herds of zebra. Sitatunga were seen on the flood plain next to a big flock of pelicans.

We had an active aardwolf den and were able to see the mother with her three cubs playing and feeding on termites. Bat-eared foxes also had cubs. On night drive we encountered a relaxed serval, aardwolf, African wild cat, honey badger and African civet

Some guests were particularly fascinated with dung beetles rolling their balls and burying them in the sand.

Notable bird sightings included ground hornbills, woolly-necked storks, carmine bee-eaters, brown snake-eagles, tawny eagles, martial eagles, black herons, yellow-billed kites, saddle-billed storks, woodland kingfishers, broad-billed rollers, carmine bee-eaters, pink-backed pelicans and Verreaux’s (Giant) eagle owl. We saw a pair of ostrich with their fifteen chicks.

(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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