Die monatlich aktuellen Sichtungen für das 1. Halbjahr 2016 von KWANDO, unserem Premiumpartner in Botswana, finden Sie auf dieser Seite. Diese sind aus erster Hand und direkt an uns aus den Camps in Botswana übermittelt worden.
Ein Blick auf die Übersichtskarte lohnt sich, denn diese verdeutlicht die ausgezeichnete Lage bzw. Verteilung der Camps in Botswana. Diese Camps stehen auf unserer Empfehlungsliste ganz oben und werden sehr häufig auf den von uns konzipierten Afrika Reisen nach Botswana berücksichtigt.
Im folgenden Text können Sie die Sichtungen für die Monate Januar bis Juni 2016 nachlesen:
Juni 2016 Sichtungen in Botswana Kwando Camps (in Englisch)
Kwara Concession – It was not a lucky day for the mother cheetah and her two sub adult cubs…. Finding her close to the airstrip in the morning, we saw her chase an impala, and leap on top of it to try and kill it. The impala managed to struggle free and dashed on top of a termite mound. Later the same day, the same cheetah managed to kill an impala, but this time, hyenas arrived and grabbed the kill off her! Three days later, and the same cheetah was hunting again in the morning – unsuccessfully. This time, in the afternoon, she caught another impala, and no hyenas arrived to steal it off her!
The lions started the month well, with four lionesses and two cubs feeding for several days on a giraffe kill. At times up to 12 hyenas circled the kill, but did not manage to push the lions off the prize. However, on the third day, two male lions from the Marsh Boys arrived, and the females had no choice but to abandon the site. Whilst the Marsh boys fed, three males from the Zulu boys rested up at Jackal pan.
A few days later and the four lionesses had managed to kill a zebra. Again they faced down the hyenas that were trying to steal the kill. A male and female lion spent several days mating, eventually moving through the Kwara camp area. At one point, they became separated, and their calls to each other could be heard through the camp.
Whilst we were watching the male lion in front of the camp, baboons came into the area, chasing a subadult male leopard! Not a bad morning, with hardly any reason to leave the camp on game drive! We had several other wonderful sightings of leopards this month, including of the female leopard and her cub, who spent some time around Marula Island. We spent a morning watching the cub playng and climbing around the trees, with his/her mother watching on carefully.
Right at the end of June, and three wild dogs (a tiny number for a pack…) had decided upon a den site. The alpha female was heavily pregnant. Whilst moving close to the den, the dogs came upon a female leopard, which they chased up a tree. Twice the leopard tried to escape, but for 30 minutes the dogs kept her at bay. Shortly after that, they moved off, and the leopard departed as well.
There was a very rare sighting this month of a Pels Fishing owl. This is the first one seen in the area in several years, so everyone was very excited about it. The Pels owl is exceptionally hard to see, and for birders often remains elusive on their ‘lifer’ lists for years and years – even if they visit Botswana regularly! This large owl, is beautifully coloured – honey brown. As you can tell by its name, its evenings are spent grabbing fish with its huge talons from the waters of the delta.
There were two other super rare sightings this month – as commented by guests on their feedback forms…. One was delighted to see an ‘antelope that walks on water’. Perhaps confusing the guides explanation of a sitatunga antelope, with the lily –trotting ‘Jesus bird’ or Jacana. Or perhaps it really was a new breed of floating antelope.
Another exciting find – and presumably the relevant authorities were called in to remove the confused animal – was a ‘cougar’. Hopefully, he was carrying his passport and air ticket.
Lagoon – The beginning of June, and it was apparent that the Lagoon pack of wild dogs had chosen a den site for their next litter. We were especially lucky, as it was not too distant from camp, allowing us to keep easy and regular observations of the events. As this is a critical time for the pack, a tightly controlled procedure is put into place to minimize movement of cars in the area, at the same time ensuring that every guest that visits gets the opportunity to spend a good length of time at the den. Not keen on having any other predators near their chosen site, the dogs remained on guard. An unfortunate leopard sauntered through their area, only to be chased up a tree. Each time the leopard attempted a different escape route, the dogs attacked again, managing to bite the leopard a few times. A male leopard is much heavier and more muscled than an individual dog, but faced with several upset individuals, he had no choice but to escape how ever he could.
Whilst the alpha female dog stayed at the den, the pack of 13 made hunting forays into the neighbouring areas. One morning, they killed an adult female kudu, and then took it in turns to run back to the alpha female to regurgitate food for her, since she is not able to join the hunts. Other days, they hunted adult male kudu, warthog, and impala.
A herd of buffalos moved through the water cut area, followed by the pride of lions. Four adults and six cubs trailed the buffalos, with adults attempting to hunt. They were unsuccessful, and eventually lay down to rest for the day. Throughout the month the lions were seen on most days, with regular sightings of the two males. We also found the male lion babysitting the cubs on occasion, whilst the females were presumably out hunting. The cubs were playing around, and up to their usual mischief!
Good luck this month with cheetah as well, with tracks of a male being picked up just after we spent some time with a female leopard. Following the footprints, we found evidence of where the cheetah had slept the night before, on top of a termite mound. Eventually, we found the male cheetah attempting to hunt in an open area. We spent quite a bit of time watching him, before we returned home. There was not much cover for the cheetah, so game was able to see him from quite a distance. We saw this cheetah again several times this month, it’s not one that we have seen before, and he was often busy marking his territory. Later in the month, we also came across two other shy cheetahs, who were travelling together. .
Lebala – The most unusual sighting for the month, in fact, probably for the year, happened on the evening of the 1st of June. The guests had a fantastic sighting of two leopard cubs. Leopard cubs are fairly rare to see at the best of times, but leopard cubs spending an hour playing around the dining table, ducking under the chairs and batting at lanterns round the edge of the fireplace, is not something that you see every day! The mother must have been off hunting, and had left the cubs to their own devices, not realizing that they would see the camp as a suitable play pen…
The next morning, venturing a little away from the main area, the cubs were spotted near the workshop, this time a bit shyer, which is probably just as well, as having two leopards continuing to feel at home around human habitation is not the most ideal situation.
More leopards were to follow the next day – this time whilst out on game drive – two different females were found – one with an impala kill, and one heading to the boundary road. The same day, we came across an aardwolf, African wild cat, the lions, and the pack of 13 dogs. Not a bad day all in all!
