What Makes Botswana Special?

Take a look at the sightings report for July 2016 below and we think you will agree Botswana is worth every penny.

Kwara Private Concession – Okavango Delta

Boat cruises are a lovely relaxing activity – perhaps getting to see a hippo, maybe a crocodile, and if lucky elephants coming to drink or cross. But their main focus is to see the beauty of the waters, birdlife and aquatic plants – to experience another side of being on safari. The Okavango Delta being what it is, always has a surprise up its sleeve… a morning boat ride along the channels into the Moremi Game Reserve came across three large male lions contemplating a swim in the chilly winter waters, standing on one side of the channel. They seemed intent on getting to the other side, but a lot of thought was being put into this. Eventually, two stopped ‘pussy-footing’ around and edged into the deep water, swimming to the other side. The third one, however, had had enough, and backed off the way he had come, preferring the safety of dry land.

A male leopard was found along River Road, hunting, but had no success whilst we were watching.  Another day, and another male leopard hunting. In spite of his stealthy effort at stalking a group of impala, they caught sight of him before he could make his move and he left empty-handed. A female leopard also struggled to make a kill along Boundary road, just missing a reedbuck.  Meanwhile, the female leopard that has a cub is doing well in the area, and the cub is growing bigger every day as a result of mum’s successful hunts. 

We were also lucky enough to see two male leopards meet each other – not something that is seen very often. It’s likely that the scent of a female leopard nearby caused the males to ignore any territorial rules and duel it out for the right to mate. A very impressive sight!

In case there are not enough lions in the Kwara area, an unidentified sub-adult male arrived into the area near where Mma Leithlo’s pride are resident.  Young males have to roam until they can establish their own territories, and form coalitions, but it’s a very dangerous time for a single lion, as any other male will automatically see them as a threat. Being sub-adult, he is not an experienced fighter, nor has the weight or muscle to defend himself against a fully grown male.  Not far away, two of large males from the Zulu boys were busy hunting warthog, unaware of the new presence in their territory for now…

The mother cheetah and her cubs spent five days at the beginning of the month along the Kwara floodplains, but did not seem to be having any luck in their hunts. Finally, on the sixth day, persistence paid off, and it was definitely worthwhile following them: they spent a lot of time trying to get close to a herd of impalas without being noticed, and sure enough, closing that distance paid off as when they sprang into action, they managed to catch one and kill it just in front of the vehicle!
The very small pack of wild dogs – just  three adults – were found denning in the Tsum Tsum area of the concession. We did not have any luck seeing the pups, and it took us some time to relocate the den when they moved it  – about 100m from the original den site.

Other interesting sightings this month were a big herd of buffalo (not so common in the Kwara area in such large numbers), honey badgers strolling around, and a very active hyena den.  We had lots of elephant activity – in and out of camp – and large congregations of giraffes, as well as all the normal general game we see – kudu, warthog, zebra, wildebeest, tssessebe and so on.

Kwando North Private Concession – Linyanti Reserve

Driving from the airstrip one morning we found a dead impala tucked under a bush, next to the road. Whose was it?  Returning a few hours later, we found a female leopard feeding on it. She didn’t get to feed on it for much longer however, as hyenas arrived and chased her off the meal.

On the first day of the month we were also lucky enough to see the first sighting of the tiny wild dog puppies at their den site. The 14 adults were playing around the den when five little puppies came out of the den and joined in! By the end of the week, more puppies had emerged from the den – making a total of 10 in the litter. Whilst they are so small, one or two of the adults remain with the pups at all times, whilst the rest of the dogs go out and hunt. After a successful hunt, they return to the den, and regurgitate food for both the puppies and any adults that have remained behind.

Arriving at Half Way Pan on the morning of the same day, we spotted a large male lion looking fairly majestic, sitting under a tree. On approaching, we realized that the male had been assigned a task perhaps not normally associated with the “King of the Jungle” – babysitting. He had been left alone to supervise eight cubs! The mothers were either ‘out’ hunting, or perhaps taking a chance of a bit of peace and quiet…  A few days later and the same pride were seen again in the same area. The lionesses had blood on their faces when they appeared, and soon led their cubs away to a warthog they had killed earlier.

Another day, and another wild dog hunt. This time, guests didn’t even have to leave the comfort of their fireside chairs to witness it. Early one morning, 13 wild dogs came chasing a kudu at full sprint through the camp, only stopping when they got to the fireplace and saw a rather startled group of people sitting around having coffee and porridge for breakfast. A quick detour by the dogs, and another hunt began finally catching a male kudu close to the airstrip (and followed by a rather rushed group of guests having given up on breakfast and dashed out to the cars.

You don’t always find exactly what you are looking for when tracking animals in the bush – a fair amount of time was spent tracking a leopard, only to come across two male cheetahs off in the distance. We were able to sit and watch the hungry-looking animals for some time, whilst they stalked their prey, eventually chasing and catching a female kudu. We left the leopard hunt for another day!

