Kwando Sichtungen 2010
Monatlich bekommen wir von KWANDO die aktuellen Sichtungen an den Camps übermittelt.
Hier können Sie diese für das Jahr 2010 mitverfolgen:
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - December 2010
It can’t get any greener than it is. Beautiful, and the flame lilies are making the striking red spots, which adds to the beauty of the scenery. The frogs are having “singing” competitions every evening, in search of a lady to impress.
A very good time to bring those macro lenses, to try to get a shot of termites, dung beetles and other creepy crawlies. Of course a close up of a Flame Lily looks good too on the wall.
Don’t pack the camera away when you go to bed. Try a few long exposure shots, if it happens you see lightning in the distance…..
And the lions again. We seem to be quite blessed with sightings of these cats. Hunting, killing, mating and off course, what a lion does best; sleeping. The pride with the cubs was seen several times as were the males, marking territory and roaring a lot. We did not see the magnificent seven brothers, all together at a time, but they were around in groups of three or two. Maybe next month, we’ll let you know.
Leopards came out from time to time, just to prove they are there. Saw a few hunting attempts, but nothing got caught.
The cheetahs are also still there. Apart from the resident coalition of three brothers, we also saw a female around. There is hope for offspring. They had a few good meals and seem to be doing ok.
Not much from the dogs to report. Seen only once last month, but considering the size of territory they have and the distances they move every day, that’s not surprising.
Elephants roam the area in bachelor groups. These old bulls are welcoming the rain and they have lots of fun in the mud pools. Buffalos have vanished in search of better grazing, but they will be back once the grass isn’t greener on the other side anymore. General game has been good. Zebras in big numbers, giraffes, red lechwes, impalas, tsessebes, wildebeests etc.
One of the highlights for sure, was the pangolin sighting. Not many people can pride themselves with being able to say:” I saw a pangolin”.
The wild dogs are the undisputed stars in Lebala for this month and baby impala is on the daily menu! The impala mothers hide their babies for several weeks, and the dogs have little difficulties to find them.
Not too much on the lion front to report. One reason that we have a lot of wild dogs is the low density of other predators/competitors, especially lions. Most deaths of dogs are caused by lions.
A lactating leopard female was seen, indicating there are cubs somewhere. Wonder who will be the first to see them, and who gets the first pictures.
A few older buffalo bulls are still hanging around, but the big herds are off to look for better grazing. Occasionally we see still breeding herds of elephants, and some bachelor herds are there too. Other general game is good, with lots of giraffes and zebras.
On the birding side, we report big flocks of open-build storks flying to the roosting site at dusk, and coming from the roosting site to the feeding grounds at dawn.
Closed until 1st March for a complete rebuild. We are looking forward to it opening on time and reports from those who have seen the new Lagoon say it is “breath taking”.
Lots and lots of zebras have migrated to Nxai pan, to enjoy the good grazing. And the springboks are numerous too. Besides these two species there are oryx, elephants, wildebeests, steenboks, giraffes, kudus etc. So general game has been very good.
Honey badger is a common sighting in Nxai pan, even during the day.
Lions do their bit to keep the population of the herbivores in check, with the assistance of cheetahs and leopards. Oops - almost forgot the hyaenas. Despite their reputation they are very good hunters and make many more kills than we like to think.
Overall we had a good month with loads of interesting sightings.
Lions still visit camp almost every day. We see them also on the drives, and not only lions but also cheetahs.
General game is fabulous as the rains have brought fresh grazing and a lot of greenery Springbok everywhere, and there are a lot of Oryx - an extremely well adapted animal to desert conditions. They are able to allow their body temperature to rise over 40 degree Celsius. A specially designed capillary system in their nose, makes sure the blood gets cooled down to below 40, so the brain doesn’t get damaged. The ground squirrels and honey badgers have kept guests entertained alone with some African Wild Cat – a most wonderful time of year to be here.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - November 2010
Things are cooling down with the rains, and everything looks green and lush. Everybody is having babies and some guests were lucky to see actual births. That makes up for having to carry all the rain protective gear with you, and even sometimes to get a little wet. A small price to pay!
The lions performed very well this month. We had several sightings of the 5 cubs, and they are very cute! From our coalition of seven males, we saw five of them together which is quiet an overwhelming sighting. One of the females was seen on her own feeding on an ostrich. Quiet an achievement to catch one of these birds. Ostriches are capable of defending themselves, kicking their legs, hoping the vicious big toe makes a hit. Injuries by that can be fatal. And sadly one baby zebra had a rather short life and got eaten just 25 minutes old.
A male leopard was spotted a few times. Sometimes even hunting, but he wasn’t successful. Still very exciting to see these cats stalking their prey.
The three brother cheetahs had more success hunting, and managed to kill two baby wildebeest in one day!
A few sightings of the pack of seven wild dogs were recorded. One time they were feeding on an impala.
Elephant are still around in big numbers, but the buffalos however moved out of the area in search of good grazing. General game has been good though, with lots of zebras and a lost of babies. Also the birdlife is interesting. Sightings of the endangered wattled cranes and ground hornbills.
Not to forget the giant bullfrogs which are hopping around at the moment.
The guides had to look a bit harder for lions this month, and they still found them. Once they observed a hunt for a warthog and were able to see the stalk, kill and the feeding.
For leopard we had sightings of the resident male, and also a female was spotted a few times.
The three cheetah brothers were seen hunting and killing impala and tsessebe.
The wild dogs were responsible for the entertainment. The pack of eight with four pups, killed an impala just next to camp. No need to go on long game drive that day. Funny to watch them chasing wildebeests. It’s very rare that they can manage to kill an adult, but they keep on trying…
Elephants are in the area still, but the buffalo are gone with the wind. Only a few of the older, retired males are seen sometimes, lying in the shade.
The jackal den was still active and lots of guests saw the whole family. General game was very good, and we had some glances at the shy and rare roan antelope.
Lots of migratory birds, and the storks in particular are having a feast on the abundant frog population.
Currently closed for a rebuild and we are very excited for when it opens again in the 1st of March 2011
For predators we had lions, leopard and cheetahs. They were all seen on a regular basis.
We have good general game around. To mention are the zebras and the wildebeests, and a few guests saw actual births right in front of them.
This month we saw the first time one wattled crane in Nxai Pan.
At the water hole there are still a lot of “white” elephants drinking every day. “White” they are because of the white clay that they spray themselves with. In the evening light they look extremely photogenic against the dark clouds in the sky.
The lions of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve seem to have taken a liking to our camp at Tau Pan. Almost every day they are seen at the water hole in front of the camp, having a drink. One of the females seems heavily pregnant and surely will have cubs very soon.
On the list we have also leopard and cheetah sightings.
