Tau Pan, Nov 2017

Safari at Kwara

During November the Tau Pan pride were seen very regularly in the area near to camp, and made a magnificent sight when found together; the five black-maned males together with two females and their three cubs. Once there was a lovely sighting of the impressive males lying together bonding through grooming each other, showing their softer side. Their more aggressive nature came to the fore when a female came to the watering hole with two cubs. One of the males spotted the cub and chased after it, the other four in hot pursuit. The cub managed to dash for cover and disappeared – a very lucky escape for the little one who would very possibly have been killed in an act of infanticide. Other prides were located at Deception Valley and Sunday Pan. At the start of the month as the dry season came to an end they were looking lean and hungry, but after the first rain showers the antelope started to drop their young and food was suddenly easy to come by again.

The antelope species seen during November included oryx, kudu and springbok.  The guests really enjoyed the lambing of the springbok. We were sometimes able to see the antelope giving birth and watched the youngsters wobbling to their feet to take their first steps. Within a few days they were chasing each other around and pronking. This was a time of easy pickings for the predators and we saw the resident male cheetah on springbok kills on successive days.

A few elephants were seen in the Tau Pan area, relishing the last of the Tsamma Melons. It was an indication of how good last years rains were that there were still many of these melons left at the end of the dry season, they would usually have mostly been consumed by now.

Leopard were not seen often, but were heard mating right inside camp, so we hope that a family will be produced in the months to come.

Bat-eared foxes were often seen foraging around Tau Pan. They were denning and had small cubs of about three months old who kept us entertained with their games of chase. The black-backed jackal also had young puppies; we saw them trying to pounce on ground squirrels. An African wildcat was seen on the western side of the pan hunting for birds, but didn’t succeed as the wide-open area didn’t have enough cover from which it the cat could launch its ambush.

Two honey badgers were seen digging for mice, but with no success.  In an example of commensalism, Pale Chanting Goshawks were perched nearby hoping for the opportunity to snatch a lizard or rodent flushed from the ground by the honey badgers.

November was a very productive month for birding. Up to twelve secretary birds have been visiting the camp watering hole every lunchtime as well as yellow-billed kites, bateleur and tawny eagles.

During the first part of the month guests and guides saw the Central Kalahari at its most brutally harsh. Although there had been some small showers, they just seemed to increase the humidity. Temperatures rocketed as high as 42 degrees and although game drive sightings were still good, animals were quick to hide in the shade as the sun rose. Then, in the third week of November the heavens opened and heavy rains arrived to quench the thirsty earth, bringing a respite from the heat.  There were currently plenty of plants in bloom including the umbrella thorn acacia and trumpet thorn giving guests the chance to experience the fragrant scents of the springtime bush.

(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, Nov 2017

ThomasRetterath.cat7aardwolf nxai

“New Life” was the theme of the month at Nxai Pan during November. Birds were nesting, antelope were dropping their young, jackals had puppies, but the discovery of the month was an aardwolf den with a single cub. Aardwolf resemble a slender hyena in build, but these remarkable insectivores are actually in a separate taxonomic family. They are a prized sighting for any safari-goer, but to see their adorable cub with its black muzzle, pink ears and striped coat was an amazing treat. We were able to see them at the den most days towards the end of the month.

Several dens of black-backed jackals were found by our guides and we watched the adults kill guinea fowl at the Wildlife watering hole on several occasions, sometimes with their puppies watching on. Once we were able to watch the adults regurgitating for their young. The bat-eared foxes were also seen with cubs and were enjoying the increase in beetles and other insects following the early rain showers.

Elephants were increasingly accumulating around our camp watering hole, with numbers upward of 100 individuals seen regularly. Females with young as well as solitary bulls and bachelor herds were all observed in a seemingly never-ending stream during the day. As always, they were extremely protective of their water source, preventing other animals from drinking. Towards the end of the month two wild dogs appeared at the camp watering hole. They looked tired and desperate for a drink, but the elephants refused to let them quench their thirst.

