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Pom Pom Camp, December 2023

Throughout the month, the leopard count reached an impressive 12 individuals in 10 days — a remarkable frequency.

Mating leopards were observed at Xinega Lagoon, and two distinct impala kills were also documented at the exact location.

Bonolo, a resident leopard whose name embodies calmness, graced us with her tranquil presence. She was a familiar sight, often strolling past the camp at night and during the day. During dinner at the central area, she occasionally made a poised appearance. One particular evening, we shadowed her as she stealthily approached a wattled crane, leaping skilfully through the tall grass to make a catch. For our guests, witnessing a leopard in mid-air seizing a bird was a captivating first!

Leopard sighting Pom Pom Camp

Lion sightings remained extraordinary, highlighted by a breakfast encounter with two lionesses hunting red lechwe in front of the Pom Pom Camp lagoon. Unfortunately, their hunt was unsuccessful due to the alert lechwes. Another winning episode unfolded on the north side of the camp, featuring a clash between spotted hyenas and lions over a red lechwe kill, ultimately claimed by the hyenas.

Spotted hyena sightings were abundant, occurring both day and night. These creatures have established a den by the airstrip, housing cubs of varying ages. During one drive, we witnessed a hyena kill and devour an impala. Additionally, we observed intriguing interactions involving hyenas, lions, leopards, and wild dogs during shared kills, as the hyenas persistently sought a portion of the spoils from the other predators.

A resident genet chose the main area rooftop as its abode. Recently, this genet became a mother, and one morning during brunch, its kitten accidentally tumbled from the rooftop. The opportunistic baboons sought to feed on the vulnerable kitten, but the mother swiftly retrieved it and relocated it to a secure haven. Genets are frequently encountered during our night drives. Additionally, this month, sightings included an African Wildcat and a porcupine. 

What do lions have to do with water levels?

Since water levels began to recede, a parade of unfamiliar lions marched into the Pom Pom Private Concession. Two impressive newcomers who settled into the western floodplain of the camp about three months ago caught our attention. (Strangely, the Pom Pom Pride’s dominant male has been absent during this time). We closely monitored these lion intruders, and it became evident that they’d successfully integrated, even mating with the four resident lionesses. This leads us to speculate that they might have ousted our original pride male lion. Adding to the saga, nomadic males, victorious over the two Kanana males, claimed territory and the accompanying females early in the month.

The resident pack of African wild dogs, totalling 18 members (6 adults and 12 lively puppies), graced us with several sightings this month. Their predatory skills were evident with nearly every encounter, culminating in many successful kills. One afternoon, while tracking them, we witnessed three separate impala kills unfold right before our eyes. Their regular hunting excursions showed the challenges of nourishing the lively puppies.

A male Cheetah was sighted southeast of the Manontlhotlho flood plains. Initially, at rest, it noticed reedbucks near a termite mound and stealthily began stalking them. However, the reedbucks were vigilant and swiftly evaded the cheetah. Another morning, the same male cheetah was observed near camp. (specifically in the Mosadimogolo wa Phiri area) leisurely traversing the surroundings.

Elephants loved the lagoons

During every game drive, we encountered herds of elephants and buffalos, primarily near the ponds that retained some water. The landscape was teeming with new life as red lechwes, impalas, and tsessebes welcomed their young ones. Bushbucks, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, kudus, steenbok, common duiker, reedbucks, and waterbucks were also logged.

The drying lagoon channels and floodplains confined fish and frogs, creating a bird haven in Pom Pom. Pelicans, yellow-billed storks, African spoonbills, fish eagles, and wattled cranes were among the many gracing the landscape, as were the broad-billed rollers, woodland kingfishers, and African skimmers that made a delightful return to the region.

With the onset of rain, reptile sightings increased. The lagoons, although dry, became hotspots for crocodile sightings, with these ancient reptiles lingering in anticipation of the next flood. During one morning game drive, we witnessed a sizable python, approximately five meters long, hunting a bird. Another morning brought a sighting of a 2.5-meter python gracefully transitioning from the main area roof to a fever berry tree in pursuit of prey.

(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!)