Birdlife is good, especially if you after raptors. Eagles, kites, vultures, goshawks, and hawks
We are also visited by honey badgers in camp every night.
A guest spotted a flapped necked chameleon, and it could be observed catching flies and moths.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - October 2010
Still hot, but the occasional thunderstorms cool us all off a bit. “Pula” is here and specially in Central Kalahari and Nxai Pan, the transformation will be stunning to see. A lot of the antelopes are dropping their babies, which is always a special occasion.
The other positive thing about rain is that it removes the dust and smoke atmosphere, which makes the colours appear much more striking. Sunsets are so much more spectacular with some clouds in the sky too. Its all becoming a photographers paradise!
General game is very good. Tsessebe and impala normally drop their young at this time, and in the next few weeks we’ll see a lot of newborns. On the elephant front, we can report that there are not only numerous bachelor groups around camp, but also many large breeding herds. For the birders, the migrants have arrived in force including carmine bee-eaters, woodland kingfishers etc. Secretary birds were spotted a lot, as well as wattled cranes, saddle-billed storks and lots of raptors. And at night time the frogs sing you gently into sleep.
One of our three cheetah males have become fathers. We saw a female cheetah with four cubs on a few occasions.
Other predator sightings included lots of lions, leopards and also the rare wild dog. The lions killed a pregnant giraffe, near to Kwara camp and resulted in a large and often messy meal, which was not for the faint hearted.
Included in the general game was sightings of sable and roan! That got everybody excited, almost more than the Aardvark sighting, or the pair of porcupine with two young ones. Elsewhere, the hyena had a feast on a hippo carcass not far from camp. On the birding front there was a pair of wattled cranes with a tiny flightless chick spotted as well as Ostrich with nine offspring.
Chameleons were spotted a several times on the night drives, together with honey badgers, servals and African wild cat.
Wild dogs were seen on several occasions, hunting and having some interesting interactions with hyenas.
The two cheetah brothers were seen regularly, and also one shy female. Let’s hope there is love in the air…
Lots of elephant herds to see now and big herds of buffalo. The waterholes in the woods are all but dry and all the animals have to come to the rivers, which makes them more visible to us.
Lions are plentiful, with cubs, kills and large roaring males. One couple appears to be on honeymoon at the moment, so we are expecting more babies.
Leopards were sighted too. There are several males and females in the area and one very relaxed male has been sighted several times, including one occasion where he was spotted with an impala in a tree.
We still have the six pups, but the number of adults is now only 11. this has most probably to do with some dogs breaking off to start their “own” packs. This is a normal event, so we are not worried. The rest of the pack is doing very well, hunting successfully and clearly in good condition.
The cheetah coalition of three brothers is doing well to, being seen on an impala kill, while all the other times they are seen they seem to have full bellies!
The reports we are getting about elephants and buffalos just say: they are everywhere!!!
A highlight was the sighting of three, and a week later four more sitatunga. These extremely shy antelopes are very well adapted to live in the wetlands of the Okavango Delta, and are very rarely seen. Off course the wildebeests, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, impalas, baboons, reedbucks etc. weren’t missing too.
Big numbers of elephants are attracted by our waterhole in front of the camp. Very nice to relax one afternoon in the pool and have a gin and tonic for sundowner, watching the elephants.
We’ve been lucky with the predators this month. Lions were seen with their three month old cubs. Leopard and cheetah are also on the list.
General game was good too; wildebeests, zebras, impalas, springboks, honey badgers, black backed jackals, steenbucks, kudus etc
Birdlife was also very good, with excellent raptor sightings.
What you hear at Tau Pan at night are the black backed jackals calling. There are a lot of them around and it is nice to lie in bed a listen to their eerie calls With the clear air due to the rain, the night skies are spectacular. Stars so clear and numerous you have can hardly believe it!
General game consists of gemsbok, wildebeest, steenbuck, red hartebeest, springbok, common duiker, kudu etc. and all are seen in great numbers.
Predators were not shy this month. A pride of ten lions was observed doing what lions do…..sleeping. Also the leopards were out and about and we had some good sightings of them.
Cheetahs, even mothers with youngsters were spotted regularly.
Birds sighted to name a few included black kite, yellow billed kite, brown snake eagle, bateleur, lapped faced vulture, kestrels, kori bustard, secretary birds etc.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - September 2010
It has become truly hot in the last few weeks, but still a very dry heat, so its not unbearable. Clouds are also building up, and thunder has been heard and lightning has been seen. “Pula” is on its way, and Botswana will transform again into a green oasis. The Delta is still full of water, dropping only very slowly, and we expect it to rise again once the rain starts.
Sightings of general game like giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, kudu, impala, lechwe, hippo, elephants etc. is very good this time of the year. There was also no shortage of predator sightings this month. The lions were busy hunting and have been seen feeding on various kills, like hippo, zebra and reedbuck. Even the elusive leopards showed cooperation and delighted us with some good sightings.
One of the highlights was a sighting of a pack of seven wild dogs hunting impalas, and being successful.
A coalition of three male cheetahs was sighted twice this month, once they were feeding on a tsessebe, the fastest Antelope in Africa (this time not fast enough). Because of the speed of the tsessebe it requires a lot of skills and experience to be able to kill one of them.
Lets not forget the smaller creatures. The guides spotted serval, honey badger, african wild cat and almost an aardvark!
From tiny (Foam Nest Frogs) to huge (Elephants), everything has been seen at Lebala this month. Only the rhino missing to complete the big five, but the buffalos made up for it, and appeared in herds larger than 1500 individuals.
Birdlife with more and more migrants arriving is getting better and better. It always puts our guests in awe to see huge flocks of carmine bee eaters. Their aerial acrobatics are incredible, and the colours…… There are also a number of raptors in the area. Some of them, like the tawny eagle are seen building nests.
An unfortunate dwarf mongoose ended up in the talons of a martial eagle. One ostrich was also on the unlucky side, providing a dinner for a hyaena.
Two male lions were seen one evening, having a rest in the shade of a tree. Surprisingly, the next morning they were feeding on a buffalo, and there were no females anywhere near them. This just proofs, that they (the males) can look after themselves if they have to. And off course they had to roar the out to the world the hole night.
One group of guests was very fortunate to observe a hunt by nine lions ending in a kill of a buffalo. Not for the faint hearted, but something you’ll never forget.
Leopards were spotted on a regular basis, with kills like warthog and impala. Not so much luck for the cheetahs. They have been seen only once (coalition of three males), but they looked very hungry and didn’t hunt successfully. Hyaenas followed them in close proximity, and we hope they won’t have a big fight with the cheetahs.
The wild dogs were fabulous, providing us with excellent sightings. A pack of 15 adults and six pups are spending a lot of time in the area. We hear that they have developed a taste for warthogs, but they also killed an Impala right next to tent Number 2. No need to go on game drives.
