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Month: November 2023

4 Rivers Camp, November 2023

We headed out on many a cheetah-tracking adventure this month!

Trackers and guides located fresh cheetah tracks on the east side of Tsum Tsum. The pursuit led us to the northern part of the region, tirelessly following the faint trail for nearly 30 minutes. Our efforts were rewarded as we unexpectedly encountered the renowned “Mr Special” concealed in tall grass, guided by the vigilant alarm calls of common reedbucks. However, the morning didn’t end with a successful hunt. Towards the end of the month, a newly discovered cheetah, seemingly more relaxed, was observed on the eastern fringes of Tsum Tsum.

In the heart of 4 Rivers, lions kept everyone on our toes. The Kwara pride, a team of three robust males, four regal females, and a lively ensemble of sub-adults with cubs, stole the show. With 20 members, this pride grapples with internal dynamics, breaking into smaller groups due to the intensifying competition for sustenance. We witnessed a marsh-side feast on wildebeest and the later spectacle of the Kwara pride relishing the spoils of two zebras. Our guests also observed the War pride indulging in a giraffe feast.

Leopards are being seen more and more at 4 Rivers. On 15 November, a male leopard crossed our path, utilizing the roads common to these stealthy creatures during nighttime. Another leopard was seen on 20 November at the eastern edge of the 4 Rivers waterhole. Tracking African wild dogs led us to their resting place under a jackalberry tree.

As temperatures cooled, the dogs stirred, and the pack ventured into a marshy area. There, they discovered a leopard with its prey, a common reedbuck. As hyenas joined the scene, a dramatic skirmish ensued, creating a tense standoff. In the wild hierarchy, the outnumbered leopard yielded to the combined might of hyenas and wild dogs.

African wild dogs 4 Rivers

Hyenas become a familiar sight, drawn to waterholes during the searing heat. Their numbers surged, and occasionally, the animals shadowed the more prosperous African wild dogs, likely in anticipation of scavenging the remnants of a successful hunt.

Walking through a wild wonderland

Nature walks on Maboa Island came alive with countless birds, and the ground was adorned with the vibrant bloom of freshly germinated flowers. The termite mounds buzzed with activity, becoming lively hubs amid our exploration. As we strolled through the bush, a bustling community of insects, including dung beetles,  bright red velvet mites, ants, and their predators, tiny ant lions, revealed themselves, turning every step into an exciting discovery.

The northern side of Tsum Tsum burst into life, attracting various animals. Towering giraffes, herds of zebras, wildebeest, tsessebe, roan and sable antelope, and a herd of eland created rich scenery. The breeding season post-rainfall has predators keenly eyeing their vulnerable young. The changing weather also spurred activity among reptiles. We clocked eyes on leopard tortoises, pythons, black mambas, and crocodiles basking along riverbanks.

Night drives unveiled a cast of smaller mammals, from African wild cats and porcupines to rabbits, beautiful elegant servals and charming small-spotted genets.

The skies and waterways become alive with the arrival of birds from the north. Slaty egrets, woodland kingfishers, and black herons engaged in their respective captivating ballets of flight and fishing. We also saw carmine bee-eaters, Wahlberg eagles and many more species.

(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!)

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Tau Pan Camp, November 2023

Tau Pan showed off a parade of wildlife with a surge in elephant numbers this month in a migration-like movement from east to south.

An extraordinary morning scene unfolded on 29 November. Guests enjoying breakfast were treated to a brown hyena at the waterhole.

Puppies and badgers at the pan

Adorable black-backed jackal puppies stole the show during game drives. Bat-eared fox puppies and two honey badgers were spotted at the pan, engaging in intriguing behaviours. The interactions between these mammals and a bird of prey further enriched the spectacle, when a pale chanting goshawk was spied sitting with a honey badger.

Korhaan Kalahari
By Julie / Tawana Safaris

A stealthy cat, the caracal, was observed hunting a korhaan. Ground squirrels, ever-vigilant, sounded the alarm, prompting the korhaan to take flight and the cat to vanish into the thickets, a master of manoeuvres. Diederick cuckoos, yellow-billed kites, chestnut-vented warblers, and southern masked weavers preparing their nests heightened the sounds of nature.

