Lagoon, Jan 2020

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Regular readers of our sightings reports may recall that the resident pack of five wild dogs denned at the beginning of December. Although the female gave birth to a single pup, it appears that it did not survive because by January the pack were nomadic once again. This outcome was disappointing, but not a great surprise because it would be rare for a puppy born so out of season to thrive. We were able to follow them as they hunted for impala and zebra.

The Northern pride of lions were hunting successfully; their target prey included wildebeest, zebra and warthog. One time we saw them feeding and, unusually, the two males let the lioness finish off a zebra foal, even though they looked hungry themselves. A lioness with three sub-adult cubs was seen frequently, including on a fresh elephant calf kill. One time we saw a lioness moving her three new born cubs to a new den, carrying them in her mouth. We were watching a lion pride and noticed a sub-adult male looking pointedly in a certain direction. The lion was moving its tail side to side and he started growling before racing into a charge. We followed him and noticed two figures disappearing off into the distance as two cheetahs ran for their lives. We tracked the cheetahs and eventually they relaxed and went back to marking their posts.

These two cheetahs were the resident coalition of two brothers who. During the month we found them ambushing zebra to target their foals, retreating to rest under the Kalahari apple-leaf trees as the day warmed up. Another time we saw them marking their territory and chasing around some giraffes. They were also seen hunting eland calves. After the clash with the lion they moved deeper south towards Lebala camp.

A female brown hyena was seen at the entrance of the den site on the Munhumutapa Islands. We also saw her running close to the river.

Very good general game in the area included big herds of eland, zebra, wildebeest, sable, kudu, red lechwe, buffalo and giraffe. There was a lovely herd of seventeen roan antelope including three calves. Elephants were seen in big numbers. One time we were lucky enough to come across a wildebeest giving birth.

A spotted hyena was seen running away with the carcass of a young zebra. We also saw another hyena feeding on the skin of an old giraffe carcass. The skin had been soaked by rain, making it easier to eat and digest.

We came across aardwolves foraging for termites during night drive. Bat-eared foxes were also in feasting on the termite alates that emerged after the rains; we saw three different families of foxes near to their den sites. Both black-backed and side-striped jackals were denning and we were abel to enjoy sightings of the pups. During night drive, we came across a family of genets with three small cubs. We were able to watch an African wild cat hunting for rodents and birds. Other smaller mammals located included dwarf mongoose, slender mongoose and bush babies.

A resident female leopard showed good signs of being pregnant. We saw her a couple of times as she was marking her territory, climbing trees and visiting waterholes. A rather skittish tom was also located.

We saw a fantastic feeding frenzy of many birds hawking for flying termites; species included tawny eagles, bateleurs, lesser-spotted eagles, Wahlberg’s eagles, swallows and bee-eaters. A pride of 24 ostrich were located as they grazed. Other notable bird sightings included wattled cranes, secretary birds, slaty egrets, Verreaux’s eagle owls, martial eagles, ground hornbills and European rollers.

(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 2019

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The resident pack of five wild dogs moved approximately two kilometres from their initial den; a normal behaviour which helps to reduce parasites and attack from other predators. The mother dog, the pack’s beta female, stayed guard at the den whilst the rest of the pack went hunting. When they returned, we were able to see them regurgitating food for her. During the first week of the month we managed to get our first glimpse of a single puppy and saw it often outside the den afterwards. By the middle of the month the pup was able to start eating regurgitated meat. The dogs were hunting very successfully, mainly on impala lambs, sometimes taking two at once. They also killed a kudu by the Lagoon camp staff village. During full moon they tried hunting at night, but this did not appear to be a successful strategy as they returned empty-bellied and the alpha male sustained an injury to his right front leg. Luckily it was not too serious and he was able to keep up with the pack.

After being soaked by the morning rain, hard work paid off for our guide and tracker as they came across cheetah tracks that hadn’t been touched by the rain, indicating that they were very fresh. They followed the tracks and noticed that the prints changed to show that the cats were running alongside antelope. In the distance we saw a tawny eagle landing next to a hooded vulture; a tell-tale sign of some action. Sure enough, when we went to investigate, the two cheetah brothers were busy feeding on a fresh kudu carcass.  A few days later, we found that the brothers had separated with one calling for two days to find his coalition partner before they were reunited. The cheetahs were then absent for a week, so the guides hatched a plan to focus on seeking them out one morning. After hours of looking, they gave up and decided to stop for coffee, only to find the two cheetahs nonchalantly waiting at the pre-arranged coffee stop, as though they were playing games with us all along. At the end of the month we saw that they had killed two impala lambs at once and were busy feeding.

