Lagoon, Oct 2018

Brown Hyena Helen Apps Screen Grab

The brown hyena cubs continued to be big favourites with our guests. They were mostly seen playing in the mornings. The youngsters are growing past and were starting to separate to occupy different dens. Their mother remains elusive, visiting them in the middle of the night to bring them food that this month included an impala carcass.

Bonga Pride were sometimes seen by John’s Pan and Lechwe Corner, but in general have been towards Lebala camp over the past few months. This has opened up the Lagoon territory for several new coalitions of males and during October we saw a group of four, a group of three and several pairs hunting buffaloes. Two very big males and a female were found at Kwena Lagoon feeding on an elephant carcass and mating. Several lionesses were roaming the area including three pregnant females who have broken away from the Bonga Pride.

Spotted hyenas were regularly sighted around the area, mostly at abandoned buffalo carcasses that the nomad males had killed, including some exciting interactions between lions and the hyena clan.
Other times spotted hyenas were seen patrolling the area or cooling themselves in the muddy waterholes which were drying out

Female leopards were seen patrolling and hunting during afternoon drives. We had lovely sightings of a female with her kill up a tree and a male with a warthog kill on the airstrip road.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were found resting under a tree.

The pack of six wild dogs (five adults and one sub-adult) were found well-fed and quenching their thirst after a successful hunting expedition. We tracked them hunting a couple of other times but they were not lucky on those occasions.

Smaller predators encountered included African wild cats, servals, mongoose (yellow, dwarf and banded), bat-eared foxes and honey badgers. Black-backed jackals were denning and guests were able to see the cubs.

General game was frequenting the hot spots along the flood plains. There were plenty of eland , sable, roan, buffalo and heavily pregnant plains game species, some of whom started dropping their young after a storm build-up in the middle of the month. There were big herds of elephants all over the area throughout the day. Other species included zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala, red lechwe, waterbuck, warthog and tsessebe

Aquatic bird species were seen wading and foraging on the flood plains. Summer migrants continued to arrive in the area. Carmine bee-eaters were still nesting at Kwena Lagoon and John’s Pan. Guests enjoyed sightings of kingfishers, including giant and the colourful malachite. Four different species of vulture were identified feeding on the buffalo carcasses (hooded, white-backed, lappet and white-headed).

(Note: Accompanying image is a screen grab from a video that was sent to us from a guest who stayed at Lagoon earlier this year. Thank you Helen Apps for this amazing footage!)

Lagoon, Sep 2018

davidlloyd-cat1-elephants2

The two brown hyena cubs at their den near to camp continued to be the star attraction at Lagoon during September. This incredibly rare opportunity to see a usually shy species romping around our vehicles in broad daylight was enjoyed by all of our guests. The cubs were extremely playful and starting to show dominance behaviours, such as neck wrestling, which will help them to establish their place in the clan as they get older. Their mother was still as elusive as ever, but continued to bring the pups meals at night including a warthog carcass.
 
Two lionesses were seen hunting red lechwe north of the camp. They didn’t manage to make a kill that time but a few days later they brought down a wildebeest not far from the airstrip. The next morning there was a big battle between these lionesses and a clan of six spotted hyenas. In the end strength in numbers won the day and the hyenas took over the kill. Both black-backed and side-striped jackals joined in the scavenging. A different pair of lionesses managed to catch a wildebeest near to Zebra Pan and once again spotted hyenas were around to make sure that they stole whatever they could. In the same area two male lions brought down a buffalo calf; we came across them just a few minutes after the kill. One morning there was a big roaring match between the coalition of four at Zebra Pan and a different pride of three towards the airstrip, their deep vocalisations echoing in the still morning air. Towards the end of the month we found two of the lions mating whilst their companions feasted on a nearby carcass.
 
As the season changed to hot, dry weather, herds of elephant and buffalo congregated in the riverine areas to bathe and drink every day. Sometimes different family groups came together to form a ‘superherd’ with up to 300 elephants being seen together at one time. Guests loved seeing the elephants crossing the river right in front of the camp and playing in the water. At night the elephants herded back towards the woodland areas to browse and graze. A breeding herd of over 200 buffalo were found drinking at Watercut.
 
