Lebala

Lebala Camp, July 2022

There were plenty of excellent sightings of Aardwolf, Serval, Nile Crocodiles and Civets, but the sighting of the month must go to the Honey badger.

Honey badger defeats a Black mamba

One late afternoon game drive, we came across the ultimate confrontation: Honey badger versus Black mamba. The badger had caught the mamba in open ground, and the mamba (which is often likely to move away from confrontation) decided that it had to make a stand.

Fierce honey badger

A dance across the sands ensued with the mamba trying to strike the Honey badger while its tormentor risked a lethal bite. This went backwards and forwards, and the mamba scored a couple of direct hits, which did not deter the maddened badger. The creature suddenly took his opportunity and grabbed the mamba behind the head. A moment later, the contest was over, and the victor tucked into his evening meal of mamba.

This fascinating question immediately arose: why is the badger not dead, having clearly been bitten at least twice? Recent studies show that the Honey badger, like the mongoose, hedgehog and (surprisingly) wild pig, appears to have evolved a natural defence against the potent venom. In an evolutionary arms race, the badgers are in a cycle of one-upmanship with the venomous snakes.

Sebastian and Old Gun return

It has been a month of soap opera relationships around Lebala Camp. Firstly, Old Gun and Sebastian re-emerged. These two male lions once dominated the Wapoka pride and have been missing for several months. They look healthy and well-fed and have clearly been successful on their recent travels. Will the three Golden Boys, who seem to have recently claimed their mantle, be in for a power struggle? Only time will tell!

Lions Lebala Camp

The Wapoka pride females have been moving apart and then coming together again. They appear to have twelve cubs and youngsters amongst them. While this bodes well for a healthy future pride, the various male lions we have seen in the area could still threaten them if there is a new play for dominance.

Not only have the lions caused confusion. The den of four African wild dogs seems to have been abandoned, and there is no evidence of puppies. It is highly likely that the wild dogs sensed a threat in the area and moved to a new den site. We have been fortunate to watch this small pack hunt on several occasions. While attempting to hunt an impala, a new pack of eight wild dogs appeared and the smaller pack broke off the hunt and made haste to put some distance between them and the newcomers. The eight scent-marked the area and then moved off without a second glance. We are still to find out their agenda in the area, but we suspect this tale has some way to go.

The recent disjointed nature of the Wapoka pride has made the leopards more confident, and guests enjoyed watching five different individuals throughout the month: two males and three females.

Spotted hyena cubs delight

Cheetahs have been scarce this month, with only tracks found south of the Kwando Private Reserve, but the same cannot be said for the Spotted hyenas. Their den is now home to four cubs addicted to their new playground.

While the hyena den has been a firm favourite, elephants have regularly made the camp their home this month. Guests merely had to step out onto the room verandah to see these four-ton roadblocks silently crisscrossing the paths to the tents.

Marabou Stork Botswana

Species such as rollers, storks and geese were common, and then there were our beloved cleaners of the environment, the vultures. White-backed and Hooded vultures flew from one carcass to another. These birds were rarely without the company of the morose-looking Marabou storks, which salvage the last remains of lion kills.

(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. Still, we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

Lebala

Lebala Camp, June 2022

A pack of five African wild dogs has moved into the Kwando Private Reserve and chosen the abundant Lebala plains for denning. 

African Wild Dogs Kwando Safaris

Sitting northwest of Lebala Camp on the western fringe of the aptly-named Wild Dog Pan, the den was located by our guides after dedicated tracking. It is a very sensitive time for the pack, and we have given them lots of space, observing their habits and progress from a considered distance as they prepare for life with pups. Evidence shows that the Brown hyena den is still active because its tracks were observed daily, but this special species proved elusive to the eye. 

New males in charge of the pride?

The Wapoka pride is still alive and well, but with the absence of Old Gun and his brother Sebastian the strength is significantly down.

