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Month: February 2024

4 Rivers, February 2024

A pride of 10 lions with cubs became a familiar sight. Adding to the spectacle, three imposing males from the Kwara pride patrolled the region between 4 Rivers Camp and Kwara Camp.

Another remarkable morning, we ventured eastward on a game drive, reaching the Paradise or Tsum Tsum area, where we were treated to the sight of 13 lions resting in the expansive flood plains. Two days later, a male lion was sighted in the southern part of 4 Rivers lagoon, engaging in scent marking. Venturing northwest of Tsum Tsum, we traced the tracks of a significant lion pride, numbering nine. We explored the area further, discovering the remnants of a tsessebe antelope in the grassland, with hooded vultures perching on nearby trees. To our delight, we found the pride lying down in the nearest bushes, their bellies full from a recent feast.

Three lions were spotted in the morning at Last Mabala, stealthily stalking red lechwes. However, the openness of the area thwarted their attempt. Later that afternoon, we discovered three male lions resting along J.D Spillway. Another more minor pride of five lions secured their breakfast by capturing two warthogs and a red lechwe.

In mid-February, two leopards were observed along the main road to Kwara in the eastern part of the area. Later that day, in the afternoon, a male leopard made a captivating appearance along the scenic flood plains. Adding to the leopard tales (or should they be tails?), we had a delightful encounter with a serene female leopard one morning as she actively hunted tree squirrels. We closely followed her for approximately an hour as she skilfully navigated different habitats, transitioning from grassland to thickets in search of potential prey. Despite her efforts, she didn’t achieve a successful hunt and eventually settled down to rest in the nearest bushes.

On multiple occasions, a cheetah was observed in the northeastern region of the Paradise area, consistently displaying the vibrant energy of a young male.

Abundant Wildlife: Zebras, Elephants, and Avian Delights

The landscape came alive with zebras scattered throughout the area, alongside wildebeest, red lechwes along the floodplains, and the distinctive figures of warthogs and kudus. Substantial herds of elephants and buffaloes frequented the vicinity around the camp. These majestic creatures often visited the main river for a refreshing drink during the late afternoon.

Hippos Tsum Tsum river

Crocodiles lurked in the 4 Rivers lagoon and other pans, feeding on trapped fish and taking advantage of the drying conditions. Birds likewise congregated, feasting on the abundance. Among the avian residents, sightings of storks, African spoonbills, egrets, and ibises have offered special moments for observers.

Carmine bee-eaters, displaying their unique feeding behaviour near vehicles, were a delight for photographers. Birds of prey included the majestic bateleur eagles, martial eagles, numerous brown snake eagles, and the distinctive secretarybirds. Adding to the activity, the golden weavers began constructing their intricate nests in the green grass. 

A proliferation of water lily flowers in the river infused the mokoro excursions with beautiful colours. Guests also loved the charismatic presence of painted reed frogs. Due to diminished rainfall, floods have receded.

Still, the floodplains burst with exquisite grass species: the soft elegance of white-tufted snowflake grasses swayed in the gentle summer breeze and the warm glow of Natal red top grass created captivating scenery for enchanting sundowners that featured diverse cloud formations.

We had terrific glimpses of small spotted genets, civets and servals at dusk along the floodplains, witnessed during the night drive back to camp. Spotted hyenas were observed scavenging on carcasses abandoned by other predators in the region.  

Game drives offered glimpses of various snake species, including the impressive rock python, the visually striking spotted bush snakes, and the intriguing Mozambique spitting cobras.

(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!)

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Tau Pan Camp, February 2024

African wild dogs were found satiated after making a kill. They were seen chasing a red-billed spurfowl, accompanied by a cacophony of bird warning calls. 

Later, they encountered the Airstrip Pride of lions, leading to an intense interaction between the two predator species.

Leopards lay in wait 

While we paused to observe a group of springboks along Phukwi Road, a sudden commotion caught our attention. Within moments, the springboks bolted, engulfing us in a cloud of dust. Puzzled by their sudden departure, we scanned the area and were astonished to spot a female leopard by the side of the vehicle. Witnessing the stealthy movements of this magnificent predator in such close proximity was remarkable! 

