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Author: Kwando Safaris

4 Rivers Camp, May 2024

A standout sighting was observing 11 lions riding on the back of a stranded hippo found in a drying pond.

The hippo made a dash through Croton Island, escaping to the permanent water body with lions aboard, south of Paradise Island. We also witnessed three females taking down a male red lechwe around Double Crossing, Paradise Island.

Most early mornings, with the sun barely peeking over the horizon, we heard the powerful roars of the resident pride of five lions. The pride, consisting of two majestic males and three regal females, had settled near our camp.

Additionally, there’s a coalition of two brothers ranging from the west to Mabowa Island up to Mokoro Station. Another smaller pride of four females with a six-month-old cub operates around the 4 Rivers Lediba area.

Mother leopard patrols 4 Rivers

Our resident leopard sightings have been remarkable, especially observing a female leopard with her five-month-old cub around the 4 Rivers Camp area.

This mother operates around Deadtree Island (a unique habitat known for its dense tree cover and abundant prey) Maboa Island, and the Leopard Road area to the west, all prime hunting grounds for leopards. On one occasion, she was sighted around camp with an impala kill, feeding with her cub.

We also tracked down sightings of two cheetahs around Dead Trees Marshes during the first week of May. However, they moved westward towards Spillway. Tracks and impala alarm calls were followed, and another male cheetah was observed marking its territory in Paradise Island’s northwest.

Mokoro trips at 4 Rivers

The landscape displayed handsome contrasts with drying grasses and green floodplains. The arrival of floods brought a vibrant display of colours, attracting aquatic animals like the red lechwe to wade in the water. We enjoyed longer mokoro excursions, spotting frogs and watching birds. Various bird species were seen in different locations, including around the camp surroundings, with bee-eaters, rollers, waders, and eagles being logged. Walking safaris provided opportunities to observe general wildlife and learn about tracking.

By Rachael Reed

Monitor lizards and striped skinks were observed during day drives, while other reptiles like snakes remained elusive due to the cooling seasonal changes. Herds of elephants, dazzles of zebras, and small herds of sables, roans, and tsessebes were also spotted across all areas, making for fantastic general game viewing. Large herds of buffaloes were sighted along the flood plains, drawn by fresh tillers.

Leopard vs buffalo vs hyenas

A gripping sighting of another leopard along Fox Road had guests watching the cat battling with hyenas for a buffalo calf. The calf fought valiantly for survival despite sustaining a broken spine from hyena bites, and eventually both the leopard and buffalo cow gave up on the youngster as it succumbed to the pack of hyenas.

4 Rivers game Drive

Hyenas have been spotted around 4 Rivers Lediba and along Mokoro and Airstrip Road. We witnessed a battle between hyenas and lions around 4 Rivers Lagoon, where six lions were surrounded, and the hyenas took over their reedbuck carcass. Social interactions among hyena members were also observed, often signalled by their distinctive laughing calls.

Dances with painted wolves

There were fantastic wild dog sightings, with a pack of seven staying in the area for two weeks. They moved around the western areas and north through Mopane Woodland, displaying denning behaviour, particularly the alpha female who is heavily pregnant. Witnessing their chase and catch of a male reedbuck west of JD Crossing was particularly thrilling. The speed and coordination of the pack were truly impressive, and it was a sight to behold as they worked together to bring down their prey.

Springhares, African civets, genets, wild cats, and bush babies were sighted during night drives returning to camp. These nocturnal creatures were most active during the early hours of the evening, providing us with a unique opportunity to observe their behaviours in their natural habitat.

The weather was mostly clear and sunny, providing us with excellent visibility for wildlife spotting. At night, the sky offered breathtaking views during night drives, with a beautiful pink light after sunset followed by bright stars and the Milky Way, including the Southern Cross constellation.

(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, May 2024

A pack of 12 African wild dogs was an exciting find near the camp waterhole early one morning.

They were seen heading east along Carlos Road. A dramatic scene unfolded as three black-backed jackals scavenged on a wild dog carcass, suggesting a lion attack.

Cheetah sightings included two males frequently seen around Tau Pan. One male was often located at marking posts, emphasizing territorial behaviours.

