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BOTSWANA Sichtungen

aktuell – monatlich – für 2017

Die monatlich aktuellen Sichtungen  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 & Klick 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.

Nationalparks und Camplage in Botswana

April 2017

Kwara Concession – Once again Kwara lived up to its reputation for consistently great game viewing, averaging more than 3 predator sightings per day during the month of April.

Most frequently seen was the cheetah family of a female and her three cubs who were often found in the Bat Eared Fox Den area. This is a suitable location for cheetah due to the dense populations of impala combined with open space for hunting. We were fortunate enough to see this successful mother killing impala on more than one occasion. Some single male cheetah have also been seen and one appeared to be checking whether the female was in oestrus.

April was also a good month for leopard sightings and towards the end of the month they were located 6 days out of 7. One female leopard is frequently seen near camp where she has been trying to stalk impala. A different female and a male were located at the airstrip and look as though they could be pairing up. Although they were not seen mating, it is unusual to see a male and female leopard together unless they are breeding.
A small wild dog pack of three adults and four young was frequently seen in the Little Kwara area, especially towards the end of the month. They always seemed well-fed and were sometimes seen finishing up their kills. The Alpha female is heavily pregnant so we hope that she will choose to den nearby.

Honeymoon Pan was a good place to spot Spotted Hyena during April and on different days we were able to observe a wide range of behaviours being displayed by these fascinating mammals including hunting, scavenging, bathing, sunbathing, and also saw them engaging with each other in greeting rituals.
There was a welcome return to the area of the four male lions known as the Zulu Boys who had been absent for about a month. Upon returning, they made sure that any competing males knew that they were firmly back in their usual territory by scent marking, roaring and patrolling the area. A small pride of 2 females and a male were also found in Kwara during April and we found them feeding on an impala as well as on an elephant carcass which kept them busy for two nights. Another group of 3 adult lionesses and four young were sighted hunting in the Bat Eared Fox area. Towards end of the month a solitary male lion, who is new to the area but very relaxed was located feeding on a wildebeest.

There were large herds of breeding elephants in the area and guests have enjoyed watching them bathing, drinking and nursing their young. Two bull elephants were seen daily in Little Kwara camp feeding on the ripening marula fruits.

General game in the Kwara concession continued to be plentiful with herds of zebra, impala, red lechwe, kudu, eland and wildebeest. Very large towers of giraffe were seen, for example, one had 17 adults and 7 young. This is breeding season for many of the animals, timed so that their young will be born when the new shoots of grass arrive later in the year. We therefore saw kudu mating, impala rutting and warthogs mating.

Special bird sightings in the last month including the highly prized Pel’s Fishing Owl and endangered Wattled Crane. Ground Hornbills were sighted in the trees right at the Kwara Camp main area.

As is often the case, night drives produced sightings of interesting smaller mammals such as porcupine, serval and Small Spotted Genet. A special highlight was of a female African Wild Cat with her kitten.

Lagoon – Following the summer rains the vegetation in the Kwando area was still lush and green, meaning that general game was plentiful. The large herd of eland was still in the region and on sometimes we were lucky enough to witness these massive animals playing around and jumping. Rare sable and roan antelopes were also seen. Giraffe were plentiful and buffalo also in the area. Other general game included impala, zebra and tsessebe.  A large family of thirteen ostrich including two males and young were located, as well as a group of six Ground Hornbill. A large number of vultures were seen feeding on a zebra foal carcass. A night drive sighting of two Spotted Eagle Owls was also a highlight.

The resident pack of 17 wild dogs were seen frequently during April, sometimes hunting. On one memorable day, the pack was located in the morning, lying down and sunbathing. We decided to go back and check on them in the afternoon and were able to witness them waking up and performing their greeting ritual before setting off hunting. This interesting behaviour includes sniffing, licking, wagging tails and twittering aloud. We followed them for a little while and then decided to look for other species.

Not far from where we left the dogs we located a female leopard in a tree with a tiny cub, just a few days old. As we watched the leopard the dogs approached following an impala which they brought down and started tearing apart. A wild dog kill and a newborn leopard cub in one sighting does not happen every day! The same female leopard has been seen a few times hunting fairly close to camp.

