Lebala, Feb 2018

amills.Mammal_Pangolin Lebala

February was a great month for spotting some of the more elusive animals. One evening as a game drive was returning to camp and we thought that all the action was over, the sharp-eyed tracker suddenly asked the guide to stop and reverse, whereby he proudly pointed out a pangolin – a highly prized sighting. An aardwolf was also spotted on a night drive as the guides were game driving back to the camp; the aardwolf was very relaxed and going into the termite mounds looking for food. An African wildcat was also seen.

During February the Wapoka pride split into three separate groups, but the majority of the lions were still in the Lebala area. The guides frequently located one female with three cubs and two male lions, as well as a different group of six males with one female. The rest of the pride were not located during the month of February. One of the main reasons why big prides split is if they do not get well fed, or possibly the six sub-adult males were now old enough for the dominant male to eject them from the family group. All two different prides located were being very successful with their hunting, the mother with three cubs and two males was spotted one of the morning feeding on kudu. The same pride was also seen feeding on a zebra carcass, making for some great photographs for our guests. The six boys were found feeding on a giraffe carcass, and they were also seen stalking wildebeest.

A pack of sixteen wild dogs were seen regularly and appeared to be doing well in the area as they were seen hunting and feeding on impala on more than one occasion.

Resident female leopard Jane and her two cubs were back in the area which was very good news as she has been not around for some time. Having been located, she immediately thrilled the guests by chasing and killing a warthog. She took that up a tree where she stayed for a day feeding along with her two cubs. Guests were able to get some fantastic photos. A male leopard was also located feeding on an impala carcass one of the afternoon.

Two male cheetahs were located resting as they were on a mission of patrolling the area, it was getting dark so the guides did not spend much time with them.

The hyenas moved from their den after the lions spent most of their time nearby and posing a great threat to the hyena cubs. The clan were spotted feeding on left over carcasses, and there was one hyena who regularly came through the camp at night.

General game was good and there were large numbers of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, kudu and breeding herds of elephant. Honey badgers were also located in the area busy looking for something to eat. Hippos could be seen enjoying the natural pans which had filled with water after the rains.

Bird life was abundant due to the summer migrants. Species seen included a breeding pair of endangered wattled cranes, carmine bee-eaters and African skimmers.

(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, Jan 2018

RitchMorris.Cat1-ComingToGetYou lebala

One morning, a reedbuck made its alarm call while the guests were having early morning breakfast, so the guides went to check and found a resident male leopard in the bushes. The guides went back to the main area and told the guests, who quickly jumped in the vehicles and drove around to the rooms. When they got there, to their amazement, they found that the leopard had killed a bushbuck in front of room seven. There was no sign of the main resident female, known as Jane, in the area and the guides thought that she moved to a new location to raise her two baby cubs. However, a different female leopard (one of Jane’s daughters from a previous year) was seen stalking impalas though not successfully. She was also observed seen resting on top of the trees on several occasions. The resident male leopard was also seen stalking game and posing beautifully for photographs on branches.
 
The Wapoka resident pride of lions were kept on top of their game during the month of January, as there was another pride of lions in the area known as the Bonga pride, who were moving down from the north of the concession. This affected the behaviour of the Wapoka Pride who spent most of their time in the southern woodland to avoid coming face to face with the Bonga Pride. Having lost two of their cubs this year already, the Wapoka Pride were being very cautious and they know that if the two prides were to meet then there would likely be a big fight over the territory.
 
A male and female from Wapoka pride were found mating which was regarded as one of the special sightings of the month, some of the guests were lucky to see the courting couple in action. It was a very busy month because of the two prides of lions in the area stalking the herds of zebra and wildebeest. These antelope were still dropping their young. The Wapoka pride was found feeding on a kudu carcass in the woodland after the guide and tracker tracked them for more than an hour.
 
The pack of ten wild dogs was been located in the area both hunting and on kills. They were targeting different species, but mostly impalas. It was still a good time for the dogs when it came to hunting as there were so many young antelopes, however the size of the pack means that they need to kill frequently in order for all the dogs to have sufficient food.
 
Two male cheetahs were spotted hunting by the airstrip; we did not see the two cheetahs for some weeks and it was nice to see them again. The guides and trackers followed them for some time and the cheetahs started stalking some wildebeest but without luck.
The hyena den was still active and some of the guests were able to watch the cubs playing. Hyenas were also found feeding on leftover carcasses from the other predators. The clan was often seen waiting for the lions to finish feeding so that they could scavenge.
 