Other species, such as buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, impala and springbok still came hoping for the opportunity to have a turn at the water, but only rarely given a chance by the stubborn pachyderms. Watching the procession of animals in front of the lodge, and the interaction between them, was described by a guest as being like “non-stop National Geographic channel”.

After having been absent from the area for a little while we were very happy to see two male lions appear next to the staff village and make their way to the watering hole whilst we were having breakfast with our guests. The next day, a single lioness who showed signs of nursing also came to try and drink at the watering hole, but once again, the elephants were having none of it so this mother went away thirsty. The pride of lions comprising two males, three lionesses and six cubs were also seen resting by the old wildlife watering hole. This second source of water had congregations of different kinds of species including springboks with their lambs, giraffe and ostriches. The wildebeest were heavily pregnant so we expect their calving season to start very soon.

The resident cheetah family of three were still doing well and were even seen drinking at the camp watering hole. Another time, we watched them chasing down some springbok more than once and mostly they were very successful, although the sub-adults were still having some problems learning how to make the final kill. On one occasion we saw the two sub-adult females chasing off some jackals who had been following them for some time. The resident male cheetah was also seen in the area and a couple of times he was seen resting with female and her two daughters making a wonderful photographic opportunity of the four cheetahs together.

There was rewarding birding all over the area. Some of the migratory species returned for the summer months including steppe buzzards, black-winged pratincoles, Abdim’s storks and white storks. The ostriches were seen nesting near to the road, proudly brooding 12 eggs.

(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, Nov 2017

Currie Action Wild Dog chase 2 lebala

The most highly prized sighting of the month at Lebala was an encounter with a pangolin. The animal allowed us to view it well and when the guests saw the excitement of the guides and trackers they knew that they were seeing something very rare and special indeed.

November was full of predator action including some amazing inter-species battles. One morning we were enjoying the sight of a female leopard cooling off in some water when a lioness suddenly appeared and tried to corner the leopard who made a quick dash up the nearest tree. It was a thrilling and unusual encounter between the cats; competition between these animals always exists, but is not easy to see them face to face as the leopard knows full well that lions pose a grave danger, so they do their utmost to avoid them.

Lions were seen frequently in the area. Once, as we were driving, some herds of wildebeest and impala came running across the road. Our guides quickly went to see what had startled the animals and found six young male lions and one female lying down under a tree. The young males were approximately two years old and our guides suspected that they had been kicked of a pride by the dominant male. The following morning the the six boys were seen feeding on an impala; hyenas came from the bushes and tried their luck at stealing the kill, but the lions stood their ground and did not give the clan a chance. The resident clan of hyena were never far away once the pride had made a kill, though usually the lions managed to drive them away.

A pack of twenty-five wild dogs was making kill after kill and they were spending most of their time on the plains around camp. One afternoon, as guests were having their high tea, the huge pack appeared in front of the camp chasing a herd of wildebeest. In an exciting take-down they managed to kill two calves. As the dogs were busy feeding, the hyenas arrived and started milling around trying to take over the meal. The wild dogs attacked them in good number but hyenas did not surrender, they kept on coming until they managed to take the carcass. The same pack of wild dogs killed an impala at the back of the staff village and once again, the hyenas arrived right on time as the dogs were feeding. This time the dogs did not back off, as they seemed to have had enough of the hyenas, and the pack managed to defend its meal.

Two cheetahs were located feeding on an impala and as soon as they finished they climbed up a tree. This was a very smart manoeuvre to try and outwit the hyenas who they knew could appear at any time. The most slenderly built of the big cats, cheetahs will usually do whatever it takes to avoid getting into a fight with other predators.

The resident female leopard known as Jane was seen hunting on several occasions; she has two growing cubs to feed so needs to kill regularly. A male leopard was spotted coming from the marsh with blood on his face but it was not possible for the guides to check on what he was feeding on as there was so much water. Another big male leopard was spotted very relaxed licking himself and went up a tree.