The night skies of Tau Pan Camp in May were a stargazer’s dream. Guests marvelled at constellations like the Southern Cross with its prominent pointers, the red giant star Betelgeuse, and Scorpio with its bright star Antares. The Milky Way, stretching across the sky, offered a stunning view of our galaxy, estimated to contain up to 400 billion stars and be about 13.4 billion years old. A sight that can only be truly appreciated in the vastness of the Kalahari!

A single brown hyena was a regular visitor around the camp waterhole, adding to the diversity of nocturnal sightings.

The lions and leopards of Tau Pan

Early in the month, a solitary male lion was frequently spotted patrolling along the airstrip and western fire roads. The resident Tau Pan pride, consisting of seven lionesses and one male, made several appearances around the camp, often venturing to the airstrip and drinking from the camp’s waterhole. An exciting encounter involved this pride’s male joining another pride to mate, resulting in fascinating behaviour displays.

Tau Pan Lioness

A highlight was observing a pride of four lions at Passarge waterhole, while another pride known as the Airstrip Pride was seen with a gemsbok carcass along Aardvark Road. Additionally, a lioness was often heard roaring near room 1, trying to locate her pride. Towards the end of the month, mating pairs and various prides were seen in strategic hunting positions, although not all hunts were successful.

A female leopard was first spotted along Aardvark Road, actively hunting. Another leopardess was seen resting under a shepherd tree along Carlos Road. One remarkable event involved a leopardess ambushing and successfully killing a scrub hare, while another was observed feeding on a steenbok carcass up a tree. These leopards exhibited their typical stealth and precision, providing guests with unforgettable moments.

Thrills at the waterhole

Drawn by the remaining water sources, May brought an impressive array of general game to Tau Pan Camp. Guests enjoyed sightings of solitary males, breeding herds, and bachelor groups of gemsboks, red hartebeests, springboks, greater kudus, steenboks, bushbuck, southern giraffes, African elephants, and blue wildebeests.

Small mammals, including black-backed jackals, cape ground squirrels, honey badgers, slender and yellow mongooses, scrub hares, and bat-eared foxes, were abundant. Guests also enjoyed sightings of a serval and an African wild cat along Tau Pan.

Central Kalahari Tau Pan

Bird sightings included Kalahari scrub robins, common ostriches, pale chanting and Gabar goshawks, lanner and red-necked falcons, bateleurs, white-backed vultures, pririt batis, southern pied babblers, white-browed sparrow weavers, cape glossy starlings, Kori bustards, northern black and red-crested korhaans, capped wheatears, fawn-coloured and rufous naped larks, violet-eared waxbills, black-chested prinias, scaly-feathered finches, southern yellow-billed and African grey hornbills, zitting cisticolas, Burchell sandgrouses, cape vultures, spotted eagle owls, chestnut-vented tit-babblers, Sabota larks, long-billed crombecs, crimson-breasted shrikes, blue waxbills, and eastern clapper larks.

(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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Pom Pom Camp, May 2024

Aardvarks were seen on four different occasions, a rare and exciting occurrence!

The month started with a bang as we enjoyed watching African wild dogs corner a wildebeest near the campfire area during breakfast on 2 May.

The wild dogs later chased and killed an impala within the camp, providing a thrilling spectacle for our guests. We followed them to their den about 2km from the camp, where the alpha female, heavily pregnant, indicated that the pack might soon welcome new pups. The wild dogs were often seen hunting and drinking from the lagoon in front of the camp, which was slowly filling with water from the annual flood.

Birdlife flourished as these waters from Angola began flowing into our area, attracting wattled cranes, spur-winged geese, saddle-billed storks, open-billed storks, egrets, herons, pratincoles, plovers, and marabou storks.

Wild dogs Pom Pom Camp

Another thrilling interaction occurred during a game drive when 13 wild dogs killed a male red lechwe in the water, only for the kill to be hijacked by 11 spotted hyenas! Two lionesses then attempted to steal the kill but were chased off by the strong clan of hyenas.