Sunset Tau Pan
By Julie / Tawana Safaris

We witnessed a female cheetah and her playful cubs engaging in a gripping hunt. However, their springbok target proved too fast, marking a day of missed opportunities. Later in the month, the trio attempted to separate a gemsbok calf from its mother. Faced with formidable opposition, the cheetahs strategically withdrew, demonstrating the challenges of the predator’s life as they did not want to get injured. Their frames are small, and injury could lead to them being chased down by bigger predators, such as lions.

The lions of Tau Pan

The Tau Pan pride, comprised of six subadult lions, showcased their territory by venturing close to the camp waterhole for a drink often throughout November. They continually found respite under the bushes, sometimes making photography a challenge as heat built during the day.

Tau Pan Lions Kalahari
By Julie / Tawana Safaris

We tracked the airstrip pride, usually numbering four, but now three, tracing a meandering path, eventually resting by the runway. It was noted that the first daughter might have birthed cubs.

The allure of Tau Pan extended beyond sightings. Guests enjoyed walks with San legend trackers on an immersive journey into the bush, where the pulse of nature meets the rhythm of ancient culture. Each step into the Kalahari helped to cement the harmony between land and people.

Bushman walk Central Kalahari

As darkness fell, the Tau Pan sky was adorned with constellations like Canis Major and Canis Minor, Orions Belt, Taurus the Bull, and more. The view of Jupiter and Venus made for an awe-inspiring evening panorama. Nocturnal life in Tau Pan came alive with ground beetles, horn moths, ball byter ants, and the industrious Matabele ants. The presence of the African migrant and African monarch butterflies, and a cape cobra on the move all pointed to a thriving desert ecosystem.

The sand dunes continued to weave a breathtaking picture across the Kalahari Desert, now complemented by vast greenery. Blooming plants and flowers and nourishing grasses like the Kalahari sand quick contribute to the lushness. However, though green Tau Pan craves more rain, hopefully to come.

(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!)

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Moremi Crossing Camp, November 2023

In the dry Boro River channel, a pair of cheetahs graced our sights this month.

Relaxed around safari vehicles, these magnificent creatures provided guests with breathtakingly close encounters, allowing for stunning photographs.

The riverbed’s dry spell opened new avenues for the lion prides of the Gunn’s Private Concession, transforming their hunting grounds and home.

A triumphant coalition of three robust male lions expanded their territory northwards, reaching the edges of Moremi Game Reserve on the northern fringes, extending far into the east. Tensions rose as the lions fiercely defended their newfound lands, leading to dramatic conflicts and territorial disputes that we witnessed during game drives.

Lions of Moremi

Veld fires swept through the golden grass, turning the landscape into a sea of flames. Two weeks post-fire, vibrant green grass emerged, attracting a multitude of grazers, including buffaloes, zebras, tsessebe, red lechwes, steenbok, and elephants. The resulting influx of herbivores has, in turn, drawn predators, offering guests an extraordinary show of wildlife.

Neo, the resident female leopard, continued her motherhood journey on the western edges of the camp. The hidden hollow of a fallen tree served as the ideal sanctuary for her young cub. As the sun set, creating a golden hue, guests were treated to the magical sight of Neo calling her cub out for an evening feast.

The African wild dogs of Moremi Crossing

The African wild dogs painted thrilling scenes throughout the month. Every three days, we saw the same pack, which was new to the area.

One remarkable evening in the Vantage area, we witnessed a pack of nine dogs tearing apart a pregnant impala. Chaos ensued when a hyena attempted to snatch the spoils, resulting in a fierce confrontation. Though the hyena managed to seize one of the dog’s pups, the dogs retaliated, leaving guests with a riveting tale to share around the firepit after dinner to the nightly serenades of spotted hyena calls. Spotlights during dinner reveal their curious visits.

The skies echoed with the calls of summer visitors, such as the distinctive calls of lesser spotted eagles, steppe buzzards and European rollers. Despite the dry channel, the remaining pools in the river continue to host swamp birdlife, featuring elegant pelicans, storks and sandpipers.

(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!)

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Dinare Camps, November 2023

A thrilling spectacle unfolded as a pack of 29 wild dogs, consisting of 9 adults and 20 lively puppies (roughly eight months old), lingered near the camps for weeks.

Their energetic presence reached a build-up when they skilfully took down an impala near Mma Dinare staff village.

November dazzled with extraordinary lion sightings across the Dinare Private Reserve. A group of seven lions captivated our attention as they feasted on a giraffe, possibly having splintered from the Santawani pride.

