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Kwara and Splash Camp, January 2024

In the heart of Kwara, one renowned leopardess showcased her hunting prowess, taking down an impala near Sable Island. 

Another skilled female leopard, on a hunt around Kwara Camp, successfully captured a young kudu close to Room 1. To the east of the new bridge, a female leopard lounged in a tree, while nearby, a male leopard in the west of Kwara Camp rested among the bushes after securing two kills.

Further off-road tracking expeditions revealed another intriguing scene: a female leopard near the new bridge, feasting on the carcass of a fully grown male red lechwe. Additionally, a male leopard claimed his spot up a tree with an impala kill, and a female leopard was spotted atop yet another tree, having skilfully caught a steenbok.

Another serene female gracefully moved between Splash and the Kwara airstrip. In the third week of the month, around the third bridge, north of the airstrip. Though she appeared to be a lactating mother, none of the guides had yet caught a glimpse of her cubs.

Guests at Splash Camp were treated to sightings of at least four relaxed leopards. Their activities included multiple kills on baby antelopes. Notably, the adult male leopard, often found in the marsh area southwest of Kwara, surprised us by venturing further than usual and was sighted north of the Splash boat station area. Perched on a sausage tree, he enjoyed a feast on a fully-grown female impala.

Six cheetahs roam around Splash Camp

The Splash Camp guide and tracker teams identified six cheetah individuals. Among them, a new coalition of two adult male cheetahs, less familiar with vehicles, dominated the east of the camp, particularly around Ngayaya Lagoon in the Ngorongoro area. The resident male cheetah, Mr. Special, whose territorial domain spans the entire Kwara Private Concession, was last observed near the Bat-Eared Fox Den in the west in the first week of the month. An addition to the scene was a young male cheetah displaying diverse movements. His explorations extended west towards the Bat-Eared Fox Den and further to the 4 Rivers area. At times, he ventured east towards the Ngorongoro area. In the most recent sighting, he was spied on Tau Island attempting to hunt reedbucks. However, a limp hindered his success. 

Mr Special Kwara

A male cheetah found south of Kwara Camp enjoyed a peaceful rest. The following day, another cheetah to the east of Last Mabala went on a thrilling hunt for zebras, unfortunately missing a foal. A male cheetah near Lechwe Plains initiated another chase, capturing a reedbuck within 20 minutes. Later in the day, a hungry male cheetah pursued a kudu herd. Notably, a pair of cheetahs, male and female, were sighted separately but in the same eastern region of Ngorongoro. The female successfully took down a common reedbuck, while a mother cheetah was spotted resting with her cubs south of Splash Hippos.

Servals and spotted hyenas 

The elegant serval cat was spotted South of Kwara Camp; characterized by its slender build, spotted coat, and large ears, it is a remarkable feline species found in the diverse ecosystems of Botswana known for its adept hunting skills. Encountering these cats in the wild is a rare and memorable experience.

In the western vicinity of Kwara Camp, a hyena clan clashed with lions over a warthog kill. The intense confrontation featured two lionesses and a single cub fiercely defending their prey. Despite their valiant efforts, the lions eventually yielded, and seven hyenas seized control of the spoils. 

During one game drive, three hyenas embarked on a pursuit of a female leopard who had successfully captured a baby kudu. The action unfolded rapidly, with the leopard swiftly turning the tables as it chased away the hyenas and in a nimble display of agility, the leopard secured its kill by swiftly ascending a nearby tree.

The wonderful wild dogs of Kwara and Splash

A pack of 21 lively African wild dogs often roamed the landscapes. They were spotted from the east of Splash Camp, all the way to Ngorongoro, west of Kwara and covering the 4 Rivers region. They engaged in the fun activity of digging, possibly in search of a den, in the northern part of the lagoon. Following their tracks along Flame Lily Road, we encountered the pack of chasing after impalas, though without success. They were also seen energetically hunting west of the Bat-Eared Fox area. 

At Splash Camp, the African wild dog sightings were equally superb. An adult pack of six, known for concentrating in the mopane woodland north of the Splash area, exhibited exceptional hunting skills. They successfully took down a male impala during a hunt at Motswiri Pan, and evidence of further kills of various baby antelope species was spotted east of the camp. 

Lion cubs Kwara

The dominant Kwara lion pride, boasting 22 members, ruled the northern territory, while the Mma Leitho Pride, with two females, four cubs, and two males, reigned in the east. Notably, the nomadic Sephane pride joined the Kwara Pride’s eastward ventures. Two male lions maintained their dominance east of Willy’s Valley. Kwara pride’s activities included feeding on a warthog at Southern Mmoloki Mabala and joining Mma Leitho pride at the Splash fishing spot.

Heading to Splash, the Mma Leitho pride, now five strong, featured two intriguing male lions that arrived last year. They extended their territory, mating with the pride and fathering four cubs. Meanwhile, the Mopane pride explored the open floodplains around Splash, following buffaloes drawn to the lush greenery.

The Kwara pride (once centred around the Bat-Eared Fox area) excitingly shifted as seven members expanded eastward, exploring new northern territories, particularly the Kalahari apple leaf trees.

Summer at Splash and Kwara 

Bee beater boat trip Splash Camp

We’ve encountered a variety of reptiles, including the boomslang, black mamba, Mozambique spitting. cobra, African rock python, and olive grass snake. The rainy season brought a surge in insect activity, with dragonflies, damselflies, African monarch butterflies, and water scorpions. Crocodiles were frequently spotted during our boat cruises along the river.

The distinctive Jacobin cuckoo, the elegant Levaillant’s cuckoo, and the mysterious black cuckoo all have been spotted. Resident and visitor bird species included the colourful woodland kingfisher, the delicate lesser jacana, the European bee-eater, the purple roller, the lilac-breasted roller, and the osprey. The skies are further adorned with the Wahlberg’s eagle, spotted eagle, tawny eagle, carmine bee-eater, robin-chats, and various species of strikes.

Massive herds of elephants, a hallmark of our concession, frequently walked the landscape. Afternoon activities unveiled the majestic presence of sizable elephant herds venturing into the open floodplain, abandoning the lush mopane woodlands abundant with food during this rainy season.

Antelope sightings included impalas, red lechwes, kudus, bushbucks, Roan antelopes, elands, and sable antelopes when traversing the route to Tsum Tsum Mabala.

(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!)