Hyena drama and eight leopards on the prowl

Hyenas were a constant presence, often seen during both morning and night drives. One game drive, 12 hyenas stole a wild dog kill in the shallow water near Xinega. A dramatic scene unfolded as a clan of hyenas emerged from the bush, chased off the wild dogs, and devoured the prey alive. This gruesome spectacle attracted three female lions who attempted to claim the kill but were outnumbered and driven away by the hyenas. Additionally, hyenas were frequently seen in front of the camp, sometimes chasing lions or scavenging around kills.

Hyeanas of Pom Pom

Leopard sightings were equally impressive, with around eight different leopards observed throughout the concession. A particularly memorable sighting involved a mother and her six-month-old cub, mostly seen during night drives. On one occasion, we saw them feeding near the camp, only to be disrupted by two hyenas. The cub quickly climbed a tree while the mother circled protectively below. This dramatic scene occurred at Hamerkop Crossing. On another day, we found the mother chasing her elder daughter, both bearing wounds from their fight. 

Another exciting drive revealed the same female was seen walking with her cub near Giraffe Skull area. Another female leopard at Marula Island managed to recover her meal from a hyena and took it up a tree, where she was later found with a second kill, a warthog, enjoying her feast for a week.

What is the lion activity like at Pom Pom Camp?

Two dominant male lions roamed near the camp, frequently seen mating with two females. These powerful lions were repeatedly spotted drinking from the Pom Pom Lagoon in front of the camp during breakfast and dinner times, their roars resonating through the night, giving our guests a true taste of the wild.

The local Pom Pom Pride has split into three groups due to the lack of a dominant male, forcing the females and their cubs into a nomadic lifestyle to evade other male lions. We witnessed a dramatic encounter where two males chased a female and her cubs. One brave female risked her life defending the cubs, resulting in a limp after the confrontation. Further north, a pride of five (one male, two females, and two cubs) was occasionally spotted. Later in the month, after tracking for 25 minutes, we followed two lionesses walking along the Motjimbamo floodplains, leading us to their three cubs near the pan along the boundary.

We observed a male and a female cheetah moving in and out of the area. Late in the month, we found a lonely cub about six months old calling for its mother, who was later found with three cubs about a kilometre away. The coalition was also seen along Xinega floodplains, and the next day, near Letswai, it headed towards the boundary.

Civets, genets, scrub hares, and wild cats were commonly spotted on night drives and early morning outings and the concession offered rich and diverse wildlife sightings during the day. Large dazzles of zebras, wildebeests, tsessebes, red lechwe, impalas, reedbucks, kudus, giraffes, buffaloes, herds of elephants, baboons, monkeys, bushbucks, warthogs, and jackals. Porcupines and aardvarks were also spotted this month, particularly in Motjimbamo Island and the 1st Hippo Pool.

(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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Kwara and Splash Camp, May 2024

During mokoro rides, guests spotted painted and long-reed frogs in the channels twisting around the Kwara Private Concession and its shifting landscape.

Sunset boat cruises were consistently delightful, offering sightings of elephants crossing the river, large crocodiles basking on riverbeds, and hippos grazing in the Okavango waters. Notably, a Pel’s fishing owl was spotted along the Maonachira channel a few times, and guides noted that water flow in the main channel increased, indicating recent floods. We expect the floodplains to be replenished soon.

The onset of winter was visible in the landscapes, with some trees shedding their leaves and grasses trampled by elephants and herds of buffaloes, creating better game viewing opportunities.

A beautiful black-footed cat

Night game drives revealed the world of smaller mammals and nocturnal predators. Servals, civets, small spotted cats, and other species were frequently observed. One memorable encounter involved witnessing a serval cat hunting and successfully catching a mouse. Additionally, a Black-footed cat, the smallest of the African wild cats was seen hunting close to our vehicle during an evening drive, providing an intimate view of its behaviour. Sightings of small spotted genets, spring hares, bush babies, African wild cats, and servals enriched our night drives.

Hyena dens and African wild dogs digging

Thanks to a den southwest of Puffy and Big Man’s Pan, we had wonderful spotted hyena sightings, allowing us to observe cubs almost daily.

A large clan of hyenas was frequently seen in the western part of Kwara Camp along the firebreak and around some African wild dog kills. One morning, after tracking a pack of 21 wild dogs for 30 minutes, we witnessed them successfully hunt and kill an adult male impala. The same pack was seen in the afternoon, where we followed them as they flushed out common reedbucks. Antelopes scattered in different directions, confusing the dogs, who gave up the chase and walked along the road. Interestingly, five minutes later, we spotted another common reedbuck standing still near the road, unnoticed by the dogs as they passed by.

