Tau Pan, Apr 2019

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As a dry spell of weather continued the animals started to disperse and for a while the Tau Pan pride appeared to have followed prey animals out of the area, but by the 9th April we found three of the lionesses back on the firebreak near to our airstrip and halfway through the month the whole Tau Pan pride was back in its usual territory near to camp. On one morning two of the males responded to a lioness who was roaring near to the camp waterhole and then they started to fight. At Deception Valley a healthy pride of four adults with three cubs was found relaxing in the shade and another time four males were feasting on a fresh oryx kill. Meanwhile at Passarge Valley some loud roaring led us to discovering a pride of nine lions who then stopped to drink giving us the opportunity to capture lovely photos of their reflections in the water. Another time we watched the same pride hunting although they were unlucky.

A very relaxed female leopard was seen more than once fairly near to camp.  This is a well-known individual in the area and she never seemed to be disturbed by the presence of the vehicle. A tom leopard was seen looking rather skittish as he ran away from the lion den.

A female cheetah was located feeding on a young springbok near to Phukwi Pan. Two male cheetahs were located at Deception Loop and were seemingly interested some oryx calves who were grazing with their herd. However there were plenty of eyes and ears to spot the predators and so a plethora of warning calls meant that the cats were unsuccessful. These two individuals are well known to us and we have seen how they travel long distances from Passarge Valley all the way to Deception Valley. At Passarge we found the carcass of a young oryx that we suspected the cheetahs may have killed.

As the prey species started to disperse the general game was grazing in mixed herds of springbok, oryx and wildebeest in order to still achieve safety in numbers. Breeding season was starting to get underway and so testosterone levels amongst the male antelope appeared to be running high. One day we were observing a large herd of gemsbok at Tau Pan when all of a sudden two bulls started a dramatic fight over a female. Male wildebeest were also fighting for dominancy and one individual came running the whole way across the pan before kneeling to graze, but seemingly the main reason for doing this was to assess his opponent and after a few minutes the two bulls started to fight. Giraffe bulls were also located fighting by swinging their necks at each other to land blows with their horns in a behaviour known as “necking”.  Other lovely giraffe sightings included herds drinking and also browsing the umbrella thorn trees in a classic African panorama.  A good-sized herd of red hartebeest were found by our guides and kudu were frequent visitors to the camp waterhole.

We were able to watch an African wild cat hunting a ground squirrel. Honey badgers were also found, sometimes being followed by pale chanting goshawks, the raptors hoping for an opportunity to swoop down on any prey that the honey badgers may have flushed out.  Bat eared foxes were also seen foraging. Towards the end of the month a brown hyena was briefly seen at the camp waterhole.

We were able to watch a flock of vultures finishing up an oryx carcass which appeared to be from the night before. Guests enjoyed watching a gabar goshawk taking a bath at the Tau Pan waterhole.  Other raptors observed drinking at the camp waterhole included tawny eagles, bateleurs and secretary birds.

(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, Apr 2019

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Lions were seen regularly at Nxai Pan during April, particularly during the second half of the month. The resident pride consisting of three females and three sub-adults favoured a shady spot close to Room 1 and were frequently located at both the camp and wildlife waterholes. We found a mating pair of lions which was particularly interesting as the male appeared to be new to the area.

The resident male cheetah was seen looking healthy and full-bellied.

A female leopard was seen stalking steenbok along the airstrip road before disappearing into the thickets.

A pack of five wild dogs was located along the main road near to the turnoff to Baines Baobabs. They were just finishing off the carcass of a steenbok.

As the weather dried up elephants started to return to both waterholes in large numbers and breeding herds up to 100 strong were seen. The elephants were often seen right inside camp, sometimes taking a cheeky drink of our swimming pool creating some amazing photo opportunities.

At the start of April there was still very good general game in the area including herds of zebras, springbok, wildebeest and kudu, but as the month progressed the numbers of zebra started to reduce as the annual migration headed back towards the Boteti area. A tower of giraffe was seen licking the soil, a behaviour that helps them to absorb vital minerals.

Lots of black-backed jackals were seen scattering around elephant dung in order to forage on dung beetles. There were several families of bat-eared foxes in the pan area. Honey badgers were also seen digging for mice a few times.

Kwando’s desert camps are always a good place to observe some of the smaller dramas that play out daily and guests spent quite some time watching a dung beetle roll up a ball five times its own size. A highlight for others was watching a black mamba hunt and eat a striped skink.

