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Category: 4 Rivers

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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4 Rivers Camp, April 2024

After a mokoro excursion, fresh tracks led us to two male cheetahs resting under a mopane tree in the open floodplains.

One of the males marked several spots before they both headed west.

African wild dog sightings were a highlight! A pack of seven traversed the river at JD’s Crossing, a popular spot for wildlife crossings, and again north of the Paradise area, a lush and diverse habitat.

During one particularly exhilarating game drive, a solitary male African wild dog was seen investigating some blue bushes. In a heart-pounding turn of events, it suddenly gave chase and, after a 25-minute struggle, managed to seize an African civet! It fed on the civet, and we noted that the wild dog had a broken front left leg and was nabbing any opportunity for food.

Will I see lions at 4 Rivers Camp?

Early in the month, we tracked a pride of four lions, including a mother with a cub about four months old and two subadults north of the Paradise area. This pride was frequently seen on kills, providing fantastic viewing opportunities. Later in April, we encountered another pride of 18 lions, including three dominant males, feasting on a buffalo.

The same three males were spotted east of 4 Rivers Camp, following a large herd of buffaloes. We trailed them for a while before they decided to rest under the bushes. Another pride of six lionesses with one cub was seen at 4 Rivers Lediba. Although they attempted to stalk some wildebeest, alarm calls from impalas thwarted their hunt, forcing them to move further east. A young male lion and his mother were found northeast of the camp. The young male unsuccessfully attempted to hunt buffalo while his mother watched lazily from the grass.

Elephants in camp and a watery wonderland

General game sightings were abundant, with elephants crossing the river in front of the camp, providing spectacular views. Roan antelopes and sable were present in good numbers, along with a massive herd of over a thousand buffaloes west of the concession. Giraffes, zebras, kudus, waterbucks, hippos, red lechwes, common reedbucks, and tsessebes were also commonly seen, with many young animals adding to the wildlife scene.

We located a female leopard with her four-month-old cub in the woodlands west of the camp. They were spotted again during a night drive. Two leopards were also seen at the Tsum Tsum area on a kill, although they retreated into the bushes upon our arrival.

Seasonal floodplains, areas that are periodically flooded and provide rich feeding grounds for wildlife, started to fill with water, and blooming plants attracted numerous insects and insect-eating birds. Walks were fantastic, and April was a season for wildflowers, observing insect life and small reptiles. We also had the opportunity to cautiously approach elephants and buffalo during nature walks on Maboa Island. Drying natural pans in the woodlands pushed elephants and buffaloes toward the riverine areas, where they enjoyed the fresh, green grass. Crocodiles fed on the trapped catfish in some of these pans.

Nature’s marvels during a mokoro ride

During our mokoro activities, where we navigated the channels in traditional dugout canoes, some painted and long-reed frogs remained visible. Guests also had terrific sightings of water birds from a lower perspective, such as the malachite kingfisher and African jacanas. Both species of waterlilies beautified the channels with their gorgeous colours.

(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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4 Rivers, January 2023

Encounters with cheetahs were memorable during January, particularly on the eastern front near Paradise.

A promising young male caught our attention during off-road tracking game drives, and we wondered if he might be poised to take over territories previously dominated by the undefeated cheetah, Mr. Special. This young male was observed to have successful kills, showcasing his hunting prowess. His movements, marked by strategic scent markings, were tracked as he ventured further east towards Splash and Kwara.

The resident pack of 21 African wild dogs kept us on our toes! We tracked them as they gracefully navigated the flooded plains, skilfully capturing red lechwes, wildebeest, and even small zebra foals. An exciting incident unfolded when they surrounded a large herd of lechwes near 4 Rivers lagoon. Some lechwes, unfortunately, found themselves in the clutches of hungry crocodiles, and the distress calls attracted spotted hyenas to the scene, too. We watched in awe as the pack adeptly defended their hard-earned meals.  

African wild dog 4 rivers camp

One particularly fascinating observation this month involved a snake capturing a flap-necked chameleon near the staff village area.

