Tau Pan, June 2019

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The five male lions of the Tau Pan pride were still holding their territory in a coalition as had been the case for over two years. Sometimes they separated into smaller groups of twos or threes and we found them often, including their regular visits to the camp watering hole. One time we saw two of the males approaching a big kudu, but the wind was against them and the antelope was able to get away. As is often the case at Tau Pan the male lions had nights where they called and called, enthralling the guests. There were still three lionesses in the area, but one was now looking very old and usually seen on her own, seemingly unable to keep up with the others.

We were extremely lucky with leopard sightings during June, including a particularly relaxed female who we saw a couple of times sitting up on a camel thorn tree scanning for prey. We spent good time with her until she came down from the tree and set off on her hunting mission. We also saw her hunting together with her adult son, quite remarkable since nowadays they occupy different territories. They were highly mobile and appeared to be interested in hunting some steenbok together, but the prey species smelled them and bolted. More than once we saw the female hunting bat-eared foxes but she was unsuccessful; it was interesting to see how the jackal alarm call warned the foxes in good time. A male leopard was observed trying his luck on some young oryx, but the area was too open so they spotted him and ran away.

A brown hyena sometimes visited the camp waterhole early in the morning, before any of the other predators were nearby. One time we were lucky enough to see a brown hyena near to Tau Pan as we were enjoying our sundowner drinks. The hyena was walking straight towards us and so guests were able to get some great shots of this elusive mammal.

Now that winter had descended upon the Central Kalahari Game Reserve there was little sustenance in the pan grasses, so the general game started to disperse elsewhere. Species seen at the camp waterhole included oryx, springbok and kudu. We saw a good number of giraffe together, including two young bulls playfighting. On drive we also saw red hartebeest and wildebeest. Guests enjoyed seeing big herds of springbok pronking and described it as “springbok sports day”!

At the Tau Pan waterhole there were many birds coming to drink and the mornings took on a certain order of events as Cape turtle doves arrived at approximately 8am, followed by Burchell’s sandgrouse and guinea fowl flocking an hour or so later. These prey species attracted raptors such as the lanner falcon, bateleur, pale chanting goshawk and tawny eagle. Once we were nearby when a goshawk managed to swoop down on a dove and started eating it from a bush close to the vehicle – a real ‘wow’ moment for the keen birders who happened to be with us that day.

A lone elephant, the same individual who was visiting us last year, returned to the camp area to take advantage of the waterhole. This big bull tended to browse within the camp itself during the night.

We observed honey badgers digging for prey species such as rodents. Aardwolf were seen a couple of times, including a really close sighting where guests managed to get great photos. One morning we saw a remarkable ten bat-eared foxes. Jackals led us towards a female leopard late one afternoon as we followed their alarm calls. A caracal was briefly seen as it fed on a helmeted guineafowl, but the cat was shy and ducked for cover. We also saw a Cape fox.

A four-metre black mamba was spotted going in and out of ground squirrel burrows as it looked for a meal.

A remarkable bird sighting that we had not previously witnessed was a yellow-billed hornbill killing and eating another bird. A flock of white-backed vultures were found finishing off a springbok carcass that looked to be the result of a cheetah kill.

(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!)

Nxai Pan, June 2019

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Nxai Pan was closed for the month, but although there were no guests, the animals still came to visit us at the camp and waterhole.

Lions were seen frequently, and also heard as they called during the night. Once the lions made a kill of a warthog right in front of camp providing some entertainment for the maintenance team.

Elephants, on the other hand, seemed determined to make life harder for the maintenance crew, necessitating even more repairs to be made, but our team managed to prevail in the end. During the camp closure we made modifications to the waterhole to improve the supply of clean water in the hope that this will keep the elephants from looking for refreshment within the camp itself.

General game included big herds of wildebeest, but the regular zebra visitors had dwindled to just four individuals. We saw impala, warthog and many giraffes.

Black-backed jackals were usually around, and sometimes spotted hyena early in the mornings just after sunrise.

Birds seen at the waterhole included ostrich and yellow-billed storks. We observed a huge flock of vultures at the waterhole which made us go out and see if there was a carcass, but the vultures were just busy preening, bathing and drinking. A martial eagle was seen taking a guinea fowl. Black-breasted snake eagles, tawny eagles and pied crows were other regular visitors.

Dwarf mongoose and banded mongoose were seen in the camp grounds.