Along the riverine road, the Batshabi pride indulged in a buffalo feast in distinct episodes over three days. Tee’s Pride made a special appearance, and the previously expectant lioness proudly introduced her tiny cubs to the pride!

Okavango Delta water levels during November

We started seeing the water levels recede at the start of November, and the primary water source remained the reliable Gomoti River. These waters drew an impressive array of wildlife seeking respite from the scorching heat. Giraffes, elephants, buffalo herds, kudus, impalas, and reedbucks congregated along the shores.

Red lechwe

Despite the low water levels, mokoro activities provided a unique and intimate exploration. Guests immersed themselves in the wonders of water birds, observed the intricacies of reed frogs, and marvelled at the diverse water flowers and plants. Plenty of waterbirds, such as African jacanas and stork species. Kwando guides also reported how magnificent the transformed green landscapes are at this time of year. Yellow-billed kites, Wahlberg’s eagles, and the graceful broad-billed rollers were all logged.

Leopard sightings unfolded throughout the month. The resident female, accompanied by her 6-month-old cub, graced the landscape. Another unidentified female, with a 3-month-old cub, shared the paradise area with the resident male. Witnessing a subadult female leopard enjoying a meal atop a tree was yet another mesmerizing sighting.

Diving into the darkness, nightly safari adventures uncovered the elusive spotted hyena, the graceful genet, the mysterious African wild cat, the secretive African civet, the subtle scrub hare, and the regal serval cat.

During nature walks, guides delved into the intricacies of tracking and decoding the finer details of the bush.

(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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, November 2023

A highlight of the month was the return of the Nxai Pan pride — three lionesses and two cubs.

Four members of this regal pride graced the camp, providing a memorable scene as they drank from the waterhole. The same lioness, accompanied by her cubs, ventured to the camp’s swimming pool, creating an unforgettable safari scene visible from the dining room.

The graceful silhouette of a lioness also decorated the wildlife waterhole, while on the eastern fringes of HATAB camping grounds, another lioness dined on a wildebeest. Near the Nxai Pan gate, another female lion found respite under the shade of a purple pod terminalia tree. At Baines’ Baobab, a pride of four lions, two lionesses, and two sub-adult males hinted at new arrivals in the territory.

Leopard tracks traced the path to Baines’ Baobabs, where a timid leopardess, attempting to ambush impalas, added an intriguing touch to our day trip across Nxai Pan.

Baines' Baobabs Green Season

A vivid, vibrant landscape for November

We witnessed the transition from arid desolation to verdant vibrancy this month. The once barren trees now boasted fresh greenery, and the grasslands, once lifeless, sprung to a lush, green vitality. This brought a segment of the zebra migration to Baines’ Baobabs — a transient spectacle inspired by the quest for sustenance.

The parade of the general game included imposing and colossal elephants engaged in the ancient ritual of mud-wallowing for thermoregulation. Cape buffaloes frequented the waterhole with their own mud-packing techniques. Southern giraffes elegantly practised the art of necking, while blue wildebeests marked their territory. Springboks, greater kudus, gemsboks, and red hartebeests added to the diverse cast of characters during game drives in the national park.

Kori bustard Nxai Pan Camp

From the proud strut of Kori bustards to the courtship dances of Northern black korhaans, each bird species added its unique melody to the air. Black-backed jackals, scrub hares, and steenboks ambled through the landscape, too, while bat-eared foxes paraded in pairs, the cuteness of their recent puppies adding a delightful note to our expeditions.

Along the Baobab Loop road, another full-bellied hyena hinted at a mysterious feast, contributing to the evening sounds with high-pitched calls. Constellations like Scorpio, Orion, and Taurus marked our evenings around the campfire, and planets like Jupiter and Venus glittered in the morning sky. Prominent stars, from Sirius in Canis Major to Betelgeuse in Orion, added brilliance to the cosmic panorama.

(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!)

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Pom Pom Camp, November 2023

November commenced with a trio of lionesses near the first hippo pool, responding to the alarmed baboons.

Game drives and walking safaris were the primary activities at Pom Pom camp this month, given the low water levels. However, the dry conditions prompted frequent lion sightings. A neighbouring pride of 14, originating from nearby, roamed the eastern region of the Pom Pom Private Concession, with two significant males guarding the territory. The dominant male was hard to see, possibly for the cubs’ safety. Two males from the Pom Pom pride occupied the east, accompanied by four females. A mating pair was recently observed on Motjimbambo Island, a segment of the pride of 14. Notably, breakfast at the camp fireplace revealed four lions, including one large male, two subadult males, and one subadult female, strolling across the floodplain. Two new males were also sighted near Kessey’s waterhole.

