Lagoon, Aug 2019

BBreiding.Cat4Cheetas

We managed to track the two resident cheetah brothers until we found them resting and looking well fed. The following day we followed them as they hunted, although they kept missing their targets. Eventually they came across a herd of impala from a distance so we positioned to be able to photograph the action and this time they were lucky enough to take their prey down. We were able to spend quality time with the pair getting amazing photos. We saw them throughout the month, sometimes marking their territory. In an exciting development another, younger, pair of cheetah males were seen for the first time in the area.

A young female leopard was seen a few times, twice we saw her posing with a kill up a tree and on one night drive we spotted her hunting impala.

Right in front of camp we picked up lion tracks and followed them until we found a female and six sub-adults of the Bonga Pride hunting kudu, however the area was too open and the predators were quickly spotted by the antelope who bolted away to safety.  We also came across Wapoka Pride who were unusually far away from their Lebala hunting grounds; they were trying their luck on some wildebeest but did not succeed.

The next day a baboon alarm call gave away the presence of the Holy Pride of lions; the cubs were playing and an adult pair were mating. The honeymoon couple continued their behaviour over several days. We saw this pride of nineteen lions successfully bring down and kill a fully-grown eland bull. Three intruder male lions known as the Northern Males were in the area regularly and tried to take over dominance of the Holy Pride. They came off worse in the battle and were seen with bad wounds.

To complete the extraordinary month of cat sightings we also had a pair of lionesses with three cubs of a few months old known as Mmamosetha Pride and another pair with four cubs that the guides called Mma Dikolobe due to the fact that they specialise in hunting warthogs

Buffalo in herds numbering hundreds of individuals could be seen moving daily towards the riverine areas and one day our sundowner stop was interrupted by several elephant herds passing through to drink. Mixed herds of zebra and wildebeest were also massing. Relaxed sable and roan antelope could be reliably found drinking at First and Second Lagoon. Other general game included impala, kudu and giraffe

The resident pack of five wild dogs were found hunting impala and sometimes came right into camp. We also followed them as they pursued and killed a kudu calf. A different pack of seven was seen close to Muddy Waters.

Night drives yielded good sightings such as porcupines, honey badgers, aardwolf and servals.

We were happy to see the return of the carmine bee-eaters who migrate to the area each year to breed on the banks of the lagoons. The colour and noise from these colonies is a remarkable wildlife experience. Closer to home, a tiny scops owl continued to live in the tree right by the fireplace and could be seen huddled up camouflaging against the bark during early morning breakfast.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, July 2019

TRetterath.cat2aardvark3yes

We were really pleased to see the resident pack of wild dogs back in the Lagoon area on 5th July as they had temporarily moved away after losing their puppies. They were drinking near to camp and had full bellies. The guides were able to follow them hunting and watched them bring down and kill an impala. They were also seen later in the month trying their luck on kudu. The alpha female seemed to have recovered well from the injuries that she sustained when she was attached by another pack in June.

One lioness was located with seven cubs walking and looking for the other females. We watched her as she hunted and killed a warthog which she shared with the cubs. This lioness specialises in warthogs and was managing to kill them regularly in order to feed her fast-growing youngsters. The two dominant male lions were nearby on the same island, one of the males bearing fresh scars from a fight the previous night. We eventually found the other two lionesses and followed them to the place where they were keeping their four young cubs. We saw the whole pride together many times with their eleven playful cubs providing entertainment for our guests.

The smaller Bonga pride were also in the Lagoon area and we found them feeding on a warthog at Second Lagoon. We saw them hunting buffalo unsuccessfully one morning but they managed to bring down a subadult sable antelope as a consolation prize. We also saw them hunting zebra and giraffe. At the end of the month they managed to kill a big buffalo which they feasted on for three days.

Two intruder male lions with collars were spotted, but they were shy.

One day we were driving along and heard red-billed francolins alarm calling so our guides started to look for a predator at ground level. After searching they found a female leopard feeding on an aardwolf and another near to the boat station. A female leopard was located a couple of times as she went up onto termite mounds to scan the area for prey.