The Wapoka pride of 6 adults and 8 cubs were located many times during April. At one point, we found the 8 larger cubs on their own whilst their mothers were away hunting. One afternoon during sundowner drinks heard we heard lions roaring, so quickly packed up and drove in the direction of the calls where we found a single female calling to locate the rest of her pride. We followed her for 5 minutes until she met her cub and then they started calling together. Eventually more and more cubs appeared until they joined up together with the rest of the pride feeding on large male kudu.

A single lioness with two cubs has been seen on a couple of occasions and has been very relaxed, playing with her offspring. One day she was seen hunting with the cubs following behind when she climbed up a tree to obtain an elevated view. The cubs followed her up and they stayed together on the tree for several minutes until one of the cubs, who was playing with the mother’s tail, lost his balance and fell down off the tree. The two resident male lions commonly seen in the area were looking well fed and one of them was seen mating with a lioness. On one occasion the two males were seen swimming across a channel when one of the lions decided to spend some time lying down in the water with just ears, eyes and nose showing, giving a rather amusing hippo impression.

The regularly seen coalition of two cheetah brothers were still in the Kwando area and we were successful tracking as they went on hunting missions.

The boat cruise from Lagoon continued to provide great hippo sightings as well as a large variety of birds such as Goliath Heron, Hadeda Ibis and African Jacana.

Breeding elephant herds were often seen near Zebra Pan and are always interesting to watch. A recent sighting included typical teenage behaviour from a young bull, mock-charging the vehicle and trying to destroy a termite mound in a display of power. A female elephant was seen trying to give birth, although sadly it appeared that the calf might be still born.

The change of seasons is definitely on the way and the night time temperatures are dropping. A special sighting at the end of the month was a lovely family of bat-eared foxes cuddling up to each other in the cool morning air.

Lebala – The predator sightings in Lebala were very good during April and we were thrilled to find a clan of Spotted Hyena choosing to den fairly near to the camp. We have been able to watch two female hyenas nursing their four cubs, with another female also joining the group.

In an exciting sighting, hyenas chased a female leopard up a tree and stole her kill. After a while, the hungry leopard realised that her hard work was in vain, so she jumped down from the tree to start hunting again. As the day got warmer she eventually gave up and climbed up onto a different tree to sleep. On another occasion, we spotted a leopard with a kill on a Leadwood Tree. It was very shy, and dropped the carcass. An opportunistic clan of hyena scrambled on the free meal whilst the leopard jumped and ran into the bush.

However, it was not all bad news for the leopards in April, some lucky guests were able to see the remarkable sight of three leopards enjoying two kills at once. In an incredible feat of strength, a female leopard had killed a kudu and taken the carcass up a tree where one of her sub-adult sons was feasting on it. The female herself and her other son were feeding on the ground on an aardvark!

An interesting sighting occurred when a female and male adult leopard were seen together. The female had been stalking impala when the male appeared. He didn’t join her in the hunt, but walked away and started to spray the bushes with scent. From their behaviour, the guides deduced that this was not a mating pair, but a chance encounter between two individuals who had stumbled across each other inside a territory.

The resident Wapoka pride were seen regularly. They have 11 cubs to feed so were hunting nearly every day. One afternoon we followed the pride hunting for about one and a half hours, and left them whilst they were still mobile. The following morning, we found them feeding on a giraffe calf, making for some rather graphic photos of the lions with blood all over their faces. The next day the same pride had managed to kill yet another giraffe. On another occasion the females had caught a warthog, however the male lion aggressively took the carcass from them and started to feed on it by himself. It was interesting to watch the rest of the pride submitting to his dominance.
The two impressive resident male lions took down a baby zebra right in front of the game viewer. After killing the foal, they took a well-earned rest and stayed sleeping for an hour before starting to eat on it. Seemingly, one of the males didn’t want his partner to feed at first but he finally allowed him to feed.

The pair of wild dogs who were first seen in the area during March were sighted again in April, so we will follow their progress with interest to see if they form a territory in the long-term.

The two resident cheetah brothers were seen mobile and hunting. On one occasion their hunting efforts were thwarted by a troop of baboons who raised the alarm and scattered the grazing game.

