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Category: Dinare

Dinare Camps, December 2023

A new lion pride heightened excitement this month. Boasting a headcount of approximately ten members — four youthful males and six females — moved into the Dinare Private Reserve, traversing the terrain around Mma and Rra Dinare camps.

This intriguing development signifies the coexistence of four distinct prides in the region: the established River Boys, Gomoti Boys, T Pride, and this new pride known as Batshabi. One afternoon, we tracked the Batshabi Pride trailing a buffalo herd, displaying remarkable stalking and ambushing strategies, resulting in the successful takedown of a female buffalo.

The resilient pack of 26 African wild dogs remained in the area. Impressively, the younger members of the pack have already joined the ranks of the seasoned hunters, displaying cooperative and skilful behaviour in several instances during our game drives.

Cheetah Santawani

As for the cheetahs, four brothers continued their patrol of the reserve, and we observed two females enjoying the plentiful prey species. In the last week of the month, we located the cheetahs mating and expect the cubs next year!  

Kwando guides also located a new spotted hyena den near the Dibatana water pan, and each time we visited, at least three or four members of the clan lazed about.

The leopards of the Dinare Private Reserve

The formidable Ralebodu leopard continued to exert his dominance over the territory. Additionally, a different youthful male consistently frequented the Rra Dinare Camp area. Among the leopard residents is a female with two young ones, both at the tender age of around six months, adding a touch of familial charm.

Abundant and diverse, the general game population thrived this summer. Majestic kudus, agile impalas, graceful red lechwe, and the stately presence of numerous buffalos and elephants. The water scarcity before the rains commenced in force made it easier to spot large crocodiles and snakes like pythons, mambas, and geckos. We watched as termites crafted beautiful mounds across the Okavango Delta terrain, and rains later in December cloaked the land in a vibrant green hue punctuated by the emergence of different flowers. The arrival of most intra-African migratory birds included woodland kingfishers, cuckoos, and woolly-necked storks.

(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, November 2023

A thrilling spectacle unfolded as a pack of 29 wild dogs, consisting of 9 adults and 20 lively puppies (roughly eight months old), lingered near the camps for weeks.

Their energetic presence reached a build-up when they skilfully took down an impala near Mma Dinare staff village.

November dazzled with extraordinary lion sightings across the Dinare Private Reserve. A group of seven lions captivated our attention as they feasted on a giraffe, possibly having splintered from the Santawani pride.

Along the riverine road, the Batshabi pride indulged in a buffalo feast in distinct episodes over three days. Tee’s Pride made a special appearance, and the previously expectant lioness proudly introduced her tiny cubs to the pride!

Okavango Delta water levels during November

We started seeing the water levels recede at the start of November, and the primary water source remained the reliable Gomoti River. These waters drew an impressive array of wildlife seeking respite from the scorching heat. Giraffes, elephants, buffalo herds, kudus, impalas, and reedbucks congregated along the shores.

Red lechwe

Despite the low water levels, mokoro activities provided a unique and intimate exploration. Guests immersed themselves in the wonders of water birds, observed the intricacies of reed frogs, and marvelled at the diverse water flowers and plants. Plenty of waterbirds, such as African jacanas and stork species. Kwando guides also reported how magnificent the transformed green landscapes are at this time of year. Yellow-billed kites, Wahlberg’s eagles, and the graceful broad-billed rollers were all logged.

Leopard sightings unfolded throughout the month. The resident female, accompanied by her 6-month-old cub, graced the landscape. Another unidentified female, with a 3-month-old cub, shared the paradise area with the resident male. Witnessing a subadult female leopard enjoying a meal atop a tree was yet another mesmerizing sighting.

Diving into the darkness, nightly safari adventures uncovered the elusive spotted hyena, the graceful genet, the mysterious African wild cat, the secretive African civet, the subtle scrub hare, and the regal serval cat.

During nature walks, guides delved into the intricacies of tracking and decoding the finer details of the bush.

(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, September 2023

A day without encountering lions at the Dinare Private Concession is a rare day indeed!

