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!)

Lebala, Sep 2018

Kwando Lagoon, Day 3 (Morning Drive)

A pack of six wild dogs with their two puppies was located near to John’s Pan where they had a big confrontation with some honey badgers. A smaller pack of two wild dogs was in the area throughout the month. One day they came right into camp as we were having morning breakfast. We followed them hunting a couple of times and once they led us to the remains of an impala which had been previously killed by the resident tom leopard.
 
The same leopard was seen hunting red lechwe in the marshes (he is known by the guides as ‘Fisherman’ due to his preference for this habitat). A different male was located at John’s Pan where he was feeding on a red lechwe, surrounded by vultures.
 
One day we found a leopard cub sitting in a branch near to Motswiri Pan. We went back in the afternoon and found her mother lying nearby. The female is known as ‘Jane‘ and has been resident in the area for many years. A few days later we saw Jane and her cubs sharing a red lechwe kill with her adult son from a previous litter. It was unusual, but very heartwarming, to see the different generations together in this way.
 
The Bonga Pride of nine were seen hunting right in front of camp where they brought down and killed a blue wildebeest. The hot dry weather meant that buffalo were starting to come back towards the riverine areas, so they were also targeted. We watched the lions ambush a herd at Tsessebe Island, but they didn’t manage to make a kill before the buffaloes crossed the channel. Later in the month they had better luck and we came across them feasting on a buffalo carcass that they had just killed. In the same area we saw two lionesses with six cubs take down two warthogs right in front of the vehicle. We watched them for about an hour enjoying their first meal in days. The pride tried warthogs many times during the month. One time the prey dashed into a burrow and the pride of 10 lions determinedly dug it out, but it was a lot of effort for relatively small reward. Another time, elephants came to the rescue of the warthogs and succeeded in chasing the lions away.
 
At the moment both the Bonga and Wapoka prides’ territories are overlapping, right over Lebala camp itself. One day the Bonga Pride stretched out and rested all day at the camp. Two days later three lionesses from the Wapoka Pride were spotted walking right in front of the main area in the early morning. We quickly jumped into vehicles to follow them as they stalked a large warthog. That afternoon we found two spotted hyenas finishing up the carcass. We were lucky enough to find two of the Wapoka lionesses with three tiny cubs. This was the first time that we had seen the new litter. A big male lion, Sebastian, has was seen mating one of the females from the Wapoka Pride.
 
Large herds of elephant started to move into the marsh area. They were seen mudbathing and crossing the channel along with their very young calves. Hippos and elephants were heard munching vegetation around the rooms at night.
 
A herd of roan antelope and calves was a special sighting, with sable antelope and eland also being seen during the month. Big herds of red lechwe splashing as they ran through the water always makes for a beautiful photo opportunity. Other general game included giraffe, kudu, tsessebe, impala, zebra, wildebeest, warthog and baboon.
 
There was plenty of water in the pans and channels, attracting wetland birds such as spoonbills, whistling ducks, black-winged stilts, and openbilled storks. We saw a huge flock of pink-backed pelicans flying. Carmine bee-eaters have arrived for breeding at John’s Pan and it was amazing to watch them as they were busy excavating their nests.
 
(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, August 2018

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At the start of the month we could hear a big commotion between lions at night. In the morning we found Sebastian, one of the resident males, with a big scar on his face and it appeared that he had fought with his brother lion, Old Gun, over the mating rights to one of the females from the Wapoka Pride. They had been together for a week and were both looking very skinny having had other things on their mind apart from food. Old Gun appeared to be the winner of the battle for dominance and was growling at his brother when we saw them the next day. We watched a sensational kill on an impala by the Wapoka Pride; one female circled around and drove the impala right into the mouths of the rest of the lionesses. The same pride also killed a wildebeest and we saw one of the young males on an elephant carcass.

The Bonga pride of nine lions were found close to camp and one time fighting with a honey badger, although the smaller creature managed to get away. One of the Bonga lionesses who has cubs of 3-4 months old was discovered feeding on a fresh warthog carcass and was also seen hunting lechwe along the marsh. At one stage this young family was joined by the two big resident males. Four new lions, three young males and a female, were located seen feeding on a buffalo. These animals haven’t been seen in our area before and were quite shy.

Our resident female leopard, Jane, reappeared back in the area after having been absent for a long while. When she left she had two cubs, but there now appears to be just one remaining. When we first saw them they were feeding on a red lechwe carcass that seemed to be a few days old. Some lionesses came and took the kill from them, but they seemed like they had a good feast before they were robbed. A few days later they were hunting in camp and managed to kill a bushbuck and drag it under some bushes to eat. A tom leopard was located very close to camp and we followed him as he was hunting along the edge of the marshes. A male leopard who is a brother to the resident Fisherman was identified as he was found finishing up a reedbuck that he had killed a couple of days previously.

One afternoon we were lucky enough to come across an elephant who had only just given birth. The calf was still covered in blood and helplessly trying to get up. The rest of the herd gathered around to help. A truly magical time was had watching a huge herd of elephants bathing and splashing in the marshes.

The resident pack of two wild dogs came through the camp a couple of times hunting bushbucks but didn’t manage to make a kill.

The two cheetah brothers were seen in the Lebala side of the Kwando Reserve, sometimes posing beautifully on termite mounds or on their marking trees. One time we were following them and they came across mating lions who chased them away. Luckily the cheetah managed to escape.

On evening drive we were lucky enough to find a pangolin; an incredibly rare species that we are doing well to find a few times already in Lebala this year. Two honey badgers were seen chasing mice near to the airstrip. Black-backed jackals were also in the area.