(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 2019

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The Wapoka pride’s six lionesses with their eleven cubs continued to delight guests. One time we saw clouds of dust in the distance and went to investigate only to find a huge herd of buffalo moving through the riverine area. We were not the only ones to see the dust because Wapoka pride arrived soon afterwards and started to chase the buffalo around.

The lionesses were looking after their growing family extremely well, making kills just about every day with prey species such as warthog and red lechwe. Sometimes they were accompanied by the big male lions known as Old Gun and Sebastian and we saw Old Gun successfully mating one of the younger lionesses. Another time Sebastian was found on his own on a sable antelope carcass. In one remarkable sighting we were lucky enough to see the cubs bravely chasing a honey badger. The cubs were at a very playful age providing guests with charming photo opportunities.

The resident pack of two wild dogs were still turning up fairly regularly in and around camp. One day they killed an impala right next to our hide. We also saw them hunting on Main Road. We also saw a larger pack of five a few times.

One morning we were trying to keep up with the wild dogs hunting when we spotted jackals and bateleur eagles moving towards camp. We changed direction to investigate and found the resident two male cheetah bothers on top of a termite mound. They still had blood stains on their faces from a recent kill. We found them again the next day, but they seemed nervous due to the close proximity of the lions. Right at the end of the month we found them hunting and witnessed them killing a kudu calf. They spent the whole day feeding on it before they were chased off by a lioness.

We found the resident female leopard hunting impala a few times and in one beautiful sighting we were saw her leap gracefully across a channel.

A clan of hyena was observed as the individuals were chasing each other around.

As the seasonal dry weather continued most of the game had moved out from the woodland areas towards the channels. Species included sable antelope, buffalo, zebra, kudu, giraffe, tsessebe, wildebeest, warthog and impala. A herd of six roan antelope were located near to the airstrip

Herds of elephant could be seen drinking along the channels and in one dramatic sighting we came across two bull elephants fighting. We also saw hippo in the riverine areas and pools.

A pair of aardwolf were denning to the southwest of camp and we were able to get good visuals of the female during the day.

We were lucky enough to spot the elusive pangolin again during June.

A colony of dwarf mongoose could be seen sunbathing to warm up after the cold winter nights. We came across African wild cat a few times, sometimes in hunting mode. Other smaller mammals located included baboons and monkeys.

Birds seen during the month included pied kingfishers, pied avocet, marabou storks, vultures, saddle-billed storks, fish eagles, pelicans, goliath herons and egrets.

(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!)

Lagoon, June 2019

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Night drives at Lagoon were productive during June yielding sightings of African civet, serval, genet and porcupine. We were even lucky enough to see aardvark and even MATING aardwolf! There was also an active aardwolf den at Grass Pan where were able to see the cubs.

As the dry weather continued herds of buffalo up to 300 strong could be located near to the channels and the Bonga Pride of lions who have always enjoyed specialising on buffalo were never far behind them. We saw many kills, of which this is one example: we had stopped to admire a pearl-spotted owlet sunbathing when our guide heard vervet monkeys giving an alarm call. Moving in that direction he saw a huge cloud of dust caused by buffaloes stampeding. Then right in the middle of the herd he spotted a sub-adult male lion who was chasing them, but the buffaloes mobbed the cat and drove him away. Just when we thought it was all over, a lioness attacked the buffalo herd from the rear and managed to take down a calf as the buffalo scattered in confusion. The rest of the pride appeared and kept the buffaloes at bay whilst the lioness suffocated the calf. Eventually the buffaloes moved on and the rest of the lions came to join in the feast.

At the start of the month a single lioness who had isolated herself from the Holy Pride was seen lactating and so guides were excited that she might have cubs hidden somewhere. She is a warthog specialist and was often seen actively hunting or feeding on a kill. The rest of the pride comprised six lionesses with ten small cubs and we saw them nursing often, their cubs making adorable noises as they begged for milk. It Was interesting to observe how the lionesses cross-suckled each other’s young, a behaviour not seen in all predator species. The two resident male lions kept calling to mark their presence in their territory. One time we saw the pride feasting on a buffalo which they had killed at night. All the lions had very full bellies and the cubs were being extremely playful and climbing trees. The lions stayed on this huge carcass for three days before moving off.

A resident female leopard had been seen hunting in the morning. She kept going up into the trees to look for any possible danger as well as trying to find prey.

