Lebala, Aug 2019

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The pack of two wild dogs were often hunting impala and steenbok in the camp area and then travelling back to the den to regurgitate for their puppies. The Wapoka Pride of lions sometimes took over the wild dogs’ kill and once this happened right in our car parking area. One day the puppies had been left on their own whilst the parents went hunting and the dominant male lion known as Old Gun came along. The puppies managed to make their escape before he could see them, supported by the alpha male dog who managed to divert the lion’s attention in the opposite direction. As the month went on the puppies started to accompany the adults on their hunting missions and we saw them hunting successfully near the airstrip and also killed multiple impala within camp itself.

The Wapoka Pride of nineteen lions were also doing well and they even managed to kill an elephant. In an amazing 48-hour period they killed four times in front of our vehicles including a simultaneous take down of an impala and a warthog. We also saw these lions feasting on a kudu bull, tsessebe and wildebeest. Once we came across them fighting with another pride and they had managed to steal a carcass from them when suddenly a herd of elephants appeared and started to chase all the lions.

A beautiful herd of fifteen sable antelope together with their nine calves were grazing as a mixed herd with zebra. We also saw roan antelope with their young. Other general game included red lechwe, warthog, impala, kudu, sitatunga, reedbuck, tsessebe, warthog, eland and steenbok.

The two resident cheetah brothers were located and we saw them feeding on red lechwe carcasses more than once. Once we saw them hunting but they were thwarted when their prey ran into the marshes.

Huge clouds of dust in the distance gave away the location of buffalo herds on the move. We also saw plenty of elephant and the cooler weather meant that sightings of hippo out of the water were good.

We were thrilled to find an aardvark two nights in a row as that is a very rare sighting. One very lucky night drive we located a pangolin along the airstrip road hopping on its hind legs, and later the same evening an aardwolf which was moving up and down looking for termites. We also saw honey badgers, porcupines, genets and wild cats during the month.

We located a male leopard hunting a couple of times. A female leopard was spotted hiding under a bush with her two cubs.

Flood waters were very slowly starting to seep into the Lebala area and so we enjoyed great birding. At Twin Pools African Skimmers could be seen living up to their name by flying close to the pools and skimming their lower mandibles through the water to feed. Other great bird sightings included fish eagles, vultures, white-faced ducks, goliath herons, Verreaux’s eagle owl, tawny eagles, marabou storks, carmine bee-eaters, black herons, pink-backed pelicans, African spoonbills and endangered wattled cranes.

(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!)

Lebala, July 2019

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Sightings were incredible at Lebala during July, and very close to home. We had four kills within the camp itself in the space of a week, once by lions and the rest by wild dogs.

(We do not usually get actual footage of the sightings in camp, but the guides and camp team were only too excited to share what went down in camp! With this post are actual photos and videos of the sightings!)

We managed to track the pack of two wild dogs after they made a kill in camp and were excited to discover that they had a den with seven puppies. One morning, just as we were enjoying porridge at the fireplace, we heard the distress call of an impala at the bridge right in front of camp and found the two wild dogs eating an impala. It took them 40 minutes to finish the carcass – a bit longer than usual because they were running back and forth to their den a kilometre away to regurgitate for their youngsters. This pack was feeding on impala most of the time, once being chased around by a sounder of four warthogs who were not at all happy about their presence. Another time we found the adults and puppies running towards a spot where the alpha pair had made an impala kill.

The resident pride of lions was located practically every day with the eleven playful cubs always providing entertainment even when the adults were sleeping. We were often lucky enough to see the pride hunting and more than once witnessed them making a kill right in front of the vehicle. One evening they came right through camp hunting as all the guests were having dinner, providing great excitement for our guests. A few days later they killed a huge old buffalo bull near to our manager’s house and the guides were quickly alerted to bring their guests back to Lebala to watch the whole pride including the cubs feasted. They stayed on this carcass for several days, causing us to have to put in place some additional security measures to keep staff and guests safe as we walked around camp.

Once the two males were found feeding on a kudu by themselves, but at the same time they flushed out a female leopard who bolted from the thick bush up a tree. It was incredible seeing the two different cat species in one sighting. The following day the rest of the pride joined the males to finish up the carcass. A lone intruder lion with an injured eye briefly appeared in the area during July.