Lions were seen almost daily. Some were in honeymoon mood and once we had a rather unique sighting of mating lions, just 300 metres away from mating elephants. The three male lions known as the “Northern Boys” enjoyed feasting on a hippo.  Baboon alarm calls also led us to find them with two females resting on a termite mound. A few days later we saw these females hunting warthog, but they were not successful. We followed the two lionesses as they hunted and watched as they eventually killed a tsessebe calf. We saw a different pride of two females and three cubs on a fresh zebra kill.

Since the start of the rains, we enjoyed relaxed sightings of bat-eared foxes foraging in the late afternoons near to their den. The aardwolf den was very active. Black-backed jackals also had puppies at their den site.

Female leopards were seen a few times, one with a freshly killed wildebeest calf carcass which she had hoisted up a tree.

During night drives we spotted porcupine, African civet, serval, aardwolf and springhare. We were lucky enough to get good photos of an African wild cat hunting at night.

Spotted hyenas were seen patrolling the area and a clan of twenty were feasting on a giraffe carcass.

General game was very good and included herds of eland, sable and roan antelope. There were many buffaloes in the mixed woodland and marsh areas. Elephants were also seen in big herds in the open areas close to the woodlands.

The inland pans had filled with water and were breeding hotspots for waders such as wood sandpipers, three-banded plovers, ruffs and little stints. Other species of waterfowl included red-billed teal, yellow-billed ducks, saddle-billed storks, little grebes, knob-billed ducks and giant kingfishers. Guests were thrilled to see wattled cranes, slaty egrets and ground hornbills. Birds feasting on emerging termite alates included yellow-billed kites, tawny eagles, marabou storks and even fish eagles. A couple of times we saw martial eagles feeing on impala lambs.

(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 2019

RAndrewsCat7BrownHyena

During November, Lagoon guests were able to experience a remarkable combination of predator breeding behaviour as we were fortunate enough to have active dens for brown hyena, aardwolf, bat-eared fox and (very out of season) wild dogs. In addition, lions and leopards were also seen mating.

The brown hyena den had fresh tracks and a few times an adult was visible outside the den. The aardwolf den was very active, especially in the early hours of the morning and we were able to enjoy the cubs interacting with their parents. A new bat-eared fox den was discovered and one day we found the adults harassing a honey badger that was trying to enter their den. As the month progressed, we saw that they had six fox cubs. Other smaller mammals encountered during night drives included African civet, African wild cat, porcupines and spotted hyenas. One time we were lucky enough to come across a relaxed porcupine during the day.

Unusually for the time of year, the resident wild dog pack of two females and three males were found denning. We were able to watch them catching impala, but in another less successful hunting mission they had to turn tail and run back towards their den as they were chased by a herd of wildebeest.

As we stopped to take a picture of a broad-billed roller, we heard the mating call of leopards behind the nearby bushes. We quietly moved closer and found our resident female looking very relaxed but her suitor was shyer and he quickly moved off. After staying with the female for a while we heard the male calling and so decided to leave the female in peace as she went to re-join him in the thick mopane woodland. We came across the pair again a few days later when the female was seen chasing off a sub-adult who was trying to join her. Later in the month we enjoyed an exciting encounter with a tom leopard who was in hunting mode. Although he was not lucky on that occasion, our guests were able to get some stunning photos as he stood up on termite mounds surveying the area for prey. The following day we were able to watch him as he stalked impala.

We picked up tracks of a male lion who appeared to have paced repeatedly up and down the road. As we got down to investigate, we saw him disappearing into some bushes and moving closer we found a male with a young lioness, with two other males watching nearby. This was the three Northern males and it seemed that they were extending their territory southwards. The lionesses that they with were two who had broken away from the large Wapoka Pride that is usually found closer to Lebala camp. These lions were also seen feeding on a buffalo carcass and stalking wildebeest and warthog.