Among the treasures of the avian world, the magnificent Pel’s fishing owl was also observed gracefully perching in the riverine forests at camp, and further bird sightings included storks, colourful bee-eaters, regal herons stalking the pans, and the elusive marsh owl.

The lions and leopards of 4 Rivers: cubs coming?

Leopards concentrated their movements within the impenetrable woodlands. However, we encountered a few shy leopards and occasionally spotted relaxed ones around the 4 Rivers lagoon area. Anticipation is high for the coming months, with expectations of increased sightings and the possibility of glimpsing new leopard cubs!

We frequently crossed paths with a pride of 11 lions in the southeast, while the east hosted a lively group of 17 with playful cubs. Moving westward, two males were spotted accompanying a female, and to the northeast, a lioness was seen with three subadults. Excitement lingers!
We look forward to new arrivals within the pride of 17 lions, with several females expected to give birth in the coming months.

We encountered small hyena clans south of camp. These clans, often accompanied by playful cubs, engaged in various activities. Some were spotted feasting on the remnants left behind by lions. To our surprise, a few hyenas ventured close to the lodge, offering our guests an unexpected but delightful spectacle.

What is the weather like in January?

The initial weeks of the month brought forth bountiful rains, ushering in a transformative spectacle across our ecotones. The floodplains changed remarkably as water levels surged, resulting in widespread flooding, and we enjoyed mokoro rides in the brimming lagoons. This natural rainfall acted as an irresistible invitation for various animal species, leading to the emergence of vast herds of buffalo, mixed groups of zebras and wildebeests, elegant waterbucks, and agile red lechwes. Even the usually serene woodland areas experienced a metamorphosis as their waterholes filled with water, attracting elephants. Adapting to this abundance, the wise hippos expanded their territories, mitigating potential competition and conflicts between dominant and younger males.

We also experienced magnificent lightning strikes with the storms. Although there is a significant risk of fires created in the Okavango bush, this atmospheric nitrogen is also converted by plants and used to produce proteins required by the grazing animals in the great web of life.

When lightning strikes, it indirectly helps plants by contributing to nitrogen fixation in the soil. This happens because lightning splits nitrogen molecules in the air, which allows nitrogen atoms to combine with oxygen to form nitrogen oxides. The nitrogen oxides then dissolve in rainwater, creating nitrates and nitrites. These compounds are essential nutrients for plants and can be absorbed through their roots.

Honey badger 4 Rivers

In the quiet embrace of the night around the camp, we often spotted the curious honey badgers. Another nocturnal presence is the porcupine, its quilled silhouette appearing in the darkness. 

(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 Camp, December 2023

An extraordinary highlight was the rare sighting of a pangolin with its baby on Christmas day.

Pango-pup sighted at 4 Rivers Camp in the Okavango Delta

Baby pangolins, also known as pangopups, are miniature versions of adult pangolins. They have the same distinctive appearance characterized by protective keratin scales covering their bodies. Like adult pangolins, baby pangolins are born with soft scales that harden as they grow. These scales provide protection against predators. Kwando Safaris is involved in the proactive research and rehabilitation of pangolins with the Okavango Research Institute and the DWNP, so the sighting of this new life was the best possible Christmas present! Everyone celebrated with bubbly at the pangolin statue back in camp.

The spotted hyenas of 4 Rivers asserted their dominance in a chilling yet awe-inspiring spectacle. We witnessed about 11 hyenas stumble upon a birthing buffalo. The hyenas launched an assault and secured a kill, marking a remarkable occurrence.

Another highlight was the heart-pounding 40-minute pursuit as a pack of 20 African wild dogs chased a wildebeest into a zebra herd, creating absolute chaos and keeping guests on the edge of their seats as hyenas joined the chaos. Another pack of 10 African wild dogs showed off their skills, hunting and claiming a baby impala on the western fringes of 4 Rivers Camp, while a bigger pack of 28 were also seen running through the area.

What are the lion and leopard sightings like at 4 Rivers?