We suspect these males might have moved to a new area because we haven’t seen them in two months. Instead, the Golden Boys have taken over their legacy. Cub numbers have increased to twelve, and the pride is intensifying its family bonds. The lionesses have been incredibly successful and taken down buffalos, warthogs, Red lechwe, and of recent Eland, too, thanks to the added brawn of the three dominant Golden Boys.

Lion cubs at Lebala Camp

Our beloved cleaners of the environment accompanied the lions and often alerted us to their movements as Whited-backed and Hooded vultures flew from one carcass to another. These birds were rarely alone and kept the company of Marabou storks and Black-backed jackals that all fought to salvage the last remains.

The increase in lion numbers has seen the leopards grow stealthier. However, we delightedly followed a male leopard patrolling the marshlands. He was understandably cautious in his movements and avoided the fringes where lions called frequently.

Elephants crossing

There has been an increased number of general game along the riversides and floodplains as the natural waterholes (such as Nari Pan, Steve’s Pan and Norman’s Pan) dried up in the surrounding savanna woodland. More elephant groups assembled at the river to drink, and as they returned to the woodlands for the night, they frequently funnelled through Lebala Camp, taking their sweet time and sometimes blocking traffic to the guest rooms. It has become very normal, and we simply wait for them to clear off, and then life goes on!

Elephants of Lebala Camp

Under the safety of experienced Kwando guides, our guests approached several general game species on foot, including Greater kudus, Blue wildebeest, Impalas and Red lechwe. On foot, we also noticed how African elephants have already started shaping the environment due to their increasing feeding in the area. They frequently break down trees and tree branches. During this season, Fever berry trees have been the most affected, losing plenty of their scrumptious leaves to the elephants.

The foliage that hasn’t been foraged by animals has been plucked off by colder, westerly winds which blew through the trees. All of this prepares for the next season and aids in reopening the landscape. Soon the coming heat will completely dry it up.

I’ll have a civet with my coffee, please

Spotted hyenas relished the feeding opportunity presented by an elephant carcass north of the camp. Some of our best nocturnal sightings were African wild cats, Civets, genets, and porcupines. An Aardwolf was spotted twice this month, and one morning, we spotted a Civet strolling near the swimming pool as we enjoyed morning coffee at the fire.

Breakfast at Lebala Camp

An African Rock python was spotted before dinner, heading toward the river and crossing the path just before room eight. 

(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!)

Lebala

Lebala Camp, May 2022

Our star activity this month has been the night drives, and we had the pleasure of glimpsing Aardwolf various times. African civets have also been very active and we commonly saw more than five on a single evening. 

You’ll need a strong stomach 

Aardwolf Lebala Camp

When thinking about predators, we often focus on their strength, stamina, and speed in the hunt. If an Aardwolf were to take a medal, it would probably be for the most impressive stomach. An elusive creature at the best of times, these termite-guzzling members of the hyena family can eat up to a kilogram of termites every night. Their muscular stomach can grind up 250,000 termites at a sitting and occupy a unique niche amongst the Hyaenidae by avoiding the competition for the hunt their brown and spotted cousins share with the felines and canids.


Feline family ties and successful Lebala lion hunts

One afternoon, we encountered three leopards and spent 45 minutes with the romantic trio as the two males tried to mate with the female. 

The coalition of three dominant male lions has been moving around the area near Lebala Camp, and it was wonderful to witness the bonds with their families. The three lions would greet all the pride females and patiently put up with the rough, tumble, ear pulling and nibbling the youngsters put them through. Their strong family ties paid dividends as they had tremendous success hunting wildebeests (guides have noted that lions have been killing more wildebeests than any other prey).

Lebala Camp Lion Dynamics

One of these hunts happened right in front of camp just as post-dinner drinks were being taken to the fire. A thunder of hooves in the darkness gave way as a wildebeest burst into the dim light from the camp, followed by the pride at a flat-out sprint. While wildebeests are fast (they can reach up to 80km an hour), the lions had sprung their trap to perfection. The wildebeest went down in a flurry of dust and hooves, and the lions quickly completed the job. This led to an evening of crunching and calling, and dawn found some content and full-bellied lions huffing and puffing near the camp, keeping a keen eye on the remains of their night’s work.

