Splash / Kwara, Jan 2020

THarden Cat1 Lions drinking

Four new young male lions made a bold move on the Kwara Reserve and seemed intent on pushing out the resident males that we know as Big Man and Puffy. One of them was limping and it seemed as though they had come into conflict with either the residents or the Zulu Boys who were also hanging around. Our guides were sad that these new lions killed a rather special young lioness who was recognisable by her ginger/cinnamon colouring.  Towards the end of the month we witnessed a fight and lots of chasing between the four new males and the residents. The ongoing battle between these male lions mean that the nights were full of roaring as each side tried to proclaim their territory. Big Man and Puffy were still in the area at the end of the month, but looking extremely nervous. The resident Splash Pride of eight seemed keen to avoid the new males, but we found them a couple of times eating warthogs that they had just killed.

The three resident packs of wild dogs continued to provide plenty of action.  We followed the pack of eighteen as they hunted and killed impalas on a regular basis. One time they managed to kill four impala lambs at once. Vultures and kites could be seen finishing up the leftovers. They also killed a waterbuck calf near Room 12 at Splash.

Meanwhile, the Marsh Pack of twenty-five dogs were also located hunting around the Splash area. One day they came running straight through camp chasing impalas. Eventually they killed two lambs right next to the workshop, devoured them quickly and then continued on with their hunt.

The resident male cheetah known as Special was very active in terms of marking his territory and hunting; he was located on most days as he moved between the eastern and western side of the Kwara reserve. We saw him hunting and killing various antelope species including impala, common reedbuck and a wildebeest calf. Once we saw his kill be taken by two male lions.

A female cheetah was busy tracking Special’s marking posts, indicating that she was ready for mating again. When we saw her in the area last year, she was travelling with her sub-adult son, but this year she left him behind at the mokoro station where he was seen calling for her. We saw her hunting and killing an impala lamb.

Herds of elephant could be seen feeding and bathing in the channels. Guests enjoyed watching the young calves playing. Big bull elephants were regularly feeding on the Kwara camp islands and breeding herds could be seen drinking water at the pan in front of camp. A herd of approximately 300 buffalo was seen in the area.

A relaxed tom leopard known as Golden Boy was located frequently near to Kwara. Vervet monkeys alarm-calling revealed a shyer individual and another time it was the snorting of impalas that gave away the location of the cat. A female leopard was found up on a sausage tree.

Spotted hyenas were denning and we were able to see the single cub nursing from its mother. A clan was seen scavenging on a dead giraffe that appeared to have died of natural causes. We also saw hyenas eating a reedbuck carcass and another time watched them as they cooled off in water.

A caracal was spotted hunting helmeted guineafowl but the birds took off before the cat could manage to snatch one. A relaxed aardwolf was located at its temporary den. We were also lucky enough to spot an aardvark, although the animal was quick to dive into some thickets. We saw black-backed and side-striped jackals on most game drives.

Big herds of zebra were attracted by the great grazing and as they month progressed, they were steadily increasing in number. Other general game included warthog, common reedbuck, tsessebe, impala, kudu and red lechwe. We came across an interesting sighting of mating giraffe. Sable antelope were located in the area.

It was a good time for birding as we were able to enjoy several migratory visitors including European rollers, European bee-eaters and broad-billed rollers. A flock of over 100 carmine bee-eaters were seen feeding on flying ants. It was great listening to the snapping of their bills and chattering as they caught their prey. Yellow-billed kites were also enjoying the feast. Endangered wattled cranes and ground hornbills were both doing well 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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