Ntswi

Moremi Crossing Camp, February 2022

After the significant heat of summer, over 80 hippos and several crocodiles have congregated in the last remaining pools of the drying Boro River to await the coming floodwaters. 

Moremi Crossing Summer Sightings

The water level was very low, and guides worried that the hippos could succumb to diseases, which can concentrate as water shallows. Thankfully, the small amount of rain we had this month greatly contributed to these life-giving lagoons around Moremi Crossing, which remain safe havens to considerable hippo numbers. They have also made for a memorable (if noisy) sundowner stop. 

Rivers and roaming predators

The shrunken state of the Boro River has brought outstanding experiences to guests and guides alike. We saw lions on almost every afternoon game drive, and they have also been around the camp. The lions’ home range has expanded with the river low, and they seem to favour the plentiful warthogs in our area. 

Two handsome male lions were repeatedly spotted without any females, but we are yet to establish whether they are nomads taking advantage of the lowered water or if they have a pride nearby. One evening, we recognised one male had a new limp and sported a fresh wound on his rear, a sure sign of battle with another male. The other lion appeared fresh and untouched but remained highly vocal, making his presence well known.

Despite catching their tracks frequently, leopards have been scarce. Perhaps due to the rise of lion activity? One day, we found a Red lechwe carcass and suspected a leopard had slain it because only the foetus was removed from the stomach and eaten while the rest of the kill was dragged into the tall grass and abandoned.  

Sightings of Spotted hyenas have definitely increased. One afternoon we watched a young hyena as it tried to land an impala without success. Both the Side-striped jackal and the Black-backed jackals have been regularly encountered, along with our resident Banded mongooses that parade the campgrounds. 

Wildebeests, giraffes, Warthogs, Impalas, Common Reedbucks, lechwes, zebra, Vervet monkeys, and baboon troops were all logged in the sightings register. Considerable summer bird visitors remained, too, and we could easily identify their distinctive calls. The Moremi Camp soundtrack comprised the Woodlands kingfisher trill reverberating through the riverine trees and the Broad-billed roller’s grating sounds. Though silent, Pel’s fishing owls were observed around the camp, and we noticed lots of juvenile Bateleurs, pairs of Saddle-billed storks, Tawny eagle and Black-chested snake eagle.

Harvester termites were on the run to collect as much grass as possible to prepare for the winter, when their activities drop to a minimum. Dung beetles have also been frenzied, flying around and crafting brood balls to attract mates and breed. Astonishingly astute navigators, dung beetles can detect fresh droppings within seconds.

(Note: Accompanying pictures were taken 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!)

Ntswi

Moremi Crossing Camp, January 2022

It rained a lot in the first three weeks of 2022, and the water has filled different parts of the Boro River channel, which runs in front of the camp. There has not been enough water to recommence boating safaris or to safely mokoro around the hippos that have found refuges in the deeper pools. Still, thanks to the cooler weather and cloud cover, we could conduct some brilliant nature walks, and these on-foot safaris have been wildly productive!  

During a nature walk one afternoon, we encountered several impala herds, a dazzle of zebra and watched in awe as a breeding herd of elephants crossed the river with mighty big splashing sounds.  

The general game has thrived with the fresh grasses and plentiful watering holes. Giraffe, warthogs, baboon troops and monkey gangs, red lechwe, common reedbuck, elephant, Spotted hyenas and widespread buffalo herds feeding in the lagoons were seen on game drives.

We saw several wild dog and leopard tracks, but the lions stole the show this month. On a morning game drive into Moremi Game Reserve, we came across a pride of five lions on Chief’s Island. The following day, they were joined by three other females, and we watched them as they patrolled the area in search of breakfast.

At the end of the month, we heard baboons alarming calling through the camp and on investigation, we tracked a big sub-adult male lion walking past the tents. Two Black-backed jackals and two Spotted hyenas were also very active in the area.

A flight of fireflies and African skimmers linger

Turning our eyes upward, Kwando Safaris guide Titus noted that “The sky has its own beauty at this time of year with heavy, ominous clouds”. It was also filled with summer visitors. The African skimmers flicked above the Boro River waters, and the Black coucals took full advantage of the long, rank grass in the marshes and flooded grasslands. We have also heard the distinctive calls of the Dideric and Jacobin cuckoo, Woodland Kingfisher and snapping beaks of the vivid Carmine bee-eaters (though they are admittedly starting to lose their colour). Big flocks of Collared pratincoles have also been observed, lots of Spur-winged geese, African fish eagle pairs, Wattled crane couples and plenty of storks.

Guests of Moremi Crossing Camp were really excited to see glow worms and fireflies at night. These enigmatic little insects are often seen in the vicinity of Sycamore fig trees, which are plentiful. The males can fly, while the females don’t possess these acrobatic abilities and as such are known as the ‘worms’.  