While we cherish the existence of all predators, in this expanse of wilderness, lions reigned supreme. We located them enjoying the shade on most days and frequently on the trail of buffalo herds during the evenings once the landscape had cooled off.

The big cats of the Dinare Private Concession

Despite the heavy presence of these strong felines, cheetahs still found room to roam. A coalition of four male cheetahs has taken up residence in the plains, traversing between Moremi Game Reserve and Rra Dinare Camp. Did you know? Unlike many other big cats, cheetahs have a unique purring sound similar to domestic cats. While other big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards can’t purr, cheetahs possess a unique hyoid bone to produce this sound while inhaling and exhaling. This purring is often heard during social interactions, as we experienced during game drives, especially between a mother and her cubs, or during breeding encounters.

September gifted us some soaring temperatures, but the heat stirred up heightened activity across the floodplains as animals congregated to quench their thirst at the Gomoti River.

One particularly memorable sighting occurred close to Mma Dinare Camp. A stunning moment unfolded as a leopard secured an impala kill atop a Shepherd tree, delighting our guests. The leopards within this vicinity exhibit a relaxed disposition, barring the rightly wary females with cubs and the brazen territorial intruders.

The rich Dinare ecosystem showcases two diverse biomes, offering a wealth of avian wonders. With sightings of up to 200 bird species possible in a single day during the green season, Dinare is a sanctuary for bird enthusiasts, and we spotted both aquatic and semi-desert bird species, including kori bustards, secretarybirds, and plenty of vultures circling the skies.

Night drive sights of the Okavango Delta

Spotted hyenas preferred the cover of the night for their circling, and we often heard their calls resonating through the darkness when sitting around the camp fire. A fascinating fact about hyenas is their remarkable social structure. Hyenas exhibit a matriarchal society where the females are typically larger, more dominant, and socially rank higher than males. This structure leads to a unique dynamic within the group, with the female hyenas being particularly powerful, sometimes even sporting pseudo-penises (enlarged clitorises) that are almost indistinguishable from the male genitalia. This hierarchy among female hyenas often results in them being the primary decision-makers within the clan and holds significant weight in the group’s social order and behaviour.

Other scavengers of the wild, jackals were frequently sighted around carcasses, particularly the ubiquitous black-backed Jackals. While side-striped jackals were less common, they also made occasional appearances.

During night drives in September, animals such as small-spotted genets, honey badgers, civets and serval cats were spotted. Serval cats are well-known in Botswana for their exceptional hunting abilities. They are skilled at stalking rodents, birds, and even small antelopes with remarkable precision. Once clocked, they have the unique ability to leap vertically and strike their prey from a considerable height, sometimes jumping up to two meters (6.5 feet) in the air.

They use their excellent hearing to detect the slightest movements of their prey, allowing them to make precise leaps and pounce down on their victims with incredible accuracy.

(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, August 2023

We had abundant sightings of cheetahs, from witnessing four brothers on a hunt to encountering a coalition of two males and a female.

These majestic animals have been more conspicuous, and a solitary female on the park boundary made a guest appearance, too. The dry, clear terrain of this Okavango Delta region made it easier for trackers to anticipate their movements.

The African wild dogs of Dinare

Ever vigilant, the African wild dogs of the Dinare Private Reserve have been shuffling their pups around, strategically relocating them to avert threats. During one afternoon drive, a courageous female dog diverted a lion’s attention from the den, thwarting a potential risk. Breeding within wild dog packs is typically limited to the alpha pair, and we have watched the rest of the pack contribute to the rearing and care of the pups.

The Batshabi Pride of lions had thrilling confrontations with the notorious three River Boys, who had cunningly pilfered many of their hard-earned kills.

One unforgettable game drive involved a large male baboon attempting to intimidate the lions, leading to a dramatic scene where two lionesses seized the baboon, resulting in a cacophony of distress. Wandering lions from the Moremi Game Reserve also made their presence felt in the Dinare domain, sparking an intensified territorial struggle between the resident animals.

Gomoti River buffalo

Black-backed jackals were incredibly active and daring, especially in the proximity of lion kills, displaying their cheek with attempts to snatch morsels of meat.

