Tau Pan, Dec 2018

SMattern.Cat3black.korhaan.jpg

On one exciting morning we barely had to drive any distance from camp at all to have incredible sightings. We had just set out on drive when we came across three lions looking full-bellied as though they had enjoyed a big prey animal. Next, we found two cheetah brothers drinking at the camp waterhole whilst at the same time there were two lions mating close to the sleep out deck.
 
The Tau pride of lions comprising five big males, three sub-adults and two females were nearby throughout December. One time nine of them were seen attempting to hunt greater kudu and wildebeest near to the camp waterhole. A couple of days later they were lounging around at the airstrip looking well fed and relaxed. The pride followed this pattern of moving between the camp and the airstrip for most of the month. A different pair of lionesses with a single cub were also seen at the airstrip. These animals who are usually resident on the western side of the area never stayed long at the camp waterhole; guides suspected that they were respecting the dominance of the Tau Pan pride and trying to avoid them.
 
Two male cheetah were seen chasing and killing a springbok lamb and we were lucky enough to witness the whole hunt from start to finish. Black-backed jackals were hanging around hoping for some left-overs. Another time the two males were hunting at the firebreak near to camp, but they were spotted by their prey who managed to escape. A different group of cheetah, a mother with two sub-adult cubs, were located at Tau Pan. At first these animals were skittish, but soon settled down and relaxed under a tree allowing us to take good photos.
 
A large bull elephant was still frequenting the camp waterhole at the start of the month and we could see how the lions gave him space by moving away when he arrived.
 
After heavy rains during Christmas week a large tom leopard was stuck in the mud and was very difficult for him to get out. It was sad to see the big cat struggling so much. A female leopard was seen on the move near to camp and a male was hunting on Phukwi Road. Unfortunately he was not successful and we left him climbing a tree to take some rest.
 
A cape fox was located at San Pan and guests enjoyed watching this active and relatively rare animal. Bat-eared foxes and jackals were plentiful in the Tau Pan area feeding on harvester termites. We also had a lovely sighting of these bat-eared foxes near to San Pan; it was a beautiful encounter as we were able to watch the mother nursing her cubs. A very relaxed herd of springbok showed up at the same time – the perfect desert scene. Other smaller creatures sighted during December included ground squirrels, leopard tortoise, African wild cat and yellow mongoose. On a day trip to Deception valley we came across the interesting sight of an aardvark carcass which the guides suspected was killed by lions judging by the tracks in the area. Black-backed jackals were often found in the vicinity of the lion pride, hoping that they might be able to share in any kills that the cats made.
 
A pack of seven wild dogs were found a couple of times on trips out to Sunday Pan. We saw the dogs drinking at the waterhole, playing and resting.
 
Oryx were located near to San Pan and also at Sunday Pan where we also found red hartebeest. Other antelope species for the month included giraffe, kudu, springbok, steenbok and wildebeest.
 
Notable bird sightings included the pallid harrier, banded coursers, greater kestrels and red-necked falcons. A gabar goshawk was found with the kill of a red-billed quelea. We were able to spot the nest for the lilac-breasted rollers, these colourful birds always a favourite with guests. A pair of secretary birds were seen. We observed a kori bustard displaying by puffing up its feathers to attract the female. Southern black korhaans were also in breeding season and two males were found fighting over a female. The male red-crested korhaans were displaying by shooting themselves up into air and then crashing down as if shot; it is a complete mystery as to why this spectacular feat should be so attractive, but seemingly it is very alluring if you are a female korhaan!
 
(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, Dec 2018

????????????????????????????????????