The resident pack of wild dogs had ten puppies at the start of the month and we were able to witness lovely scenes at the den site as the puppies played with each other and interacted with the adults. We also saw the adult dogs hunting as they went out without the alpha female to look for food. However unfortunately another pack came in and found the resident pack. A big fight ensued and the alpha female had so many injuries that she was unable to nurse the pups and they died. The pack then temporarily relocated out of the area

The two resident cheetah brothers were seen hunting, climbing up onto termite mounds to scan the area for prey. Eventually they killed a warthog and we found them with full bellies the following day. We watched as they rolled on the ground to leave their scent and then they moved off, stopping to spray bushes as part of their territorial markings. We saw them a few days later feeding on a fresh warthog kill.

A female spotted hyena was running around a former old den site with a piece of meat in her mouth so we hoped that they had also come back for denning. Two hyenas were located with full bellies after they stole a waterbuck kill from a lone lioness.

General game was excellent. We saw herds of zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala, wildebeest, especially near to the permanent channels. An extremely relaxed herd of fifteen sable antelope were enjoying the shorter grass on our firebreak and allowed vehicles much closer than this shyer species would usually accept. Roan antelope were also regularly sighted. There were plenty of hippos in front of the camp basking in the sun during the cold winter mornings. Elephants were seen very frequently, one time they came for a morning drink at Muddy Waters, ignoring the fifteen lions lying nearby!

Good numbers of hippo and crocodile were seen on the boat trips.

Birdlife was fantastic both on land and in the water. We had beautiful sightings of giant kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, storks, ibis, herons and egrets on the boat trip.

(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!)

Splash, June 2019

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The pack of eight wild dogs were denning close to Splash and were visiting camp almost every day to kill an impala and then go back to regurgitate for the alpha female. She was heavily pregnant at the start of the month and the guides think that she gave birth during the second week as then she stayed down in the den.  Sometimes the resident lions tried to come and steal kills from the dogs. On the 28th June we got our first glance of the eleven puppies that this pack had produced and continued to see them daily thereafter.

Towards the end of the month there was a conflict between the pack of eight and the smaller pack of four wild dogs. We saw the two packs fighting and although the four dogs managed to escape the larger pack went to their den and spent the whole day lying in ambush. Over the next few days they continued with this ambushing behaviour and we feared for the lives of the smaller pack’s puppies as we hadn’t seen them since the big confrontation, but right on the last day of the month we were relieved to see that the three puppies from the smaller pack were still alive and doing well. This story then took a very interesting turn in the weeks that followed – stay tuned to July’s sighting report for the next exciting instalment!

Big herds of elephant and buffalo could be seen coming down from the northern part of the concession to drink at the permanent water channels on the border of Moremi Game Reserve. Guests loved watching the elephant procession as they swam, fed and mud-bathed. One time we were lucky enough to witness the incredible sighting of an elephant giving birth. The big buffalo bulls were observed sun-bathing and wallowing in mud; some of the females were nursing their calves.

The Splash pride were seen at the waterhole in front of Kwara camp – perhaps looking for a sneak preview of the rebuilt camp which will be opening in September! We saw the pride feeding on a freshly killed warthog, but the prey was a sub-adult so there was not enough food to go around, leading to lots of exciting purrs and growls. On the east of the Kwara Reserve two intruder male lions killed a big male buffalo and we found them looking extremely full-bellied after their huge meal. We also saw the dominant males bring down a buffalo bull and they feasted on that carcass for a few days. We saw one of the resident males trying to court a lioness from the One Eye Pride, but she did not seem receptive.

The lion kills attracted many scavenging hyenas and jackals.

We were fortunate enough to find aardvark a couple of times during night drive, although the creature was quite shy. A very relaxed aardwolf was seen frequently on lechwe plains foraging on snouted termites and harvester termites. A honey badger with a young cub were to be found foraging along the pathways at Splash camp. Serval and genet were located on night drive.

The resident male cheetah known as Special was seen hunting often with prey species ranging from warthog to kudu calves. One time we were lucky enough to watch him stalking, then chasing and killing an impala. Another time we saw him losing a kudu carcass to a clan of hyenas. Right at the end of the month he killed a warthog piglet very close to Splash Room 1.

A young female leopard was seen stalking regularly near to Splash camp, one time being followed by a hyena hoping for the chance to steal a kill.

Other general game included roan antelope and sitatunga.