An African wild cat was spotted one afternoon walking around the termite mounds looking for mice and small rodents. An African civet was also seen during one evening game drive just after the sundowner drink.
 
General game was very good at Lebala during January which is one of the reasons why we had more predators in the area. There were a good number of wildebeest, impalas and breeding herds of elephants. Bird life was also excellent as we still had carmine bee – eaters in the area, African skimmers, wattled cranes and flocks of beautiful red bishops.
 
(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, Dec 2017

jvarley.Cat4 Wild Dogs going hunting Lebala

The resident Wapoka pride of lions were still hunting very successfully. Over recently months they have mainly been hunting buffalo, but interestingly they seem to have recently changed their focus. They were found feeding on wildebeest carcasses most of the time, though also killed zebra and buffalo during the month. Some guests were lucky enough to see them stalking and pouncing. They seem to have gained experience in taking down buffalo and are now managing to make the kills more easily and without injury. It was the time of the year when most of the antelopes had given birth and the lions were deliberately targeting the easier prey. The pride was also seen feeding on smaller mammals such as warthog and more unusually with a honey badger carcass. Sadly, we have not seen one of lionesses with her two cubs recently; the last time the guides saw the lioness she was not in a good condition as she was getting too old to keep up with the rest of the pride. Guides suspected that the cubs were involved in a fight with the hyenas and were killed as they have seen the pride several times and the cubs were not there.

A pack of twenty-five wild dogs was seen hunting and successfully making a kill, these dogs were specializing in young antelope such as impala, tsessebe and wildebeest.   The ongoing war between this pack of wild dogs and the resident hyenas is not over; they were found fighting for carcasses, but the large wild dog pack seems to be winning most of the battle through strength in numbers. This pack of wild dogs was doing very well, the adults seem to be doing a great job of feeding their eleven puppies and well making sure that they are protected from the other predators.

Hyenas were also seen trying to take a meal from a lioness but she managed to fend them off, although during the month the clan was seen scavenging on different carcasses. Some of the guests were lucky enough to see hyena cubs playing around their den.

A male leopard was seen going into burrows searching for warthogs and other small mammals; he was also found feeding on lechwe. He was being smart, most of the time immediately after making a kill taking it up a tree before the hyenas could arrive. He was also seen resting on top of the trees during the day in a very relaxed manner. Unfortunately we did not see the resident female leopard Jane and her cubs in the month of December; we suspected that she moved away from this predator-dominated area to raise her two cubs and she will return once they are old enough to survive encounters with lions and hyenas.

General game sightings were very good as most of the antelopes were giving birth, and they spent most of their time in open pans so that they could see predators from a distance. Some of the guests watched a fight between two hornbills and wild cat, but in the end the wild cat lost a fight and ran away. They also watched two hippos fighting; initially the encounter started in the water but the massive animals came bursting out of the channel and started chasing each other through the bushes.

The bird life was very interesting as we had different species of birds such as African skimmers and bee- eaters in good numbers. True to their name, African skimmers are entertaining to watch as they fly just over the water with their lower bill ‘skimming’ the surface to feed.  Guests also saw different species of vultures feeding on 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!)

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!)

Lebala, October 2017 Sightings

Ajonsson.Cat7Leopardcub3.GuideGeorge

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!)

 

Lebala, September 2017 Sightings

NGray.MammalsHyena - lebala

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!)

 

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!)

Lebala, July 2017

M.Nash-Big Five-Leopard-Nikon D90 LEBALA

Lebala’s sightings during July were incredible, and will be particularly remembered for the remarkable interactions between the different predator species. Lions, hyenas, wild dogs and leopards were all seen engaging with each other as rivals.

Guides located a number of different individual leopards during the month, and these elusive cats were at the centre of many of the sightings where inter-specific competition was displayed. One day, the Wapoka Pride chased two resident leopards, Jane and her son, up onto a tree. Two lionesses followed them up onto the tree and this game of chase progressed higher and higher up into the branches until the lionesses lost their balance or their nerve and eventually had to give up. They returned to ground, waiting some 50 metres away for their quarry to come back within striking distance. A different leopard was in a similar predicament a few days later as it was found up a tree surrounded by wild dogs. Hyenas were also seen following leopard to scavenge, at one point disturbing a male’s opportunity to stalk some warthogs.  As ever, the prey animals were also determined to make life hard for the leopards – one morning we followed up on a jackal alarm call to find a leopard trying to catch a porcupine by its head. The two animals danced nervously around each other, porcupine trying to turn its quills towards the leopard and the cat darting back around to try and get to its head. Eventually the porcupine found a moment to dash into the undergrowth and escape.