Bird species identified included pale chanting goshawks, marico flycatchers, crimson-breasted shrikes, lanner falcons, pallid harriers, secretary birds and kori bustards. A flock of over 100 white-backed vultures along with a few lappet-faced vultures were seen bathing at the camp waterhole. Also at the waterhole there were large flocks of Burchell’s sandgrouse and cape turtle doves. Over 100 cattle egrets were seen following wildebeest; these birds taking advantage of the animals’ movement through the grass to disturb insects. Crowned lapwings were nesting and we were able to observe them camouflaging and defending their nests. Northern black korhaans were displaying to attract females.

(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, Apr 2019

tour operator: Stephan Tuengler camp: Kwara guide: Stephen Matija

A pack of five wild dogs killed a kudu calf right next to the staff village but before they could finish eating the carcass was stolen by a clan of three hyenas. Later in the month we found them chasing down and killing another young kudu which they quickly devoured. The usual resident pack of two dogs were also spotted in the area chasing medium sized antelope such as impala, red lechwe, bushbuck as well as warthog. They once killed an impala right in front of camp. Whilst they were still feasting a lone hyena came and ran away with the whole carcass.

One time the trumpeting of an elephant led our guides to investigate what was happening and he came across the Wapoka Pride which now has nine cubs, three older ones and six small cubs. One of the females was drinking water and the rest were lying in the shade. We found this fast-growing pride many times during the month, once their growls led us to find them enjoying a zebra kill. On another occasion three females and their six cubs were drinking at a waterhole when they quickly disappeared. All of a sudden, the two males known as Old Gun and Sebastian appeared and they seemed agitated as though they were worried about an intruder in the area. The next day the males were with the rest of the pride enjoying the last of a kudu carcass. The complete pride of sixteen were also seen feeding on sable, kudu and warthog, on the latter occasion the males kept the meat to themselves and wouldn’t let the lionesses or their cubs eat at all. Guests enjoyed watching the cubs nursing from their mothers.

Another resident lion family, the Bonga pride, was still roaming the Lebala area. One evening they caught a warthog very close to camp. We watched them eating and after finishing the carcass they went to the nearest water to drink with their cubs playing nearby. Two spotted hyenas came and started to gobble the carcass.  This pride was seen targeting a wide species of prey ranging from warthog to giraffe. Towards the end of the month the two lion prides came across each other and after a combat they retreated back from each other’s territories so that they were no longer overlapping.

Keen eyes by our guide and tracker team spotted the flicking tail of a leopard in the marsh area and discovered our resident tom, nicknamed Fisherman, hunting in his favourite habitat. The resident female known as Jane was also located hunting reedbuck, moving from tree to tree as she tried to stalk her quarry although she wasn’t successful on that occasion.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers was seen along the road stalking impala, but their prey spotted them from some distance away and bolted leaving the cats looking hungry. Later in the month we found them with an impala kill, but it was stolen by the ever-opportunistic hyenas.

The lack of rainfall in the area influenced the movement of certain species and elephants in particular. Individual herds of elephant could be seen coming out if the woodlands heading to the riverine areas where they congregated in huge numbers. Guests enjoyed watching elephants playing and bathing in the water.

General game included impala, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, red lechwe, kudu, warthog, bushbuck, giraffe roan and sable antelope.

Bird species identified included saddle-billed storks, wattled cranes, herons, African fish eagles, and egrets.

(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, Apr 2019

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We were very fortunate to still have good amounts of water in the river at Lagoon camp, despite the drier than usual rainy season. Boat activities were able to continue as usual where we encountered hippos yawning in a territorial behaviour before ducking under the water as the boat approached closer. Elephants were drawn to the river for swimming and drinking and one in particular, nicknamed Pedro by the staff, spent a lot of time in camp enjoying the fruiting marula tree near to the main area.

Hippos were seen out of the water during game drive, one standing his ground very firmly and marking his territory causing our guide to wait at a safe distance until the animal relaxed.
We were excited to discover a breeding pair of aardwolves denning in the area. Other smaller mammals encountered during April included springhares and families of bat-eared foxes. Lesser bushbabies were observed leaping from branch to branch during night drive.

The sub-adult brown hyenas were still found to the east of camp, but tended to be seen at night on the move and not so much at the den compared to when they were cubs. Once one of the brown hyenas was flushed out by a lioness. Spotted hyenas were seen patrolling along the flood plains and also following the dogs whilst they were hunting

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were in the area; they looked hungry when we saw them at the start of the month and a couple of days later we saw them hunting although they were not successful.