A coalition of three male cheetahs killed an adult ostrich, which is a rare thing to see.
Big breeding herds of elephants provide endless entertainment, watching them swimming across the river. The buffalos are also showing up in big numbers, roaming around in huge herds.
In the evenings its time to visit one of the two hyaena dens. In one of the two there are eight pups, and believe me they look very cute, nothing like the adults. Their appearance resembles more little bears.
General game is very good too. Big numbers of giraffes, impalas, hippos, crocodiles, lechwes, zebras, baboons and wildebeests are seen. In the spotlight of the night drives we saw porcupine, scrub hares and honey badgers.
The waterholes are the main points, with the temperatures rising and everything getting dryer. Lion sightings have been good. They sit mainly around the waterholes, trying to catch a springbok that comes for a drink, but it seems to be more difficult to catch these very swift animals than we think.
We have also two male cheetah and one female cheetah on the sighting list this month. Maybe we will be lucky to see cubs in a while.
And three wild dogs have been seen, and this is very rare in Nxai Pan.
The “camp” Leopard is still hanging around, sometimes granting us an audience.
For general game, we had impala, springbok, bat eared fox, gemsbok, wildebeest, ostrich, zebra, giraffes and bachelor herds of elephant bulls
Animals have to adapt to the harsh conditions, specially now at the end of the dry season. Water is obtained by digging up tubers from underground, or by eating the so called “Tsama Melons”. Even predators need to do that in order to survive. The Lions hanging around our camp are fortunate to have access to our waterhole. One female is pregnant and we expect to see cubs fairly soon.
Cheetahs are found but from the leopard we only hear him calling and see the tracks, but no sighting.
The four wild dogs were seen again, but we still don’t know what happened to the rest.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - August 2010
Summer arrived seemingly overnight this month with none of the gradual rise in temperatures throughout late August. While the days quickly became hot, the nights remained cool and pleasant, one of the reasons August remains such a popular month to visit Botswana. Floods waters in northern Okavango regions has started to drop slightly but overall levels remain high and in southern areas of the Delta show no sign of dropping even at this late stage of the season!
Receding water levels in some areas of the concession has led to rich grazing and browsing areas for large numbers of herbivores including zebra, tsessebe, kudu, giraffe, lechwe and reedbuck. The incredible density of general game naturally results in a high concentration of predators, and the Kwara concession continues to offer guests excellent opportunities for predator sightings, notably lion and leopard. The many lions have been hunted a wide variety of prey this month including juvenile giraffe, buffalo, tsessebe, wildebeest, zebra and warthog. The area actually appears to be somewhat congested with lion as there are, in a addition to the three different groups of females and young, a coalition of two males, who have to be on the look out constantly to avoid meeting the members of the coalition of seven males!
The death of a hippo, from his wounds following a fight with another hippo, very close to Little Kwara also provided some spectacular sightings for several days. Large numbers of hyena, jackal, lion and a female leopard were all seen at the carcass. The female leopard appears to be very old and is seen in the vicinity of the camp regularly. She has reportedly been unsuccessful in her hunting attempts and the hippo carcass seems to be keeping her going at this stage. When a leopard relies on carrion, it suggests that she is either sick or old and therefore unable to hunt successfully.
A large buffalo herd of about 100, has also been seen in the area as well as several lone bulls. The concentration of bull elephants is incredible and there appears to be a bachelor herd feeding on each tree island, enjoying the lush vegetation which has followed the high floods. The more nervous breeding herds remain in the mopane forests and only venture down to the water at night.
The incredible variety of species sighted at Lebala continues as the last of the trees lose their leaves and the dry grasses are now trampled into the dust. The range of diverse habitats present within a relatively small area is one of the main reasons for this range of species present in the area. Wetlands provide good grazing and the ample water supply attracts large herds of buffalo. The adjacent woodlands are home to notoriously shy species such as roan, sable and eland, all of which are becoming increasingly regular sightings in the area. Both bachelor and breeding elephant herds continue to be present in large numbers and general game has been excellent.
Two prides were on the losing end of their ongoing battle with spotted hyena this month. A pride of four females and four cubs killed two zebra and were quickly pushed off their prize by a large clan. Elsewhere another two females lost their kudu kill to hyena.
The cheetah have seemingly had a far more successful month! The three cheetah brothers moving down from the Lagoon area have been sighted successfully hunting impala, warthog and tsessebe. The two brothers often seen in the Lebala area were also seen hunting impala and warthog.
Leopard have been spotted regularly throughout the area though only one with a kill, this being rather unusually, a civet!
The summer migrants have also begun to arrive on again, notably the brilliant carmine bee eaters in their hundreds and the swooping yellow billed kites. The arrival of these birds is the official announcement that summer has returned!
As one would expect at Lagoon, the wild dogs provided guests with daily excitement either sitting watching the pups growing and beginning to explore the world around them or following the adults as they venture out hunting. The large numbers of impala, tsessebe and warthog in the area, mean that they don’t have to go too far to find prey and inevitably guests were in the thick of the action! One such drive saw the dogs literally ran into a leopard. After much chaos and dust clouds, the leopard fortunately managed to escape up a nearby tree – many leopards are not so fortunate when coming across wild dog!
The massive herds of buffalo and elephant have returned with the arrival of summer and makes for spectacular viewing from camp itself as the herds come to drink along the river! Other game spotted includes the three cheetah brothers on impala kills, lions hunting and mating, spotted hyena with young, reedbuck, water buck, wildebeest, zebra, kudu, giraffe, jackals, wild cat, genet, honey badger, civets and porcupine.
The Pans continue to offer excellent wildlife experiences in a unique and pristine habitat. The water hole continues to attract large numbers of general game including springbok, wildebeest, kudu, gemsbok, impala and giraffe and jackals as well as the always impressive bull elephants. The camp’s resident leopard continues to spend most of his time near the camp, becoming increasingly relaxed around vehicles and people. Away from camp, guests have seen a pride of seven lion, a large male, three adult females, a sub adult female and two cubs quite regularly near the government water hole. The females were spotted hunting but never managed to make a kill while our guests were observing them.
More successful were a pair of leopards, which provided an unusual sighting of two leopards sharing a springbok kill, as well as a single female leopard and two cheetah brothers, who all managed successful kills of impala and springbok.
At this, the harshest time of the year in the Kalahari, with cold nights and windy days, it seems that all life is in semi hibernation awaiting the arrival of summer and the beginning of the new season. Despite the fact that the rains are still some weeks away, as early as September the grasses and plants will begin to grow and flower once again. This new growth and rising temperatures will signal the start of the summer season.