Enormous herds in the Kwando Private Reserve 

Away from the camp, we found a herd of almost 70 impressive Elands on the flood plains. The distinct clicking noise of the elands’ hooves can be heard from some distance, especially when there are so many of them! They were very relaxed around the game drive vehicle, and we almost became part of the herd with the correct car positioning. 

Large elephant herds have been seen with plenty of youngsters on the floodplains, and we enjoyed frequent sightings of a beautiful bird that occupies a special place in myth and legend. The Southern Ground hornbill is known as Lehututu in Setswana. Many tribes throughout Southern Africa associate them with death, but some associate them as bringers of rain, breakers of drought and protection against lightning. 

There has been a sprinkling of Carmine bee-eater sightings, a very early arrival as we usually only expect them in August and September. 

(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!)

Lebala

Lebala Camp, April 2022

The massive rainfalls have left us with a dark green landscape and tall grasses even away from the river’s system. Thanks to these late rains, we have also experienced an intense winter onset this year. Mornings are exceptionally wet from the morning dew, and an icy chill has already settled into the air.

What to see Kwando Private Reserve

Migrant species such as Carmine Bee-eaters and European Rollers (which would have typically left our area already) were still lurking about. This is likely due to the unseasonal surplus of their food source, tasty insects.

Elephants returned in thriving herd numbers on their local migration route this month. These incredible animals disperse during the rainy season, crisscrossing the Kwando Private Reserve to explore Namibia and possibly roam onward into Angola along ancient elephant highways to seek out the most nutritious feeding grounds. 

Conversely, we noticed smaller buffalo numbers. We predominantly saw bachelor groups and expect to see the larger migratory breeding herds by mid-winter when they gather in their hundreds and thousands, kicking up a cloud of dust in their wake. Giraffes, zebras and other regular antelope species, such as lechwe, roamed the Lebala Camp vicinity in their herds. All seemed in good shape after a rich summer of plentiful food.

Shifting lion dynamics

Lion sightings have likewise been generous, thanks to some exciting pride dynamics. There have been many breaks and separations between the two dominant prides and new female lions in the area. A highlight was observing the Golden Boys attempting to court one such lioness, which already had two-month-old cubs. They valiantly pursued her for two days until she submitted to their appeals. The mating continued for several days, and she was forced to abandon her new cubs for the whole week. Fortunately, another female from her pride (a fellow feline mother to three cubs of the same age) adopted her litter and suckled them until the engaged mother returned. Late last year, the Golden boys took over the Wapoka pride from Old Gun and Sebastian. We thought these new males would kill the cubs because they realized that they were not the genetic fathers, but the Golden Boys let these little ones live to our surprise.

What to see Kwando Private Reserve

The resident pack of three wild dogs was seen chasing Red lechwe antelopes in front of the camp, but they were unsuccessful in their hunt. We encountered four different leopards in one trip during a pick-up transfer from the Lagoon Camp airstrip! This included a male, a cub and a pair of mating leopards. 

An Aardwolf on foot!

We discovered two Aardwolf dens. One was occupied by a mother and her two precious pups. During one of our nature walks, an Aardwolf was spotted in an extraordinary encounter at very close range. These animals are typically nocturnal and emerge from their den at six weeks old. At about one year old, both male and female aardwolves leave their mother and establish their own territory. 

What to see Kwando Private Reserve

During night drives, porcupines, springhares, and African wild cats were all encountered. Late one afternoon, one very happy hyena was spotted finishing up a wildebeest carcass early in the morning.  

We also had two snake sightings of the infamous Black mamba and watched enthralled as one snake made its way inside the tunnels of mole rats in search of supper. 

(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!)