The resident pride of six lions were seen trying their luck on wildebeest at the Wildlife waterhole. Unfortunately for them the lack of cover made it hard for them to launch a successful ambush. Black-backed jackal were skirting around the periphery of the action hoping to have the chance to scavenge. Two lionesses were also seen hunting springbok in front of the camp, but once again they did not manage. We saw them with three cubs looking very hungry. Later in the month their luck turned and we saw the same lionesses with their young feasting for two days on the carcass of an elephant calf which had died from natural causes. One morning we saw them trying to stalk springbok which were congregated in the vicinity of the waterhole, but failed because the area was too open. We saw the lionesses and cubs in camp one morning, they were calling and trying to locate the rest of the pride.
 
Three cheetah were seen together on the open plains, a male was feeding on a springbok and being watched by two females. The females tried to approach but the male made it very clear that he wanted the meal for himself. Later in the month we had a spectacular sighting of the two females taking down and killing a springbok. A few metres from camp we spotted a male cheetah hunting springbok. It was not successful and the cat lay panting in the shade of an umbrella-thorn tree after the chase. A few days later it seemed that he had had enough of trying to hunt solo and we saw him as he was calling his coalition partner; next time we came across him the two males were back teamed up again.
 
There were still plenty of elephants in the area, congregating at the camp waterhole during the days making for interesting viewing from the main area and the guest rooms.
 
The numbers of antelope increased during the month as they herded towards Nxai Pan to take advantage of the nutritious pan grasses which are so important to support lactation during their breeding season. At the camp waterhole we saw large herds of springbok with lambs. On the way to Baines Baobabs we encountered oryx, steenbok and springbok. Towards the end of the month the annual migration of zebras started to arrive at Nxai Pan.
 
A wonderful family of two adult black-backed jackals with six puppies were found on West Road and a female bat-eared fox with a single puppy was denning on Middle Road. We watched as lots of jackals worked the area around the waterhole, spreading out the elephant dung in search of dung beetles to eat. We were lucky enough to spot a brown hyena although as we were looking at it a black-backed jackal came rushing in from nowhere to chase the bigger predator away.
 
A rock monitor lizard was found foraging on millipedes and grasshoppers.
 
Lots of summer migrants were in the area including steppe buzzards, European bee-eaters, lesser grey shrikes and red-backed shrikes. A pride of ostrich was seen near the waterhole grazing. Lanner falcons were seen close to a termite mound feeding on the winged alates coming out to fly. We also saw many goshawks and kestrels.
 
(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, Dec 2018

MichalLindner_Cat2_flollow_me

The coalition of two male cheetah brothers were located next to Skimmer Pan. We watched them drinking and followed them as they tried to hunt, however unfortunately they bumped into a pride of eight lions and ran away in fright. Later in the month we were thrilled to see a new coalition of four male cheetahs; they were a bit shy but we were able to watch them from a distance.
 
The three cubs of Wapuka Pride were sometimes left behind whilst the adults were hunting. One time as we were watching the youngsters a clan of seven hyenas came around trying to kill the cubs, but the little ones were clever enough to climb up a tree and escape. One time we tracked the whole pride as it was moving along the woodland and saw them taking down a zebra foal. The two resident males, known as Sebastian and Old Gun, dominated the kill and chased away the females. We also saw the pride lying full-bellied after eating a wildebeest and a different time the males were found feeding on a warthog. Old Gun gave our team a good early morning wake-up call one morning by roaring right outside the staff village! We were quickly able to get out on morning drive to find him.
 
Bonga Pride were also in the area and these lions seemed to be specialising on blue wildebeest as we saw them a few times on different carcasses. One time the pride we were watching the lionesses and the two big males came in to take over the kill. The females started roaring and we heard other lions respond. We went to check on who was calling and found it was a different pride altogether who were busy hunting baboons.
 
A clan of three spotted hyena were scavenging on the remains of an elephant calf.
 
The resident pack of two wild dogs popped up one morning as guides and guests were enjoying a morning tea break. We quickly packed up and followed them hunting impala and red lechwe. Later in the month another pack of six adults and one puppy were tracked for almost three hours and we found them lying under the trees. We returned in the afternoon and the patient work of the morning was rewarded by a hunt, culminating in them bringing down and eating an impala lamb. We saw this larger pack hunting a few times and once finishing off a warthog.
 