Two lionesses and two male lions from the Tau Pan pride have been mating on the pan and have therefore not moved far from camp throughout the month. Other game spotted on the pan includes three cheetah (female and two young cubs), a single male cheetah, gemsbok, red hartebeest, springbok, steenbok, a large number of honey badgers and an incredible number of jackals – there appears to be at least one pair under each bush! At Deception Pan four cheetah were sighted often and a male cheetah was seen feeding on an ostrich at Deception Valley.
The wild dog pack has, for reasons as yet unknown by the research team operating in the area, reduced from over ten dogs in late 2008, to seven in mid 2009, and now to only four. These adult dogs continue to move through the region and were spotted at Sunday Pan feeding on a springbok. The reasons for the pack’s demise are unclear, disease is a possibility, though the pack could also have split into two smaller groups.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - July 2010 - another magnificent month with Kwando
The Tau Pan pride consisting of six lions (two young males and four females) have been spotted regularly in the vicinity of the camp, while three cheetah (two females and cub) have been seen once again on Tau Pan. The trackers reported them as having been away for some weeks and had seen them in the Passarge valley, about 50 kms to the north-west. A cheetah was seen near the Tau Pan airstrip killing a steenbok and afer some time was eventually chased of the kill by a persistent jackal. Wild dogs were also seen back on the pan after having been absent for some weeks, this time a pack of one male and three females. The resident female leopard is also spotted regularly and is now very relaxed.
With the conditions in the Kalahari now extremely dry, the waterhole is becoming increasingly busy and large numbers of gemsbok and giraffe are common drinking in front of the camp.
Elsewhere on day trips and walks guest also saw honey badgers, jackals, springbok, eland, red hartebeest, wildebeest and ostrich plus a multitude of birds including bustards, korhaans, kestrels and goshawks.
The water hole at Nxai Pan continues to offer incredible game viewing from the luxury of camp. Bathing elephants, large numbers of wildebeest, gemsbok and springbok all congregate to drink in easy viewing distance of the private viewing decks. A solitary male leopard, first seen walking through the camp site, when the camp was being constructed in late 2008 is still a often seen resident of the area and extremely relaxed around people and game drive vehicles. Another leopard sighting occurred, rather unusually, as the light aircraft dropping guests off was landing! The leopard broke cover as the plane flew overhead and spent enough time on the airstrip to allow some great photos for the newly arrived guests.
On the Pan, guests have been fortunate enough to regularly spot a female cheetah with her immature and quite shy cub, as well as a lioness with four young cubs which are about 5 months old.
The relative dryness of the Kwando Linyanti region following extremely high flooding in the neighbouring areas has led to consistently good game viewing throughout the season. This promises to improve as the season progresses and the extremely mild winter hints at a long hot and dry summer. These conditions will all contribute to spectacular wildlife viewing throughout the northern regions of the country.
The large herds of buffalo and elephant have begun to return to the area and to congregate in large numbers. Buffalo herds estimated at over 1000 individuals are common and lions are often seen nearby as they tail the herds, always alert to an easy kill. A pride of seven were also sighted several times having killed zebra, a smaller group of females with three cubs and two large males patrolling the area and hunting buffalo. Elsewhere leopard were found in slightly unusual circumstances – a large tom was spotted swimming across a deep channel and a young female found in a tree with her prey, a serval! Two male cheetah have been spotted regularly in the plains around the airstrip where they have been hunting impala. The wild dog pack of five adults, have moved out of the den with their eight pups and the adults have been seen several times while out hunting.
Plains game, as always is very good and included large numbers of eland, lechwe, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra. Other notable sightings include hyena, serval, caracal, honey badger, civet, porcupine and python.
The entire area surrounding the camp is inundated with buffalo, from large herds of over a 1000 animals to much smaller groups of older bulls. The vicinity of easily accessible water at the river and adjacent grazing makes this area a busy one for buffalo. The lion populations in this area are not as concentrated it seems as in neighbouring Lebala, though several individuals have been seen, including three females hunting giraffe. One of the advantages to this relatively lower concentration is that the populations of wild dogs and cheetah are higher and less mobile. The wild dog den site at Lagoon, is now home to seven new pups, joining the existing 15 adults, and have provided some fascinating viewing of such endangered animals.
The well known ‘three boys’’ have also been seen regularly hunting along the floodplains and were at one point seen by guests hunting and killing a young warthog. Leopard also benefit from a lack of presence of an apex predator such as lion and a very relaxed leopards have been seen drinking very close to the camp.
General game has included sightings of eland, kudu, zebra, giraffe, tsessebe, steenbok, serval, honey badger and African wild cat.
In contrast to the Kwando region, the Okavango water levels remain high and will likely do so for some years to come. The vast amount of water that continues to flow into the Okavango is a revitalising boost to a system which had become progressively drier over the last 20 years, and will ensure that the biodiversity of the Okavango system is maintained. The floods have seemingly not dampened the activity of the wildlife. While the dominant coalition of 7 male lions appears to be spread far and wide maintaining their large territory, individuals are often seen moving through the area. Various males and females accompanied by young cubs have been seen on kills as varied as giraffe, warthog, kudu, tsessebe and zebra. Several leopard, all extremely relaxed, have been spotted throughout the concession, while three male cheetah have also been seen regularly including while hunting and successfully killing a tsessebe.
As always the general game in the Okavango is excellent including kudu, impala, hyena, zebra, reedbuck, warthog, wild cat, serval, aardvark and porcupine.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - June 2010
One of the most notable events in the desert this month was a severe frost which hit the entire region. Temperatures plummeted in the Kalahari to several degrees below freezing! Staff woke to find not only was water in the pipes frozen but even the water in the toilets was solid ice! The animals no doubt faired a little better from the cold but are beginning to feel the affect of the dry season. Even with significant late rains the grass has taken on its famous Kalahari yellow colouring as it dries out. Game is now moving further a field in search of good grazing and the herds to break up into smaller numbers. The guides are, after a year of travelling the Kalahari, beginning to see recognisable groups of animals especially predators, including a group of five mature cheetah (one female and four males – probably her grown young), including mating lions at many of the pans. The Tau Pan pride have been spotted regularly and one of the two dominant males has been seen mating with several different females. We hope to see the pride grow in size with new arrivals in the coming months.
The focus of activity at Nxai Pan in the middle of the very dry winter season, is the two main waterholes in the park, one of which is located in front of the camp. Our guests enjoy the multitude of animals clamouring for water from the comfort of the main area or their own private viewing decks. At any time there are up to 20 bull elephants are seen around the camp waterhole, drinking, bathing or simply enjoying a cooling mud bath. These are joined by a succession of springbok, giraffe, gemsbok, impala and wildebeest, and creates an incredible display of activity and species interaction. Inevitably the lions are never far away this type of prey concentration and as made famous in the Imax movie ‘Roar’ by Tim and June Liversedge, they have become prolific ambush hunters especially of springbok. Cheetah and leopard are both spotted regularly as well as the prolific black backed jackal, and even a flock of 37 ostrich!