The same pack was located south of Splash in the floodplains, where they made a kill of three common reedbucks. We found the pack near Sable Island, with the alpha female heavily pregnant and her pack members digging a hole, indicating they may be preparing a new den. Later, the pack was seen east of Splash, crossing into Moremi Game Reserve. The pack divided, with some dogs calling from the other side of the river. We wait with bated breath!

Cheetah update from Kwara

We encountered cheetahs hunting three to four times this month and located them on kills. One subadult male cheetah was tracked for an hour and found east of our boat station, lying on a termite mound next to a common reedbuck, seemingly unaware of the antelope’s presence. An adult male cheetah was spotted southwest of Splash Camp, successfully killing a piglet near the Lechwe Plains area. A female cheetah was located along Gomms Crossing, feeding on a warthog, and another male cheetah was seen hunting warthogs east of Splash but was unsuccessful.

Cheetah kill at Kwara

A lot of lion sightings!

General game viewing was exceptional. Large herds of elephants and buffaloes frequently drank water at the lagoon in front of Kwara Camp. Sizable herds of buffaloes, including a massive herd of over one thousand individuals, were observed west of Kwara Camp. The drying waterholes concentrated animals along the seasonal floodplains, enhancing game viewing opportunities for sable antelopes, giraffes, zebras, kudus, waterbucks, hippos, red lechwe, common reedbucks, and tsessebe antelopes. Smaller species like steenboks were spotted in the open areas.

Lion sightings this month highlighted the intricate social structures, hunting strategies, and territorial behaviours of the prides at Kwara and Splash Camps.

Lion at Splash Camp

At Splash Camp, the Kwando trackers worked diligently. One morning, after a two-hour tracking session north of the boat station, they located the resident Mopane pride of nine lions. The pride was actively hunting buffalo, but unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. Later, the same Mopane pride was observed north of Waterbuck Pan, moving into the bushes.

Late in May, the Kwara pride was involved in a dramatic encounter with two male leopards over an impala carcass. The leopards were forced up a tree by the lions, who fed on the fallen impala. After the lions left, the leopards descended, providing a memorable sighting for our guests.

Another pride consisting of two lionesses with six cubs of varying sizes was seen south of Ngorongoro Plains, feeding on a female waterbuck early in the morning. The Mma Leitho pride was located south of Ngorongoro, feeding on a waterbuck carcass. This pride was consistently spotted with cubs, but sadly, one cub was noted missing, and its fate remains unknown.

Males sure flexed their territorial muscles this month. Two dominant male lions were located west of the old boat station. An hour later, a new subadult male appeared, leading to a dramatic chase by the dominant males, forcing the newcomer to flee into the bushes. Mid-month, another intruder male lion was spotted late in the evening near the airstrip during a night game drive, marking his territory in the bushes. Three brothers from the Kwara pride were also located mating with a young female from a different pride. The dominant male among the brothers was in charge of mating while the other two rested nearby.

Two lionesses were seen hunting a red lechwe antelope at Last Mabala, but failed. The Kwara pride was again located northeast of Bat-eared Fox area, feeding on a buffalo early in the morning. We spent considerable time observing their feeding behaviour, and later, many hyenas attempted to outcompete the lions but were unsuccessful.

A pride of five females and one male was located at Bat-eared Fox along the floodplains, stalking wildebeest. However, baboons spoiled their hunt by making alarm calls from the trees.

More big cats spotted

A female leopard was seen resting atop a leadwood tree, keenly watching a kudu approaching but choosing not to make a move. A subadult male leopard was located east of Room 1 at Splash Camp with an impala kill, remarkably well hidden from other predators. A mating pair of leopards was observed south of Splash, crossing into an inaccessible island.

Further encounters included two male leopards of different ages engaging in a territorial dispute along Buffalo Road. The mating pair from earlier in the month was seen again near Impala and heading towards Machaba East. A relaxed male leopard was sighted atop a termite mound, providing a perfect opportunity for prolonged observation. That evening, a young female leopard sat perched on a sausage tree along the firebreak upon returning from a boat activity.