The pack of 13 dogs has denned near Twin Pools, not too far from the camp. They are all looking healthy, and the pack have been active in their hunts, attempting to take down wildebeest, but often settling for an impala or two. With many hyenas in the area as well, they have lost several of their kills to the hyena clan.
We spent a morning with the big pride of lions (four females, two males, two subadults and nine cubs). It was wonderful to watch them all interact, and then co-ordinate for a hunt. Returning to visit them again in the afternoon, we found they had killed a large adult eland – a good meal for a pride tht is 17 strong!)
The two males split away at some point from the pride, and were found feasting on an elephant carcass. Also trying to eat from the carcass, but very wary of the lions, were four hyenas and two jackals. Vultures were waiting patiently in a nearby tree…
A new pride of lions – 10 – came into the area near Eland road. There are six females and four subadult males. None of them are lions that we recognize, but we think they have come in from the south eastern edge of the concession.
Lots of elephants in the area as well, with over 120 individuals counted one morning browsing and drinking at Twin Pools. Other general game in the area is great, with zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, and even eland.
And on the 29th of June, a successful litter of wild dog pups appeared outside the den for the first time! 14 little puppies, just over three weeks old, clambered out of the ground to stumble around their new surroundings, and suckle from mum whilst she rested outside in the warm sunshine.
Nxai Pan – With the camp closed for the month for its annual maintenance, we don’t get to see what is happening in a large part of our normal game drive area. To make up for it, the lions decided to come and pay a visit. Parking themselves off at the camp waterhole, a male and a female decided that they could be quite uninhibited without the guests and cameras watching, and spent three days mating. Their romantic scene appeared undisturbed by the sanding and hammering that was going on nearby.
Tau Pan – One afternoon, the pan was a haven for all types of animals, including bat eared foxes, jackals, spring box, and oryx. The bat eared foxes and jackals were fighting again. The male fox fluffed up his fur to make himself look big, and this seemed to impress the two jackals, who turned tail and ran!
A great sighting one afternoon of 20 blackbacked jackals feeding on a deadspringbok. It’s unlikely that they managed to kill the springbok, rather that they came across it, or possibly chased a cheetah of its kill.
With leopards in the dining room at Lebala, it was only fitting that the lions of Tau Pan began their month in a similar fashion, with mum and four cubs deciding the workshop was a fabulous place to spend quality play time. One cub spent over half an hour playing with a paint brush, before abandoning it for more lion-ly pursuits.
The coalition of males had not been seen for a week, but five of them were found in the second week of the month resting at Mawelewele pan. Two days later, one more male was found near the airstrip, calling for his five colleagues, as they had got separated.
We came upon the subadult cheetahs that we recognize, at Sunday Pan. During the green season, they frequent the area around Passarge valley, but with the water gone in that area, the drier times they seem to spend near the water hole at Sunday Pan. The next day we saw them again, they had killed a spring bok and were busy feeding.
Strange sightings – purple gallinule and black crake! These birds are water birds – not normally found in the desert. But they have been seen at the waterhole, perhaps wondering where all the water went?
Mai 2016 Sichtungen in Botswana Kwando Camps (in Englisch)
Kwara Concession – You know it’s a good month for game viewing when the guides run out of paper for their sightings reports, or it starts looking like a list a zoo keeper might make as he does his rounds each day: “Lions x 4 – feeding, cheetahs 1+2 – feeding, wild dogs 5 – hunting (not successful), leopard + cub – feeding, hyenas – yes, lots.” Between Kwara and Little Kwara camps, lions were seen every single day, often with two different sightings on the same day, or same drive.
Cheetahs were seen almost as often, and even those ‘elusive’ leopards were out and about. A great month was had by all!
A male cheetah was located north of the bat eared fox den area, feeding on an impala carcass. A female cheetah was constantly encountered with her two cubs hunting, as she taught them how to stalk animals.
Hyenas were also seen regularly, particularly if there was another predator who had a successful hunt!
The leopardess with her cub are still the highlights for everyone: the cub is now very relaxed with vehicles watching. The mother and cub spent time playing together, which helps the cub build up the muscles, and start to learn lessons that will serve well in later years.
Five wild dogs were located at splash hippo pool one morning, resting under some shade. Since it was hot, there wasn’t much action. In the afternoon of the same day, we returned to them and arrived at the perfect time, as they were getting up from their long rest and greeting each other before the hunt. When the hunt started, we followed them for at least 15 minutes, then they started chasing some kudus, and within two minutes, a baby kudu was caught. We watched them tearing the kudu calf to pieces –but within a few minutes, four spotted hyena arrived and chased away the wild dogs!
With so much action happening, it’s easy to overlook the small stuff, but the general game was great, and with much excitement, the delta water started rising, allowing us to begin mokoros again. And that allows us to see the even smaller stuff – the tiny long reed frogs, as big as a thumbnail, that rest happily on their reeds as the mokoros quietly move by.
Lagoon – We started the month with some dedicated tracking – looking for lions that had left their prints recently on the roads. This eventually led to a male and female lion, who were feeding on a kudu. The male was one of the two pride males, but the other male was nowhere to be seen. The two males were finally seen together two days later, resting under the shade of a large tree. We also saw the whole pride together – they were spending time along the marsh areas.
One morning we picked up lion tracks close to the airstrip. Following the tracks for around 30 minutes, we came upon two hooded vultures sitting on top of a tree. Not far below them were two lionesses, feeding on a waterbuck. We had been watching them eat for quite a while when a male lion then approached and took the kill off the females! The next day we were able to track the lioness to find her suckling her three young cubs. A beautiful sighting!
On the 7th May we came upon the pack of 14 wild dogs, with the alpha female looking pregnant. This is great news, so we hope that they will den in the area in the next few weeks. We were lucky enough to see them perform their greeting ceremony with each other, with the air filled with high pitched yips and chattering, as the whole pack gets active after their afternoon rest. We saw the pack several times over the next few days, mostly on the move as they attempted to hunt.
One afternoon we were heading north on game drive, when we heard monkeys alarm calling from nearby. Investigating further, we found a female leopard walking calmly along. We were able to follow her for about an hour, when she stopped and began calling softly. Two young cubs ran out and greeted her, and she began suckling them!
General game in the area has been excellent, with sable, roan, and eland regularly sighted as well as the more ‘standard’ wildebeest, zebra, impala and giraffe. Elephants are making use of the water channels as we wait for the flood waters to arrive down the Kwando.
