Press "Enter" to skip to content

Category: Lebala

Lebala Camp, February 2024

One subadult male showcased the leopard’s exceptional hunting skills at Motama Pan, securing a water monitor lizard and providing a three-hour filming spectacle.

Another male and a stray female leopard were located west of Kubu Pan. Although the female sought refuge in the bushes, the male remained relaxed under the shade of a blue bush. We also found another sizeable male drinking by Python Pan, leading us to an impala carcass. On yet another game drive, we watched a dominant male leopard along Baobab Road on a lengthy journey of scent-marking and patrolling. Unperturbed by our presence, he even sought shade under our vehicle. 

Leopard at Lebala Camp

A brown hyena carrying a piece of meat was spotted heading north of Lebala Camp at full speed into the marshes. 15 spotted hyenas were photographed diving in and out of the rib cage of an elephant carcass, creating joyous chuckles among our guests. Tawny eagles, yellow-billed kites, and various vultures — white-headed, lappet-faced, white-backed, and hooded — were also observed and photographed near this carcass.

Serval Surprises and Wild Dog Dramas

Nocturnal explorations unveiled some intriguing smaller mammals. One memorable moment was seeing an aardwolf engaged in scent marking and insect hunting. Other frequent stars of the night drives included both sleek black-backed jackals and side-striped jackals, African wild cats, a lively gathering of bat-eared foxes at Sunset Pan and the playful antics of springhares reminiscent of kangaroos, which delighted all observers. One appearance by a serval cat along the fire break sparked joy, and it was affectionately dubbed “baby cheetah” by our guests. 

A highly-spirited pack of ten African wild dogs, consisting of nine adults and one subadult, thrived in the area. Fresh tracks led to an exhilarating hour-and-a-half tracking session during one morning game drive. We eventually found them at a natural waterhole, where they were drinking. The atmosphere changed suddenly as the pack spotted a herd of impalas and set off on a thrilling chase. They successfully took down a male impala.

Later in the month, on another game drive, a pack of African wild dogs shot out from the bushes at a swift pace. Notably well-fed, it became evident they had recently been chased by lions, causing them to retreat to the shade under Kalahari apple-leaf trees. We spent two hours observing their contented demeanour, leaving the guests spellbound by the display of their post-hunt activities.

One day, during a bird-watching expedition along Crane Road, we chanced upon the Scarface pride — two lionesses escorted by nine subadults of varying ages. Following them back to camp, they passed the lounge area of Lebala Camp and headed south toward the airstrip, eventually finding shade under Kalahari apple-leaf trees. In the afternoon, we ventured north, discovering two lionesses at Lechwe Corner on an unsuccessful hunting mission. However, they later led us to their hidden treasure — four lively cubs, approximately three months old! 

During a transfer to Lagoon Camp led to the sighting of three dominant males, two lionesses, and their playful cubs strolling the floodplain by Lechwe Corner. As the day waned, they sought shade under an African mangosteen tree, with the cubs amusing themselves by playing with the male lions’ tails. Two wounded male subadults were also discovered near Twin Pools, hinting at their recent struggles. The Stricker Pride, consisting of two lionesses and five subadults, was found moving along Old Hippo Pool, heading south toward Boundary Road. We encountered the Holly Pride along the cutline road — four lionesses and five cubs feasting on two buffalo carcasses.

We tracked a female cheetah north of Motswiri Pan, where she engaged in three hunting attempts. Despite two failures, the third chase resulted in the successful capture of a female impala. The graphic feeding scene under a small blue bush gave guests captivating footage. Additionally, two dominant male cheetahs were found feasting on a female common reedbuck, following the alarm calls of a troop of baboons by Wild Dog Pan. A subsequent day trip allowed us to track and locate these well-fed males heading west.

Elephant and eland herds

The area teemed with vast herds of diverse animal species. Large elephant herds drank at the natural waterholes before bathing in mud and dust. A mesmerising moment occurred when elephants, with their calves, gracefully crossed the islands in a single-file formation.