A very special sighting of a caracal was spotted in the area although it was very shy. General game was still great with a good number of elephants, wildebeest, zebras and impalas. The Lebala area received some rainfall and the vegetation is starting to look very nice and green, making a beautiful background for photos. Bird life is also very good, with the busy breeding season underway and summer migrants returning.

(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, Nov 2017

ARoos.Action.Jacob.Canon500D lagoon

The first of the summer storms came to the Kwando region in November quickly turning the vegetation verdant green. Breeding season was in full swing during November and all of the antelope species started to give birth to their young. In turn, this created a bonanza for the predators who were quick to make the most of the easy food source.

The two resident brother cheetahs were seen regularly, and were successful with their hunting. We saw them on red lechwe, impala and young tsessbe carcasses. One day we had found them resting in the morning, so went back in the afternoon to see what they were up to. They were up and alert, in full hunting mode. We followed them as they looked for prey, stopping regularly on their favourite look out points to scan the surrounding area. They had just climbed such a tree when the guide suddenly spotted a leopard nearby. In a very unusual encounter, the cheetahs bravely chased the bigger predator away. As if this wasn’t enough drama for the afternoon, the cheetah then promptly went behind a bush and killed an impala. What a thrilling afternoon for our guests!

The big Bonga pride of 7 adults and 10 sub-adults were seen regularly and in good health. The lions all fed together for three days on the kill of a fully-grown giraffe. Another time the pride was found looking extremely satisfied next to no less than three buffalo carcasses right next to each other. By the following day they were still only halfway through the second carcass and the two males were moving off, having had their fill. They were also seen feeding on zebra. A group of four hyena were seen moving around the lions, but lacking strength in numbers they were not brave enough to challenge for the kill.

The resident pack of nine wild dogs looking were seen looking very hungry at the beginning of the month. One week we watched them fail more than once on impalas and greater kudus however eventually they were seen feeding on an impala near the airstrip, and will be able to feed more easily now that lambing season has started. The larger pack of 25 wild dogs, usually found to the south of the concession, were also seen towards Lagoon. The adults were looking full and were regurgitating food for their puppies after a successful morning’s hunting.

The resident female leopard with two cubs was tracked several times. There was an anxious morning where only one cub was with her and we worried as she called and called for her other baby. Both guests and guides were hugely relieved to find her later the same day accompanied by both youngsters. She has been hunting successfully to feed her fast-growing family and was seen feeding on a wildebeest calf as well as impala.

Birding was great during November. Summer visitors such as the broad-billed roller and woodland kingfisher arrived back to the area. The chicks hatched at the carmine bee-eater colony near John’s Pan, so we were able to see the adults feeding them. A black heron was frequently sighted near Watercut, an unusual and beautiful sighting for the area. A giant kingfisher was located more than once during the boat cruise, in addition to the more common pied and malachite kingfishers.

Within camp itself an African Barred Owl and a Scops Owl both chose to roost in the trees surrounding the main area. Sometimes the birds swoop into the main area during the evening, one time an owl perching comically on a bottle of wine. Sadly no one had their camera with them at the time to capture this unique sighting. A good reminder that you should have your photography equipment nearby at all times whilst on safari!
Elephants browsed within the camp surrounds after dark; the mesh windows of the rooms allowing guests to hear their contented munching and grunts of hippos throughout the night. An unusually relaxed wild cat was often seen just five minutes from camp.

(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, Nov 2017

YHernandez.new life.impala1 kwara

The first rains in the Okavango Delta arrived in November, and shortly afterwards the antelope species started to drop their young, with huge numbers of animals being born during the month. Guests were overwhelmed by the cuteness overload and their camera lenses were suddenly focused on zebra foals, warthog piglets and impala lambs rather than the big predators.

Of course, the predators themselves were also enjoying the baby boom amongst their prey species, relishing the easy pickings by singling out newborn calves and lambs. Two male lions killed a new born giraffe right between the airstrip and the camp meaning that arriving guests quickly realised the sometimes-harsh reality of untamed Africa. Botswana is as raw and wild as it comes.

