Tau Pan, September 2017 Sightings

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At the start of October the fire in the Tau Pan area was still raging, sweeping westwards in a wave some thirty kilometres across and leaving behind a very changed landscape. Tall golden grasses were replaced with scorched earth. However, by the middle of the month the new green shoots had come through and were these were much relished by the antelope species.

One morning we were conducting a bushman walk when we saw a small pride of 2 adults and a cub drinking at the camp watering hole. The camp was quickly radioed to bring a vehicle so that the guests could get some close-up photographs of the lions. We were surprised to see that the animals were not part of our regular Tau Pan pride as it is fairly unusual to see intruders in the area. The next day our resident pride was back to drink, this time two lionesses with three cubs. As if keen to reclaim their place at the heart of our operations they then spend the following day hanging out by Room 2. We found the five impressive black-maned lions resting nearby.

Cheetah were seen hunting springbok, but without much success. Jackals, bat-eared foxes were often seen foraging for insects around the Tau Pan area. On one lucky occasion we also saw two honey badgers snuffling around. General game was good including big herds of oryx and springbok.

In the afternoons, vultures and eagles were seen coming to the watering hole to drink.

(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, September 2017 Sightings

jvarley.Cat1 Elephant wallow

As the ongoing dry and hot season progressed, animal interactions were concentrated between the two water sources in the park, our own camp watering hole, right outside the main area, and the water point provided by the National Parks authority. Guests were able to enjoy relaxing drives watching the interactions between different species as they congregated to quench their thirst.

The Nxai Pan resident pride of lions were seen regularly during the month and were fifteen individuals in total including seven sisters, two dominant males and six cubs. Two of the females and the two large males were found on an elephant carcass near to camp. Our staff had been worried about the health of that particular elephant and had even called out the wildlife officers to check on it. We are not sure if it was eventually brought down by the lions, or died of natural causes, but the lions made the most of this enormous meal stayed on it for several days. It seems that they developed a taste for the meat because a few days later the same two males were found on an elephant baby kill. During the previous night we had heard roaring and screaming from the distressed herd.  The three females with six cubs tended to stay near to the National Parks watering hole; the antelope species were congregated there since the elephants were being aggressively dominant at the camp watering hole. The lions were seen eating zebra and kudu; the fast-growing family seem to be doing very well.

Our resident cheetahs, a single male and a mother with her sub-adult cubs were still in the area and appeared to be in very good shape. We watched the female taking down a springbok; it was an interesting sighting because the female cheetah did not kill the antelope outright. She paralysed it and waited for the sub adults to figure out how to finish the job. Time and again we watched them failing and coming mewing back to their mother for help but she was determined to make them learn from the experience, aggressively chasing off jackals who were impatiently waiting to scavenge. During September the youngsters were extremely energetic and curious, trying to practice their hunting skills on almost every animal they encountered including bat-eared foxes, jackals and wildebeest. However, at this stage they are lacking patience in stalking, bursting forward much too soon to be successful.

Just watching and waiting at the watering holes provided a continuous source of interesting action. Lanner falcons could be seen hunting doves, lions were stalking antelope and jackals were opportunistically looking for any opportunity to pounce or scavenge. On one occasion, a martial eagle managed to snatch a guinea fowl; it struggled to get airborne quickly with its heavy load and four jackals were seen running full speed hoping that the bird would drop its kill as it approached the trees.

Elephants were still seen in huge numbers, especially at the camp watering hole. Guests were thrilled to be able to watch the interaction between large bulls and breeding herds on a daily basis.  As guests were enjoying breakfast one morning a jackal was chasing guinea fowl. As the birds flew up into the air, the jackals ran around the elephants who started to shake their ears in irritation. Somehow in the process one elephant accidentally swatted a guinea fowl to the ground and it was eagerly scooped up by the lucky jackal.  On 29th September, just before Botswana’s Independence Day, Nxai Pan received some very welcome heavy showers which allowed the elephants some respite to look for water and food elsewhere.