The wild dog pack had been away for about a month so we were very relieved to see them when they appeared on the 12th. Sadly though, another three of the puppies were missing which means that there were now only two survivors of this year’s litter accompanying the six adults. They stayed in our area for the remainder of the month and we were able to see them hunting
 
Leopards were seen a few times. One morning a leopard was found sitting on a fallen log and as if that wasn’t a good enough photo opportunity it helpfully moved to the top of a termite mound to pose further. One morning we saw a male make an ambush on a herd of tsessebe, but they saw him just in time and managed to gallop away. Another time the tom was found resting up on a tree.
The resident coalition of two male cheetah brothers were seen enjoying an impala kill near to Zebra Pan
 
A very relaxed herd of ten sable antelope with seven calves were enjoyed by guests as well eland and roan antelope. Other general game included plentiful giraffe mixed with zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe, warthogs, red lechwe, baboons, waterbuck, kudu and impala.
 
African wild cats, honey badgers, servals, genets, porcupines, bat-eared foxes, scrub hare, springhare and African civet were all seen under spotlights during night drive.
 
Huge flocks of carmine bee-eaters were nesting at Kwena Lagoon. The spectacle and noise was incredible as the brilliantly coloured birds swooped and chattered in their hundreds. White-fronted bee -eaters were also seen by the river bank. Other great bird sightings included martial eagles, Verreaux’s (giant) eagle owls, secretary birds, slaty egrets and white-faced owls. We saw four types of vulture during September: lappet-faced, white-backed, hooded and white-headed. Hundreds of openbill storks were seen gathered at Second Lagoon feeding on snails.
 
(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 2018

IMG_1862 - kim campbell by email

The sighting of the month, if not the year, at Lagoon was the discovery of a brown hyena den just five minutes from the camp. Initially the brief glances that we had of the cubs had us scratching our heads as brown hyena are not even shown on the species distribution maps for the area, so the possibility of aardwolf still seemed more likely. However once the cubs became bold enough to let us have a good look at them we were thrilled to be able to announce definitively that we had brown hyena resident in the Kwando Reserve. Our guides were very patient in terms of getting the youngsters habituated to the vehicles, and their efforts were rewarded by the cubs allowing incredibly relaxed sightings of them playing at the den site. The mother was still very shy and only seen fleetingly by the trackers. We believed that she was visiting the den between midnight and 6am, the only sign of her appearance being the carcasses that she delivered for her cubs. Her meal offerings included a goliath heron, an aged caracal carcass (previously killed by lions) and a piece of buffalo skin. One time a female spotted hyena came and started digging at the brown hyena den, but luckily she didn’t harm the cubs.

The Lagoon resident pack of wild dogs were seen regularly at the start of the month; the six adults and five puppies all seemed to be in good shape. We were able to follow them hunting near to camp and saw them having some commotion with spotted hyenas. One of their more spectacular hunts saw them chase an impala into the river where it was promptly caught and eaten by a crocodile. Not a successful day for the dogs, but an incredible safari experience for our guests. As the month progressed the puppies started to join the adults on hunts and therefore the pack became more nomadic.

The spotted hyena clan comprising more than ten adults and eight cubs moved to a new den site after one of the cubs was killed, most likely by a lion. The adult hyenas took in turns to be at the den, usually no more than six individuals at a time. As well as suckling from their mothers we were able to watch the youngsters tussling over a buffalo leg which had been brought to the den by one of the adults.

Two different coalitions of male lions were located during drives, six individuals in total. Two females, a mother and daughter, appeared to be excellent hunters and we found them feeding on zebra and wildebeest carcasses. One time we witnessed them killing a small warthog, but their meal was snatched up by hyenas. Another time we were able to follow them hunting a wildebeest and making the kill. We picked up the tracks of a lioness with three cubs on the western part of the camp; we followed up into the mopane woodland and found her feasting on a buffalo. This was the first time that we were able to see her cubs in plain view. Another time we saw her on a wildebeest kill. The Bonga pride of ten lions were back into the Lagoon side of the Kwando Reserve and we watched them following the buffalo herds.

The two cheetah brothers were only occasionally spotted but seemed to be doing well.

A shy tom leopard was located near to the airstrip and the resident young male seen at the riverside. There were also two female leopards in the area, mother and daughter but now separated. We found them hunting at saw that they were each making successful kills of impala.

