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4 Rivers Camp, December 2023

An extraordinary highlight was the rare sighting of a pangolin with its baby on Christmas day.

Pango-pup sighted at 4 Rivers Camp in the Okavango Delta

Baby pangolins, also known as pangopups, are miniature versions of adult pangolins. They have the same distinctive appearance characterized by protective keratin scales covering their bodies. Like adult pangolins, baby pangolins are born with soft scales that harden as they grow. These scales provide protection against predators. Kwando Safaris is involved in the proactive research and rehabilitation of pangolins with the Okavango Research Institute and the DWNP, so the sighting of this new life was the best possible Christmas present! Everyone celebrated with bubbly at the pangolin statue back in camp.

The spotted hyenas of 4 Rivers asserted their dominance in a chilling yet awe-inspiring spectacle. We witnessed about 11 hyenas stumble upon a birthing buffalo. The hyenas launched an assault and secured a kill, marking a remarkable occurrence.

Another highlight was the heart-pounding 40-minute pursuit as a pack of 20 African wild dogs chased a wildebeest into a zebra herd, creating absolute chaos and keeping guests on the edge of their seats as hyenas joined the chaos. Another pack of 10 African wild dogs showed off their skills, hunting and claiming a baby impala on the western fringes of 4 Rivers Camp, while a bigger pack of 28 were also seen running through the area.

What are the lion and leopard sightings like at 4 Rivers?

A once-unified pride of 17 lions, hinted at intriguing splits. Divergent sightings revealed a mix of four lionesses with three males, occasionally joined by a lone lioness with a cub. The reason for the split may be due to resources in the area. The spectacle reached its pinnacle when, during one memorable game drive, a lioness, trailed by a male counterpart, began a hunt that concluded with taking down a zebra that had been grazing with her foal.

Three male leopards made appearances in the southeast. The high point was a sprightly encounter while tracking African wild dogs. We stumbled upon a leopard, hungry and efficient, in pursuit of its prey – he quickly scaled a tree to get away from the wild dogs moving in his direction. Another episode featured a trio of male lions stumbling upon the aftermath of a male leopard’s impala kill, resulting in a chase through the open terrain for about 50 meters — luckily the leopard was not caught and got off unscathed.

There was a lot of competition and coexistence in as two male cheetahs shared the land with lions and preferred big open plains to woodland areas. The pair of cheetahs had a winning moment when they successfully pursued and killed a baby warthog. Cheetahs often kill smaller animals as they themselves are slender and fast and cannot take down anything bigger than an impala.

Expansive herds of red lechwes dominated marsh areas, and elephants, giraffes, buffalos, and zebras were plentiful. We had beautiful wild sable antelope spending time in the area, too, and we caught them strolling around near camp. The smaller residents of the Okavango Delta revealed their charm, from tree squirrels darting around the camp to nocturnal springhares, African wild cats, genets, an aardwolf and acrobatic bush babies leaping between trees.

Walks on Maboa Island

The walking safaris provided an immersive encounter with the bush, where ancient paths told tales of wildlife movements. December’s rain-soaked landscape became a haven for reptiles and insects. From slippery monitor lizards, both water and rock, to the appearance of the typically elusive boomslang snake.

(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!)