At this time of year the grasses are high, but there is abundant general game around the area including big herds of eland, zebra, elephant, wildebeest, tsessebe and impala, especially near the watering holes in the afternoons. One atmospheric moment was when a herd of wildebeest stampeded through a pan in the late afternoon light. During night drives bush babies were seen, as well as porcupines were seen digging for tubers and bulbs.

We had some keen birders stay with us during April and they were thrilled to tick off some new ‘lifers’ including the huge Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and White-faced ducks.

Nxai Pan – April was a very successful month for lion sightings at Nxai Pan. The resident pride consisting of two dominant males and seven lionesses were seen on just about every drive, though sometimes in smaller groups.

In the middle of the month two lionesses killed a wildebeest just fifty metres from the camp watering hole. The following morning two male lions came and took the kill from the lionesses. Guests watched as one male fed alone, aggressively pushing away his hungry partner every time he tried to come closer. That afternoon game drive continued on, but the guides decided it would be worth checking back on the lions as they returned to camp. The dominant male was still eating and the other male appeared to have given up and was sleeping in the shade. A group of buffalo then showed up and passed by a few metres from the lions. The hungry male stood up and looked at the buffalo who quickly went into the bush. The lion let them take cover but started to stealthily stalk. A few minutes later he attacked and managed to grab one young buffalo whilst the rest of the herd galloped away. Our guests watched amazed as the lion and the buffalo struggled; eventually the lion called in the other male who quickly came and took hold of the buffalo’s throat to finish the kill. Once his duty was done he surprised us by leaving the buffalo and returning back to his own wildebeest dinner. The two lions each stayed on their own kills for the next five days, providing amazing viewing very close to the camp watering hole.

The lionesses of the Nxai Pan pride were also found full-bellied and looking very healthy. Two of the females each have three new cubs and all six of the babies appeared to be doing well. At one stage in the month these small families hadn’t been seen for a while, so guides believed that they had followed the returning zebra migration, but the lionesses and cubs reappeared about 10 days later. An unusual behaviour was seen when a lioness of the Tau Pan pride was seen fighting with her sub-adult daughters. Such squabbles can happen over food, but it didn’t appear to be the case this time. Eventually one of the male lions came in to settle the dispute and restore order within the pride.

April was also a great month for cheetah sightings and these cats were encountered on almost every game drive, sometimes resting, but often in hunting mode too. Sightings became easier due to the grass has being cropped shorter by the grazers and also because the springbok herds, which the cheetah follow, moved towards the edges of the pan, thus closer to the game drive roads. A female cheetah with her cubs was spotted regularly, as well as the solitary resident male. Black-backed jackal were often seen following these cats around the pan area.

Numbers of elephants at the camp watering hole increased during the month as the natural watering holes started to dry up. Big groups of bulls spent the hottest part of the day at the watering hole, conveniently arriving at brunch time and remaining throughout the afternoon, providing great viewing for guests during siesta time. During April breeding herds also started to show up late in the afternoon to drink and then move on. Other notable visitors to the camp watering hole were a mixed herd of male and female buffalo, and a journey of giraffe who frequented regularly in the late afternoons.

General game in the area was rewarding during April. Although most of the zebra moved on with the return migration, some small herds remained as well as plentiful numbers of springbok, kudu, giraffes and wildebeest.

Bird sightings continued to be excellent, especially on the day trip to Baines Baobabs. Species seen included Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Acacia Pied Barbet and Crimson-breasted Shrike. A barn owl was seen hunting and successfully catching its dinner right in the camp main area.

Tau Pan – Although the surface water was drying up, the Tau Pan area still had good grazing following the heavy summer rains and general game was abundant, especially springbok and gemsbok. A small band of Red Hartebeest were still being seen as part of this mixed herd. Lots of jackals were found in the area and one evening guests witnessed a territorial fight between two males. Cheetah were frequently seen including a mother with two cubs.

In April, two leopards were seen frequently near to Tau Pan camp; they are believed to be a mating pair so we are hopeful of exciting new arrivals in due course. Leopards are usually solitary unless they are mating, so it was extremely special to find both male and female up in a tree together, especially in the Central Kalahari where trees are generally scarce and short! During the month, the female called a few times from camp itself during the night. Across at Phukwe Pan a different female leopard, who was very relaxed around the vehicle, was seen hunting.

