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Dinare Camps, September 2023

A day without encountering lions at the Dinare Private Concession is a rare day indeed!

While we cherish the existence of all predators, in this expanse of wilderness, lions reigned supreme. We located them enjoying the shade on most days and frequently on the trail of buffalo herds during the evenings once the landscape had cooled off.

The big cats of the Dinare Private Concession

Despite the heavy presence of these strong felines, cheetahs still found room to roam. A coalition of four male cheetahs has taken up residence in the plains, traversing between Moremi Game Reserve and Rra Dinare Camp. Did you know? Unlike many other big cats, cheetahs have a unique purring sound similar to domestic cats. While other big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards can’t purr, cheetahs possess a unique hyoid bone to produce this sound while inhaling and exhaling. This purring is often heard during social interactions, as we experienced during game drives, especially between a mother and her cubs, or during breeding encounters.

September gifted us some soaring temperatures, but the heat stirred up heightened activity across the floodplains as animals congregated to quench their thirst at the Gomoti River.

One particularly memorable sighting occurred close to Mma Dinare Camp. A stunning moment unfolded as a leopard secured an impala kill atop a Shepherd tree, delighting our guests. The leopards within this vicinity exhibit a relaxed disposition, barring the rightly wary females with cubs and the brazen territorial intruders.

The rich Dinare ecosystem showcases two diverse biomes, offering a wealth of avian wonders. With sightings of up to 200 bird species possible in a single day during the green season, Dinare is a sanctuary for bird enthusiasts, and we spotted both aquatic and semi-desert bird species, including kori bustards, secretarybirds, and plenty of vultures circling the skies.

Night drive sights of the Okavango Delta

Spotted hyenas preferred the cover of the night for their circling, and we often heard their calls resonating through the darkness when sitting around the camp fire. A fascinating fact about hyenas is their remarkable social structure. Hyenas exhibit a matriarchal society where the females are typically larger, more dominant, and socially rank higher than males. This structure leads to a unique dynamic within the group, with the female hyenas being particularly powerful, sometimes even sporting pseudo-penises (enlarged clitorises) that are almost indistinguishable from the male genitalia. This hierarchy among female hyenas often results in them being the primary decision-makers within the clan and holds significant weight in the group’s social order and behaviour.

Other scavengers of the wild, jackals were frequently sighted around carcasses, particularly the ubiquitous black-backed Jackals. While side-striped jackals were less common, they also made occasional appearances.

During night drives in September, animals such as small-spotted genets, honey badgers, civets and serval cats were spotted. Serval cats are well-known in Botswana for their exceptional hunting abilities. They are skilled at stalking rodents, birds, and even small antelopes with remarkable precision. Once clocked, they have the unique ability to leap vertically and strike their prey from a considerable height, sometimes jumping up to two meters (6.5 feet) in the air.

They use their excellent hearing to detect the slightest movements of their prey, allowing them to make precise leaps and pounce down on their victims with incredible accuracy.

(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!)