Kwara, Splash

Splash and Kwara Camp, February 2022

Just before Valentine’s Day, we witnessed a young female leopard between the curio shop and the public bathrooms at Splash Camp. The animal was skittish to start but soon relaxed. It locked eyes on a genet and started hunting and chasing the genet. It was incredible to see this action safely from the dining area on foot.

Best place to see wild dogs

Trackers located 13 wild dogs at Impala Pan, where they were actively hunting, but they aborted the mission when they came across a dead baby elephant, and the pack started feeding on the carcass instead. The Kwara Pack of wild dogs was seen hunting along Jackal Den road but was also unsuccessful. A group of 14 dogs was then seen at Goms crossing, finally feeding in a frenzy upon a Red lechwe kill. 

However, more action indeed transpired with the felines this February. A female leopard was seen hunting near Motswere Pan, and we watched her land an impala meal before she dragged into the long grass and disappeared from our sight. Another female leopard was seen at the Marapo a Kubu Pan with wet nipples, so we suspect she has cubs hidden nearby. We also encountered a male leopard on the way to the mokoro station. It sat in the middle of an island, scanning the area. 

Mr Special still dominates

Mr Special, the resident male cheetah, was seen loitering around the Kwara Camp area, sniffing around a termite mound north of staff village. He then marked his territory and sat on the termite mount, looking for animals. Three other cheetahs were located in the Bat-eared fox area (one female and her subadult cub, plus a nomadic male). The male was visibly disturbed by the cub’s presence kept growling at her, but the mother was very protective, holding her body between the male and the cub. This nomadic male was found dead with bite marks on his neck the following day, and we uncovered Mr Special roughly a hundred yards away. We suspect that he caught up with the nomadic male and killed him. 

The Mmaleitho Pride was resident in Kwara Camp for at least a week and a half. We mostly saw three females with two cubs around rooms 4, 5 and 12. The pride occasionally moved to the staff village and rested near the firebreak. One morning, two of these females were seen hunting right in front of Kwara Camp, aiming for the wildebeest. However, there was not enough cover and all the prey scattered. 

The Kwara Pride, consisting of two females and three cubs, was seen on a zebra carcass along Tom’s Road. The kill was relatively new, and the three cubs were neatly hidden under a small shrub not very far from the kill. The Kwara Pride also attempted an ostrich hunt, but the quest didn’t succeed. The wide-eyed bird spotted the lionesses and speedily fled the scene. 

Later in the month, a further pride of lions of four lionesses, two cubs, and five males were seen resting along Tom’s road and hunting around Lechwe Plains later that afternoon. 

Four of the five resident males were located close to Splash Camp with two Splash Pride females. The animals were well fed and headed north in the mopane woodland. Two male lions (the Zulu Boys) were located at Green Pan. 

The Spotted hyena den was active, with one cub and a couple of adults resting by the den site. One hyena came trotting along during dinner after our exciting leopard sighting at Splash Camp and actively investigated the feline scents left behind. Spotted hyenas have also been seen frequently around Kwara Camp, Splash Hippos and Lechwe Plains. One day we found a dead giraffe at the aptly named Giraffe Pan. We assume the animal died of old age because it was still intact. The hyenas were out in their numbers to enjoy the feast.   

Brilliant bird sightings

We encountered plenty of elephants in almost all the game drive routes, Red lechwes, Tsessebes, giraffes, Hippos, Impalas, Waterbucks and noticed many raptor species, including Tawny, Wahlberg and Brown snake-eagles. A juvenile Southern ground hornbill was seen around the Splash Hippos area, with two adults following closely behind. These hornbills are long-lived birds and only reach maturity at six years old. Like all smaller hornbills, they also nest in tree hollows, which can be hard to find for a bird this size!

Ground Hornbills Botswana

A pair of nesting secretary birds at the Bat-eared Fox area also provided excellent birdwatching. Saddle-billed storks, Wattled cranes, European bee-eaters, Carmine bee-eaters, Egyptian geese, Hamerkops and lots of teals were present this month too.

Days spent out on the water were fruitful. We saw a Double-banded courser and Grey-headed kingfishers on mokoro activities and two male sitatungas along the Kwara Channel during a boat cruise in the morning. We also found a crocodile feeding on a baby warthog at Motswere Mogobe. The warthog family was trying to cross the water body, and sadly the baby was caught.

(Note: Accompanying pictures 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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