Lebala

Lebala Camp, August 2021

Lebala Lion sightings

Listen carefully. Sometimes you have to stop. Switch off the engine and sit in silence. Was that a bark? A gruff? A huff? A mere sneeze? Impala and kudu alarm calls alert guides to the presence of predators, such as lions. The Wapuka pride are still around Lebala.

Lebala Lion sightings

We saw lions several times during August. One small pride suddenly spied a squadron of warthogs on a hunt close to camp and started stalking. The warthogs and their babies narrowly escaped into a clandestine burrow, but the lions didn’t give up there. Without warning, one luckless warthog ran out again straight into the jaws of the waiting pride.

Doing what they do best, lions were also spied sleeping below a tree. Much to everyone’s delight, they woke up and started to play with the sub-adult cubs. This social activity is crucial for honing hunting techniques. On another occasion, patiently watching a sleeping male likewise yielded a great sighting. After a yawn and a stretch, the lion began scratching up the dirt, scent marking and tracing his territory before clambering up a tree!

“It was also amazing watching two female lionesses stalking some wildebeest”, Wago reports. “They tried to catch one but didn’t make it. The chase was very close!”

Three other male lions were then found with a single female that seemed to be on heat. Mating soon commenced, which can be a very intense affair. Usually, a pair of lions will mate every 15-20 minutes for about four days to ensure a successful litter. One such fertile lioness was seen feeding on a wildebeest with her three sub-adult cubs with jackals circling close by, waiting for leftovers.

We have to agree with Wago when he says. “It was a marvellous moment of the day. Starting with wild dogs on the chase was fantastic!”. Wild dogs were also seen moving through the camp. A remarkable sighting of this particular pack because they were away for a month and a half. They were full-bellied and found asleep in the cherished shade of a sausage tree.

On one afternoon, guests saw two different leopards in one drive. One leopardess on a hunt, and she tried to take some impala. Unfortunately (for her), the antelope recognised a threat and sounded those indicative alarm calls. The second leopard lay in a tree.  

Another cat was spotted on the aptly named leopard road. Usually seen in the Lagoon area, this female was also out on the hunt. One minute she was strolling secretly, the next, she had darted down to a pan in an attempt to snap up some doves at the water.

Most of the pans still had plenty of water, which is great for waders and seeing large herds of Red lechwe leaping through the shallows. “Birdlife was also fantastic as there is still a lot for the birds to eat”, Wago shared. “We also saw a kill! A fish eagle swooped down to catch a catfish right in front of us”. The spectacular carmine bee-eaters were also seen flying alongside the game viewer hawking insects disturbed by the vehicle in stunning displays.

Many antelope species enjoyed the short grass right in front of camp where we had mowed a fire break ahead of the driest part of the year. Wago also noted hippos playfighting in the pools. Calves in creches often engage in these lighthearted sparring matches. 

Productive night drives yielded several notable species such as serval, an aardwolf digging around for insects and a porcupine.

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