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Month: May 2022

Tau Pan Camp, May 2022

Rains are a distant memory now that our drier months have begun. Cooler winter winds rustled the landscape, and herbivores thronged Tau Pan for the last green grasses. Passarge and Phukwi Pans have joined Tau Pan in providing some of the most nutritious feeding grounds while other Valleys like Litiahau and Deception were completely dry.

Tau Pan Winter Kalahari Animals

The advancing winter and drier months brought shorter days and a chill in the early morning, but it also opened a whole new world of wildlife viewing opportunities.

The desert dwellers, such as Springbok and Gemsbok, have had to dust off their old tricks in search of moisture. One such skill we witnessed was the digging for the Kalahari Water Tuber. This trick, shared by animals and humans, is a fundamental way of finding moisture in the rapidly drying earth. The tuber in question is known to the bushmen as Bi (we have yet to find out what the Oryx call it) and contains significant life-giving wetness. When you meet Scoupa at Tau Pan Camp, ask him to teach you this genuine life hack.

Bushman Walk Tau Pan Camp

The many perks of digging up your dinner

It isn’t, however, just the antelopes and humans who are digging. Tau Pan is a haven for smaller mammals, including the Aardwolf, Bat-eared fox, jackals and the formidable Honey badger. When these voracious diggers start to forage for food, they bring a host of curious birds and scavengers, such as brave Black-backed jackals.

Honey Badger Desert Botswana

We watched a fantastic variety of wildlife waiting for a morsel or escaping lizard to be thrown clear of the hole. While the badger dug, we also observed a beautiful Pale chanting goshawk concentrating on its next possible meal. However, stealing from the honey badger requires accurate speed! Guides located a Snouted cobra and a few Black mambas during their desert drives and added a Leopard tortoise to their log of reptile sightings.

The lions had been noticeably absent from their namesake safari camp at the start of the month. However, as our visitors arrived, the lions responded in kind. The coalition of five male lions has been exploring their territory and met with considerable success. On several occasions, we saw them in and around Tau Pan with full bellies, lounging by the side of the road as the clicks of cameras mixed with the excited whispering voices of our elated guests. The lionesses were never far behind, and later in the month, the whole pride came together, including the six cubs with their energetic antics. The cubs’ rough and tumble serve an essential purpose. Not only does it create deep, lifelong bonds, but it teaches the cubs key stalking and hunting skills that will help ensure their survival.

Cheetahs on the Tau Pan Camp airstrip

The group of resident cheetahs moved quite widely through the area and were seen in various places, including the Tau Pan airstrip, which they used as a dinner table, having “invited” a steenbok to lunch. Cheetahs fall pretty far down the predator hierarchy despite their beauty, agility, and speed. It’s always special to see them thriving around Tau Pan, especially given the healthy lion population that the area supports.

While the wide-open areas provided fantastic hunting grounds for the cheetahs, the treetops remained our local leopards’ domain. On more than one occasion, we were given the Hollywood A-list treatment and sighted the leopard perfectly perched in a tree and preening for the cameras. One day, on a trip to Passarge Valley, we also encountered two African wild dogs on the hunt.

Last but not least, the Tau Pan waterhole drew a myriad of bird species, keen to drink and soak their chest feathers. We noted many raptors, such as Tawny eagles, sitting in wait and ready to prey on the unsuspecting at the water’s edge. The sandgrouse, doves and queleas (amongst others) had to keep a sharp eye on the sky.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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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Moremi Crossing Camp, May 2022

Moremi Crossing Camp returned to a luscious water paradise as the floods rose this month.

Moremi Crossing Camp Boating Okavango

The waters surrounding the camp played host to herds of elephants, buffalos, zebra, lechwe, wildebeest and other mammals as they sought out the larger remaining plains before the waters advanced.

There was undoubtedly a romantic side to this return of the water as two courting African fish eagles demonstrated near the camp. Fish Eagles are believed to mate for life, and the courtship is fascinating. These striking eagles swoop, dive and call to each other, but the more determined take to the skies in even more theatrics and lock talons in flight to perform a spinning dive towards the ground. Given this prime breeding season, we hope to see some new additions to the fish eagle family in the coming months.

Fish Eagle Okavango

We encountered plenty of other bird life during boat cruises, including cranes, storks, ibises, Hamerkops, hovering kingfishers and Black herons on the hunt below their canopied wings.

Mokoro rides return to Moremi Crossing

Skimming silently on a mokoro across its glassy surface, a world away from the bumbling game drive, provided the chance to marvel at the dragonflies, frogs and plant life.