We saw leopard a few times during July but sightings were relatively scarce, probably due to the heavy lion presence in the Kwando reserve at the moment.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were located resting, but soon got up and were moving around as though to start a hunting mission.

Spotted hyenas were denning in the area and so were seen fairly regularly.

General game included sable antelope, giraffe, wildebeest, impala, kudu, red lechwe and warthog. A wonderful herd of twenty-six roan antelope including ten calves were in the area.

Now that the inland waterholes had dried up lots of elephants could be seen crossing the river to and from the marshes. Guests enjoyed watching them mud-bathing and listening to their vocalisations as they prepared to move along. We also saw buffalo in breeding herds of up to 50 individuals. The dust clouds that they created could be seen from a distance, attracting the attention of the Wapoka lions.

Smaller mammals encountered included honey badger, spring hare and porcupine. An aardwolf was seen foraging for termites during night drive.

Bird sightings included vultures, Verreaux’s eagle owl, tawny eagle, marabou storks and saddle-billed storks. Birds associated with water such as spurwing geese, white-faced duck, African jacana, African spoonbill, fish eagles, herons and ibis could be seen by the channels. Pink-backed pelicans delighted guests by flying in beautiful formations before landing in the pools.

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Lebala, June 2019

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The Wapoka pride’s six lionesses with their eleven cubs continued to delight guests. One time we saw clouds of dust in the distance and went to investigate only to find a huge herd of buffalo moving through the riverine area. We were not the only ones to see the dust because Wapoka pride arrived soon afterwards and started to chase the buffalo around.

The lionesses were looking after their growing family extremely well, making kills just about every day with prey species such as warthog and red lechwe. Sometimes they were accompanied by the big male lions known as Old Gun and Sebastian and we saw Old Gun successfully mating one of the younger lionesses. Another time Sebastian was found on his own on a sable antelope carcass. In one remarkable sighting we were lucky enough to see the cubs bravely chasing a honey badger. The cubs were at a very playful age providing guests with charming photo opportunities.

The resident pack of two wild dogs were still turning up fairly regularly in and around camp. One day they killed an impala right next to our hide. We also saw them hunting on Main Road. We also saw a larger pack of five a few times.

One morning we were trying to keep up with the wild dogs hunting when we spotted jackals and bateleur eagles moving towards camp. We changed direction to investigate and found the resident two male cheetah bothers on top of a termite mound. They still had blood stains on their faces from a recent kill. We found them again the next day, but they seemed nervous due to the close proximity of the lions. Right at the end of the month we found them hunting and witnessed them killing a kudu calf. They spent the whole day feeding on it before they were chased off by a lioness.

We found the resident female leopard hunting impala a few times and in one beautiful sighting we were saw her leap gracefully across a channel.

A clan of hyena was observed as the individuals were chasing each other around.

As the seasonal dry weather continued most of the game had moved out from the woodland areas towards the channels. Species included sable antelope, buffalo, zebra, kudu, giraffe, tsessebe, wildebeest, warthog and impala. A herd of six roan antelope were located near to the airstrip

Herds of elephant could be seen drinking along the channels and in one dramatic sighting we came across two bull elephants fighting. We also saw hippo in the riverine areas and pools.

A pair of aardwolf were denning to the southwest of camp and we were able to get good visuals of the female during the day.

We were lucky enough to spot the elusive pangolin again during June.

A colony of dwarf mongoose could be seen sunbathing to warm up after the cold winter nights. We came across African wild cat a few times, sometimes in hunting mode. Other smaller mammals located included baboons and monkeys.

Birds seen during the month included pied kingfishers, pied avocet, marabou storks, vultures, saddle-billed storks, fish eagles, pelicans, goliath herons and egrets.

(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!)