A pair of endangered wattled cranes were usually to be found on the Kwara flood plain. Four species of vulture were identified. Guests enjoyed photographing a goliath heron finish his kill of a frog with the amphibian’s legs dangling out of the bird’s bill. Other sightings included saddle-billed storks, ground hornbills, short-tailed eagles and tawny eagles.

(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!)

Tau Pan, May 2019

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Lions from the Tau Pan pride were seen almost daily and very often at the camp waterhole where we were able to get lovely photos of them drinking with reflections in the water. Once we saw one of the males trying his luck on some oryx, however the area was too open and the antelope made their escape. The male lions are well known at Tau Pan for regularly roaring near to camp and on a couple of nights they kept the guests awake and enthralled as their roars almost seemed to make the walls vibrate. We saw the lionesses a few times including one who was stalking a herd of kudu, but the herd picked up her scent and galloped off. We also found a lioness with porcupine quills stuck in her neck after an encounter with the large rodent.

One male was limping, perhaps from a thorn or other foot injury, and he had been staying near to the waterhole where he had been eating smaller prey such as springhares and sandgrouse, however he astounded the guides by managing to bring down a large kudu bull all by himself despite his injury. We were lucky enough to witness this unusual kill. The following day three other male lions came to join in the feast. A brown hyena was seen skirting the waterhole, but this solitary animal kept his distance because of the male lion. We were lucky to see the hyena the following day in a more relaxed state.

A couple of times a tom leopard was spotted along the main road, but this is quite a shy individual and guest had to be quick to take photos before it ducked for cover. A more obliging female leopard was found up in a tree scanning around before she jumped down to the ground. She was also seen again a couple of times near to the firebreak, once posing in beautiful light. Right at the end of the month we were lucky enough to see a male leopard hunting and spent some quality time with him as he stalked springbok, though the open ground was against him and he was not successful.

A female cheetah was found a couple of times and seemed well fed and in good condition. We were able to observe her marking her territory.

Bat-eared foxes were seen at Tau Pan and, briefly, an aardwolf. Guests enjoyed seeing black-backed jackals calling and responding to each other. Honey badgers were also located, sometimes with the jackals following behind hoping to pick up a rodent escaping the honey badgers’ digging. On one occasion we saw a flock of crowned lapwings mobbing an African wild cat before the cat disappeared into the bushes.

Now that the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was in its usual dry state the camp waterhole was visited by all kinds of creatures including giraffe, springbok, wildebeest and a good number of kudu with their calves. There was plentiful birdlife also at the waterhole including helmeted guineafowl, Cape turtle doves and Burchell’s sandgrouse in large numbers. There were a good number of giraffe in the Pan and we were able to see two male fighting for dominance in a behaviour known as “necking”. Towards the end of the month the antelope species, such as oryx, stayed on the eastern side of the pan where they were foraging on tubers that were still holding valuable moisture.

As temperatures dropped and skies cleared the stargazing became even more incredible, one of the features for which the Kalahari desert is famous.

(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!)

Nxai Pan, May 2019

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A male cheetah was located moving along but with a very full belly. Guides reported that this animal was looking very healthy due to the large herds of springbok in the area.

A nomadic male lion was in the area for 3-4 days and he managed to kill a wildebeest near the Wildlife Waterhole. This lion did not seem used to safari vehicles and was still a bit shy. A lone lioness was also seen at the same waterhole and eventually the two paired up and starting mating.

There was very good general game in the area, mostly congregated at the two waterholes. Large herds of elephant were seen drinking whilst springbok, wildebeest, impala, zebra, kudu and giraffe all had to wait their turn. Herds of oryx were grazing on Baobab Loop and herds of up to 300 springbok were grazing on the open plains.

A sub-adult elephant died near to the camp waterhole after we had reported it to the Wildlife Officers the day before as we observed a bad injury to its hind leg. This carcass attracted spotted hyenas and a flock of forty vultures, both white-backed and lappet-faced.

There were many black-backed jackals near to the waterholes where they hunted guinea fowl, scavenged and hunted through elephant dung for beetles. A family of four bat eared foxes were located and honey badgers were seen hunting rodents along West Road.

The day trip to see the massive trees at Baines Baobabs was still popular and along the way guests saw oryx, steenbok and other general game. One time we were lucky enough to see a male leopard basking in the sun at the junction of the Baines Baobab road.