The coalition of two male cheetah brothers were seen a few times, feeding on warthog twice and also trying to hunt red lechwe.

Guides were delighted to find an aardvark; this is a rare sighting and considered a good omen by the Batswana people. The aardwolf den was active and we saw the adults around the den, especially in the mornings. Once we had an unusual sighting of three aardwolves together; two males were fighting over a female. A female honey badger with her cub were seen foraging for beetle larvae and grasshoppers. Porcupine, African civet and spring hare were seen during night drive. Once we were lucky enough to spot an African wild cat whilst it was fishing.

Spotted hyenas were seen excavating a previous den site.

Huge herds of buffalo, up to 300 strong with eighty calves were attracted to the riverine areas to drink and could be seen massed between the airstrip and camp. Elephants were also in good numbers and we saw breeding herds arriving in a parade to drink and swim in the evenings.

Very good general game was seen in the Watercut and Muddy Waters areas. We saw roan and sable antelope, both with calves. Other general game included big herds of zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, eland, tsessebe, roan antelope and impala. A big, calm, herd of eland were located.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, June 2019

AStankiewicz_Cat2AardwolfKwara

Night drives at Lagoon were productive during June yielding sightings of African civet, serval, genet and porcupine. We were even lucky enough to see aardvark and even MATING aardwolf! There was also an active aardwolf den at Grass Pan where were able to see the cubs.

As the dry weather continued herds of buffalo up to 300 strong could be located near to the channels and the Bonga Pride of lions who have always enjoyed specialising on buffalo were never far behind them. We saw many kills, of which this is one example: we had stopped to admire a pearl-spotted owlet sunbathing when our guide heard vervet monkeys giving an alarm call. Moving in that direction he saw a huge cloud of dust caused by buffaloes stampeding. Then right in the middle of the herd he spotted a sub-adult male lion who was chasing them, but the buffaloes mobbed the cat and drove him away. Just when we thought it was all over, a lioness attacked the buffalo herd from the rear and managed to take down a calf as the buffalo scattered in confusion. The rest of the pride appeared and kept the buffaloes at bay whilst the lioness suffocated the calf. Eventually the buffaloes moved on and the rest of the lions came to join in the feast.

At the start of the month a single lioness who had isolated herself from the Holy Pride was seen lactating and so guides were excited that she might have cubs hidden somewhere. She is a warthog specialist and was often seen actively hunting or feeding on a kill. The rest of the pride comprised six lionesses with ten small cubs and we saw them nursing often, their cubs making adorable noises as they begged for milk. It Was interesting to observe how the lionesses cross-suckled each other’s young, a behaviour not seen in all predator species. The two resident male lions kept calling to mark their presence in their territory. One time we saw the pride feasting on a buffalo which they had killed at night. All the lions had very full bellies and the cubs were being extremely playful and climbing trees. The lions stayed on this huge carcass for three days before moving off.

A resident female leopard had been seen hunting in the morning. She kept going up into the trees to look for any possible danger as well as trying to find prey.

The resident pack of wild dogs had ten puppies at the start of the month and we were able to witness lovely scenes at the den site as the puppies played with each other and interacted with the adults. We also saw the adult dogs hunting as they went out without the alpha female to look for food. However unfortunately another pack came in and found the resident pack. A big fight ensued and the alpha female had so many injuries that she was unable to nurse the pups and they died. The pack then temporarily relocated out of the area

The two resident cheetah brothers were seen hunting, climbing up onto termite mounds to scan the area for prey. Eventually they killed a warthog and we found them with full bellies the following day. We watched as they rolled on the ground to leave their scent and then they moved off, stopping to spray bushes as part of their territorial markings. We saw them a few days later feeding on a fresh warthog kill.

A female spotted hyena was running around a former old den site with a piece of meat in her mouth so we hoped that they had also come back for denning. Two hyenas were located with full bellies after they stole a waterbuck kill from a lone lioness.