Witnessing over sixty elands, dazzling numbers of zebras, and adorable impalas with their lambs added to the wildlife experience. Towering giraffes also graced the plains, while different natural waterholes and lagoons hosted lively congregations of hippos. Even within our camp, elephants appeared, emerging from the woodland and marching into the marshes with audible stomach rumbles. Dung beetles meticulously moulded and buried their precious dung balls.

We found Nile crocodiles basking on sandbanks and water monitor lizards at the edges of the waterholes. The air was alive with the graceful dance of net-winged beetles, grasshoppers, damsels, dragonflies, groundlings, and butterflies, creating a colourful spectacle. 

The skies also teeming with large flocks of birds. Among the residents, marabou storks, abdims stork, saddle-billed storks, and yellow-billed storks were photographed, often with their juveniles around natural waterholes feeding on toad frogs, rubber-banded frogs, and bullfrogs. Migratory birds such as southern carmine bee-eaters, broad-billed rollers, amur falcons, and woodland kingfishers added to the songs of the sky.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, January 2024

The brown hyena made several fleeting appearances, often observed at a close distance yet consistently on the move. 

On occasion, it ventured into Lebala Camp, particularly along the meandering marsh adjacent to room 8, displaying a notably shy demeanour. Meanwhile, the spotted hyenas provided entertaining scenes as they visited the remnants of old elephant skins post-rains. We watched their interesting behaviour of chewing on the remains and picking up small bones softened by the rain, subsequently crushing them much more quickly than during the dry season.

The Lebala lions follow abundant prey 

The landscape has become dense, and the blossoming flowers from various plants and shrubs added to the Lebala’s beauty. During nature walks, we admired this burgeoning flora as well as dung beetles weaving between the fertile herbage thanks to the plentiful plains game. 

General game sightings were impressive, with numerous zebras mingling with wildebeest and their calves in open areas on the inland side. There were changes in the lion movement patterns as the prides transitioned from marsh to the open grounds on the inland side of the Kwando Private Concession. 

The lions also explored the woodland side, aligning their movements with the prey in the area. At Lechwe Corner, three males, accompanied by a female lion, spent approximately three to four days in the region as one male mated with the female. What was intriguing was the presence of the other two males observing the mating couple for several days. Despite witnessing prides attempting to stalk zebras, they were unsuccessful in their endeavours. An exciting moment unfolded as two male zebras fought and ran toward the lions. Although the subadults reacted and came close to a successful catch, the zebras escaped. Furthermore, we spotted a lioness in the walking range area with two kills of male red lechwes.

The cutest leopard cubs!

A female leopard with two subadult cubs was frequently observed, and it was always delightful to witness their playful antics — chasing each other on top of trees, jumping from one branch to another. Meanwhile, a male leopard was seen hunting warthogs. During the chase, a large male warthog valiantly fought back to protect the piglets, successfully pushing away the leopard. Another male leopard in the area was more shy, being relatively new to the region. Along Makodi Road, the resident male leopard made a remarkable kill, capturing a zebra calf. He then dragged the prey up a tree and spent several days feeding in the area.

During one game drive, vultures circling and landing caught our eye, prompting an investigation into the source of their interest, and our search led to the African wild dogs lying beneath a tree. One displayed remarkable activity, running around before awakening the entire pack. Swiftly, they darted into the mopane woodland and disappeared. Their satiated appearance indicated they had likely recently fed on an animal, explaining the presence of vultures in the vicinity.

Wild dogs Lebala Camp

A pair of male cheetahs were found near Motama Pan, feeding on a wildebeest calf. Following their meal, they dedicated the rest of the day to leisure, resting under a tree beside the road leading to the airstrip. Even in the afternoon, they remained in the same vicinity. 

Amur falcons and bustling waterholes 

The Amur falcons persisted in large flocks, displaying lively activity in the morning and afternoon. Similarly, the carmine and blue-cheeked bee-eaters are actively present. The region continued to host various migratory birds, offering delightful sightings of Broad-billed rollers, woodland kingfishers and grey-headed kingfishers. Particularly fascinating was the sight of water birds congregating in substantial numbers around waterholes (brimming from the recent rains), encompassing a range of sizes from small to large aquatic species. During days with considerable rainfall, fewer elephants were observed, while on warmer days, a significant number of elephants were spotted.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, December 2023

In the stillness of one unforgettable night game drive late in December, we were treated to an exceptional sighting — a pangolin.