In another remarkable sighting guests were watching two jackals playing together by the road when a sub adult female leopard appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. She made a high pounce onto one of the jackals, but since she did not follow up for the kill it was hard to tell whether this young leopard was trying to join in their game, or whether she was trying to chase the jackal away.

The leopards were not the only cats mating during April. An amorous pair of lions were found and we were able to watch them for 30 minutes. Although the lioness seemed quite shy and wanted to take cover in the bushes, the male had no such inhibitions and aggressively made sure that she didn’t stray off, preferring her to remain in the open.

The Tau Pan pride of five males and two females spent plenty of time near to camp where they kept a watchful look out for game coming through to the camp watering hole to drink. On one occasion, the five male lions roared right next to camp for most of the night causing much excitement for our guests. The next morning two of these lions were seen in front of camp having a drink and later, another three were heard calling by Room 9. We drove around to find them relaxed and sunning themselves by one of the roads.

The day trips yielded good sightings of cheetah, hunting lionesses and two male lions on a kill. One particular day a beautiful young leopard cub was found alone up in a tree – we suspected that its mother had gone off to hunt. Aside from the predators, the day drives allowed us to show a wide variety of species to guests including giraffes, gemsboks, springboks, wildebeest, bat-eared foxes and honey badgers.
Although the surface water was drying up, the Tau Pan area still had good grazing following the heavy summer rains and general game was abundant, especially springbok and gemsbok. A small band of Red Hartebeest were still being seen as part of this mixed herd. Lots of jackals were found in the area and one evening guests witnessed a territorial fight between two males. Cheetah were frequently seen including a mother with two cubs.

Guests were intrigued to see a Secretary Bird passing by the vehicle, followed by a Black-backed Jackal. The jackal was not hunting the bird, rather he was opportunistically seizing on insects that the long-legged raptor had disturbed. It was very interesting to see a bird and a mammal working together cooperatively in this way.

Ground squirrels and mongoose were often seen in the Phukwi Pan area during April. Guests were able to observe how these small mammals carefully checked up at the skies when popping out of their holes, and for good reason. Pale Chanting Goshawks were often calmly waiting in nearby trees for the opportunity to swoop down and take one.

Sometimes the drama of the bush plays out on a small stage. Guests were watching two perched Fork-tailed Drongos chattering to each other. Suddenly one of the drongos attacked a praying mantis. The mantis defended himself by opening his wings and elevating his body, trying to give the impression of a larger size. The insect’s aggressive posed paid off and the bird left him alone to fight another day.

März 2017

Kwara Concession – A frequently seen female cheetah with her three cubs continued to be a highlight during March. This particular animal has always been relaxed and now it seems that her cubs have picked up on her confidence, using our vehicles for their games of hide and seek, to the delight of the guests. This entertaining family were often found in the Bat Eared Fox Den area where the female was successfully killing impalas, one after the other. Mostly the cubs accompanied her, but we noticed that sometimes she tired of their distracting play and left them behind so that she could get on with the serious job of hunting without them disturbing the prey. On one occasion this family group were seen wading through the flood water – in the Okavango Delta even the cats have to get their paws wet from time to time. A male cheetah, in great condition, was also been found in the area.

Lions were tracked and successfully located most days during March. On one occasion, the guide and tracker had picked up the tracks of 2 females and 4 cubs on the road. They followed the tracks and located the group whilst on foot only to find that they themselves were being tracked – by the young cubs who were making a playful attempt to stalk them. On a different day, a guide and his guests heard a troop of baboon making alarm calls. Upon following up, they found a lioness in the thickets who was killing a big male baboon. She then left the kill and ran to fetch her two shy cubs who seemed rather alarmed when they came face to face with this particular meal. Lions were also seen hunting red lechwe and zebra several times, the most spectacular chase included a stampede and hunt through the floodwater.

Leopards were seen very regularly, often enjoying cooling breezes as they rested on the branches of Marula or Sausage Trees. One beautiful female was very regularly sighted in and around Little Kwara camp where she seemed to have her eye on our resident herd of impala. Towards the end of the month a female leopard was tracked for over an hour, but patience was rewarded and she was located resting up on a sausage tree. Guests were offered very good photographic opportunities as she jumped from one branch to another scanning for prey species. Another lucky group of guests encountered a leopard at the airstrip as they were being collected from their flight, setting the bar very high for the rest of their stay at Kwara.