The Northern Pride lioness with four subadults was located a few times, including near to camp. We saw them trying to hunt buffalo, but without success.

We followed tracks from the resident two cheetah brothers all the way from the airstrip to Second Lagoon where we found them having a drink. We saw them trying their luck on kudu and red lechwe without success, but were lucky enough to see them bring down and kill a common reedbuck. We also saw a bigger, older, coalition of two male cheetahs feeding at various times on eland and tsessebe.

General game species included zebra, eland, giraffe, wildebeest, tsessebe, kudu, impala, warthog, red lechwe, sable and roan antelope. Breeding herds of elephant could be seen mud-bathing and crossing the channels. We were lucky enough to come across a pair of leopard tortoises mating.

Trapped fish in drying pools attracted many different species including pink-backed pelicans, slaty egrets and different kinds of stork. Spoonbills were also located in the same area. Long-crested eagles were seen, this being prime time to find them in the Kwando Reserve. Other notable bird sightings included Verreaux’s (Giant) eagle owls, woodland kingfishers, saddle-billed storks and carmine bee-eaters.

(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, Oct 2019

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The pack of five wild dogs were seen hunting along the flood plains. In a scenario that is unusual at the best of times, let alone in October, the beta female appears to be heavily pregnant. This is the same pack that lost their puppies earlier in the year to lions. It will be interesting to see how they get on since wild dogs are not usually successful raising puppies when the weather is so hot. One day we were watching them as a herd of elephant came and started chasing the dogs around.

Smaller mammals encountered included bat-eared foxes, porcupines, servals, civets, African wild cat, springhare, servals and honey badgers. There were plenty of both black-backed and side-striped jackals. Troops of baboons and vervet monkeys were foraging along the edges of the flood plains. We saw a male baboon and his consorting female eating a scrub hare that they had killed. A pair of aardwolf were found in a den close to the main road. Bat-eared foxes were also denning and after sitting quietly for fifteen minutes we were lucky enough to see a tiny cub pop out to join its mother.

A pride of two females with four cubs known as “Mma D” were discovered looking extremely round-bellied after they had devoured an eland. A few days later we watched them hunt and kill a buffalo calf. A different pride of three females and three cubs formed a hunting party with the two resident males and we watched as they killed a buffalo as it was coming down to drink. By the following week they had three buffalo carcasses stashed in the blue bushes by Second Lagoon and we were lucky enough to witness a brown hyena coming to investigate them. The resident males were seen often and we found them feeding on a red lechwe that they apparently had killed in the morning.

The resident two cheetah brothers were seen marking their territory with two spotted hyenas resting close by. The next day we watched as they tried to target a buffalo calf, but they did not succeed. Another younger pair of male cheetahs had been seen in the area but sadly we found that one of them had been killed by lions. We found the other brother a few days later looking very hungry, but seemed as though he was missing his partner as he was not interested in hunting. A larger, older coalition of two cheetah males were also still in the area and we found them on a newly killed female tsessebe that was heavily pregnant. We also located them feeding on an eland calf.

A female leopard was located on a sausage tree but we were able to follow her as she went off hunting until she killed a steenbok and dragged it into the bushes.

As the dry weather continued big herds of elephants and buffalo were massing near to the water sources.

General game hot spots included some previously burned flood plains at Muddy Waters as well as the lagoons and river. Many species were grazing together in mixed herds including zebra, wildebeest, kudu, tsessebe, impala, giraffe, waterbuck, red lechwe, reedbuck, steenbok, roan and sable antelope. Very large herds of eland made a striking sight.

As the drought continued the hippo population started to take strain and many died of natural causes. Although this was tough to see, it is part of the natural cycle and provided food for crocodiles, vultures, storks and other scavengers.

An African python was seen confidently crossing the road and heading towards the tree line.

Bird sightings included many stork species: open-billed, saddle-billed, yellow-billed and marabou. As well as the more usual heron species we also located goliath herons and the black-crowned night heron. The breeding colony of carmine bee-eaters was still going strong with hundreds of birds making an amazing spectacle and there was a different nesting site for white-fronted bee-eaters. In a spectacularly colourful argument, a broad-billed roller was seen fighting a lilac-breasted roller for a nesting site. Four species of vulture (hooded, lappet-faced, white-headed and white-backed) were seen scavenging carcasses. Yellow-billed kites migrated back to the area. A Verreaux’s (Giant) eagle owl was seen perched at dusk, ready to begin hunting.