The resident female leopard known as Jane was in the area. One time we followed her hunting, but she seemed reluctant as she was being followed by a hyena who seemed to be hoping to steal a kill from her. A few days later we were watching her as a warthog ran out of the bushes. Jane then investigated further and found a warthog burrow. She proceeded to kill all three piglets, one after another. The following day, we were thrilled to realise that she was nursing newborn cubs and we were able to see her carrying them from one den to another. Jane’s now adult son, known as Fisherman was tracked until we found him. It is so lovely to see different generations of this same leopard family continuing to thrive in the Lebala area.
 
Right along the airstrip road there was an active den for the black-backed jackals with four playful puppies. A serval was often seen stalking prey along the edge of the marsh and a couple of times we found an African wild cat hunting.
 
A fallen strangler fig near to Twin Pools attracted a very large herd of breeding elephants who seemed to loved feasting on the tree. Some of the elephants were lying down horizontally whilst still managing to feed.
 
A herd of twelve buffalo were grazing along the road being followed by lots of cattle egret who were snatching up grasshoppers and other insects disturbed by the large bovines.
 
At the start of the month there was extremely good general game in the marsh area; the animals were hanging near to the water as the natural waterholes dried up. Species seen at the time included elephant, giraffe, impala, red lechwe, wildebeest, zebra and hippo. A very relaxed herd of six adult roan antelopes and their two calves were found near to Baobab Pan. In the same area we also located a herd of eight sable, also with two calves.
 
We had lovely bird sightings near to the marsh including openbilled storks, black herons, kingfishers, egrets, swallows and steppe eagles. After some summer rains fell a large number of eagles were seen feeding on termite alates, also known as “flying ants”. We had a great sighting of two rosy-throated longclaws – a very prized sighting for keen birders. There were still a good number of carimine bee-eaters in 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, Dec 2018

jbowen.cat7lionmom

At the start of the December our guides managed to find a lion den with two females looking after four cubs of approximately one month old, whilst another three lions were resting nearby. Initially the lionesses were keeping their young well hidden in the bushes, but later in the month we were able to see the females nursing their cubs. Occasionally we were lucky to catch them out in the open and playing. One lioness killed a tsessebe and we could tell that she dragged it a very long way to bring it nearer to the den site. Two male lions were seen mating females for much of the month, so hopefully there will be even more cubs soon. We found two lionesses on a tsessebe carcass that they had killed earlier in the morning. Male lions were seen hunting on hippos near to the channel.
 
The resident pack of six adult wild dogs with their 6-month-old puppy were located finishing an impala carcass one morning. In the afternoon they were hunting again, this time trying their luck on tsessebe and wildebeest. The following day we saw them kill two impalas. One time the puppy tried to chase a family of mongoose who balled up together to defend themselves.
 
We found a leopard near to camp, heading towards the brown hyena den and different tom leopard was seen a couple of times, once resting up on a tree, but he was shy and eventually he jumped down and ran into the blue bushes.
 
The brown hyena cubs continued to do well and were seen regularly. The cubs are still playful and guests were able to get lovely shots of them being active. We enjoyed watching them socialising and sometimes nibbling food that they had been brought by their mother the previous night.
 
Spotted hyena were also seen a few times, mainly patrolling and sometimes within five minutes of camp. They were seen near to the brown hyena den, one time two killed and ate an Egyptian goose right at the den entrance, we will just have to hope that our precious brown hyena cubs do not get attacked by the larger dominant species. Once the summer rains started in earnest towards the end of the month our guides noticed that the spotted hyenas were actively hunting on the rainy nights, specialising on wildebeest.
 