As the season changes, we are also starting to see the large herds of buffalo more often. We spent some time watching one of the herds, when they suddenly started running this way and that. In amongst them appeared four lions, attempting to catch one of the buffalo. No luck on this occasion (well, not for the lions at least), and the buffalo moved on.
And finally, after a long absence, we had a great sighting of a cheetah that passed through the area. He attempted to hunt, but was unsuccessful. A day later, and thanks again to vultures, we relocated the male cheetah, this time, he had had better luck, and was busy feeding on an impala.
Lebala – Initially, the female lioness with the two young cubs seemed to be keeping apart a little from the rest of the pride. The two lionesses with six cubs were seen with the two males, with one of the males mating with the third female. A little later, and they all seemed a bit more comfortable with each other – cubs and females feeding on a warthog kill. One of the males relaxed nearby.
By the middle of the month, all the cubs and adult lions were happy enough to be together. We found 16 of them near Lechwe Corner, looking hungry, and determined to find something to eat. The cubs trailed their mother, mewing a little. The next day, returning to the same area, we found that they had managed to kill a buffalo. For two days, they alternately fed and relaxed around the buffalo carcass. At one point, there were 11 cubs running all over the place, playing and chasing each other. The adult lions tried to rest as much as they could! The surrounding trees were full to overflowing with vultures, waiting patiently for the departure of the lions.
Sundowners were being enjoyed near a pan one early evening, when huge roaring growls were heard from nearby. Quickly packing up and climbing back onto the vehicle, we soon came upon two male lions who were fighting over the rights to court a lioness that was in oestrus. Quite bone-shaking stuff! Another sundowner stop was interrupted later in the month when 5 wild dogs ran past all the guests drinking their gin and tonics!
A female leopard killed an impala, and stashed it under a tree for herself and her two cubs to feed on. The cubs seemed more intent on playing around rather than eating. Perhaps they should have concentrated a bit more on their meal, as soon, a pack of 13 wild dogs appeared, and chased the leopard off the kill. The mother and her cubs climbed up the tree to get away from the dogs, and the dogs quickly devoured their free meal. A day or so later, and another female leopard tried to stand her ground against a hyena who was trying to steal her kill. Despite a valiant attempt to defend, she eventually retreated, with the hyena winning the meat.
It was all action at Half Way Pan as well, with two lionesses stalking kudus. They missed their chance, and the kudus escaped. Just near by, the pack of 13 dogs made a chase of a warthog, but they too missed the kill. Throughout the month we had excellent sightings of the pack of wild dogs – including one day where two packs – a total of 27 dogs were seen!
And a surprise sighting this month of a female cheetah, close to Twin Pools. We found her resting on top of a termite mound. She was very relaxed, and spent a lot of time trying to wash blood of her fur – she had been eating something next to the mound, but we could not make out what it was.
Nxai Pan – For anyone that has not flown in to Nxai Pan, but driven in, you can understand that part way through the drive you really need a break. The long 28km section between the two park gates is driveable in a 4×4 vehicle, but requires a combination of patience, good suspension, and determination. Since Nxai Pan is only a few hours drive from Maun, we do, from time to time, get guests wishing to drive themselves in. Most guests that stay at the camp will do part of the drive if their guide takes them out to Baines Baobabs – the track goes about half way to the main park gate. The turn off to the baobabs is very clear, and offers a relatively open ‘four way stop’ which, if you are doing the whole trip, is quite an inviting place to stop for a minute or two to have a ‘rest stop’. It doesn’t matter how many years you have spent in the bush, it’s always good not to get too blasé. Having enjoyed a 10 minute break and coffee next to the car, two Maun staff heading to the camp were about to climb back into the car when a tourist vehicle pulled up behind them and enquired if they had noticed the lion ‘just back there’. Thanking the tourists, they headed back down the road a bit to see if the lion was still there…. Only to realise that the lioness, was ‘just back there’ about 100m from where the car had been parked, and had eagerly been awaiting her turn at the coffee set (or something else). Rather sheepishly, they enjoyed the sighting and then continued on to the camp….
Other lions were having more interesting meals than coffee and biscuits, with the main pride killing a giraffe, spending several days eating it, and then immediately killing another one and sitting in approximately the same place to eat the next one. Black backed jackals ran in and out, dragging away the odd scrap or bone, when the lions were too comatose to move.
The two young cheetahs were also seen regularly, particularly around the section of the pan just north of the camp sites. They prowled around, with a couple of hunting attempts being made. Obviously viewing springbok in the far distance, the cheetahs would stare off into the sunset, looking very much as though they were admiring the view…
Elephants are still queuing up at the camp waterhole, but most of the breeding herds have moved off now, leaving the bulls to jostle amongst themselves. Also competing for water – and fatally choosing the camp swimming pool – are queleas. Many rescues were made by staff as the flocks all tried to drink at once, with individuals sometimes becoming waterlogged. It was not just a case of getting them out of the water, but since the water was so cold, trying to warm up a quelea was also necessary. A cupped hand seemed to do the trick nicely, before the birds are left to their own devices safely tucked under the sun loungers till they feel 100% fit to fly.
Tau Pan – Now that all natural waterholes are dry in the Kalahari, more animals are attracted to the camp waterhole, and some make a short cut through the camp itself to get to it. A leopard took a short cut past room 1, apparently on her way from drinking at the waterhole. That night, the lions followed suit, with three lionesses and two cubs spending the night calling around the camp, before deciding that the best place for a quiet nap for the day was in front of the managers house (a fairly rational excuse for not getting to work on time….)
Although roaring lions is a common enough sound at Tau Pan, probably even more common is the call of the black backed jackal. It was the alarm calls of jackals that alerted us to a great sighting – a male and female cheetah who had caught a springbok, and were beginning to feed on it. Many jackals were in the area around them, hoping for a chance of getting something to eat themselves.
It’s quite rare to see caracals, and they are normally very shy, but we were particularly lucky to see a mother and her kitten walking along one of the quiet tracks in the area. On seeing the vehicle, they quickly moved off the road and disappeared into the bush.
Our most regular predator sightings this month were definitely lions and cheetahs – the lions were seen both around the camp, as mentioned already, but we also saw large male lions with beautiful dark manes at Deception Valley.