Rralebudu, the prominent male leopard, made resounding vocalizations throughout the territory. Females with cubs were spotted, and on one occasion, a female was sighted near the mokoro station, calmly dining on a kill. To preserve nature’s course, we chose not to conduct the mokoro activity.

A parade of nocturnal creatures graced our night drives – honey badgers, servals, genets, civets, aardwolves, and bat-eared foxes. Banded, slender, yellow, and dwarf mongooses going about their busy pastimes enlivened the diurnal drives, while porcupines were seen frequently, particularly from the campfire decks.

The great game of the Gomoti River

August weather proved unpredictable, fluctuating between freezing nights, scorching days, and gusty winds. Amidst these climatic oscillations, the game converged around the waters of the Gomoti River, creating spectacular scenes with species like zebras, impalas, giraffes, tssessbe, wildebeest, and hippos. Moreover, both Rra Dinare Camp and Mma Dinare Camp were frequently visited by impalas, kudus, buffalo and bushbucks, adding to the guests’ experience. Additionally, a notable presence of elephants was observed due to the increasing heat and dwindling water resources.

(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, June 2023

The Dinare Private Reserve had the pleasure of protecting two African wild dog dens, making wild dog sightings fabulously frequent this month.

One den is home to four adults and eight puppies; the other is a pack of nine adults and 18 puppies! It’s been a delight for guides and guests alike.

During the denning season, strict measures ensure minimal disturbance to the dens and their inhabitants while allowing guests to witness wild dog activities and the denning process. The wild dogs were highly mobile, frequently encountered on game drives as they hunted to feed their many hungry adorable puppies.

Glorious general game on the Gomoti River

The rising river level attracted a diverse range of general game to both camps. Elephants were a common sighting along the Gomoti River, while graceful giraffes, zebras, impalas, kudus, and steenboks were spotted on every game drive. Red lechwe were frequently seen in front of the main areas, providing guests with a warm welcome!

Rra Dinare Camp Okavango Delta

Meet the buffalo-killing Batsahabe pride

Lion sightings were extraordinary this month, with the Batsahabe pride stealing the spotlight. The Batsahabe pride specialise in hunting buffaloes, and one morning, eight lions were spotted between the camps feeding on a male buffalo. The arrival of another male lion from the Gomoti pride sparked an intense confrontation over the kill as the four young males bravely defended their prize against the intruder. This epic battle showcased the fierce rivalry between lion prides. Another day, guests witnessed the Batsahabe pride successfully take down a buffalo during a game drive. The return of Nyakanyaka, after a period of absence, added excitement as he spent a day in camp mating with his lioness companion.

Leopards were seen on several game drives, often close to the camp. Rralebudu, the dominant male leopard, made his presence known by vocalising near Rra Dinare camp, and even engaged in confrontations with lions on occasion. A female leopard was spotted at Chris Island, adding to the excitement. Numerous leopard tracks have been observed throughout the month, indicating a healthy population of these elusive felines.

Strong cheetah coalition near Mma Dinare Camp

A coalition of four cheetah brothers made for many memorable safaris. One morning, they successfully took down a young zebra. The feast attracted attention, and the lions’ presence forced the cheetahs to scatter in different directions. Two weeks later, the brothers reunited after being sighted individually. One of the cheetahs showed signs of a limp, possibly acquired during the zebra hunt. Cheetah cubs were also spotted with their mother, captivating guests with their playful antics.

Cheetah Dinare

Hyenas and jackals were frequent visitors to kill sites and old carrion (plural is usually carrion), capitalising on the lions’ hunting success. The Batsahabe pride efficiently secured many buffalo kills, leaving leftovers for scavengers like vultures, and even a brown hyena made a notable appearance near Rra Dinare Camp.

(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, April 2023

Lions reigned supreme throughout the Dinare Private Reserve, providing multiple sightings that left us in awe.