Sable and roan antelope were seen feeding together as a mixed herd. Giraffe, wildebeest, red lechwe. tsessebe, impala, warthog, baboon and zebra were all present in plentiful numbers. Big herds of buffalo and elephant (up to 100 strong) were in the area, with many elephants swimming and drinking at camp. Sitatunga were seen during the boat cruise.

A lioness was seen stalking a caracal and eventually ended up killing the smaller cat. A mother porcupine was walking down the road accompanied by her baby. Honey badgers were located digging for mice, and one time they were following a honeyguide bird through the bush. A serval was found hunting in the marsh areas a couple of times. Other smaller mammals seen by guests included African wildcat and bat-eared fox.

An African scops owl was seen at the camp almost every day at the start of the month. Brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters were starting to arrive earlier than usual at the Kwena Lagoon – a nesting site which they use annually. Another summer migrant, yellow-billed kites, have also started to be spotted again. Slaty egrets, black herons and ground hornbills were found near to Watercut. There was a great sighting of a martial eagle killing a helmeted guinea fowl and taking it up a tree to eat it.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from a guest who sent us their photo of their brown hyena sighting when they stayed at our camp recently)

Lagoon, July 2018

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Wild dogs were seen most days during July including a thrilling chase of a kudu right through the middle of camp which nearly ended up with kudu falling into the swimming pool! The adults moved the puppies to a new den site about seven kilometres from their original den where we were able to watch the pack’s wonderful interactions including greeting rituals and the adults coming back to regurgitate food for their young. Sadly, the pack of wild dogs continued to lose puppies; from the original litter of thirteen there were only five remaining by the end of the month. The guides have noticed that this pack choose rather shallow holes for their dens rather than using deeper aardvark holes which would give the puppies greater protection from predators. The adults were seen hunting frequently including warthog, kudu, wildebeest and impala.

Ten members of the Bonga pride were mostly located at the midway point between Lagoon and Lebala camps. They have been pushed into this area by the coalition of four new males who have taken over the territory at the northern part of the Kwando Reserve. Three of the males appear to be more dominant and seem to be fighting with the fourth male who picked up a fresh scar to his face as a result. There was a pair of lionesses with a cub who seemed nervous of the males and were keeping well into the marshlands where the cub could be hidden in the reeds and sedges. We saw them raiding a kill from a big male leopard, other times they seemed to be preying on warthogs. A lone lioness was seen following the buffalo herds around and once we found her feeding on a successful kill. We came across a male and female lion mating.

The resident female leopard was seen feeding on an impala up a tree in the Kwena Lagoon area. It appears that her two sub-adult cubs have now separated from her completely. The young female was seen mobile but appeared to be sniffing and tracking. She succeeded in flushing out and mobbing a hyena who was dragging a tsessebe carcass. The young male was found resting on the river bank as we were doing a boat cruise.

The hyena den was active with up to nine cubs being seen at once, accompanied by various numbers of adults. The mothers were usually seen suckling their young in the evenings. Some of the cubs were starting to nibble on leftover meat brought back to the den by the females and were becoming quite playful.

Several species of mongoose were seen (banded, yellow, dwarf and slender). Honey badgers were located digging for mice. Night drives yielded sightings of aardwolf and African wild cat. Jackals, bat-eared foxes, African civets, caracal, genets, bush babies and were other smaller mammals spotted.

The coalition of two cheetah brothers were located hunting through the woodland and were seen chasing giraffe, a surprisingly large prey species for them to try and tackle. They were unsuccessful on that occasion but at other times we saw them looking relaxed and full-bellied.

Big herds of elephants were coming through camp to drink at the lagoon in front of the rooms, some making a foray into Namibia and back again. Bachelor herds of buffalo were all over the mixed woodland and riverine areas with breeding herds showing up on the floodplains. Eland, roan and sable antelope were seen along with giraffe, waterbuck, zebra, wildebeest, impala, reedbuck, tsessebe, red lechwe and kudu.

Along the river bank we saw hippos basking in the sun and huge crocodiles out of the water. Sitatunga were spotted during the boat cruise as well as monitor lizards, red lechwe, waterbuck and reedbuck.

Birdlife was great with raptors, kingfishers, bee-eaters and lots of water birds such as storks and ducks. Vultures, tawny eagles and bateleur eagles were seen near to wild dog kills.