April 2016 Sichtungen in Botswana Kwando Camps (in Englisch)
Kwara Concession – On the fourth of April, only one kilometers apart from each other, we found two female cheetahs, each with two cubs! One of the females had killed a male impala, and she was busy feeding on it. Three days later, and the two females were less than 50m apart from each other, each playing with their own cubs. A male cheetah also passed by, and it provided some excellent viewing! Very unusual to have so many cheetahs so close together! These two families provided regular sightings for the rest of the month.
The four male lions nicknamed the ‘zulu boys’ began the month feeding on an elephant. It was a sub-adult, and although no one saw how the elephant died, it is supposed that the lions themselves managed to kill it. Three days later, and they had finished the elephant, and we found them again – this time eating zebra! The Zulu boys continued to be seen regularly throughout the month, including when they came to rest up for a few hours just next to the camp. Other sightings of lion included a female with her two sub-adult cubs feeding on a kudu they had killed.
The leopardess and her cub again provided lovely sightings this month. The mother managed to kill a young giraffe, and we found them both feeding on the meat, with three hyenas circling, attempting to take the kill. Bizarrely, the baby giraffe’s mother chased the hyenas off, but left the leopards alone! Little Kwara chefs also had a close encounter with a leopardess, as she moved through the camp and nearly took a turn through the kitchen! A couple of days later and the leopard was back again, this time with her cub, and hunting between the dining room and the kitchen!
A good sighting of three beautifully marked wild dogs (2 males and 1 female) close to bat eared fox den – they were hunting impala, and spent an exciting time trying to catch one. Also in the same area on the same day as the pack of dogs was a male cheetah. He too was stalking impala, and unfortunately had no luck as well!
A few days later, and the same wild dogs were in the One Hippo area, attempting to hunt. Suddenly, a lioness appeared, and tried to catch the dogs. They turned tail and fled, and the lioness sauntered off west along the flood plain. Lions also came upon a female leopard near Lechwe Loop, and chased her up a tree.
Other interesting sightings this month of the smaller things included serval, African wild cat, small spotted genet, and even a lesser jacana catching a fish!
Lagoon – Lots of mixed herds of elephants at the various waterholes, mudbathing, and drinking. There were much larger herds along the flood plains. As usual, good general game in the area, with giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, as well as roan, sable and eland.
There were also ots of different combinations of lions seen this month, including two coalitions of males fighting, with the losers having to head north to escape the victors. By far the biggest sighting we had was of 18 members of the pride at John’s Pan – five lionesses, two males, and eleven cubs…. All resting!
Leopards were still tough to find – lots of tracks, but only two actual sightings. Since the male lions were being very active in the area, it makes it harder for us to find the leopards as they try to stay out of the way of the bigger predator.
The wild dog pack were seen several times – with an additional adult joining them, now totalling fifteen individuals. We had great luck watching their hunts, with successfully catching impala several times. After finishing one of the kills close to the camp, the dogs visited an old den site of theirs. Arriving there, they found a single hyena had moved in – there was a large dispute over this, and the dogs chased the hyena off. They then spent some time checking over the den, so we hope that this shows good potential for the near future.
Lebala – Lions were seen almost every day. We had regular sightings of the two male lions: the “Lebala Boys”. These two lovely males move around the south eastern side of the concession. They are in very good condition, and always look well fed, though we don’t often see them hunting. In the second week we found them feeding on the carcass of an eland. Vultures were surrounding them, up in the trees, waiting for the chance to move in on the remains should the lions move away. The next day when we returned, the hyenas had taken over the remains of the kill (pictured above), with the vultures now on the ground as well, trying to get what they can.
Nearby, along the same road, we came upon four lionesses fighting over a baby zebra they had killed – disgruntled as there was not enough meat for everyone to have a good share!
There is also a pride of five female lions with nine cubs, two sub adult cubs and two big males. This month we followed them hunting, and catching wildebeest. Another day, they were resting up in the sun, with the nine cubs playing whilst the adults tried – in vain – to sleep. And an interesting altercation between lions and hyena, where a lioness caught a warthog, but was still in the process of killing it, when two adult hyenas and two youngsters arrived and fought her for the kill. The hyenas made off with the warthog and began to tear it to pieces….
A great sighting with a pack of 14 wild dogs, which we spent the morning tracking. We found them feeding on a dead giraffe, with vultures also trying to land to get their share of the meat, without getting killed by the dogs!
We also came up on an elephant that had appeared to die of natural causes. A hyena and two jackals were trying to open up the skin of the carcass, in order to start eating.
This month we had a great sighting of a pangolin, and several sightings of a male leopard, who is very very shy. And a very unusual sighting of a crocodile out for a stroll one evening, next to a road! He was out in the open, and appeared to be looking for food.
Nxai Pan – In general April is normally a fairly quiet month for Nxai Pan, with not many (human) visitors to the area. It is not the case however, for animal visitors! There is still lots going on here!
The big pride of lions – 14 of them – spent a week in the area to the south of the camp. Every day, they came out to the waterhole for a drink, with full bellies, and then wandered back. For that many lions to be feeding for such a long length of time, they must have been devouring a very large animal – probably an elephant. Two sub-adult lions became separated from the pride, and decided the safest place to relax and call for the rest of the group, was next to room 9. They spent the day there, and eventually moved off, hopefully having relocated their family.
You would think 10 lions would feel secure enough to not be afraid of one male intruder, but the two lionesses with 8 of their sub-adult youngsters decided a showdown was not in order, and kept running and heading north from the waterhole as the male approached.
The zebra migration that arrived very late this year due to the late rains, moved off quickly in April, as the grass dried up and disappeared. Continually on the move for greener pastures, it’s likely this is going to be a tough year for the zebras…
Replacing the zebras, not quite at migration levels, but certainly providing enough mass to cause havoc, were the elephants. Having spent some of the preceding months in the areas of mopane, where the rain water will have collected into pools, the elephants returned as the water sources dried up. Again focussing on the only two available sources in the park – the camp waterhole and the main waterhole – the elephants decided that this was not sufficient for their needs. Sadly, no one else was involved in this decision, and the camp again had to contend with the pool being siphoned of water overnight.
We also had a good number of cheetah sightings this month, including female, male and sub adults. The female was the most productive, and was seen several times hunting.
