Lagoon

Lagoon Camp, August 2021

Why do wild dogs time their denning to sync with the end of the impala rut or breeding season? Some researchers think that at this time of the year, there are plenty of stressed-out rams in poor condition that make easy prey targets. At least, the sightings coming in from the Kwando Private Reserve certainly reinforce this hypothesis.

“A very successful morning!” KB reported. “We managed to follow wild dogs on the hunt closely and caught them dropping an impala”.

After a few days of confrontation and uneasy interactions with other animals, we kept a close eye on this pack. We observed them digging around in some different abandoned holes, trying to find a suitable and stress-free new den. Wild dogs make use of old aardvark burrows and line the cavity with grass and leaves to make it more homely. Six adults were then seen soon afterwards moving five of the pups – sad news because we believed the dogs had lost two pups! 

With a new wild dog den active, our guests loved seeing the pups playing around while the adults went out to hunt. One day, waiting to watch their cute antics paid off. The adult dogs returned with full bellies after a successful kill to regurgitate and feed the young. “A smile came back on our faces”, KB said, “because when the parents came back, all seven puppies came out of the new den!”. Guides had found two pups on their own at the old den and believed that the mother would come to get them, so it seems this happened. Trackers then followed the adults back to their kill, where they were seen feeding on an impala.  

We were able to visit these frolicking pups and their new den several times. On another occasion, a commotion broke out in the bushes. Three spotted hyenas had found the wild dogs as they attempted to hunt, thwarting any chance of dinner for the den that day.

One morning, trackers followed fresh lion tracks, and they led to some carcasses caused by the wild dogs. “It was very interesting to watch”, KB reported. “We saw 14 lions scrambling over very few leftovers”.

This considerable pride was seen frequently through August. They preferred to lie in the shade of Kalahari Apple Leaf trees and were skilled at finding food because they were often noted with full bellies.

Guests were thrilled to see the pride taking down a buffalo, and succeeding that, two of the lions and five cubs were seen feeding on a zebra. Another morning, the pride was located on Cheetah Valley Road, resting once again with well-stocked stomachs. When we returned in the afternoon, they set off to hunt as dusk darkened the day. We followed the group through the evening, but they had no luck in landing prey. Perhaps that’s why they sometimes resorted to wild dog scraps!

A leopard was seen with her cub resting up in a tree. The leopard mother often moved off to hunt, leaving her young behind stashed safely in the foliage. Later that evening, she was located again near Firewood Pan and came very close in her chase of an impala. One day, two additional leopards were seen fighting for territory in an impressive display, but they disappeared into the thickets before resolving the issue.

The general game was great. We recorded substantial numbers of eland, with some herds numbering over a hundred, and they were very relaxed, affording fantastic views for our guests. One day we tracked two adult cheetahs resting on a termite mound. When they moved off to hunt, the cats followed once such sizeable herd of eland, but they were not successful in killing any. Both the handsome Roan and statuesque Sable antelope were sighted too.

Unusually, we saw several typically nocturnal species during the day. Cooler weather conditions often yield this type of behaviour. African civet, African wild cat and porcupine were all seen before the sun set. The porcupine lingered for ages and drank fitfully from the waterhole. We were also very pleased to catch sight of a caracal this month! 

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