Kwara, Splash

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.

Hamerkop

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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