Lebala

Lebala Camp, March 2022

March is one of the hottest months in the Kwando Private Reserve, so elephants arrived in herds of hundreds to drink and mud bathe, especially on the eastern side of the reserve. The ground was also soft and malleable following good rains, making it easy for Damaraland Mole Rats to excavate their tunnels, which they do with their very impressive front teeth. These near-blind creatures are rarely found above ground, so are highly unusual to see, but we were lucky enough to find one digging out in the open. We encountered a Black mamba snake following one of these rodents around the Skimmer Pan area in yet another remarkable sighting!

These odd-looking creatures tend to emerge from the earth when it is cooler, and the soil might succumb more quickly to the diggings. Did you know? A true mole is an insect-eating animal, but these mole-rats only eat vegetable matter and favour bulbs and roots.

A much bigger rodent, the porcupine, was often seen around Lebala Camp in the early mornings, and we frequently found a Water monitor lizard worshipping the sun on the bridge at the entrance.

The ebb and flow of predator species

Lions are the largest terrestrial carnivores of the African wild and dominant over sympatric (occurring within the same or overlapping geographical areas) apex predators, such as leopards, cheetah, Spotted hyenas and African wild dogs. The Kwando Safaris guides have noticed increased lion numbers across the Kwando Private Reserve. This inevitably affected other predator numbers.

The wild dogs have been fairly scarce, but we did have several sightings of a small pack of three. We located just one full-bellied female cheetah at Motama Pan, resting in a deep sandy area below Kalahari apple-leaf trees. Our expert guide Barcos noted that “They are more than enough leopards around the Lebala area, but these cats are shyer. It is their survival skill”. We witnessed this typically ‘shyer’ spotted cat species, the leopard, more often this month and especially to the north of camp.  

The Wapoka Pride, dominated by Old Gun and Sebastian, was rarely seen in the north (their typical territory) and Barcos reckons this is because of a second coalition, the Golden Boys. “The Golden Boys have started fighting with the sub-adult male lions of Wapoka. Another war is burning between these young males and the Golden Boys from the south. Let’s wait and see!”

The Wapoka Pride has split into two smaller groups, and two lionesses of this pride have been seen with three cubs of about two weeks old cubs. We have witnessed the mothers drinking water and then disappearing into the bushes to feed their hidden cubs. The Golden Boys have made their mark as they are now in the company of these two lionesses (one of them is the elderly lioness of Wapoka).

The underrated sounds of safari

Water levels have increased in the Kwando River, and the pans were still full, attracting a variety of birdlife, including storks, herons and ducks.

There were several nocturnal sightings of African wild cats and African civets, Servals and Honey badgers. One evening we found a Spotted hyena enjoying the leg of a buffalo and carrying the comically big bone in its strong jaws while running. We hear these hyenas calling each evening from camp. Speaking of sounds, guests were treated to the amazing audio of a lion roaring in the distance one morning during a walking safari.

A reminder that stepping down from the game drive vehicle provides a far more intimate experience of the African wilderness.

(Note: Accompanying picture of the mole rat was taken by Kate Nelson and others 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!)

Lebala

Lebala Camp, February 2022

Lebala Camp Sunrise

A pack of three wild dogs crossed our path at Nare Pan as we concluded a fascinating nature walk this month. We admired the trio from a distance as they sniffed all the animal scents (including ours) around the waterhole. We also noticed that water monitor lizards were very active around the waterhole areas.

The general game has been excellent, with elephants often swimming in the river and mud-bathing on sunny days. We found giraffes everywhere and witnessed large numbers of zebra, wildebeest and kudu. We’ve also enjoyed big herds of Eland antelopes in the area and several sets of Southern ground hornbills hunting or moving around in search of food. The African cuckoo was still around, and the Amur falcons were seen in large flocks. A small, kestrel-like falcon, this summer visitor migrates all the way from northern and eastern Asia.  

Two Brown hyenas have been active at their den site throughout the month, and we often caught them in the afternoon, moving about or digging and neatening their burrow.