Tau Pan – The green season is always a lovely time in the Kalahari – the antelope congregate in numbers, there is sufficient grass for everyone to eat, and the predators have plenty to choose from (when they are not tasting such foreign delicacies as donkey.) About 1000 springbok were seen on the pan, pronking (the particular style of springing/jumping in the air with their back arched which is peculiar to springbok) and dashing around in a fun mood. We also saw a great tussle between two male oryx, battling it out with their horns clashing and knocking together. One of the males vented his frustration on a nearby bush, horning it and thrusting it about.
Obviously there is a lot of testosterone in the air at the moment as a few days later, a bat eared fox and a black backed jackal were seen fighting. Interestingly, the bat eared fox won the fight, and the jackal slunk off! No indication as to what the fight was actually about!
The two big black-maned lions that frequent Tau Pan, were found feeding on an animal at the end of the runway. The fact that it was a donkey, caused a lot of surprise. Particularly as it was the 1st of April… was this some practical joke somehow manufactured by someone/something? But no, it was simply a matter of domestic animals wandering where they will during the green season, and poor care by the owner. It would have been a very easy hunt for the lions, with a donkey being unused to combat with super-predators.
A few days later and the pride had grouped together – the males, four lionesses and three sub adult males. They moved through the camp, and headed to the waterhole to drink, after they had been feeding on something – a change from the donkey-diet.
Towards the end of the month, a wonderful coalition of six males came through the area, following two females from the Tau Pan pride. They got separated, but spent several days in the area. The males sought to establish their dynasty – mating with the two females. They spent five days in the area, whilst one of them was quite badly injured down his chest and along his right leg.
We had several sightings of the male leopard who’s territory forms part of Tau Pan. He is very shy, so when we do see him, it is normally at a distance. From the times we have seen him, we can work out that his territory is very large – larger than would occur in the delta area. The size of territories are normally related to the availability of prey, and encroachment from other male leopards. Females can move through a male leopard’s territory, allowing the opportunity of mating with more than one individual. A very unusual day at San Pan – three leopards! Two males and one female, seen at different times and all very shy, running away from the vehicle!
We saw a male cheetah from the camp, and tried to follow it, losing it temporarily. When we managed to catch up with it, the cheetah made a kill right in front of the camp!
Maerz 2016 Sichtungen in Botswana Kwando Camps (in Englisch)
Kwara Concession – Cheetah males were seen regularly at the start of the month, but the mother with young were not commonly seen. Perhaps with the longer grass, the youngsters are hiding back a bit, and not as obvious. However by middle of the month, the mother with two cubs had reappeared, and they were seen attempting to hunt, and also just relaxing and playing. We also came across another female, also with two young cubs, however these were very shy and nervous around the vehicle, not used to the attention.
The leopardess and her young cub continues to provide lovely sightings, in and around Baboon Island. As her cub grows and becomes more mischievous, his mother is having to ensure that she is hunting enough for her and her offspring. We witnessed her hunting for reedbuck several times, and she was successful on several occasions, as well as being found feeding on impala.
The Zulu boys – four male lions – were seen three days in a row in the area around four rivers. They had killed a wildebeest and ate almost everything. They were later located with a lioness, and another male who had been keeping the lioness company. A few days later they had split up, and then spent some time roaring to try and relocate each other.
Three other adult lions were hard pushed to divide one baby warthog between all them one morning…. No doubt their tummies would have been rumbling shortly there after.
A small pack of four wild dogs were frequently seen, and had successful hunts. The larger packs appear to have dispersed for the time being, but will likely return.
Just outside of camp one morning, three hyenas were found feeding on a tsessebe. The animal had been seen in the vicinity of the camp for the past three days, not looking in good condition. The hyenas had obviously taken the opportunity of its weakened state, and killed it.
Lagoon – The Lagoon pack of dogs spent the first week of March in the area, focusing on hunting warthog. They had also reunited with two of the dogs that had split off from the group last month.
Lions abounded in the first week of the month, with great sightings of the lioness who had three tiny cubs about a week old, out on display. She stayed separate from the rest of the pride, whilst the cubs are at their youngest. The remainder of the pride – 3 females, 2 males and 6 cubs – managed to kill a giraffe, providing food for the whole family for a number of days.
One day, actively tracking male lions for two hours, we were rewarded with finding them close to Zebra Pan. Soon after we arrived there, the two males began to roar – a magnificent sound in close proximity. They then began to move off, so we left them, and headed onwards, when we came across two more male lions, who had heard the first group call. They had full stomachs, having recently eaten something, and were in no mood to be getting into a territorial dispute with the two roaring males!
Large herds of elephants were sighted meandering along the woodland, feeding leisurely, and coming down to the lagoons and riverine areas to drink.
Lots of hyenas out and about as well – we’re seeing them morning and night!
Although elands are normally extremely nervous, one lovely morning we came across a large bull, who was standing on the slope of a termite mound, seemingly uninterested in the approach of the car. His face and strong neck were splattered with mud, from where he had been trying to remove parasites. After a few minutes, he moved off, into the bush.
Several raptors are nesting in the area – brown snake eagles and short tailed eagles (also known as Bateleur eagles). It will be wonderful to see these chicks grow to maturity, an indication of a healthy environment.
And right at the end of the month, the two brother cheetahs made an appearance – hunting a zebra foal.
Sadly with the grass being high after the rains earlier in the month, we have been struggling to see leopards, with only a couple of sightings. We know they are there, they are just not wanting to be seen!
Lebala – What’s special about the bush is not always what you immediately see. This can be difficult to explain to guests who are on safari for the first time, or come with a ‘check-off list’ of things that they need to see. Rushing from one sighting to another, means that you are only experiencing one side of the bush. What you need, is patience. Sleeping lions are, for the majority of visitors, not the most inspiring of animals to see… we all arrive with our pre-conceived ideas – where is the MGM lion? Fortunately this month we had some guests who understand that even sleeping lions don’t sleep for ever. They spent a fantastic morning sitting next to a group of sleeping lions for four hours. And when the cubs woke up, there was not a lot of sleeping the rest of the pride could do! This provided some amazing photographic opportunities, but also a real insight into the social structure and daily life of a lion pride. For one car, four hours was not enough. They opted to spend the entire day parked next to the lion pride. And persistence paid off…. A family of warthog strolled past the quiet scene, and then a sleeping lion pride springs to action, with a kill in front of the vehicle!
