Splash/Kwara, October 2020

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One morning, whilst waiting for guests to arrive for breakfast, we noticed signs that wild dogs had been chasing impala in front of camp. Almost immediately, our tracker called to say that the dogs were on a kill next to the car park. The guide quickly rushed to collect his guests and went straight before breakfast to watch them eat. As soon as the dogs left for water, a female leopard showed up to scavenge and almost hunted a black backed jackal that had showed up before the leopard. Then we went back for breakfast and headed out for mokoro and fishing. Just as we left camp, after about half a kilometre we spotted a cheetah with a two months old cub! All of these sightings happened in less than an hour – Kwara Reserve living up to its well-deserved reputation yet again.

One evening we finished dinner and took all the guests to see the stars. As we were enjoying our astronomy, the five resident male lions started roaring. Although some of the guests decided to go to bed, others stayed up to enjoy the magical ambience of the camp fire. Half an hour later we heard the screaming of a buffalo, so the guide quickly rushed to fetch his game viewer and everyone jumped on board. About a kilometre from camp we saw shining eyes and the lions suffocating the buffalo. We watched the kill and then two lionesses arrived. The females wanted to feed, but one of the males preferred to mate so the chasing and roaring carried on for some three hours. What an incredible night-time sighting for our guests!

These five males had started to specialise in larger mammals, as well as buffalo they also killed giraffe and an elephant calf of about 4 years old.  It was incredible to see that they finished the elephant in just a couple of days. These males are still relatively young to have a dominant position at just under four years. They are feeding well and their increasing size will mean that they stand a better chance of defending their hard-won territory from older, more experienced males.

We were delighted to find a new female cheetah in the Splash area. After tracking her for an hour we found her feeding on a freshly killed reedbuck lamb. The following morning we located her again, on top of a termite mound, scanning the area for prey. Realising that she was on a hunting mission, we decided to cancel our boat trip and follow the animal. Half an hour later, the cheetah saw a group of reedbucks and zebras. She waited behind one the bush where we thought it was selecting her prey and calculating the distance. After a few minutes, the female took a few steps and then came out like a bullet through the groups of reedbuck. She picked off a young ram that was caught within 130 meters. The kill was made in open sun and the cheetah decided to drag the kill in the shadow of our vehicle where she started feeding. The resident male, known as Mr Special, was also in the area and feeding well. We were lucky enough to see him hunt and kill an impala.

A clan of ten hyenas were seen feeding on a wildebeest calf.  Black backed jackals were trying to steal meat from the carcass but were driven off by the larger predator. Another time we found a hyena lying fast asleep on a kudu carcass that it had stolen from a leopard.

Large concentrations of elephants were found around Splash area as they browsed the riverine forest looking for greenery. We were surprised by one bull standing on its hind legs with trunk fully stretched out straight as it reached up to find food high up a tree.

More than once we found our resident sub-adult female leopard up on a sausage tree, enjoying the breeze and also a shyer leopard up towards Tsum Tsum.

We enjoyed watching African wild dogs along flood plain areas with water, where they seemed to enjoy playing.

Night safaris yielded aardwolf, Verreaux (giant) eagle owl, marsh owl, small spotted genet, African civet, lesser bushbabies and hyenas.

During mokoro activity we were able to show guests lots of waterlilies, Angolan reed frogs, long reed frogs African jacanas, pied kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, a few fish eagles and red lechwe.

On the boat cruises we had good sightings of malachite kingfishers, pied kingfishers, hippos, a few crocodiles, lots of elephants, red lechwes, sitatunga and fish eagles. The heronry was very active, with some nestlings including marabou storks, open billed storks, grey herons and yellow billed storks

As the weather warmed up, fishing became more productive, especially at the mokoro station spot. On one trip we caught nine red-breasted tilapia and in general guests were really enjoying this activity.

 

(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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