Bracingly cold winter mornings on game drives were justly rewarded. May has been the month of the hunt around Moremi Crossing. A large male lion with two lionesses was spied regularly hunting warthogs while the leopards focused on the impalas, which were weakened after the rutting season. Prey species often tried to get to the water to escape their tormentors, granting guests excellent photographic opportunities of the determined animals charging into the shallow waters. We often saw leopards and one day enjoyed observing one hunting impalas on the banks of the Boro River. A pack of nine African wild dogs was also frequently seen (once hunting and killing a Red lechwe), and they graced our company during a particularly memorable walking safari.  

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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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Dinare Camps, May 2022

This month’s sightings highlighted the circle of life and its meaning in this wild part of the Okavango Delta.

Late one afternoon, our guests were returning to Mma Dinare Camp when they came across the sad sight of a dead baby elephant. The family were nowhere near, but it is worth briefly noting that elephants have a fascinating relationship with death. Herd members often spend significant time with a deceased family member, touching, sniffing, and nudging the remains. They have also been known to return to the bones of their family members and demonstrate the same practices months later. Anyone who might ever doubt the sentient nature of Loxodonta africana needs only see this ritual to forever change their view of these remarkable animals. All signs pointed to natural death, and herein lies the cycle of nature; the next day, a pride of five lions fed on the remains. When they finished, the Spotted hyenas and Black-backed jackals moved in to enjoy their morsels. The sad loss ensures the survival of others and a return to nature.

In more positive news, the resident pride of eight lions re-remerged, having taken an extended leave of absence from around the camp. Despite their arrival, the other predators have remained in the immediate vicinity of Rra Dinare Camp. We enjoyed numerous nearby leopard sightings, cheetah feeding on a steenbok, and the ubiquitous hyenas were always keen to put in an appearance. A pack of seven wild dogs was also spotted around Rra Dinare camp, beside the fire break.

Many avian migrants have headed north as the cooler winds rolled in. However, a vast array of birdlife remained, including the herons, eagles, owls, and cheeky hornbills. Amongst other things, hornbills are seen as a symbol of positivity, good luck, and optimism. Look closely: when perched on a tree, they always look up at the sky. You will never see this little optimist’s beak fall, and it consistently faces upwards with hope for the future.

What will you find on a walking safari?

On a nature walk one morning, we came across lion spoor and spent the morning tracking these felines on foot. In some safari moments, not seeing the animal can be as exciting as seeing it… imagine yourself slowly walking, following the tracks, learning the alarm calls that can alert you to the presence of a predator. The senses strain to detect the slightest sign of these massive cats. On this occasion, the tracks led off into the thick vegetation, and we abandoned the search. However, the excitement and stories of the walk lasted throughout the day as the walk was recounted — and everyone pretended they didn’t jump when the hidden impala ram snorted from behind a termite mound!

Finally, the mythical Okavango Delta flood is still a way from us. Still, we enjoyed mokoro outings and ticked off African Jacanas, elephants coming to the edge of the Gomoti River for a drink, Red lechwe herds, Common reedbucks and the gorgeous Angolan reed frogs. Nevertheless, we may receive some unusual and unexpected flood patterns this year and hope to report more on this next month.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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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Pom Pom Camp, May 2022

Pom Pom Camp became a maternity ward this May and we’ve had so many delightful little ones to coo at as winter set in. 

African wild dogs have denned not far from camp. The alpha male has been out on the hunt, as have a pack of 10 (unrelated) wild dogs. We followed and witnessed several successful hunts of these persistent predators and it’s fantastic to see the wild dogs prospering with their pups in our area. 

A leap of leopard sightings

We’ve had impressive leopard sightings of our resident cats, but there were some new additions to our pantheon of leopard stories. Two of our resident leopardesses had been living with their sub-adult offspring, but this month proved time for the sub-adults to strike out and make it on their own. Our guides spotted them several times roaming alone in the reserve. This is because one female resident had young cubs, and these little fuzzballs were her sole focus. Generally, a leopardess will raise her cub for approximately two years, and then offspring are pushed out to establish their own territory. This doesn’t necessarily have to be acrimonious, though. Maternal bonds are strong. There are numerous accounts of young leopards visiting their mothers in the following months and years, and we look forward to seeing how these fine cats will forge their way in the world. 

Leopards at Pom Pom Camp

A similar family boom has hit the lions, too, as seven became ten. Until recently, the Pom Pom pride comprised the dominant male, four lionesses, and seven cubs. Imagine our joy when the fourth female (whom we had not seen lately) emerged with three cubs in tow! The pride now numbers fifteen in total, and that’s a lot of hungry little mouths to feed. 