Lebala, May 2019

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The Wapoka Pride was still resident in the area. One time we were following fresh tracks through the Kalahari apple leaf and a distance away we saw vultures descending, a good sign that there might be a kill. Sure enough we found the whole family of 19 lions including two big males, six females and eleven cubs. The lionesses were finishing off the zebra carcass whilst the cubs were amusing themselves playing with the bones. Nearby one of the resident males started roaring, whilst the other was drinking. We came across the pride many times during the month, one time finding them all with their faces dramatically covered in blood after they had clearly eaten well. Although the pride seemed to be specialising in zebra, we watched one of the lionesses stalking a wildebeest calf which had got separated from its herd. Unfortunately. one of the lion cubs came out into the open and thereby spoiled the hunt. The Bonga pride were also seen on the northern side of the area.

We had been seeing multiple tracks of a female leopard, but they always seem to head off and vanish into the marshes. However, one morning we got lucky and saw the tracks heading inland and to our delight there were also tiny cub tracks. Nearby there was a very relaxed herd of impala, but in the end it was the alarm call of a tree squirrel that gave the game away and we found an impala carcass in the thickets with the female and two cubs feeding on it. Everyone was astonished by the fact that there was a well-camouflaged leopard feeding just a couple of metres away from grazing impala who seemed oblivious to its presence. We saw the female leopard again a few days later, up on a leadwood tree with her cubs.

A pack of six wild dogs were located at Kubu Pan just as we were about to stop for sundowner drinks. In the pack there was one very striking pale female and we watched her drinking at the pan. The resident pack of two dogs killed an impala ram near to Room 8 and guests were able to quickly return back to camp to witness them feasting. Another time we saw these two dogs take down an impala close to the airstrip.

Bush walks continued to be a popular activity giving guests a chance to see species such as giraffe whilst on foot, as well as being able to study tracks of the other animals who had passed through the walking range. One of the sightings of the month was being able to view a pangolin from the ground and to watch it feeding on ants under the sage bushes.

The inland waterholes were very dry and the large herbivores were attracted to the riverine areas. Elephants were moving through the mopane woodland in large numbers, sometimes trumpeting, and herds of buffalo up to fifty strong were also seen coming to drink. We loved watching elephants drinking, swimming and mud-bathing at the river. Hippos were still resident in Twin Pools and guests were able to get some great shots of them yawning in a territorial display.

A lovely herd of 28 sable antelope, including ten calves were in the area. Once we were able to witness two of the bulls chasing each other in a battle for dominance. Other general game included zebra, impala, wildebeest, warthogs, kudu and lechwe.

We found both serval and aardwolf along Vlei Road, both of these smaller mammals digging in holes. A large colony of dwarf mongoose was found sunbathing at the base of a termite mound.

On night drive guests were impressed when a sharp-eyed guide was able to spot a chameleon up in a tree.

A huge flock of vultures were seen feeding on a zebra that had died of natural causes. It was fascinating to sit with them for a while and listen to their hissing and squabbling.

(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!)

 

Lebala, Mar 2019

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The resident Bonga pride of two adults and six cubs were found frequently, and often near to camp or the airstrip. One time we saw them trying to hunt giraffe who were browsing nearby but a lack of cover meant that they were unsuccessful. The following day the lions covered a huge amount of ground by travelling to Halfway Pan where we found them feasting on a zebra. We saw them a few days later with the carcass of a big kudu bull which was finished up by spotted hyenas and jackals after the lions had left. This opportunistic pride showed great variety in their diet which ranged from wildebeest to warthog; one time the lions had treed a large male baboon who was looking very nervous, but he managed to escape. Sometimes the sub-adults were left on their own whilst the females were hunting, on one of these occasions the cubs were sitting on a termite mound having finished eating the carcass of a red lechwe. The male lions were seen patrolling often, sometimes on their own but calling for their coalition partner.

The female leopard known as Jane was located near to Twin Pools having caught a reedbuck. The next day she was still there, this time feeding on a civet. After a long tracking session a few days later the guides found Jane again; she had spotted her cub from last year and gave chase to it as though in territorial dispute. Meanwhile Jane’s older son was located with a kill of a tsessebe calf up on a tree. A few days later he was busy stalking reedbuck in the marsh area, this being his favourite territory and one that gives him his nickname “Fisherman”. A female leopard was found calling, as though looking for a mate.