Dragonflies, butterflies, dung beetles and fishing spiders have also been plentiful. Walking also allowed us to witness the little Tok-tokkie beetle at work. The males tap their abdomens in a rhythmic pattern on the ground to gain the female’s attention. Perhaps in preparation for the upcoming Valentine’s Day…

(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!)

Ntswi

Moremi Crossing Camp, December 2021

Moremi Crossing Game Drive

We received plenty of rainfall in the Ntswi Reserve that filled the winding channels at Moremi Crossing Camp during the festive season. It may not have been enough for us to ease the motorboats back out onto the waters of the Boro River, but there was an abundance of wildlife to see during walking safaris and game drives. 

“Our big game did not disappoint”, reported Titus. “We managed to spot many big cats this month. Most of our sightings were in the flood open plains because of the clear view of animals from a distance”. 

A coalition of four male lions was seen on a few occasions, and we encountered a leopard attempting an ambush on a breeding herd of impalas. We watched with rapt anticipation for almost an hour, but it was unsuccessful in landing prey. 

We often found Small spotted genets on the hunt during the night drives. These pretty pock-marked carnivores generally forage on the ground for scorpions, spiders and small mammals (such as moles) rushing in to pounce on finding something much as a cat would.  

On one beautiful morning, we found a cheetah marking its territory in an exceptional sighting and later bumped into four Spotted hyenas walking along the road. 

The Ntswi Reserve is blessed with various birds that make each morning special with their sweet calls. Seagull-like cries alerted us to African Skimmers that graced us with their acrobatics this month. They flew low over the waters to the backdrop of a golden evening sky, undeterred by the pods of hippos. We also noted a healthy flock of pelicans, Giant eagle owls, Saddle-billed storks ambushing fish in the streams while Wattled cranes waded gracefully through the water. 

One day, the guides counted a float of 13 crocodiles basking in the sun on the banks of the Boro River, and we also came across a southern African python (formerly known as the African rock python). The plains proved productive for general game, and we saw elephant herds, pairs of common reedbuck grazing, lots of buffalo, plus journeys of giraffe and tsessebe herds. 

Though many of our guests are usually interested in the big five sightings, we loved sharing the secret lives of insects with our safari-goers this month. “We managed to spot insects like dragonflies, damselflies, ground beetles and stick insects”. 

(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!)

Ntswi

Moremi Crossing Camp, August 2021

The days are warming up as we head towards summer, and the waters have started to shrink back as the days lengthen again. The Boro River was still high enough for boating safaris, however, and boy did they deliver! 

As the floodplains empty again, renewed grazing opened up, bringing the plains animals with them. Guides at Moremi Crossing noted an abundance of wildlife during water activities. Elephants and buffalo splish-splashed to get to the best grasses, while Red lechwe, baboons (over 100 of them at one sighting) and impala mingled about on the riverbanks together. We were also fortunate to catch sight of a pack of wild dogs on the hunt! Eight adults were skipping along the shores searching for prey, and we lost them as they diverted into the long grasses. 

The birdlife was equally prolific. Fish eagles were a regular fixture, along with their wetland friends, the herons, ibises, egrets and storks. It’s been a particular joy to watch the puny Malachite kingfishers on the hunt. While malachite is a beautiful green coloured mineral, these spectacularly colourful birds feature a fluorescent feathering of blue and ochre with a glittering metallic head of turquoise.  

While the owl family may not be particularly colourful, their brown coats better allow them to blend in, so it was with particular glee that we found a Pels Fishing Owl. We saw the nocturnal owl fishing along the river line around camp! 

An enormous troop of baboons was also observed foraging in these verdant, towering riverside trees during a boating safari. 

We enjoyed witnessing fresh patches of termite mounds being maintained. As the onset of summer begins, these busy insects need to protect their towering homes against the coming rain.

Ntswi

Moremi Crossing, June/July 2021

At Moremi Crossing, our safaris are taking place by boat due to high water levels from abundant rains earlier this year. “This allowed visitors to experience the Okavango’s otherwise hidden secrets”, Kwando Safaris guide Amos shares.  

Moremi. Corssing Okavango Delta Boating Safari

There were elephants swimming and mud bathing along the river edges. They entered deeper water crossings and often used their trunks rather comically as a submarine-like snorkel! 

This area is pockmarked by isolated islands and reed beds teeming with waterbirds. African fish eagles displayed and called in territorial advertisement, the African Jacana showed off its unique mating behaviour (out here on the waterlilies, females rule the roost). We could also catch a sight of the black heron although shadow fishing. This clever bird uses its wings to create a reflection-free fishing environment, all the better to land a meal! On one eventful afternoon in June, we landed with a buffalo carcass in the camp overnight. Alongside the nightly melody of crickets and frogs calling during dinner (these creatures call at night because they feel safe once their major enemy, the bird, has retired) We also had hyena whooping, black-backed jackal yelling, and lions roaring in a full audio encounter.