Lebala Camp Wildlife

Three male lions slept through the afternoon heat at Skimmer Pan, and we later found a lactating lioness hunting along the river. She started walking more inland, and we followed her, hoping to see the cubs, but the thick Mopane forest blocked the route. Fortunately,  as we were finishing up the night drive, we found this lioness with her three cubs (roughly three months old) and watched them frolic for a long time before our tummies started to growl for dinner.  

Unforgettable evening encounters

Night drives have been totally enthralling this month. We came across a lioness hunting and followed her through the bush. With the engine off, we heard other lions roaring, and they showed up to chase off the lioness. She had to scamper for a good kilometre. On another evening, we saw a lioness chasing the jackals through thickets.

We saw both a serval and an African wildcat hunting and found three aardwolves together. It appeared to be a single parent looking after two little ones, and their den was very close to the camp. We have also noticed another den site near Halfway Pan but haven’t set eyes on the occupants yet.

The fireflies were still around and entertained our guests on walks back to the tents after dinner before the soft beeping sounds of the reed frogs later lulled them to sleep. 

(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

Lebala Camp, January 2022

We have discovered a Brown hyena den at Lebala Camp! Our expert guides noticed that a den seemed active, so Tom and Mayezi made a plan to get up extra early and stake it out. They were rewarded with the incredible sighting of a sub-adult returning home at 6.30am (typical teenager, you might say). During the rainy season, these shaggy creatures don’t have to travel as far to forage, so they can spend more time at the den, which has remained active. The Brown hyena has not been shy and guests have scored some great photographs! 

Nature is back to life. It has been beautifully green, the bush was covered in flowers, and rivers have risen slightly. Our summer months from December to March are classified as the Green Season thanks to these stunningly verdant landscapes. 

A pack of 10 wild dogs were located along Rosina Road, and they looked hungry and on the hunt, but we couldn’t watch them for long because they soon veered off into the thickets.

The general game has been excellent. We’ve witnessed congregations of several species drinking together at waterholes, including giraffes, zebras, elephants, wildebeest and impalas. Elephants have also entertained us with their mud bathing while wading birds sprinkled along the shores provided superb birdwatching during the morning coffee stops. Amur falcons have arrived in good numbers along with the African and Black cuckoo. Ground hornbills have also been very active, and we’ve noticed a few juvenile Yellow-billed and Saddle-billed storks. 

One morning game drive, we found three male lions resting around Skimmer Pan resting. They seemed tired as if they’d covered a lot of ground during the night. They gave us a terrific roar before getting up to a drink from a waterhole.

Back at camp, three other lionesses walked behind our base to the marsh area, and in the afternoon, we found them using the higher vantage of a dirt mound to scan for prey. On a different day, a buffalo stress call from behind the staff village alerted us to further lion activity. We found three male lions feeding on a buffalo the following morning, and they stayed put for almost three days. We also had three male lions feeding on a sub-adult hippo in front of the camp.

One afternoon, we tracked two male lions up to Mogobe Wa Seolo, where we found them resting. It was Old Gun and Sebastian. We waited with them until dusk when they marked the shift from day to night with a series of hair-raising roars. We then left them to continue our night drive. 

African wild cats have been seen in good numbers during the evening, but they have been typically shy and soon dart in the dark. Springhares, on the other hand, have been abundant. 

Fireflies also joined us on these night drives, and we often stopped the vehicles to enjoy the evening chorus. Bubbling kassina frogs make an incredible high-pitched liquid call, while the Angolan painted reed frog has a lighter tinker. The males of the latter species have to climb right to the top of their reed perch to sing their song so that some lucky female can better hear the call.   

Lebala

Lebala Camp, December 2021

A green carpet has been rolled out for all life forms this month! Our landscape has completely transformed. There’s an abundance of fresh pastures. Shrubs are sprouting. The entire panorama shows life at last. 

With the rains intensifying, elephants numbers around the camp have significantly reduced. The abundance of water out in the natural catchment areas leaves little reason for them to venture towards the river for a drink. 

