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4 Rivers Camp, October 2023

The charismatic African wild dogs, comprising a pack of 20, made recurring appearances during our game drives and showcased their energetic hunting prowess. 

One day, our guide paused during a game drive stop to explain the unsung architects of the Okavango Delta and guests gathered around a big termite mound for a chat about these fascinating insects. Ever alert, the tracker gently interrupted,  asking everyone for a moment of silence. He had heard the faint greeting call of a wild dog. Everyone slowly climbed back in the car, drove around the corner and there they were – 22 of them!

African wild dogs Kwara 4 Rivers

Delighted, the guests spent a long time with the pack, and patience paid off. Two hyenas which had been seen in the area, approached the group, and the wild dogs started chasing them. Soon after, the wild dogs ran into lions! At this juncture, the group wisely started backtracking.

On the 15th, the wild dogs pursued red lechwe through the marsh areas. Later, on the 17th, a pack of 12 indulged in a feast on a giraffe carcass, displaying communal camaraderie. We were enthralled as the alpha female later led a spirited hunt on the 25th, highlighting the pack’s incredible vitality.

Will I see lions at 4 Rivers Camp?

This month was rich in lion encounters, each unfolding like a gripping narrative. Six lion cubs frolicked in the water near 4 Rivers Camp under the watchful eyes of their mothers. The scene was a symphony of water splashes and attentive warning calls, making for a memorable encounter. Another day, a pride of four females and two cubs revealed signs of a successful early morning hunt, with playful cubs displaying blood stains in testament to their recent feast.

The Tsum Tsum Pride, comprising three lions, claimed a giraffe kill in the scenic floodplains, their regal feast illuminated by the morning sun. Two formidable males joined later, seizing control of the meal and adding a layer of drama. 

As floodplains dried, resilient grass species emerged, bringing a touch of green to the vast landscapes of 4 Rivers. Herbivores and elephants were drawn to these green oases, transforming the scenery into a thriving panorama of life. 

Seeing spots: leopards, cheetahs and more

In the middle of the month, a female leopard graced the landscape and perched atop a tree in the evening light. Leopards are adept climbers and their strength allows them to haul prey that may be larger than themselves into the branches of trees to avoid scavengers such as hyenas and lions.  

Spotted hyenas, often associated with nighttime scavenging, made their presence felt, particularly around lion kills and during night safaris. Their eerie calls echoed through the camp, adding a mysterious touch to the nocturnal soundscape. Hyenas are known for their vocalizations, which include whoops, giggles, growls, and a distinctive “laughter” sound. This laughter-like vocalization is often heard during feeding and helps establish social bonds within the clan.

During night safaris, guests enjoyed delightful sightings of small-spotted genets, civets, and bush babies. Cape clawless otters appeared in the waters near the camp, adding a lively aquatic element. Also known as African clawless otters, these captivating aquatic mammals live in various freshwater habitats across sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike other otter species, Cape clawless otters lack the typical external claws, hence the name “clawless.” Instead, they have fully webbed fingers with prominent pads on their paws, which aid in grasping slippery prey.  

The renowned Mr. Special, a resident cheetah, was spotted west of Bat-eared fox territory, savouring a male impala kill. The scene unfolded beneath a leadwood tree with vultures as silent spectators. Cheetah territories are often called “home ranges” rather than strict territories. These home ranges can be extensive, covering a large expanse of land and vary in size depending on the abundance of prey and the distribution of other predators. Mr Special has occupied his home range in the Kwara Private Concession for several years and successfully defended it from new cheetahs coming in.

Return of the reptiles and elephants in the Tsum Tsum River

The changing weather brought sightings of pythons and puff adders, emphasizing the adaptability of the region’s reptilian residents. Crocodiles exhibited their aquatic prowess in shallow waterholes, while water monitor lizards ventured out searching for beetles and insects.

Elephants majestically traversed the Tsum Tsum River while roan antelopes and sables dotted the woodland scenery. A colossal herd of more than a thousand buffaloes became a defining spectacle on several days. Giraffes, zebras, kudus, waterbucks, hippos, red lechwe, common reedbucks, and tsessebes added to the visual feast.

Ostriches made a striking appearance to the west, and the skies witnessed the graceful flight of vultures plus pied and striped kingfishers while Southern ground hornbills strutted the grasslands. Majestic raptors, including bateleurs, brown snake eagles and martial eagles, added to the avian spectacle. The arrival of summer migrants, such as broad-billed rollers, yellow-billed kites, and Wahlberg’s eagles, signalled the changing seasons.

(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!)