Bird species encountered included kori bustard, secretary birds, helmeted guinea fowl and ostriches. Smaller passerines included marico and chat flycatchers, black-chested prinias as well as the colourful lilac-breasted rollers. There were many pale chanting goshawks and we found one feeding on a cape turtle dove. Another time the goshawks were seen flying along behind two foraging honey badgers, hoping to be able to snatch a rodent that the mammals might flush out from a hole.

(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, May 2019

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The Wapoka Pride was still resident in the area. One time we were following fresh tracks through the Kalahari apple leaf and a distance away we saw vultures descending, a good sign that there might be a kill. Sure enough we found the whole family of 19 lions including two big males, six females and eleven cubs. The lionesses were finishing off the zebra carcass whilst the cubs were amusing themselves playing with the bones. Nearby one of the resident males started roaring, whilst the other was drinking. We came across the pride many times during the month, one time finding them all with their faces dramatically covered in blood after they had clearly eaten well. Although the pride seemed to be specialising in zebra, we watched one of the lionesses stalking a wildebeest calf which had got separated from its herd. Unfortunately. one of the lion cubs came out into the open and thereby spoiled the hunt. The Bonga pride were also seen on the northern side of the area.

We had been seeing multiple tracks of a female leopard, but they always seem to head off and vanish into the marshes. However, one morning we got lucky and saw the tracks heading inland and to our delight there were also tiny cub tracks. Nearby there was a very relaxed herd of impala, but in the end it was the alarm call of a tree squirrel that gave the game away and we found an impala carcass in the thickets with the female and two cubs feeding on it. Everyone was astonished by the fact that there was a well-camouflaged leopard feeding just a couple of metres away from grazing impala who seemed oblivious to its presence. We saw the female leopard again a few days later, up on a leadwood tree with her cubs.

A pack of six wild dogs were located at Kubu Pan just as we were about to stop for sundowner drinks. In the pack there was one very striking pale female and we watched her drinking at the pan. The resident pack of two dogs killed an impala ram near to Room 8 and guests were able to quickly return back to camp to witness them feasting. Another time we saw these two dogs take down an impala close to the airstrip.

Bush walks continued to be a popular activity giving guests a chance to see species such as giraffe whilst on foot, as well as being able to study tracks of the other animals who had passed through the walking range. One of the sightings of the month was being able to view a pangolin from the ground and to watch it feeding on ants under the sage bushes.

The inland waterholes were very dry and the large herbivores were attracted to the riverine areas. Elephants were moving through the mopane woodland in large numbers, sometimes trumpeting, and herds of buffalo up to fifty strong were also seen coming to drink. We loved watching elephants drinking, swimming and mud-bathing at the river. Hippos were still resident in Twin Pools and guests were able to get some great shots of them yawning in a territorial display.

A lovely herd of 28 sable antelope, including ten calves were in the area. Once we were able to witness two of the bulls chasing each other in a battle for dominance. Other general game included zebra, impala, wildebeest, warthogs, kudu and lechwe.

We found both serval and aardwolf along Vlei Road, both of these smaller mammals digging in holes. A large colony of dwarf mongoose was found sunbathing at the base of a termite mound.

On night drive guests were impressed when a sharp-eyed guide was able to spot a chameleon up in a tree.

A huge flock of vultures were seen feeding on a zebra that had died of natural causes. It was fascinating to sit with them for a while and listen to their hissing and squabbling.

(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!)

 

Lagoon, May 2019

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At the start of the month the guides were thrilled to have found the resident pack of wild dogs denning and guests were able to enjoy first sightings of the ten puppies of which four were pale and six dark. It seemed that there were two females with litters; this is unusual for the species but has happened before within this particular pack. The pack moved 100 metres from the initial den to a much more open area and perhaps this was a big mistake on their part as a few days afterwards a different pack found the den site and a big confrontation ensued. A week or so later we saw the dogs chasing and biting hyenas away from the den site. They were hunting regularly and we located them chasing and killing a kudu. Another time they brought down a kudu which they lost to hyenas, immediately killed a second kudu only to lose that one too. On the 15th May the alpha female had a huge fight with the other subordinate female and she suffocated her almost to the point of death.

In addition to the wild dog den we were lucky enough to still have aardwolf denning in the area. Spotted hyena were seen mobile near to one of their old den sites so the guides were hopeful that they may also be having cubs soon.

The brown hyenas are now a lot more elusive than they used to be, but we are still seeing them from time to time. A very relaxed serval was located stalking some ground birds. Two honey badgers were spotted near to camp and an African civet was seen close to Watercut.