New prides emerged, including one with nine males and a strong female. One unforgettable morning, we witnessed the mighty River Boys, two majestic male lions, feasting alongside a lioness on a colossal buffalo. Another day unfolded with a heart-stopping drama as the Batshabi pride’s two male lions showcased their hunting prowess by felling an injured buffalo near Rra Dinare camp, only to be hotly pursued by the relentless River Boys! Amidst the chaos, black and side-striped jackals stealthily stole the lions’ leftovers, a display of their cunning intelligence.

The Gomoti River’s resident male lion, Nyakanyaka, fought fiercely with the coalition of three brothers from the neighbouring concession. Despite sustaining minor injuries, Nyakanyaka valiantly survived the encounters.

What will I see on a night drive in the Dinare Private Reserve?

As the seasons changed and leaves fell, elusive creatures like the Aardwolf and genets became more visible. The sparse bush thickets offer an opportunity to witness these captivating nocturnal hunters.

Leopards emerged as stealthy assassins. We witnessed a female leopard skillfully hunting down an impala in the paradisiacal surroundings. The resident male leopard, Rra Lebodu, enticed us with his sightings, especially when he stealthily devoured his impala prey, providing a front-row seat to the captivating drama. A heavily pregnant female leopard was spotted near Rra Dinare Camp, her impending motherhood igniting a sense of anticipation.

African wild dogs were seen in limited numbers, possibly due to the presence of lions. Two wild dogs in particular captured our attention near the central area of the camp.

Plains game congregated near the dwindling pans and flourishing riverine oases, including zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, warthogs, impalas, common reedbucks, lechwes, monkeys, and baboons.

Cheetahs on the hunt

In April, a coalition of four cheetah brothers roamed between Moremi Game Reserve and Dinare Private Reserve, showcasing their relentless pursuits, including a thrilling hunt for a young zebra only to be met with the fierce defence of the adult herd.

Cheetah Mma Dinare Camp

Mokoro rides and nature walks transported us into the heart of untamed wilderness. Though cautious of the mighty hippos along the main Gomoti channel, receding grasses allowed us to sight game easily and unveiled safe pathways for leisurely walks, where every step resonated with the primal energy of the land.

Some intra-African bird visitors graced the skies, including the resplendent woodland kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, and the majestic wattled cranes gracefully winding through the riverine habitats.

(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, September 2022

The late floodwaters brought large numbers of animals into the area, including elephants, lechwe, giraffes, impalas, tsessebe and many more species.

Mma Dinare elephant

The Dinare Private Reserve is named after the majestic brooding buffalo (nare in Setswana), and they moved through in their hundreds this month. Old bulls, young mothers and tottering calves left a beautiful dust haze that made for fantastic sunset photography in the late afternoon. (This is because red light waves — within the visible range of light — are scattered the least by dust and atmospheric gas molecules, creating epic sunsets). 

The lions of Dinare Private Reserve

Where buffalos wandered, lions followed. One pride, led by the mighty male Sankindi, settled for much of the month to the Southeast of Mma Dinare camp and saw them regularly. Sankindi was heard throughout the night, bellowing into the darkness. Our other principal pride (T’s pride) hunted in the area where we usually conduct mokoro rides. The five males and four females that make up T’s pride have youth and strength on their side and granted guests many fabulous lion sightings!

Rra Dinare Lions

The African wild dog pups at the den reached three months old, and all the pups are still with us. The pack left the shelter and was seen roaming throughout the reserve. 

Three cheetah brothers also made a bunch of appearances. Cheetah coalitions, often made up of two to three brothers, may stay together for much of their lives and are fierce hunters when they have such strength in numbers. Their position in the predator hierarchy (quite far down) means that they often give our camps a wide berth due to the mighty lion prides we have the privilege of hosting.

Seeing spots

The leopards put on a show this month, preening and stretching wherever a tree allowed them to pose for the camera. However, this was a month of spotted hyenas who crossed our path on game drives almost daily. The clan focused on the road to the airstrip, and one female frequently had two young cubs with her. They are developing their characteristic spots marking them a month or so in age. With a female hyena typically having only two teats, hyena cubs are born ready to fight. A third sibling may commonly be forced away by the others and left to starve. Survival of the fittest can be harsh in the bush, but it does ensure that the strongest go on to support the clan.