However, three buffalos have been common around Lebala Camp, seen predominantly in the early morning hours and later in the evening. They occupied the eastern side island (where the head guide and manager rooms are), spending their days along Monyumba area and coming to camp later in the evening. More recently, we have noted them roaming around the property even during the daytime. This could be due to fewer people in the camp (December saw the latest COVID-19 variant discovery, Omicron). 

Plenty of general game was seen, ranging from kudus, impalas and giraffes. One night, there was lots of galloping among wildebeests and buffalos at the fire break in front of the camp. The following day, we noticed lion tracks. 

One hot day, two lionesses with three subadults were observed, extremely relaxed under the shade. They headed south of the camp where we had heard male lions calling overnight. We picked up on their tracks following the Golden boys and caught up with them in the company of the lioness with their three cubs all full-bellied.

On New Year’s Eve, the successful killing of a buffalo by lions not far from camp drew the attention of White-backed vultures and Lappet-faced vultures. Guides also noted a Squacco heron, Yellow-billed kite and Yellow-billed stork on their way to investigate the night commotion. 

After a long dry spell of not seeing the male leopard, Mike called the radio with an excited voice to say, “He is still alive”. Fisherman (a resident male leopard) sat high up in a tree, relaxed and dangling his legs. This solitary cat seemed in good shape and looking massive. After months without seeing him, we thought nature might have taken its course, or he had moved to a different area. Good to see you, at last, Fisherman!

We had no sign of wild dogs this month, but we are sure they are still in the area; they have likely moved deeper into the Mopane woodlands. It has likewise been very quiet with cheetah sightings. 

One solitary hyena was spotted in front of the camp on three mornings during breakfast time. It liked to stroll along the fire break, perhaps scouring the plains for impala lambs. At night, we often heard their calls due west of the camp.

Warthogs, bushbucks and squirrels were common around the camp, and our resident porcupine had little ones! We have seen her with them foraging around the office area on a few occasions, but they spent most of their time hidden under the main area deck.

Lappet-faced vultures nested on the Rain tree in the guide’s quarters. These vultures have been seen around the camp for quite some time, and we believe they might have already had chicks. It’s been fascinating to watch them build their nest by collecting twigs around the camp.

The morning calls of Swamp boubou, Red-eyed doves and Black coucal marked the beginning of each summer day. On Christmas Day, we got a gift. A Verreaux’s eagle-owl had caught a mouse. Carmine bee-eaters have also been spectacular to watch. They often feasted on termites in the afternoon. Grey-hooded kingfishers, Striped kingfishers, and the Woodland kingfisher have all been common in the immediate wetland area and easily seen from the entry bridge, accompanied with Southern masked weavers fizzing about the reeds. A Dark-capped bulbul was always seen pitching around the main area, feeding on Fever berries in the company of Arrow-marked babblers. The Pearl-spotted owlet was also resident here, calling in the morning and afternoons. 

The common presence of buffalos around the camp has also brought oxpeckers. Their calls a reminder to be on the lookout for these dagga boys. Cattle egrets have followed them in as well.

(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

Lebala Camp, August 2021

Lebala Lion sightings

Listen carefully. Sometimes you have to stop. Switch off the engine and sit in silence. Was that a bark? A gruff? A huff? A mere sneeze? Impala and kudu alarm calls alert guides to the presence of predators, such as lions. The Wapuka pride are still around Lebala.

Lebala Lion sightings

We saw lions several times during August. One small pride suddenly spied a squadron of warthogs on a hunt close to camp and started stalking. The warthogs and their babies narrowly escaped into a clandestine burrow, but the lions didn’t give up there. Without warning, one luckless warthog ran out again straight into the jaws of the waiting pride.

Doing what they do best, lions were also spied sleeping below a tree. Much to everyone’s delight, they woke up and started to play with the sub-adult cubs. This social activity is crucial for honing hunting techniques. On another occasion, patiently watching a sleeping male likewise yielded a great sighting. After a yawn and a stretch, the lion began scratching up the dirt, scent marking and tracing his territory before clambering up a tree!