Wild dogs were seen many times, sometimes on the move or playing, other times looking full-bellied and sleepy. One of the best sightings in March was an incredible morning spent on one of the islands where seven wild dogs were found feeding on a kudu kill. The pack was being nervously watched by a large male leopard who had taken refuge in a nearby tree. We stayed with this intriguing scene for some time and eventually, after the dogs had eaten their fill and moved off, the leopard gingerly came down from the tree to eat the leftovers. On a different drive the wild dogs left their carcass to a small pride of lions.

General game in the Kwara area was abundant including giraffe in groups of up to seventeen. Large breeding herds of elephants have starting coming through the concession and there are plentiful numbers of zebra, tsessebe, wildebeest, reedbuck, red lechwe and impala.

The boat trips from Kwara continue to be rewarding. Hippos and large basking crocodiles are often seen, lucky guests may also have the chance to spot the elusive sitatunga antelope. On one cruise this month no less than five of these rare animals were seen at different points of the trip. The heronry is very busy at this time of year; before the winter season the chicks will be independent. Regular sightings included Pink-backed Pelicans, Black-crowned Night Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, egrets and weavers. Fish Eagles are often hanging around watching for the opportunity to steal a nestling from the island.

Lagoon – We are happy to report that the two sub-adult cheetah brothers who left their mother earlier this year are going from strength to strength and appear to be very successful hunters. During March, we were able to follow them on hunts and witnessed them bringing down young zebras and impalas.

The Wapoka Pride of 14 lions were spotted regularly – this large pride comprising of 6 adults and 8 bouncy sub-adults are always entertaining to watch and photograph. The two dominant males in the area known as ‘Big Gun’ and ‘Sebastian’ were also seen regularly eating, sleeping or sniffing after the females. Towards the end of the month the Northern Pride were also seen in the area, with one exceptional sighting as the lions clambered up onto a dead tree, posing in perfect light. A lone lioness was successfully tracked. She appeared to be in hunting mode, so we stayed with her and in the end, she was successful in killing a warthog after an exciting chase.

The general game in the Kwando area was excellent with herds of giraffe, eland, impala, tsessebe, kudu and, wildebeest all being seen regularly. It is always interesting to revisit the same groups and observe how the behaviour of the animals can change from day to day. One overcast morning a large mixed group of zebra and tssessebe was found skittishly racing up and down Baruti Road for no apparent reason. The following day they were in the same area, lying down very relaxed in the sun. Each sighting produces a unique experience and different photographic opportunity. A successful game walk also located the herd of around 80 eland on foot, as well as a wealth of bird species.

Large breeding herds of elephants were seen in the woodland areas, feeding on different plant materials. Hippos were seen in outlying pans as well as in the river area.

Troops of baboons were often seen foraging and interacting with each other. Watching mothers nursing babies, youngsters romping or adults engaging in grooming rituals is always interesting.
Leopard were seen a few times. A persistent morning tracking paid off when a female was found relaxed and in hunting mode. Our guests were able to spend good time with her which they really appreciated.

Wild dogs and hyena were not seen as often as usual in the area for much of March, however towards the end of the month they seemed to return to some of their usual favourite spots, so hopefully we will be seeing more of them again during April.

Some notable sightings of smaller mammals sighted during night drive included honey badger and African wild cat.

The boat cruise from Lagoon camp always gives good opportunities to get close up sightings of hippos and crocodiles, as well as water birds such as cormorants, darters, herons, egrets, ibis and other waders. The aptly-named Goliath Heron, standing up to 5 feet (1 metre 50) tall was a popular favourite.  Lechwes, kudus and waterbucks were often seen in the marshes during March. Beautiful white water lillies are out in full bloom and it is a treat to try and photograph African Jacanas amongst the flowers, stalking across the lily pads with their specially adapted long toes.

Lebala – The guides were excited to find a set of small new prints when tracking the Wapoka Pride this month and sure enough, when they located the lions, there was a new cub of about 8 weeks old playing with a sub-adult. It is always a joy to see new life in our concessions. The mother and cub have also been seen apart from the pride, so it seems that she is managing her baby’s integration into family life slowly.

