Splash / Kwara, March – July 2020

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We were delighted to have an abundant flood arrive after a drought season and this filled the lagoon in front of Kwara camp for the first time since reopening. The team were only too happy to move the mekoros back to camp so the activity can start right from the main area. A good number of hippos had moved into the lagoon within a matter of weeks. All the flood plains around the Kwara area flooded and the scenery was very beautiful. All three bridges were put into action and by July the water was pushing onwards towards Splash camp.

Since we resumed game drives in the Kwara Reserve, we located all of our usual resident prides. The One-Eyed pride comprises a mother and daughter lioness and they are both pregnant after mating with the new coalition of five males during May. The daughter is the nearest to her due date and expected to give birth at the beginning of August. These two lionesses and the five males were concentrated around the Splash area where they were seen at least every other day. Sometimes they hang out in camp itself and this included a honeymooning couple.

Rather confusingly in terms of names, the Splash Pride has now relocated to live around Kwara camp because they are trying to avoid the coalition of five males. The three sub-adult brothers of the Splash Pride have developed some mane now and so would be under threat from the larger and stronger coalition.

In July we also came across a healthy new male lion in the area. He killed a zebra 400 metres from the airstrip bridge. However, a few days later he was found dead near to the Kwara walking range with signs showing that he had been fighting with other lions. We picked up the tracks and they led us to three of the coalition of five, one sporting fresh injuries from the fight. Eventually the dead lion was eaten by vultures.

The famous male cheetah known as Mr Special was still in the Kwara area and doing really well. A resident female was also in the area. Another female cheetah with three cubs killed a fully-grown impala on the edge of the woodland and we saw them busy feeding.

Seven spotted hyenas were located feeling on a tsessebe carcass. A leopard was seen actively stalking a tsessebe calf by the woodland and another female was often seen in and around Splash camp, one time making a kill right by the main area.

We saw twelve of the dogs from the Marsh Pack recently and have seen signs of the Kwara pack of twenty-four in the northern area where they denned last year, although at the time of writing the guides were still busy trying to locate the den.

Elephants were constantly in the area, and we saw them bathing, feeding and drinking. General game was consistently good, as it always seems to be in Kwara. There were plentiful zebras, giraffes and other antelopes.

With the smaller mammals, we saw a lot of jackals, both side-striped and black-backed jackals. Honey badgers were also located.

During boat cruises on the permanent Maunachira channel we saw crocodiles and water monitors.

A good number of saddle-billed storks were feeding on the flood plains and a group of eight black herons settled in to stay at Kwara lagoon. A few malachite kingfishers and over ten rufous-bellied herons were seen during boat cruises. Fish eagles took up residence on the Kwara Lagoon and they were feeding on the catfish arriving with the new water.

(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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