General game was reported to be very good, with elephants and giraffes crossing through the marshes, though after rains towards the end of the month the elephants started to head deeper into the mophane woodlands. A small bush fire followed by rain meant that grazers including roan antelope, tsessebe, eland, impala, kudu, zebra and reedbuck were in good numbers enjoying the new shoots of green grass. Baboons also enjoyed staying in the same area as these herds, presumably seeking protection amongst the plentiful eyes and ears. Many of the antelope species had given birth to their young. A batchelor herd of buffalo were found north of camp.
 
In terms of smaller mammals located, serval, civet, jackals, bat-eared foxes, honey badgers, spring hares and mongoose were all seen during December. We enjoyed a lovely sighting of an African wild cat pouncing on and killing a mouse.
 
There were four species of vultures in the area: white-headed, hooded, lappet-faced and white-backed. Migrants such as the woodland kingfishers, lesser spotted eagles, Wahlberg’s eagles all returned to the Kwando Reserve for the summer. At one point there was a feeding frenzy of some 120 lesser spotted eagles near to the brown hyena den. Saddle-billed storks and the elegant wattled cranes were favourites for some of our guests.
 
(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!)
 

Splash, Dec 2018

AReimann.Cat6 landscape.Wildlife.Kwara090210

The most dramatic sighting of the month was an enormous bush fire which had been raging in the Moremi Game Reserve for some time and one night jumped the channel into Kwara Reserve. Over the course of that weekend most of the open parts to the south of the reserve was burned flat with dried turpentine grass causing four metre flames. Fortunately, just about all of the trees and bushes survived the hot fast fire and we were blessed with beautiful rain the week afterwards which quickly produced a stunning carpet of green throughout the reserve. This new growth attracted a huge influx of grazers, which in turn attracted predators. Not that life was easy for the predators as they were no longer camouflaged by tall yellow grass.

This was a disadvantage for the cats, but a big advantage for the prey animals – and of course safari-goers – who could now spot them easily at a distance. Towards the end of the month we were often able to spot lions, cheetah and wild dogs in one morning with lots of hunting and killing, mainly young impala, tsessebe and wildebeest.

There was a changing of the guard with the lions at Splash with the two resident males moving out of the territory allowing space for two younger males to come in. The new very handsome boys made a big deal about staking their claim to the land around Splash with lots of roaring and marking. They managed to kill a buffalo near to camp at Lechwe Plains and spent four days feeding on it. The two males were found with a lioness from Mother Eye Pride who was being mated, later the honeymoon couple came to the pan in front of Splash for a drink. The Splash pride of two females with their six cubs were not seen as regularly now that their males had moved, but we after seeing a large number of vultures we located them looking well fed and resting. This pride seemed to be sensibly staying away from the new males who might well kill their cubs, so have moved all the way across to the Kwara camp side of the reserve. They appeared to be in great condition and doing well.

We were lucky to have two packs of wild dogs on the Kwara reserve during December, a pack of twenty-six and a pack of four. We saw them on different occasions hunting around Splash camp, the pack of twenty six were specialising in attacking tsessebe calves, sometimes killing two at a time.

A female cheetah killed an impala lamb in front of camp one day and after she had finished eating spent her day relaxing at Splash Hippos. The following day we found the resident male, Special, tracking the female but he did not manage to find her. We continued to see Special regularly throughout the month, this well-known individual often posing beautifully up on termite mounds as he scanned for prey. We saw him taking down young reedbuck, a species who would usually reply on the cover of long grass but who were now left vulnerable after the fire.

Our guides were happy when a resident female leopard who had not been seen for some time reappeared and seemed to be heavily pregnant. We watched her hunting red lechwe but she was not lucky. Two other leopards appeared north of Kwara and a new very relaxed male leopard has started to show up to the east of Splash.

An aardwolf den was still active at the start of the month giving guests good sightings of this elusive creature. Bat-eared foxes also had an active den. Nocturnal animals such as civets, serval, genets and porcupine were also located in the area frequently. Spotted hyenas were denning at Kwara camp.

