Tau Pan, Oct 2018

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The Tau Pan pride of five males, two females and three cubs were seen drinking at the camp waterhole and resting at various places nearby. One day four of the males were resting when two male cheetahs approached the waterhole and we witnessed an exciting confrontation between all six big cats before the cheetah were driven away. As usual these resident lions were extremely relaxed around our vehicles. The cubs are at an extremely playful age but they were learning to be quieter when their mother was hunting; she often looked for prey alone as her cubs stand a better chance of eating if they do not have to share with the dominant males. Sometimes the males separated which then meant a lot of roaring across the plains as they re-established contact again later on.

A different pride of three females were in the northern part of Tau Pan area, towards Passarge Valley, but they occasionally ventured south and used the camp watering hole if they were in the area.

A single male leopard was seen drinking at the camo waterhole in the early morning. A lovely sight for the guests to enjoy as they sipped their coffee.

Two cheetah were located at Lion Den looking full-bellied and in good condition.

Guides were surprised to still be seeing a lone wild dog in camp. There is no sign of the rest of its pack, so they thought it was probably an individual dispersed from its natal pack trying to find others to start a new family.

A lone bull elephant is still frequenting the camp and guests enjoyed watching him drinking and mud bathing at the camp waterhole in the afternoons. Often he just lay in the cool water to escape the relentless October heat.

Honey badgers were seen often at Tau Pan busy digging for prey such as lizards, mice and ground squirrels. They were sometimes accompanied by pale chanting goshawks or black-backed jackals looking for an opportunity to snatch the prey before the badgers.

Day trips to Deception Valley yielded other good lion sightings at Letia Hau and in Deception Valley itself. Cheetah were also seen there, including at the woodland area known as ‘Mark and Delia’s’. This area is named after the camping spot of the couple who famously researched in the area,  documented in the book Cry of the Kalahari.

The eastern part of Tau Pan was the productive in terms of general game and we saw many species such as springbok, kudu, wildebeest and giraffe coming to the camp waterhole to drink. For now this was the only water available in a vast arid area, so there was almost always some kind of action to be seen in right in front of the lodge main area.

There were many kori bustards down on the pan, together with secretary birds who we were able to see roosting in their favourite tree each evening. In the mornings large flocks of Burchells sandgrouse and Cape turtle doves flocked in huge numbers to the camp waterhole where the yellow-billed kites, a returning summer migrant, lay in wait for them in order to catch an early breakfast. As the dry weather continued the numbers of queleas started to increase into their thousands.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Nxai Pan, Oct 2018

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The ongoing dry weather meant that we saw a wider range of animals coming to drink at the Kwando camp waterhole, including some of the more unusual species in the area. We were excited to see a pack of six wild dogs quenching their thirst before going on a hunting mission to the western woodlands. A few days later we were watching jackal hunting guinea fowl at the waterhole when the birds flew up into a tree and the jackals started acting strangely. We were thrilled when a rare brown hyena appeared and we were lucky enough to see it on a few different days afterwards. Other species seen at the waterhole included spotted hyena, buffalo and springbok.
 
All of these animals were seen in the early morning, stealing the opportunity to drink, because by mid-morning every single day huge herds of elephant arrived from the woodlands to the west of camp and dominated the precious resource right through until the middle of the night. This included big solitary bulls, small groups of bachelors and breeding herds. One time a small calf got itself into the waterhole and couldn’t manage to find its way out to the huge consternation of its mother. Eventually it was rescued to safety.
 
The resident pride of eight lions, comprising five females and three males, were usually seen at the wildlife waterhole, where they tended to rest during the day, with an opportunistic eye out for a meal from the visiting antelope species. Two different lionesses were seen there one day and by looking at her teats the guides thought one of them could be nursing, although there was no sign of the cubs that time. A few days later we got lucky and found her three tiny cubs, no more than a couple of weeks old. She was busy hiding them in a bush to protect them from other predators. The next day the guides were very pleased when they managed to locate her den site.
 