A once-unified pride of 17 lions, hinted at intriguing splits. Divergent sightings revealed a mix of four lionesses with three males, occasionally joined by a lone lioness with a cub. The reason for the split may be due to resources in the area. The spectacle reached its pinnacle when, during one memorable game drive, a lioness, trailed by a male counterpart, began a hunt that concluded with taking down a zebra that had been grazing with her foal.

Three male leopards made appearances in the southeast. The high point was a sprightly encounter while tracking African wild dogs. We stumbled upon a leopard, hungry and efficient, in pursuit of its prey – he quickly scaled a tree to get away from the wild dogs moving in his direction. Another episode featured a trio of male lions stumbling upon the aftermath of a male leopard’s impala kill, resulting in a chase through the open terrain for about 50 meters — luckily the leopard was not caught and got off unscathed.

There was a lot of competition and coexistence in as two male cheetahs shared the land with lions and preferred big open plains to woodland areas. The pair of cheetahs had a winning moment when they successfully pursued and killed a baby warthog. Cheetahs often kill smaller animals as they themselves are slender and fast and cannot take down anything bigger than an impala.

Expansive herds of red lechwes dominated marsh areas, and elephants, giraffes, buffalos, and zebras were plentiful. We had beautiful wild sable antelope spending time in the area, too, and we caught them strolling around near camp. The smaller residents of the Okavango Delta revealed their charm, from tree squirrels darting around the camp to nocturnal springhares, African wild cats, genets, an aardwolf and acrobatic bush babies leaping between trees.

Walks on Maboa Island

The walking safaris provided an immersive encounter with the bush, where ancient paths told tales of wildlife movements. December’s rain-soaked landscape became a haven for reptiles and insects. From slippery monitor lizards, both water and rock, to the appearance of the typically elusive boomslang snake.

(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 Camp, November 2023

We headed out on many a cheetah-tracking adventure this month!

Trackers and guides located fresh cheetah tracks on the east side of Tsum Tsum. The pursuit led us to the northern part of the region, tirelessly following the faint trail for nearly 30 minutes. Our efforts were rewarded as we unexpectedly encountered the renowned “Mr Special” concealed in tall grass, guided by the vigilant alarm calls of common reedbucks. However, the morning didn’t end with a successful hunt. Towards the end of the month, a newly discovered cheetah, seemingly more relaxed, was observed on the eastern fringes of Tsum Tsum.

In the heart of 4 Rivers, lions kept everyone on our toes. The Kwara pride, a team of three robust males, four regal females, and a lively ensemble of sub-adults with cubs, stole the show. With 20 members, this pride grapples with internal dynamics, breaking into smaller groups due to the intensifying competition for sustenance. We witnessed a marsh-side feast on wildebeest and the later spectacle of the Kwara pride relishing the spoils of two zebras. Our guests also observed the War pride indulging in a giraffe feast.

Leopards are being seen more and more at 4 Rivers. On 15 November, a male leopard crossed our path, utilizing the roads common to these stealthy creatures during nighttime. Another leopard was seen on 20 November at the eastern edge of the 4 Rivers waterhole. Tracking African wild dogs led us to their resting place under a jackalberry tree.

As temperatures cooled, the dogs stirred, and the pack ventured into a marshy area. There, they discovered a leopard with its prey, a common reedbuck. As hyenas joined the scene, a dramatic skirmish ensued, creating a tense standoff. In the wild hierarchy, the outnumbered leopard yielded to the combined might of hyenas and wild dogs.

African wild dogs 4 Rivers

Hyenas become a familiar sight, drawn to waterholes during the searing heat. Their numbers surged, and occasionally, the animals shadowed the more prosperous African wild dogs, likely in anticipation of scavenging the remnants of a successful hunt.

Walking through a wild wonderland

Nature walks on Maboa Island came alive with countless birds, and the ground was adorned with the vibrant bloom of freshly germinated flowers. The termite mounds buzzed with activity, becoming lively hubs amid our exploration. As we strolled through the bush, a bustling community of insects, including dung beetles,  bright red velvet mites, ants, and their predators, tiny ant lions, revealed themselves, turning every step into an exciting discovery.