Initially shy, it became a star of the night, captivating us with its distinctive scales and comically short front legs. 

Oribi antelopes and enormous journeys of giraffes

Game drives along the boundary road by Python Pan and around Tsaro Pan revealed a spectacular sight of approximately eighty-six giraffes. Tsessebe Island treated us to the elusive sitatunga antelope. Oribi antelopes also appeared near James’s Pool, while a grand dazzle of zebras was a photographic highlight on the area’s western side along Zebra Road and Eland Pan.

Following the abundant rains, the entire Kwando Private Concession became a lush green expanse — the natural waterholes brimmed with water, where bullfrogs sounded their sonorous calls and banded rubber frogs appeared along the camp’s walkways.

The leopards and lions of Lebala

To the western side of the camp along Impala Road, we uncovered cat tracks weaving back and forth near a natural waterhole. As we traversed through the Kalahari apple leaf trees and approached the mopane trees, the tracks grew fresher. Our reward was discovering the leopard, a nursing mother with a two-and-a-half-month-old cub. The joyous sight of the cub cautiously emerging from the bushes to reunite with its mother brought immense delight to our guests!

During our expedition along the southern route, we stumbled upon a subadult female leopard’s faint but intriguing tracks near Motswiri Pan. Despite the rain causing the tracks to fade, our perseverance paid off as we tracked her down, gracefully resting along the road west of Twin Pools.   

On another morning expedition south of Lebala Camp along Vlei Road, we encountered the eleven lions from the Scarface Pride. Hoping for a hunt (as they appeared hungry), we followed them back to camp and kept tracking as they passed west of the staff quarters, heading north along Elephant Trail. To our surprise, they swam across the river!

Lions at Lebala

We also encountered the Scarface Pride along Crane Road. They were on the move north of camp, comprising two lionesses, nine sub-adults of different ages, and three big males. Attempting to hunt red lechwe, their efforts were unsuccessful as the lechwe spotted them, distracted by the playful antics of the subadults. During our morning drive along the main road via Baobab Pan, we found three male lions, the Golden Boys, and followed them as they roared, heading east. We witnessed a lion cub being introduced to the Scarface Pride, with the subadults keen on playing but held back by the growling mother.

One morning game drive, we heard lions roaring north of Lebala Camp. We headed in that direction for about forty minutes and found a male and female near Mike’s Crossing, north of James Pool. We spent at least half an hour photographing them, only to realise they had just started mating, which brought smiles to our faces.

Along the main road near the BDF junction, lion tracks etched a story of their recent passage, crossing the road westward. We navigated through the bush, where the lions, with a keen sense of smell, cornered a female on a leadwood tree. Bathed in the sun’s golden hues, the guests seized the moment, capturing exquisite photographs of this remarkable scene.

A walk on the wild side in the Kwando Private Concession

Walking safaris were extraordinary throughout the month. Engaging discussions on the medicinal uses of plants unfolded against the backdrop of blooming flowers, creating a sensory-rich experience. As we walked amidst the flora, guests could touch and smell various species, connecting with nature intimately. Encounters with wildlife during these walks, including warthogs, black-backed jackals, wildebeests, and red lechwe, offered a unique perspective into their fascinating behaviours.

For over an hour and a half, we diligently tracked two male cheetahs until we discovered them resting under the comforting shade of a leadwood tree along the westward stretch of the ten-kilometre road. Sated from a recent meal, we observed their laboured breathing and playful rolls from side to side.

On the 3rd, our expedition took us on an extensive drive along the boundary road, following the tracks of these magnificent cheetahs weaving through the mopane woodland. After a dedicated effort lasting two and a half hours, we found them reclined, their round bellies hinting at a substantial feast.

Later in the month, a drive along Bale’s Road presented fresh tracks of two male cheetahs heading towards a waterhole. Suddenly, with a burst of energy, the cheetahs leapt up and darted into the bushes. Following their trail, we uncovered a dramatic scene: the cheetahs overpowering a baby impala. Cameras clicked as they devoured every part, including the crunching of bones, culminating in a thorough session of cleaning and mutual grooming.