Two male lion tracks were discovered along Phukwi Road leading to Passarge Waterhole. Following the tracks, guides anticipated the lions would head to the waterhole and indeed found a female and two large males from the Tau Pan Pride quenching their thirst. Another notable waterhole sighting was seeing a pale chanting goshawk with a small mole snake. 

Gemsbok chase a cheetah

A male cheetah was found resting at Sunday Waterhole. The guides and trackers observed this beautiful animal and anticipated it might attempt to hunt as a group of springbok approached to drink nearby. However, a few gemsbok were already at the waterhole, and warning calls were issued. Then, the group of gemsbok chased the cheetah and disappeared into the bush.

Oryx at Tau Pan Camp

Despite the dry conditions, particularly around Tau Pan and Passage Valley, the Kalahari landscape retained its beauty. While some areas showed signs of dryness, pockets of greenery persisted, especially around the camp. Trees remained verdant, attracting giraffes, although certain species like trumpet thorns and brandy bushes showed signs of drying. 

Gemsboks, springboks, and giraffes were commonly sighted, with wildebeests congregating at San Pan and Passarge Valley due to the relatively lush vegetation. Although brown hyenas were elusive, their tracks were spotted along the roads, indicating their presence in the area. Ground squirrels, yellow mongooses and slender mongooses, bat-eared foxes, black-backed jackals, and occasionally ostriches with chicks were also observed.

Birdwatching in Passarge Valley

Passarge Valley offered excellent birdwatching opportunities, particularly for raptors such as African harrier hawks, black-chested snake eagles, and brown snake eagles. Insect sightings included grasshoppers, ground beetles, giant jewel beetles, African monarch butterflies, and brown-veined butterflies. Near the camp, colourful birds like swallow-tailed bee-eaters and lilac-breasted rollers could be easily photographed snapping at the insects. Violet-eared waxbills were also common.  

Tau Pan Camp room

Come evening, constellations such as the Southern Cross, Musca the Bee, False Cross, Canis Major, and Canis Minor adorned the night sky, and we watched the stunning spectacle seated around the campfire.

(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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, February 2024

February began with the discovery of a lioness at a natural waterhole on West Road, where she had concealed a wildebeest carcass. 

During breakfast, guests were treated to the sight of two lionesses and their playful cubs heading towards the Nxai Pan Camp waterhole for a drink. Later that day, another lioness was spotted at the same waterhole, and she led us to her den, where we spied three hidden cubs, only two months old. 

The lioness was also seen at the wildlife waterhole, along with two male lions we encountered on the baobab loop road. In the afternoon, these same males attempted to hunt a giraffe but were unsuccessful. Other sightings included a lioness passing by the camp, two male lions on the western side road, and another pair passing through the camp to drink at the natural waterhole. There were signs of conflict between three lionesses and two males, resulting in one lioness sustaining an injury to her right hind leg. 

Bat-eared foxes were frequently sighted near their dens, typically appearing in pairs with litters of up to six offspring. Scrub hares were commonly observed during the early mornings and late afternoons. 

Elephant at Nxai Pan

Another remarkable sight was the frequent arrival of a large buffalo herd at the camp waterhole in the early morning and late afternoon. The herd comprised numerous newborn calves, plus solitary and bachelor groups added to the spectacle. Like elephants, buffaloes also use mud-bathing for thermoregulation and parasite removal, highlighting their resourceful environmental adaptation. Large herds of African elephants were notable, as were towers and journeys of giraffes, along with their calves, common sights around the camp waterhole, gracefully sipping water and browsing on leaves in the surrounding bushes. 

In contrast, gemsboks showcased their adaptation as water-independent animals by digging tubers for moisture supplementation. Known for their unique coats, these desert antelope were sighted in breeding herds, as well as solitary bulls and small bachelor groups. 