The burned area after the fire attracted many birds of prey including tawny eagles, booted eagles, steppe eagles and Wahlberg’s eagles feeding on termites that started to fly out after the rains. Ground hornbills were often seen near to the airstrip.

(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, Nov 2018

Mschoeniger.Cat8livinginharmonywiththewild.jpg

November was exceptionally hot and dry, even by usual regional averages for the time of year. As a result, there was almost continual action at the camp waterhole. The Tau Pan pride of lions were there on a daily basis, sometimes all together and other times in smaller groups.

Three of the resident lionesses decided to park off under the luggage rack at Tau Pan airstrip. Luckily they were spotted by the guides and they flashed lights to warn the pilot as he was about to get out of his plane! Another time the same lionesses killed an oryx right at the airstrip. One day we were watching wildebeest herding towards water and saw them unexpectedly divert. We followed up and sure enough there were lions lying in wait for them. One day we found the pride eating on a carcass that we suspected had been brought down by a nomadic lioness who was waiting nearby. It looked as though the larger pride had driven her off her kill. White-backed vultures, hooded vultures and yellow-billed kites were circling above.

A female leopard was spotted a few times in the camp area and also resting in a tree near to the airstrip. Separately, a young tom leopard was also seen near to camp. He was relaxed enough that we were able to spend nearly an hour photographing him on one occasion.

One early morning before game drive we were surprised by two young male cheetah brothers who showed up at Room 6 and then headed straight to the waterhole for a drink. They repeated this behaviour a week or so later so we hope that we will see more of this handsome pair.

A large solitary bull elephant has been living by camp for a few months and on a daily basis he was going to the waterhole to drink and bathe, putting on a high tea show for the guests.

Bat-eared foxes and black-backed jackals have dens in the Tau Pan area and both species were nursing young. Other smaller mammals seen included African wild cat and honey badgers. Guests were fascinated to see the bat eared foxed catching and eating scorpions.

Kudu were often drinking at the waterhole; carefully circling the area and sniffing first to check for lions. A lovely journey of twelve giraffe were often seen, towering above the shrubs and bushes as they made their way between the camp waterhole and the pan where they enjoyed browsing. A big male red hartebeest was seen resting under a shady camelthorn tree.

There were plenty of bird species in the area, and especially around the waterhole where there was almost constant raptor hunting. Yellow-billed kites chased cape turtle doves, Tawny eagles and bateleurs preyed on Burchell’s sandgrouse. Enormous flocks of red-billed quelea gathered and these were hawked by gabar goshawks. Guests enjoyed watching the spectacular mating ritual of the male red-crested korhaan which flies straight up and then suddenly tumbles to the ground as though shot, before gliding to land.

(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, Nov 2018

MKidd.Cat6waterhole.jpg

November continued to be mostly dry, with heatwave conditions reported by the Botswana government. This meant that animals in our desert camps thronged to the waterholes. The Nxai Pan main waterhole right outside camp continued to be dominated by huge herds of elephants, though we also saw buffalo, giraffe, springbok, kudu and wildebeest drinking there.

One morning, as guests were enjoying breakfast, they were surprised and delighted by a pack of wild dogs running through camp. The dogs chased around some wildebeest who were at the waterhole, quenched their thirst and then disappeared into bush. A brown hyena was seen quite often in the early mornings at the camp waterhole and once at the Department of Wildlife waterhole as well.

Elephants were constantly passing through camp, browsing as they went. Guests commented on how much they enjoyed hearing them munching as they lay in bed at night. One lady peeped through her window and said “it was so close I could see its eyelashes”!

For most of the month lions were found at the Wildlife waterhole which is where the majority of antelope were coming to drink. With the hot weather it seemed that they had decided to just conserve energy by waiting for the food to come to them it! After some rains towards the end of the month the lions became a bit more active again, operating between South Gate and the waterhole. We found two lionesses feeding on an elephant calf kill. One of the lionesses had three cubs who were getting quite active, walking around and playing. One time two cheetahs got a bit too close to the lions and the pride of six chased them away. In the evenings the lions were vocalising as they located each other and declared their territory.