We also kept an eye on the smaller pride that previously split from the prominent lion family. This sub-pride numbers two females, two subadults and one cub. However, there are a couple clouds on the feline horizon. New male lions were seen entering the territory, and we are waiting to see if they make a play for the dominance. Knowing what might happen, the females have regularly moved their cubs to keep them safe and avoid the well-documented infanticide that a new dominant male could visit upon the existing cubs. 

Lion Cubs at Pom Pom Camp

Three separate cheetahs have been spotted this month near to camp. One male and two females have seemed happy to make Pom Pom their home, and one of the females currently has two four-month-old cubs. 

Cheetahs often come up second best in the predatory hierarchy. Other threats include hyenas, and the robust Pom Pom Spotted hyena clan is no exception. They have denned near the airstrip, and we saw them on almost every game drive that passed through the area. 

Bushfires in the Okavango Delta

Bushfires often can cause massive destruction to an ecosystem. However, they also form part of the natural cycle of nature. It clears out low-growing underbrush, scours the ground of debris and opens up the ground vegetation for sunlight. Fires also nourish the soil; some species even depend on the flames to survive and flourish. A bushfire that came through a part of Pom Pom has renewed an area. These new plains have attracted a variety of plains game, but they are always vigilant. These grasslands have become a fertile hunting ground for African wild dogs and cheetahs.  

There have been many other incredible sightings, but let’s sign off with one last wonderfully winged one. Pel’s is one of the largest owl species in the world with a wingspan of approximately 1,5 meters, and we have relished regular sightings of these curious creatures. Although they are primarily nocturnal hunters, we had some amazing daytime viewing. 

Pom Pom Camp Mokoro

The flood arrived in camp, and our mokoros were launched. Mokoros gave a unique insight into traditional life in the Okavango Delta and allowed the chance to slow down on safari. There has been plenty of birdlife along the various river routes and we’ve loved watching Wattled cranes, Saddle-billed storks, Marabou storks, Hamerkops, ibis, Pied kingfishers, egrets, herons, ground hornbills, Egyptian geese, fish eagles and many more.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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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Lebala Camp, May 2022

Our star activity this month has been the night drives, and we had the pleasure of glimpsing Aardwolf various times. African civets have also been very active and we commonly saw more than five on a single evening. 

You’ll need a strong stomach 

Aardwolf Lebala Camp

When thinking about predators, we often focus on their strength, stamina, and speed in the hunt. If an Aardwolf were to take a medal, it would probably be for the most impressive stomach. An elusive creature at the best of times, these termite-guzzling members of the hyena family can eat up to a kilogram of termites every night. Their muscular stomach can grind up 250,000 termites at a sitting and occupy a unique niche amongst the Hyaenidae by avoiding the competition for the hunt their brown and spotted cousins share with the felines and canids.

Feline family ties and successful Lebala lion hunts

One afternoon, we encountered three leopards and spent 45 minutes with the romantic trio as the two males tried to mate with the female. 

The coalition of three dominant male lions has been moving around the area near Lebala Camp, and it was wonderful to witness the bonds with their families. The three lions would greet all the pride females and patiently put up with the rough, tumble, ear pulling and nibbling the youngsters put them through. Their strong family ties paid dividends as they had tremendous success hunting wildebeests (guides have noted that lions have been killing more wildebeests than any other prey).

Lebala Camp Lion Dynamics

One of these hunts happened right in front of camp just as post-dinner drinks were being taken to the fire. A thunder of hooves in the darkness gave way as a wildebeest burst into the dim light from the camp, followed by the pride at a flat-out sprint. While wildebeests are fast (they can reach up to 80km an hour), the lions had sprung their trap to perfection. The wildebeest went down in a flurry of dust and hooves, and the lions quickly completed the job. This led to an evening of crunching and calling, and dawn found some content and full-bellied lions huffing and puffing near the camp, keeping a keen eye on the remains of their night’s work.

Enormous herds in the Kwando Private Reserve 

Away from the camp, we found a herd of almost 70 impressive Elands on the flood plains. The distinct clicking noise of the elands’ hooves can be heard from some distance, especially when there are so many of them! They were very relaxed around the game drive vehicle, and we almost became part of the herd with the correct car positioning. 

Large elephant herds have been seen with plenty of youngsters on the floodplains, and we enjoyed frequent sightings of a beautiful bird that occupies a special place in myth and legend. The Southern Ground hornbill is known as Lehututu in Setswana. Many tribes throughout Southern Africa associate them with death, but some associate them as bringers of rain, breakers of drought and protection against lightning. 