During November were excited to pick up tracks of white rhino in the concession, a female and a calf. A few days later we managed to get a glimpse of female, although she was skittish. It is wonderful to see these incredible animals repopulating the Okavango Delta again.

The female leopard and her cub of three months are both doing really well and continuing to delight guests. The mother is a successful hunter and was usually seen full-bellied, specialising on impala lambs, but also taking down red lechwe and young reedbuck. The cub has now learned to climb trees all the way to the top which should her it less vulnerable. She has become relaxed with the game drive vehicles and is confident enough to come out into the open to take a curious look at us. Guests particularly enjoyed seeing the mother calling for her cub to come out of hiding and the pair tenderly reuniting and nursing afterwards. Although the cub will still drink milk for many months she is just starting to eat meat.

One beautiful morning we located a handsome male leopard moving south of the airstrip. We saw him stalking a herd of impala and in a lightning fast burst of speed he quickly took down one of the antelope. He also killed a young reedbuck in front of the vehicle on a different occasion.

The resident pack of wild dogs comprising seven adults and five puppies were all in good condition and were seen often as they opportunistically raided the drier parts of the Kwara concession. One morning we found them near to the airstrip starting their greeting ritual in perfect early morning light. We followed them as they hunted down a fully-grown impala ewe and devoured it in front of us. The dogs were relentless in their quest to make the most of the easy time to feast and we saw them being successful all month. In fact, more than once we saw them making multiple kills; on one drive they killed three times – two impala lambs and a tsessebe calf. A second pack of twelve dogs returned to the area. Last time we saw them they had two puppies with them, sadly this time we saw them there were only adults. They stayed near to camp for a few days, feeding daily on impala and reedbuck.

A clan of ten hyenas were seen feeding on a giraffe kill and their den was very active with five fast-growing cubs. One time fourteen adults were seen fighting the wild dogs over an impala carcass. Our guides also discovered five separate jackal dens, three for side striped jackals and two for black-backed jackals. Seeing the pups playing outside the dens was a treat for guests.

Many prides of lion were seen in the area. They were successful with their kills and often found hunting and feeding. Two nomadic males showed interest in laying claim to the Kwara area and were roaring each dawn and dusk. Mr Nose seemed to have deferred to them and moved further east in the concession. One of the older lionesses known as Mma Leitlho went missing halfway through the month; the last time we saw her she was heavily pregnant so the guides suspected that she was denning.

The resident female cheetah with her sub-adult cub were making great use of the dried-out flood plains as hunting grounds where they were able to use their speed to their advantage, often seen on kills and more than once took down their prey right in front of the guests. The newly born antelope made perfect target practice for the fast-growing youngster and she was seen trying her luck on impala lambs. The male cheetah was also seen well fed and often hanging around the Splash area making the most of calving season. We were interested to see the male spending more time with the females and towards the end of the month we saw them mating several times.

(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, October 2017 Sightings

RBrightmanDesertPipersPan2

October is the hottest and driest month for the Central Kalahari region with scorching winds and extreme midday temperatures. The intensity of the conditions was building ahead of the forthcoming rainy season which will bring welcome relief to the desert animals.

The coalition of six magnificent black-maned male lions were seen often at the camp watering hole and more than once they serenaded our guests with impressive roaring performances during the night.  As the dry season progressed, predators’ home ranges increased in size as the animals have to travel further and further to find food. This meant that we started to see some new individuals to the area who are not part of the Tau Pan pride. A nomadic lioness and cub were seen drinking at the watering hole. They were markedly less familiar with the safari vehicle than our resident lions, growling and snarling quite aggressively. Another new lioness and two young males were spotted on our northern fire break and also towards the airstrip.

Piper’s Pan is a stunning stretch of perfectly flat grass a few kilometres across.  This area is difficult to access when it is wet, but very productive in the dry season. In October we located two male cheetah located resting under a bush, plus another female cheetah at San Pan. There were plenty of wildebeest, red hartebeest, oryx and a different pride of lions at Piper’s Pan.