The resident pack of wild dogs were playing as a pack and then suddenly started to look serious about getting on with some hunting. The following day we saw them finishing up a warthog kill. Some days later we saw them hunting again, but this time they were disturbed by a lioness prowling through. A few days later we found vultures feeding on the remains of a kudu carcass that appeared to have been killed by the dogs judging by the tracks. One time the pack ran straight through camp and appeared to be in a hunting mood.

A lioness with three cubs of about six months old provided an entertaining sighting for our guests with the cubs playing as they walked along. We saw them a few times during the month including a hunt of reedbuck. Another lioness was located hunting warthog unsuccessfully by herself and a few days later the pride together managed to kill a warthog. The two resident male lions were seen marking their territory and seemed to be well-fed. At one stage they were mating one of the lionesses. We saw the males feeding on an impala and one time we came across a dead aardvark that we believed had been killed by lions.

General game included eland, impala, kudu, giraffe, tsessebe, red lechwe, zebra, warthog as well as sable antelope. A lovely herd of fifteen roan antelope were seen near Watercut.

As the natural waterholes dried up we saw huge flocks of pelicans (up to 120 at a time), egrets,  herons, and vultures feeding on the trapped fish and amphibians. Many species of stork were observed in a feeding frenzy at Watercut including saddle-billed, openbilled, yellow-billed and over 200 marabou.

(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, Apr 2019

 

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April was an incredible month for predator sightings and we successfully found lions on 29 out of the 30 days! The two young resident male lions were still in the area near to Splash and we found one of them mating a female very close to camp. On one dramatic night some of our vehicles were following the resident males and other guides had picked up the tracks of the different males, the “Zulu Boys”. The lions were roaring as they made their way towards each other and the evening culminated in a dramatic chase as the two sets of male lions clashed in a territorial fight. After a few days the lions clashed again and the resident males chased the intruders for a long distance to the west of the Kwara Reserve where they promptly stole a kill from some lionesses. One time the resident males came across the carcass of a kudu bull that had apparently been killed by another kudu and so they enjoyed that bonus feast for a couple of days.

The Splash pride comprising two females with their six cubs were further to the west and seemed to be in good condition at the start of the month. We were very happy to see them reunited with the father of the cubs, one of the males who was driven from the Splash area some months before. It is the first time that we have seen him back with his pride since that time. However right at the end of the month the guides were worried that three of the six cubs were missing. Mother Eye Pride of four adults was found feeding on a waterbuck in the marsh area.
A very relaxed African wild cat allowed us to photograph it for quite a number of minutes and we were also able to see serval, water mongoose, springhare, African civet during night drive. Black-backed and side-striped jackals were visible during most drives.

The resident male cheetah, well-known as “Special” was seen extremely well fed. We were able to watch him hunting, although on one occasion he was so full that that he completely ignored some kudu grazing surprisingly close by. A female cheetah was located hunting east of Splash camp and managed to kill an impala. She initially had two cubs but unfortunately lost one early on and the second disappeared towards the end of the month. The female seemed very stressed and went for three days without eating as she called for her cub.

A pack of eight wild dogs were seen almost daily at the start of the month. We were able to follow them until they came to drink at the camp waterhole and a couple of times we saw them feeding on impala. The smaller pack of four wild dogs were highly mobile and covered large distances. The alpha females of both these packs appeared to be pregnant and we think that they will give birth during May. A spotted hyena was fighting with the dogs over a kill.

Yet another pack of thirteen dogs were located feeding on a female kudu that they killed in front of the Kwara camp lagoon. Vultures were waiting hungrily on the ground, but the dogs kept chasing them away. Once we saw this pack chase a sable bull, but he ran into a waterhole to save himself.

Three spotted hyena were waiting underneath a leopard in a tree with its kill, presumably hoping for some bones to drop down to the ground. Later we found them drinking at a waterhole. A different leopard dragged a calf up a tree and gorged on it for almost two days. A shy male leopard was found looking down nervously at two nearby lionesses who appeared to have treed it. Eventually it found its opportunity to escape and jumped down.

Different herds of elephant, totalling about fifty in number, were seen every afternoon on the way down to the boat station. Guests enjoyed watching them feeding, playing and bathing in the soft sand in the Splash area and crossing at the mokoro station at sunset with their small calves. Herds also visited the camp waterhole to drink. Giraffe were plentiful and were spotted in groups of up to 21 individuals. Zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe and baboons were commonly found.