There has been a sprinkling of Carmine bee-eater sightings, a very early arrival as we usually only expect them in August and September. 

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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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Lagoon Camp, May 2022

Opportunism. Or just simply bare-faced theft?

First, the lions stole from the African wild dogs, and then the Spotted hyenas stole from the lion. The cheetahs were busy looking over their shoulders during the hunt, and the leopards pulled their kills up trees to avoid the attention of the lions and hyenas. The merry-go-round of the Kwando Private Reserve continued unabated!

Wild dogs of Botswana

A new pack of five African wild dogs was seen in the area during the first quarter of the month. One crucial piece of news is that the alpha female of the Lagoon pack (still comprising eight members) was heavily pregnant. They will be looking for a den soon, and we look forward to sharing that with our guests once the newborn puppies emerge.

Oribi spotted in the Kwando Private Reserve

An extraordinary and relatively uncommon sighting, we encountered the Oribi during a game drive. While being denoted as “least concern” in terms of conservation threat level, it is not a frequently viewed antelope in our area. This is the largest of the small antelopes, which can sometimes be confused with the slightly smaller Steenbok. They occur in small parties, so hopefully, he had some family around too.

Talking of lists, the bird life at Lagoon Camp has been excellent. Although many of the migrants were gone, there were still hundreds of species to witness: African fish eagles, Grey herons, Malachite kingfishers, Pied kingfishers, African darter, African jacana, Wattled cranes, vultures (White-backed, Lappet-faced, Hooded), pelicans, African spoonbills, Yellow-billed storks, Egyptian geese – the tally goes on and on.

As we scanned for the waterbirds (the Wattled crane being one of our favourites, not least because of its vulnerable conservation status), it was always worth casting an eye on what we might find beneath the water. More than 20 crocodiles have been regularly seen in and out of the water at Halfway Pan, and if that doesn’t get the blood racing, we also came across a five-metre rock python leisurely crossing the road. That is approximately 90kg of snake!

Our dedicated guides located the new den of a leopardess after tracking the animal. Black-backed jackals sounded the alarm and we found her moving through the bushes, returning to a warthog kill. After feeding, she returned to her thirsty cubs.

Lagoon Camp Botswana

The elephants passed through Lagoon Camp in large numbers this month, enjoying access to the river. They have also been crossing the river to the various islands that form in the Kwando River flood, and it was always a privilege to quietly watch them from the boat or room porch as they fed on the aquatic grasses and cool off in the heat of the day.

Caracal acrobatics

From the large, we’d like to draw attention to the small. A Porcupine has been frequenting camp, as have a couple of honey badgers. Instantly recognisable by its ear tufts, the wonderful Caracal made several appearances. While they can hunt and take down prey up to the size of small antelopes, their aerial skills need to be seen to be believed. They have a fantastic ability to hunt birds in flight, often jumping up to three metres to take birds on the wing. This talent also extends to their ability to twist and change direction mid-air.

The night sky was also marvellous this May with prominent constellations crisply outlined by the star. Southern Cross, Scorpio, and Sagittarius were visible. We had a good view of Jupiter, Venus, and Mars in the morning sky on the eastern side.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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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Splash and Kwara Camp, May 2022

The Kwara coalition, our famous group of five male lions, was unhappy.

We found these fearsome males roaming the Kwara Private Reserve, continually roaring and sending a loud and unmistakable message. A newcomer had ventured into their territory, and all this mighty calling was a clear advertisement: stern words would be had if they came across this interloper. The remainder of the Kwara pride (four lionesses and two cubs) had little luck hunting in their absence. When we encountered them, they appeared listless and hungry. However, persistence is the key to success, and one morning we followed them as they took down a baby giraffe as it blundered across their path. Two of the five males smelt the air and quickly found their way to the carcass. Still hungry the following day, the lionesses took down a waterbuck. One of the lionesses who recently gave birth was still stashing her cubs in the dense bush, while another looked like she was almost ready to give birth.

Beautiful little leopard cubs

We encountered a large male leopard on a game drive towards Peter’s Crossing. As we stopped to soak up the sighting, he turned and made a mad dash for the nearest tree. It’s always special to watch a leopard climbing. One minute at the bottom and a second later at the top without apparently passing through the space between. However, his exertion was well merited as the five lion brothers appeared from the bush, gave him a look, and then sauntered on their way.