The high water levels in the Okavango Delta continue to affect the movement and distribution of many species especially elephant, and buffalo. The predators are regularly sighted but remain widespread throughout the area, especially the dominant coalition of seven males. The abundance of food and water allows them to remain further a field and as their territory covers an increasing numbers of different females, they are in turn forced to cover more territory to maintain their pride boundaries. Four of the original seven are still predominantly resident in the area and still seen often with various females and sub adults, feeding on various prey including warthog, giraffe and hippo. Other predators become bold with the relative distribution of the lions. Cheetah have been seen more often of late including two females feeding on a reedbuck, some shy single individuals and a band of three brothers killing a tsessebe after a short swim across a river! Elsewhere leopard have been spotted moving brazenly about the concession and seen killing impala, and feeding on kills of baboon and tsessebe.
While the consistently high flood waters have cause the Savute channel to flow for the first time in over twenty years, the Kwando concession has not seen the massive floods breaking the banks of the Kwando River this year. Strangely the floods have all but passed the region by this time. This relatively ‘low’ water levels in the concession and flooding of surrounding areas will mean abundant game sightings for the rest of the season as the general game and predators will move into the drier areas adjacent to water. Wild dog were the main focus of excitement at Lebala as well as Lagoon this month. The guides were fortunate to have discovered the den site of a pack of four dogs, and later identified nine puppies. The three adults were seen regularly on kudu kills as they constantly hunted to feed the alpha female and her young. Guests have been lucky to have been able to visit and observe the interaction between dogs and puppies throughout the month. Lion were also extremely active in the region, and among individual sightings, a pride of 5 lions and 2 cubs killed warthog, zebra and a giraffe all within the space of three days! The first buffalo herds have also begun to arrive from the wetlands to the north as the rainwater filled pans begin to dry out.
It is officially ‘denning’ time again at Lagoon and not only wild dogs! A hyena den was also discovered this month about 15 minutes drive from camp which has allowed guests excellent and regular sightings of the hyena and their young. Also very close to camp, the guides had regularly spotted a pack of 17 wild dogs. The alpha female became notable by her absence around the middle of the month, leading guides to believe she had entered the den in order to give birth. The den site was later discovered within three kilometres of the camp and we are waiting in eager anticipation for the arrival of new puppies! Fortunately for the dogs, while leopard have been spotted on a baboon kill and cheetah hunting on the flood plains, lion have been few and far between this month. While the dogs are expecting puppies we are all grateful for their absence! The increasingly abundant buffalo herds are likely to change this in the next few weeks though.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - May 2010
The beautiful Lagoon area continues to provide excellent wild dog sightings including this month a pack of seventeen dogs hunting kudu, impala and young warthog. The three cheetah brothers fail to roam far from their traditional hunting grounds and have been sighted regularly including recently on a young zebra kill. They did not have much time to feed on their kill as a large male leopard took the opportunity for an easy meal and forced the three cheetah off the carcass. Other notable sightings include nesting Secretary birds, regular sightings of large herds of buffalo, dwarf mongoose, large herds of eland and elephant.
At the same time a leopard was at the wrong end of a ‘carcass grab’ at Lebala, this time losing out to a big male lion. Leopard and lion were spotted regularly this month, including lion unsuccessfully stalking herds of wildebeest. The cheetah brother were also sighted by the Lebala guides and they were lucky enough to spot them hunting and killing both a zebra foal and a steenbok. As well as excellent general game, guides have spotted herds of eland and several roan and even a hyena carrying a new born pup in her mouth on the way to the den.
The theme of carcass theft continues even in the Kwara concession! An old tom lost out after hunting an impala near the camp, when another lazy male lion decided to help himself to some easy pickings! Elsewhere four hyena forced a timid female cheetah from her kudu kill. Lion were clearly active within the Kwara area, with several sightings of various individuals from no less than three different prides including some hunting - but most sleeping! Leopard were also sighted hunting impala near the camps on a regular basis. Elsewhere guides were fortunate to spot black mamba, snouted cobra and African rock python all unusual sightings as the winter sets in. Other interesting sightings included serval, honey badgers, genets and African Wild Cat.
As conditions become increasingly dry in the Nxai Pan Makgadikgadi region, the activity at the water hole in front of camp becomes increasingly frenetic! Zebra, springbok, gemsbok and wildebeest visit the water hole in numbers, while up to 30 bull elephants drink and bathe in their midst. With such a sight on view from the main area and each private viewing deck there is hardly any reason to leave the comforts of the camp! Out on the Pan, lion and cheetah were sighted on a regular basis including two mature females with a young cub in tow close to the camp. General game sightings also included red hartebeest, giraffe, impala, tsessebe, jackals, bat eared fox and steenbok.
Very unusual late rains this year have meant an extended period of plenty, which in turn has led to impressive sightings in the Central Kalahari this month. Abundant general game included eland, red hartebeest, gemsbok, honey badger, jackals, wildebeest and springbok, as well as less common sightings of aardwolf and Cape fox. Black mamba, Snouted and Cape cobras were also seen sunning themselves on the edges of the pans as the early morning temperatures continue to drop. Predator sightings have been extremely impressive throughout the region. Guides report sighting several individual lions from no less than four different prides, hunting species as diverse as bat eared fox and gemsbok. Leopard have also been spotted regularly in the vicinity of camp as well as on distant pans, including an aggressive coming together between two females at Deception Valley. Four cheetah were also seen on Tau Pan feeding on a steenbok.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - April 2010
The seemingly never ending rainy season has some positives apart from muddy roads! The zebra have remained in their hundreds along with large herds of gemsbok, wildebeest. The ready supply of drinking water and abundant grazing means they are under no pressure to return to the Makgadikgadi. The many hundreds of zebra and various antelope species mean rich pickings for the many predators which inhabit the open pans.
A pride of a male, two females and two cubs has been sighted regularly along with a group of four lionesses on a zebra kill. Cheetah have also been sighted on kills including a female with a young cub which was spotted regularly.
The spectacle of the waterhole in front of camp becomes ever more impressive with up to 30 elephant bulls drinking and covering themselves in cooling mud. They are surrounded by herds of gemsbok, zebra and wildebeest all vying for a space to drink. The view from each room’s deck is simply awesome!
The late rains meant that Tau Pan is still the hive of activity with large herds of gemsbok, wildebeest and springbok, as well as honey badgers, jackals and giraffe all being seen regularly. The resident Tau Pan pride have also been seen often especially the two brothers and two females seen hunting on the pan itself.