A large number of carmine bee-eaters started to flock into the area for breeding season and could be seen gathering at John’s Pan.

(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 2018

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July was a great month for lions at Lebala with both the Bonga and the Wapoka prides being seen. The Bonga pride of nine stayed in the northern area where they were often seen following a huge herd of buffalo leading to some magnificent sightings. One day we heard the lions growling in the woodland and found them fighting with a big buffalo. The fight lasted for at least fifteen minutes before they eventually killed the bull. It took them a couple of days to devour the whole animal. Another time we saw two adults and seven sub-adults trying to drag down a buffalo and were jumping on its back, but the rest of the herd returned and drove the lions away. Other times they got luckier and we found them eating buffalo carcasses.

Six members of the Wapoka pride were found north of the camp feasting on a wildebeest carcass that they had just killed. The following day we tracked them towards the airstrip and were lucky enough to see them taking down an impala right in front of our vehicle. We also located them stalking zebra. Two male lions known as the Selinda Boys were found back in the south of the Kwando Reserve after having been away for about six months. We noticed that a resident female lion with three cubs about eight months old appeared to be very nervous of the intruders and was quickly mobilising her family to be as far away from them as possible.

The resident tom leopard known as “Fisherman” was seen more than once in the marsh area targeting red lechwe. We saw him try and miss one time, but on another occasion we were lucky enough to see him bring down and kill a young ram. To the west of the staff village we watched a great interaction between a male leopard and a spotted hyena. The leopard took a kill from the hyena and ran away with it but was quickly caught by the hyena who took it back. The carcass was passed back and forth four times before the leopard eventually managed to drag it up a sausage tree and out of the hyena’s reach. A female leopard was seen hunting, providing some wonderful photo opportunities as she climbed termite mounds and trees to scan the area.

A pair of spotted hyenas accompanied by a sub-adult were seem mobile towards the old hyena den by the airstrip.

The resident pair of wild dogs were seen running around camp searching for something to eat. At that stage they had a single puppy trailing along behind them, leading our guides to suspect that the rest of the litter may have been killed by predators. Unfortunately as the month progressed the single remaining pup also disappeared.

Big herds of elephants have returned to the riverine area and guests really enjoyed watching them bathing and playing in the water. General game was plentiful including very relaxed herd of sable antelope.

Honey badgers were seen digging for mice. Guests enjoyed seeing a big colony of dwarf mongoose and watching how they used a sentry system to look for danger.

Guests were thrilled with some great sightings of rosy-throated longclaw. This species is often hard to see well as they are usually found in deep grasses and marshland, so it was a treat to be able to show keen birders the bird out in the open. Another incredible rare sighting was the African swamp hen which was located by the marsh. Unusually we spotted some carmine bee-eaters; these are usually summer migrants, so it is strange that some have decided to over-winter 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, June 2018

Little Kwara

The Bonga Pride of lions comprising eleven adults and three cubs of about nine months were still in the area. One of the lionesses had split away from the rest of the family whilst she was nursing her two smaller cubs. We found the pride together enjoying kills of buffalo, wildebeest, warthog and zebra on numerous occasions. They spent time during the day at the various waterholes, always with an eye on the opportunity to ambush prey coming down to drink. The two big dominant males, Old Gun and Sebastian, were starting to give the two-year-old males a hard time, injuring one of the youngsters, and our guides feel sure that they will soon be driven out of the family group. Another time two of the boys were seen fighting with a honey badger. True to its reputation the honey badger put up a ferocious defence and it took almost an hour for the lions to eventually kill it but after all that effort they decided not to eat the honey badger’s remains. The Wapoka Pride were also seen including two of the lionesses hunting warthogs near to the river.

As usual for the Lebala area, hyenas were often found near to the lion prides hoping for the chance to steal a kill. We also found a clan of twelve hyena on a kudu carcass which we suspected had died of natural causes. They were eating vigorously and didn’t take long to finish the meat off. Vultures were nearby to pick the bones clean, giving our guests a wonderful opportunity to see nature’s clean-up crews in action.

A leopard was located near to the staff village and guests were lucky enough to watch him kill a civet right as we followed him. This beautiful tom, known to the guides as The Fisherman, was seen often in the marsh area.

African wild cat was located on night drive hunting and more unusually also seen in the open during the day.

Elephants were seen crossing the river and it was fun to see them playing and bathing in the water. Herds of buffalo were also starting to come back out of the mopane woodlands and back towards the wetter areas. A lovely herd of ten sable adults with six calves were located. As the floods started to come into the Kwando Reserve we had fantastic sightings of red lechwe herds splashing through the water. Other general game species located often included giraffe, zebra and kudu.

A resident pair of two wild dogs came into the camp one morning and seemed to be in a hunting mood as they were running around the camp. Eventually they seemed to decide that luck was not on their side and they spend the day lounging by Room 9. Another time they were managed to kill a kudu calf and we were delighted to see that they had a puppy trailing along behind them. All of a sudden, a hyena appeared and managed to confiscate the carcass from the pack. The dogs were also found feeding on an impala east of our airfield.

The coalition of cheetah brothers spent time on the Lebala side of the Kwando reserve where they were seen spraying on trees to mark their territory. This lovely pair of cats can be quite playful with each other as they scamper up and down trees.

Birding was good, especially by the river where we saw saddle-billed storks, egrets and ibis. A remarkable sighting of twenty wattled cranes shows that the Kwando reserve is doing well in augmenting the Okavango Delta as a stronghold for these endangered birds. Guests also enjoyed a lovely sighting of a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl.

(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!)