One day our guide’s attention was drawn to a small herd of impala getting an elevated view from the top of a termite mound. We heard them make an alarm call and then the coalition of two cheetah brothers appeared. We also saw them stalking a dazzle of zebra, though they were not successful. Now that the foals were growing in size and strength they were getting harder to hunt.

We had quality sightings of elephants swimming across the deeper channels and they were present in good number at Twin Pools. Guests were able to enjoy seeing hippos grazing out of the water during the day. The was very good general game in the area. From time to time the big herds of red lechwe grazing at the edge of the marsh made a spectacular sight as they splashed through the water. Other species included sable antelope, wildebeest, zebra, impalas, giraffe and kudu.

A clan of hyenas was found devouring the carcass of an elephant calf; our guides suspected that it could have been killed by lightning. A couple of times we saw a lone hyena moving around near the camp searching for something to eat.

Sometimes the action happens right inside camp. One day we saw a water monitor moving near to the main area. We heard a squirrel make an alarm call and the next moment the lizard caught and killed the squirrel.

At Twin Pools and the marsh area there were lots of interesting birds including saddle-billed storks, cranes, ibises, egrets and eagles. Brightly coloured red bishops flocked in front of camp as they enjoyed eating seeds from the long grasses.

(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!)

Lebala, Feb 2019

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The resident pack of six wild dogs were located near Halfway Pan and we were pleased to find that the alpha male and female were mating however in an interesting development of pack dynamics a few days later we noticed that the long-time alpha male was injured as if in a fight and the female was being mated by a different dog. Another pack entirely, one who had denned in the Kwando Reserve two years ago, was found after our sharp-eyed guide and tracker team had spotted kites and bateleurs at a distance. After following up they found the pack of ten dogs finishing up an impala who they had just killed. Let’s hope that they stay around for the next couple of months and choose to den nearby.

In a spectacular sighting the two dominant male lions known as Old Gun and Sebastian taking down a male buffalo. The bull tried to stand his ground but the two big lions were too strong for him and Old Gun started to feed whilst Sebastian was still suffocating the prey animal. The two male lions stayed on the kill for a few days, irritably chasing away the jackals and vultures who came to feed. A pride of two adults and six cubs were tracked from camp until we found them. In the evening we returned and found the cubs by themselves whilst the adults had apparently gone off to find food. The next day we discovered that the hunting mission had been successful and the whole pride was busy feasting on a sub-adult giraffe. There were plenty of hyenas and jackals hanging around and by the next day the scavengers, including many vultures, had taken over the carcass. On another occasion we found the pride feeding on a freshly killed wildebeest. We also followed the lionesses as they tried their luck on some red lechwe, but their stalking was spoiled by the noisy alarm call of the francolins. We also saw a pride of ten lions being chased by a herd of elephants.

Individual herds of elephants were seen heading towards the riverine areas and guests enjoyed watching them swimming and mud-bathing. However seeing so many elephants by the river was unusual for the time of year and an indication that the natural pans in the mopane woodlands did not have as much water as would be the norm during rainy season. However, some rains meant that the area was lovely and green meaning plenty of food for the herbivores. We found good herds of eland, impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe with plenty of young animals still nursing from their mothers. Warthogs and baboons helped to make up some classic African landscapes.

The resident coalition of two cheetah brothers were seen rolling around in the ground seemingly to get rid of flies that were irritating them, but possibly to also scent mark their territory. We found them patrolling a couple of days later.

The smaller animals also produced their share of the action and we saw a mongoose chasing and finally killing a lizard. We were lucky enough to find a serval fishing along the marsh and watched as it pulled out a catfish. Honey badgers were seen digging for mice and we saw one feeding on a monitor lizard.

Hippos and crocodiles were seen at the larger pans and we also saw a big African python slithering up out of a waterhole.
Bird sightings were good, especially around the Halfway Pan area which had many wetland species including storks, pelicans, egrets and terns.

(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!)