The large Northern Pride of lions were sighted regularly. On one memorable afternoon the adult lions lay resting whilst the 10 sub-adults played endlessly, climbing up fallen logs and pouncing on each other, to the great entertainment of the guests. Two male lions were also seen regularly, often full-bellied and sleepy, but were also seen in hunting mode stalking a big herd of wildebeest at the airstrip.

General game in the Kwando area continued to be very good and the impressive herd of over 80 eland was still in the area. Both sexes of the eland have horns, and we can already see that the twenty or so calves born this year are starting to grow theirs. Other species regularly seen included sable antelope, zebra, wildebeest, impala and warthog.

One rather notable sighting was when we found a hyena being chased by a large wildebeest bull on the airstrip – it is always rather amusing to witness the hunter turning tail and becoming the hunted.
The resident pack of wild dogs, consisting of 19 adults and 9 young were found eating a young male impala. The guides were also intrigued to follow a smaller group of two male and two female wild dogs who appeared in the area near Twin Pools. Time will tell if this a transient group or whether they will attempt to stay in the area and form a territory of their own.

A dead hippo was relished by the scavenging ‘clean-up crew’. Up to eight hyena at a time were seen feeding on this feast, as well as many vultures. The most common vulture in the Kwando area is the White-backed Vulture, however Lappet-faced, Hooded and White-headed Vultures can also be seen in the region.

Leopards were seen a few times, including a female with two sub-adult cubs. One day they were all found up a tree feeding on an impala kill, the following day the carcass had dropped to the ground where the two youngsters were enjoying finishing it off whilst their absent mother was no doubt hunting for their next meal. Towards the end of the month some guests were able to enjoy a wonderful photo opportunity of a leopard perched on top of a termite mound, staring intently at a herd of antelope.

Other smaller animals enjoyed by guests during the month were dwarf mongoose, African wild cats, honey badgers and occasionally a python basking in the sun.

The bird life in the Kwando area continued to be rewarding and some migrants who appeared included White Storks and White Storks, European Bee-eaters. One night drive gave a wonderful sighting of a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl.

Nxai Pan – Prize for sighting of the month across all the Kwando camps surely had to go to the surprise arrival of two hippos at the Nxai Pan watering hole. To find these highly water-dependant animals in a (normally) semi-arid desert environment is testament to the incredible rains throughout Botswana that the early part of 2017 will be remembered for. Bearing in mind that Nxai Pan is hundreds of kilometres from the nearest permanent river, these two animals must have had quite a journey, stopping at rain-filled pans and natural watering holes along the way. Many of our Kalahari-born staff had never seen a hippo before, so the arrival of these large, strange creatures caused great excitement. The bushman tracker was initially perplexed when he initially spotted the tracks, having never seen such a creature in the area before. Even when the guide identified the footprints there was a good deal of disbelief at the thought of desert-dwelling hippos. The animals stayed around for a couple of days before they headed off to their next destination. Now that the weather is drying up again we hope that they reach the safety of a permanent river soon.

The camp watering hole was a popular spot for a wide range of species during March. A bachelor herd of six buffalo bulls were regularly seen, and two big breeding herds of buffalo used the watering hole before continuing on to the southern area of the pan. Elephant bulls showed up at brunch-time each day to drink and bathe. A large breeding herd of elephants also returned to the area, coming for water before disappearing into the bush.  In the afternoons, zebra came to drink in massive numbers, as well as wildebeest, springbok and many giraffes.

With so many animals congregating in the region it is no surprise that predators were seen regularly. The resident lion pride of seven sisters and two dominant males were seen almost every day last month. The two males were mating with one of the lionesses for a week. Two separate lionesses showed off their 3 cubs during March, each family having two females and a male cub.  These six cubs are all about 8 weeks old and were hidden in safety during their most vulnerable stage. A group of lucky guests were able to witness one of these lionesses moving her cubs to a new den site, carrying one in her mouth with the other two following behind. It appears that some of the other females of the pride are also pregnant, so we hope to have a very sizable pride at Nxai Pan soon.

This baby boom is not restricted to the lions. A female cheetah was seen with brand new cubs. Towards the end of the month cheetah were seen on every single drive. The regularly- seen mother cheetah with her two sub-adult cubs were making the most of the congregations of springbok in the middle of the pan and were in excellent condition. There was also a single male cheetah in the area who appeared to be doing well.