Due to the notable presence of lions and hyenas, we persisted in our efforts to locate the playful African wild dogs. A breakthrough occurred during our productive morning game drive along Zebra Road. We were drawn to descending vultures. The dogs, a pack of ten (nine adults and one subadult puppy), were found near Zebra Pan, satiated after feasting on the remains of a male impala. The dogs treated us to delightful antics, playing with sticks and frolicking in the water to cleanse themselves of blood.

There were abundant sightings of spotted hyenas, particularly in the vicinity of Twin Pools, where the presence of elephant carcasses drew them in, benefitting from the wetness brought by the rain. One extraordinary event unfolded as seven spotted hyenas engaged in a dramatic battle with the lions from Stricker Pride, consisting of two adults and five subadults, over a lechwe kill. In a surprising turn, the hyenas emerged victorious, claiming the spoils, while the lions were left to lick their wounds.

Adding to our hyena experiences, we spotted a shy brown hyena north of the camp along Crane Road. Swiftly, it darted into the marshes, giving our guests a fleeting yet captivating glimpse as it vanished through the tall grass.

During our morning and afternoon game drives, the landscape came alive with the presence of black-backed and side-striped jackals, scrub hares, and bat-eared foxes. Impalas with their adorable offspring, sizable herds of elephants accompanied by tiny calves, and glimpses of sable and roan antelopes in small woodland groups.

Kwando Lebala Dining Area

In camp, closer to the kitchen and dining area, encounters with the olive grass snake and green-spotted snake provided fascinating insights into the local wildlife. Along the tributary east and south of the camp by the stadium, both large and small crocodiles gracefully navigated the waters. The air buzzed with the mesmerising flight of click beetles, net-winged beetles, and fruit chafers moving from one flower to another. A particular favourite among our guests was observing dung beetles skilfully rolling their dung balls from animal droppings.

Yellow-billed kites, Walberg’s eagles, tawny eagles, and various adults and juveniles of bateleur eagles soared overhead. Southern carmine bee-eaters, broad-billed rollers, lanner falcons, and red-footed falcons danced in the air in large groups, creating memorable visual displays. Meanwhile, thick-billed weavers, brown-throated weavers, and white-browed weavers diligently built and rebuilt their nests, providing a captivating glimpse into their nesting behaviours.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, November 2023

Every lion pride had its own story this month. One pride consisted of 11 lions, while another had only 7. In both prides, three dominant males kept watch.

Clashes between the younger lions sometimes occurred, bringing the pride together temporarily, but eventually, they had to separate due to the natural tensions between them. The fierce males, who ruled over the savannah, occasionally approached Lebala Camp, causing a stir during breakfast with their imposing presence.

November in the Kwando Private Concession

The general game in the Kwando Private Concession was a spectacle of life converging around water sources. Elephants, buffalos, tsessebes, impalas, and warthogs, often with newborn calves, congregated along the river. The dry spell before the onset of summer rains drew lions from inland, weaving more stories around the precious water sources. Impalas and warthogs bore the brunt of the pride’s appetite, with impala lambs becoming a frequent feast.

A female leopard with two cubs was seen several times, and we also observed a female with a young male cub but without the young female cub. One day, we located them with the dominant resident male leopard. We followed the male on patrol, and he bumped into another male since the territory of two overlaps. Impalas and small warthogs frequently fell victim to their stealthy hunts, each kill a testament to their hunting skills. A thrilling episode unfolded as a male leopard chased and captured an impala lamb.

Terrestrial life, from crickets to harvest termites, stirred vibrantly in the aftermath of the first rains. During night drives, Aardwolves strolled confidently as they foraged for the plentiful offering. African civets pitter-pattered near the camp, porcupines patrolled the fire break, and African wild cats stalked the grasses during dawn and dusk. Springhares added a playful touch to the evening activities.

Spotted hyenas were seen during both moonlit and sunrise safaris. We found two hippos dead, most likely from a territorial dispute, and the hyenas had a feast. Two females with cubs provided a rare insight into their secretive dens, although impenetrable blue bush prevented further exploration.