We saw a male cheetah kill an ostrich chick and quickly eat it out in the open before a group of jackals could try to steal it from him. We saw him later in the month looking very well fed. The resident female cheetah was often found on the eastern side of camp, favouring umbrella thorn trees for shade from the strong sun. One time we saw her heading towards the wildlife waterhole for a drink, but she spotted some lionesses and quickly changed her direction to avoid a conflict with the larger cats. A few days later we saw her trying to hunt some springbok, but she was not successful.
 
Towards the end of the month an adult aardwolf was seen back in the same spot where a pair denned last year, so we will be watching with interest to see if it looks like they will be having cubs there again.
Day trips to Baines Baobabs yielded big herds of oryx grazing on the open plains. Tracks of wild dogs were also seen along the road to Baines.
 
General game was good, especially at the Department of Wildlife waterhole where several species such as springbok, kudu, impala, giraffe, wildebeest, elephants and ostrich could all be seen at once.
Birders enjoyed sightings of Southern pale chanting goshawks, green-backed pytilia, camaropteras, violet-eared waxbills and cape penduline tits. The dry weather attracted large flocks of birds such as guineafowl, sandgrouse and doves to the two waterholes in the National Park.
 
After a rainfall in the middle of the month, a large number of birds were seen feeding on harvester termites including lanner falcons, swallow-tailed bee-eaters and kori bustards. Summer migrants, including the blue-cheeked bee-eater, continued to return to the area.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Lebala, Oct 2018

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A young female leopard, named by our guides as Jenny, was seen walking on the road and we watched her as she started to hunt squirrels. She jumped up a tree to hunt the squirrel and was successful in catching and eating it, though this would be a very small snack indeed for a leopard! We watched a female leopard make a kill of an impala, but unfortunately two male lions came onto the scene and chased her up into a tree. She waited in the tree for quite some time, but eventually gave up on the kill and ran away. A very shy male leopard was picked up under spotlights on night drive. He was not one of the resident toms, but an intruder from another area. We saw him later in the month with a kudu kill up a tree.

Diligent work by the guide and tracker team led us to the Wapoka Pride of lions lying down on the road, we went back after a while and followed them hunting where they brought down a wildebeest – our guests rewarded for their patience by a spectacular kill sighting. The Wapoka Pride were then not around for couple of weeks, but returned towards the end of the month. They seemed nervous and were regularly climbing trees and mounds as they hunted; our guides suspected that they were being so vigilant because they knew that the Bonga Pride was also in the area. A couple of days later Wapoka Pride brought down a buffalo bull near to the camp at night. Our guides were flabbergasted when Bonga Pride also showed up at the carcass and the two prides ate side by side without any apparent friction. This was highly unusual behaviour and a fantastic sighting, to which was added hyenas and jackals trotting around and vultures roosted in the trees waiting patiently for their turn. By the next morning it was just Bonga Pride lying round-bellied at the carcass. The vultures came down and started to feed and hyenas tried to sneak a few mouthfuls but were too scared of the lions to feed properly.

We saw Bonga pride hunting and bringing down two wildebeest right in front of the vehicle and watched with interest as the two pride males refused to let the lionesses eat, only allowing the cubs to approach the carcass and join in the feeding. The following day the pride killed a big male warthog but once again one of the male lions took the carcass and ate it alone. Once we followed them as they were stalking a herd of kudu which were hidden in the bushes, but the antelope saw them in time and took off. The lions continued heading towards the marshes where they often hunt warthogs and aquatic species of antelope such as red lechwe. Another time we tracked the lions to Tsessebe Pan where we were able to get lovely shots of them lined up drinking, with reflections in the water.

The resident pack of just two wild dogs were seen lying down in a pool of wet mud to cool down before trying to hunt impala. Unfortunately for them the long grass impeded their hunt so they eventually gave up and went hungry. A different pack of six adults and one puppy were ranging between the Lebala and Lagoon sides of the Kwando Reserve and we found them a couple of times in the Halfway Pan area, always looking well fed with round bellies.

Big herds of red lechwe were in the area and our guests enjoyed photographing them as they splashed through the water in the marshes.

A huge herd of buffalo were seen grazing very close to camp. Elephants were also plentiful and guests enjoyed watching them mud-bathing. A lovely herd of endangered sable antelope comprising twelve adults and five calves was in the area.