As the waterholes started to dry up we saw birds such as white-headed vultures and lappet-faced vultures feasting on trapped fish. Martial eagles were located nesting. On night drive we successfully found the largest owl in the region, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, and also one of the smallest, the pearl-spotted owlet. Two red-necked falcons were spotted fighting over a dove which was killed by one of small raptors. Red-faced mousebirds were enjoying the fruits of the red star apple. Other notable bird sightings included African hawk-eagles, fan-tailed widowbirds, secretary birds, wattled cranes, lesser jacanas and different families of southern ground hornbills.

(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, Mar 2019

Patricia Riley Cat 1 Lions in convoy Tau

The Tau Pan pride was located at the pan in a group of ten, five males, 2 adult lionesses and three sub-adults. One of the younger lions was already showing great enthusiasm for hunting and she was often found chasing some prey animal around the pan. The guides suspect that she will be an excellent provider for the pride in years to come.  One of the adult lionesses was been mated by a resident male at the end of February and the activities of this pair continued into the start of March. One morning the guests were enjoying the sound of nearby lion roars echoing across the plains when three lions, the “honeymoon couple” and another male, came into view at the camp waterhole. Sometimes the lions walked straight through camp and one day our bushman walk was interrupted by the arrival of a big male lion. A nomadic lioness who is not part of the resident pride was also spotted at the waterhole, but she looked scared and ran away when the Tau Pan lions approached. A few days later she appeared to be looking weak, had a swollen front leg and was bleeding from the mouth. This resident pride seemed to enjoy hanging out at the airstrip, resting under the shade of the guest luggage rack so we had to alert the pilots’ attention to the cats’ presence by flashing vehicle lights before they got down from the plane.

At Deception Valley a different pride of lions was found feeding on an oryx and at Passarge Pan a big pride of fourteen were near to the public campsite.

A leopard was seen hunting near to camp and was lucky enough to bring down a gemsbok calf which guests watched it eating.  A couple of other times we watched her leopard stalking steenbok, but she didn’t manage to make the kill. One time the leopard crawled right under out vehicle.

A female cheetah was encountered on Passarge Link road, but she was unsettled having been chased by lions. A couple of days we found her looking more relaxed and feeding on a Common Duiker lamb. At Deception Valley we saw a female cheetah running around, trying her luck on springbok.

A female brown hyena was seen drinking at the camp waterhole.

Tau Pan itself was very productive with plenty of general game including desert-adapted species such as oryx and springbok.  One day we watched two oryx bulls fighting for dominance for over twenty minutes until another male approached and appeared to split them up. Giraffes were seen browsing on the taller thorn trees.

Smaller mammals encountered included bat-eared fox, honey badger and back-backed jackal. A pair of worried looking African wild cats were nervously eyeing up two male lions who were lying nearby under a tree. We were lucky enough to see a Cape Fox, one of the less common species to spot, although it was quick to dart away.

Even within camp itself there are always interesting interactions between the smaller animals and birds. One day we watched as a yellow-billed hornbill was hunting a striped skink, but it was quickly snapped up by a yellow mongoose.

As usual there were plenty of sandgrouse at the camp waterhole, but some extremely surprising visitors included red-knobbed coot, lesser moorhen and painted snipe – it is very unusual to see these water birds in the Central Kalahari Desert.

(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, Mar 2019

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At the start of the month there were still a couple of spectacular thunderstorms, but overall this year’s rains were lower than previous years and so the animals started to congregate towards the artificial waterholes sooner than usual. A number of male elephants – up to fifty in one group – were witnessed drinking at the Department of Wildlife waterhole.

We watched as six of the lions, two lionesses and four sub-adults, tried to work as a team to split a zebra calf away from its mother but they were not successful and ended up giving up to lie down in the bushes. The next day a male lion tried to join this group, but the lionesses were not happy with him and chased him away roaring loudly. Another time the adult lionesses allowed three of the youngsters to try hunting some wildebeest on their own, but lack of cover meant that they were spotted too easily and the wildebeest ran away – another important lesson learned by the sub-adults. Later in the month we saw the same pride feeding on a wildebeest a few times and also on a zebra foal near to the camp staff village.

We saw the resident male cheetah fairly often, usually either with a springbok kill, or in the vicinity of these antelope as he eyed up his next meal.

Other smaller mammals included jackals and bat-eared foxes, some of whom had small cubs.