Elsewhere on the popular day drive activities the other pans and fossil river beds have been providing excellent sightings as large herds are attracted to the sweet grasses. As well as the wide variety off general game, including a herd of over 30 eland, there have been impressive predator sightings. At Phokoje Pan guests have seen a female cheetah accompanied by a young cub and sub adult female on a springbok kill. A pride of seven lion are seen often at Phuku Pan, while San Pan has provided sightings of a small family group of six lion including 3 young cubs, as well as two adult female cheetah with a cub. 11 different lion have been seen within Deception Valley and two male cheetah were spotted feeding on a gemsbok kill in the Passarge Valley.
The most unusual of sightings for the month and especially for the Kalahari was the arrival of a troop of baboon on Tau Pan! The troop spent two days foraging on the pan and then moved away. The presence of such animals so far from their recognised habitat is most likely due to the high rainfall this year. The abundance of surface water has allowed these water dependant animals to roam far into the central Kalahari.
The northern Kwando region has been home large numbers of zebra, giraffe, tsessebe and wildebeest which have been attracted by the excellent grazing resulting from the seemingly never ending rains. The relative absence of lions this month as they follow the buffalo herds means that Wild dog and leopards have been a regular sighting, including a large male found in a tree guarding his impala kill. The buffalo sightings remain sporadic due to the excessive water and grazing found in the mopane forests though guides have spotted small herds on several occasions.
An additional and unusual sighting made this month was the regular sighting of large herds of Livingstone’s eland. This is the largest member of the antelope family and is extremely shy, generally residing in dense forests. Sightings are therefore very unusual and often fleeting.
The above average number of zebra, giraffe and wildebeest in the region has led to an increase in the number of predators hunting a wide variety of game species. A mating pair of lion were found on giraffe kills on two separate occasions while several other male lions have been sighted this month stalking wildebeest. Several leopards were also followed on drives both during day and night drives as they stalked warthog and impala. The three cheetah brothers, not to be out done, were observed hunting wildebeest, while the three separate packs of wild dog were sighted hunting regularly and kills were made on lechwe and two kudu.
Further sightings of an eland herd, of approximately 20 animals, has also been spotted on more than one occasion. These sightings bode well for the eland population which is notoriously difficult to estimate due to their shy nature and the remoteness of their habitat.
The Kwara concession continues to disprove that the commonly held view that the rainy season is not a good time of year to see game. Consistent quality game viewing in February and March continued in April with regular sightings of lion, cheetah, wild dog, leopard, hyena, honey badger and elephant. Of course there was also the usual lechwe, reedbuck, giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, wildebeest, warthog kudu, impala, hippo, crocodile, jackals, cobras, pythons, ostrich, ground hornbills and wattled crane to name but a few!!
Significant sightings included a lion pride chasing a male leopard up a tree and an incredible confrontation between two pack of wild dog, in which the heavily pregnant alpha female was targeted and almost killed. She was last seen with serious wounds and the guides are unsure whether she survived or not.
If this is the green season we can only imagine what the dry season hold in store!
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - March 2010
March 2010 was a fabulous month in Botswana
A great month of game viewing on the savannahs of Lebala has yielded excellent predator viewing for our guests. A large variety of plains games species Is providing ample food for our resident Leopards, Lions, Cheetahs and Wild dogs. There is some concern for the smaller of the three packs of Wild dogs in the Kwando concession. Previously when sighted they had numbered six but now they number merely four individuals. It is not uncommon for skirmishes to break out with larger predators such as lions or hyenas so there is concern that two may have been killed in the fighting. Moreover, one of the remaining four dogs is heavily pregnant and awaiting a new denning site so cannot be an enormous help hunting. Wild dogs rely heavily on numbers for success on their hunts and the less animals the higher the chances of starvation. On one occasion this was highlighted when the four dogs pulled down a sub adult kudu only for one of them to badly sprain its leg and put it out of action for up to a week.
Lion sightings have also been good this month with the two males of the area being followed for several hours following a large herd of buffalo. The morning light revealed a successful hunt on a young buffalo that had been isolated and killed away from the formidable male ‘Dagga Boys’ of the herd.
Elsewhere, there was the unusual sighting of a pangolin. The only one of its kind for several months. Astonished onlookers snapped with their cameras while the shielded ant eater slowly made its way into the bush.
Lagoon has had the glad tidings of new lions moving into the area. Four males and five females appeared late last month from the wilderness and seem to have taken up residence in the area. Guides are unsure as to where exactly they have come from although the likely answer would be from the stunning upper Kwando area or the vast wilderness of the west – western Kwando concession. We will certainly be hoping their residence in the area is a long and successful one!
The three cheetah brothers are still reining supreme through the Kwando and are a regular site stalking impalas in the woodlands. On one such occasion they had brought down an impala close to Lagoon camp and were then chased off by some spotted hyenas who were scavenging in the area.
Guests, guides and trackers alike have been entertained by the strong pack of seventeen wild dogs who are terrorising the neighbourhood at the moment. Almost every evening there is a fair chance that these hungry dogs will be on the move and after some fresh meat.
Away from the predators, we have seen several large herds of buffalo and elephant in the area which is quite unusual for this time of the year with such widespread rains in the woodlands. Many migrant birds have extended their stays due to the excellent rainy season and prolonged availability of food. However, it is likely that such migrants as Paradise Flycatchers, Woodlands kingfishers and Wahlberg’s eagles will be departing within the next month.
Kwara & Little Kwara
There have been vast arrays of wildlife at Kwara recently. Water channels familiar to guests have begun to rise by the boat station and airstrip while Kwara lagoon in front of the camp has already risen. The water levels will continue to rise over the next couple of months as the annual flood pushes through towards Xaxanaka and Khwai. This means that there has been an abundance of wildlife in new areas of Kwara concession including the legendary Tsum Tsum plains that are now home to large numbers of zebras, blue wildebeest, elephant and tssesebe.
The splintered coalition of seven lions have been busy harassing these multitudes of game including an excellent giraffe kill seen by some guests. They have also been busy spreading their seed with the local lionesses and many such mating scenes have been recorded by delighted guests.
The family of six cheetahs are now spending more time apart as the four cubs are now over a year old and will be readying themselves for life without their mother in the next few months. They are a constant terror to the areas smaller antelope like impala, duiker and steenbok.
We have also seen a pack of wild dogs to the northeast in the Splash area of the concession. They numbered seven animals and passed away into the Mopane woods to the north after failing to kill a kudu.
Guides picked up the very rare sighting of an aardvark (ant bear) close to the airstrip last week and watched the shy creature for over an hour before it head off into the surrounding thickets.
Tau Pan’s resident Brown hyena has returned to its routine of an early morning drink at the water hole in front of the main area. Camp guides believe that they time their drinks not to coincide with the two big male lions who are also fond of a similar morning routine. After quenching his thirst the hyena then slips away into the thick bush, usually to the east of the camp.