A big number of carmine bee-eaters were still by their nests at John’s Pan and summer migrants, such as yellow-billed kites, were busy coming back into the area.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Lagoon, Oct 2018

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The brown hyena cubs continued to be big favourites with our guests. They were mostly seen playing in the mornings. The youngsters are growing past and were starting to separate to occupy different dens. Their mother remains elusive, visiting them in the middle of the night to bring them food that this month included an impala carcass.

Bonga Pride were sometimes seen by John’s Pan and Lechwe Corner, but in general have been towards Lebala camp over the past few months. This has opened up the Lagoon territory for several new coalitions of males and during October we saw a group of four, a group of three and several pairs hunting buffaloes. Two very big males and a female were found at Kwena Lagoon feeding on an elephant carcass and mating. Several lionesses were roaming the area including three pregnant females who have broken away from the Bonga Pride.

Spotted hyenas were regularly sighted around the area, mostly at abandoned buffalo carcasses that the nomad males had killed, including some exciting interactions between lions and the hyena clan.
Other times spotted hyenas were seen patrolling the area or cooling themselves in the muddy waterholes which were drying out

Female leopards were seen patrolling and hunting during afternoon drives. We had lovely sightings of a female with her kill up a tree and a male with a warthog kill on the airstrip road.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were found resting under a tree.

The pack of six wild dogs (five adults and one sub-adult) were found well-fed and quenching their thirst after a successful hunting expedition. We tracked them hunting a couple of other times but they were not lucky on those occasions.

Smaller predators encountered included African wild cats, servals, mongoose (yellow, dwarf and banded), bat-eared foxes and honey badgers. Black-backed jackals were denning and guests were able to see the cubs.

General game was frequenting the hot spots along the flood plains. There were plenty of eland , sable, roan, buffalo and heavily pregnant plains game species, some of whom started dropping their young after a storm build-up in the middle of the month. There were big herds of elephants all over the area throughout the day. Other species included zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala, red lechwe, waterbuck, warthog and tsessebe

Aquatic bird species were seen wading and foraging on the flood plains. Summer migrants continued to arrive in the area. Carmine bee-eaters were still nesting at Kwena Lagoon and John’s Pan. Guests enjoyed sightings of kingfishers, including giant and the colourful malachite. Four different species of vulture were identified feeding on the buffalo carcasses (hooded, white-backed, lappet and white-headed).

(Note: Accompanying image is a screen grab from a video that was sent to us from a guest who stayed at Lagoon earlier this year. Thank you Helen Apps for this amazing footage!)

Kwara Reserve, Oct 2018

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There was incredible predator action at Splash during October with lions being seen every single day.
 
On average our guides and trackers managed to find three predator sightings per day and on some dates there was a “full house” of lion, leopard, wild dogs, cheetah and hyena.
 
A pack of four wild dogs, two adults and two sub-adults, were seen chasing impala around camp and were successful in bringing down their prey making a fantastic end to the afternoon safari that day. They were seen often hunting around the camp after that, sometimes making kills. One time they interrupted early morning breakfast with a kill right by the front entrance, Another time they almost lost their kill to leopards. A different pack of five adults and four young were located near to Motswiri Pan where they had just finished devouring an impala. A third pack of eighteen, the dogs who denned in June at Little Kwara, were seen one day resting next to the airstrip, much to the delight of departing guests who had mistakenly thought that their safari was finished. When staying on the Kwara Reserve you shouldn’t pack your camera away until the very last second!
 
An alarm call from a side-striped jackal alerted us to the presence of a predator one morning. We picked up cheetah tracks and followed them until we found the beautiful resident female looking relaxed and well-fed. A resident male was seen on the majority of days during October. He was mostly resting or patrolling his territory but a few times he was hunting and we were lucky enough to be able to see him make his kill.
 
The Splash pride of lions was seen in front of camp drinking water, making for a wonderful photographic opportunity. The pride consists of two males, two females and six cubs. The mothers were very protective of their cubs, always hiding them away in the Kalahari Apple Leaf during the days before venturing out to drink at the camp waterhole. A male lion was heard roaring north east of camp so we explored in that direction and came across him with two females relaxing in the early morning sun.
 