The brown hyenas have moved from the area due to lions, which have been in the same area, and their presence spelt too much danger for the little cubs.

During a game drive, we located cheetahs with full bellies, a testament to recent success in the hunting grounds, on a transfer between Lagoon and Lebala Camp.  

Cheetah in Kwando Private Concession

The African wild dogs, agile and coordinated, made several appearances, engaging in both triumphant and heartbreaking hunts. Impalas and their calves often found themselves on the tragic side of nature’s theatre. Following them on a hunt, from the excitement of the chase to the bittersweet conclusion, provided a glimpse into the cycle of life.

Carmine bee-eaters and white-fronted bee-eaters were observed. Water birds, including saddle-billed storks and wattled cranes, were sighted in the marsh area. Ground hornbills, in groups of 9, 5, and 4, brought their distinct charm, while the fleeting presence of red-footed falcons delighted us too.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, October 2023

Five distinct leopards graced our presence in the Kwando Private Concession this month.

One female had two cubs, and their playful antics frequently caught our attention. Impala feasts marked their territory, while the resident male showcased his hunting prowess. The territories of two leopards clashed in a silent yet powerful dance. Leopards are territorial creatures, marking their area with urine and leaving claw marks on trees. The size of their site varies depending on factors like food availability.

Lion update from Lebala Camp

The lions of Lebala were seen many times this month and present in two formidable groups. We observed the bonds and hunts of an 11-strong pride and another of seven, which left us in awe, especially when the dominant males took centre stage.

Lebala Camp Lions

One morning, breakfast around the campfire became a wildlife symphony as the lions strolled nearby and vocalised to the rest of the pride. Their routines ranged from failed hunts to devouring impalas, wildebeests, kudus, and zebras. The dry spell in October compelled other lions to venture towards camp from inland. Tensions occasionally flared, leading to fierce subadult clashes, but unity ultimately prevailed, leaving each pride intact.

The general game descended to the Kwando River’s edge. Tsessebe calves pranced around, male buffalos asserted their presence, and elephants graced us in large herds. Sable and roan antelopes showcased their elegance by the water, while hippos claimed the channel.

Most of the bee-eater species have arrived in the area, with carmine bee-eaters and white-fronted bee-eaters seen in good numbers. Waterbirds logged include saddle-billed storks and wattled cranes along the marsh areas, along with Southern ground hornbills, in an impressive group of nine on one occasion.

African wild dogs Kwando Lebala

One memorable African wild dog sighting turned into an adrenaline-pumping spectacle. Along the southern marsh, we watched a successful impala hunt unfold under the descending sun, leaving us in suspense into the last light as the pack finished the meal. These dogs are exceptional endurance runners. They can cover great distances during hunts, often pursuing prey until the prey is exhausted. Their efficient cooling mechanism facilitates this — they have fewer sweat glands and rely on rapid breathing to dissipate heat.

Night prowlers and marsh dwellers

After the first rains, crickets and moths have been active, and at night, the harvester termites gathered grasses. In hot pursuit, the aardwolves gracefully stepped into the spotlight during our nocturnal adventures, largely unfazed by our presence. In a single night, an individual aardwolf can consume up to 300,000 termites with a combined weight of 1,2kg! An African civet made a cameo near the camp, and the elusive porcupine paraded along the firebreak. Our night drives were also enhanced by spotted hyenas, which occasionally congregated near an elephant carcass. Their brown counterparts, elusive and shy, teased us by darting into thickets by the northern marsh.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, September 2023

The guides at Lebala Camp identified a new pack of eight African wild dogs. Their exciting pursuit of impalas towards the camp along Monyomba Road gave guests an unforgettable game drive.

Tracking them to Lion Road revealed their successful kill of a subadult male kudu, and we observed their animated feeding ritual. African wild dogs are skilled and efficient hunters. They mainly hunt medium-sized antelopes but can take down larger prey like wildebeests. They often chase their prey long distances, relying on stamina and teamwork to exhaust the animals.