Our day trips to Baines Baobabs continue to be a highlight for many guests. The birdlife is rewarding, with numerous species of passerines, including kestrels nesting in the acacia trees. After the rains at the end of the month we started to see some creatures, such as leopard tortoises, reappear after their hibernation.

(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, September 2017 Sightings

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During September the resident Wapoka pride of lions were still hunting very successfully and we found them feeding on zebra carcasses on several occasions.  However the big herds of buffalo were a tempting target as an adult buffalo would provide a substantial meal for this fast-growing pride. Towards the middle of the month the lions attacked a massive breeding herd which had calves enveloped in the middle and was being protected by some formidable bulls. Four females and five sub-adult cubs started to chase the buffaloes to the marsh. One of the females managed to bring down a calf, which was soon taken over by the male lions who started to feed. Unfortunately, two of the cubs were badly injured in the stampede. One of the cubs was found dead few days later, the other could not move for some days but luckily it survived and was seen with the rest of the pride later during the week. Following that incident, the lions were seen hunting easier prey such as kudu and wildebeest.

Hyenas have also continued their strategy of following leopards when hunting and as soon as a leopard has made a kill, then they come in good numbers to outnumber the cat and take the carcass. With the lions they did not dare to try and steal the kill, rather they waited for the lions to finish feeding before they scavenged on whatever was left. Hyenas were also seen gorging on an elephant carcass that the guides suspect died from an old age. The den was still active and guests were able to see female hyenas nursing their cubs.

A pack of nine wild dogs were seen from the middle of the middle of the month onwards. They looked well-fed and in good condition. One afternoon, as we were following them hunting, two nomadic dogs from a different pack came and killed an impala in camp, right in front of Room 2. The camp called in the remarkable sighting so that the guests could come and enjoy watching them feeding. On another occasion we heard the dogs making contact calls with each other. When we followed up we found the pack fighting with hyenas over an impala. Eventually the wild dogs were outnumbered and they had to give up their kill to the hyenas.

It was a very tough month for a resident female leopard called Jane as time and again she lost her hard-won meals to the hyenas, but when she had the opportunity she was quick to haul her kill up on trees, leaving the hyenas waiting underneath for any scraps that dropped onto the ground.  Tawny Eagles and Bateleurs led our guides to find Jane devouring a female kudu, a large meal which kept her occupied for a couple of days. A tom leopard was also seen as well as Jane’s two sub-adult offspring who were increasingly seen on their own.

General game was very good as most of the natural water holes had dried out increasing the concentration of animals on the river, including breeding herds of elephant, big numbers of buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. A beautifully relaxed herd of sable antelope were seen.  Guests enjoyed seeing three honey badgers hunting for mice.

September heralds the start of spring in the bush and several of the trees including acacia species and the Sausage Tree started to produce beautiful blossoms and fragrant scents. We are starting to see different species of birds as they come for breeding and good numbers of different vulture species feeding on the leftover carcasses.

(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, September 2017 Sightings

Your Operator = Adventure Discoveries Lebala Camp - Guide=Babo

Lions were sighted very frequently because for much of the month the Bonga Pride of 21 lions split up into four smaller groups. The largest of these groups comprised the two dominant males, three females and five sub-adults. Of these youngsters, there was one male who was older than the others and he started to pick fights with the dominant pride males. We were able to observe how the young upstart was quickly put in his place, even sustaining injuries. The two male lions were trying to actively evict him from the pride, but he had a habit of sneaking back to find his family when the lionesses were on their own. It will be a vulnerable time for the young lion unless he manages to band together in a coalition and it seemed that he still has a lot to learn. In one dangerous manoeuvre he was seen trying to single-handedly tackle a huge herd of buffalo; not a wise move for a newly independent young lion.

The Bonga Pride males are also facing competition from outside. We were following a new lion to the area who was sniffing the ground and grimacing in a ‘flehmen’ response as though he had picked up then scent of a female. All of a sudden, another big male came rushing out of the bushes grunting, accompanied by a female. The males started to fight and the lioness ran away, eventually joined by the new male who seemed to have won the battle.