Two male lions known as ‘Puffie’ and ‘Big Man’ had killed a hippo but they were displaced from their hard-won carcass by the two resident males of the Splash pride. When we visited the area the next day all the lions had gone and been replaced by an impressive clan of twenty three hyena gorging themselves on the huge carcass, surrounded by vultures. We also came across spotted hyenas bathing in water, trying to find relief from the soaring temperatures.
 
We enjoyed tracking a leopard to New Bridge and our guests appreciated the effort taken to locate the handsome tom. After an hour and a half we found the cat in the process of killing a baboon. Spotted hyenas were also in the area as they had also been following the leopard, but the tom was successful in driving them away and hanging onto his carcass. Two female leopards, a mother and daughter, responded to the call of a side-striped jackal. We followed them as they discovered that the jackal was alarmed by wild dogs who had killed an impala, but the wild dogs had finished their kill by the time the leopards arrived and moved off.
 
General game in the area was rewarding, including beautiful roan antelope. Elephants, giraffe and buffalo were plentiful. Other plains game species included zebra, kudu, wildebeest, warthog, waterbuck, impala and red lechwe. Troops of baboons and vervet monkeys entertained guests with their playful antics.
 
We saw an encouraging number of vultures in the area including hooded, white-backed and a few white-headed. We were excited to see lappet-faced vultures nesting east of Splash camp. There were plenty of ground hornbills, some of whom had chicks. A pair of secretary birds was nesting near to Impala Pan.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Tau Pan, Sep 2018

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The Tau Pan pride were seen very regularly, often giving away their location by roaring heartily as the sun rose. The pride had split into two with the main family comprising five males, two lionesses and three cubs. They were often seen full-bellied at the camp waterhole and appeared to be in great condition. The young cubs were sometimes left on their own at the waterhole whilst the pride went hunting. A smaller group of three lionesses, mother and her two sub-adults were seen away from the rest of the main pride most of the time but they were also doing well and managed to kill an oryx. We also managed to find the Passarge Pan pride of four adults and five cubs, though this group was notably more skittish than the lions who reside nearer to our camp. Four of the Letiahau lions were also located during a day trip.

A lone bull elephant continued to stay near to the camp, drinking and mudbathing at the waterhole. One day as we were watching him enjoy his daily ablutions we suddenly spotted a lone male wild dog. He was calling as though he had lost the rest of his pack. This is a very unusual sighting for us to have at the Tau Pan waterhole.

A sub-adult female leopard was seen a couple of times on our western firebreak. One time we saw her trying to hunt but the kudu spoiled her ambush by making alarm calls. A leopard was also seen in camp itself and dragged a steenbok kill under the deck of Room 9 to eat it. The pilot staying in the room that night was alerted to its presence by the sound of crunching bones during the night…..!

The resident male cheetah was seen a couple of times near to camp. One time he seemed to have his eye on a herd of kudu, but the prey animals, including some giraffe, herded together for protection. Towards the end of the month a coalition of two male cheetahs was seen trying to hunt springbok on the pan, although they were unsuccessful on the times that we saw them they were full-bellied a day or so later.

A shy aardwolf and many families of bat-eared foxes were found at Tau Pan.

Oryx, kudu and springbok started to drop their young. A kudu bull was seen checking if the cows were in oestrus, but apparently not as he then returned back to a bachelor herd.

Honey badgers were seen often. We watched a male hunting for rats for a long time at San Pan. He was successful many times, but had his kills stolen by jackals and goshawks. Her persistently continued to hunt though. We came across a group of six black-backed jackals fighting near to three lionesses. At first we thought they might be fighting over food but as we couldn’t see any carcass nearby the guides deduced it was most likely a territorial fight.

Ground squirrels were observed popping out of their burrows and searching the skies for threats from raptors. Smaller birds, such as queleas and finches flocked around looking for seeds that the ground squirrels might have left behind. Unusual behaviour from a flock of black-faced waxbills alerted our guide that there might be a predator in the vicinity and all of a sudden an African wild cat sprang out from the bushes.

