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

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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!)

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

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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!)