What are leopard sightings like during November in the Okavango?

Leopard sightings were exceptional, and guests encountered various individuals across different territories. Skittish and relaxed leopards coexisted along Kazungula, Xinega, and Wilderness Road. A female with a maturing cub was spotted, suggesting an impending separation. A thrilling moment unfolded later in the month when a subadult female near Marula Island stalked a female impala while her lamb was hidden in the grass very near to where the leopard was. Despite the mother impala trying to protect her baby with a brief alarm, the leopard successfully hunted the baby impala, providing a front row to the harsh show of nature.

African wild dogs Okavango Delta Pom Pom Camp

The energetic pack of 20 African wild dogs, comprising eight adults and 12 puppies, covered vast areas due to diminished water sources. We enjoyed several spectacles of the pack chasing impalas near Aluminium Crossing Flood Plains and the southeast of Manotlhotlho as they showcased their hunting abilities. Despite their efforts, some pursuits were unsuccessful.

Green scenery at Pom Pom Camp

After light showers, the landscape transformed with fresh green grass and budding trees. Fruit-bearing trees attracted baboons, monkeys, elephants, and birds, especially to our riverine forest around the camp. Crocodiles and water monitors graced waterholes, while olive snakes briefly appeared during game drives. The landscape teemed with scorpions, spiders, ground beetles, longhorns, mantises, and butterflies. Fabulous bird sightings included broad-billed rollers, yellow-billed kites, ruffs, terns, European swallows, and more. Various species populated lagoons and areas, such as pelicans, storks, herons, egrets, sandpipers, and African fish eagles.

Hyenas haunted the early mornings and night drives, occasionally joining guests during breakfast or dinner. A den near the airstrip hosted seven cubs, witnessed in a dramatic encounter where hyenas ousted two lionesses from a kill in the floodplain.

Night drives revealed a cast of other nocturnal wonders, including honey badgers, side-striped jackals, aardwolves, civets, genets, mongooses, scrub hares, wildcats, and springhares. Above, stargazing sessions revealed planets like Jupiter and Saturn and stars like Canopus, Sirius, and the Southern Cross.

(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!)

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Lebala Camp, November 2023

Every lion pride had its own story this month. One pride consisted of 11 lions, while another had only 7. In both prides, three dominant males kept watch.

Clashes between the younger lions sometimes occurred, bringing the pride together temporarily, but eventually, they had to separate due to the natural tensions between them. The fierce males, who ruled over the savannah, occasionally approached Lebala Camp, causing a stir during breakfast with their imposing presence.

November in the Kwando Private Concession

The general game in the Kwando Private Concession was a spectacle of life converging around water sources. Elephants, buffalos, tsessebes, impalas, and warthogs, often with newborn calves, congregated along the river. The dry spell before the onset of summer rains drew lions from inland, weaving more stories around the precious water sources. Impalas and warthogs bore the brunt of the pride’s appetite, with impala lambs becoming a frequent feast.

A female leopard with two cubs was seen several times, and we also observed a female with a young male cub but without the young female cub. One day, we located them with the dominant resident male leopard. We followed the male on patrol, and he bumped into another male since the territory of two overlaps. Impalas and small warthogs frequently fell victim to their stealthy hunts, each kill a testament to their hunting skills. A thrilling episode unfolded as a male leopard chased and captured an impala lamb.

Terrestrial life, from crickets to harvest termites, stirred vibrantly in the aftermath of the first rains. During night drives, Aardwolves strolled confidently as they foraged for the plentiful offering. African civets pitter-pattered near the camp, porcupines patrolled the fire break, and African wild cats stalked the grasses during dawn and dusk. Springhares added a playful touch to the evening activities.

Spotted hyenas were seen during both moonlit and sunrise safaris. We found two hippos dead, most likely from a territorial dispute, and the hyenas had a feast. Two females with cubs provided a rare insight into their secretive dens, although impenetrable blue bush prevented further exploration.

The brown hyenas have moved from the area due to lions, which have been in the same area, and their presence spelt too much danger for the little cubs.

During a game drive, we located cheetahs with full bellies, a testament to recent success in the hunting grounds, on a transfer between Lagoon and Lebala Camp.  