The Wapoka Pride of 6 adults and 9 young were seen almost every day. Towards the end of the month, we were enjoying a relaxed game drive and were watching a big herd of buffalo from a distance. We spotted the pride of lions approaching the buffalo and, anticipating some action, the guide got into a good position. The lions started to surround the buffalo who fought back determinedly. The lions paused, came up with a new strategy and this time it worked as they managed to bring down a sub-adult buffalo. The young buffalo’s distress call attracted the attention of a clan of hyena who came in large numbers and after a fierce fight eventually managed to drive the outnumbered lions away.

On another occasion the guides found a carcass with lion tracks around it so followed up and found the lions resting by a pan. As we watched, a herd of zebra come down to drink. The lionesses stealthily stalked into position and were lying flat on the ground ready to ambush when the male lion ruined everything by standing up and stretching for all to see. Not surprisingly the zebra herd bolted. The two pride males were located often, sometimes making our lives easier by calling very close to camp in the morning as they patrolled their territory. They seemed to enjoy warming up from the chilly winter nights by basking on termite mounds. Guests were able to get some stunning photos of them yawning, revealing impressive canines, in the early morning light. The lionesses and cubs were seen on other kills; the youngsters’ energetic play making for entertaining photographs.

There is currently a very active spotted hyena den on Lebala, with ten cubs. We were privileged to witness the mothers nursing their young. As the month progressed, the cubs became increasingly inquisitive, even coming right up to our vehicles to sniff the tyres whilst their parents were away hunting. The spotted hyena clan kept a close eye on the movements of the Wapoka Pride and were seen more than once finishing off the cats’ kill by crushing bones and eating the remaining scraps. Although well-known as scavengers, spotted hyena are successful predators in their own right and one individual was found disembowelling an old hippo at zebra pan. The hippo ran away into the pond, but did not manage to escape. The next day 20 hyenas were feasting on the carcass, including 3 cubs. Black-backed jackal and white-backed vultures were hungrily waiting for their chance to feed.

The coalition of two young male cheetah were looking well-fed and in great condition. We saw them targeting wildebeest calves by bursting into herds trying to cause enough chaos to give them an opportunity to get to the youngsters. The wildebeest managed to outsmart the cats more than once, protecting their calves and eventually running into thick bushes where the cheetah could not use their speed.

There are large herds of elephant, buffalo and giraffe in the area as well as giraffe, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, impala, sable and warthogs. Smaller mammals seen included honey badger, civet and African wild cat. Birdlife was rich, including many water birds such as herons, yellow-billed storks and Egyptian geese. Birds of prey included bateleur, tawny eagle, brown snake-eagle, black-chested snake eagle, and Verreaux’s eagle-owl.

(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 2017

BLutz.Cat2cheetahKL

Sightings at Lebala camp were excellent during the month of June, with lots of predator action as well as great general game sightings.

Two different packs of wild dogs were seen during June. There is a relatively new pair of dogs, alpha male and female, who seem to be settling in the area. During the month, they made a kill of a bushbuck within the lodge area; unfortunately for them their kill was taken by hyenas however the dogs spent their day at the camp sunbathing. The Southern Pack of fourteen dogs were also seen regularly, often hunting; we were lucky enough to see them bring down and feed upon a male impala, watched hungrily by two hooded vultures. We were also lucky enough to see their ritual greeting ceremony.

The hyena clan have now left their den, but single hyenas were frequently sighted, often on the move as they looked for food.

The Wapoka Pride of 4 female lions, 6 sub-adults and 3 small cubs were often found and were a favourite with guests as the cubs were often playing, or interacting tenderly with the females. In one exciting sighting, we had been following the lions as they stalked impala, then all of a sudden two of the sub-adults burst forward to chase the antelope. We lost sight of the action as the animals dashed into the long grass, but then as we stopped the vehicle to scan for activity an eerie and intense howling was heard nearby. We quickly responded and found the pride killing a wildebeest, watched on by several hyena. Their whooping calls drew in reinforcements and eventually they were able to overpower the lions through sheer numbers. Within 30 minutes the massive clan managed to clean up the entire carcass.