The resident female cheetah was seen hunting, but more than once the relentless heat became too much for her and she had to rest in the shade panting. One productive morning we located three different cheetah, two females lying next to each other and a third not far away. They looked hungry. We saw the two females again, drinking from the Wildlife Waterhole. A male cheetah was found near to the southern camp grounds.

Smaller mammals located included bat eared foxes and honey badgers. There was an aardwolf den along Middle Road.
Other general game sightings included gemsbok and steenbok. The springbok had started dropping their lambs and we watched their herds increase in size as more animals started to make their way to the pans in search of the salt grasses that are so important to support lactation whilst the ewes are nursing. Giraffe and impala were seen browsing.
One morning, during the bushman walk, the guides spotted a 3-4 metre black mamba quietly sunbathing on a termite mound.

Keen birders enjoyed seeing returning migrants to the area such as European rollers and steppe buzzards. The male Northern black korhaans were starting to call in noisy displays.

(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, Nov 2018

ThomasRetterath.cat2wilddogs leb

The two males from the Wapuka Pride were seen alone with two of the females and were mating one of lionesses when a herd of thirty elephants came and chased the lions with lots of trumpeting. It was fascinating to see how the elephants protected their calves by keeping them in the middle of the herd. As with the previous month, both Wapuka Pride and the Bonga lions were overlapping their territories near to camp. One night we heard a hideous commotion and in the morning we found the two prides near to each other looking exhausted. It seemed as though there had been a very serious fight.

One of the beauties of driving in the Lebala section of the Kwando Reserve is the wide open areas in which there are many different species of prey such as zebra, giraffe, impala, sable and roan antelope. Although it is an open area, Bonga Pride were cleverly ambushing prey using the base of big leadwood trees as cover. The same lions were often seen near to camp, one day at Room 9 feeding on two wildebeest carcasses that they killed during the night. The two pride males were there with four lionesses and their cubs. Warthogs and wildebeest seemed to be the main targets for the lions in November. Three subadult male lions had been kicked out of the Bonga Pride by the two dominant males. They looked starving and will quickly need to learn how to survive independently of their mothers.

The resident leopard, known as Fisherman due to his preference for the marsh habitats, was seen near to two hyenas who were feeding on a carcass. The guides suspected that the hyenas had stolen the kill from the leopard. We watched as he stalked some red lechwe through the marshes, but in the end the antelope headed into water that was too deep for him to follow. Another time he had killed a warthog up a tree and was enjoying his feast, with a hyena waiting beneath him gobbling up any scraps that fell to the ground. We came across Jane, the well known resident female leopard. Her daughter was now living independently and we found her drinking on another occasion.

A pack of seven wild dogs (six adults and a puppy) were ranging a very large territory between Lagoon and Lebala camps. The guides suspected that they were changing positions regularly in order to avoid other large predators such as lions and hyena who are numerous in the Kwando Reserve. One day we saw them bring down two impala at once. As they were feeding, within five minutes, four hyenas came and tried to steal the carcasses from the dogs. The pack bravely stood its ground and chased the hyenas away who waited until the dogs had eaten their fill. Another time the Wapoka pride of nine lions were on a hunting mission and flushed out the pack. The guides were worried because two of the dogs appeared to be missing afterwards.

The temperatures in November were scorching and we saw many herds of elephants in the river coming down to drink and cool themselves in the mud and water. These breeding herds had lots of youngsters and one evening we watched as the adults helped them across the river by pushing them, some of the calves were holding onto their mothers’ tails. The the river we also enjoyed watching red lechwe jumping across the streams and big herds of zebra and wildebeest drinking.