Cheetah in Kwando Private Concession

The African wild dogs, agile and coordinated, made several appearances, engaging in both triumphant and heartbreaking hunts. Impalas and their calves often found themselves on the tragic side of nature’s theatre. Following them on a hunt, from the excitement of the chase to the bittersweet conclusion, provided a glimpse into the cycle of life.

Carmine bee-eaters and white-fronted bee-eaters were observed. Water birds, including saddle-billed storks and wattled cranes, were sighted in the marsh area. Ground hornbills, in groups of 9, 5, and 4, brought their distinct charm, while the fleeting presence of red-footed falcons delighted us too.

(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!)

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Lagoon Camp, November 2023

There were active spotted hyena dens in two separate locations (along Middle Road and Mosheshe Road), each hosting over 12 charming newborns and always bustling with activity.

The hyena cubs still bore their black coats, and it is thought that the dark colouration helps them blend into the shadows and vegetation in their den or the surrounding environment, providing them with some degree of camouflage and protection from predators.

Lots of little ones at Lagoon Camp

Denning sites for jackals, bat-eared foxes, and Aardwolves were also discovered, and each was alive with family action.

By Rachel Ruck

Mma Mazabuka and her two cubs claimed their domain, all patrolling and making awe-inspiring kills and, more opportunistically, raiding kills from other leopards. Another young female leopard displayed her skill in hunting, especially targeting young impalas and the vulnerable offspring of plains game as the baby boom of summer continued. Many of the kills had also been young warthog, tsessebe and gnu.

We witnessed approximately 15 different leopard sightings; notably, all sightings occurred during the day, either in the morning or just before dusk.

The dynamic cheetah duo, Boiki and Boiboi, formed a coalition that traversed the entire length of the Kwando Private Concession, making several appearances throughout the month. We also tracked a serene female cheetah lounging along the dried floodplains in the marshes. Yet another young male cheetah sought refuge near Mokhutsum Road.

What have the lions of Lagoon been up to?

The Holi lion pride, Mma Mosetha, and Mma D, along with the ATI (Raithwane) coalition north of the camp and the Bora Bogale coalition of the Holi pride, have been the protagonists of the lion saga in the Lagoon area.

In the first week of November, the Mma Mosetha pride, with its two lionesses and three seven-month-old cubs, mesmerized observers near upper Kwando as they fed on a tsessebe. Simultaneously, the Borabogale coalition (comprising three males, five lionesses, and eight cubs) took centre stage with three sightings. Mma D, a splinter pride from Holi, was spotted quenching their thirst near the lagoon, while another encounter saw them feasting on a wildebeest at Marapo a Kubu.

The ATI coalition, located on a tsessebe kill, shared the limelight with the Holi pride, devouring an elephant carcass at the fallen baobab. The third week delivered five lion sightings, with Mma D making three appearances near the airstrip, focused on hunting warthogs. The Holi pride appeared twice at the fallen baobab.

The fourth week unfolded with many lion sightings, including the three male lions from the southern part of the concession, marking their presence at Lechwe Corner after a red lechwe feast on the plains.

The resident pack of around 10 African wild dogs showcased their effectiveness by engaging in several successful hunting expeditions. Some outstanding impala kills occurred near the camp and in the Rakgolo area.

Honey badgers, porcupines, wild cats, and civets appeared during night drives. Civets, characterized by their primarily nocturnal behaviour, thrive in the cover of darkness. This nocturnal lifestyle serves a dual purpose, allowing them to avoid predators and reduce competition with diurnal species that are active during the day. Omnivorous in nature, civets have a diverse diet that includes fruits, insects, small mammals, eggs, and occasionally carrion.

The tapestry of the general game showcased the vitality of the area. Zebras, elephants, breeding herds of buffalos and bachelor groups, plus towers of giraffes, dotted the floodplains. Newborn impalas, tsessebe, and wildebeests accompanied the adults. Small herds of roan and sable antelope were located around midday and in early afternoons coming to drink along the floodplains too.

We saw a significant decline in the number of plains game in this area after we received the first rains, and we had a heavy storm in the third week of November, which saw the animals seek the safety of the woodlands.

Majestic birds of prey, such as Wahlberg’s, tawny, and African hawk eagles, gracefully soared overhead. The drying pools emerged as a bustling theatre for fish-eating birds with fish and frogs trapped in the water and feasted upon by marabou storks, yellow-billed storks and pelicans. We also located the carmine bee-eaters’ nesting site along the steep banks of the Kwando River. European bee-eaters and blue-checked bee-eaters were also logged.