One day we saw the lionesses try for a warthog which they missed, but during their hunt they managed to leave behind a small cub aged 3-4 months who was sleeping by a termite mound, later that day he was still not reunited with the pride.

Leopard were seen more often in the area than in previous months, mostly mobile or on the hunt. There was a female leopard with two cubs, each 6-7 months old. They were mainly seen feeding on impala. A male leopard apparently managed to kill a female kudu, though its meal was appropriated by a hyena. Leopard were also seen hunting and eating steenbok.

We managed to locate cheetah a few times during September, usually the resident brother coalition who are well known in the area. We saw them hunting, and on a different occasion feeding on a red lechwe. After they had finished the vultures came and finished up all the remains.

Wild dogs were located just twice during September, once resting and one on the move. When we  saw them they were looking full-bellied and in good condition, although there were only 9 dogs compared to the usual 12 which was a little worrying.

The ongoing dry weather means that massive herds of elephants were congregating along the river, often drinking and swimming right opposite camp. Other species herding towards the water included a large number of zebra, wildebeest and tsessebe. Sable and roan antelope were located in the woodlands.  One day we were watching the Bonga lions when two honey badgers came across the pride who attacked them. Living up to their fierce reputation the honey badgers managed to defend themselves against the 13 lions. At another time we saw a honey badger fighting back against a pack of wild dogs, growling at them.

Guests thoroughly enjoyed visiting the carmine bee-eater nesting colony, huge numbers of these richly coloured birds making a striking sight. We were able to see how they excavated their nesting holes in the soil, which give them protection from their many enemies including monitor lizards, raptors and the smaller cat species.

We watched a serval on the eastern side of the camp and he appeared to pounce on and catch a rodent. Wild cats were also seen on the hunting on more than one occasion during night drive.

(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!)

Kwara, September 2017 Sightings

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We were thrilled to see that wild dogs were back in abundance at Kwara, following the sad loss of a yearling killed by a hyena the previous month. Incredibly three separate packs were seen on the concession during September. The largest of these groups comprised 15 animals, 14 adults with just one pup, and they were often seen near to the Kwara camps. One morning they killed an impala next to Room 5 at Little Kwara and then chased another impala into the lagoon in front of Kwara. On a different occasion, the pack of fifteen ran through both camps followed by four hyenas. The dogs lost interest in the impala that they had been hunting and turned back to focus on their enemies. In the ensuing skirmish one hyena was badly bitten by the dogs. The hyenas headed back towards their den, pursued by the pack of dogs and once they arrived at the den the fight was on again. This time the hyena clan managed to drive off the dogs. From there, the pack moved out towards the boat station where they located a male impala and gave him a spectacular chase across the water towards the camps. Eventually they managed to bring down a yearling impala from another herd, not a large meal considering their exhausting morning’s efforts.

There were also two smaller packs, comprising 4 and 6 dogs respectively. At one time the pack of 6 was spotted next to a female cheetah and her sub-adult cub who were looking longingly at the carcass that they were devouring. We suspected that she had been driven off her kill by the dogs. Guests were amused one day to see the pack of six looking at our brand new bridge with intense curiosity, as if trying to figure out what on earth the construction was all about.

During September we saw various different prides of lion on the Kwara concession. A new male who has been seen in the area for a few months was found feeding on a wildebeest carcass, the nearby trees covered in vultures and bateleur eagles. He was still there the following day with 2 females, he was mating the sub-adult lioness whilst the older one was watching the honeymooners. The next day two other males walked into the area and busily declared it their territory in a display of scent marking, spraying, rolling and bonding. A familiar lion known as “Mr Limping” returned to the area and announced his arrival with a night long roar-a-thon between Little Kwara’s staff village and camp. This individual lost his territory a year and a half ago to the Zulu Boys, but in an unusual twist he seems to have recruited one of the latter males to form a coalition with him and they were seen patrolling together. The other Zulu Boys were found in the west of the concession in a pride which included five cubs aged 5-6 months old. All together there seemed to be five new male lions in the area, all bidding to win dominance over the One-Eyed Pride. It will be interesting to see what develops over the coming weeks.

