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Month: April 2023

4 Rivers Camp, April 2023

The 4 Rivers area is largely unexplored, and it’s been an exciting time laying down tracks and witnessing the thriving wildlife of this new neighborhood!

4 Rivers lies in the northwestern area of the Kwara Private Reserve, and it took the crew about three and a half hours to drive there from Kwara and Splash Camp — without stopping for the plentiful sightings along the way.  

4 Rivers Camp Okavango Delta

As camp construction forges on, we’ve noticed that 4 Rivers sits in a healthy transition area for predators such as lions, wild dogs, leopards and spotted hyenas. From March, the Kwando guiding team moved into camp to establish the best game drive routes and outline the finest designated walking ranges. 

A dedicated squad of walking safari guides was stationed at 4 Rivers. Their informative walks will cover precious (but often overlooked) ecological functions that make the Okavango Delta unique. Guests will apply all their senses: taste wild fruits, smell fragrant botanicals, keep a keen ear out for bird and animal calls and safely approach the big game on foot. As trained by seasoned external trainers, the goal is to view animals intimately by reading wind direction and respecting wildlife behaviour, then retreat before they detect any human presence. 

4 Rivers Camp Okavango Delta Walking Safaris

We’re excited to see where the incoming floodwaters will pool so that we can identify suitable sites for seasonal mokoro excursions.

(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, April 2023

We observed a coalition of two male cheetahs resting near a termite mound in the western part of Sedudu.

Another alliance, consisting of two brothers, captivated us in the southwest direction of Sibanda’s Island. Many of our guests had their first-ever glimpse of these magnificent creatures and were truly enthralled!

From gentle morning showers to evening drizzles, the ever-changing atmosphere of April brought a refreshing coolness to the Gunn’s Private Reserve.

The lions and leopards spotted at Moremi Crossing

Lion encounters began with a thrilling sighting of two male lions forming a powerful coalition near Rra Lopang’s island.

A pride of nine lions showcased their hunting skills as they pursued an impala. We also observed three lions leisurely roaming near the camp. Another memorable moment occurred when two male lions engaged in a fierce battle with a rival coalition over a kill. It was fascinating to witness their dominance. We discovered that these territorial conquerors were the same pair encountered in previous months.

Landscapes of Moremi Crossing

We spotted six magnificent leopards. One memorable sighting involved a male leopard near a towering tree, focused on a young red lechwe. As the sun set, another leopard emerged, displaying its grace and stealth. Our resident female leopard revealed herself while a male leopard embarked on an exhilarating hunt in the east. Witnessing two male leopards enjoying an impala lamb kill was a true highlight. Another magical moment occurred near Nxaraga Crossing, where two male leopards enchanted guests.

The energetic and social African wild dogs made their mark on our safaris. A pack of eight was spotted during a morning drive and we marvelled at their synchronized movements. We witnessed their impressive hunting skills several days later as they devoured an impala kill. Another sighting occurred in the east as the pack of eight traversed the landscape toward the hippo pool.

Spotted hyenas, side-striped jackals and black-backed jackals were frequent sightings during our morning and evening drives. Hyena calls created a captivating nocturnal symphony around the camp every evening.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise 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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Tau Pan Camp, April 2023

One day, Tau Pan guests were treated with an extraordinary encounter as their game drive met with a brown hyena heading eastward.

Another morning, a puff adder and a Mozambique spitting cobra engaged in a fierce battle over a mouse. We later found the puff adder amusing itself with a tortoise’s intriguing behaviour in the Passarge Valley.

The cunning cheetahs of the Central Kalahari

During a delightful afternoon game drive,  guides located a satiated male cheetah leisurely heading eastward. Another male cheetah marked his territory near the pan, exuding plenty of confidence. Near Makgowa Pan, we witnessed an exhilarating chase as he pursued a duiker!

A timid male leopard frequented Phukwi Pan, while another male was seen gracefully perched on a tree savouring a steenbok feast. Meanwhile, the female leopard was spotted indulging in a black-backed jackal meal.