We came across a dead buffalo along the river with lots of vultures up in the trees. All of a sudden, a clan of eight hyena appeared and began to feed on the carcass, pulling it apart vigorously. Four black-backed jackals came and started to steal small pieces of meat. We also found a jackal den near to the airstrip with four playful puppies. Once we saw the adults coming back and regurgitating food for the youngsters to eat.

After some rains the monitor lizards started to come further from water in search of food. We had some beautiful sightings of monitor lizards, one was eating tortoise eggs and another one was trying to break small snail shells. We saw several small leopard tortoises. Smaller cats such as African wild cat and serval were seen on night drive, we watched the serval pouncing on a mouse. We were lucky to see a rare sighting of a white-tailed mongoose on our way back to camp one night, the animal was hunting. We also saw honey badgers and a large-spotted genet killing mice on different occasions.

Birdlife was also excellent, especially by the river, including egrets, herons, storks and bee-eaters. The trilling call of the Woodland Kingfisher once again echoed around the bush as this beautiful returning migrant came back to Botswana.

(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, Nov 2018

Lion (Panthera leo), Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

We followed two lionesses until they stalked a warthog. One lioness went halfway into the den and pulled it out. Then, to everyone’s amazement, a leopard appeared and stalked the lionesses trying to steal the kill. One lioness chased the leopard up a tree to round off an incredible sighting. Although these lionesses specialise on warthogs, we also saw them eating reedbuck and wildebeest.

A coalition of three males were tracked trying their luck with some buffaloes at Kwena Lagoon but they were not successful. During the month we found these three male lions fairly often, and they were mating one of the lionesses. The other female led us to a place where she was hiding some very tiny cubs deep in thick bush. We didn’t see the cubs for several days but eventually they came more into the open when we could see that there were four and we were able to watch them suckling. After a few days we watched her moving the two cubs from one set of bushes to another. The two female cubs managed to walk alongside their mother, but the male cubs were lazy and she had to carry them by the scruff of their necks. A single male lion was discovered feeding on an elephant calf. The cat seemed unusually aggressive, so for the sake of safety first we gave it a good deal of space.

The resident pack of six adult wild dogs were located often in the middle of the Kwando concession. They still have one of this year’s puppies with them (out of an original litter of eleven). They were not always lucky on their hunts but overall seemed to be doing well and were usually found full-bellied. One time they killed two impalas and another time we saw them take down a roan antelope calf. At the end of the month they brought down an impala and two ostrich chicks in a single morning.

The brown hyena cubs were still doing well and we were able to visit them at their den where they could be quite playful. One time we saw them feeding on a fresh impala skin, although the mother hyena was never visible when we visited.

Skilled work by the trackers allowed us to locate a sub-adult female leopard. We saw her a few times afterwards, but she was looking hungry and was even unsuccessfully trying to hunt tree squirrels in her desperation for a meal. Life appeared hard for this young female finding her way in the world. Another time she was resting in a tree and we saw her being attacked by a troop of baboons causing her to jump from the tree and hide in the thickets. We were relieved when we found her feeding on a new-born impala lamb. Another adult female leopard was resident in the riverine areas.

The coalition of cheetah brothers was also picked up after good tracking from their marking post. After two and a half hours our team was chuffed to find them resting full-bellied with blood on their faces. Mostly these males were specialising in hunting warthog, but we also found them stalking and killing tsessebe a couple of times during November.

General game was good, with big herds of elephant, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest, waterbuck and zebra as well as the more elusive sable and roan antelope which were thriving in the mopane woodlands. A small herd of eland were also seen. Some of the antelope species, such as tsessebe and impala were starting to drop their young. Elephants came to the river in front of camp in a daily basis to drink and swim.
During night drive our guides were successful in locating aardwolf, honey badgers, servals, caracals and African wild cats.