Later in the month, we were again following the dogs hunting – they had had several order acyclovir online uk warthogs over the last few days, and even attempted to chase sable herds to harass the youngsters. They were moving from one termite mound to the next as we followed them, apparently searching for more warthogs, when all of a sudden they gave chase and disappeared through the bush. We could hear them barking – not something wild dogs actually do very often. On re-locating them, we found them all around the base of a tree looking up – at a very unhappy male leopard that had obviously just scrambled up there in the nick of time!

Tables were turned slightly, when the pack of dogs were found feeding on a kudu. Whilst we were watching a big male lion appeared, chased the dogs off, and began feeding. The dogs hung around for some time, trying to see if they could risk an attempt at getting the kill back, before giving up and moving off after an hour. They returned to the den site and regurgitated what they had managed to eat for the puppies.

Kwando South Private Concession – Linyanti Reserve

Lots of activity at the hyena den, with six cubs of varying ages being looked after there. Four adults are seen around the den, trying to keep the cubs somewhat in line. Not the easiest thing to do when they are so boisterous! You can imagine, when the adults aren’t there, things get even more interesting… naturally curious, any vehicle visiting becomes a possible target for an over-eager hyena cub, wondering what a mud-flap is like to chew on.

18 lions is a lot of lions to feed (even if eleven of them are not fully grown) so it’s not surprising that the lion pride tries to kill as big a game as possible. This month, they were seen feeding on several buffalos and a zebra.  Apart from the big pride, we also had lovely sightings of a mother suckling her young cubs, and an attempted hunt by three lionesses of a kudu, that was unsuccessful, due to the rather over-excited and  eager 5 month old cub that tagged along for the ride and didn’t stay put when told to!

And if you think six youngsters might be a handful, try 15 of them. The Southern Pack of wild dogs – thirteen adults – is busy raising a litter of 15 little puppies at their den site. They all seem in good condition and healthy. With so many mouths to feed, the adults have to be sure that they are hunting often enough to ensure everyone gets a fair share.  When they do have successful hunts, they try harder than ever not to lose the kill to another predator. This was the case when we witnessed them kill an impala and three hyenas immediately approached to try and take the kill off them. The dogs and hyenas spent some time tussling with each other, before the dogs had to retreat – too big a risk of injury when having to fight the much heavier and bulkier hyena.

We were lucky enough to see a female leopard with her two young cubs a few times this month. This is the small family that set up shop in and around the camp last month – this month, they were found a little further away. We also followed them when they were walking along the road, and were very relaxed with us following them. After a while, they moved off into the thicker surrounding bush, and we left them to their evening.

General game this month was wonderful, with lots of big herds of elephants everywhere – including in the camp, making it tricky to get to your room at night –  as well as the bulls interspersed amongst them. Zebra, impala, wildebeest, reedbuck, kudu and lots of warthogs. Interesting and unusual sightings this month included porcupine and serval cat.

Nxai Pan –Makgadikgadi Pans

Lots of sightings of bat eared foxes about at the moment – although common throughout the year, they are very noticeable at the moment, as they are trying to keep warm in the colder temperatures. To do this, they hunker close to termite mounds, which keep their residual warmth even through the coldest of the nights.

Although the zebra migration has long since moved on, we are still left with our resident zebras. These are seen mingling in the middle of the pan with the springbok, and even a few ostrich as part of the crowd.  Definitely safety in numbers with a good collection of eyes to keep watch on whatever predator may try an attack from the wide open surrounds.

Chaos abounds in the large Nxai Pan lion pride – the two adult males decided it was time for the eight sub-adult males to leave –before they get too big and become a threat to the dominance of the adult males. With the youngsters forced out, the pride fractured for the time being, and the three lionesses and two female sub-adults also moved off from the two males. The males are likely to try to rejoin the lionesses at a later stage, seeking them out for mating, but also for the benefit of being able to get a few free meals off them.

A relaxed female cheetah was found resting in the shade of a tree. She appeared to be lactating, but there was no sign of her cubs. Likely they are still very small, and hidden away for safety, with her visiting to suckle them between hunts.

Lots of bull elephants, and even breeding herds, coming to the camp water hole to drink. Some of the males are still making forays into camp, even though there is sufficient water for them to drink at the waterhole. Part of this is pressure from too many males being at the waterhole at once, and the eternal search for one’s own personal water fountain. Luckily, breakages have been at a minimum this month – partly due to teams of staff sitting up all night to deter overly enthusiastic individuals – as well as regular cleaning out of the waterhole to make it even more enticing!

Elephants are not the only nightly visitor to the camp – three buffalo bulls are regularly seen coming into the camp at night – seemingly believing that the camp grounds offer a safe haven to rest up from the dangers of the bush.  Since lions have also been seen in the camp, this possibly needs a re-think.

Unusual sightings this month include honey badgers, and an aardwolf that appears to have denned near to the main water hole. Add to that some very strange visitors – a herd of eland passing by in front of camp!

See our Botswana in the Secret Season safari for an example of a safari visiting these concessions.

POSTED BY: on 21/09/2016

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