Moremi Crossing

Moremi Crossing, April 2022

Winter inched in bit by bit, as the first few days of April were foggy and misty on waking up in the morning, and the Okavango floodwaters were reported just 44km from Moremi Crossing.

With the natural waterholes drying up in the woodlands, the game moved to the nutritious floodplains in ever-climbing numbers. This month, we saw leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, and hyenas more often on our drives.

One morning, we spotted two males in a territorial battle. We followed the two for almost three kilometres as the Black-maned lion dominated the blonder male, forcing and driving it out of its territory. The vocalisations and deafening roars between the two resonated through our bodies! We regularly saw a coalition of two smart-looking males throughout the Rra Lopang area, and park rangers of the Moremi Game Reserve confirmed our suspicions that a lioness with two cubs, accompanied by a big old male, favoured the Nxwega Island area.  

Adventure camping highlights

One of our guests relished our overnight adventure camping and had some breathtaking moments. One evening, they followed a pack of 22 dogs, which later disappeared into the thickets before a leopard was reported on the radio by the camp manager at the airstrip. Guides rushed to the scene to find a relaxed cat sitting on the soft sand of the vehicle track.

Wilderness Camping Moremi Crossing

We spotted a lone cheetah during an evening drive along the open floodplains five minutes away from Moremi Crossing Camp. Guests witnessed the fastest land mammal attempting a hunt, which failed as the Red lechwe escaped into the water. We also enjoyed the sight of three cheetah brothers resting in the dense shade of a Jackalberry tree.

We could not ignore the horn clashes and beastly roars of impala males. The rut season of this most abundant and prosperous antelope in Africa has begun, and it’s always amazing to see them on game drives and walking safaris because the males are so busy trying to herd as females that we barely cross their radar. Bachelor males were sparring and preparing to dethrone the dominant males. Red lechwe were also running along the channel to mate and congregated in numbers. Giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, tsessebes and breeding herds of elephants were often seen along the water channels, further proof that the woodland waters are drying up.

Impala Moremi Crossing

Harvester termites were still collecting the last dry grass to prepare for the coming dry season. We best witnessed their frenzied activities on our signature bushwalks through the Moremi Game Reserve. Small-spotted genets, Springhares, Honey badgers, Bat-eared foxes, civets and servals all crossed the flashlight on night drives. Spotted hyenas and both Side-striped and Black-backed jackals were logged almost daily.

Birding has been fantastic throughout the month. Most of the summer visitors have left, so we located our residents, such as the Saddle-billed stork, Bateleur eagle, Yellow-billed stork, African fish-eagle and some Sacred ibises to mention a few from the endless list.

(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!)

Moremi Crossing

Moremi Crossing Camp, March 2022

Moremi Crossing Camp sits perched in front of the captivating Boro River, which returned to life this month. We recorded a slight increase in flowing water along the channel. Our Land Cruiser safari vehicles are back to living an amphibious life when they cross over into the Moremi Game Reserve for game drives.

The excitement of the African fish Eagle could not be missed around the camp, signalling an abundance of fresh food from the new water. Hippos are also back in the channel from Nxaraga Lagoon, where they congregated with the crocodiles. “Soon, the water will fill up the channel and spill out across the floodplains signalling the resumption of our iconic and peaceful mokoro experiences”, reported Kwando Safaris guide Kesaobaka. 

Lots of lion activity and leopard kills

The lions have been incredibly vocal. Many lions have come in and out of our area, which means plenty of territorial disputes and takeovers. One old male lion (dethroned two years back) has formed a coalition with two sub-adult males, and they were seen the most around the camp and airstrip region. They all are not in good condition, which could be attributed to their being evicted earlier than usual. Our guides noticed that the trio rarely roared, possibly because they didn’t want to attract any danger.

There have been two well-built males who have been frequently sighted too and are very outspoken. Towards the end of the month, they were seen mating with one lioness, and it was easy to find them since they were stationary for a few days and making a noise about it. According to The Safari Companion by Richard Estes, researchers estimate that lions must have copulated about 100 times for every year-old cub we see in the wild. This requires a couple to mate at least four times an hour for three days.  

One evening we saw a leopard on top of a grassy termite mound, but it ducked into the grass as we approached. We have found several carcasses (leopard kills) that were almost always stashed into the crown of Sausage trees along the flood plains. These trees are one of the dominant species in the Delta, and the fallen flowers are sought after by a variety of animals, including antelope, baboons, porcupines, and civets. The kills we found were either of Red lechwe or Common reedbucks.

A calm, beautiful female leopard was spotted just along the vehicle track in an open space at the end of the month. She had a fresh scratch around the mouth, possibly from a fight or a clumsy hunt when prey got the better of our pretty predator.

Wonderful wild dogs

Wild dogs stole the show this month as they featured on most of our game drives and almost always on the hunt for food. One morning we enjoyed a terrific show as we watched a pack of 11 dogs chasing lechwe around a lagoon. Eventually, the lechwe were smart enough to take refuge in the water, which the dogs prefer to avoid. It was interesting to see the antelope choose crocodile-infested waters over the pack’s wrath.

Red Lechwe Okavango Delta

Spotted hyena, side-striped and backed Jackal have been regularly sighted in the camp in early mornings and late evening, and Banded mongoose crisscrossed the sandy paths often too.

Honey badgers and civets were sighted on night drives and during the day, guests saw plenty of elephants, zebras with young and journeys of giraffes, the speedy tsessebe and wildebeest. The lechwe males were often fighting amongst themselves and courting females ahead of the breeding season and impala males were likewise trying to establish their territories for the next rut season.

Many migratory birds are still here. Swallow-tailed bee-eater, European bee-eater, White-fronted bee-eater, and Woodland kingfisher have added colour to the residents, such as the Saddle-billed stork, African fish Eagle, Martial Eagle and Wattled cranes.

The birders’ favourite, the Pel’s fishing owl, is still in exile as this is their breeding time. They have hardly been spotted because they are still in tree cavities guarding their eggs. These owls prefer to nest during the dry season, which has the benefit of lower, clearer water and thus more easily detectable fish.  

Fungus termites, whose artistic buildings cannot be ignored, were busy renovating and patching their enormous mounds preparing for the upcoming season of scarcity. In the winter months, their activities are minimal, and we loved admiring their artwork on the regular bush walks. The tiny insects construct the mounds using a mixture of saliva, clay, sand and salts found on the island edges in the Delta. These nests can stand for longer than us humans, sometimes 80 years.

(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!)