“It was also amazing watching two female lionesses stalking some wildebeest”, Wago reports. “They tried to catch one but didn’t make it. The chase was very close!”

Three other male lions were then found with a single female that seemed to be on heat. Mating soon commenced, which can be a very intense affair. Usually, a pair of lions will mate every 15-20 minutes for about four days to ensure a successful litter. One such fertile lioness was seen feeding on a wildebeest with her three sub-adult cubs with jackals circling close by, waiting for leftovers.

We have to agree with Wago when he says. “It was a marvellous moment of the day. Starting with wild dogs on the chase was fantastic!”. Wild dogs were also seen moving through the camp. A remarkable sighting of this particular pack because they were away for a month and a half. They were full-bellied and found asleep in the cherished shade of a sausage tree.

On one afternoon, guests saw two different leopards in one drive. One leopardess on a hunt, and she tried to take some impala. Unfortunately (for her), the antelope recognised a threat and sounded those indicative alarm calls. The second leopard lay in a tree.  

Another cat was spotted on the aptly named leopard road. Usually seen in the Lagoon area, this female was also out on the hunt. One minute she was strolling secretly, the next, she had darted down to a pan in an attempt to snap up some doves at the water.

Most of the pans still had plenty of water, which is great for waders and seeing large herds of Red lechwe leaping through the shallows. “Birdlife was also fantastic as there is still a lot for the birds to eat”, Wago shared. “We also saw a kill! A fish eagle swooped down to catch a catfish right in front of us”. The spectacular carmine bee-eaters were also seen flying alongside the game viewer hawking insects disturbed by the vehicle in stunning displays.

Many antelope species enjoyed the short grass right in front of camp where we had mowed a fire break ahead of the driest part of the year. Wago also noted hippos playfighting in the pools. Calves in creches often engage in these lighthearted sparring matches. 

Productive night drives yielded several notable species such as serval, an aardwolf digging around for insects and a porcupine.

Lebala

Lebala Camp, June-July 2021

During June, a female wild dog was located very late one afternoon. Guides noted she was alone, pregnant and it looked like she was cleaning burrows, creating a suitable den to bring up her puppies.

These predators will identify and secure an area to birth the litter and remain underground until the pups are able to follow their mother. However, den sites might change often if the mother feels threatened. Keeping an eye on the area, Wago noted that a wild dog den has since been active, “and their puppies were out on 31 July, an amazing moment!”.

Over on Zebra road, a huge herd of eland was seen sharing a waterhole with baboons. “Seeing these beautiful antelope is always interesting”, Wago wrote, “but it was a highlight to see them drinking with a calf”. The general game has been very good and most animals, especially giraffe, zebra and wildebeest, were seen in large herds. Imagine a tower of twenty giraffes!

A lioness was hanging around one such plentiful area for over two days trying to hunt. Wago noted interestingly how she targeted a wildebeest and it uncharacteristically escaped into the water. Another pride had more luck, however. Lions were found feeding on a wildebeest with their cubs in tow and stayed in the neighbourhood for a few days providing great encounters. Cubs were also noted with another group of lions – this time there were seven of them!

Lions were also located hunting on Mophane Road, but didn’t make a kill during the afternoon game drive. On the return to camp, guests braved the cold night drive and were justly rewarded, however, with an aardwolf sighting, plus a serval! On hearing the francolin make a hubbub, Wago stopped to listen. Guests recalled will glee how they then saw a serval leap out of the long grass into a bush. “This has been a brilliant moment”, Wago noted. Plus, the lions were spotted the next day, successfully feasting on an impala.

The night drives have been rather productive in fact. Springhares – our Kalahari kangaroos – featured often hopping across the spotlit scenery and many African wild cats were identified on the hunt. The tiny little Barred owlet was logged too.

(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!)