Lebala, Jan 2019

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Wapuka Pride was located near to the airstrip with a blue wildebeest carcass. The following day we found the ten lions on a giraffe that they had managed to kill overnight. As we came in there were lots of scavengers around. The next morning the pride’s two dominant males had moved into the kill and one of the males was mating a lioness. Later in the month we watched two of the females hunting down a large warthog boar, but the prey managed to escape. We also came across the pride hunting red lechwe, again without success.
Bonga Pride were also in the area, although they had pushed closer to the Lagoon side of the Kwando Reserve. We watched as they eyed up a herd of zebra, but chose not to make an attempt in the end. We saw them a couple of days later looking full-bellied and this time the five lionesses and three cubs were joined by the dominant males, Old Gun and Sebastian. The two male lions were seen patrolling and marking their territory by spraying urine on bushes.
 
A tom leopard was located in a tree but eventually climbed down
A pack of six wild dogs were located at Halfway Pan. They looked starving and we watched as they tried their luck but they didn’t catch anything.
 
We were fortunate enough to locate a wild cat after picking up some guests from the airstrip. Although the animal was a bit shy it was a treat to see this species during the day. Black-backed jackals were observed sifting through elephant dung looking for beetles.
One morning drive we managed to come across a coalition of four cheetahs who were trying to hunt wildebeest, but they were still skittish to the vehicles and ran away. A few days later we saw them feeding on a warthog and were able to watch them from a distance. The guides will need to work patiently get these new animals to our area used to the vehicles.
 
Spotted hyenas were seen mobile, and one was running away holding onto a wildebeest skin. We also found a clan of eight in camp just as we were leaving for morning game drive.
A black mamba snake was observed sunbathing on a termite mound. And in other reptile action, guests enjoyed the rather comical mating of two tortoises.
 
We saw big herds of elephants coming through the area, moving from east to west as though they had a definite purpose in mind.
Lots of general game was seen in the area, especially around Nare Pan. Species recorded included giraffe, zebra, impala, wildebeest, tsessebe and red lechwe. Many of the antelopes had new offspring with them.
 
Birdlife was excellent, especially along the marsh. We saw three species of bee-eater (Little, Carmine and Blue-cheeked) as well as many different egrets and herons. Open-billed, saddle-billed and yellow-billed storks were all present. Raptors included tawny eagles, Wahlberg’s eagles and fish eagles. A special sighting was watching a martial eagle swooping down to take a banded mongoose, with the rest of the mongoose trying to rescue their family member.
 
(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!)

Lebala, Dec 2018

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The coalition of two male cheetah brothers were located next to Skimmer Pan. We watched them drinking and followed them as they tried to hunt, however unfortunately they bumped into a pride of eight lions and ran away in fright. Later in the month we were thrilled to see a new coalition of four male cheetahs; they were a bit shy but we were able to watch them from a distance.
 
The three cubs of Wapuka Pride were sometimes left behind whilst the adults were hunting. One time as we were watching the youngsters a clan of seven hyenas came around trying to kill the cubs, but the little ones were clever enough to climb up a tree and escape. One time we tracked the whole pride as it was moving along the woodland and saw them taking down a zebra foal. The two resident males, known as Sebastian and Old Gun, dominated the kill and chased away the females. We also saw the pride lying full-bellied after eating a wildebeest and a different time the males were found feeding on a warthog. Old Gun gave our team a good early morning wake-up call one morning by roaring right outside the staff village! We were quickly able to get out on morning drive to find him.
 
Bonga Pride were also in the area and these lions seemed to be specialising on blue wildebeest as we saw them a few times on different carcasses. One time the pride we were watching the lionesses and the two big males came in to take over the kill. The females started roaring and we heard other lions respond. We went to check on who was calling and found it was a different pride altogether who were busy hunting baboons.
 
A clan of three spotted hyena were scavenging on the remains of an elephant calf.
 
The resident pack of two wild dogs popped up one morning as guides and guests were enjoying a morning tea break. We quickly packed up and followed them hunting impala and red lechwe. Later in the month another pack of six adults and one puppy were tracked for almost three hours and we found them lying under the trees. We returned in the afternoon and the patient work of the morning was rewarded by a hunt, culminating in them bringing down and eating an impala lamb. We saw this larger pack hunting a few times and once finishing off a warthog.
 