Another highlight was observing a pair of lionesses with five subadults scavenging a zebra carcass in the tall grasslands between Crane Road and James’s Link Road. Later, three male lions and three lionesses, accompanied by nine subadults, were spotted roaring together before proceeding into hunting mode. This is always a heart-thumping moment to witness in the wild as the sun sets and darkness consumes the landscape.

Lions at lebala camp

The lions successfully killed a common reedbuck in the marsh, but the males dominated the spoils while the lionesses and subadults missed out. Additionally, we saw the Stricker pride comprising two lionesses and their five subadults devouring a male wildebeest, growling and playfully chasing each other.

The spotted residents of Lebala

Two female leopards made kills. One led her cubs to the feast, indicating their hidden whereabouts, and we enjoyed some incredible encounters with the trio. The other was found with one cub, gradually overcoming its shyness as they feasted.

On one morning game drive, we saw four spotted hyenas feasting on an impala carcass left behind by African wild dogs on the main road west of Twin Pools. Captivating flocks of white pelicans, yellow-billed and saddle-billed storks, and marabou storks also gathered at Twin Pools, attracted by the abundance of trapped fish.

Due to the increased activity of other predators in the area, the cheetahs wisely chose to stay away from the vicinity.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, August 2023

One memorable incident involved a brown hyena’s daring escape from hunting lions amidst the marshes, a testament to the unyielding survival instincts.

Sparse sightings of spotted hyenas within the woodlands were supplemented by abundant tracks along the game routes, indicating a bustling hyena presence.

During August, one lion pride visited Lebala several times. The pride consisted of three adult males, two lionesses, and five subadult cubs. We saw the lions with full bellies, indicating successful hunts in the marshes, where they caught an impala and a reedbuck on separate occasions.

Lion pride cute cubs lebala camp

We also encountered a mother leopard with her two cubs playfully roaming the Lebala landscape. We enjoyed watching them in various locations, and they were incredibly relaxed around our vehicles. The enigmatic tracks of other hidden leopards crisscrossed our game drive routes, hinting at the presence of these graceful yet mysterious creatures within the depths of our surroundings.

Guests witnessed two male cheetahs hunting impalas successfully, but they have since ventured northwards towards Lagoon Camp. We also observed two females that preferred the safety of the west and avoided lion territories.

The place of wide open plains

Lebala’s open plains were home to various wildlife, including giraffes, lechwes, elephants, kudus, warthogs, jackals, and buffaloes. The area also offered rare sightings of eland, roan, and sable antelopes.

Plains Zebra Lebala Camp

We saw multiple crocodiles and water monitor lizards gliding through the water. Other animals we spotted included steenboks, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves, African wildcats, scrub hares, genets, spring hares, civets, caracals, and servals.

Birding enthusiasts were delighted to see black-winged stilts and African jacanas gracefully flying, and the mesmerizing sight of carmine bee-eaters and white-fronted bee-eaters marked the arrival of summer visitors. A nesting pair of secretarybirds at Kubu Pan became a cherished treasure, and we visited their area frequently. There were also black herons, slaty egrets, squacco herons, grey herons, darters and cormorants.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, June 2023

The alpha female moved to the subordinate female’s den and caused a hive of activity in the African wild dog den near Lebala Camp!

The litter of puppies has grown to six, with four appearing to be of similar size and the other two slightly smaller. During captivating visits, we observed the pack’s bonding rituals with the puppies and noted that most of their hunting occurs in the early morning, and then they spend noon near the den.

Lebala Camp Wild Dogs
By Alan Bloodgood

Spotted hyenas hung around an elephant carcass along Mophane Road. Some females appeared pregnant, while others seemed to be lactating, suggesting young cubs’ presence. In the marsh area on the northern side, we saw brown hyenas near the burrows, potentially indicating their den site! Brown hyenas are elusive creatures and typically exhibit shyness in our presence.

Leopards and lions love Lebala

The resident male leopard (known as Fisherman) made several appearances this month. On three occasions, we observed him in the company of a female, indicating that they were likely mating, although not in our presence. The female leopard established her territory between Kubu Pan and Lebala Camp, as evidenced by numerous tracks. Her presence in the area has allowed us plenty of opportunities to admire the grace and stealth of these elusive felines.

The majestic lions of Lebala graced us with their presence throughout the month.