The carmine bee-eater colony at Kwena Lagoon was still active at the start of the month and we were able to watch adults coming back to feed their chicks, but by the end of the month the flock had dwindled to just a few birds. We watched a martial eagle kill a warthog piglet. It is always a pleasure to see the returning summer migrants and in November we were happy to see broad-billed rollers, black kites, yellow-billed kites and blue-cheeked bee-eaters. Year-round residents such as the saddle-billed stork and wattled cranes were also enjoyed by guests. Back at camp the African scops owlet continued to roost by the fireplace whilst Peter’s epauletted fruit bats were identified in the marula tree by the front deck.

An African python was seen strangling a baby impala at Kwena Lagoon and a black mamba was briefly seen in the riverine area but it disappeared into the long grass.

(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!)

Splash, Nov 2018

DMysak.Cat7gnuseyetoeye.jpg splash

November was an exciting month at Splash camp. Antelope species such as impala and tsessebe started to drop their young meaning that predators were able to enjoy easy pickings and were making frequent kills. Even baboons were seen feeding on new impala lambs.

The Splash pride of ten were often around camp, the two male lions very vocal in the evenings. One time the two lionesses relaxed for the day between rooms two and three. Although on their own that time, the two lionesses had three cubs each and we found the six cubs of the Splash pride were increasingly left on their own whilst the adults went hunting. Once, surprisingly, they were alone with the fresh kill of a steenbok lamb. A few days later we found two of the cubs separated from the other four and for a worrying time we didn’t see those two at all. Eventually by the middle of the month, to everyone’s relief, they had reappeared. One of the resident males from the Splash pride was seen fighting with a nomadic intruder. Three females from the Mother Eye pride were seen with a male and the youngest lioness appeared to be pregnant. Two males were seen feeding on a dead hippo surrounded by vultures awaiting their turn at the carcass.

The resident pack of eight adults and nine puppies were seen regularly, mostly specialising on impala but we also saw them hunting zebra. One time they came right into camp hunting, so guests and guides quickly abandoned their early morning breakfast to try and keep up with the dogs. On another occasion two adult and two young wild dogs made a kill of an impala right by the parking area whilst the guests were out on game drive. A different pack of six adults and four puppies were located once with their faces covered in blood.

The resident male cheetah known as Special was seen frequently. One morning he led us on a marshland exploration, stalked a herd of red lechwe and with explosive energy killed one antelope and dragged it to the shade. He lay panting for fifteen minutes before starting to eat and enjoy his reward for a successful hunt. We followed the female cheetah hunting and watched as she brought down and killed an impala. She was also seen hunting reedbuck and feeding on a red lechwe lamb.
Spotted hyenas were seen every few days including a female nursing two cubs at a den near to the old Kwara camp.

November was a good month for sightings of the smaller mammals. An aardwolf den was located on Cheetah Plains and the animals allowed us good time with them. We were able to enjoy a wonderful sighting of an African civet which was unusually relaxed and our guests were able to take great photos under spotlight. We also located serval on more than one occasion as well as African wild cat. A pair of bat-eared foxes have a den west of Impala Pan.

The resident female leopard made a kill of a Common Reedbuck near to Sable Island and feasted for two nights, but she left the carcass on the ground and eventually it was stolen by hyenas. A pair of young leopards who had been moving around as a brother and sister appeared to have separated and we saw the male more than once. Another male leopard was concentrating on hunting the area west of Impala Pan. Not for the faint-hearted, guests watched as a leopard ate a minutes-old tsessebe calf.

As always in the Okavango Delta the mokoro excursions are popular and allowed guests to see smaller creatures such as the painted reed frogs and enjoy beautiful water lilies. More than once after mokoro activity herds of elephants and bachelor buffaloes came to drink and wallow at the mokoro station much to the delight of guests who quickly swapped fishing rods for cameras to capture the moment.

Guests were thrilled to spot the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl during a boat cruise and we also saw barn owls and eagle owls. An unusual highlight for some keen birders was a black-chested snake-eagle taking down a night heron.

(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!)