The Wildlife waterhole was a good spot to see general game including elephant, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, giraffe, steenbok and large herds of springbok. One time we watched as two zebra stallions had a vicious fight at the waterhole. Eleven buffalo were spotted grazing as part of a mixed herd with wildebeest.

Bird sightings included ostriches, kori bustards, secretary birds and pale chanting goshawks. There were plenty of vultures including white-backed and lappet-faced.

(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, Mar 2019

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The resident Bonga pride of two adults and six cubs were found frequently, and often near to camp or the airstrip. One time we saw them trying to hunt giraffe who were browsing nearby but a lack of cover meant that they were unsuccessful. The following day the lions covered a huge amount of ground by travelling to Halfway Pan where we found them feasting on a zebra. We saw them a few days later with the carcass of a big kudu bull which was finished up by spotted hyenas and jackals after the lions had left. This opportunistic pride showed great variety in their diet which ranged from wildebeest to warthog; one time the lions had treed a large male baboon who was looking very nervous, but he managed to escape. Sometimes the sub-adults were left on their own whilst the females were hunting, on one of these occasions the cubs were sitting on a termite mound having finished eating the carcass of a red lechwe. The male lions were seen patrolling often, sometimes on their own but calling for their coalition partner.

The female leopard known as Jane was located near to Twin Pools having caught a reedbuck. The next day she was still there, this time feeding on a civet. After a long tracking session a few days later the guides found Jane again; she had spotted her cub from last year and gave chase to it as though in territorial dispute. Meanwhile Jane’s older son was located with a kill of a tsessebe calf up on a tree. A few days later he was busy stalking reedbuck in the marsh area, this being his favourite territory and one that gives him his nickname “Fisherman”. A female leopard was found calling, as though looking for a mate.

One day our guide’s attention was drawn to a small herd of impala getting an elevated view from the top of a termite mound. We heard them make an alarm call and then the coalition of two cheetah brothers appeared. We also saw them stalking a dazzle of zebra, though they were not successful. Now that the foals were growing in size and strength they were getting harder to hunt.

We had quality sightings of elephants swimming across the deeper channels and they were present in good number at Twin Pools. Guests were able to enjoy seeing hippos grazing out of the water during the day. The was very good general game in the area. From time to time the big herds of red lechwe grazing at the edge of the marsh made a spectacular sight as they splashed through the water. Other species included sable antelope, wildebeest, zebra, impalas, giraffe and kudu.

A clan of hyenas was found devouring the carcass of an elephant calf; our guides suspected that it could have been killed by lightning. A couple of times we saw a lone hyena moving around near the camp searching for something to eat.

Sometimes the action happens right inside camp. One day we saw a water monitor moving near to the main area. We heard a squirrel make an alarm call and the next moment the lizard caught and killed the squirrel.

At Twin Pools and the marsh area there were lots of interesting birds including saddle-billed storks, cranes, ibises, egrets and eagles. Brightly coloured red bishops flocked in front of camp as they enjoyed eating seeds from the long grasses.

(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, Mar 2019

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We were able to follow the resident pack of wild dogs they hunted. One time we saw them take down and kill a sub-adult warthog. Within five minutes their prey was completely devoured.

The two big resident male lions were seen often and also a pride of lionesses with cubs. One time we observed the lionesses stalking a herd of zebra, however they were spotted by a troop of keen-eyed baboons who started to make alarm calls until the lions gave up and lay down in the grass. The following day they tried their luck on some red lechwe near to the flood plain, but they saw one of the lionesses and ran off to safety. Finally, on the third day we were able to see them with their cubs full-bellied and crossing the channel back across from an island. Another time we followed them through tall grasses until they killed a warthog piglet from a sounder who had been feeding. Sometimes the cubs were left on their own whilst the lionesses went hunting and we were able to get some lovely photos of them playing on a fallen dry tree.

We picked up the tracks of the two resident cheetah brothers and after an exciting one and a half hour tracking mission we finally located them sleeping on top of a termite mound. Guests were able to take some beautiful photos. We also found them very close to some lionesses.

The brown hyena cubs who have thrilled us so much during the past year were still doing well and were seen playing outside their den area as well as returning from a drink at the channel. Spotted hyenas were also in the area and we saw a clan feeding hungrily on a wildebeest carcass.

There was good general game reported including zebra, kudu, impala, wildebeest, eland, roan and sable antelopes. A highlight for some guests was watching warthogs nursing their piglets. Another interesting sighting was watching young giraffe bulls playfighting by swinging their necks at each other to land blows with their horns.