Whilst watching two male lions devouring a kill one afternoon, our sharp-eared guide and tracker team heard the alarm call of a side-striped jackal. They decided to investigate and found a beautiful female leopard resting in a marula tree. She dropped down from the tree and walked about a kilometre where she sniffed at the base of a sausage tree. She climbed into a hole so deeply that only her back legs and tail were visible before clambering out with a tiny cub in her mouth. Our lucky guests watched as she gently carried her offspring back to the marula tree where she was first found and deposited it into a hole. The mother and cub were seen many times after that, conveniently choosing to live near to the airstrip. A male leopard was also seen in the area. Towards the end of the month, he was up a tree with his kill and we found him with 6 hyenas waiting at the base of the tree, hoping for some meat to fall down. A few minutes later the large pack of 15 wild dogs arrived and chased the hyena as the leopard nervously watched. Three sought-after predators in one sighting!

Guides were pleased to see a resident female cheetah return with her 8-month-old cub as she had not been in the area for a while. We followed her as she was hunting and she managed to kill a red lechwe. The following day the resident male known as Special was located as he took down a reedbuck, so those particular guests were lucky enough to see two cheetah kills in two days. Another male cheetah was tracked after making an incredibly long walk from the western side of the concession. He was eventually located right on our eastern boundary looking sadly at a hyena who was full-bellied and covered in blood; we suspected that the hyena had stolen his kill. The cheetah quietly sneaked away and ventured back west, scent marking all the way. In the end it was a fruitless and exhausting journey for the intruder.

The boat trips to the heronry provided a wonderful spectacle, with many different species of water birds preparing for the nesting season including pelicans, fish eagles, storks, herons and egrets. Ground Hornbills and Secretary Birds were viewed frequently and Verreaux’s Eagle Owls were often spotted on night drives.

(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, August 2017 Sightings

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August was an interesting time in the Central Kalahari, with some dramatic changes to the landscape at the end of the month. As usual the Tau Pan pride of lions were often seen near to the lodge and increasingly at the waterhole since the natural pans were long dried up. More than once, two of the male lions spent the whole day by the watering hole sleeping off a big feast from the night before. The impressive black-maned male lions often called during the night and that helped us to locate them the next day. After they had been particularly vocal one night the guests and guides were amused to observe in the morning that without exception all the antelopes had migrated off to the opposite side of Tau Pan to avoid the lions or perhaps to get a more relaxing night’s rest. One of the resident lionesses was seen feeding with her cubs on an oryx calf. Her growing cubs were getting used to the safari vehicles; she also introduced them to the camp watering hole, so we hope we will see much more of them in the future.

Different cheetah and leopard individuals were located during the month. We watched a sub-adult female leopard trying her luck at Deception Valley, but she missed on that occasion. A coalition of cheetah brothers was spotted during a day trip. Initially they were hunting, but as the temperature rose they decided to rest in the shade. Some very patient guiding was rewarded when guests managed to get good photos of a male cheetah who is known to be particularly skittish. With time, the guides hope to can build his confidence and encourage him to be less camera-shy.

There were a good number of springbok herds around Tau Pan area and as in previous recent months they have developed a habit of pronking during the sunset hour making for spectacular images. Blue wildebeest were seen in large herds and oryx appear to be increasing in number. Red hartebeest were encountered at Phukwe Pan and also Tau Pan where they were close to the road enabling great memories for some very happy guests who were seeing these antelope for the first time despite having been on safari many times. Ostrich, bat-eared foxes and caracal were also seen in the Tau Pan area.