As always, the desert provided a good chance to see some of the smaller predators. Honey badgers were seen being more aggressive than usual, perhaps because there is less availability of food. Bat-eared foxes were seen often as well as the much rarer Cape Fox.

The landscape around Tau Pan was verdant and green following the huge fire earlier in the year. The acacia trees were in flower and other plants were starting to bloom including the pink flowers of the Devil’s Claw, Botswana’s National flower.

Cape cobras were seen at Phukwe Pan and also at San Pan.  Both times these large golden snakes were seen hunting, looking for prey species such as mice, lizards and ground squirrels.

(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, October 2017 Sightings

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The month of October is the hottest month of the year in the desert. This year the first rain showers came earlier than usual, right at the end of September, so the trees started responding to the moisture by producing new green leaves. However, these small rainfalls were not sufficient to fill the natural pans, so the two watering holes artificially pumped with water by Kwando Safaris and Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) continued to be visited by huge numbers of animals.

Big herds of elephants from all directions came in every morning to the camp watering hole and stayed all day and most of the night, usually moving off to browse after midnight. The elephants were very protective over the water supply and rarely gave other animals a chance to drink, however we saw a new and interesting change in their behaviour. They were seen time and again giving way to a herd of buffalo who boldly came to drink, demanding respect from the elephants who allowed them complete access to the water until their thirst was quenched. The elephants were not as tolerant of the lions and one noisy night the elephants and lions roared at each other continuously as they debated drinking rights. In the morning we saw a pride of 11 lions still waiting for the elephants to move so that they could have access to water. The lions had the final word though; a few days later the two males were seen feasting on an elephant calf, surrounded by vultures. They stayed on this carcass for three days.

Because the camp watering hole continued to be the favourite place for the elephants to hang out, other animals were congregating at the Department of Wildlife watering hole. There we saw lots of springbok, impalas, kudu, wildebeest, zebras, ostriches and other birds. The springbok had started to drop their lambs. It was pleasant experience just to sit at this spot and watch the constant procession of creatures and birds coming to drink. Black-backed jackal were usually to be found in the area, chasing guinea fowl, occasionally with success.

One morning as we were at this watering hole there was a pride of 3 lionesses with 6 cubs. A few minutes later we saw springbok, wildebeest, zebras, impalas and ostriches coming to drink. The lionesses were alert and waiting for their moment to pounce. We watched for over an hour whilst they sized up the various prey animals and eventually they killed a zebra fifty metres away from the road. These lionesses stayed there for a day and the following morning we found different lionesses from the Nxai pride, two females with three larger cubs, on the same kill.

As we were watching the lionesses with cubs feeding on a zebra we saw some springbok running very fast about a kilometre away so we quickly drove that in that direction to see what was going on. We got there in time to see that 3 cheetah had managed to take down a springbok. This was a mother with her two sub-adult offspring. A different male cheetah was also seen during the month.

Day trips to Baines Baobabs continued to be rewarding and our guests always enjoy the salt pans, ancient trees and beautiful landscape. Game in the area included oryx, springbok, steenbok, warthogs, ostriches, kori bustards and many other birds.

(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, October 2017 Sightings

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The month of October was full of action at Lebala with the Wapoka pride often seen stalking and chasing their prey.  This is a is a very experienced pride and highly successful when it comes to hunting. The sub-adult cub that was injured in a buffalo stampede the previous month in sadly did not survive. Buffalos were still in the area but during October the lions seemed to be more cautious and were waiting for the right moment to attack, having learned a hard lesson the previous month. Two new male lion intruders were seen in the concession. At one time they ventured too near the hyena den for the clan to be comfortable, resulting in a fight between these mighty predators. These two males did not linger in the area; they seemed to be avoiding the resident males of the Wapoka Pride and a potentially life-threatening confrontation.

