Dinare

Dinare Camps, March 2022

We experienced plentiful rains again, and the Gomoti River is rising rapidly, as has abundant grass.

Okavango Delta Camp

With the herbage so long and green, it’s been tough to spot the secretive leopard. However, the dedicated patience of our trackers paid off, leading guests to one on a kill and another leopard panting up in a tree, trying to escape the heat of the day.  

A fine arrival!

They did not have to work nearly as hard for lion sightings! One morning, guests arrived via bush plane to 18 lions perched beside the runway of our Santawani airstrip. This pride continued to awe us with their presence and we benefitted from several sightings. We also savoured the sweet sightings of two female lions with their newborn cubs at just two or three weeks old.

Wild dogs have also been in the area repeatedly, specifically a very active pack of three. We had a fresh kill in camp one day after they landed an impala and remained in the camp area for over a week, much to the delight of our guests.

Animals to see at Mma Dinare Camp

Elephant sightings have been excellent. They adore the floodplains in front of the camp, and we found them splashing in the mighty Gomoti River several times, but we did notice fewer big buffalo herds. However, the dagga bulls were still around, making the most of the soft marshes and easy-to-chew grasses. General game during our drives included the usual dazzles of zebra, wildebeest herds, plus plenty of impalas while hippo and crocodile continued to cruise the waters.

Night drives proved fruitful, and our spotlight revealed civets, African wild cat, and Spotted hyenas. Two black-backed jackals were also seen feeding on an elephant carcass, which appeared to have died of natural causes.

Our summer visitors remained to enjoy their southern sojourn, and many birds continued to feast upon the insects to stock up before their long flight back. It may not be a migrant, but one Giant eagle-owl followed the feeding suit, and we found it with an impressive snake kill.

There was a slight chill as we set out at dawn on our activities, and winter sure is looming. We tentatively expect a beautiful season ahead because it seems like there is sufficient food and water across the reserve.

(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!)

Dinare

Dinare Camps, January 2022

January marks the middle of our rainy season, and the Gomoti River has risen every day due to the high amount of localized showers we’ve experienced. This month, we recorded 86mm of rain and enjoyed warm days with spectacular afternoon thunderstorms. These cloud gatherings conjure breathtaking sunsets and make for dramatic photography at this time of the year.

Lion vs. buffalo

Our resident male lion Sankedi was not seen for a few weeks but returned with a bang. Kwando guide NT describes it with comedy. “One night during dinner, he roared very close to Mma Dinare Camp, and our guests needed no introduction. It was like a Dolby surround sound speaker broke the silent night”. During one morning drive, a pride of four lions was found feeding on a giraffe.

The Tees pride was seen frequently on our game drives through the reserve, often with a buffalo kill. One day 12 lions lay sleeping in the shade, and guides noted that one was injured — perhaps in pursuit of their favoured prey? The African buffalo is a formidable animal known for its grumpy temperament!

In yet another testament to the name of our camp, we have seen enormous herds of these buffalo grazing, often numbering 100 or more in a grunting congregation feeding on the lush plains. Meanwhile, the old dagga bulls have lazily bathed in the numerous water ponds filled from the rains.

A first for us!

More unusually, we spotted a female leopard on a young buffalo kill. It was pulled very high into a tree away from the competition. Kwando guides report that it is not common to come across a leopard preying on buffalo. However, a young buffalo was seen alone in the same area the previous night. It is a reminder that cats are opportunists! if a young buffalo is separated from the rest they will take advantage.

Healthy African Wild Dogs roam Santawani

A pack of seven healthy wild dogs was frequently spotted in the Santawani area, and they were looking fantastic. Their coats were shiny, and bellies bulged thanks to the influx of young impala prey. “The young antelopes that were born at the end of 2021 and survived are strong and very fit”, NT reported. “They are giving predators a hard time”. We enjoyed some great cheetah sightings this month and spent a wonderful afternoon with a coalition of two relaxing in the shade one day.  

A giant crocodile was seen at Sam Pan, which is 7 kilometres away from Gomoti River, and it’s not the only creature that went walkabout. The hippos have also been noted wallowing in water holes far away from the main rivers because they have plenty to graze upon these days. One morning, a hippo was seen feeding on land near the mokoro station despite the sun beating down on its back. Elephants also enjoyed the plentiful mud wallows across the reserve.

A feast for feathered friends

Birding has been equally fantastic. With all butterflies and insects around, it’s been a feeding frenzy. The migratory Woodlands kingfisher was joined by Carmine bee-eaters, Broad-billed rollers and Yellow-billed kite. A particular highlight was seeing termites eruptions after the rains. Marabou storks, rollers, plus many more birds enjoyed the insect feast.

Back at Mma Dinare camp, guests were delighted to watch eight giraffes as they journeyed past room eight. Significant numbers of buffalo, grazing zebra, elephants, kudu, and red lechwe were also seen from the main area deck as they drank from the river. At nighttime, the eerie human-like laugh of Spotted hyenas was usually heard from camp.

(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!)

Dinare

Dinare Camps, December 2021

Mma Dinare Camp Wildlife

Rains have fallen, the Kalahari dust has settled, and the Gomoti River has started flowing again. “The terrain in the Dinare Reserve has become our Eden”, NT reported. These waters also refreshed the pans too. 

