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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!)