Lion at Lebala Camp

The Golden Boys (a coalition of three magnificent males) accompanied the pride several times. With the water levels in the river decreasing, the pride crossed over to the islands, where they spent their days searching for prey. Although attempts to witness a successful hunt were fruitless, we often found them feeding. One lioness, accompanied by her three cubs, along with two sub-adult males from the Holy pride, were spotted around Lechwe Corner and Halfway Pan. These young males are growing into impressive individuals. We also caught the roars of the Wapuka pride in the mornings and glimpses of them around the fire break area.

A pair of male cheetahs was initially sighted in Bali’s Valley before heading towards the river area. Later, they were observed crossing over to the Lagoon side. Additionally, the female cheetah and a subadult were spotted on the west side of Kubu Pan, and the following day, they successfully killed an impala near camp.

The general game was abundant and diverse. Elephants came to the river alongside numerous zebras, wildebeests, and kudus. We encountered a group of old bull buffalos in the marsh area, which took up residence there.

Happiness is a honey badger sighting!

Honey badgers frequently appeared during morning drives. These fearless and tenacious creatures have remarkable adaptability. Despite their small size, they are powerful, capable of taking on adversaries much larger than themselves. They are skilled diggers, using their strong claws to create burrows and access food sources such as insects and small mammals. Civets and springhares were often seen after dark, and on one memorable night drive, we spotted two aardwolves and a serval.

The dry season has taken its toll on the land, leaving the vegetation parched and the water levels in the river significantly reduced. Only a few waterholes on the dry land still contain a small amount of water. As we explored the riverside, impressive crocodiles basked in the warm sun. Water monitor lizards were also seen near the camp, while smaller pools were frequented by tiny dwarf geckos.

Lebala Camp - Luxury Tent -1

Majestic secretary birds graced the skies while bateleur eagles soared above, displaying their impressive wingspans. By Halfway Pan, we were treated to beautiful flamingos while groups of ground hornbills roamed the landscape. The coqui francolins were active around the camp, and the vibrant sunbirds added splashes of colour to the wilderness. Flocks of canaries and various water birds further enhanced the avian diversity.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, December 2022

Our headline news from Lebala? Families can overcome their differences and make up! 

As winter closed a few months ago, the Wapuka pride split up following the disappearance of the former pride males, Old Gun and Sebastian. The younger males (The Golden Boys) took over in their months of absence. Their inexperience in governing a growing pride would have been contributing factors in the breaking down of relations and led to the split of the five lionesses into smaller prides of two and three with six and nine cubs, respectively. 

We followed the adventures of these splinter groups, but they have since set aside their differences and are back together!

Alongside the three Golden Boys, five lionesses and nine cubs total a pride of 23 lions in a formidable grouping. Some cubs are still young, and we watched them regularly as they gained hunting practice with the plentiful herbivores that covered the grassy plains around Lebala. 

We monitored a handful of unsuccessful hunts during daylight activities, but at night the lions reigned supreme, and sunrise game drives brought superb sightings of the pride on their successful nocturnal kills. 

The life and times of the Lebala leopards

If something works, then why change it? This was the motto of one female leopard hanging out at Norman Pan. Over four days, she killed two wildebeest calves in almost precisely the same circumstances. We watched her hunting in the Motswiri Pan area, where she tried and failed several times. As such, she moved her focus and settled in to play the long game at Norman Pan where a small herd of wildebeest came to drink; a mix of adults, subadults (probably born the previous year) and the newest additions to the herd. 

Having selected her prey, she charged into the open and the herd scattered. Did you know? The collective noun for these grazers is ‘a confusion of wildebeest’. The leopard took a young animal down in the kerfuffle and applied a terminal bite to the throat before dragging it into the undergrowth. This scenario played out in an almost identical fashion two days later. It was also interesting that she didn’t drag her precious carcass into a tree. Many of the pans have filled with water, and newborns populate the plains, so typical enemies such as the lions and hyenas have easier hunting chances, which boosted her confidence in taking time over her meal.

She was not the only relaxed resident of Lebala. We frequently enjoyed time with a brown hyena as it happily went about its business near to the den. 

