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Kwara and Splash Camp, December 2023

We encountered six cheetah individuals this month: four males, one female, and an adorable cub. 

Additionally, a cautious coalition of two male cheetahs travelled the Ngorongoro area. The movements of the resident male cheetah, Mr. Special, became intricate due to the presence of a young male in his territory at the Bat-eared fox area. Interestingly, the young male marked the same territory posts as Mr. Special. Unfortunately, a female cheetah lost two cubs to hyena threats, but she bravely cares for her surviving single cub. She spent most of her time in the West, benefiting from the open terrain, which served as an excellent hunting ground.

Cheetahs Kwara Concession by Jay Collier 2
By Jay Collier

Green season boat cruise in the Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta waters teemed with life during boat cruises into the Moremi Game Reserve. Numerous young crocodiles inhabited the shores, and we occasionally spotted snakes, skinks, and monitor lizards along the channel. Summer migrant birds listed included carmine bee-eaters, woodland kingfishers, and yellow-billed kites. Various kinds of storks, pelicans, and, on one occasion, the violet-backed starling were observed in Kwara Camp. The heronries were all active, with Godikwe being particularly lively. 

Boat Cruise Moremi

The Kwara Pride, thriving notably, frequently roamed the Bat-eared fox area, with occasional ventures into the 4 Rivers expanse. The once-familiar pride of seven, a customary sight near Splash Camp, has embraced the sanctuary of the mopane woodland. Speculations suggest they are shadowing buffaloes drawn to the replenished inland water holes courtesy of the rainy season. 

On the eastern fringes of Splash Camp, the resilient lion pride of five, known as MmaLeitho, prospers. An exciting encounter involved these lions scavenging on an elephant carcass. In the morning game drive, we witnessed a clan of hyenas interacting with the lions. Watching these large predators engage in a standoff was captivating, with the lions emerging victorious. After a while, the lions moved away from the carcass due to the unpleasant smell, and the hyenas continued to follow them through the meadow grasses. Considering the challenging terrain, we decided to leave the scene. 

Two impressive male lions, relatively new to the east of the concession, appeared robust and handsome, with fewer battle marks on their faces. Zebras were a favoured meal, and we observed two full-grown females lying down at Ngorongoro, looking very healthy indeed.

Summer at Kwara and Splash Camp

The calving season has rewarded us with remarkable leopard sightings and these beautiful cats were often seen preying on young animals. One memorable incident involved a leopardess hunting and successfully taking down an ewe impala behind tent three at Kwara Camp, right in front of guests being escorted to their tents after dinner. She showed little concern for the onlookers as she continued with her duty, eventually dragging the kill into the bush. Another leopard appeared near the main area in the following days, heading towards tent seven.

Last week, a leopard tom made a mark by killing two prey, an ewe impala and a red lechwe. The two carcasses were skillfully hoisted into different trees. During a late afternoon game drive, we encountered a substantial female hyena lying under the same tree where one of the carcasses was kept. (The denning area near Kwara Camp was active, with nightly echoes of hyenas howling and their footprints leaving a trail along the walkways). The following day, we missed the carcass, and it appeared to have dropped down, possibly taken by a hyena. 

A female leopard known to frequent the airstrip vicinity appeared to be lactating. There was a suspicion that she might have cubs, although no one has had the privilege of confirming the presence of these elusive offspring.

The African wild dogs of the Kwara Private Concession

An established pack of 22 African wild dogs has expanded its territory and sometimes seen at 4 Rivers. The pack and its six puppies showed resilience after losing two pups last month, and abundant food sources have contributed to their well-being, including offspring from prey species such as impalas and tsessebes. There was an intense encounter when the pack ventured into Kwara Camp and successfully hunted impalas. A clan of hyenas promptly appeared, hoping to scavenge, leading to prolonged and noisy competition for food.

Recently, we observed a shift in the pack’s movements, spotting them three times heading deeper east. During one instance, we tracked them as they captured a fully grown tsessebe and took it down. The following day, we trailed them along Mabala a Matlotse. As they reached the centre, they began chasing impalas. Although the impalas managed to escape, the wild dogs turned their attention to a dazzle of zebras with small foals. In a surprising turn of events, the wild dogs successfully captured a young foal, approximately two days old. The foal’s mother valiantly tried to defend her offspring, but unfortunately for her, the wild dogs strategized and succeeded in killing the foal. 

(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!)