Birdwatchers enjoyed colourful species such as the lilac-breasted roller, crimson-breasted shrike and black-faced waxbills. Raptors such as the tawny eagle, bateleur and gabar goshawk could be seen hunting sandgrouse at the camp waterhole in the mornings.

The sleep out deck at Tau Pan was enjoyed by many guests during September. The temperatures were extremely comfortable and the clear night skies made for incredible stargazing. Guests told us how it was to wake in the early hours and see the milky way spread above as a dazzling ribbon of light, complete with shooting stars. The deck faces east so they loved the intense orange glow on the horizon just before sunrise, accompanied by the distant roar of a lion. Africa at it’s finest.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Nxai Pan, Sep 2018

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Huge herds of elephants made a spectacle at the camp waterhole every day, drinking and mud-bathing. Their antics continued through the night, with their noisy splashing and rumbling a constant sound track. Although elephants dominated, it was not uncommon to see a queue of up to seven mammal species at once waiting for their turn to quench their thirst. These animals commonly included giraffe, kudu, impala, springbok, zebra and wildebeest, but we were also lucky enough to find a male eland and some buffalo.
 
The resident pride of ten lions were seen most frequently at the wildlife waterhole. This is a favourite spot of theirs to ambush antelope as they come down to drink so we were often found watching the pride, who were watching their prey, in anticipation of some action. Our patience was rewarded and we saw them trying unsuccessfully to catch both wildebeest and kudu there on a few occasions. A pair of lionesses with three tiny cubs of about a month old were seen for the first time. We were able to enjoy a lovely sighting of them suckling their cubs.
 
A male cheetah was located more than once. The first time we saw him he was mobile and looked hungry, so it was good to find him on a springbok carcass a couple of days later. There were many jackals waiting for a chance to scavenge. The next day we saw the female cheetah drinking at the wildlife waterhole. This was the resident individual who the previous month had lost all three of her cubs to lions. We were pleased to find her on carcasses during the month and know that she was doing well.
 
A pair of spotted hyenas visited the camp waterhole for a drink more than once.
 
Honey badgers were seen in the middle of the pan digging for rodents and on occasion we were able to see them catch their prey. Bat eared foxes were also sighted regularly.
 
We managed to find a pair of ostrich accompanied by seventeen hatchlings. From birth ostrich chicks are able to accompany their parents as they graze. Some black-backed jackals were darting around hoping for the opportunity to snatch a chick, but the male ostrich defended his family vigorously.
 
A pair of secretary birds were seen foraging on the pan and could be seen roosting after sunset. It is a magnificent sight to see these huge birds perched in a tree. An unusual sighting was a dark chanting goshawk feeding on a cape turtle dove. An African cuckoo, which is a regional migrant, was spotted. Other notable ticks were sabota larks, marico flycatchers, Burchell’s sandgrouses and kori bustards.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Lebala, Sep 2018

Kwando Lagoon, Day 3 (Morning Drive)

A pack of six wild dogs with their two puppies was located near to John’s Pan where they had a big confrontation with some honey badgers. A smaller pack of two wild dogs was in the area throughout the month. One day they came right into camp as we were having morning breakfast. We followed them hunting a couple of times and once they led us to the remains of an impala which had been previously killed by the resident tom leopard.
 
The same leopard was seen hunting red lechwe in the marshes (he is known by the guides as ‘Fisherman’ due to his preference for this habitat). A different male was located at John’s Pan where he was feeding on a red lechwe, surrounded by vultures.
 
One day we found a leopard cub sitting in a branch near to Motswiri Pan. We went back in the afternoon and found her mother lying nearby. The female is known as ‘Jane‘ and has been resident in the area for many years. A few days later we saw Jane and her cubs sharing a red lechwe kill with her adult son from a previous litter. It was unusual, but very heartwarming, to see the different generations together in this way.
 