Sleeping dogs too, can be a little dull at times, but one afternoon at Nari Pan we came across the pack of 14 wild dogs having a wonderful time playing in the water, chasing each other around, swimming to and fro, and generally just mucking about. A few minutes later, order was restored from chaos, and they dashed off on a hunt, chasing impala, leaving us in their dust. Another day, and the same pack also led us on a hunt – not successful. Without impala for dinner, the dogs resorted to eating millipedes, and other small things they could find on the ground!
The mother lioness with her three two-month old cubs was seen often. The cubs are becoming more and more inquisitive, regularly approaching the car and playing around – and if the guide doesn’t “shoo” them away quick enough – under it! Mum keeps a watchful eye, and calls them to her if she thinks they are getting too far away, or too wayward. They don’t always listen…. A few days later, and now it was four lionesses and 11 cubs. Each mother trying to keep control of her boisterous offspring, who were having a great time playing with all their brothers, sisters and cousins!
Sometimes, it’s the small stuff that makes the best sightings. Tree squirrels in Botswana are about 1/2 of the size of their European relatives. But active as ever, and also faced with the challenges of rearing their young. We had a lovely time watching a mother squirrel relocate her babies to a new den, carrying each baby in her mouth carefully, one at a time, ferrying them to their new home, away from potential threats.
And sometimes it’s the big stuff. The very big stuff… Parking the car at Kubu Pan, the pan and surrounding area soon became inundated with around 300 elephants. There were hippos in the water as well, so with all the elephants playing, swimming, mud bathing, and shuffling the hippos to the other side, they were paying no attention to the car parked in amongst them. A wonderful two hours was spent in amongst this huge herd of elephants, seemingly as part of the herd!
Nxai Pan – This month, something arrived that we had been waiting a very long time for. Rain. And lots of it. Actually, all over northern Botswana, the weather appeared to be trying to make up for lost time, and dumped as much as it could in a few days. They also heralded the (very late) start of the zebra migration. Normally peaking in January or February, the zebras had not arrived at all prior to March, as they waited for the rains that would signal the start of a good growth of grass. By mid March there were hundreds, if not thousands, dotted over the open areas of Nxai Pan. A wonderful sight to see – and very welcome. (Welcomed also, by the lions, who now concentrate on eating as much zebra as they can whilst the season lasts!)
Last month the lions seemed to take extended holidays in the south of the park, making forays out into the village area to hunt cows. This month, they were firmly resident in central Nxai Pan. They were not seen on only five days – probably the days where we didn’t do any game drives! The rest of the time the most commonly spotted lions were the two females with two sub adults. However, the two males were also seen often as well, and one day there was a grand total of 20 individual lions found!
With so many lions, the cheetahs were keeping a slightly lower profile. The adult female was seen several times, but by far the most sightings were of her two off-spring, now independent of her, but still learning all that it means to be an adult cheetah. They are sticking close to the home range that she introduced them to.
Four wild dogs also spent some time in the area. We saw them chasing impala, but they didn’t have any luck catching the one we saw, as it dashed out into the large open area, running through fairly deep water that had collected after the heavy rain that had fallen that morning.
And with the rains – at last the pressure eases off the camp to continually pump water for the elephants! The herds soon disappear off into the further reaches of the park, where there is ample water to drink in the pans and pools.
Tau Pan – The intruder males that moved into the Tau Pan area last December seem to have completely taken over the area, and the older resident males have been forced out. One of the new males was found with one of the four females from the resident pride, mating for several days at the beginning of the month. On the second day, another couple joined the first couple, mating about 40m from each other. A third male looked on, but seemed submissive, allowing his cohorts to continue with enlarging the gene pool!
One late afternoon/early evening, we came up on two aardwolves, relaxing by their burrow. The male was a little shy, and moved off, heading out across the pan and through the bushes.
On a trip to Deception Valley, we were lucky enough to see two sub-adult leopards relaxing and bonding together. It was a wonderful sighting, and the leopards seemed quite relaxed considering they probably don’t witness many vehicles in their days.
Cheetahs were also seen regularly, including a lovely female that managed to catch and kill a springbok whilst we were watching.
Februar 2016 Sichtungen in Botswana Kwando Camps (in Englisch)
Kwara Concession – The leopardess and her cub were very popular this month, being seen almost everyday, as the cub slowly grows up. He is getting more and more relaxed, and as he gets bigger, his play activity becomes more boisterous. This provides some excellent sightings, but can be rather bothersome for his mother!
Of note, a quick morning drive before an early flight produced a spectacular sighting: a standoff between a cheetah and a hyena. Standing on an area of raised earth next to the airstrip, a cheetah was perusing her domain. A hyena suddenly appeared next to her, and the two stood nose to nose snarling and whining at each other until a sensible retreat was negotiated by both parties. The hyena moved away from the area, and the cheetah crossed the runway to rest up from the morning’s altercations under a tree. The noise from the arriving aircraft moved her further into the floodplain, to find an altogether more restful location.
Predators were seen every day, with usually at least two different species each day. Leopards, .lions, cheetahs, wild dogs – all contributed to some wonderful scenes. One morning, the pack of 11 wild dogs were found hunting. A short distance away two male lions were feeding on a zebra carcass (it lasted them three days!), with hyenas lingering in the area. Another morning, we spent half an hour with a cheetah and her two cubs before four male lions approached. The lions tried to attack the cheetah, but she escaped safely with her cubs.
Sometimes, the interactions were deathly close: nine dogs were found in the Machaba Sands area, hunting, and as they hunted the pack moved through a clump of bushes where a lioness was resting. The lioness jumped to attention and attacked one of the dogs, killing it. The remaining eight left quickly, heading west.
Although we saw the groupings of male lions regularly, the stars of the month were the females with three 3-month old cubs, who spent a lot of time playing and then sleeping with their fat baby bellies up in the air.
Lagoon – Although you can see plenty of elephants when out on drive, the best place this month to have prime viewing is in camp. Sitting in the dining room or on the deck gives a fantastic view of the big herds coming down to drink during the day. Often, several herds would visit together, and then part ways – some moving across the channel, some moving into the woodlands. Tiny youngsters tried to keep up with their older siblings, but were given a helpful push from aunty or mum when crossing the channel. Mud baths were also in high demand, as a refreshing break from the high tempartures. Sometimes, there’s no need – and actually no way – to move from your room, as two couples found out when a large bull spent two hours feeding between their rooms and having a drink during siesta time. As one guest commented: “ It makes a change from elephant butt photos!”