The resident female leopard known as Jane was in the area. One time we followed her hunting, but she seemed reluctant as she was being followed by a hyena who seemed to be hoping to steal a kill from her. A few days later we were watching her as a warthog ran out of the bushes. Jane then investigated further and found a warthog burrow. She proceeded to kill all three piglets, one after another. The following day, we were thrilled to realise that she was nursing newborn cubs and we were able to see her carrying them from one den to another. Jane’s now adult son, known as Fisherman was tracked until we found him. It is so lovely to see different generations of this same leopard family continuing to thrive in the Lebala area.
 
Right along the airstrip road there was an active den for the black-backed jackals with four playful puppies. A serval was often seen stalking prey along the edge of the marsh and a couple of times we found an African wild cat hunting.
 
A fallen strangler fig near to Twin Pools attracted a very large herd of breeding elephants who seemed to loved feasting on the tree. Some of the elephants were lying down horizontally whilst still managing to feed.
 
A herd of twelve buffalo were grazing along the road being followed by lots of cattle egret who were snatching up grasshoppers and other insects disturbed by the large bovines.
 
At the start of the month there was extremely good general game in the marsh area; the animals were hanging near to the water as the natural waterholes dried up. Species seen at the time included elephant, giraffe, impala, red lechwe, wildebeest, zebra and hippo. A very relaxed herd of six adult roan antelopes and their two calves were found near to Baobab Pan. In the same area we also located a herd of eight sable, also with two calves.
 
We had lovely bird sightings near to the marsh including openbilled storks, black herons, kingfishers, egrets, swallows and steppe eagles. After some summer rains fell a large number of eagles were seen feeding on termite alates, also known as “flying ants”. We had a great sighting of two rosy-throated longclaws – a very prized sighting for keen birders. There were still a good number of carimine bee-eaters in the area.
 
(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!)

Lebala, Nov 2018

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The two males from the Wapuka Pride were seen alone with two of the females and were mating one of lionesses when a herd of thirty elephants came and chased the lions with lots of trumpeting. It was fascinating to see how the elephants protected their calves by keeping them in the middle of the herd. As with the previous month, both Wapuka Pride and the Bonga lions were overlapping their territories near to camp. One night we heard a hideous commotion and in the morning we found the two prides near to each other looking exhausted. It seemed as though there had been a very serious fight.

One of the beauties of driving in the Lebala section of the Kwando Reserve is the wide open areas in which there are many different species of prey such as zebra, giraffe, impala, sable and roan antelope. Although it is an open area, Bonga Pride were cleverly ambushing prey using the base of big leadwood trees as cover. The same lions were often seen near to camp, one day at Room 9 feeding on two wildebeest carcasses that they killed during the night. The two pride males were there with four lionesses and their cubs. Warthogs and wildebeest seemed to be the main targets for the lions in November. Three subadult male lions had been kicked out of the Bonga Pride by the two dominant males. They looked starving and will quickly need to learn how to survive independently of their mothers.

The resident leopard, known as Fisherman due to his preference for the marsh habitats, was seen near to two hyenas who were feeding on a carcass. The guides suspected that the hyenas had stolen the kill from the leopard. We watched as he stalked some red lechwe through the marshes, but in the end the antelope headed into water that was too deep for him to follow. Another time he had killed a warthog up a tree and was enjoying his feast, with a hyena waiting beneath him gobbling up any scraps that fell to the ground. We came across Jane, the well known resident female leopard. Her daughter was now living independently and we found her drinking on another occasion.

A pack of seven wild dogs (six adults and a puppy) were ranging a very large territory between Lagoon and Lebala camps. The guides suspected that they were changing positions regularly in order to avoid other large predators such as lions and hyena who are numerous in the Kwando Reserve. One day we saw them bring down two impala at once. As they were feeding, within five minutes, four hyenas came and tried to steal the carcasses from the dogs. The pack bravely stood its ground and chased the hyenas away who waited until the dogs had eaten their fill. Another time the Wapoka pride of nine lions were on a hunting mission and flushed out the pack. The guides were worried because two of the dogs appeared to be missing afterwards.

The temperatures in November were scorching and we saw many herds of elephants in the river coming down to drink and cool themselves in the mud and water. These breeding herds had lots of youngsters and one evening we watched as the adults helped them across the river by pushing them, some of the calves were holding onto their mothers’ tails. The the river we also enjoyed watching red lechwe jumping across the streams and big herds of zebra and wildebeest drinking.