The Bonga Pride of nine were seen hunting right in front of camp where they brought down and killed a blue wildebeest. The hot dry weather meant that buffalo were starting to come back towards the riverine areas, so they were also targeted. We watched the lions ambush a herd at Tsessebe Island, but they didn’t manage to make a kill before the buffaloes crossed the channel. Later in the month they had better luck and we came across them feasting on a buffalo carcass that they had just killed. In the same area we saw two lionesses with six cubs take down two warthogs right in front of the vehicle. We watched them for about an hour enjoying their first meal in days. The pride tried warthogs many times during the month. One time the prey dashed into a burrow and the pride of 10 lions determinedly dug it out, but it was a lot of effort for relatively small reward. Another time, elephants came to the rescue of the warthogs and succeeded in chasing the lions away.
 
At the moment both the Bonga and Wapoka prides’ territories are overlapping, right over Lebala camp itself. One day the Bonga Pride stretched out and rested all day at the camp. Two days later three lionesses from the Wapoka Pride were spotted walking right in front of the main area in the early morning. We quickly jumped into vehicles to follow them as they stalked a large warthog. That afternoon we found two spotted hyenas finishing up the carcass. We were lucky enough to find two of the Wapoka lionesses with three tiny cubs. This was the first time that we had seen the new litter. A big male lion, Sebastian, has was seen mating one of the females from the Wapoka Pride.
 
Large herds of elephant started to move into the marsh area. They were seen mudbathing and crossing the channel along with their very young calves. Hippos and elephants were heard munching vegetation around the rooms at night.
 
A herd of roan antelope and calves was a special sighting, with sable antelope and eland also being seen during the month. Big herds of red lechwe splashing as they ran through the water always makes for a beautiful photo opportunity. Other general game included giraffe, kudu, tsessebe, impala, zebra, wildebeest, warthog and baboon.
 
There was plenty of water in the pans and channels, attracting wetland birds such as spoonbills, whistling ducks, black-winged stilts, and openbilled storks. We saw a huge flock of pink-backed pelicans flying. Carmine bee-eaters have arrived for breeding at John’s Pan and it was amazing to watch them as they were busy excavating their nests.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Lagoon, Sep 2018

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The two brown hyena cubs at their den near to camp continued to be the star attraction at Lagoon during September. This incredibly rare opportunity to see a usually shy species romping around our vehicles in broad daylight was enjoyed by all of our guests. The cubs were extremely playful and starting to show dominance behaviours, such as neck wrestling, which will help them to establish their place in the clan as they get older. Their mother was still as elusive as ever, but continued to bring the pups meals at night including a warthog carcass.
 
Two lionesses were seen hunting red lechwe north of the camp. They didn’t manage to make a kill that time but a few days later they brought down a wildebeest not far from the airstrip. The next morning there was a big battle between these lionesses and a clan of six spotted hyenas. In the end strength in numbers won the day and the hyenas took over the kill. Both black-backed and side-striped jackals joined in the scavenging. A different pair of lionesses managed to catch a wildebeest near to Zebra Pan and once again spotted hyenas were around to make sure that they stole whatever they could. In the same area two male lions brought down a buffalo calf; we came across them just a few minutes after the kill. One morning there was a big roaring match between the coalition of four at Zebra Pan and a different pride of three towards the airstrip, their deep vocalisations echoing in the still morning air. Towards the end of the month we found two of the lions mating whilst their companions feasted on a nearby carcass.
 
As the season changed to hot, dry weather, herds of elephant and buffalo congregated in the riverine areas to bathe and drink every day. Sometimes different family groups came together to form a ‘superherd’ with up to 300 elephants being seen together at one time. Guests loved seeing the elephants crossing the river right in front of the camp and playing in the water. At night the elephants herded back towards the woodland areas to browse and graze. A breeding herd of over 200 buffalo were found drinking at Watercut.
 
The wild dog pack had been away for about a month so we were very relieved to see them when they appeared on the 12th. Sadly though, another three of the puppies were missing which means that there were now only two survivors of this year’s litter accompanying the six adults. They stayed in our area for the remainder of the month and we were able to see them hunting
 
Leopards were seen a few times. One morning a leopard was found sitting on a fallen log and as if that wasn’t a good enough photo opportunity it helpfully moved to the top of a termite mound to pose further. One morning we saw a male make an ambush on a herd of tsessebe, but they saw him just in time and managed to gallop away. Another time the tom was found resting up on a tree.
The resident coalition of two male cheetah brothers were seen enjoying an impala kill near to Zebra Pan
 
A very relaxed herd of ten sable antelope with seven calves were enjoyed by guests as well eland and roan antelope. Other general game included plentiful giraffe mixed with zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe, warthogs, red lechwe, baboons, waterbuck, kudu and impala.
 