The northern side of Tsum Tsum burst into life, attracting various animals. Towering giraffes, herds of zebras, wildebeest, tsessebe, roan and sable antelope, and a herd of eland created rich scenery. The breeding season post-rainfall has predators keenly eyeing their vulnerable young. The changing weather also spurred activity among reptiles. We clocked eyes on leopard tortoises, pythons, black mambas, and crocodiles basking along riverbanks.

Night drives unveiled a cast of smaller mammals, from African wild cats and porcupines to rabbits, beautiful elegant servals and charming small-spotted genets.

The skies and waterways become alive with the arrival of birds from the north. Slaty egrets, woodland kingfishers, and black herons engaged in their respective captivating ballets of flight and fishing. We also saw carmine bee-eaters, Wahlberg eagles and many more species.

(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 Camp, October 2023

The charismatic African wild dogs, comprising a pack of 20, made recurring appearances during our game drives and showcased their energetic hunting prowess. 

One day, our guide paused during a game drive stop to explain the unsung architects of the Okavango Delta and guests gathered around a big termite mound for a chat about these fascinating insects. Ever alert, the tracker gently interrupted,  asking everyone for a moment of silence. He had heard the faint greeting call of a wild dog. Everyone slowly climbed back in the car, drove around the corner and there they were – 22 of them!

African wild dogs Kwara 4 Rivers

Delighted, the guests spent a long time with the pack, and patience paid off. Two hyenas which had been seen in the area, approached the group, and the wild dogs started chasing them. Soon after, the wild dogs ran into lions! At this juncture, the group wisely started backtracking.

On the 15th, the wild dogs pursued red lechwe through the marsh areas. Later, on the 17th, a pack of 12 indulged in a feast on a giraffe carcass, displaying communal camaraderie. We were enthralled as the alpha female later led a spirited hunt on the 25th, highlighting the pack’s incredible vitality.

Will I see lions at 4 Rivers Camp?

This month was rich in lion encounters, each unfolding like a gripping narrative. Six lion cubs frolicked in the water near 4 Rivers Camp under the watchful eyes of their mothers. The scene was a symphony of water splashes and attentive warning calls, making for a memorable encounter. Another day, a pride of four females and two cubs revealed signs of a successful early morning hunt, with playful cubs displaying blood stains in testament to their recent feast.

The Tsum Tsum Pride, comprising three lions, claimed a giraffe kill in the scenic floodplains, their regal feast illuminated by the morning sun. Two formidable males joined later, seizing control of the meal and adding a layer of drama. 

As floodplains dried, resilient grass species emerged, bringing a touch of green to the vast landscapes of 4 Rivers. Herbivores and elephants were drawn to these green oases, transforming the scenery into a thriving panorama of life. 

Seeing spots: leopards, cheetahs and more

In the middle of the month, a female leopard graced the landscape and perched atop a tree in the evening light. Leopards are adept climbers and their strength allows them to haul prey that may be larger than themselves into the branches of trees to avoid scavengers such as hyenas and lions.  

Spotted hyenas, often associated with nighttime scavenging, made their presence felt, particularly around lion kills and during night safaris. Their eerie calls echoed through the camp, adding a mysterious touch to the nocturnal soundscape. Hyenas are known for their vocalizations, which include whoops, giggles, growls, and a distinctive “laughter” sound. This laughter-like vocalization is often heard during feeding and helps establish social bonds within the clan.

During night safaris, guests enjoyed delightful sightings of small-spotted genets, civets, and bush babies. Cape clawless otters appeared in the waters near the camp, adding a lively aquatic element. Also known as African clawless otters, these captivating aquatic mammals live in various freshwater habitats across sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike other otter species, Cape clawless otters lack the typical external claws, hence the name “clawless.” Instead, they have fully webbed fingers with prominent pads on their paws, which aid in grasping slippery prey.  