(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 2018

AliceTseC7HavingFun

Wild dogs were still denning near to Lagoon camp in June giving incredible sightings of the mother nursing and the whole pack interacting, including their “greeting rituals”. The pack comprised six adults and they hunted every day to give the alpha female and her puppies sufficient food. Towards the end of the month the eleven puppies were getting quite bold and were curiously approaching our vehicles. The female who lost her puppies to the alpha female the previous month appeared to have recovered well from their fight. The dogs had good success hunting in the riverine area where they were seen feeding on a female kudu and sub-adult waterbuck.

Spotted hyenas also had a den in the area with seven cubs of varying ages. Most appeared to be doing well, though towards the end of the month we noticed that one youngster was getting weaker and was being bullied by the other cubs; this is quite normal dominance behaviour within the clan. There were usually a few adults left behind to guard the den site and guests enjoyed watching the mothers tenderly nursing their young. The cubs were being very playful and one day we watched them having a tug of war over a warthog skull which the adults had brought back to the den.

Two sub-adult leopard cubs aged 10-11 months are now more independent and were seen increasingly on their own, as well as with their mother. The cubs were now at a stage where they were practicing their hunting skills on mice and birds meanwhile their mother was keeping their bellies full with impala, warthog and baboon carcasses. The young male appeared to be splitting away from his sister and mother completely and one day paid us a visit at camp, passing between Room 1 and the main area. The female leopard came into oestrus and then was seen together with a very nervous adult male.

A group of five lions were seen in Lagoon during the month consisting of three males and two females. One of the males is markedly more skittish than the others and tends to keep himself a bit more separate, especially when vehicles are around. The other two brothers were patrolling huge distances to mark their territories, sometimes splitting apart to cover different areas. One of the females came into oestrus during the month and was duly mated. As a pride, they seemed to be specialising in wildebeest as a favourite prey species, but the lionesses were also seen visiting warthog burrows in the late afternoons as the temperature cooled down.

The coalition of two cheetah brothers were seen occasionally. On one occasion they were hunting a huge male warthog, but he stood his ground and eventually chased the cats away. They were also seen hunting red lechwe.

Aardwolves were located more than once during night drives. We saw a caracal successfully hunting mice through the grasses and it eventually moved into a more open area giving everyone a good view. Other smaller mammals located included African wild cat, honey badger, African civet, genets, bat-eared fox and side-striped jackal.

General game was very good throughout the month including large herds of elephant, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala, kudu, red lechwe, tsessebe, eland and waterbuck. Endangered roan and sable antelopes were also enjoyed by our guests. Large buffalo herds have come back out of the mopane woodlands and were often found drinking by the river.
Notable bird sightings included saddle-billed storks, ground hornbills, secretary birds, pearl-spotted owlet, Verreaux’s eagle owl and black herons. Short-tailed and tawny eagles could be viewed following the hunting wild dogs, hoping to be able to scavenge the carcass. A large group of vultures were seen at their bathing spot.

(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 2018

Lagoon - Leopards

Wild dogs were denning near to camp throughout the month of May. Two separate females had conceived within our resident pack of six and they made den entrances approximately fifteen metres apart. Towards the end of the month four puppies emerged from den and could be seen suckling. The second litter was born on the 24th May. The dogs tended to stay fairly close to the den and were seen feeding on kudu, warthog and impala. We witnessed them regurgitating food for both pregnant females after their hunting missions.

A mother leopard known as Mma Maporota (Mrs Sausage Tree) was seen on an almost daily basis, with her two subadult cubs, one female and one male. Sometimes they were seen apart and other times feeding or hunting together; when they had a kill they tended to stay in the same area for several days. The adult female spent a good amount of time marking her territory by scent marking and clawing trees.

After a lot of patient searching by our guides we located two hyena dens in the area. Evening visits were particularly rewarding as we were able to see the adults socialising with their young and greeting each other before setting off on patrol. At one of the dens there are five cubs, ranging from several weeks old to approximately 8 months. They were very playful, sometimes curiously approaching the vehicle.

The coalition of two cheetah brothers continued to cover huge areas but were seen often in the Lagoon side of the Reserve. The guides suspected that they were trying to stay away from the Bonga Pride who were located more towards the east. The males were located patrolling their territory and also hunting various species including impala, warthogs, tsessebe and even young kudu.