Leopard Cubs Kwara Camp

The other leopards had more luck than this hapless male. We tracked and found a female leopard on an impala. Unexpectedly, she started calling and disappeared into the Kalahari apple leaf tree, leaving her prize unattended. Our curiosity was rewarded when, shortly after, the leopard appeared with two cubs in tow who could not have been more than six months old. They nervously approached the impala before retreating back into the safety of the scrub. As the mother cajoled them into joining her, suddenly, a Spotted hyena emerged from the trees and made a beeline for the carcass. The hyena managed to take a bite before the furious leopard re-emerged, and he beat a hasty retreat. Knowing the word was out, she dragged her kill off into the bushes, where the family ate in peace.

We located this leopardess again two weeks later, and she had learnt her lesson. This time, she dragged her kill up into a Leadwood tree where the cubs could eat without the unwanted attentions of other dinner guests.
However, it didn’t deter the hyenas from waiting patiently at the bottom.

African wild dog puppies on the horizon?

This month we also learned that there is a fine line between bravery and foolhardiness. A pack of 15 African wild dogs had taken down a Tsessebe and two hyenas charged in to assume the remains as the dogs rested from their kill. This bravery (?) was met with a full-on charge from the wild dogs, and the hyenas were forced to turn tails and flee. The tsessebe served an essential purpose, and we saw the pack’s alpha female was obviously heavily pregnant. We hope to soon report the pitter-patter of tiny paws!

Kwara Camp Wild Dogs

Floodwaters came flowing in

As the flood waters arrived, we detected an influx of birds keen to take advantage of the new shallow channels filling with water and fish. The Malachite kingfishers put on a show as they darted in and out of the water, capturing food and tossing it in the air as they shuffled it about to swallow the fish headfirst. They were, however, by no means the only fisherman keen to take advantage. Wattled cranes, Saddle-billed storks and Goliath herons were also drawn to this paradise.


As the woodland areas become drier large herds of buffalo and elephants, have started moving across the floodplains in their hundreds. A small group of elephants pushed over a Mangosteen tree next to tent two in Kwara Camp and happily fed themselves on everything the tree had to offer for four days. Chomp! 

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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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Nxai Pan Camp, May 2022

As the herbivores sought the water in the few remaining waterholes, the lions lay in wait.

The Nxai Pan pride is eleven-strong in number and well practised in the hunt. Over ten days, we found them feeding on zebra, kudu, wildebeest, and springbok. On one occasion, this led to family strife as the male strode in to take over a kudu carcass, only for the lionesses to register their disagreement with his arrogance. Paws and claws were drawn, and they settled their dispute with a bout of fisticuffs. The male eventually asserted his position as head of the table and wandered off with the kudu remains. Despite this slight disagreement, the pride was looking strong for the coming winter with their bellies full.

We also watched the mating rituals of the dominant male lion and his paramour on a day trip to Baines Baobabs. Lion mating rituals are the stuff of legend, lasting three to four days with the couple repeating every half an hour. (You do the maths.) Lionesses have a gestation period of approximately four months, so if they were successful, we’re sure to hear the patter of tiny paws later in the dry season. 

The cheetahs have also been busy, and we witnessed an unsuccessful hunt near the camp. After a failed chase in the midday heat, the male decided it was still too hot to reach the required speeds. Instead, it took up station in the bush, scanning the open ground for prey while our happy guests snapped away.

A giant journey of giraffe

Nxai Pan hosts a wide array of herbivores for all these predators to thrive. We sat in awe as a journey of 57 giraffes grouped together, which is rarely seen in such numbers. Our guides expertly moved ahead of the herd and sat quietly for a time, allowing the vast collection of tall mammals to pass close by before they elegantly sashayed off into the bush.

Giraffe Nxai Pan

We also had the privilege of seeing the Plains zebras as they commenced their long return migration north out of Nxai Pan, heading back towards the Chobe River. 

Caracal, aardwolf, a baby honey badger (small but deadly!), and baby Bat-eared foxes (perhaps the cutest of them all) were all seen during night drives. 

There’s a star man waiting in the sky

Nxai Pan is a stargazer’s paradise, where history is written in the skies, and local celestial tales can be related all night long. However, sometimes these huge skies come to us. This month our guests were treated to a large flash as a meteorite lit up the sky over the camp and headed south.

Stars at Nxai Pan

The last time this famously happened was in 2018, when a fireball shot across the sky and landed in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The meteorite was found and named after a local waterhole called Motopi Pan. Scientists believe it started its journey to earth some 23 million years ago. Now that shows some serious safari commitment for anyone who has ever doubted that the remote Kalahari is worth the trip!   

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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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