Lagoon

Lagoon Camp, December 2021

Cheetah Lagoon Camp

The area was exquisite this month. After lashings of rain, the vegetation was so green that we could almost taste the fresh smell of Northern Botswana’s beautiful flowers, such as the large Devil thorn, purple Common Barleria, and Wandering jew (Commelina benghalensis).  

Many of the natural waterholes were filled and refreshed from the rain. Driving in the afternoon, we could often hear the pleasing sounds of different frog species, such as the reed frogs and the bubbling kassina. Many leopard tortoises were seen during all game drives as they nibbled on plentiful fresh grass. However, we experienced low elephant numbers in the area. When good rains fill the natural water holes, they tend to linger in the Mopane woodlands.

During nature walks, we had time to appreciate the smaller summer creatures. Scarlet in colour, the velvet mites often emerged following afternoon showers, tok tokkies tapped the ground to attract their mates and baboon spiders sat upon their burrows, a simple hole covered with the newly-spun web. Harvester termites busily made hay with the sun shining and tucked grass into their hollows. Some of these termites were eaten by birds. We’ve noticed they are a favourite snack for Lilac-breasted rollers. It was amazing how we could approach animals on foot, such as zebras and wildebeest. Under correct conditions, we could often safely get as close as 40 meters before animals recognised our presence. The walking range was wonderfully productive and presented the opportunity to share our tracking techniques. Lagoon Camp guests saw the fresh paw prints of black-backed jackals, spotted hyenas, impalas, zebras, and many bird species. Did you know the hornbill hops about for insects leaving a banana-shaped imprint?

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers was found on the road joining Cutline Road and Alison road, with full bellies. We tracked them again the following day and found them along Maheke Road on the hunt. After spending a morning with them, we left them sleeping.

There have been great sightings of different lion prides in the Lagoon area. We tracked the pride of 13 for about an hour and found them at Muddy Waters feeding on a wildebeest carcass. The Northern Pride (three males and one lioness) was seen at Second Lagoon heading north. Two lionesses with their six cubs were found several times around Grass Pan area, as they were lots of prey species around, such as impalas and zebra.

Guides followed the tracks of the resident pack of 12 wild dogs through the month, noting how they often disappeared into thick bushes. The pack was trying to avoid contact with the lions, which have called every night. One day, we found them crossing the runway and had a fantastic time viewing them in the open.

We also had an incredible sighting of an African rock python close to the airstrip. James located the giant snake as he saw something shining in the summer sun. We followed it as it was crawling slowly toward the runway. Spotted bush snakes were also seen. One even feeding on a house gecko!

A leopardess was seen at Firewood Pan on the hunt, and we followed her several unsuccessful hunting attempts, leaving her when she settled into a Sausage tree. Fresh male leopard tracks led from Second Lagoon north toward Kwena Lagoon, and we followed them until francolin alarm calls sounded. We found him on an impala carcass.

There have been frequent sightings of the rare roan and sable antelope. Many antelopes were accompanied by their young ones this month: impalas, tsessebe, waterbuck and reedbuck all gave birth.

Birdlife was impressive. Plenty of aquatic bird sightings included African fish eagles, wattled cranes, reed cormorants and heron species such as the Goliath, Purple, Grey and Black-crowned night herons. The resident scops and African barred owlets were often located hiding on the trees around the central area, waiting for the sun to set so that they could feed. One evening, a few Peters’s epauletted fruit bats perched low enough for us to observe easily. It was great to see the source of the standard evening call that rings through camp.

Night skies were stunning for stargazing because most of the Southern Hemisphere’s prominent constellations were visible. The brightest star in the entire sky, Sirius from the Canis Major constellation, was seen clearly. The Orion constellation, known as the hunter, also shone brightly on cloudless nights, together with Taurus.

(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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