On Phokuje Pan we have been fortunate to see a family of meercats (surricates) on several occasions. These highly gregarious bands are legendary for their bold approach to humans and fascinating group social structure. So far eight individuals have been identified.
Also on Phokuje Pan there have been excellent views of Cape eland antelopes. A herd of about thirty has been spotted quite a few times moving in and out of the area.
In close proximity we still have a female cheetah living with her two cubs and hunting from the large springbok population in the area.
Closer to the camp the blond and the dark maned lion coalition still rule the roost on Tau Pan. A total of six females have at times been seen in their company and one week three of the females were accompanied by three cubs. The lions in the area seem to single out gemsbok as their favourite prey but have also been seen hunting animals as diverse as the springbok or prickly porcupine!
Nxai Pan has witnessed some astounding cat viewing in the Park this March. Firstly, a female leopard has been seen on occasion with a young leopard cub walking from pan to pan and stalking the numerous springbok in the area. The mother is naturally very protective of the newest member of her family but some excellent shots have been taken of the youngster oblivious to the dangers around him!
Additionally, we have also had great sightings of a cheetah mother and her cub close to camp. The mother managed to chase down a springbok antelope right by the large Baobab infront of the camp Nxai Pan.
There are also plenty of lions in the area. One group of seven lions have been seen recently on a zebra kill and they have ventured close to the camp to drink from our water hole. That water has to be shared with some huge resident bull elephants who still dominate the view from the front porch.
Additionally, we have seen some good herds of eland in the area towards Khama-Khama Pan to the North-East. They are fairly shy but provide an excellent spectacle as they leap in front of the safari cars in front of the road.
As well as the excellent migrant birdlife we are still enjoying we have seen two fantastic sightings of a Stanley’s Bustard and Martial’s eagle hunting a White-faced Duck.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - February 2010
Wonderful game all round here in the remote Kalahari. On Tau Pan itself we have had the pleasure of regular sightings of a female Cheetah with a sub adult and cub. They have been seen almost daily doing their best to avoid the two resident male Lions that outweigh the slim line Cheetahs over five to one!
There was a unique sighting of a Honey Badger predating a Leopard Tortoise on one morning game drive. The Chelonians solid defences could not save him as the Badger managed to paw his way through the carapace and into the soft centre!
We are still seeing the three Cheetah brothers at Jackal Pan on a regular basis and there have been some good Lion sightings in Deception Valley where they seem to favour preying on the numerous desert Gemsbok.
While on a champagne breakfast a lucky group of staff and guests witnessed the rare sighting of an African Polecat. These small black and white mammals are closely related to Weasels and Honey Badgers and if disturbed release a potent toxic odour to deter attackers
Another stunning summer month at Nxai Pan this February. Impressive rains are continuing to sustain the thousands of antelope gathered on the Pans.
Some guests were treated to a goodnight surprise one night while walking to bed. Their guides spotted some eye movement in the bushes and out shot a male Leopard who hastily scampered for safety away from the nosy people. With a nervous look over its shoulder is skulked into the Trumpet Thorn, no doubt to continue its night hunting.
On the Pan itself the two Cheetah boys are often seen stalking the hapless Impala and Springbok on the eastern fringes towards the woodlands.
Two lionesses were also spotted hunting an Ostrich one morning on the Pan. The hunt was ultimately unsuccessful with the speedy bird finally getting away. Perhaps a lucky escape for a lioness as the Ostrich kick has enormous power and could cause considerable damage.
We have also spotted the Buffalos again towards Khama Khama Pan and expect them to stick around for the next couple of months until the rain finally subsides. Lying on the sun decks at Nxai in the afternoon, guest can also be fortunate enough to see Elephants and Zebras quenching their thirst at the waterhole.
The 2010 floodwater is upon us at Kwara once again. The extreme western areas of the concession have begun to rise ever so slowly in anticipation of the big push that will be coming in the next couple of months. The annual flood is a natural miracle of nature that provides multitudes of animal’s precious water supplies in the dry season as the surrounding Kalahari droughts. Buffalos, Elephants and a host of other game migrates into the floodplains to swell the animal populations and booster already spectacular game viewing for guests.
Kwara is home to a new Leopard cub after a month old animal was spotted with its mother several times over the last few weeks. The pair are still understandably shy and defensive but lucky guests at Kwara have still managed to get some spectacular shots of our newest addition.
The seven male Lions are still separated into two smaller groups at the moment and only meet up occasionally. One group was seen with a female who was spoilt for choice about which one to mate.
Elsewhere we have been seeing Wild Dogs in the Tsum Tsum area once again this month.
The Kwando River has also begun its annual rise just as its sister river, the Okavango, has begun to swell. The river has its source through the various tributaries in western Zambia and the rise in February is merely the vanguard from the first rains that fell up there in November. It takes several months for the water to travel down into Botswana just as the pans in the woodlands are beginning to dry.
For now however, the Pans are still full as there has also been healthy rain in Northern Botswana this year. Vast herds of Elephants and Buffalos are dispersed in the Mopane woodlands west of Lagoon camp.
The three Cheetah brothers were seen pulling down an Impala right in front of a safari vehicle close to half way Pan. The ambush was pulled off to perfection with one brother heading off behind the Impalas to cut off their escape. From then on the chosen victim did not really stand a chance.
Hyenas now occupy the old Wild Dog den from 2009 with their own pups protected in the disused termite mound labyrinth of tunnels. Protection and anonymity is vital as three marauding lionesses have been spotted in the vicinity of the den.
Elsewhere, bird and reptile life have been abundant of late. A Snouted Cobra was seen on a game drive and a Mozambique Spitting Cobra was seen close to camp climbing up a Large Fever Berry Tree. Migrant birds are still in the area before their long migration back to Central and Northern Africa and we had an excellent sighting of giant Martial Eagle swooping down and taking an Egyptian Goose in its talons.
Visitors to Lebala this month were stunned to see a strange resident for these parts. A juvenile Lesser Flamingo took up residence in the floodplain directly in front of the drop off area and staff accommodation and stayed for a whole week. These migratory birds are not usually resident in the area and this one was obviously passing through on its way to either Lake Ngami or the Makgadikgadi Pans. Some splendid photos were taken by the fortunate guests.
Elsewhere we have been very fortunate in Wild Dog sightings. Two packs have been regularly sited – one of which contains 16 dogs and the other 9. We have been lucky enough to regularly follow them hunting and they have a high success rate. Strength by numbers usually ensures an Impala or Kudu stands little chance of escape if the dogs are a full team.
We have also been seeing two male Leopards on a fairly regular basis. The choice of prey seems once again to be the hapless Impalas who are being picked on by all the predators this month.