Four young male lions were still in the area, having come from the north. They were generally seen on the move and were still skittish around vehicles, but we hope that they will relax over time. They sometimes split up to track females and could be heard roaring in the early mornings. A lioness with one cub was seen hunting impala and zebra along the woodland, but they also seem to specialise in warthogs and could be seen checking out burrows looking for prey. One time after they had brought down an impala the hyena clan came and raided their kill. Two new pale-coloured lionesses seem to have taken up residency in the area and were seen in the vicinity of an elephant carcass. After a few days they were joined by two big male lions and were seen mating with them. Towards the end of the month two separate prides were seen fighting over the elephant carcass; the dispute continued over a three-day period. In the end a coalition of three lions disrupted and pushed away the four younger males. A female from the Bonga Pride was also seen towards Halfway Pan; she looked like she was nursing, so it is likely that she had split away from the main pride to give birth. It seems that the Bonga Pride are starting to move back towards the Lagoon side of the Kwando Reserve, having spent the last few months in the Lebala area.

General game was very good along the floodplains. There were two relaxed herds of sable and roan antelope and plentiful zebra and wildebeest. As the weather cooled, hippos were seen out of the water during the day more frequently. Elephants, buffalo, eland, tsessebe, giraffe, impala, steenbok, kudu and hartebeest were also seen.

There were good sightings of smaller mammals including African wild cats, bat-eared foxes, civets, genets, bush babies and servals. Aardwolf were seen several times towards the end of the month, though sadly we found aardwolf carcass at the vacated hyena den (one was also found the previous month).

As usual, there were good numbers of raptors and vultures in the Kwando Reserve. A family of endangered Southern Ground Hornbills were seen frequently. Ostrich were seen graving alongside plains game.

Crocodiles could be seen during the boat cruise and monitor lizards were seen mating.

 

(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, April 2018

LAGOON - davidlloyd-cat7-hyena

A pack of six wild dogs were seen in the area and the guides were excited to note that two of the females were pregnant. This is heard of from time to time, but quite unusual as generally it is just the alpha female who gives birth to pups. We tracked the pack until we discovered them them feeding on a young kudu by the airstrip at the middle of the month and they were seen very regularly thereafter. We saw them hunting impala, warthogs and kudu and witnessed them making kills more than once.

We found a highly active spotted hyena den towards the end of the month. During April we saw six adults and two cubs, but from the tracks we suspected that there were more who were still in the den. We had a lovely sighting of a cub being suckled by its mother before the two started playing a great came of chase around the den site. Eventually the female lifted the pup in her powerful jaws and took it back down inside the burrow.

The resident female leopard and her two sub-adult cubs were seen often, sometimes just 100 metres from camp. The cubs were getting more independent and we encountered them singly as well as with their mother. We enjoyed some fun sightings of them playing together on their own. One time the young female made a brave, or perhaps silly, chase of a hippo that she saw outside the water. Luckily for her the hippo ran into the waterhole rather than attack her. A different female leopard with cubs of 3-4 months old was seen in the Cheetah Valley where she had made a kill.

We were pleased to see the coalition of cheetah brothers in the area and saw them every day in the middle of the month. At one stage we tracked them to discover that they were feeding on a female ostrich, a dangerous and difficult prey for a cheetah as ostriches kick forward viciously to defend themselves and their long claws can do a great deal of damage. When we observed them the following day we noticed that one of them had a fresh scar under his belly, possibly from the ostrich encounter, but it didn’t seem to deter them as a few days later we found them feeding on yet another female ostrich.

Four male lions who recently moved into the area were seen at the start of the month, though their movement was not predictable as they were covering large distances marking their territory.  At one point two of them feasted on a buffalo kill for a couple of days. A different pair of male lions was also seen near to the airstrip. One of the two had fresh scars and the guides wondered if they had come into contact with the larger coalition. This pair linked up with two lionesses, one of whom appeared to be pregnant. These lionesses were seen stalking and hunting zebra without success but they did manage to bring down a warthog whilst we were watching. Unfortunately for them, the clan of hyenas heard the commotion of the warthog squealing and came to steal it from the lionesses. After staying towards Lebala for several months now, the Bonga Pride were occasionally seen at Halfway Pan, getting closer towards their old territory again.

There were plenty of elephants in the area; one day we heard a loud commotion and were lucky enough to see two of them mating. There are some lovely relaxed herds of sable and roan antelope in the area, including calves. Other general game sightings included hippo, giraffe, eland, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, impala, warthog, ostrich and giraffe. We had wonderful sightings of the smaller carnivores including African wildcat, bat-eared foxes, small spotted genets, large spotted genet and jackals.