General game was excellent. We saw herds of zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala, wildebeest, especially near to the permanent channels. An extremely relaxed herd of fifteen sable antelope were enjoying the shorter grass on our firebreak and allowed vehicles much closer than this shyer species would usually accept. Roan antelope were also regularly sighted. There were plenty of hippos in front of the camp basking in the sun during the cold winter mornings. Elephants were seen very frequently, one time they came for a morning drink at Muddy Waters, ignoring the fifteen lions lying nearby!

Good numbers of hippo and crocodile were seen on the boat trips.

Birdlife was fantastic both on land and in the water. We had beautiful sightings of giant kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, storks, ibis, herons and egrets on the boat trip.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, May 2019

DBruschera.Cat 1.Lioness lag

At the start of the month the guides were thrilled to have found the resident pack of wild dogs denning and guests were able to enjoy first sightings of the ten puppies of which four were pale and six dark. It seemed that there were two females with litters; this is unusual for the species but has happened before within this particular pack. The pack moved 100 metres from the initial den to a much more open area and perhaps this was a big mistake on their part as a few days afterwards a different pack found the den site and a big confrontation ensued. A week or so later we saw the dogs chasing and biting hyenas away from the den site. They were hunting regularly and we located them chasing and killing a kudu. Another time they brought down a kudu which they lost to hyenas, immediately killed a second kudu only to lose that one too. On the 15th May the alpha female had a huge fight with the other subordinate female and she suffocated her almost to the point of death.

In addition to the wild dog den we were lucky enough to still have aardwolf denning in the area. Spotted hyena were seen mobile near to one of their old den sites so the guides were hopeful that they may also be having cubs soon.

The brown hyenas are now a lot more elusive than they used to be, but we are still seeing them from time to time. A very relaxed serval was located stalking some ground birds. Two honey badgers were spotted near to camp and an African civet was seen close to Watercut.

A pride of three lionesses with ten cubs, known as the Holy Pride, were seen in close proximity to a splinter group from the long-resident Bonga pride which the guides have now called the Marsh Pride. The Holy pride seemed to be specialising on kudu and guests were able to get some wonderful shots of the lionesses playing with the energetic cubs. The Marsh Pride were seen hunting near to the wild dog den and eventually they took down a buffalo calf. We saw a mating pair of lions, with the other resident male nearby. One time we were following a clan of four hyenas and they led us to lions feeding on a kudu bull. The hyenas tried to intimidate the big cats, but the male lion came to the rescue to defend his family. At the scene four cubs of 2-3 months old were licking blood off the carcass and playing with bones.

A tom leopard was seen stalking a herd of impala close to camp however the antelope spotted him and started to make alarm calls so eventually he gave up. Some fresh tracks led us to a female leopard hunting, but she was mobbed by baboons and eventually decided to rest up on a leadwood tree.

Large herds of elephant and buffalo were seen throughout the month as the seasonal dry and cool weather continued. Kwena Lagoon had good numbers of eland, roan and sable antelopes. Grass Pan was another hotspot for plains game including zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala and wildebeest.

Crocodiles were seen feeding on a hippo carcass near to the Namibian border.

African skimmers were seen near to Muddy Waters. We saw an African Fish Eagle swoop down on a snake which was devoured in less than five minutes.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, Apr 2019

BeenaB.Cat1Aerialviewofanelephantherd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, Mar 2019

GJohn.Cat4.Frenzy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, Feb 2019

Hsantharam.buffaloscapebig5

There was excellent general game around the inland pans including big herds of buffalo as well as zebra, giraffe, impala, tsessebe, sable and roan antelope. A magnificent herd of approximately 200 eland were found. These are the largest antelope species in the region with bulls standing to five to six feet tall at the shoulder (1.5-1.8 metres) and when massed together are a wonderful sight. One day we were investigating a burrow which showed some activity when we were startled by a warthog and four piglets who came bursting out and left the guides covered in a cloud of dust.
Three sister lionesses with three cubs were located a few times. These lionesses were mostly seen in the southern part of the area where they were dominated by two big brothers. The cubs were of a very playful age, making for some good photo opportunities as they gambolled around. We saw the lionesses hunting zebra during night drive and were able to see them feeding on their kill the following day. One morning we found extremely fresh tracks of a lioness and cubs. We followed up and sensing that we were nearby positioned the vehicle up on a mound to get a vantage point. The slightest movement in the sage grass gave the cats’ position away and the guiding team were delighted to have found them. As we approached there was a huge roar and the pride moved in that direction until they were reunited with the big male. The cubs were keen to play with him, but he did not seem amused by their antics.
 