Cheetah and Lions have also been spotted from time to time lying up in the Kalahari Star Apple and Candle Pod Acacias in the middle of the day to protect them from the heat.
Sightings Report Kwando Safaris - January 2010
The central Kalahari is teeming with wildlife as this successful rainy season continues to encourage vegetation and mammals alike. The blanket of green that is Tau Pan is dotted with thousands of dark shapes that on closer inspection include Springbok, Giraffe, Red Hartebeest, Wildebeest and Gemsbok. Our two resident males have made themselves heard this January on Tau Pan. Barely a night has gone by when the roaring has not been heard. They are frequently seen passing close by the camp and sitting on the Pan, providing good photo opportunities. Over in Deception Valley Lions were also seen on a Gemsbok carcass they had pulled down the night before. On Phejuke Pan we have had several sightings of three Cheetah brothers stalking the large Springbok population there. Several less common mammals have been seen which makes for very unique game driving. The anonymous Aardwolf was spotted foraging on the Deception/Tau cut line and the Cape Fox has been seen at intervals on the various Pans. Black Backed Jackals, a rare Caracal and plenty of Honey Badgers (Matswane) are also around.
Furthermore, we have had two strange bird sightings for these dry parts. The African Jacana which is synonymous with the Water Lillie’s of the Okavango Delta was seen on the arid Tau pan and the Dwarf Bittern (Heron) which is difficult to spot even in the waters of the Okavango was seen at Deception Valley at what must be the very southern extremity of their range.
This month has seen the return of the Buffalo herds to Nxai Pan. Since the rain started it has taken them two months to trek from Chobe National Park through the wilderness to Nxai Pan. Here they will graze the new grasses until the rains stop before migrating back north for permanent water.
The immense Zebra migration goes on to the amazement of guests at Nxai Camp. Thousands of Zebra are concentrated from Baines Baobabs all the way to Khama Khama Pan in the North of the park. Fresh, lush grasses are providing excellent nutrition for young foals to grow strong in time for the harsh Kalahari winter.
Resident Lions of the pan are also enjoying this season of plenty and are routinely picking off the weak and the young from the vast herds. The open area in front of the camp before the water hole appears to be becoming a lucky site for cat kills. Once again this month we were treated to the spectacle of Lions consuming their lunch nearby our own dining room!
Cheetahs have also been abundant of late. A female Cheetah and her young cub were seen feeding on a Steenbok (Phuduhudu) for a whole afternoon. The two male Cheetahs are a frequent site on the main Nxai Pan, often stalking Impala in the woodland or Springbok on the Pan.
Many bachelor herds of Elephants are in the area around the water holes, Giraffes in large herds (Journeys) and plentiful plains game. Migratory birds such as European and Purple Rollers and Wahlbergs Eagles are still in the area as well as several good sightings of reptiles such as Chameleons, Rock Monitors and snakes.
The seven male Lions of Kwara have split into two smaller groups for now – perhaps as a reaction to the scattered game since the rains came. One group of four moved north to the Tsum Tsum channel while the remaining three remained closer to the Shinde main road.
One eye and her two female descendants have been on the hunt quite regularly and were observed one night taking down a Kudu in the thick woodlands which is there preferred habitat.
A family of six Cheetahs including last years star mother of five cubs was seen hunting Impala across Tsum Tsum mabala. The hunt provided excellent photographic opportunities for the lucky guests and it is great to see the family being so successful after all the trials of growing up last year.
At Tsum Tsum we also had a pack of Wild Dogs that were extraordinarily mobile. The same dogs had been seen at the Santawani area of the Okavang Delta only a few weeks before and must have travelled at least 150km but probably a lot more to get here. Additionally, they would have had to cross the Maunichura or Khwai River which is a deep water crossing covered in a Papyrus reed bed. This is a fine example of the tenacity and endurance of these extraordinary animals.
The camp itself is still enjoying excellent views across the lagoon of over 60 hippos that are becoming increasingly intense as competition for space hots up. The fresh flood water is still months away so the Hippos will have no choice but to fight or move on. All this should make excellent game viewing at the camp.
Some stunning evenings have been spent on top of the brand new Lagoon double decker boat looking on with satisfaction at the beautiful summer sunsets. Stunning mosaics and colours illuminate the clouds as guests sip on Gin and Tonics and watch the sun go down.
Hippos and Crocodiles are abundant in the Kwando main channel along with the elusive Sitatunga that hides in the Papyrus reed forests floating on the permanent waters. On the dense riverine islands we have seen a host of interesting animals from troops of Baboons and Monkeys to African Rock Pythons and the piscivorous Pels Fishing Owl.
Out on the floodplains the game has been spectacular. Wild Dogs have been seen on a number of occasions chasing Red Lechwe and Waterbuck through the shallows. Buffalos and Elephants still come down to drench their thirst in the baking midday heat before returning back into the rich grazing areas of the west.
Once in the woodlands we have seen our three Cheetah brothers many times. During the heat of the day they tend to rest up under the Blue Bushes waiting for an unsuspecting Impala to come past. Hunting usually occurs at slightly cooler temperatures but still diurnally to protect their kills against the heavyweight nocturnal hunters such as Lions, Hyenas and Leopards.
Further out still towards the western Mopane the resident Lions have been following the Buffalo herds. A total of five Lions including two males were seen on a Buffalo kill towards the upper Kwando and stayed there for over three days feasting.
This month has seen an explosion of life on the Lebala plains. Countless young antelopes frequent the grassy fields and the bird life has been quite staggering. Pelicans, Cranes, Storks, Herons along with summer migrants such as Yellow Billed Kite, Carmine Bee Eaters and European Rollers have been involved in a feeding frenzy throughout the area.
Other small animals of interest include the nesting Foam Nest Frogs whose nests can be seen hanging over the areas pans and other potential spawning areas. The resident Lesser Spotted Genet has returned and can often be seen spying on guests at supper!
Large breeding herds of Elephants are still prominent in the east towards the floodplains but in lesser numbers now that the Mopane pans are full. The occasional party of dagga boy Buffalos still strut around the western pans and there are countless harems of Impalas and Zebras scattered through the bush.
On the predator front we have been fortunate to see two packs of Wild Dogs around Lebala this January. One of these packs consists of 16 dogs and the other of just 6. Generally the larger the Wild Dog pack the more successful a hunting unit they are and this has certainly been proven to be correct in this case. While the six dogs were not observed killing any prey successfully by our Guides, the sixteen had four recorded kills. Three Impala and a Steenbok.
Three Cheetah brothers have also been seen on occasion, usually stalking Impala through the Mopane woodland. One huge Tom cat Leopard that has become a regular sighting at Lebala was seen dragging a Wildebeest calf into a Sausage tree for safe keeping. The three male Lions brothers have also been spotted patrolling the roads and marking their territory.