The renowned Mr. Special, a resident cheetah, was spotted west of Bat-eared fox territory, savouring a male impala kill. The scene unfolded beneath a leadwood tree with vultures as silent spectators. Cheetah territories are often called “home ranges” rather than strict territories. These home ranges can be extensive, covering a large expanse of land and vary in size depending on the abundance of prey and the distribution of other predators. Mr Special has occupied his home range in the Kwara Private Concession for several years and successfully defended it from new cheetahs coming in.

Return of the reptiles and elephants in the Tsum Tsum River

The changing weather brought sightings of pythons and puff adders, emphasizing the adaptability of the region’s reptilian residents. Crocodiles exhibited their aquatic prowess in shallow waterholes, while water monitor lizards ventured out searching for beetles and insects.

Elephants majestically traversed the Tsum Tsum River while roan antelopes and sables dotted the woodland scenery. A colossal herd of more than a thousand buffaloes became a defining spectacle on several days. Giraffes, zebras, kudus, waterbucks, hippos, red lechwe, common reedbucks, and tsessebes added to the visual feast.

Ostriches made a striking appearance to the west, and the skies witnessed the graceful flight of vultures plus pied and striped kingfishers while Southern ground hornbills strutted the grasslands. Majestic raptors, including bateleurs, brown snake eagles and martial eagles, added to the avian spectacle. The arrival of summer migrants, such as broad-billed rollers, yellow-billed kites, and Wahlberg’s eagles, signalled the changing seasons.

(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 Camp, August 2023

The 4 Rivers area was home to a pack of approximately 19 African wild dogs that provided thrilling encounters with their frenetic hunting forays.

During our game drives, we observed their ranks included seven lively puppies, though further confirmation is ongoing.

In the northeastern reaches of the Kwara Private Concession, another pack of approximately six adults and seven puppies was located dashing through the mopane woodlands. They left their mark near the camp by dispatching an impala and taking down a red lechwe to satisfy their hunger.

African wild dogs 4 Rivers Camp

Lion movements in the 4 Rivers area

The War Pride currently numbers around ten lions. Recent tracks spotted across the area hint at the presence of additional individuals, and we encountered two male lions in search of sustenance while marking territory. Their action suggested that they might be in pursuit of the other two males in the vicinity. Over on the eastern side, in an area known as Paradise, a further pride of about five lions, comprising one male and six females, were sighted.

We encountered two female leopards and two males on the eastern fringes of our territory. Tracks are increasingly evident throughout the 4 Rivers area, suggesting a greater leopard presence. As with any secretive feline, patience is the key to securing memorable leopard sightings, and the 4 Rivers guides have been masters at monitoring their comings and goings.

Although known for their scavenging tendencies, spotted hyenas are also formidable predators and a ubiquitous presence in our domain. This month, we watched an intriguing confrontation between roughly 11 hyenas and three lions, a spectacle lasting approximately 10 minutes!

This month, a solitary but impressive sighting of a cheetah was observed in the 4 Rivers landscape, which provides an excellent habitat for these majestic animals. The cheetah, located in the eastern part of our territory, displayed remarkable perseverance in its hunt, eventually succeeding in catching a common reedbuck after persistent efforts.

Spotted otters in the Okavango

Congregations of elephants and buffalos numbering in the hundreds were common as the animals clamoured for water in the dry landscape. Small wonders abounded, too, with tree squirrels and other rodents delighting observers. Giraffes, zebras, and various other species such as the handsome sable antelope also graced us with their presence in this enchanting environment.  

Sable in the Okavango Delta 4 Rivers

In the waterways of the Okavango, sightings of crocodiles were common, and during tea time, spotted otters frolicked in the waters right in front of the camp.

Storks, herons, eagles, and a diverse birdlife were sighted, including various raptors.

As our planet rotated from winter into summer, the Southern Cross and Orion the Hunter dazzled us with their celestial brilliance from around the campfire. Walking safaris ushered us through the captivating ecosystem of Maboa Island, where guests learnt about the ancient art of tracking. At the same time, mokoro adventures unveiled the enchanting world of frogs and wetland botany of the Tsum Tsum waterways.