The hyena den was still very active; some of the guests were lucky enough to see the females nursing their cubs. Every time the guides visited the den they saw least see one or two hyenas looking after the cubs to make sure they were safe. These hyenas were continuing their strategy of stealing carcasses from the leopards but the leopards were doing their best to out-manoeuvre their competition by taking their carcasses up trees wherever possible. Often the hyenas were seen waiting beneath the branches hoping for some meat to fall to the ground. Hyenas were also seen on several occasions scavenging on left-overs from lions.

Guests were treated to very special sightings after a familiar female leopard, known as Jane, gave birth to two cubs. Jane is a very good mother and the daughter who she successfully raised previously is still in the area and managing well now that she is independent.  It will be interesting to see how Jane manages to look after two cubs in terms of feeding, protecting and training them. Jane was seen up a tree with her kill staying away well away from hyenas. She was also spotted five minutes from the camp with her cubs feeding on an impala. Jane’s daughter was also located not far from the camp hunting, she was investigating warthog burrows to search for prey, although unfortunately was not successful on that occasion.

There were good wild dog sightings. A pack of twenty-six dogs was seen on several occasions, successfully hunting and feeding on impala and warthogs on several occasions. One time, the pack was seen chasing an impala but the antelope evaded them by leaping into the river. The guides continued to follow the dogs who returned to the den. The poor puppies were begging for some food, but unfortunately this time the adults had nothing to regurgitate for them.  On another occasion, two dogs were spotted chasing an impala but with no luck. Afterwards the pair came across a honey badger face to face but the dogs backed off. This was a very smart move by the dogs; honey badgers are one of the toughest animals and even female lions will not readily fight with them

Two cheetahs were located one evening although the guides could not spend much time with them as it was getting dark. We do not use a spotlight on cheetahs in case it exposes them to the other predators.

General game was great as most animals are still concentrating on the riverside. There were a good number of elephant breeding herds, hundreds of buffalos, wildebeest and zebras.

The area was getting nice and green giving photographers an attractive backdrop for their pictures. Birdlife was becoming increasingly productive as returning migrants such as carmine bee- eaters, European rollers, lesser grey shrikes and red-backed shrikes were spotted in the area.

(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, October Sightings 2017

ThomasRetterath.cat7foxes Lagoon

As temperatures soared during October, elephants in their hundreds started to congregate in the riverine area creating a magnificent spectacle for guests who were able to observe the herds throughout the day from the main area and their rooms.  A very relaxed herd of sable antelope were also seen regularly in the afternoons as they ventured out of the woodlands down to the river to drink.

The coalition of two male cheetah brothers were seen very regularly, killing successfully every two days on species including impala and warthog. A mother cheetah and two cubs who were new to area were seen with the two cheetah brothers, although the mother and cubs were nervous of our vehicles.

One evening a guide came across an African Civet. As the guide was positioning the vehicle they startled two leopard cubs who had been hiding in the grass stalking the civet.  Leopards were seen frequently, including three separate sightings in a single day. There was a female leopard seen near camp, although she was fairly shy, and a young male in the same area who was seen marking his territory. A different female leopard who had two cubs was seen feeding on a freshly killed roan antelope; one cub kept trying to sneak up on the carcass but time and again was rebuffed harshly by its mother. Yet another female leopard who was beautifully relaxed was seen on an impala kill.

Our guides were delighted to track down the resident pack of wild dogs, busy feasting on a waterbuck kill. They had been away from the area for a while. Later in the month we saw them again hunting, although not successful on that occasion.

October was a really successful month for sightings of the smaller predators. We saw two honey badgers interacting with black-backed jackal; in the end the honey badgers disappeared into a hole. Bat- eared foxes were seen very regularly; our guides have found five different dens in the area so the animals were located on most drives. One productive night drive produced two separate sightings of African Wild Cat, both cats were beautifully relaxed.