Later in May, a male leopard was located close to Kwara Camp during a night game drive. He was very relaxed as he moved towards the woodland from the marsh, marking his territory.

(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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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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Moremi Crossing Camp, February 2024

We enjoyed observing two different packs of African wild dogs this month. One pack had 22 members, while the other had 13. 

The pack of 22 was spotted chasing impalas around the now-dry waterhole. One impala escaped by running into the camp, but the show continued as a lion attempted to hunt the impala instead! However, the lion was just as unsuccessful in its attempt.

We observed some interesting pack behaviour, such as one female dog regurgitating its meal and rolling over the vomit, with another dog mimicking the action. This behaviour suggested the presence of a dominant or alpha pair within the pack.

We also spotted five magnificent leopards: two females, a curious cub at six-and-half months old, and two impressive adult males. 

Lion Limp Saga: Following the Trails of Rivalry

One evening, a lion’s contact call echoed near the Moremi Crossing Camp in the dead quiet of midnight when everyone had retired after dinner. The next day, our off-road game drive became a quest for the lions, and we successfully spotted a pride of 14 lions resting on the western side of the airstrip. Later, two resident male lions responded to the roars of the nearby nomad lions, and we followed them at a respectful distance. We noticed that one of the males bore a limp, which was a testament to a recent clash with rival males.

Lion Moremi Crossing Camp

The nature walks have been a highlight for guests. In-depth explanations of termite mounds and tracking interpretations always proved fascinating. 

We saw approximately 21 spotted hyenas across various locations, and a resident cheetah provided another spotted highlight. 

Throughout the year, Moremi Crossing sustains a remarkable wildlife diversity, and February was no exception. Buffaloes, zebras, tsessebes, warthogs, wildebeests, impalas, baboons, greater kudus, common reedbucks, and giraffes were all seen, with sightings of steenboks and bushbucks being common too.

Smaller mammals such as servals, small spotted genets, honey badgers, African wild cats, African civets, banded mongooses, large grey mongooses, and porcupines were also observed, especially on the night drives returning to camp.

Avian Adventures: From Cuckoos to Cranes

Birdlife has been exceptional, with a multitude of summer visitors and familiar residents, including Diederik cuckoos, black cuckoos, Jacobin cuckoos, rufous-checked nightjars, woodland kingfishers, red-breasted swallows, and Southern carmine bee-eaters. Large flocks of vultures, ostriches, Southern ground hornbills, and secretarybirds were also spotted. Additionally, globally threatened species such as wattled cranes and Pel’s fishing owls were frequently seen in the area.

Reptile sightings were limited as they sought shade. The region has experienced very hot weather due to changes in rainfall patterns, and the drying up of rivers has impacted vegetation and crocodiles, with some possibly dead or in hibernation. However, the Okavango Delta scenery and trees remain incredible.

(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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Dinare Camps, February 2024

There was a remarkable surge in leopard cub sightings, which excited everyone!

During one memorable drive, we observed a female leopard instructing her cub in the art of hunting, showcasing the finesse of stalking and suffocating prey as they targeted a young impala. Another highlight was encountering a female leopard with her two cubs and Rralebodu, a resident male leopard, frequently appeared between camps on game drives.

The Fantastic Four: Cheetah Brothers Reign Supreme

A group of four cheetah brothers, now considered residents and dubbed ‘The Fantastic Four’ were often seen along the boundary of Moremi Game Reserve. Additionally, the recent sighting of five new cheetahs bolstered their presence

As temperatures heated up, so did temperaments out in the Okavango Delta. A significant rivalry brewed between the River Boys’ lion pride (who reigned over the northern part of the Dinare Private Reserve) and the Three Gomoti Boys (who were eager to expand their territory from the west side of the Gomoti River). Their clashes were intense and we observed frequent fights, with their haunting roars echoing into the African nights. Guests sure got an authentic taste of the wild.

The presence of the Gomoti Boys in the territory suggests a shift in power, with Tee’s Pride now seemingly displaced, possibly relocating to Moremi Game Reserve next door.