The Tau Pan lion pride

Another memorable morning, we discovered the Tau Pan lion pride, fully satisfied, and they sought refuge southwest of the pan. They also paid the camp a surprise visit, quenching their thirst at the swimming pool before resting in front! We often heard their calls echo through the air as they lingered west of the fire break.

Lions of Tau Pan Central Kalahari

The Tau Pan pride stealthily stalked oryx and springboks throughout April. Along the Aardvark road, the Airstrip pride playfully frolicked before making their way to Makgowa Pan. As the Kalahari sun intensified, they sought shelter under shade to rest. North of camp, near the workshop, we stumbled upon the Tau Pan pride with their adorable cubs, engaging in playful antics before retreating into the thickets.

Most autumn mornings, we witnessed a tapestry of general game and bird species spread across the Tau Pan area. Bat-eared foxes, oryx, springboks, jackals, wildebeests, giraffes, and energetic ground squirrels dotted the landscape. Majestic tawny eagles soared above, joined by the impressive bateleurs. Vultures swooped down, feasting on the smaller creatures, adding to the avian spectacle.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise 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, April 2023

Lions reigned supreme throughout the Dinare Private Reserve, providing multiple sightings that left us in awe.

New prides emerged, including one with nine males and a strong female. One unforgettable morning, we witnessed the mighty River Boys, two majestic male lions, feasting alongside a lioness on a colossal buffalo. Another day unfolded with a heart-stopping drama as the Batshabi pride’s two male lions showcased their hunting prowess by felling an injured buffalo near Rra Dinare camp, only to be hotly pursued by the relentless River Boys! Amidst the chaos, black and side-striped jackals stealthily stole the lions’ leftovers, a display of their cunning intelligence.

The Gomoti River’s resident male lion, Nyakanyaka, fought fiercely with the coalition of three brothers from the neighbouring concession. Despite sustaining minor injuries, Nyakanyaka valiantly survived the encounters.

What will I see on a night drive in the Dinare Private Reserve?

As the seasons changed and leaves fell, elusive creatures like the Aardwolf and genets became more visible. The sparse bush thickets offer an opportunity to witness these captivating nocturnal hunters.

Leopards emerged as stealthy assassins. We witnessed a female leopard skillfully hunting down an impala in the paradisiacal surroundings. The resident male leopard, Rra Lebodu, enticed us with his sightings, especially when he stealthily devoured his impala prey, providing a front-row seat to the captivating drama. A heavily pregnant female leopard was spotted near Rra Dinare Camp, her impending motherhood igniting a sense of anticipation.

African wild dogs were seen in limited numbers, possibly due to the presence of lions. Two wild dogs in particular captured our attention near the central area of the camp.

Plains game congregated near the dwindling pans and flourishing riverine oases, including zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, warthogs, impalas, common reedbucks, lechwes, monkeys, and baboons.

Cheetahs on the hunt

In April, a coalition of four cheetah brothers roamed between Moremi Game Reserve and Dinare Private Reserve, showcasing their relentless pursuits, including a thrilling hunt for a young zebra only to be met with the fierce defence of the adult herd.

Cheetah Mma Dinare Camp

Mokoro rides and nature walks transported us into the heart of untamed wilderness. Though cautious of the mighty hippos along the main Gomoti channel, receding grasses allowed us to sight game easily and unveiled safe pathways for leisurely walks, where every step resonated with the primal energy of the land.

Some intra-African bird visitors graced the skies, including the resplendent woodland kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, and the majestic wattled cranes gracefully winding through the riverine habitats.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise 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, April 2023

During their safari, guests were treated to a thrilling experience as they followed the tracks of a majestic male lion in search of water in front of Nxai Pan Camp.

They discovered more lion tracks along the road to Baines’ Baobab, offering a glimpse into the world of lionesses and their adorable cubs.

Lions on the way to Baines’ Baobabs

They were awe-struck when they came across a resting lioness taking shelter under a bush while scanning the vast Kalahari plains. Unexpectedly, a male elephant appeared, further adding to the spectacle!