Migrant birds arrived in steady numbers with the bee-eaters, Yellow-billed kites, and Lesser-spotted eagles amongst the new residents in the neighbourhood after their journey from Central Africa and, in some cases, as far as Northern Europe. 

Hamerkop nest okavango delta

We watched in awe as a Hamerkop constructed a nest not far from camp. This is the avian equivalent of building a castle, and guests can be forgiven for asking if there are pterodactyls in the area. Hamerkop nests can reach over 1.5 metres wide and support the weight of a grown human. Thousands of sticks, leaves and mud go into this major construction project, and it can take over two months to build. Hamerkops often build in pairs and seem to enjoy it, often building two or three nests to create a healthy property portfolio. This often proves necessary because the brown birds are frequently forced out by owls, genets, snakes, and other species, sometimes even Leopards!

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the 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, August 2022

Being on the Eastern side of the Okavango Delta, the Dinare Private Reserve is privileged to get flood waters after other camps in the region. Filled with the very final floodwaters of the season, the Gomoti looked gorgeous in August with the view in front of both camps brimming with life. 

Water at Mma Dinare Camp

Dinare has an African wild dog den!

Dedicated guides discovered a new African wild dog den with great excitement! The pups must be around two months old as they have begun to develop their permanent coat patterns. These are as unique as the human fingerprint! Wild dog puppies have sharp teeth by this time, so the mothers are not as keen to provide them with milk.

This has not been a problem as we watched the pack feeding the puppies with meat following successful hunts. One day, we witnessed one of these chases very near to Mma Dinare Camp. We had been spending time with the pack when their lazy antics and chatting suddenly gave way to intense concentration – they had spotted an impala not more than 30 metres away. The moment of canine contemplation was broken as the Impala made a break for the perceived sanctity of the forest. The dogs immediately pursued the Impala, and our game drive vehicle joined the hunt behind the rapidly accelerating predators.

Navigating the terrain as fast as the dogs proved tricky, and we sadly lost sight of the chase. It seemed that the Impala had vanished until it suddenly reappeared, looping around behind us!

Wild dog hunts are often presented as long-range stamina-busting pursuits where they wear down prey. However, this isn’t always the case. The Impala was already tiring, barely four minutes from when we had last seen him. The pack took their opportunity and took him down close to where we had stopped.

As the feeding frenzy began, we got our photos before heading towards the den for what we hoped would be the “second serving” of seeing the pups being fed. By the time we arrived, the dogs had beaten us to it. However,  we did witness some very content young puppies who had gorged on freshly regurgitated impala meat.

Leopards, hyenas and the light of the moon

Impala featured on the menu for various other predators. Leopards were seen multiple times on the hunt, but the best sighting was on the road next to Rra Dinare. A leopard with a fresh kill, taken down mere minutes before we came across him. Curiously, he made no effort to move his kill to the safety of a tree and seemed perfectly happy to lie in the middle of the road like a lion, contentedly chewing on his prize. 

Leopard Rra Dinare Camp

Given the competition he would face once word hit the bush telegraph (lions and hyenas spent much time between Mma and Rra Dinare in the past few weeks), we were surprised that he happily ate for 30 minutes before eventually dragging his kill into thick bush. 

Spotted hyenas regularly made appearances on night drives in the vicinity of our two camps and lions provided an outstanding night-time soundtrack. Buffalo and giraffe were their preferred species this month and we watched them feeding on these large herbivores on various drives. The lion sighting of the month came at the expense of a warthog close to Mma Dinare one evening. We found the pride alert and staring into the middle distance. With a full moon giving us more than enough light, we turned off all our lamps and watched as the lions began to stalk before suddenly bursting into a sprint. It was not until we heard the squeals amongst the dust that we learned a warthog wouldn’t make it through the night. 

Relishing the last waters

As the reserve became a stable and reliable water source, we saw the herds of elephants and buffalos moving through the area in large numbers. The buffalos have chosen a route that skirts the camps and we have regularly seen them with their feline shadows.