At the start of August, the vegetation was still dense and whilst the long golden waving grasses made for a stark and beautiful landscape, there were some occasions when we lost sight of animals as they went into the undergrowth. All that was about to change in a very dramatic way. Towards the end of the month a huge bush fire, some 20-30 kilometres across, swept through the area. Over the course of 6 days our team watched the glow on the horizon of the night sky getting ever closer. At the face of the fire the flames were 2-3 metres high, with whole trees burning like torches. As our staff were bravely ensuring that the fire did not threaten the camp itself, they noted the animal behaviour. These types of burns are very normal phenomenon in the Central Kalahari so it is by no means an unusual situation for the creatures who live here. The oryx stayed remarkably calm, wandering very close to the fire and sedately walking out of its way. The springbok kept themselves on the shorter grass of the pans. True to their nature, only the wildebeest seemed in the slightest bit distressed and spent some time galloping around. Even as the fire was raging, Tawny Eagles and Pale Chanting Goshawks stayed ahead of the flames, opportunistically snatching rodents who were fleeing. As soon as the fire had consumed its fuel and passed on by, black-backed jackals were quickly on the scene, picking through the ashes hoping to find some tasty toasted rodents.

Within days the pioneer grass was starting to push through new green shoots, much appreciated by the grazers who seemed to prefer the palatable young stems to the less nutritious dry stalks that the fire destroyed. We were fortunate that the area directly in front of the lodge did not burn, so the view was as beautiful as ever. Whilst the new growth was coming through we enjoyed a concentration of game in the Tau Pan area which was unaffected by the fire.

(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, August 2017 Sightings

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The climate started to change during August, with night time temperatures increasing from lows of five degrees Celcius at the start of the month, to above fifteen degrees by the end of the month. Day time temperatures started to push above thirty degrees. The hotter days and lack of rainfall meant that game was heavily concentrated around sources of water, and our camp watering hole was by no means an exception.

Elephants tended to dominate the watering hole for the majority of every day – a spectacular sight for our guests to enjoy from the lodge, but rather problematic for the other animals who were forced to visit at first light before the pachyderms took over. Regular early morning visitors included kudu and a herd of eight buffalo. Spotted hyena were also seen at the camp watering hole, much to the consternation of some resident warthogs who finished their drinks very quickly before scurrying off into the bush with tails raised in alarm.

The Nxai Pan pride of 16 lions were also seen regularly and had divided into three groups:
Three females with three cubs aged thirteen months
Two females with four cubs of 6-8 months
Two sub-adult lionesses of approximately two years who are independent of the main pride.
The male lions moved between all three groups and were often seen near to camp.

The road that cuts through the middle of Nxai Pan was productive for smaller predators including regular sightings of the highly-prized aardwolf and numerous bat-eared foxes.

Cheetah sightings included a mother with her two offspring – now classified as sub-adults rather than cubs since they are more than a year old. A single male cheetah has also been located frequently. Both male and female leopard tracks were located in the camp area, though the cats themselves remained elusive.

The trip to Baines Baobabs was quieter in terms of game, but the view has changed. The trees have lost their leaves and are silhouetted against the dry, dusty pan. The landscape is much more open now that the lush summer vegetation has been grazed down.

The rise in temperatures meant that we started to see birds who are more associated with warmer weather in the region, such as the yellow-billed kite, red-capped lark and rufous-naped lark.

(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 2017 Sightings

AFOWLER_action lion and buff

Once again, the Wapoka Pride of lions took first prize for sighting of the month at Lebala. The two pride males took down a baby buffalo right in front of the game viewer. Not content with killing their original target, the two males rather rashly decided to try and tackle another two adult buffaloes at the same time, pouncing on one each. Wapoka means “crazy” in Setswana and on this occasion, the lions lived up to their name. Rather than help each other out, each male stubbornly hung onto his own prey animal, but the buffalo managed to take advantage of this situation and were successful in standing their ground, chasing the lions away. The two buffalos stood up and rejoined the others as the herd ran away, leaving the lions to make do with the calf that they had originally killed. They were seen in another confrontation with buffalo later in the month with the hunter and hunted chasing each other for three hours. They were also located hunting along the river chasing red lechwe but were not successful. Whilst following the lions we saw them come across hyena and behave aggressively towards them.