The resident pack of wild dogs were successfully tracked and we followed them as they started hunting a herd of wildebeest, but then one dog disappeared behind a thicket and rounding the corner we saw an impala ewe fighting for its life as two dogs started to tear into it. Within ten minutes there was nothing left but bones. A couple of hyenas came to try and steal the carcass but the dogs ganged up on them and drove them away. Eventually the dogs lay down at the waterhole and relaxed.

 
A male leopard was found a couple of times, but he is still quite shy and was darting from one bush to another.
 
The brown hyenas were still regularly seen. By now they were occupying two dens and moving regularly between them. One morning we saw the cub’s eared pricked sharply forward and followed its gaze to see two lionesses resting nearby. As we approached the cats we saw that they were on a fresh wildebeest kill. The lionesses dragged the carcass towards the nearby bushes, probably to avoid the carcass being detected by aerial scavengers such as vultures which might in turn attract other predators. The brown hyena cub seemed tempted to approach the lionesses as he kept on going back and forth, but we breathed a sigh of relief when it eventually dashed into the den for safety.
 
Elephants were seen often, including within the camp as they came to the river for water. Guests enjoyed watching them swimming and drinking from the camp and during the boat cruise. One herd was seen working together to surround and protect a day-old calf. Fruiting trees at the river attracted troops of entertaining baboons as well as birds such as green pigeons and Meyer’s parrots. Some guests commented on how much they enjoyed being lulled to sleep by the grunting of hippos in the river that flows part the bedrooms.
 
We were able to spot animals such as porcupine, African wild cat and serval during night drive as well as different owl species ranging from the tiny scops owl to the huge Verreaux eagle owl. The mopane woodland was a birders paradise with species including broad-billed roller, European roller, golden oriole and Bradfield’s hornbill. Many bee-eater species (carmine, little and European) dominating the tree stumps in the open grasslands. A highlight for some guests was watching a hamerkop devouring a frog.
(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, Jan 2019

TMillerCat6Lagoon

The two lionesses to the north of the reserve are known to the guides as Litikazi and Mma Mosetha. As they were patrolling they found a dead wildebeest on the runway which had been killed by hyenas the previous night. They moved on from the carcass and promptly despatched the calf who was still looking for its mother. A couple of days later they were seen hunting warthogs. Further south the Bonga Pride were pushing back into the Lagoon side of the Kwando Reserve after spending the last few months closer to Lebala camp. This pride comprises seven females and two dominant males. One of the lionesses has three cubs of 3-4 months old; we found them feeding on a zebra that appeared to have been killed the previous night. Sometimes she was accompanied by one of the males and at the same time the other male was mating a different lioness nearby. One of the cubs is not faring as well as the others and it was sometimes left behind. Two new very shy male lions were found hunting and patrolling at Kwena Lagoon. Males from the new coalition were seen at Zebra Pan looking very restless.
 
The brown hyena den was still active and the cubs were seen playing nearby, but as the month progressed we noticed that they increasingly spent time away from the main den and moved to a new spot to the east of camp. They are now being seen less regularly and their behaviour is becoming more typical of the shy and elusive species. On several occasions we located solitary spotted hyenas mobile to and from a hippo carcass on a channel near to the army camp. A clan of four were also seen hunting.
 
The resident pack of wild dogs were seen feeding on an impala. Last time we saw the pack they numbered seven so they appear to have lost a female. The dogs did not appear to be calling for her, so our guides deduced that she must have been missing for a while.
The resident coalition of two male cheetahs was located and the animals looked well-fed. We watched them patrolling to the southern part of the Kwando Reserve.
 
