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Lebala Camp, October 2023

Five distinct leopards graced our presence in the Kwando Private Concession this month.

One female had two cubs, and their playful antics frequently caught our attention. Impala feasts marked their territory, while the resident male showcased his hunting prowess. The territories of two leopards clashed in a silent yet powerful dance. Leopards are territorial creatures, marking their area with urine and leaving claw marks on trees. The size of their site varies depending on factors like food availability.

Lion update from Lebala Camp

The lions of Lebala were seen many times this month and present in two formidable groups. We observed the bonds and hunts of an 11-strong pride and another of seven, which left us in awe, especially when the dominant males took centre stage.

Lebala Camp Lions

One morning, breakfast around the campfire became a wildlife symphony as the lions strolled nearby and vocalised to the rest of the pride. Their routines ranged from failed hunts to devouring impalas, wildebeests, kudus, and zebras. The dry spell in October compelled other lions to venture towards camp from inland. Tensions occasionally flared, leading to fierce subadult clashes, but unity ultimately prevailed, leaving each pride intact.

The general game descended to the Kwando River’s edge. Tsessebe calves pranced around, male buffalos asserted their presence, and elephants graced us in large herds. Sable and roan antelopes showcased their elegance by the water, while hippos claimed the channel.

Most of the bee-eater species have arrived in the area, with carmine bee-eaters and white-fronted bee-eaters seen in good numbers. Waterbirds logged include saddle-billed storks and wattled cranes along the marsh areas, along with Southern ground hornbills, in an impressive group of nine on one occasion.

African wild dogs Kwando Lebala

One memorable African wild dog sighting turned into an adrenaline-pumping spectacle. Along the southern marsh, we watched a successful impala hunt unfold under the descending sun, leaving us in suspense into the last light as the pack finished the meal. These dogs are exceptional endurance runners. They can cover great distances during hunts, often pursuing prey until the prey is exhausted. Their efficient cooling mechanism facilitates this — they have fewer sweat glands and rely on rapid breathing to dissipate heat.

Night prowlers and marsh dwellers

After the first rains, crickets and moths have been active, and at night, the harvester termites gathered grasses. In hot pursuit, the aardwolves gracefully stepped into the spotlight during our nocturnal adventures, largely unfazed by our presence. In a single night, an individual aardwolf can consume up to 300,000 termites with a combined weight of 1,2kg! An African civet made a cameo near the camp, and the elusive porcupine paraded along the firebreak. Our night drives were also enhanced by spotted hyenas, which occasionally congregated near an elephant carcass. Their brown counterparts, elusive and shy, teased us by darting into thickets by the northern marsh.

(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!)