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Pom Pom Camp, November 2022

Leopards provided fantastic sightings, and we encountered a new female leopard with two cubs occupying the northwest corner of the Pom Pom Reserve.

After tracking her one morning, we found the trio in a Sausage tree with a dead impala. We watched her for ten minutes before a lioness entered the scene from the bush. Immediately alert, the leopard watched as the lion orbited the base of the trunk. She pushed her two cubs higher into the tree before dragging the impala up as the lioness herself began to climb. The impala was pulled higher and higher, branch by branch, as the intruder made her way slowly up the tree. Eventually, the leopard was almost at the top but, luckily for her, the lioness was too hefty to climb further. They spent five minutes staring and snarling at each other. One of the leopard cubs couldn’t handle the tension, leapt from the tree, and sprinted to the nearest bush to hide. Eventually, the faceoff ended with the lioness abandoning the climb, dropping to the ground, and striding away into the undergrowth. 

The Spotted hyena soap opera and African wild dog hunts

After the past few months of the Pom Pom spotted hyena soap opera, this time, we aren’t leading with a story about the hyenas running around bothering all and sundry! The clan still held their fortress at the airstrip, but kept a lower profile when it came to making a nuisance of themselves stealing food from other predators. We saw the healthy young cubs growing steadily, playing rough and tumble with their older siblings. Soon they will be almost too big to fit into the den and may relocate. 

As the first rains rolled across the landscape, we heard the sounds of tiny hooves. Impala, tsessebe, wildebeest and warthogs (among others) all had young wobbling beside them. Mother Nature showed her most tender side with amazing parent/offspring interaction, but the harsh bush realities also came into play.

Will I see wild dogs Okavango Delta

We saw two impala lambs falling prey to one of the resident packs of African wild dogs. While the impala can run with its mother not long after being born, a pack of 12 African wild dogs is a formidable foe, and newborns will inevitably be thinned out in the coming weeks. 

The pack of 12 (with 8 puppies) was located attempting to steal a kill from a big male lion, so they were clearly confident. 

A pitter patter from the Pom Pom pride?

One warm November morning, we found the Pom Pom pride watching a herd of red lechwe. After some consideration, they got up and slowly paced towards the antelopes. They managed to close the gap slowly and in silence until a warning call from one of the lechwe sent them fleeing back towards the relative safety of the water channel. Unfortunately, one lechwe calf went the opposite direction from its mother, and the lionness had it in a matter of metres. 

Lions of Pom Pom Camp

Nature is rough, but this meant sustenance for the cubs of the Pom Pom pride. Until recently, they raised ten cubs, but we only saw them with nine this month. However, the circle of life resumes, and it looks like another lioness is pregnant.

The breeding herds of elephants roamed in large numbers, with the low water allowing the babies to cross from island to island with relative ease. While elephants don’t give birth to their young to coincide with the rains (like many antelopes), several tiny elephants accompany these herds. They can’t have been more than a few weeks old, and we spent many fun hours enjoying their antics and futile attempts to cope with their own trunks. It’ll be 8-12 months before they get a good handle on this amazingly dextrous appendage, and the herds remain very protective of the young. As they marched through the reserve, a fantastic array of birds exploited their movements for insects and prey dislodged from the ground. Turning an eye to the skies, we saw Whiskered terns, White-winged terns, Osprey and African fish eagles, plus Jacanas, Spur-winged geese, African openbills, herons, and egrets on the water. We had sightings of the Pel’s fishing owl on two occasions, and a Marsh owl was seen at Warthog Island sitting on the ground.

(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!)