A shy male leopard was seen a couple of times near to Second Lagoon.
There was very good general game in the area with 12 buffalo bulls hanging out north of Second Lagoon. Several breeding herds of elephant were located drinking and mudbathing at waterholes that had trapped rainwater and also at the river in front of camp. Guests enjoyed the excitement of the young elephants as they rolled around in the mud. A huge herd of over 150 eland was grazing amongst zebra and wildebeest on the periphery of the mophane woodlands. Other antelope species seen included impala, tsessebe, red lechwe, common reedbuck, waterbuck, giraffe, roan and sable. Twelve kudu bulls made a magnificent sight, this being a larger than usual bachelor herd.
 
Several troops of baboon were seen along the edge of the river and we watched as a male baboon flushed out a newborn reedbuck from its hiding spot chased it for a long distance. We were not able to see the end of the action, but the guides suspected that the baboon killed the young antelope in the end.
Various families of bat-eared foxes with their young cubs of approximately six months old were seen. Other smaller mammals included different species of mongoose, jackals, servals, genets and African wild cats.
 
Crocodiles and hippos were seen along the river and flood plains. Hippos had also moved into inland waterholes now that they have been filled with rainwater. There was a particularly bad-tempered hippo at Zebra Pan.
 
Lots of vultures responded to a hippo carcass near to the army camp. All four species that we have resident in the area were seen, including the rare white-headed vulture. Raptors were seen feeding in large numbers on termites. We saw one feeding frenzy that included Wahlberg’s eagles, tawny eagles, kites, swallows and rollers. Other notable bird sightings included fish eagles, snake eagles, martial eagles, storks, cranes, hornbills and pelicans. Summer migrants such as swallows and bee-eaters were present.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lagoon, Dec 2018

jbowen.cat7lionmom

At the start of the December our guides managed to find a lion den with two females looking after four cubs of approximately one month old, whilst another three lions were resting nearby. Initially the lionesses were keeping their young well hidden in the bushes, but later in the month we were able to see the females nursing their cubs. Occasionally we were lucky to catch them out in the open and playing. One lioness killed a tsessebe and we could tell that she dragged it a very long way to bring it nearer to the den site. Two male lions were seen mating females for much of the month, so hopefully there will be even more cubs soon. We found two lionesses on a tsessebe carcass that they had killed earlier in the morning. Male lions were seen hunting on hippos near to the channel.
 
The resident pack of six adult wild dogs with their 6-month-old puppy were located finishing an impala carcass one morning. In the afternoon they were hunting again, this time trying their luck on tsessebe and wildebeest. The following day we saw them kill two impalas. One time the puppy tried to chase a family of mongoose who balled up together to defend themselves.
 
We found a leopard near to camp, heading towards the brown hyena den and different tom leopard was seen a couple of times, once resting up on a tree, but he was shy and eventually he jumped down and ran into the blue bushes.
 
The brown hyena cubs continued to do well and were seen regularly. The cubs are still playful and guests were able to get lovely shots of them being active. We enjoyed watching them socialising and sometimes nibbling food that they had been brought by their mother the previous night.
 
Spotted hyena were also seen a few times, mainly patrolling and sometimes within five minutes of camp. They were seen near to the brown hyena den, one time two killed and ate an Egyptian goose right at the den entrance, we will just have to hope that our precious brown hyena cubs do not get attacked by the larger dominant species. Once the summer rains started in earnest towards the end of the month our guides noticed that the spotted hyenas were actively hunting on the rainy nights, specialising on wildebeest.
 
General game was reported to be very good, with elephants and giraffes crossing through the marshes, though after rains towards the end of the month the elephants started to head deeper into the mophane woodlands. A small bush fire followed by rain meant that grazers including roan antelope, tsessebe, eland, impala, kudu, zebra and reedbuck were in good numbers enjoying the new shoots of green grass. Baboons also enjoyed staying in the same area as these herds, presumably seeking protection amongst the plentiful eyes and ears. Many of the antelope species had given birth to their young. A batchelor herd of buffalo were found north of camp.
 