As the grass gets longer, we struggle to find leopards, although the signs of them are still around. Like humans, given an option, animals will prefer to walk down a path that is clear of grass rather than push through. This means the roads are the perfect place for a stroll – but its very easy for the leopards to dash off quickly into the grass if they don’t fancy being seen!
As the camp was closed for maintenance for two weeks, our sightings may not seem as great as they normally are. However, perhaps missing the attention they receive when we have guests, the wild dogs decided to pay the camp a visit during the closure, and sped through the camp grounds, as decks were busy being polished! They also showed up for when the camp re-opened, but this time we had to go see them rather than them coming to us.
The low waters has provided a nice treat also for in camp – the hippos now congregate just in front of the deck – allowing an up close and personal view that you don’t get very often. And if you are right on time for early morning breakfast, you get to see the hippos ambling back in to the water after their nightly foraging out on land.
Two male lions – one which has been collared for research purposes – have taken over the pride that frequents the area around Lagoon. The males were seen with the females several times this month, including when they were feeding on a wildebeest. Towards the end of the month, we were seeing this or another pride –the Half Way Pan pride – every day.
Interesting bird sightings this month have included a giant kingfisher beating a fresh water crab into a more suitable shape to swallow, and a Verraux Eagle owl fighting with a short tailed eagle in the afternoon!
Lebala – Towards the end of the month, we had a wonderful experience with our resident lion pride… First we located one female at John’s Pan, and followed her for about an hour until she arrived at her den. She started calling – a soft contact call – and out popped three tiny two-week old cubs from the bush. The mother lion quickly joined them and took them back into the bush to suckle them. The following day we came across the rest of the pride with the six more cubs – two that are 8 months old, and four that are 2 months old, making a total of 9 cubs in total when the three tiniest ones join them!
Guides came upon the pack of 12 wild dogs resting nearby the remains of an animal. On closer inspection, they discovered that the animal was still alive, as they could see it breathing, but it took some time to figure out what the animal was: an aardvark! The dogs had eaten its ears, and part of its snout, and then left the rest of it alone! Sadly, after the dogs moved away, it was then eaten alive by vultures…..
A hippo had died as a result of injuries sustained in a fight with another hippo, dying in the middle of a pan with muddy water. The scent of death attracted a passing pride of lions, however, only the adults attempted to wade through the muck to get to the free meal. The cubs nosed around the edge of the water, not keen to get wet, but hoping for takeaway. After only a day, the lions gave up and left the hippo with most of the meat still intact – the combination of water, mud, and stinky hippo meat in the sun perhaps was a little too much to bear, even for them.
A male bushbuck has set up residence in camp, sleeping under the deck at night, and browsing between the rooms. Still quite shy of people, but he has sensibly found a convenient and safe place to stay, with plenty of vegetation to eat, since no one else dares venture close!
Nxai Pan – Rather shy, but always a delight to watch, sightings were reported of two bat eared fox parents ‘herding’ their five young at the old water-hole.
The two male lions – part of the resident pride – were seen often near the main waterhole. The rest of the pride appeared to have moved off further away from the main game drive areas of the park – perhaps heading back down to Phuduhudu for another cow or two.. The males seem to be doing well for themselves, having been seen feeding on springbok close to the pan.
If the pride went in search of cows, they didn’t time it quite so well – in the middle of the month, eight buffalos (seven females and one male) arrived into the area. They spent a couple of days around one of the camping sites – enjoying the little grass that is there. This is the largest number of buffalos we have seen together in Nxai Pan in recent years as it is not an area that is suited to their feeding habits.
A week later, the pride with 9 sub-adult cubs had returned, and were seen in the company of the males again, feeding on a zebra by Baobab loop.
The sub-adult cheetahs appear to have finally left their mother – they were seen several times on their own, and attempted to hunt. They weren’t successful at the time, but it will take a lot of practice and failed attempts before they become as adept as their mother!
Tau Pan – A walk is always a nice gentle way to start a morning, and so began the day’s planned activity at Tau Pan. The tracker and guide began leading the guests down from the main deck and off on their stroll, when a large male lion suddenly appeared at the waterhole a few hundred metres below them. Whilst the guests were watching with binoculars, and the camp’s telescope, the car was quickly brought around for a change of activity, and the guests set off on the drive to see the lion. Obviously hearing what was up, and feeling a little camera shy, the lion then decided to leave the waterhole and head through the edge of the camp, leading the guide on a bit of a wild goose chase as the lion cut through the bush. After some tracking, and a brief sighting of him heading off through the landscape, the guests returned to the original plan of a walk and set off again – a little later than the norm!
A trip to the Piper Pan provided two excellent sightings – 9 lions including six youngsters were resting in the shade of a tree. Not too far away from them, seven wild dogs were seen moving off into the distance. A day or so later, and the dogs paid a visit to Tau Pan, also where three lions were seen (one male mating with one of the two lionesses).
Things must be getting unseasonably dry, as one morning, down at the Tau Pan waterhole, a brown hyena was seen drinking. Normally, these super shy and elusive predators are rarely seen in the summer months, but thirst must have forced a change of habit. A few days later, we were lucky enough to see another brown hyena – this time hunting – a highly unusual sighting
Januar 2016 Sichtungen in Botswana Kwando Camps (in Englisch)
Kwara Concession – The first day of January and we began with a great sighting of the four big lions – the “Zulu Boys” – resting under a candle pod acacia. About five km away from there were another two males, also resting up. On the same day, we also saw three cheetah hunting and killing a baby reedbuck. common reedbuck. A hyena was watching the events unfold from nearby, and stole the kill from the cheetah.
The same lions and cheetahs were seen over the next few days, as well as a leopardess with her very young cub – last month she had a den site close to the boat station, and this month she moved the den a little further to the west. The mother and the cub are extremely relaxed, and we were able to have wonderful sightings of them, with the cub often playing about near his mum.
The Kwara concession is known for its good sightings of predators, including lions, wild dogs, leopards and cheetahs. However, on the 7th of January, one type of predator ruled the day: cheetahs. There were three separate sightings of cheetahs on the same day: A female with a sub adult male, another female with her two sub-adult cubs, and a solitary male. The two small families were resting up in an area fairly close to each other, whilst the male, in a different area, was feeding on a warthog.