The Nxai Pan zebra migration during February 

The landscape remained a lush wonderland of greenery, with many trees still adorned in different shades of green, some showcasing colourful pods and fruits. Wildflowers continued to enhance the beauty of the Nxai Pan area with their bright blooms. However, limited rainfall resulted in some grasses changing colour and drying out from the elevated temperatures.

Zebra Migration Botswana

The ongoing zebra migration remained prominent, with plentiful zebras and their playful foals spotted drinking at the camp waterhole. Witnessing them dust bathing for thermoregulation was a fascinating spectacle.

During a day trip, leopard tracks were located along the route to Baines’ Baobabs. 

Blue wildebeests were observed grazing in herds throughout the area, with territorial bulls often seen in solitude, safeguarding their resources. Territorial behaviours, such as rubbing their faces on the ground to release pre-orbital glands and marking their territory with pedal glands, were observed among these bulls.

The springbok population flourished, with an abundance of lambs, solitary males, and bachelor groups associating with breeding herds led by a dominant male. Impalas were also plentiful in the region, while greater kudus were spotted drinking at the camp waterhole before moving to thickets for browsing.

Steenboks were often observed in small pairs. These littel antelope form lifelong mating bonds. Occasionally, solitary individuals were sighted too. The population of black-backed jackals in the area was notably robust, with sightings of pairs, solitary individuals, and occasional small family groups. 

During our game drive expeditions, we enjoyed observing various bird species. Among them were the stately Kori bustard, common ostriches, pale chanting goshawks, and yellow-billed kites. We also spotted Gabar goshawks, northern black korhaans, and red-crested korhaans. Other birds that caught our attention were Marico flycatchers, chat flycatchers, white-browed sparrow weavers, and weavers like the southern masked weaver and violet-backed starling.

Birding Bonanza: Raptors, Rollers, and Kingfishers

We also saw several raptors, such as the common buzzard, secretarybird, greater kestrel, brown snake eagle, African harrier hawk, and various vulture species like the white-backed, lappet-faced, and hooded vultures. Marabou and white-bellied storks were also observed, adding to the diverse range of birds. We were also thrilled to see colourful birds like the southern carmine, European, little bee-eaters, and the striking lilac-breasted roller and European roller, brown hooded kingfisher. We also saw the bronze-winged courser, double-banded courser, Temminck’s courser and oxpeckers.

Game Drive Nxai Pan

Flying termites, commonly known as alates, emerged from the softened termite mounds during mating flights to establish new colonies. We also spotted golden orb web spiders, Matabele ants, spider-hunting wasps, and cicadas. We saw several butterflies and moths, including the African monarch butterfly, brown-veined white butterfly, yellow pansy, spotted joker, and emperor moth. Lastly, we observed countless dung beetles.

We also had the chance to see several reptiles, such as the puff adder, spotted bush snake, black mamba, Mozambique spitting cobra, striped-bellied sand snake, boomslang, and African rock python. We also encountered the leopard tortoise, rock monitor lizard, and ground and tree agamas.

(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!)

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Lebala Camp, February 2024

One subadult male showcased the leopard’s exceptional hunting skills at Motama Pan, securing a water monitor lizard and providing a three-hour filming spectacle.

Another male and a stray female leopard were located west of Kubu Pan. Although the female sought refuge in the bushes, the male remained relaxed under the shade of a blue bush. We also found another sizeable male drinking by Python Pan, leading us to an impala carcass. On yet another game drive, we watched a dominant male leopard along Baobab Road on a lengthy journey of scent-marking and patrolling. Unperturbed by our presence, he even sought shade under our vehicle. 

Leopard at Lebala Camp

A brown hyena carrying a piece of meat was spotted heading north of Lebala Camp at full speed into the marshes. 15 spotted hyenas were photographed diving in and out of the rib cage of an elephant carcass, creating joyous chuckles among our guests. Tawny eagles, yellow-billed kites, and various vultures — white-headed, lappet-faced, white-backed, and hooded — were also observed and photographed near this carcass.