(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, Sep 2019

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At the start of the month the resident pack of five wild dogs were doing very well and we usually found them looking full. One day the pack was located feeding on a roan antelope near to the boat station. Another morning the dogs passed right through camp so we followed them as they moved on marking their territory and eventually, they killed an impala. At the start of the month this pack comprised two males and three females, however after a few weeks a male and female went missing, leaving just a pack of three. It is not certain whether the other two dogs dispersed naturally to find another pack, or whether some harm came to them. However, given the depleted numbers of this resident pack (which had originally started as seven), we were excited to find a new pack in the area which the guides named Rra Mosetha after the extremely pale alpha male. We saw this new pack make a kudu kill. Right at the end of the month we saw the pack of five fiercely attack the smaller group of three who eventually retreated.

A leopard was spotted resting close to a fallen baobab at the beginning of the month, but afterwards we didn’t have a leopard sighting for a few days. Then one morning one of our guides was doing early morning wake up calls and heard the call and growl of a leopard. The guides went to investigate and found a half-eaten impala carcass in camp. They followed the tracks through some Kalahari apple-leaf trees and were lucky enough to follow the beautiful cat for a while until she rested up on a sausage tree. Another morning we were entertained as she launched into a small tree to catch a squirrel at the end of a very thin branch. We also saw her catch and kill a steenbok. Towards month-end we were luckily enough to find two leopards mating at night.

As we were driving along the riverine area enjoying the beautiful early morning light, we came across a herd of antelope enjoying the green flush along the edge of the floodplains. We heard lions roaring and headed in their direction where we found two males and four females trying to cross a channel, but hesitating because of the presence of crocodiles. After an hour they started making contact calls and we heard cubs responding across the channel. Eventually the lionesses crossed over and the males followed thereafter.

The Mma Moselha pride comprising two females and three cubs were found eating a warthog at Kwena Lagoon. Another day, guests were enjoying their sundowner drinks when a herd of buffalo came down to drink. All of a sudden, the buffalo started to run and as we watched we saw a cloud of dust and heard a calf screaming. The gins and tonics were hastily packed away and on taking a closer look we saw that two lionesses were suffocating a calf. We watched for some time until the lions started feeding and dragged the carcass off into some bushes.

The huge Holy Pride comprised some 19 lions and were targeting big game such as elephant, buffalo, eland, kudu, wildebeest and zebra. They were hunting successfully and were seen on many different carcasses. The warthog specialists known as Mma Dikolobe Pride continued to deliver superb sightings. When we followed them hunting these skilled lionesses were almost guaranteed to make a kill.

One morning a lioness with three cubs confidently walked along the river in front of camp whilst guests were enjoying their early morning coffee in the main area.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were found resting on a termite mound and we were amazed when they bravely, or perhaps rashly, decided to try their luck on a passing herd of approximately two thousand buffalo. Not surprisingly they were unsuccessful. We also saw two new bigger male cheetahs in the area again; they were first seen the previous month.  These new arrivals seem older than our usual males as they are much bigger and stronger physically.

General game was abundant all over the area. We encountered big herds of buffalo and elephants as well as roan and sable antelope. A pair of impala rams fighting was named as a highlight for some of our guests.

More than ten crocodiles were seen feeding on a hippo carcass near First Lagoon. There is one huge crocodile which has been nicknamed Hanad by the guides. Although it has a short tail the animal is estimated to be over five metres long and guides therefore think it could have attained the maximum life expectancy of 70 to 100 years.

We saw honey badgers during night drive. An unusually relaxed porcupine was seen feeding on rhizomes during the day. A serval was hunting rodents along the flood plains during the day, but he switched to fishing at night. Spotted hyenas were seen feeding on an elephant carcass.

The breeding colony of carmine bee-eaters at Kwena Lagoon continued to increase in size, creating an amazing spectacle for birders.

(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, Aug 2019

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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

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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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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