However, the highlight of their adventure was witnessing a lioness enjoy a wildebeest meal, while black-backed jackals and pied crows gathered around. The presence of circling vultures hinted at the possibility of an unseen lion nearby. At Baines’ Baobab, they stumbled upon a pride of five contented lions, including two lionesses and three well-fed cubs, who were leisurely lounging on the road!

We tracked a female leopard on her journey back to an area where we suspected she had hidden her precious cubs near the route to Baines’ Baobab. Guides glimpsed the leopardess as she quenched her thirst at a natural water hole along the West Road. Later, she tested her hunting skills on impalas, showcasing the true essence of a predator’s challenge.

Green Season Nxai Pan

Every dawn brought fresh tracks of the enigmatic African wild dogs, teasing us. Although we did not spot them this time, their unseen presence added an air of intrigue to our wildlife encounters. The melodious songs of the diverse range of larks filled the air during every activity, including the locally confined subspecies, the Dusky lark.  

Astounding raptors of the Makgadikgadi

Guests marvelled at the aerial prowess as majestic raptors skilfully navigated the thermal currents, effortlessly gliding through the skies. A fascinating sight awaited them as vultures congregated around a zebra carcass cleverly concealed beneath the shade of a small acacia tree. While the elusive big cat responsible for the kill remained unseen, the signs of its presence were evident.

Secretary Bird

The remarkable hunting skills of the secretary bird were also displayed as it pursued small prey and relished its hard-earned meal. The agile African harrier hawk, also known as the gymnogene, showcased its unique ability to bend its legs forward and backwards to extract victims from hidden crevices. One memorable encounter involved a gymnogene landing on a log, unintentionally disrupting a glossy starling’s breeding site and causing a commotion among the helpless chicks.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise 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, April 2023

This month kicked off with a rare pangolin sighting along the floodplains.

These remarkable mammals are covered in scales and known for their solitary behaviour and expert digging skills. Unfortunately, these incredible creatures are highly endangered due to illegal wildlife trafficking. The sighting was a powerful reminder of the urgent need to protect pangolins and their habitats.

In addition to the pangolin, night drives revealed a thriving population of scrub hares, springhares and small carnivores, including African wild cats, small spotted genets, agile servals, and cunning side-striped jackals. When the sun set during April, the night sky transformed into an enchanting spectacle adorned with the gentle glow of fireflies. Adding these nocturnal creatures brought further mystery and excitement to our expeditions!

Mating mambas!

We also witnessed the mating rituals of two black mambas! A sighting both awe-inspiring and rare. Furthermore, an African rock python gracefully slithered through the wilderness.

Lion sightings were exceptional. We’ve witnessed the pride’s remarkable success in their hunts, often finding them feasting on kills or resting after a satisfying meal. As water sources dwindled in the south, west, and southeast, animals migrated to the floodplains of Zipa/Mokoro Station and Drifters, including the Pom Pom pride. We observed the lions strategically waiting in the plains, seizing the opportunity to hunt red lechwe males when they were distracted by territorial fights. However, daytime hunts proved challenging due to vigilant onlookers alerting the prey.

Nonetheless, with 15 cubs of different generations, the pride has been hunting diligently to feed their growing family. The dominant male, Mompati, successfully defends his territory against intruding males. Transient males attempted to infiltrate but were swiftly expelled. We even witnessed a dramatic family feud, as an older female and male fought a younger female who appeared to be an outsider. The chase spanned from Zipa Plains to the south of Pom Pom.

Leopard update

Seven remarkable leopards roamed the Pom Pom Private Concession this month. South of the camp, a female named Amantle resides with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Bonolo. Nearby, a young male often prowls our camp at night, hunting bushbucks. To the east, a male leopard roams, while in the enchanting Mochimbamo island stretching to Rebecca’s field, a female named Mochimbamo and a male find their sanctuary. Further north and west, another female leopard tends to her cubs.

