Lagoon, Nov 2019

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During November, Lagoon guests were able to experience a remarkable combination of predator breeding behaviour as we were fortunate enough to have active dens for brown hyena, aardwolf, bat-eared fox and (very out of season) wild dogs. In addition, lions and leopards were also seen mating.

The brown hyena den had fresh tracks and a few times an adult was visible outside the den. The aardwolf den was very active, especially in the early hours of the morning and we were able to enjoy the cubs interacting with their parents. A new bat-eared fox den was discovered and one day we found the adults harassing a honey badger that was trying to enter their den. As the month progressed, we saw that they had six fox cubs. Other smaller mammals encountered during night drives included African civet, African wild cat, porcupines and spotted hyenas. One time we were lucky enough to come across a relaxed porcupine during the day.

Unusually for the time of year, the resident wild dog pack of two females and three males were found denning. We were able to watch them catching impala, but in another less successful hunting mission they had to turn tail and run back towards their den as they were chased by a herd of wildebeest.

As we stopped to take a picture of a broad-billed roller, we heard the mating call of leopards behind the nearby bushes. We quietly moved closer and found our resident female looking very relaxed but her suitor was shyer and he quickly moved off. After staying with the female for a while we heard the male calling and so decided to leave the female in peace as she went to re-join him in the thick mopane woodland. We came across the pair again a few days later when the female was seen chasing off a sub-adult who was trying to join her. Later in the month we enjoyed an exciting encounter with a tom leopard who was in hunting mode. Although he was not lucky on that occasion, our guests were able to get some stunning photos as he stood up on termite mounds surveying the area for prey. The following day we were able to watch him as he stalked impala.

We picked up tracks of a male lion who appeared to have paced repeatedly up and down the road. As we got down to investigate, we saw him disappearing into some bushes and moving closer we found a male with a young lioness, with two other males watching nearby. This was the three Northern males and it seemed that they were extending their territory southwards. The lionesses that they with were two who had broken away from the large Wapoka Pride that is usually found closer to Lebala camp. These lions were also seen feeding on a buffalo carcass and stalking wildebeest and warthog.

The Northern Pride lioness with four subadults was located a few times, including near to camp. We saw them trying to hunt buffalo, but without success.

We followed tracks from the resident two cheetah brothers all the way from the airstrip to Second Lagoon where we found them having a drink. We saw them trying their luck on kudu and red lechwe without success, but were lucky enough to see them bring down and kill a common reedbuck. We also saw a bigger, older, coalition of two male cheetahs feeding at various times on eland and tsessebe.

General game species included zebra, eland, giraffe, wildebeest, tsessebe, kudu, impala, warthog, red lechwe, sable and roan antelope. Breeding herds of elephant could be seen mud-bathing and crossing the channels. We were lucky enough to come across a pair of leopard tortoises mating.

Trapped fish in drying pools attracted many different species including pink-backed pelicans, slaty egrets and different kinds of stork. Spoonbills were also located in the same area. Long-crested eagles were seen, this being prime time to find them in the Kwando Reserve. Other notable bird sightings included Verreaux’s (Giant) eagle owls, woodland kingfishers, saddle-billed storks and carmine bee-eaters.

(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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