Not so many sightings of wild dogs this month – but our most regular pack has had some individual members disperse, leaving a total of eight in the pack. They were seen a few times, including near Bat Eared Fox den.
A youngish elephant was killed by five lions, along the Machaba East road. Quite an amazing sighting. The lions fed on it for two days, and then moved off, allowing the many vultures that had been waiting fairly patiently in the background, quickly arriving to squabble and hiss over what remained.
Unusually for this time of year, it is quite dry… this means a lot of game is attracted to the remaining water ways and lagoons, and with hardly any long grass, predators are still easy to see. The elephant herds are still around, and there are big groups of water birds feeding at the ‘fish pools’ – the waterholes that are slowly drying out.
Lagoon – Early January, and the lions were on the move: apart from a single female that was seen a few times throughout the week, the other lions had headed west, following the large herd of buffalo that moved in that direction. In their absence, the intruder males came into the Lagoon area, and started to make themselves at home. The male lions were seen several times, and seem to have focussed on killing warthogs at the moment. Towards the end of the month, the lions were on the move again – walking as much as 32km in one night!
The wild dogs still frequent the area, but the pack of 23 has split. This is a normal part of the social system of wild dogs, and allows for more junior dogs to start their own packs, becoming alpha male and female, or joining up with other dogs and diversifying the gene pool. The remaining pack began with 14 (9 adults and 5 puppies) and then reduced again to 11. They could hunt more than enough on their own, with their main prey being warthogs and young impalas.
At the beginning of the month, there were lots of breeding herds of elephants in the area, with young babies. As we finally started to get some rain during this month, the herds began to move off though the woodlands to the mopane scrub. Solitary bulls and bachelor herds remain, but the breeding herds will come back soon. Although the buffalo herds have dispersed from the main drive area, a large group remain in the valley to the west.
General game very good, with giraffes, wildebest, impala, eland, and lots and lots of zebras. Bat eared foxes, jackals, and several types of mongoose were seen as well as caracals, african wildcats and porcupines on night game drive.
And a great sighting one morning of a young honey badger, proudly scurrying along the road with a leopard tortoise in his mouth!
Lebala – Nature is harsh. And sometimes we don’t realise how harsh it is until we witness the events ourselves. As part of their safari, most guests are keen to see a kill. The guides know that for many, when confronted with the reality, seeing a kill will actually be very very traumatic. Predator kills are rarely quick and clean cut.
Wild dogs, which have a reputation for being ‘cruel’ killers, as they don’t kill their prey by suffocation, but by tearing it to pieces. However, they are very very fast, and the warthog was dead within a minute. Within 7 minutes, there is normally nothing left of the animal. Something to bear in mind when considering the larger predators hunting techniques…
Just a few days before, two males lions had cleverly managed to stalk an adult warthog, using a tree as cover to come up on it unawares. One male grabbed the neck and held it to suffocate it, but a warthog neck is very thick, and it takes a long time to suffocate… the other male could not wait, and begin eating from the back. Soon after, the first male couldn’t hold his hunger any longer, released the neck and began eating as well. For seven minutes, all that could be heard was the screaming warthog, until it finally succumbed. Its one of the most distressing sounds that you can hear in the animal kingdom, and it chills you to the bone. Sadly, in nature, there’s not often happy endings…
The month continued to produce plenty of lion sightings including a male and female mating at the beginning of the month. Hopefully, more cubs are on the way! We did happen upon two lion cubs along the BDF turnoff – no mother in sight, but lots of tracks around, so she must have hidden the cubs and gone off to hunt. We also regularly saw the four lionesses in the area, working together in their attempts to hunt.
The lionesses and the wild dogs met up at one point, when we were following the dogs hunting. They had not had any luck flushing game, but suddenly stopped and stared in one direction. Not too far away, were the four lionesses staring back at them. Both parties decided that it was easier to do nothing on this occasion, and they moved off without a confrontation.
General game was great, with big herds of elephants, lechwe, a herd of wildebeest almost permanently stationed in front of the camp, giraffe, lots of zebra, and of course the common impala.
Nxai Pan – Elephants still abound, with the lack of consistent rain, they are frequenting the pumped waterholes to drink. One week in January produced the hottest temperatures that we have ever experienced in Botswana – reaching up to 46 degrees in the shade! (It’s exceptionally rare for us to reach 40…) Water pumps were running 24 hours a day to try and ensure that the game had access to sufficient water, as both four legged and two legged mammals took strain.
And sadly this year, due to the drought, the zebra migration has not yet arrived in Nxai Pan. January is usually the peak of the numbers for zebras, but this year, they have failed to arrive. Whether they will arrive in February or March is solely dependent on whether good rains arrive.
The big pride of fourteen lions was found along West Road, hunting giraffe. They were unsuccessful on this occasion. Whilst the ladies were out hunting, two male lions rested up near one of the camp sites (luckily unoccupied at the time), looking pretty hungry. Had the pride managed to bring down a giraffe, no doubt the two males would have made a dash for a share of the meal. A few days later, the whole gang of sixteen was seen together.
We also came across the two sub-adult cheetahs – away from their mum for a change – attempting to hunt close to the South camping grounds. They hadn’t quite honed their skills well enough for a successful hunt however, practice makes perfect. The next day, the mother cheetah was found on her own near the Wildlife Camp.
Tau Pan – Tau Pan area is looking beautiful and green at the moment, after having some reasonable rains in January – more than other areas. This has attracted lots of general game to the area, to enjoy the good life. However, the taller grass and availability of water is making it harder to see the predators.
After more than six years of the Tau Pan pride of lions being firmly established in the area, they are becoming harder and harder to see as the intruders from the Passarge area attempt to take over the area. As a result, the Tau Pan Pride have changed the times that they visit the camp waterhole, sneaking down at night to drink and not vocalising, in order to not attract any unwanted attendiont from the intruders.
A lioness was seen with five cubs about 8km from Tau Pan camp. They were attempting to hunt, but were not successful whilst we were watching, though there was plenty of game in the area. All the lions’ stomachs looked very empty….
A leopard was seen at the aptly named Leopard Pan in the middle of the month. Two cheetahs were lying down at the pan on the edge. The male cheetah then crossed the pan and headed north, before lying down again under the large trees at the edge.
On an afternoon game drive back to camp one day, an aardwolf was also spotted, coming out for its night-time feed of termites.