Due to the abundance of lions to the north and northeast, a mother leopard, her daughter, and new cubs sought refuge in the northwest, gradually moving westward. The older daughter occasionally returns to her birthplace, showcasing her independence. Once, we encountered a gripping scene as a female leopard battled a red lechwe on Dituni island. We watched, mesmerized until she claimed her meal.

Leopards of Pom Pom Camp Okavango Delta

A female cheetah was spotted in the Mabala a Dikgokong area. She was on the move, making her way from the Drifters plains towards the Letswai flood plains to seek safety from the prowling lions.

As water sources diminished, the red lechwes migrated to the northeast Zepa and Drifters floodplains, establishing dominance in these areas. Alongside these elegant antelopes, the landscape also boasted the presence of majestic elephants, mighty buffaloes, reedbucks, zebras, kudus, tiny steenboks, impalas, tsessebes, wildebeest, and warthogs. We also loved watching the nurturing bond between elephant herds and their young.

Taking advantage of the dry terrain, African wild dogs proved elusive at the beginning of the month as they explored the vast savannas and flood plains. However, persistence paid off when we finally encountered a pack of eight dogs on a hunting spree near Shine Bridge. We followed their thrilling chase as they swiftly manoeuvred through the landscape, eventually leading us to the east of the First Hippo Pool. These social hunters left us in wonder about their teamwork.

Following the receding water levels, crocodiles embarked on their seasonal migration towards the north.

Seeing spots

Gentle giraffe at Pom Pom Camp

The Spotted hyena population thrived, with some individuals venturing into the expansive floodplains. We observed two dens on Marula Island and one to the east at the Old Hyena Den, where these fascinating creatures gathered with their adorable puppies.

Woodland kingfishers, ruff-whiskered terns, white-winged terns, ospreys, and many other bird species were logged. The familiar residents were fish eagles, jacanas, spur-winged geese, Burchell’s starlings, open-billed storks, herons, egrets, and Pel’s fishing owls. One memorable encounter occurred on Warthog Island, where a marsh owl perched on the ground alongside a group of ostriches and their adorable chicks.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise 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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Kwara and Splash Camp, April 2023

Guests from Splash enjoyed the antics of two honey badgers fearlessly harvesting honey from a termite mound, utterly unfazed by the bees swarming around them.

We also relished the rare sighting of an aardvark just minutes before reaching the camp during an afternoon drive.

Lots of luck with leopard sightings!

During a journey to the boat station, the alarm calls of vervet monkeys helped us track a male leopard from the Kwara airstrip to the majestic baobab tree on Kwara’s eastern side. An adult male leopard triumphantly perched in a tree nearby, having successfully preyed on a large male baboon. Maintaining a respectful distance (allowing him to acclimate to our presence), our captivating encounter with this remarkable creature and his elevated perch lasted three incredible days as he ensured the safety of his prized meal.

Leopard at Splash Camp

During another game drive from Splash, we located an adult male leopard gracefully perched on a tree along Hobbs Road after an hour-long tracking effort. Another female leopard caught our attention east of Mabala a Dikgokong, but swiftly disappeared into the bushes.

Spotted hyena antics

A clan of over 12 spotted hyenas was found feasting on a baby elephant carcass between Tom’s and Hobbs Road, north of Marapo a Kubu. We also located a hyena feeding on an impala carcass in the Mabala a Mmoloki area, carrying the skull while moving south.

Known as the diligent scavengers of the African savannahs, we had an active hyena den within the Kwara area. We enjoyed observing two young cubs alongside two smaller, pitch-black ones during our visits. We intended to check on the hyena cubs on one particularly eventful day. However, an unexpected encounter disrupted our plans, and we encountered three male lions. Intrigued, we followed them to the hyena den and observed them shifting their positions around the shelter. Returning a week later to check on the hyena cubs, we were met with stillness. Despite our repeated visits, there was no action, but the den showed signs of being regularly cleaned, indicating hyena activity. We surmised that the scent of the lions had instilled fear in the hyenas, keeping them cautious and hidden.

