Lebala

Lebala Camp, July 2022

There were plenty of excellent sightings of Aardwolf, Serval, Nile Crocodiles and Civets, but the sighting of the month must go to the Honey badger.

Honey badger defeats a Black mamba

One late afternoon game drive, we came across the ultimate confrontation: Honey badger versus Black mamba. The badger had caught the mamba in open ground, and the mamba (which is often likely to move away from confrontation) decided that it had to make a stand.

Fierce honey badger

A dance across the sands ensued with the mamba trying to strike the Honey badger while its tormentor risked a lethal bite. This went backwards and forwards, and the mamba scored a couple of direct hits, which did not deter the maddened badger. The creature suddenly took his opportunity and grabbed the mamba behind the head. A moment later, the contest was over, and the victor tucked into his evening meal of mamba.

This fascinating question immediately arose: why is the badger not dead, having clearly been bitten at least twice? Recent studies show that the Honey badger, like the mongoose, hedgehog and (surprisingly) wild pig, appears to have evolved a natural defence against the potent venom. In an evolutionary arms race, the badgers are in a cycle of one-upmanship with the venomous snakes.

Sebastian and Old Gun return

It has been a month of soap opera relationships around Lebala Camp. Firstly, Old Gun and Sebastian re-emerged. These two male lions once dominated the Wapoka pride and have been missing for several months. They look healthy and well-fed and have clearly been successful on their recent travels. Will the three Golden Boys, who seem to have recently claimed their mantle, be in for a power struggle? Only time will tell!

Lions Lebala Camp

The Wapoka pride females have been moving apart and then coming together again. They appear to have twelve cubs and youngsters amongst them. While this bodes well for a healthy future pride, the various male lions we have seen in the area could still threaten them if there is a new play for dominance.

Not only have the lions caused confusion. The den of four African wild dogs seems to have been abandoned, and there is no evidence of puppies. It is highly likely that the wild dogs sensed a threat in the area and moved to a new den site. We have been fortunate to watch this small pack hunt on several occasions. While attempting to hunt an impala, a new pack of eight wild dogs appeared and the smaller pack broke off the hunt and made haste to put some distance between them and the newcomers. The eight scent-marked the area and then moved off without a second glance. We are still to find out their agenda in the area, but we suspect this tale has some way to go.

The recent disjointed nature of the Wapoka pride has made the leopards more confident, and guests enjoyed watching five different individuals throughout the month: two males and three females.

Spotted hyena cubs delight

Cheetahs have been scarce this month, with only tracks found south of the Kwando Private Reserve, but the same cannot be said for the Spotted hyenas. Their den is now home to four cubs addicted to their new playground.

While the hyena den has been a firm favourite, elephants have regularly made the camp their home this month. Guests merely had to step out onto the room verandah to see these four-ton roadblocks silently crisscrossing the paths to the tents.

Marabou Stork Botswana

Species such as rollers, storks and geese were common, and then there were our beloved cleaners of the environment, the vultures. White-backed and Hooded vultures flew from one carcass to another. These birds were rarely without the company of the morose-looking Marabou storks, which salvage the last remains of lion kills.

(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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