When the sun rose at Mma Dinare Camp during December, it was common to be awakened by the roar of the Great Sankindi. This male lion rules the South East side of the camp with many dominating decibels. A pride of two female lions and two cubs was spotted on several occasions nearby, and the Santawani pride has also reunited into a total of nine lions (five lioness plus their cubs) frequently seen near Rra Mochine Pan. A fantastic sighting of lions mating on the road transfer sent guests back to Maun with a super safari under their belt. 

Most antelopes, such as impala and wildebeest, have dropped their young ones. One of the impala’s most successful tactics is its breeding strategy. All their lambs arrive in a flood that bets on outnumbering the amount that predators can eat. We also observed plenty of hide-and-seek played by mothers as they taught the babies how to survive in the Okavango Delta. 

A female leopard stole the show this month when we ended the year with sundowners on Mma Dinare road. The crafty leopardess killed an impala right in front of guests as they sipped on gin and tonics on 30 December. 

We found spotted hyenas on just about every evening game drive. Their unearthly shrieks and haunting whoops sure added to the mystery of nights in Mma Dinare. During the day, buffalos were a common sighting in front of the main area, under the tents and along the Gomoti River.

A pack of three wild dogs were seen feeding on an impala with five puppies next to Gomoti Crossing. 

This has been the best time to visit the Okavango Delta for birders. With their different shapes and colours of the feathers, migratory species beautified the trees and coloured the skies with melody.

(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!)

Dinare

Dinare Camps, August 2021

The Dinare Camps have lived up to their name this month. Mma Dinare means ‘Mother Buffalo’ in Setswana and sits in a glorious site on the Gomoti River in the south-eastern side of the Okavango Delta called Santawani. Since the annual flood has flourished in this area, we have experienced enormous herds of buffalos.

Herds congregate at the remaining waterholes during this dry season, wading deep into the water, grumpily shouldering their way into the best drinking positions. Buffalo social structures are matriarchal, just like the elephant, and these breeding herds can sometimes number over 1000.

Thanks to these massive herds, the lion population is thriving too. After almost six months without a pride male in the area, more males are sneaking into the territory for mating opportunities, Kwando guide NT says. “We are expecting a new generation to emerge anytime now! We have seen the lions mating with a few of the resident females”. The team also saw a coalition of five lions feeding on a giraffe and one healthy male digging into a warthog kill. One afternoon, we tracked two males to room nine at Rra Dinare Camp. They were exploiting the sweet shade for a fitful nap below the deck. 

There has been a spate of excellent Wild dog sightings. Guides noted that these only consisted of adults out on the hunt, and they suspect a den must be nearby. The tracker and guide teams are still pinpointing an exact location. 

The mokoro station has been a busy neighbourhood with hippos bobbing about in the water, crocodiles basking on the banks, elephants on one occasion crossed the Gomoti River in a lively herd numbering 25 strong. Then there was also a leopard sighting. Unusually, some hippos were also seen fighting outside the water. 

Our game drive transfers between Maun and camp have been equally productive. One day guests were treated to giraffe, zebra, elephant and a pair of leopards mating before check-in! A healthy cheetah was also seen feeding on the road that leads to Maun. 

Santawani has been dubbed the honey badger capital of the world, and the August records sure reinforce the label. One evening a night drive yielded a sighting of three honey badgers. Black-backed jackals and the civet were also regular spotlit sights. Civets are stocky animals that resemble cats, are dog-like in size but are actually closer to the mongoose family.

Likewise, the Brown hyena is neither cat nor dog but an order all its own. We were thrilled to catch sight of one this month while on the way to the mokoro station! Predominantly nocturnal, these animals are easier to see in August because they tend to travel further during the dry season. Brown hyenas will seek carcasses to scavenge on or protein-rich ostrich eggs to crack open using their strong jaws. These curious creatures also hunt small vertebrates, such as birds, amphibians and mammals and can walk up to 30km in one evening. During the rainy season between December and March, they travel and scavenge less. 

(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!)

Dinare

Dinare Camps, June/July 2021

“On a safari, you find that nature has a rhythm, an organised pattern of activity”, writes Kwando Safaris, guide Ntshupegetsang (or NT as we know him) from the Santawani area. “There is a peak in the morning, as nocturnal animals hurry through the last of their business and the diurnal wake up to kick their morning chaos, stretch and start sniffing around for their breakfast – and danger.” 

June was filled with guests, local and international, plus plenty of game sightings in and around Mma Dinare Camp. The general game was excellent, especially in the aptly-named Paradise section and lions were sighted almost daily. One particular viewing was rather memorable for guests! 

“After a very long, hectic period of Covid-19 without picking up any international clients, it was totally miserable to me”, NT continues. “I fetched my first American clients and asked, “Folks, what’re your special interests? What animals you are hoping to see?”. Lions, leopard, giraffes and elephants came the reply. Within five minutes of our chat, my tracker and I saw movement under an Acacia tree covered by very long grass. We went to check and boom! Two male lions”.The following morning the team set off to find a leopard for the list but returned to camp, unsuccessful in finding the feline. “However, on their third day, we combined a drive and mokoro”, NT reported. “Shortly after we got to the boat station, as we were busy organising the team, we heard impalas making an alarm. Calling and snorting, we knew it might be a predator of any form, so we jumped back into the vehicle! Driving, we saw impalas running to one direction and just around the next bushes, a leopard dragging an impala”.

This month’s photo was taken by NT.