We came across a dead buffalo along the river with lots of vultures up in the trees. All of a sudden, a clan of eight hyena appeared and began to feed on the carcass, pulling it apart vigorously. Four black-backed jackals came and started to steal small pieces of meat. We also found a jackal den near to the airstrip with four playful puppies. Once we saw the adults coming back and regurgitating food for the youngsters to eat.

After some rains the monitor lizards started to come further from water in search of food. We had some beautiful sightings of monitor lizards, one was eating tortoise eggs and another one was trying to break small snail shells. We saw several small leopard tortoises. Smaller cats such as African wild cat and serval were seen on night drive, we watched the serval pouncing on a mouse. We were lucky to see a rare sighting of a white-tailed mongoose on our way back to camp one night, the animal was hunting. We also saw honey badgers and a large-spotted genet killing mice on different occasions.

Birdlife was also excellent, especially by the river, including egrets, herons, storks and bee-eaters. The trilling call of the Woodland Kingfisher once again echoed around the bush as this beautiful returning migrant came back to Botswana.

(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!)

Lebala, Oct 2018

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A young female leopard, named by our guides as Jenny, was seen walking on the road and we watched her as she started to hunt squirrels. She jumped up a tree to hunt the squirrel and was successful in catching and eating it, though this would be a very small snack indeed for a leopard! We watched a female leopard make a kill of an impala, but unfortunately two male lions came onto the scene and chased her up into a tree. She waited in the tree for quite some time, but eventually gave up on the kill and ran away. A very shy male leopard was picked up under spotlights on night drive. He was not one of the resident toms, but an intruder from another area. We saw him later in the month with a kudu kill up a tree.

Diligent work by the guide and tracker team led us to the Wapoka Pride of lions lying down on the road, we went back after a while and followed them hunting where they brought down a wildebeest – our guests rewarded for their patience by a spectacular kill sighting. The Wapoka Pride were then not around for couple of weeks, but returned towards the end of the month. They seemed nervous and were regularly climbing trees and mounds as they hunted; our guides suspected that they were being so vigilant because they knew that the Bonga Pride was also in the area. A couple of days later Wapoka Pride brought down a buffalo bull near to the camp at night. Our guides were flabbergasted when Bonga Pride also showed up at the carcass and the two prides ate side by side without any apparent friction. This was highly unusual behaviour and a fantastic sighting, to which was added hyenas and jackals trotting around and vultures roosted in the trees waiting patiently for their turn. By the next morning it was just Bonga Pride lying round-bellied at the carcass. The vultures came down and started to feed and hyenas tried to sneak a few mouthfuls but were too scared of the lions to feed properly.

We saw Bonga pride hunting and bringing down two wildebeest right in front of the vehicle and watched with interest as the two pride males refused to let the lionesses eat, only allowing the cubs to approach the carcass and join in the feeding. The following day the pride killed a big male warthog but once again one of the male lions took the carcass and ate it alone. Once we followed them as they were stalking a herd of kudu which were hidden in the bushes, but the antelope saw them in time and took off. The lions continued heading towards the marshes where they often hunt warthogs and aquatic species of antelope such as red lechwe. Another time we tracked the lions to Tsessebe Pan where we were able to get lovely shots of them lined up drinking, with reflections in the water.

The resident pack of just two wild dogs were seen lying down in a pool of wet mud to cool down before trying to hunt impala. Unfortunately for them the long grass impeded their hunt so they eventually gave up and went hungry. A different pack of six adults and one puppy were ranging between the Lebala and Lagoon sides of the Kwando Reserve and we found them a couple of times in the Halfway Pan area, always looking well fed with round bellies.

Big herds of red lechwe were in the area and our guests enjoyed photographing them as they splashed through the water in the marshes.

A huge herd of buffalo were seen grazing very close to camp. Elephants were also plentiful and guests enjoyed watching them mud-bathing. A lovely herd of endangered sable antelope comprising twelve adults and five calves was in the area.

A big number of carmine bee-eaters were still by their nests at John’s Pan and summer migrants, such as yellow-billed kites, were busy coming back into the area.

(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!)