Lions Rra Dinare Camp

Much of the lion and buffalo interaction took place late at night, and we often found the aftermath of their nocturnal duels on morning safaris. 

The dust the herds throw up late in the afternoon made for spectacular sunset and silhouette photography.

The flood has brought a further flash of colour to our corner of the Delta, with the water birds at the water’s edge searching for fish, frogs, and other tasty morsels that the waters bring. Keen birders ticked off African jacanas, African fish-eagles, White-browed robin-chats and Crested barbets.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the 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. Still, we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

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Dinare Camps, July 2022

African wild dogs denned down at the Dinare Reserve this month! Guests enjoyed stunning sightings, watching the five adults play and interact with the seven puppies. 

Leopard Dinare

On the feline front, male leopard sightings dominated during July. A lone leopard killed a fully-grown male kudu, and we found it brazenly feeding from the ground because the kill was too heavy to haul up into the safety of a tree. 

The last waters for winter

July also marked the height of winter in the Dinare Reserve. Bordering the Moremi Game Reserve, this territory contains critical dry season watering points, and high animal densities congregated around the lingering waters.

Elephants Dinare Reserve

Every day we had the pleasure of seeing growing elephant herds drinking and bathing in the Gomoti River and its winding channels as the weather warmed up a touch. One afternoon, they waded right into the river,  crossing it with much splashing and splooshing. Meanwhile, Saddle-billed storks frequently fished in the shallows, and one day we found a Bateleur eagle drinking water — a welcome change from typically seeing their underbellies as they soar across the skies. 

Pachyderms love palm trees

The Real fan palm, or Mokolwane trees, were in full fruit. The ripening nuts drew plenty of pachyderms that exploited their height and great strength to shake the fruits free from the tall fronds.

Palm trees Okavango Delta

These nuts provide a vital food source during the dry season. 

Mokolwane Palm Nuts

Winter mornings always bring spectacular sunrises, and we weren’t the only ones enjoying them. During dawn game drives, we often encountered lions patrolling the area looking for their prey. Several times our guests snapped away as lions feasted on buffalos until bursting.  

Lion pride update

The resident pride at Rra Dinare Camp consists of three lionesses and six cubs. One day, we found them resting, but they suddenly stretched out and launched into a hunt, ultimately killing a buffalo calf. When the Cape buffalo weren’t fending off lion attacks, they were devouring the last grasses. Like cows, buffalo chew cud to further extract as many nutrients as possible. The buffalo breeding herds have assembled enormously, and we frequently counted groups numbering over 330. The collective noun for buffalo is ‘herd’, but other, more descriptive phrases include ‘gang’ and ‘obstinacy’.

The lions were also seen with a kudu kill, hunting Red lechwe, and one day, a tower of giraffes stood browsing carefree within eye-watch of the lioness and her sprightly cubs. Unsurprisingly, the Dinare guides picked up the pride of seven lions feeding on a giraffe carcass later in the month. 

An insurgent coalition of three male lions battled it out with the reserve’s resident male. They obviously wanted a slice of this prime territory, but the fearsome fight was at last won by the mighty male lion. His strength forced the three rivals to flee back across the river despite his singledom.

As always, there was plenty of activity around these predator kills. We had regular sightings of Spotted hyenas, Black-backed jackals and circling White-backed and Hooded vultures. 

Cheetahs normally avoid high lion densities and so given all the lion activity, we were truly blessed to enjoy regular sightings of a cheetah coalition of four brothers that provided fantastic viewing.  

With the bush thinner during July, the night drives were outstanding, and we witnessed a Serval hunting. Other nocturnal sightings included a Honey badger, African wild cats and Large-spotted genets. It’s also been easier to admire the Southern ground hornbills in this more open landscape as they patrol the grasslands searching for tasty critters. 

The biggest surprise of the month was seeing giraffes mating. Giraffes reproduce all year round and have a gestation period of 14 months.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the 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, June 2022

“Rra Dinare never ceases to amaze”. At least, that is what our resident safari guide, Zulu, reported from an action-packed month. 

