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Lebala Camp, January 2024

The brown hyena made several fleeting appearances, often observed at a close distance yet consistently on the move. 

On occasion, it ventured into Lebala Camp, particularly along the meandering marsh adjacent to room 8, displaying a notably shy demeanour. Meanwhile, the spotted hyenas provided entertaining scenes as they visited the remnants of old elephant skins post-rains. We watched their interesting behaviour of chewing on the remains and picking up small bones softened by the rain, subsequently crushing them much more quickly than during the dry season.

The Lebala lions follow abundant prey 

The landscape has become dense, and the blossoming flowers from various plants and shrubs added to the Lebala’s beauty. During nature walks, we admired this burgeoning flora as well as dung beetles weaving between the fertile herbage thanks to the plentiful plains game. 

General game sightings were impressive, with numerous zebras mingling with wildebeest and their calves in open areas on the inland side. There were changes in the lion movement patterns as the prides transitioned from marsh to the open grounds on the inland side of the Kwando Private Concession. 

The lions also explored the woodland side, aligning their movements with the prey in the area. At Lechwe Corner, three males, accompanied by a female lion, spent approximately three to four days in the region as one male mated with the female. What was intriguing was the presence of the other two males observing the mating couple for several days. Despite witnessing prides attempting to stalk zebras, they were unsuccessful in their endeavours. An exciting moment unfolded as two male zebras fought and ran toward the lions. Although the subadults reacted and came close to a successful catch, the zebras escaped. Furthermore, we spotted a lioness in the walking range area with two kills of male red lechwes.

The cutest leopard cubs!

A female leopard with two subadult cubs was frequently observed, and it was always delightful to witness their playful antics — chasing each other on top of trees, jumping from one branch to another. Meanwhile, a male leopard was seen hunting warthogs. During the chase, a large male warthog valiantly fought back to protect the piglets, successfully pushing away the leopard. Another male leopard in the area was more shy, being relatively new to the region. Along Makodi Road, the resident male leopard made a remarkable kill, capturing a zebra calf. He then dragged the prey up a tree and spent several days feeding in the area.

During one game drive, vultures circling and landing caught our eye, prompting an investigation into the source of their interest, and our search led to the African wild dogs lying beneath a tree. One displayed remarkable activity, running around before awakening the entire pack. Swiftly, they darted into the mopane woodland and disappeared. Their satiated appearance indicated they had likely recently fed on an animal, explaining the presence of vultures in the vicinity.

Wild dogs Lebala Camp

A pair of male cheetahs were found near Motama Pan, feeding on a wildebeest calf. Following their meal, they dedicated the rest of the day to leisure, resting under a tree beside the road leading to the airstrip. Even in the afternoon, they remained in the same vicinity. 

Amur falcons and bustling waterholes 

The Amur falcons persisted in large flocks, displaying lively activity in the morning and afternoon. Similarly, the carmine and blue-cheeked bee-eaters are actively present. The region continued to host various migratory birds, offering delightful sightings of Broad-billed rollers, woodland kingfishers and grey-headed kingfishers. Particularly fascinating was the sight of water birds congregating in substantial numbers around waterholes (brimming from the recent rains), encompassing a range of sizes from small to large aquatic species. During days with considerable rainfall, fewer elephants were observed, while on warmer days, a significant number of elephants were spotted.

(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!)