The hyena den was very active and the puppies were getting ever more inquisitive, coming to inspect the vehicles closely and even trying to bite the tyres. The adult hyenas were now starting to bring meat to the den. At another time, two spotted hyenas had disembowelled a hippo outside one of the natural watering holes. The hippo escaped by running into the water where the hyenas couldn’t damage it further, but the hyenas waited for days on the periphery of the pan for the hippo to come back out. Even whilst the hippo was still alive some white-backed vultures started to feed on it.

The resident cheetah brothers, who have been working in a coalition since they left their mother last year, got more than they bargained for when they tried to take on a herd of wildebeest. They didn’t manage to single any one animal out and then the antelope turned on them, chasing them until they drove one cheetah up a tree in its desperate attempt to escape. A different single cheetah was found marking territory and enjoying a warthog kill before drinking and disappearing into the mopane woodlands.

Other notable sightings during August included a lovely view of a very relaxed African Wild cat and a huge African python seen at basking at Nare Pan

As the natural watering holes dried up in the mopane woodlands found to the west of the concession, large numbers of elephants started to herd towards the Kwando River which will provide their main source of water for the next few months. Breeding herds with several young elephants were often seen close to the lodge. As guests were eating dinner they enjoyed hearing elephants munching the vegetation nearby. One evening at a sundowner stop, a herd of elephants started to approach the vehicle. The guide advised the guests to get into the safari vehicle and stay still. As the herd passed, the guests were awe-inspired by the matriarch staring straight at them.

Other herbivores seen included herds of buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and impala. Following the good rains this year there was still plentiful grazing and the animals appeared to be in good condition.
Birdlife was also very rich, especially on the almost dried water catchments where storks, herons and other water species fed on insects and frogs stuck in the mud.

(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, August 2017 Sightings

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August delivered spectacular lion sightings at Lagoon camp; the resident pride was keeping us busy and were seen on almost all game drives. Our guides noticed that the two lionesses mothering five cubs between them had a tendency to pull away from the rest of the pride as a way of trying to reduce competition for food. These two lionesses appeared to have a very successful kill ratio in their own right and we saw them feeding on a variety of prey including zebra, kudu and a wildebeest calf. All of their cubs seem to be in good health. The other part of the pride comprising three lionesses, 2 female sub-adults and 6 male sub-adults were seen together most of the time. This month we saw them on kills of hippo, giraffe, zebras and kudu. The two big male lions were sometimes with the pride, but very often seen on their own together, patrolling and scent marking their territory. We noticed that one of the sub-adult males had been ejected from the pride, but that didn’t stop him trying to sneak back into the family when the dominant males were not around. Once he tried to feed with the mothers and cubs, but was caught in the act and quickly dismissed by the adult males. On that occasion, the male lions sat back and let the mothers and cubs have the kill to themselves, since it was not enough to feed the whole pride.

As there had been an active wild dog den since July we had the chance of viewing the pack very regularly. We were extremely careful to minimise visits to the den itself to avoid disturbance to the alpha female and her puppies, but we also had great sightings of the adult dogs hunting and sometimes witnessed the kill itself. One day the pride of lions passed by the wild dog den and chased the pack away. From that time onwards, the dogs were very skittish, spending the whole day in the bush and only coming back to the den at night. On their third week, the puppies were allowed out of the den and introduced to the rest of the pack, but then this happy family tale took an unfortunate and dramatic turn. Seven lions came to the den one afternoon as the female was nursing the puppies with two other adult dogs in attendance. The lions surprised the mother and three of the nine pups were killed. All three adult dogs managed to run away and the remaining puppies dashed back to their den. That was the last we were to see of them. The following day the rest of the pack went hunting, but instead of coming to the den they stood about 30 metres away. The female was crying and she led the pack to the old den where they spent the whole day. We continued to check both dens in the hope of seeing the puppies, but three days later our worst fears were confirmed when we found leopard tracks and drag marks coming from the den where the puppies were last seen. After that the dogs left the area for a week and we feared for their safety, but towards the end of the month they reappeared and were found at their old den and on the hunt once more.