Spotted hyena den update

The spotted hyenas were also roaming within reach of their burrow, and the cubs were about six months old. They can eat solid food, but still rely on their mother for milk until they are 12 months. 

Large numbers of elephants and eland moved through the Kwando Private Reserve, but what staggered us was the sheer number of giraffes that appeared to be hiding (not very well) around each corner. There were also dozens and dozens of giraffes in the vicinity of Lebala Camp. 

While smaller in number, a family of seven Ground hornbills also drew attention this month. Three of them often wandered very near to the game drive vehicle providing wonderful photographic opportunities. 

Photograph by Grant Atkinson

Other birdlife sighted during December include Carmine bee-eaters, European rollers, Woodland kingfishers, Broad-billed rollers and many others, adding a fantastic splash of colour to this beautiful corner of Botswana, while Marsh owls and Verraux’s eagle owls were sighted on night drives.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed

Lebala Camp, November 2022

It has been a month of rain, hunts, and newborns. Sometimes all at the same time. 

Despite all the astonishing sightings this month, it was a wildebeest that stole the show and our hearts. 

One afternoon we happened upon a Blue wildebeest giving birth and we settled into the game drive vehicle to witness a live nature documentary. The calf spent twenty minutes trying to stand, falling over, trying again and generally getting its legs all mixed up. Eventually, with encouragement from the mother, it made it to its feet and started walking. We stayed with them for much of the afternoon and gave quiet encouragement as it went from tripping to stumbling to a confident stride. Finally, it was time to leave the mother and calf to meet the herd, and guides and guests enjoyed sundowners feeling very much like proud parents. 

Foxes and hyenas getting along?

Another unique sighting this month involved two subadult Spotted hyenas. We located them at Rhino Pan in the company of four bat-eared foxes. Seeing these animals is always special, but they appeared to be playing together with no sign of the fight or flight reaction that a smaller animal would have when faced with one of the larger predator species. Truly amazing!

What will you see on a walking safari at Lebala Camp?

Walking remains one of our favourite activities because it allows guests to get to grips with the smaller and more intimate side of the bush. One day, on a nature walk near camp we observed a Southern ground hornbill nest (at a respectful distance). Southern ground hornbills nest in the hollows of large old trees and only breed approximately once every three years (if the chicks survive). On another walk, we found three baby aardwolves in their burrow just a few weeks old. This was a fortunate sighting because the aardwolf can have multiple burrows across an area so that doting parents can hide their offspring. 

Walking safari Okavango Delta

Lebala transformed into a lovely landscape of swaying green grasses and open plains. We watched leopards lolling about this sublime scenery before setting off on several successful hunts, taking advantage of the inexperience of the new impala lambs. We also located a male leopard chasing a warthog and its piglets. The family made it to the apparent safety of an aardvark hole with metres to spare, but that didn’t discourage the leopard. It only had to dig for a few minutes to uncover the hapless warthog before snatching a piglet and climbing a tree. Two days later, we found him in the company of a female leopard while she fed on the carcass of a young impala. As we watched the scene, he slowly got up and walked into the bushes. Curious, we drove around to inspect the object of his attention and found that he had ambushed a baby wildebeest. Ever the showman, he dragged the carcass out into the open (brave behaviour given the other predators who would happily relieve him of it) and ate his fill before returning to the female. 

Lion hunts warthog

The lions followed suit, and we discovered them on carcasses throughout the month. The split of the Wapuka pride meant we regularly saw two lionesses with their six cubs and three lionesses with nine cubs. 

Brown hyena den update

We have been aware of a brown hyena den near camp. However, following some fantastic tracking one morning, we followed brown hyena tracks to a second yet unknown den. The presence of two subadult brown hyenas mentioned above was the reward for a long morning of shifting forwards and tracking backwards through the bush. A true testament to the skills of the guide and tracker. 

We also saw a large variety of the smaller predators, with civets, serval, black-backed and side-striped jackals, and African wild cats featuring on both day and night drive expeditions. 

Elands, zebras, and wildebeest framed the landscape throughout the month, as have the large herds of elephants moving from the woodlands in the west, to the Kwando River in the east and then back again.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)

Comments closed