Welcome to part one of the Kwando Safaris Monthly sightings report for October. This blog post provides updates for Nxai Pan Camp, Kwando Kwara Camp, and Kwando Lagoon Camp. Tomorrow’s update will cover Tau Pan Camp and Kwando Lebala Camp.
Enjoy this updates – and please contact me with any questions you may have about Kwando Safaris.
Nxai Pan Camp
Without rain, the water hole has become a major meeting point for all the animals …. From the comfort of camp (even from the comfort of their beds!) guests have been able to see lion, spotted hyena, brown hyena, kudu, springbok, zebra, wildebeest, steinbok, duiker and many elephants all drinking at the waterhole! The star of the waterhole visitors this month was one lone wild dog – a rare visitor to the park.
Cheetahs have been our most ‘common cats’ these months, with many sightings of the one adult and two young. They have been have been seen regularly out on game drives, hunting and resting, and one occasion where when they were feeding on a springbok.
Lions, doing what they do best, have been lounging around in the heat, near the water hole. Four adults and five youngsters took a chance to try and hunt around the edge of the waterhole, waiting for appetising antelope to wander on down, but there was no success whilst the guests were watching.
Lots and lots of wonderful general game milling around the area, waiting for the rain as well, and queuing for the waterhole. Black backed and side striped jackals have been adding their calls to the evening sound effects, together with the soft-shoe shuffle of the ghostly white elephants drifting by.
As for the birds – the summer arrival of the Wahlbergs eagles has made life as a small rodent or lizard a tad perilous. These birds too visit the waterhole, together with goshawks and martial eagles. Not a very comfortable time of year for the three scrub hares that normally live in comfort under the main deck… sneaking out for a late afternoon snack of grass roots has become a little trickier!
Kwando Kwara Camp
As the first rain clouds begin to gather, turning the landscape into a kaleidoscope of colours, good sightings abound this month. Grazers and browsers have been plentiful, with large herds of zebras, kudus, and buffalos being seen throughout the concession.
We have also been delighted to see the young ones, with baby tsessebees following their mothers around, getting accustomed to the area – and their legs! We have also been seeing huge herds of buffalos, with these formidable animals grazing, drinking and fighting as part of their daily activity.
Night drives provide the perfect opportunity to come across interesting sightings including side striped jackals sitting by their dens and hoping to pick up left over’s from nearby kills. Jackals mate for life, and one of their offspring often remains with the parents to help raise the next litter of pups. On another game drive to the Splash area, a very relaxed civet was spotted close to the vehicle, giving a rare opportunity to view this animal at close quarters.
A pride of seven lions managed to bring down a giraffe, on which they spent several days feasting, with their cubs in tow. Three brothers from the popular “seven brothers” followed the buffalos for a few days but did not have any success making a kill. Two females with cubs were also seen being followed around by one of the brothers. The mother grunted each time the large male came to close to her cubs, probably sensing danger. During the nights, we have often heard the lions roaring – a wonderful sound to serenade us to sleep!
This month, after several weeks of not seeing wild dogs in the area, we were lucky and came across fresh tracks. Such a discovery could not be ignored, and we followed the tracks until we came face to face with a pack of four – two males and two females – the guests snapped away with their cameras! As the dogs were resting, we were able to stay with them for about 1.5 hours, before they attempted to take down a reedbuck – and caught!
Godikwe lagoon has been top of the birding parade, with its own heronry. Boat trips make use of this wonderful sighting. Pink backed pelicans have also been seen this month!
While enjoying the mokoro activity, we have been enthralled by the plentiful painted reed frogs, and also the Angolan reed frogs that have been appearing in good numbers. On the reptilian front, a large African rock python was found on close to Bat Eared Fox den. The python was dead – there were no indications of injury from another animal, so its death remains a mystery.
The favourite sighting this month was of a cheetah with three cubs which we were able to see for several days. On the first day, the mother cheetah killed an impala, and on the second day after tracking it, she had pulled down a baby tseseebe.
Kwando Lagoon Camp
Swimming lessons continue – hot temperatures without rain, have increased the daily visits to the river by the numerous elephants. Hundreds are crossing the river each day, near camp, and enjoying cooling off in the deep water. As guests lounge in the camp swimming pool looking out, the river gives the impression of a giant paddling pool with elephants of all sizes ‘frolicking’ – if that’s the word to use for a 5 ton animal? Breeding herds cross with a little more decorum than the bulls, the little trunks of the youngsters peeping out from the top of the water, as their feet paddle away to keep up with mum.
An unusual sight called in by the guides one day – a “nesting leopard”. Not some hybrid of a cat and a bird, nor a leopard that had ‘changed its spots’, but a young male leopard that had used his initiative and climbed into an African Fish Eagle’s nest, and devoured two hatchlings. A hard lesson for the mother eagle, to perhaps next time build a nest on not so sturdy a branch…
Although we had no luck with cheetah sightings this month, the lions were seen several times. A couple of intruding young male lions have been seen in the area, always nervous and running away – just waiting for the chance to sneak in and try their strength if the pride males falter in some way. However, the Masalek pride ensuring they kept ‘bulked’ up by feasting on a beautiful Roan antelope, with a couple of warthogs for ‘chasers’.
The big breeding herds of buffalos are still in the area, waiting for the rains to fall so that they can enjoy the new grass. Most of the young will be born around this time, which provides good pickings for the cats of the area.
Now the wild dog pack have left the den – the pups are more mobile – its hard work keeping up with them. The pups are still too young to participate in the hunt – without mucking it up that is – but they are getting used to the idea of being on the move. Although this can make it more difficult to see them, our trackers and guides do an excellent job at finding them regularly, as they move around the Kwando concession.
The good news is that there are still 9 pups – so no mortality amongst the young – always a risk when they leave the den and encounter the dangers of the big wide world.
Although the rains have not yet arrived, most of the migrant birds are here already. The carmine bee-eaters have excavated their nests – miniature caves into the side of the river bank, so this makes a great trip for everyone on the boat – watching them fly in and out of their holes at eye-level.
Night drives this month have featured large porcupines (including one right in the camp!) , a nervous little African wild cat, and seven noisy and rambunctious hyenas feeding on a dead elephant carcass.
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