This season, for the first time in living memory, the Gomoti River — which flows in front of Mma Dinare Camp — reached the Thamalakane River in Maun before the Boro River in an atypical floodwater route.

Most naturally-filled water holes and pans have run dry, and our guides noticed that animals mostly ventured west to drink from the growing Gomoti channel. This river flowed strongly, and a tremendous amount of game and birdlife congregated at its flourishing floodplains. Enormous herds of buffalos and streams of elephants paraded past Mma Dinare Camp while Red lechwe straddled the marsh. In the drier woodlands, we saw Tsessebe, Kudu, Steenbok, Impala and in one strange instance, Common reedbuck rather far from the water. Perhaps this antelope was spooked by the lion prides, which have enjoyed such prey abundance! 

Cats were sighted throughout June, but lions were seen more frequently than other species.

What happens when you skip a game drive?

For several days, a small group of lions roamed the floodplains at Rra Dinare Camp, and their tracks were seen repeatedly in the Kalahari sand. A typical day in camp proved rather fruitful for sightings, in fact! Giraffes and elephants ambled past the pool, a honey badger was seen scurrying below the deck, while Red lechwe and buffalo bulls enjoyed the softer grazing of the sodden grasses. The river also supported a healthy array of aquatic birds, such as egrets, herons, Spoonbills, fish eagles, kingfishers and storks. 

Another lion pride, consisting of a male, three lionesses and six cubs, was regularly seen near Mma Dinare camp. The cubs are growing healthy and energetic under the protection of the strong pride male. 

A documentary-worthy lion kill!

During one afternoon drive, two male lions trailed a herd of buffalos (approximately 300), strategically singled out a big bull, and guests watched a documentary-worthy lion kill from stalk to skeleton. One of the lions held the buffalo by the nostrils while the other male attempted to weaken the rear and it seemed like the animal was surely doomed. After 15 minutes of bellowing struggle, the buffalo’s herd returned to a courageous rescue and bullied the lions off the injured animal. This hundred-strong herd then stood around the animal, protecting it from further attack for about an hour. Unfortunately, eventually, the group had to move on and continue feeding and the wounded buffalo could not keep up. With group defences down, the male coalition struck again, and the buffalo distress calls brought in more lions! Four adult lionesses and ten subadults arrived on the scene joining the two young males. After a tense moment of growling and establishing the hierarchy, the lionesses and lions ultimately worked together to quiet the prey. The buffalo was reduced to a skeleton in a matter of 30 hours. 

Lion Kill Rra Dinare Camp

Flocks of vultures and other birds of prey were seen daily soaring, gliding, descending and ascending. Hooded, Lappet-faced, and White-backed vultures were common species in the skies, and the distinctive Bateleur Eagle could never be missed with its acrobatic flight patterns. We also spied the rarer White-headed vulture from the deck of Rra Dinare Camp! 

Three leopards in one tree – well almost

Leopards were seen throughout the month, but one event had guests and guides excitedly chatting around the dinner table. In a mating ritual, three leopards were found together: two males and one female. The distracted leopards went about their business until suddenly, a cloud of dust signalled an incoming lioness, intent on harassment. The leopards were fortunate to escape by taking refuge in the towering Kalahari Apple leaf trees while the lion circled below. 

Our first cheetah sighting of a mother and three sub-adult males was enjoyed at Nxaraga. During another morning drive, we encountered a lone female. Still, the last week of June was most impressive when we followed the group of four cheetahs moving from Katty’s Pan to a suitably horizontal branch of an old Leadwood tree. They marked territory and played together before continuing their journey. 

There were no sightings of African wild dogs this month, but their fresh tracks were found imprinted over our own vehicle tracks. Their scarcity is likely linked to a den site on the far side of the reserve, but they are hunting in the area.

Spotted hyenas and black-backed jackals were routine visitors at kill sites and often spied during night drives. One evening, our guests were delighted when our spotlight gleamed upon the figure of a Brown hyena. Another Brown hyena was found near a leopard kill around Mma Dinare Camp. We also saw an Aardwolf among the usual nocturnal species, such as serval, civet, honey badger, genets and wild cats.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the 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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