The Bonga pride were still split up into different groups, the largest comprising ten individuals. They killed an eland bull which kept them busy for two whole days before they eventually left the carcass for a clan of four hyenas to finish off.  Two male lions were seen feeding on a buffalo calf. A young male lion and his sister were also in the spot, but they were chased away by the dominant males. A lioness with three cubs was seen with the two fathers. The pride were also seen on a wildebeest kill. Four new male lions were located north of the camp, two with manes and two without manes but the same size. They were extremely skittish and ran towards the Namibian border.

A family of four Verreaux’s Eagle Owls were found perched in a tree. Crowned Hornbills were also seen looking for food along the river, this is one of the less common hornbill species resident in the area. The Carmine Bee-eater breeding colony just north of the camp made an amazing spectacle as the brightly coloured birds set about making their nests in the river bank. The colony was very active first thing in the morning and late afternoon.

(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, October 2017 Sightings

2- Klug.Cat8-Mirroring Dogs 2

Guides at Kwara were delighted and relieved to see the return of the resident pack of wild dogs in October, although their numbers were a little depleted. When they left the area some three months before they had nine puppies, now they just have five survivors. They seemed to be doing extremely well now back in Kwara and were seen killing and feeding on impala several times during the month. On one occasion guests watched as the adults were interacting with their puppies near to the Kwara staff village. A hyena approached and was savagely attacked by the dogs for about five minutes, leaving the hyena half-dead. The dogs moved off about 300 metres and continued to rest. A second pack of 6 dogs were also still in the area and seen several times, once losing their kill to two male lions.

At Kwara we have come to expect the unexpected. We were enjoying breakfast around the camp fire when the early morning tranquillity was shattered by a pack of wild dogs chasing an impala straight through camp and into the lagoon. The impala escaped the dogs, but ran straight into the jaws of two large crocodiles who tore it apart, all right in front of the main building. What a start to the day!

A female leopard with her month-old cub continued to delight guests. She is an excellent mother and always seen coming to the den to nurse her offspring in the early morning and dusk. The cub was very healthy and energetic; we were entertained by seeing it learning to climb trees and towards the end of the month it was starting to make short walks away from the den with its mother. One morning a guide and tracker team picked up drag marks and blood stains; they followed up the tracks and were rewarded with a sighting of a magnificent male leopard still dragging his fresh kill. Already many vultures, kites and eagles were waiting in anticipation of a scavenging opportunity.

Whilst warthogs are common to see, the bushpig is shy, nocturnal and rarely sighted. Our guides were therefore stunned to come across two male lions eating a bushpig one day. As always at Kwara there were several different prides of lions in the area, meaning that males were often seen scent marking and roaring to establish their territories. The prides were spotted hunting a range of different prey including zebra, buffalo and tsessebe. Two males were found feeding on a dead elephant, surrounded by hyenas, jackals and vultures all waiting for their turn at the carcass.

The familiar male cheetah known as “Special” disappeared for about a week, but then was seen back in the area, scent marking and patrolling his territory. We saw him chase and kill a fully-grown impala. The resident female cheetah and her sub-adult cub obligingly posed for photographic opportunities on a termite mound. These two animals specialise on reedbuck, but were also seen chasing tsessebe and impala who were starting to drop their young.

The hyena den was still very active and guests enjoyed seeing the healthy and energetic cubs playing.

The flood levels were receding and so large breeding herds of elephants were moving towards the main channels. We were lucky enough to see mating elephants on one occasion.  A rare sitatunga antelope was found in the Kwara channel.

A favourite activity amongst guests is a mokoro trip combined with a short nature walk to look at some of the smaller creatures of the Okavango Delta. From the mokoros we were able to see tiny Painted Reed Frogs, enormous hippos and birds including the beautiful Malachite Kingfisher and fascinating African Jacana. Whilst walking we came across a group of dwarf mongoose feeding on snouted termites. On a nearby branch a fork-tailed drongo was eyeing up the insects. In a fascinating interaction we were able to observe the small bird mimic a martial eagle call in an effort to frighten the mongooses into hiding so that it could have the termites all to himself.

(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!)