(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 Camp, July 2023

We enjoyed plenty of successful African wild dog sightings from the beginning of June, with a pack of 20 African wild dogs denning south of Maboa Island.

Early in July, we visited the den of the Golden Pack at dawn to find the alpha female nursing her pups. Ten pups surrounded her while the rest of the pack was preparing to venture out for an early morning hunt; we watched their ritual greetings and followed them hunting. One morning, a short distance from their den, they located a herd of wildebeest, which they chased towards the marshes but failed to seize anything.

On the 19th of July, the pack relocated and brought their pups very close to the 4 Rivers camp. All ten pups were present, and we watched them play beside their burrow in the early mornings and late afternoons.

Leucistic African wild dog pupdate

Towards the end of the month, early one morning, the pack relocated to a new home again to the far east of the camp, which required three deep water crossings!

It was a tough day for the Alpha female to carry her ten pups over three kilometres, and unfortunately, three pups didn’t make it to the new home and died of cold, including the rare leucistic white puppy.

Nature walks in the Okavango Delta

The nature walks in this area were fantastic. We were fortunate enough to spot leopards some mornings and safely encounter elephants and buffalo.

4 Rivers Nature Walks

Additionally, the camp provided excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. Guests loved watching elephants crossing, Cape clawless otters splashing about, and crocodiles gliding through the Tsum Tsum River in front of our main area. At night, we even glimpsed Pel’s fishing owl in camp several times, while Verreaux’s eagle owls nestled in the towering trees during the daytime. Pied and striped kingfishers were also common.

Introducing the War Pride

We often located the War pride of four females, two sub-adult males, two adults and two cubs, which were usually playful and well-fed. The War Pride got its name because the first time we found them, they were fighting, and they have very scarred faces! Mid-month, the pride rested among the blue bushes west of camp along the JD spillway (named after the tracker JD, who made this road), and we observed one of the males mating with a female.

Three large male lions successfully hunted an adult giraffe, and we observed their behaviour around the carcass. As we watched, vultures began to circle overhead. The male lions covered the giraffe’s dung and internal organs with sand.

In addition to various species of vultures this month, we also saw bateleur eagles, brown snake eagles, martial eagles, ostriches and ground hornbills.

Fresh lion tracks around camp one morning lead east, and we tracked them to a male waterbuck killed by two female lions, two males and two cubs. The kill was fresh from the same morning, and the young cubs were feeding heavily on the internal organs while the adults fed on fleshier parts until the mother dragged the carcass under the nearby bush, where they rested the whole day.

Three lionesses made themselves at home south of 4 Rivers camp following a big herd of buffaloes. We, in turn, followed them on a game drive until they gave up and rested under a nearby bush.

In late July, we spotted one of the two dominant male lions from the War Pride west of our camp. He roared loudly in search of his brother, and we followed him on the main road until he located his sibling. Their investigation? Two unfamiliar male lions had invaded their territory and fought with two younger males from the War Pride. The mother of the young males tried to defend them but ultimately gave up, and the youngsters escaped across the river. The rest of the pride followed them, leaving their mother behind with the two intruding males.

Another day, we tracked two male lion footprints in the Kalahari sand to a roan antelope kill.  

During our expeditions, we had successful counts of roan antelopes and sable and saw a herd numbering over a thousand buffaloes in the western region. The area was abundant with giraffes, zebras, kudus, waterbucks, hippos, red lechwe, common reedbucks, and tsessebe antelopes. Our night game drives also allowed us to witness small spotted genets, civets, and lesser bush babies. One night, we observed a male leopard confidently marking his territory as we returned to camp. On another occasion, a different male leopard drank water in the afternoon near Tsum Tsum but quickly moved into the marshes.

(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 Camp, June 2023

A pack of approximately 19 African wild dogs and 15 puppies denned just 3,5km from 4 Rivers Camp.

We waited patiently at the den site to watch adults returning from the hunt to regurgitate and feed the alpha female and pups. During one such visit late in June, the tiny pups emerged, and the Kwando guides identified a rare, highly leucistic puppy! 