(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!)

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Kwara and Splash Camp, November 2023

Roaring melodies of lions east and south of Splash camp, seemingly from Moremi Game Reserve, led us to discover the Mma Leitlho female with two males atop a termite mound.

Boineelo and Boago, these males, arrived in February 2023, and their vigilant presence suggests protection for cubs. Mma Leitlho’s daughter seems to have her cubs hidden within Tau Island. These males have now assumed control of Mma Leitlho’s pride, last seen two months ago, with the young female lioness taking the lead in mating activities.

Cute cubs at Kwara Camp

Nights around the Kwara Camp fire echoed with the spotted hyena calls. A relentless chorus to the east hinted at nocturnal affairs. We hopped into the vehicles and located an unexpected battle — a buffalo bull under siege from the cunning hyenas. The rear, tail and genitals of the buffalo were already eaten. Still, the animal put up a tremendous fight, even retreating to the (relative) safety of the water, but eventually succumbed to its wounds and was devoured by the hyenas. 

At the break of one beautiful dawn, we saw the grand silhouette of three male lions from the Kwara pride indulging in a feat — a giraffe, a fallen giant from the moonlit hunt. The rest of the pride remained hard to pin down, prompting a trip toward the far reaches of the reserve, Last Mabala beckoning. Yet, under the spotlight’s glow the next night, an abandoned feast greeted us — vultures and hyenas performing nature’s cleanup. The pride had ventured into the deep mopane woodland, leaving only tracks.

Tracking the creatures of Kwara

A force to be reckoned with in the region, tracking led us to a formidable pack of 22 wild dogs at Kelvin Crossing. This pack of 22, once part of a larger group of 27, demonstrates a remarkable ability to dominate various species in the area. Later that day, the pack successfully hunted a common reedbuck. Another pack of six indulged in a more stationary feast in Willie’s Valley.

The search for resident cheetahs fanned guests onto both southern and eastern safari expeditions. Tracking male lions, our team intercepted signs of a female cheetah from the previous night. This cheetah, known for favouring marshes and mopane woodlands, was found with her three to four-month-old cubs concealed under mopane shrubs near Splash Camp. Vultures perched on the sidelines of their impala kill on another day, a concern in case hyenas or lions lurked in the vicinity. Yet, relief embraced us as the family enjoyed their banquet.

The male cheetah, Mr. Special, was tracked from north to south. His recent feat included chasing and capturing a heavily pregnant female impala, a poignant scene in the lambing season.

Another male graced Motswiri Pan, claiming his territory with a young warthog kill.

A lovely leopardess and her cubs

Under the warm midday sun one day, we encountered a female leopardess with her cub nestled beneath the magic guarri shrubs near a massive termite mound east of Kwara airstrip. On another nearby island, squirrels chattered madly, leading our vigilant trackers to a mother leopard resting on a lower branch of a sausage tree, her two cubs concealed in the shadows. Shyness veiled the cubs, denying us their playful antics. Hours later, hunger drove the mother alone, a solitary figure navigating the marshes in search of sustenance for her hidden offspring.

We clocked eyes on an aardwolf on the eastern side of the Kwara Private Reserve. Aardwolves are generally shy and elusive, making them challenging to spot in the wild. They often rely on their cryptic colouration, which helps them blend into their grassland habitats.

Springhares also appeared in the evening’s spotlight; their nocturnal hops are always a delight. Genets, silent and elusive, completed the cast of twilight mysteries.

Giants sought refuge in wooded shades. Elephants and buffaloes emerged in the cooler hours, their massive herds a spectacle of life amidst the heat. Plains game added to the summer landscape with newborn impalas, tsessebes, and wildebeests. 

Godikwe Heronry

Banded mongooses paraded through the rejuvenated landscape. Dung beetles and long-horned beetles emerged post-rain. Millipedes ventured forth on their miniature march through the dampened earth. The tawny and Wahlberg’s eagles made precise dives for the flush of flying ants and harvester termites. Summer migrants included lesser grey shrikes, woodland kingfishers, red-chested cuckoos, and yellow-billed kites. Breeding sites like Xobega and Godikwe enjoyed successful fledging of chicks, including marabou storks, yellow-billed storks, spoonbills, sacred ibises, and more joined by hamerkops.

(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!)

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