Life of Lions: Mating, Resting, and Roaming

Lion sightings were always a highlight, but the plentiful sunshine sometimes made it challenging to spot them as they sought refuge from the heat in shaded areas for rest. However, we observed plenty of their habits. Exciting news awaits as two lionesses from the Batshabi Pride mated with the River Boys, raising anticipation for new cubs in the next three months. Additionally, the appearance of the old resident Nyakanyaka and his pride further south brought joy to the Dinare team.

Lions of Dinare

The landscape transformed towards the end of February as hundreds of buffaloes and elephants congregated near the river pans and major waterholes. We’ve observed a shift in the movement of these animals towards our camp and the Gomoti River. The dryness of the area has forced them to return earlier than expected, as natural ponds dried up and green grass became scarce. Fortunately, the river has provided a lifeline, offering water and green pastures. We logged a variety of general game, including elephants, buffaloes, impalas, red lechwes, and giraffes, both near the camp and during game drives.

Buffalo

African wild dogs were spotted chasing and taking down an impala one evening on a game drive, but we suspect the pack has divided and spread into other areas. Spotted hyenas were located along the riverbanks and scavenging for leftovers and potential prey during nocturnal game drives.

Migratory Birds and the Role of Vultures

Migratory birds, including European rollers and falcons, were spotted frequently in the area. Additionally, vultures and eagles have played a crucial role in assisting our guiding team. Due to the tall grass, our trackers used vulture activity to determine the freshness of kills, noting that smaller vultures, like hooded vultures, are typically the first to arrive at carcasses

(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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Pom Pom Camp, February 2024

African wild dogs were a common sight in our area, and we saw them almost every week. We often observed them hunting impalas, which were their preferred prey.

The young pups from 2023 have grown into adulthood and become subordinate members of the pack. A fascinating development we noticed? The pack has split into three groups, with three dogs leaving to form a new pack in a distinct area north of Pom Pom Camp.

wild dogs Pom Pom Camp

The Pom Pom area boasted the highest concentration of spotted hyenas we have witnessed in a long time. Several inhabited the airstrip area, utilising an old ditch as a den for their cubs. Whenever we sought to observe hyenas, a direct drive to the airstrip usually revealed them, often found resting with their cubs on the runway. These hyenas developed a tendency to shadow the wild dogs during hunts, eagerly scavenging after a successful kill, with as many as 17 hyenas trailing behind the dogs!

Red-footed falcons and cheetah hunts at Pom Pom

We were thrilled to witness not just one but a couple of very rare birds—red-footed falcons. All the summer visitors which arrived in December, including carmine bee-eaters, European rollers, sandpipers, and others, were still present.

A male Cheetah was spotted resting southeast of Manontlhotlho floodplains. Using the height advantage of being perched on a termite mound, it saw a common reedbuck. It began stalking the unsuspecting antelope until a spurfowl sounded the alarm and gave away the predator. Another morning, the same male cheetah was seen in front of camp at the Mosadimogolo wa Phiri area.

Renowned for their captivating beauty, leopards must be one of Africa’s most stunning feline species. They excel in the art of ambush and embody a mysterious and elusive nature. Remarkably, a resident leopard known as Bonolo (meaning calmness) exhibited unusual behaviour by visiting the camp regularly. Bonolo was found wandering near the firepit or occasionally perched on the deck of various rooms.

Tiny newcomers

One night, during dinner, a genet gave birth to two kittens, and guests enjoyed seeing the little ones on a walkabout.

Water activities were on hold due to dry channel conditions, but nature walks allowed us to experience the exquisite Okavango Delta ecosystems. There were high numbers of zebras and wildebeests in the area. Tall grasses have flourished, creating a mesmerising scenery during sunset as the sun filters through the grass heads and stalks. With minimal rainfall and the pending floodwater from Angola, numerous crocodiles were observed in every drying pan, feeding on the trapped fish.

Since the beginning of this year, with the decrease in water levels, male lions have been seen regularly in the area. The arrival of new males has changed the dynamics of almost all local prides, leading to the expulsion of existing pride members. Bigger prides were witnessed consistently during each game drive, either sleeping or feeding. After hunting, they usually rested for extended periods. Some females have formed bonds with these new males, raising expectations for the emergence of a new generation of lions in the near future.

(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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