A pride of three lionesses with ten cubs, known as the Holy Pride, were seen in close proximity to a splinter group from the long-resident Bonga pride which the guides have now called the Marsh Pride. The Holy pride seemed to be specialising on kudu and guests were able to get some wonderful shots of the lionesses playing with the energetic cubs. The Marsh Pride were seen hunting near to the wild dog den and eventually they took down a buffalo calf. We saw a mating pair of lions, with the other resident male nearby. One time we were following a clan of four hyenas and they led us to lions feeding on a kudu bull. The hyenas tried to intimidate the big cats, but the male lion came to the rescue to defend his family. At the scene four cubs of 2-3 months old were licking blood off the carcass and playing with bones.

A tom leopard was seen stalking a herd of impala close to camp however the antelope spotted him and started to make alarm calls so eventually he gave up. Some fresh tracks led us to a female leopard hunting, but she was mobbed by baboons and eventually decided to rest up on a leadwood tree.

Large herds of elephant and buffalo were seen throughout the month as the seasonal dry and cool weather continued. Kwena Lagoon had good numbers of eland, roan and sable antelopes. Grass Pan was another hotspot for plains game including zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala and wildebeest.

Crocodiles were seen feeding on a hippo carcass near to the Namibian border.

African skimmers were seen near to Muddy Waters. We saw an African Fish Eagle swoop down on a snake which was devoured in less than five minutes.

(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!)

Splash, May 2019

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During May the Kwara Reserve lived up to its well-deserved reputation for fantastic sightings, averaging a remarkable three predator sightings per day.

At the start of the month the pack of eight wild dogs made it almost a daily ritual to visit Splash camp, kill an impala and go back to the den to regurgitate for their pregnant alpha female.

We saw the resident male lions responding to the calls of wild dogs as they tried to steal their kills, sometimes successfully. Once they killed a kudu and it was interesting to see how they dragged it under a bush and covered the carcass with sand to prevent other predators being attracted by the smell. There were two new male lions to the east of Splash camp; we saw them laying with very full bellies after they had killed a big buffalo bull. Probably because of the new males being in the area, the resident lions put on some terrific roaring performances during the night to proclaim their territory. Once they were joined by two lionesses at the camp waterhole; the females then decided to rest directly under Room 11 so we needed to drive them off a little so that the guests could safely enter their room for their own siesta! We saw this pride of four lions being chased out into the open by a herd of elephants, but then a big herd of buffalo also came to join in the action and there was an awesome sighting of lions and buffalo chasing each other around.

The Splash Pride comprising two lionesses and six cubs had been on the Kwara side of the reserve for some months, moving even further west out of the area, so guides were happy to see them back with us at the waterhole in front of Kwara camp

The male cheetah known as Special still continued to delight our guests and we saw cheetah on 29 out of 31 days! We saw Special try his luck on a warthog without success, but the same evening he managed to take down a kudu calf but as it was late in the day he lost the kill to hyenas. We also saw Special demonstrate his incredible acceleration to take down a common reedbuck, fortunately he got to keep his meal that time. The resident female cheetah was also spotted.

A young female leopard was seen looking relaxed and well-fed as we found her under spotlight on night drives. We saw a male leopard hunting during the day in the marsh area west of Kwara camp, although he was not successful.

An exceptionally relaxed aardwolf was seen regularly near to the mokoro station during night drive. Other smaller mammals observed included African wild cat and African civet.

Big herds of buffalo, up to 400 strong, were seen coming down from the northern part of the Kwara Reserve, heading towards the main channel. General game was concentrated in the areas near the channels and included giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest and large herds of elephant. This was breeding season for the impala and we observed how the males became vocal and highly territorial.

Despite the low rainfall in the Okavango Delta this season we are blessed to still have great access to water and the mokoro trips remained as popular as ever. Gliding through the water provided the chance to see creatures such as painted reed frogs, long reed frogs and we were even lucky enough to see a spotted necked otter.

A pair of wattled cranes were seen regularly near to the flood plains. We are glad to report that endangered vultures are doing well in the Kwara Reserve and on one buffalo carcass we saw four different species: hooded, white-headed, white-backed and lappet-faced. Jackals were also seen scavenging. Two adult southern ground hornbills were seen feeding their chick. Trapped catfish in the drying pools attracted fish eagles looking for an easy meal.

(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!)