Rare highly leucistic African wild dog puppy born at 4 Rivers

Local researchers confirmed this is extremely rare and virtually unheard of in Botswana in the past 30 years or so. 

In the 1990s, guides first spotted leucistic pups in the Kwando region. Males from the Kwando pack dispersed. Those males, identified by photos, established a group dubbed the Golden Pack in the Vumbura area. Some female descendants from this Golden Pack started another family in Kwara, where the leucism was still evident but somewhat diluted.

Leucism tends to be a lack of melanin in skin, feathers or hair. Melanin is the natural pigment responsible for most brown and black colouration. It is primarily genetic and varies in degree, going as far as pure white in rare cases (like this one at 4 Rivers) or as with the Vumbura “golden” dogs, which are a pale tan tone.

The puppy interacted normally with its siblings and adult Painted wolves (as African wild dogs are also known). Although this little one is anything but painted! If anything, it’s dominant in the hierarchy regarding receiving food from the adults! This pup might darken as it ages, and there is an outside chance that its whole body is one big white patch, which sometimes happens with domestic dogs and cats. We will keep a close eye to see how its colour develops.

On the northeastern side of the Kwara Private Concession, sightings of wild dog tracks darting through the Mopane woodland revealed their massive territory, which sometimes crossed through camp. 

What is the game like at 4 Rivers Camp?

4 Rivers Camp teemed with incredible herds of elephants. These magnificent animals were spotted in large numbers, creating awe-inspiring scenes and breeding herds often crossed through the Tsum Tsum Channel in front of the camp, especially favouring the pathways past tent nine. Hippos likewise loved this water and we heard their harrumphs on almost every winter night. Buffalo, giraffes, zebras, and other antelope species, including impala and roan, were seen during drives through the diverse landscapes of 4 Rivers. The animals were also relaxed and not skittish. 

4 Rivers Camp - Wildlife + Scenery

While the exact pride structure is unclear at 4 Rivers, lion tracks have been sighted, particularly in the beautiful Paradise region to the east, and five lions have been sighted so far. Two male lions patrolled nightly in early June, roaring very loudly right beneath the tents. This hints at the presence of more lions in the area, and further exploration during July will provide us with a detailed depiction. The lush landscape of 4 Rivers holds promise for exciting lion sightings in the future!

4 Rivers Camp - Kwando Safaris - Botswana Tented Camp

Leopards are known for their elusive nature, but there have been notable sightings of a female leopard on the eastern side of the camp and leopard sawing heard from the tents at night. Spotted hyenas also whooped, hippos grunted and elephants sloshed through the water in front of camp. The new beds are incredibly comfortable, but guests might have interrupted sleep due to the noisy animal residents!

Another day, a big male leopard was spotted on a small treed termite mound island in the marshes during an afternoon game drive. We kept our distance and watched as it stretched for its evening hunt from afar. Additional leopard tracks around the 4 Rivers area have been observed, indicating a healthy leopard population.

A single sighting of a stunning cheetah was reported on the eastern side of the camp. This sleek and graceful predator finds a welcoming habitat within this concession, adding a touch of elegance to the wildlife sightings.

Cheetah at 4 Rivers. Camp By Stuart Bradshaw
By Stuart Bradshaw

While no brown hyenas have been spotted yet, the cunning and opportunistic spotted hyenas are prevalent in the area, often following in the wake of lions and other predators.

The 4 Rivers family happily ticked the box of having good sightings of all major predators within the first week! Still, while the focus is often on larger mammals, the 4 Rivers area was also home to smaller creatures. Comical tree squirrels are among the tiny inhabitants that add to the ecological balance of the camp and, as is common in the Okavango area, sightings of crocodiles, lizards, and snakes were prevalent. At the same time, bird enthusiasts loved the sightings of storks, herons, eagles, colourful bee-eaters and enormous pelicans flocked to the drying pans in dense numbers.

Thanks to Botswana’s expert researchers for their insight! Dr Peter Apps, Dr John Tico McNutt, Dr Gabriele Cozzi and Botswana Predator Conservation.

(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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