African wild cats, honey badgers, servals, genets, porcupines, bat-eared foxes, scrub hare, springhare and African civet were all seen under spotlights during night drive.
 
Huge flocks of carmine bee-eaters were nesting at Kwena Lagoon. The spectacle and noise was incredible as the brilliantly coloured birds swooped and chattered in their hundreds. White-fronted bee -eaters were also seen by the river bank. Other great bird sightings included martial eagles, Verreaux’s (giant) eagle owls, secretary birds, slaty egrets and white-faced owls. We saw four types of vulture during September: lappet-faced, white-backed, hooded and white-headed. Hundreds of openbill storks were seen gathered at Second Lagoon feeding on snails.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Kwara Reserve, Sep 2018

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Two lionesses had a den near to Mabala Dikgokong where they were raising six cubs. They were seen very often and our guiding team now fondly refer to them as the ‘Splash Pride’. They were often near to their den, feeding on impala, reedbuck, and zebra kills (the pride was so effective that they were collectively described by one guide as “a killing machine”!) The cubs were very active, usually playing around, and we enjoyed watching them nurse from their mothers. One day we had a gorgeous sighting of them drinking at a waterhole, their perfect reflection making for a wonderful photo opportunity. They were disturbed from their original den by two females from the Mma Leitho pride, but continued to be sighted most days. After chasing off the Splash Pride the females of Mma Leitho joined up with two resident males and ended up killing a tsessebe together. Two new male lions were seen to the east of Splash.
 
A big pack of twenty two wild dogs was seen on the eastern side of the Kwara reserve and were regularly targeting impala. The Kwara pack of wild dogs appeared again after about a month’s absence. During their time away they appeared to have lost one of their puppies, but still had ten youngsters, now hunting with the adults. We saw that they managed to kill a red lechwe, a reedbuck and also an impala, although lions drove them off the latter and took over the carcass. A third pack of just three adults with two puppies were found on the eastern side of the Kwara reserve and were seen feeding on an impala.
 
The resident male cheetah, affectionally known as “Special” was following his usual pattern of traversing the whole Kwara reserve from east to west. He was seen feeding on a warthog piglet and we also saw him chase down and kill and impala. He killed an adult warthog near to the Old Mokoro Station where we saw him feasting, surrounded by hungry vultures and side-striped jackals.
 
On one day we saw a fascinating intraspecific competition: the male cheetah killed an impala but was driven away by a leopard and in turn the carcass was stolen by the lions. We followed a new female cheetah as she hunted, although she was not lucky on that occasion. There was also a new male cheetah in the area.
To gain respite from the steadily-increasing daytime heat the leopards were enjoying resting on shady branches of the Sausage Trees which were now in full bloom displaying striking blood-red flowers. We found a male and female leopard together on such a tree, but the female was a little skittish and jumped down. A female leopard in the Splash area was gradually getting used to the safari vehicles and one day was seen drinking at the camp waterhole. We managed to drive around to take a closer look and after initially ducking into some bushes she came out and rested on a termite mound giving us a better opportunity to enjoy her. There was also a young male resident in the area.
 
Spotted hyena were often seen in the Splash area, and inside camp itself.
 
There were lots of elephants in the area, with a breeding herd coming to drink at the camp waterhole in the afternoons. Further afield we enjoyed watching elephants cross the channels and especially seeing how they worked together to help their calves climb up the steeper banks. Bachelor herds of buffalo bulls were seen regularly in the marsh where we watched them feeding and mud-bathing. Overall, the general game was very plentiful.
A honey badger was seen killing a rock python in an incredible tussle.
 
By the start of September the flood waters were high and had attracted lots of waterbirds to the area including herons, slaty egrets and carmine bee-eaters. The heronry sites at Xobega and Gadikwe were both active. Yellow-billed kites had returned to the area for the summer months.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)