The lions of the Kwara Private Concession

Throughout the month, our team had several more captivating encounters with the lions of the area. Lionesses and subadults were spotted in various locations, including the Bat-eared area, Mokoro Station Road, and Pelican Pan. We observed their daily routines, from unsuccessful buffalo hunts to resting periods in the scorching afternoon heat.

One day, guides followed a giraffe’s gaze, leading them to a female lion with two tiny cubs in a hidden den. Tracking and vultures further aided in pinpointing the lions in the marshlands, which became their favoured hunting ground.

Early in April, we came across three lion cubs, aged three and six months, accompanied by an adult lioness heading west towards Diolo Road from the Bat-eared area. The next day, an impressive pride of 11 lionesses from the Kwara Pride was discovered northwest of the den, seeking shade. Additionally, two adult male lions, two adult lionesses, and two subadult females, along with their three and six-month-old cubs, were found moving within the same vicinity.

On another occasion, two lionesses and two adult male lions from a pride of twelve were seen walking north near Wild Dog Pan, eventually settling down in the surrounding bushes. A lone male lion from a coalition of five was sighted near the Bat-eared area, exhibiting his presence with regal confidence.

Calls of black-backed jackals and the assistance of vervet monkeys guided us toward a group of three adult male lions located at Last Mabala area, and the month concluded with the heartwarming sight of six lion cubs, accompanied by a subadult male, seeking refuge in the thickets south of the Bat-eared area while their parents ventured out in search of prey.

Three African wild dog packs roam Kwara

In the Kwara area, we had the pleasure of observing three distinct African wild dog packs. One pack consists of five members, another with six, and the most impressive pack boasts an impressive 29 canines. Recently, we had a thrilling encounter with the pack of 29 as they engaged in a fascinating standoff with a group of blue wildebeests. They teased and tormented the gnus for hours until the dogs sought respite under the sheltering Kalahari apple leaf trees while the wildebeests monitored their foes from a distance.

Wild dogs Splash Camp

Later during the month, we came across a pack of six in the late afternoon on a relentless hunting mission, skillfully attempting to flush out common reedbucks hidden within the tall yellow thatching grass. After a gripping pursuit lasting about 20 minutes, their persistence paid off. They successfully captured a young common reedbuck and efficiently devoured their well-earned prize. As we observed this spectacle, hyenas appeared on the scene, eager to partake in the spoils.

We found Mr Special perched atop a termite mound one morning, basking in the early morning light. However, the serenity was abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a male lion. With a calm demeanour, Mr Special observed the lion’s approach from a mere 15 meters away before deciding to descend and make his escape. The intrigued lion sniffed around the termite mound and cautiously followed the cheetah’s trail for approximately 15 minutes before eventually losing interest. Meanwhile, the agile cheetah stealthily navigated through the dense thickets, continuing his journey.

Abundant herds

There was an increase in buffalo and elephant herds due to the drying up of natural water holes in the woodlands, signalling the onset of winter. During one dawn drive, we observed a buffalo enduring the relentless pursuit of hyenas as they chased him for several minutes. The area continued to thrive with abundant general game, including impressive herds of elephants, breeding herds and bachelor groups.

Elephants of Kwara

Other sightings included greater kudus, zebras, tsessebe, wildebeest, impalas, giraffes, hippos, and water-loving antelopes such as red lechwe, common waterbuck, and sitatunga.

Jackals, both striped and black-backed, frequented the Kwara area. Additionally, we spotted other small mammals, such as African wild cats and genets. These elusive creatures were often seen perched on treetops or pursuing small rodents.

African rock pythons, spotted bush snakes, water monitor lizards, and rock monitor lizards crossed our paths, and we discovered sizable crocodiles about three meters long during boat cruises, basking in the sun atop the Miscanthus grass along the Maunachira channel. Armed crickets, grasshoppers, dragonflies, damselflies, pond striders, and various butterfly species like monarchs, brown veined whites, foxy charaxes, broad-bordered grass yellows and guineafowl butterflies added vibrancy to the Kwara Private Concession.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise 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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