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Kwara and Splash Camp, October 2023

New cubs injected life into the resident Kwara Pride, which comprised 12 members: two lionesses, three subadults, and six cubs of varying sizes.

The Kwara lionesses showed a penchant for trailing buffaloes along the marsh, a behaviour often observed this month. A lioness carrying her cub to a hidden thicket added another touch of maternal magic.

Two male lions exploited the dense cover of woodlands to optimize their hunting. Meanwhile, the Ngorongoro area witnessed a spectacle — a pride of seven lions, sated after feasting on a kudu. East of Ngorongoro, another group of five (including males and subadults) engaged in an unsuccessful hunt. Over at Mojeremane plain, a regal pride of four lionesses, three subadults, and two dominant males revelled in the aftermath of a hearty meal. Two new male lions made their mark, scavenging an elephant carcass along Kudu Road, fending off hyenas, and even facing crocodiles in a late-afternoon spectacle!

Lions at Kwara Camp

Yet another pride of seven lions, in a display of dominance, claimed a share of the spoils and chased away crocodiles while vultures and marabou storks loomed, waiting for their turn. Only the scene at Last Mabala was arguably more impressive, with over twenty spotted hyenas scavenging on a dead elephant. A massive male lion was also sighted near room nine at Kwara Camp.

Boating safaris in the Kwara Private Concession

Each boat cruise at the Godikwe Heronry was a birdwatcher’s delight, with long-crested eagles, herons, storks, and bee-eaters creating a spectacle. These Okavango Delta heronries are breeding colonies for various bird species, including herons, egrets, and other water birds, including the sacred ibis. These sites play a crucial role in the life cycle of these birds, providing safe nesting areas when they migrate down from the North.

After a boat cruise, we saw a female leopard weaving through the marshes west of the Splash Camp mokoro station. She unwittingly crossed paths with a lion pride but quickly escaped to a tree. Another female, near Tom’s Road, ascended a tree after heading south, while a third adult female enjoyed a meal on a tree south of Marapo Kubu. A morning hunt between Giraffe and Sekgapha sa Kudu Pans proved fruitless for different female leopard.

Leopard Okavango Delta

During an evening game drive, the resident male leopard near Kwara Camp cooperated by lying on a tree along the riverine road for an extended viewing. A more skittish male at Last Mabala, at Tsum Tsum, disappeared into the marsh grasses. Along the Xugana Main Road, another leopardess fed on a steenbok kill treed up on a sausage tree. A massive tom scavenged on a buffalo at Honeymoon Pan, again connecting the fates of lion and leopard.

The 25 lively African wild dogs of the Kwara Pack were located on an energetic hunt around Double Cross. Another group of six dogs pursued common reedbuck south of Splash Camp, albeit without success. A triumphant moment unfolded as the 25 wild dogs claimed an impala east of Decks Crossing. Lastly, at Last Mabala area, the pack found respite in the comforting shade.

African wild dogs of the Okavango Delta: prowess and playfulness!

High lion numbers on the Kwara side forced resident African wild dog packs to adapt their movements slightly. A troubling sight unfolded as one dog displayed signs of illness near Forward Tsum Tsum. Another group of twelve (including puppies) indulged in play around a water puddle. However, the harsh reality of the wild became apparent when two wild dogs faced a brutal lion attack, and their survival still hangs in the balance.

The island grounds of Kwara Camp were home to a bustling business of banded mongooses. Banded mongooses are captivating social mammals living in tight-knit social groups called troops, which can consist of several individuals to over 30 animals. These troops have a complex social hierarchy, with a dominant breeding pair leading the group,  much like African wild dogs.

The spotted sprinters of the savannah were also a spectacle! A female cheetah, north of Big Man and Puffy Pan, exhibited grace in her pursuit of impalas. The resident male, Mr. Special, navigated carefully in a lion-dominated landscape. Feeding near Last Mabala, he swiftly escaped as lions appeared unexpectedly. Mr. Special chased a red lechwe ram west of Bat Eared Fox, and his hunt took an unexpected turn when vultures and hyenas disrupted the scene. On the opposite spectrum, another male, west of Sethabana, lazed about with a full belly. A lone male cheetah was also spotted north of the area.

Most of the floodplain waters have receded. Hundreds of buffaloes created a spectacle, joined by elands, sables, and roan antelopes. The sprawling plains of Splash Camp were home to parades of elephants, zebras, and impalas.

During night game drives, we sighted servals, springhares, and lesser bush babies, which were always delightful to watch, bounding through the tree branches. We also saw a civet, a serval skilfully hunting, and the many animated antics of black-backed and side-striped jackals.  

(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!)