Leopards were often seen, usually the resident female known as Jane; her two strapping adult sons were also in the area.

A female cheetah was located perched on termite mound to get a better vantage point of the game around her. As she started to hunt she disturbed a yellow mongoose who was searching for lizards in grass. This female was new to our area, but seemed very relaxed around the game viewers, so we believe that she may have moved across from a neighbouring concession. The coalition of two male cheetah also paid a visit to the area and were seen on an impala kill.

General game was still plentiful; as the natural watering holes were drying up massive herds of elephant and buffalo were seen as they made their way towards the riverine areas. The large herd of eland was still in the area, as well as the beautiful roan and sable antelopes. Other resident antelope species included zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, impala, red lechwe, tsessebe, reedbuck and kudu.

Although the summer migrants had mostly moved on, some Carmine Bee-eaters were still in the area, unusual for this time of year. One of our trackers was commended for his sharp eyesight as he picked out the tiny and well-camouflaged Pearl Spotted Owlet. At the other end of the scale, the massive Verreaux’s Eagle Owl was also found. Wattled Crane, Ground Hornbill, Marabou Storks and three species of vulture were also seen during June.

Smaller mammals found during the month included a beautiful rare sighting of an aardwolf during a night drive. We were also successful in locating bush babies, honey badger, small spotted genet and African wild cat

As night-time temperatures dropped it was vital for endothermic animals such as reptiles to regulate their body temperature using the sun. Crocodiles and snakes were frequently observed during the warm days; species seen included puff adders, olive grass snakes and a massive African rock python basking on a termite mound.

(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 2017

Aescriva.Cat6Swamps.jpg

The resident pack of 12 wild dogs were seen frequently in the Lebala area. After finding them sleeping under a mophane tree one morning we followed up in the afternoon drive and found them chasing wildebeest. The herd managed to stand their ground and in the end the dogs gave up and moved towards the airstrip. Suddenly four hyenas moved in. One of the dogs went directly to the hyenas with his head lowered and his aggressive pose was sufficient to drive the hyenas away. The following day the pack was seen feeding on a tsessebe carcass.

The hyenas have a den in the area and it was very special to see the females interacting with the cubs. Quite at odds from their rather fearsome reputation, hyenas are wonderful mothers. On one occasion hyenas were witnessed mating, so hopefully we will have another family to watch before too long.

A very relaxed young male leopard, who we have known since a cub, was seen feeding on a jackal. We watched him dragging the carcass to the shade, at the same time calling for his partner who was not around at that time. His mother, known as ‘Jane’ is still resident in the area and was found one morning on an impala kill; her position given away by Bateleur and Tawny Eagles who were spotted descending to the ground. Leopards are very opportunistic feeders and other notable sightings included a magnificent male with a wildebeest hung up in a tree, a female with a face full of francolin feathers, and another young leopard pouncing on a mouse.

The Wapoka Pride consisting of four lionesses and 11 young were seen regularly. Once on a zebra kill the three smallest cubs of just 3-4 months old were very active, fighting for the meat. We were also fortunate enough to see the pride take down a warthog right in front of the vehicle. As the pride is so big the warthog was not enough and so there was lots of fighting and snarling over the carcass.

We came across the two large resident male lions calling for each other and once reunited we were able to watch them nuzzling and rubbing their heads together in a bonding ritual. Another time we witnessed them chasing a warthog, but on that occasion the prey got away. Later in the month they were seen on an elephant carcass.

A lioness from the Southern Pride with two small cubs stayed in the area; the cubs were still quite shy of the vehicle and apt to keep dashing into the bushes, however some lucky guests did manage to get a wonderful sighting of them suckling from their mother.
A resident male Cheetah was seen full-bellied and resting a couple of times. We were also lucky to get a rare sighting of a wild cat, although it was shy.

The general game in the Lebala area increased during May. The natural watering holes in the woodland areas started to dry up, forcing large herds of elephants to make their way to the riverine areas. There were mixed herds of zebra and wildebeest in their hundreds, as well as plentiful giraffe. A solitary male buffalo, a well-known “dagga boy”, was found along sable road. This was the first time he had been seen in the area since before the rainy season, so the guides were happy to see this relaxed individual again.

The pans and riverine area were still host to a variety of water birds including Egyptian Geese, Knob-billed Ducks, African Jacanas, Pied Kingfishers and sandpipers.

(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!)