Serval Surprises and Wild Dog Dramas

Nocturnal explorations unveiled some intriguing smaller mammals. One memorable moment was seeing an aardwolf engaged in scent marking and insect hunting. Other frequent stars of the night drives included both sleek black-backed jackals and side-striped jackals, African wild cats, a lively gathering of bat-eared foxes at Sunset Pan and the playful antics of springhares reminiscent of kangaroos, which delighted all observers. One appearance by a serval cat along the fire break sparked joy, and it was affectionately dubbed “baby cheetah” by our guests. 

A highly-spirited pack of ten African wild dogs, consisting of nine adults and one subadult, thrived in the area. Fresh tracks led to an exhilarating hour-and-a-half tracking session during one morning game drive. We eventually found them at a natural waterhole, where they were drinking. The atmosphere changed suddenly as the pack spotted a herd of impalas and set off on a thrilling chase. They successfully took down a male impala.

Later in the month, on another game drive, a pack of African wild dogs shot out from the bushes at a swift pace. Notably well-fed, it became evident they had recently been chased by lions, causing them to retreat to the shade under Kalahari apple-leaf trees. We spent two hours observing their contented demeanour, leaving the guests spellbound by the display of their post-hunt activities.

One day, during a bird-watching expedition along Crane Road, we chanced upon the Scarface pride — two lionesses escorted by nine subadults of varying ages. Following them back to camp, they passed the lounge area of Lebala Camp and headed south toward the airstrip, eventually finding shade under Kalahari apple-leaf trees. In the afternoon, we ventured north, discovering two lionesses at Lechwe Corner on an unsuccessful hunting mission. However, they later led us to their hidden treasure — four lively cubs, approximately three months old! 

During a transfer to Lagoon Camp led to the sighting of three dominant males, two lionesses, and their playful cubs strolling the floodplain by Lechwe Corner. As the day waned, they sought shade under an African mangosteen tree, with the cubs amusing themselves by playing with the male lions’ tails. Two wounded male subadults were also discovered near Twin Pools, hinting at their recent struggles. The Stricker Pride, consisting of two lionesses and five subadults, was found moving along Old Hippo Pool, heading south toward Boundary Road. We encountered the Holly Pride along the cutline road — four lionesses and five cubs feasting on two buffalo carcasses.

We tracked a female cheetah north of Motswiri Pan, where she engaged in three hunting attempts. Despite two failures, the third chase resulted in the successful capture of a female impala. The graphic feeding scene under a small blue bush gave guests captivating footage. Additionally, two dominant male cheetahs were found feasting on a female common reedbuck, following the alarm calls of a troop of baboons by Wild Dog Pan. A subsequent day trip allowed us to track and locate these well-fed males heading west.

Elephant and eland herds

The area teemed with vast herds of diverse animal species. Large elephant herds drank at the natural waterholes before bathing in mud and dust. A mesmerising moment occurred when elephants, with their calves, gracefully crossed the islands in a single-file formation.

Witnessing over sixty elands, dazzling numbers of zebras, and adorable impalas with their lambs added to the wildlife experience. Towering giraffes also graced the plains, while different natural waterholes and lagoons hosted lively congregations of hippos. Even within our camp, elephants appeared, emerging from the woodland and marching into the marshes with audible stomach rumbles. Dung beetles meticulously moulded and buried their precious dung balls.

We found Nile crocodiles basking on sandbanks and water monitor lizards at the edges of the waterholes. The air was alive with the graceful dance of net-winged beetles, grasshoppers, damsels, dragonflies, groundlings, and butterflies, creating a colourful spectacle. 

The skies also teeming with large flocks of birds. Among the residents, marabou storks, abdims stork, saddle-billed storks, and yellow-billed storks were photographed, often with their juveniles around natural waterholes feeding on toad frogs, rubber-banded frogs, and bullfrogs. Migratory birds such as southern carmine bee-eaters, broad-billed rollers, amur falcons, and woodland kingfishers added to the songs of the sky.

(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!)

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