In terms of smaller mammals located, serval, civet, jackals, bat-eared foxes, honey badgers, spring hares and mongoose were all seen during December. We enjoyed a lovely sighting of an African wild cat pouncing on and killing a mouse.
 
There were four species of vultures in the area: white-headed, hooded, lappet-faced and white-backed. Migrants such as the woodland kingfishers, lesser spotted eagles, Wahlberg’s eagles all returned to the Kwando Reserve for the summer. At one point there was a feeding frenzy of some 120 lesser spotted eagles near to the brown hyena den. Saddle-billed storks and the elegant wattled cranes were favourites for some of our guests.
 
(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)
 

Lagoon, Nov 2018

Lion (Panthera leo), Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

We followed two lionesses until they stalked a warthog. One lioness went halfway into the den and pulled it out. Then, to everyone’s amazement, a leopard appeared and stalked the lionesses trying to steal the kill. One lioness chased the leopard up a tree to round off an incredible sighting. Although these lionesses specialise on warthogs, we also saw them eating reedbuck and wildebeest.

A coalition of three males were tracked trying their luck with some buffaloes at Kwena Lagoon but they were not successful. During the month we found these three male lions fairly often, and they were mating one of the lionesses. The other female led us to a place where she was hiding some very tiny cubs deep in thick bush. We didn’t see the cubs for several days but eventually they came more into the open when we could see that there were four and we were able to watch them suckling. After a few days we watched her moving the two cubs from one set of bushes to another. The two female cubs managed to walk alongside their mother, but the male cubs were lazy and she had to carry them by the scruff of their necks. A single male lion was discovered feeding on an elephant calf. The cat seemed unusually aggressive, so for the sake of safety first we gave it a good deal of space.

The resident pack of six adult wild dogs were located often in the middle of the Kwando concession. They still have one of this year’s puppies with them (out of an original litter of eleven). They were not always lucky on their hunts but overall seemed to be doing well and were usually found full-bellied. One time they killed two impalas and another time we saw them take down a roan antelope calf. At the end of the month they brought down an impala and two ostrich chicks in a single morning.

The brown hyena cubs were still doing well and we were able to visit them at their den where they could be quite playful. One time we saw them feeding on a fresh impala skin, although the mother hyena was never visible when we visited.

Skilled work by the trackers allowed us to locate a sub-adult female leopard. We saw her a few times afterwards, but she was looking hungry and was even unsuccessfully trying to hunt tree squirrels in her desperation for a meal. Life appeared hard for this young female finding her way in the world. Another time she was resting in a tree and we saw her being attacked by a troop of baboons causing her to jump from the tree and hide in the thickets. We were relieved when we found her feeding on a new-born impala lamb. Another adult female leopard was resident in the riverine areas.

The coalition of cheetah brothers was also picked up after good tracking from their marking post. After two and a half hours our team was chuffed to find them resting full-bellied with blood on their faces. Mostly these males were specialising in hunting warthog, but we also found them stalking and killing tsessebe a couple of times during November.

General game was good, with big herds of elephant, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest, waterbuck and zebra as well as the more elusive sable and roan antelope which were thriving in the mopane woodlands. A small herd of eland were also seen. Some of the antelope species, such as tsessebe and impala were starting to drop their young. Elephants came to the river in front of camp in a daily basis to drink and swim.
During night drive our guides were successful in locating aardwolf, honey badgers, servals, caracals and African wild cats.

The carmine bee-eater colony at Kwena Lagoon was still active at the start of the month and we were able to watch adults coming back to feed their chicks, but by the end of the month the flock had dwindled to just a few birds. We watched a martial eagle kill a warthog piglet. It is always a pleasure to see the returning summer migrants and in November we were happy to see broad-billed rollers, black kites, yellow-billed kites and blue-cheeked bee-eaters. Year-round residents such as the saddle-billed stork and wattled cranes were also enjoyed by guests. Back at camp the African scops owlet continued to roost by the fireplace whilst Peter’s epauletted fruit bats were identified in the marula tree by the front deck.

An African python was seen strangling a baby impala at Kwena Lagoon and a black mamba was briefly seen in the riverine area but it disappeared into the long grass.

(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!)