An African harrier-hawk was observed feeding on the chicks of a Burchell’s startling, having discovered its nest in the hole of a tree. A family of four ground hornbills was seen hunting for frogs at the pans. Raptors seen during the month included martial eagle, tawny eagle, brown snake eagle, African hawk-eagles, secretary birds and bateleur eagles. In an unusual sighting more than ten black herons were seen at one waterhole. We also located a pair of Verreaux’s (giant) eagle owls regularly. Large numbers of vultures were seen on a carcass of a young wildebeest.

 

(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 2018

DColello.Cat1lion

The four new male lions in the concession seemed to be doing well as they were located in different areas patrolling or hunting. This pride appeared to be specializing in stalking eland and were found feeding on different eland carcasses during the month. The four males were very actively patrolling the area to mark their presence and secure their new territory, often splitting up so that they could cover more ground. There were two lionesses in the area who appeared to be very good hunters, seen feeding on wildebeest close to Lagoon camp on a wildebeest and another time on a warthog. The two lionesses were also seen stalking different antelope species late in the afternoons as temperatures cooled down.

During the month of March three different female leopards and two cubs were spotted around Lagoon camp in different locations, the sub adult leopard was located hunting birds west of the airstrip. The mother of the sub adult leopard was also seen east of the airstrip heading west where the sub adult was located. An old female leopard with her two months old cubs was also located east of Lagoon camp feeding on a reedbuck; she was wise enough to take her kill up on a mangosteen tree to ensure that she didn’t lose her kill, or indeed her precious cubs, to hyenas or lions.

Hyenas were very active around Lagoon camp moving from one carcass to another. One brave hyena was spotted running away with a bone from an eland that was killed by the four male lions. It was very risky for a lone hyena to steal a meal from under the noses of the four-male lions, but the hyena seized its opportunity and bolted with its prize. Guests who were on that activity managed to take great pictures of the hyena running with a bone in its mouth.

An aardwolf was located at mid-day walking on the road; although it ended up going into a burrow guests were able to get some good shots before it disappeared. An African wild cat was seen walking through tall grass. Bat eared foxes were seen feeding, and jackals were found scavenging on different carcasses

The two resident male cheetahs were located on a hunting mission, after tracking them for two hours. The coalition managed to kill a piglet and after feeding they spent the rest of the day in the shade. The following day they started moving to start patrolling their territory area. These two brothers cheetahs cover a huge area.

A pack of six wild dogs were in the Lagoon area and seen either hunting or resting during the day. One morning the six wild dogs tried their luck with a pair of zebra but instead the two zebras chased them. The six wild dogs gave up and moved on into the bushes, but their bad luck continued as they then came face to face with a lioness so decided to run away from the area altogether.

General game was great during March. There were large breeding herd of elephants, a good number of zebras, eland, giraffes, impalas, wildebeest and roan antelopes. Hippos were also located outside water during the day.

Birds sightings were good and highlights included lesser jacana, hooded vulture, pygmy goose, white baked vulture, Verreaux eagle owl, scoops owl and pearl spotted owl.

A python was also located on several occasions.

(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 2018

RMuller4Lion03564

A new pride of four male lions have continued to do well in the area and were located in different parts of the concession as they explored their new territory. Sometimes they were seen patrolling alone, each taking a different route to cover the maximum ground, before meeting again. Some of the guests were very lucky to see them roaring, which is also part of marking their presence in the area to other lions. A female was also located with one of the male lions the guides suspected that they might be mating. The male lions were also seen stalking zebras but unfortunately not being successful. The Bonga pride were located resting on a termite mound.

The resident female leopard appeared to be doing well raising her two cubs, it takes a very experienced leopard to raise two cubs in an area where there are so many hyenas and lions. She was seen hunting and her biggest target seemed to be baboons; she was spending most of her time around the area where the baboons spend their night. The two cubs were seen playing around chasing each other around the trees. This female leopard was also seen stalking impalas but not being successful. She was also spotted resting on top of the sausage trees during the day, making for great photo opportunities.

A pack of six wild dogs were still in the area and seen often. One afternoon the guides followed them as they were hunting and guests were lucky enough to see them bring down and devour an impala. Another time the wild dogs were found feeding on a warthog carcass. The pack was also seen stalking impala on different occasions.