One time the sound of a jackal’s alarm call drew us to find a female leopard lying on a termite mound. Nearby there were two hyenas feeding on a carcass that we suspected had originally been killed by the leopard. A male leopard was found up on a tree, but he was a little shy and jumped down as we approached.

Smaller mammals encountered included African wild cat, porcupine, jackals, bat-eared foxes, yellow mongoose and honey badgers. Towards the end of the month we saw an aardwolf near to a previously used den, so guides will be watching closely to see if they appear to be using it again.

Herds of elephant came to the Lagoon in front of camp and guests enjoyed watching them swimming alongside the resident hippos.

Bird species identified included white-fronted bee-eaters, martial eagle, marabou storks, fish eagles, pelicans and Verreaux’s (giant) eagle owl. White-backed vultures bathing made a spectacular sighting.

(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, Mar 2019

BBreiding.Cat4Cheetahs splash

The male cheetah known as “Special” by our guides was seen often and we held our breath as we watched this favourite resident being stalked by a lioness from the One-Eyed Pride. Luckily for the cheetah the wind changed direction as the lion got very close and when he picked up the bigger cat’s scent he bolted away. This is the second time that the same lioness has targeted Special. As with the previous month, Special was having some luck targeting ostrich and we were lucky enough to witness one of these kills. Another time we saw him try for a warthog, but the sow aggressively defended her piglets and managed to drive the cheetah away. We also saw him hunt impala more than once, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.

A female cheetah with her cub were seen a few times, including a remarkable sighting where we were watching them with a fresh impala kill. Suddenly, a male leopard appeared and chased away the cheetahs to take over the kill. After about an hour two hyenas came over and started fighting with the leopard over the carcass and then, having successfully won it from the cat, the hyenas then started to fight each other for the prize! An incredible morning’s action for our lucky guests to witness.

There were three resident packs of wild dog in the Kwara Reserve during March, a pack of sixteen towards Kwara, a pack of nine near Splash and a pack of four towards the east. We had an amazing sighting when we started following the dogs during afternoon game drive, only to find that they were leading us back towards camp again. They started to chase impala and were getting away from the vehicles when camp radioed through to say that they had made a kill right in front of the kitchen. As it was almost sundowner time guests disembarked the vehicles to see the dogs whilst on foot at the main area. That particular day, aside from the wild dogs, there were elephants in front of camp and hyenas coming in to try and steal the kill, interacting with the dog pack!  Towards the end of the month one of the pack of nine went missing but we were not sure if it had been killed or whether it had naturally dispersed from the pack to find a new territory.

As in the previous month, the Splash pride were still residing more to the west after two big male lions known as “Puffy” and “Big Man” took up the territory nearer to Splash camp. These males were in prime condition; they mostly hunted at night but one time we watched as they made an awesome attempt on a zebra, running right in front of our vehicles. They also took over a kill made in camp by the wild dogs – the pack’s second kill in camp that month. The lionesses on the Splash side of the reserve are known as the “One Eye” pride. These two lionesses had two cubs, but during the month one disappeared so our guides assumed that it had died. We found these animals feeding on a wildebeest. We managed to stay in touch with the Splash pride and in one unusual sighting we watched as the cubs were playing with a water monitor. It was interesting to see how the lizard defended itself by whipping its tail.

Two young male leopards were located at Honeymoon Pan; they appeared to be having a territorial battle.

There were a good number of hyenas in the area. One morning the guests could see a hyena from the camp fire and it turned out that it was eating a jackal.

Big herds of elephants were moving south through the Kwara reserve so that they could get access to water at the main channel. Guests enjoyed seeing them drinking and bathing. Due to the dry conditions general game was also pushed closer to the river; species included plentiful zebra, giraffe, impala, wildebeest, tsessebe, red lechwe, reedbuck and warthog.

Birdlife was excellent and summer migrants such as the carmine bee-eater, woodland kingfisher and purple rollers were still in the region. Raptors included African fish eagle, bateleur and Ayres hawk-eagle. Tawny eagles and vultures were seen perched on trees waiting for predators to finish eating. Lesser jacana, African jacana and malachite kingfisher were spotted during the boat cruise. Different types of hornbill were identified, including the endangered ground hornbill. Secretary birds were seen feeding and were being followed by lots of carmine bee-eaters hawking the disturbed insects. One day distress calls from starlings and hornbills led us to a two-metre black mamba at the base of a large fever berry tree.

(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!)