A mother leopard and her two cubs have developed a convenient habit of living near our airstrip, making for some special arrival and departure memories for guests. Most often the female was located on her own whilst hunting, leaving the cubs hidden. One time we witnessed her having to rebuke the cubs strongly when they tried to follow her. There was also another female leopard seen in the area.

The two resident cheetah brothers were observed just once during August, but it was towards the end of the month so we hope to have better luck with them in September. These two young males cover a very large territory.

As the climate started to warm and the inland waterholes dried up, elephants were seen in massive numbers as they congregated towards the riverine areas – some herds were in excess of 100 individuals. From the lodge main area and rooms our guests were able to enjoy spectacular views of elephants drinking in the channel that flows past Lagoon Camp. Huge herds of buffalo were encountered as well as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and kudu. A very relaxed herd of sable antelope were being seen approximately three times per week.

The African Scops Owl and African Barred Owlet which live around the tree in the main area were seen almost every 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!)

Kwara, August 2017 Sightings

Verreaux's Eagle-owl or Giant Eagle Owl (Bubo lacteus)

The hyena den at Kwara was very active during August with six females nursing cubs of varying ages. Spotted hyena cubs are born with a brownish-black coat and only start to get their adult markings at approximately three months old. There was just one cub still in its infant darker coat during the month and was already showing a cheeky character, becoming a favourite with guides and guests. We were able to see mothers nursing and cubs playing throughout the month.

However, we are sad to report that the success of the hyenas was at the expense of the wild dog pack. One morning, just after the adult dogs left for their morning hunt, a hyena was found killing one of the yearling dogs from last year’s litter. The hyena ate the whole carcass in an unusual act of inter-specific competition. After that rather grisly incident the pack abandoned the den and left the area for some time.

A resident female leopard appeared to be heavily pregnant and was often seen hunting reedbuck around Sable Island and near the boat station. She made an impressive sight as she walked through the tall grasses searching for prey species and climbing up the trees to get a better vantage point of her prey. She also walked through the camp at night, making the leopard’s distinctive sawing call.

Cheetah were also seen often during August. The female with cub with located on several occasions and we witnessed the youngster trying to stalk and chase a herd of tsessebe – a surprisingly ambitious prey species to start practicing on given that they are the fastest antelope of all. The resident male cheetah, known as Special, also thought he would try his luck with a tsessebe and singled out a calf, but the mother antelope fiercely defended her young and managed to save it from the cat. We saw Special having better luck with the red lechwe where we saw him killing a sub-adult. Our guides were especially pleased to see a young female cheetah who separated with her brother early this year when her mother was attacked by a leopard. She was located in the Splash area after being out of our area for 3 months. We followed her hunting but she didn’t manage to make the kill – she appeared to be lacking experience, probably because her mother died whilst her skills were still being honed. At least she has found a suitable area to live in; the Splash area has an abundance of medium-sized herbivores, and less competition from lions and hyenas, making it perfect cheetah country.

There continue to be many different prides of lion located within the Kwara concession. The magnificent male lion, known as Mr Nose due to his battle-scarred face, was seen mating with the young female of the Mma Leitho Pride. A younger nomadic lion came and challenged him in a battle for dominance, but Mr Nose’s experience showed and he was successful in driving the would-be usurper away. The whole pride is looking healthy and they have been seen on successive blue wildebeest kills. The Zulu Boys were seen travelling through the marshes with three lionesses giving an awesome sighting of six Okavango Delta habituated lions wading through water. The One-Eyed Pride were seen on a giraffe kill and another time trying their luck on red lechwe but without success.

As usual, the general game in the Kwara was very good. Big herds of elephant moved from north to south to access the main channels of the Moremi, creating wonderful photographic opportunities as they waded through the flooded channels. Giraffe and buffalo were plentiful, especially in the Splash area. There were lots of breeding herds from North to South. Giraffes and buffaloes were also seen in area near to Splash. Other species regularly seen included zebra, impala, blue wildebeest, led lechwe, warthogs and baboons.

Ground hornbills were frequently located on morning game drives and a pair of secretary birds were seen occasionally. After sunset, the large Verreaux’s eagle owls were often located using spotlight.

(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!)