The two male cheetahs were located in the area during the month of February, the two male cheetahs spend most of their time in the area between our two camps Lebala and Lagoon. The male two brothers were seen patrolling their area to make sure there were no intruders. A serval cat was located one of the afternoons and the lucky guests managed to take good daytime pictures of this species who is more usually seen at dawn or dusk. Six bat eared foxes were seen busy hunting feeding on insects and going into the holes looking for beetles and other insects.

Spotted hyenas were seen in different location feeding on the left-overs from other predators; hyenas could not keep up with the wild dogs to try steal their carcass.

General game was great and we saw good number of zebras, wildebeest, impalas and breeding elephants. A massive herd of over 150 eland were seen often and made an impressive sight; this is the largest of the antelope species and to see them in such numbers is a wonderful sighting. A herd of roan antelope were also located more than once.

There were some good rains end of February and the vegetation was nice and green. The river channel in front of the lodge filled nicely and grunting hippos were always wallowing in front of the rooms.

Bird life was also good as we still have birds coming for breeding including carmine bee-eaters and African skimmers. The African fish eagle was always regularly seen, and a real favourite with 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, Jan 2018

KRichardson.NewLife.youngimpala lagoon

At the start of the month the guides were thrilled to find an aardwolf den with three cubs in residence. This very rare sighting was a delight for our guests. Bat-eared foxes also had den sites in the area and were seen on almost every drive as well as both black-backed and side-striped jackals.

Four male lions who were new to the area were initially a bit shy towards our game viewers, but the guides’ patience was rewarded and the lions seemed to get more relaxed as the month progressed. Their presence seems to be influencing the Bonga Pride of 10 who are spending more time in the south of the area whilst the intruders occupy their usual territory. The Bonga pride were seen feeding on a baby giraffe; as they later walking up to the watering hole for a drink some spotted hyenas lying in wait, but keeping their distance at the lion’s kill. The Bonga pride were also seen hunting zebras and a male warthog, but without success. A young male lion who was pushed out of the pride was sometimes seen with his sister and together they managed to catch a warthog piglet. Another time the make was located feeding on old wildebeest carcass

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were in the concession and found feeding on an impala

A female leopard with two cubs had been missing from the area for a while, so our guides were pleased to find her back in the concession and feeding well on two kills at the same time – a zebra foal and warthog piglet. A male leopard was located a couple of times as he patrolled his territory, though he was still quite shy.

Hyena sightings were more common than usual during January and were often seen morning and afternoon as they frequented carcasses along the woodlands and floodplains. A hippo carcass in the marshes at Watercut attracted scavengers including hyenas and many vultures. Another single hyena was seen feeding on an old elephant carcass that was been soaked by the previous day’s rain.

The general game was excellent with a phenomenal influx of zebra and giraffe throughout the area. Large herds of eland moved in from the north west of the concession, grazing in a mixed herd with the zebra. Wildebeest were also spotted in large numbers and we also had wonderful sightings of shy roan and sable antelope herds. All of the plains game including impala, tsessebe and warthogs have babies, making for delightful photographs. As the unusually dry weather continued during January, elephants started to return back towards the river area from the mopane woodlands where they would usually be found at this time of year.

The resident pack of wild dogs has reduced in number over time from 12 individuals to just 6 at the moment, although the remaining dogs were looking well-fed and healthy. They were often hunting at the airstrip area, one time flushing out a group of three leopards, a mother with her one-year-old cubs. We saw them making other kills including an impala and warthog piglet.

In terms of smaller mammals, we saw included slender, yellow and dwarf mongoose. Wild cats were seen from time to time.

There were plentiful ostrich and many had chicks following them as they grazed – up to 12 at a time trotting along behind their parents. One time, hundreds of vultures were seen by the river having a bath. Four species of vulture were still being seen in the area; white-backed, hooded, lappet-faced and white-headed, some of them had nest sites. Secretary birds and ground hornbills were also breeding in the area and wattled cranes were seen with nestlings were found at the inland waterholes. Following the first heavy rains insectivores such as bee-eaters were attracted to the alates, sometimes known as flying ants, that took to the wing in huge numbers. Raptors identified included tawny eagles, bataleurs, wahlberg’s eagles and lesser-spotted eagles.

(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!)