Lagoon

Lagoon Camp, July 2022

As winter set in across the Kwando Private Reserve, the Cat’s Claw was one of the few plants to flower (Clerodendrum uncinatum), punctuating the sepia landscape with radiant red flowers. 

As well as providing an exquisite dash of colour, it’s an essential provider of nectar for bees and other insects during this dry season. These flowers are protected by unpleasant recurved thorns, which give this potentially painful flower its name. 

The leopards and lions of Lagoon

The cats themselves fared well this July. We encountered a mother leopard and her two healthy and happy sub-adult offspring. The mother hunted south of the Moporota road. Over a couple of days, we watched her make several attempts at landing Impalas and a Warthog. Although she initially was not successful, we eventually found the little family feeding on an impala. 

Leopard Kwando

Given that many waterholes away from the Kwando River were dry, elephants and buffalos moved past Lagoon Camp in considerable numbers. This fact was not lost on the Mma Dkolobe pride of 12 lions, who closely shadowed the herds, scrutinising for weak spots.

We found the lions enjoying a buffalo banquet numerous times throughout the month and recuperating in the shade of Candle Pod Terminalia trees. Besides the gruesome sights (and smells) of a lion’s lunchtime, it also allowed time to observe the social side of lion life. Lions are the only truly sociable cats. Bonding behaviour goes a long way in helping establish their dominance and prowess when taking on large and dangerous game such as buffalo. The Holy Pride was likewise seen with many buffalo meals and the northern lion pride known as Mma Mosethla was located with full bellies too.  

Delightful dens

Our resident den of African wild dogs shared this social aspect of the bush too. Puppies have left the den and begun to find their feet (or paws). The alpha female has been weaning them off milk, and we saw the adults regularly regurgitate for the pups not enjoying their new carnivorous and lactose-free diet. 

The Maheke Road and waterhole area to the west of the camp have been quiet from the perspective of the largest predators. However, as with everything in the bush, the scarcity of one species brings another. The ordinarily elusive aardwolves have been active with fewer visible threats. We have found three separate aardwolf burrows along this track and found aardwolves almost every time. 

Aarwolf density of Lagoon Camp

The cheetahs have also enjoyed the quiet interval without lions close by. The resident coalition of two cheetahs was located at Maheke waterhole resting in the shade, and a female cheetah with her two cubs was found at Lion Den, where she gave hunting lessons to her young cubs. The cubs have been shy of the game drive vehicle, and we have kept our distance. However, the two cubs soon plucked up the courage to come and inspect us. We later found the two male cheetahs with a fresh kill contentedly lying in the sun with full stomachs.

The fish and feathers of the Kwando River

The Kwando River is a birders paradise at any time of the year. Malachite, Pied and Giant kingfishers have accompanied our clients on their fishing expeditions (catfish, breams and Three-spotted tilapia were caught and released) while Fish eagles provided the ubiquitous soundtrack of the African waterways. 

Lagoon Camp boating

The success of the lions provided plentiful food for the vultures, who will soon enter their breeding season. We have also seen a nesting Secretary bird and have enjoyed a very healthy population of Wattled cranes. Approximately 8000 remain in the wild these graceful birds are always a special sighting!

Other animals seen include Giraffes, Blue wildebeests, Steenbok, Impalas, Plains zebras plus handsome herds of Roan and Sable antelopes. 

(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. Still, we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

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