Pom Pom, March – July 2020

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After a terrible year of drought, we all breathed a heavy sigh of relief as an abundant flood arrived in mid-April. There was so much water coming in that it filled up the flood plains and pools around camp very quickly. This water forced the Pom Pom pride to move closer, to the extent that the sixteen lions started coming into camp on a daily basis to hunt impala and bushbuck. The pride consisted of four adult lionesses, eight sub-adult cubs and four younger cubs of about nine months. One time, the pride left the four young cubs in camp near the pilot tent for three days while they went out hunting; they only came back for them on the third day at night. On another occasion, the pride killed an impala and ate it between the staff bridge and the staff quarters. Three days later they killed a wildebeest at the airstrip.

Upon re-opening camp for guests, we spotted the Pom Pom pride resting at Mompati’s pool but by then they were only fifteen lions as we were missing one of the young males. The following day they were located at Mochimbamo Island finishing off a warthog kill. After leaving the pride resting, we proceeded with the drive and located a solitary lioness at Cat Fish Island. We watched her cross the water towards the pontoon area where she stalked impala, but she was unsuccessful. We continued to watch and were rewarded with 35 minutes of exciting action as she hunted and killed a kudu bull about forty metres in front of the vehicle!  Some days later we located the Pom Pom pride feasting on a zebra at Shumba island. They were surrounded by jackals hoping to get some leftovers, but the zebra did not provide enough meat for the large pride and they spent some time chewing on bones.

A hyena clan with three cubs took refuge in the tunnel at the airstrip.

A mating pair of leopards was located at Xinega lagoon. This was a resident female who is well-known in the area. The tom was skittish and disappeared into the bushes but the female remained behind and climbed up the tree. We watched her for about fifteen minutes before she came down and walked towards where the male was hiding. Although we were able to locate them together again, the male was nervous so we decided to leave the courting couple in peace to create the next generation of leopards. Before camp closure, this female leopard had two cubs which were about eight months old. Although they were not seen on this occasion, we suspected that they were away from their mother due to the presence of the male leopard.

General game was good including warthog, tsessebe, red lechwe, impala, waterbuck, kudu, wildebeest, sitatunga and zebra. Elephants were regularly seen and big herds of buffaloes were located along various flood plains. Vervet monkeys and baboons could be seen in their troops displaying interesting social behaviours.

Birding was very good with lots of water birds, such as pygmy geese, great white pelicans and fish eagles. Some of our first post-lockdown guests were lucky enough to spot the elusive and coveted Pel’s Fishing Owl. Five types of kingfisher were identified (giant, pied, striped, grey-headed and malachite). African jacanas were seen with their chicks who were being cared for by the male bird. Other regular sightings included black collared barbets, arrow-marked babblers and lilac-breasted rollers. Endangered species such as ground hornbills and wattled cranes were in the area.

Smaller mammals encountered included bat eared foxes, spring hares, civets, small spotted genets and large spotted genets

Crocodiles and hippos were found in the bodies of water appearing with the flood.

(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!)