Bird watching was at its best during March, with many sightings of eagles, hawks and kestrels. There were lots of Kori Bustard in the area and ostriches with chicks in the Pan.  Summer migrants included both Blue-cheeked and Southern Carmine Bee-eaters. Due to the abundant rain, waterbirds such as Abdim’s, Yellow-billed and Saddle-billed Storks were unusually in the area. A Spotted Eagle Owl was seen many times returning from evening game drive.

Guests making the day trip to Baines Baobabs were rewarded with spectacular view of the pans which were filled with water. The birdlife was incredible and oryx were resident in large numbers.

As always, our guides were keen to show guests a wide range of wildlife species and other notable sightings during March included honey badgers, black-backed jackals and bat-eared foxes. Basking snakes included black mambas and a rock python. A small spotted genet was sometimes encountered in the evening on the walkway when taking guests to their rooms.

Tau Pan – The impressive Tau Pan pride were seen almost daily during March. They were mainly found towards the Pan area where there was the highest concentration of game and were often seen stalking oryx.

Loewen in der Zentralkalahari

Seven lions, two lionesses and five males were seen finishing off an oryx carcass, apparently killed the previous night. They were surrounded by group of 13 jackals who were impatiently waiting for their turn, working together to try and make bold snatches at the kill whenever the opportunity arose. The lions became extremely irritated, chasing the jackals away repeatedly. Our guests were able to witness this spectacle for over 45 minutes, until eventually the lions moved off leaving just the skull and spine for the jackals and some waiting vultures to tussle over.

On another occasion, a guide called his guests through to the main area early as the pride had killed an oryx and were feeding right in front of camp.  One evening, a large male lion was seen chasing a single oryx for over a kilometre all the way from the open plain into an area of thick vegetation.

As often seems to be the case with this dynamic pride, the number of individuals ranged considerably, but usually they were seen in groups of a range between four and eight. One of our guides’ interest was aroused when he found a lioness on her own, having already seen the rest of the pride together earlier in the drive. He followed this single female and sure enough his intuitive reading of her behaviour was correct; his guests were lucky enough to see her tenderly reunite with her tiny cub of just one month old and pick the cub up in her mouth.

Leopards were seen a few times, including one on a springbok kill at San Pan, and another posing beautifully up a tree. Cheetah were not seen often during the early part of the month, but were being picked up much more regularly during the last two weeks, including a female with two cubs.

In an interesting drive on the return from San Pan 2 jackals killing an adult springbok. The antelope appeared to be nursing a previous wound and thus could not run away.

A rather skittish Brown Hyena was spotted; though highly mobile and shy it was wonderful to see this threatened species. There were also some fabulous sightings of the smaller predators during March including a very relaxed Cape Fox close to the road. This is a beautiful silver-grey fox with a yellow belly and a black tip to its tail.

A caracal was also seen nonchalantly walking along one of the roads. These medium-sized cats with beautiful tufted ears are always a treat to see.

Oryx and springbok were in plentiful numbers in the Pan area and appeared to be enjoying the new shoots of the grasses. A small group of 3-4 red hartebeest was also seen as part of this mixed herd.  Springboks congregated in large number and were often seen running spontaneously and ‘pronking’. Giraffe were found in the Tau Pan browsing on Acacia trees and in large numbers at San Pan on top of the sand ridge.

There was still lots of birdlife in the pan during March, many water species such as Saddle-billed Storks were attracted to the large puddles of water which remained after the rains. Southern Pale Chanting Goshawks were numerous in the area. These elegant grey raptors have a varied diet of rodents, lizards and insects; this month one individual was seen feeding on a juvenile African Rock Python. Other notable birds of prey seen during March were Tawny Eagles, Bateleur eagles, Blac-shouldered Kites, Amur Falcons and Lanner Falcons.

Februar 2017

Kwara Concession – Once again Kwara lived up to its reputation for fantastic game viewing. For every single day of the month Kwando guides were able to find at least two predator sightings.

A male leopard was found highly mobile and seemingly defensive of his territory on the Shinde Main Road. He was calling, scent marking and sniffing as though another male had passed by. A different leopard gave guests a chance for great action shots as he gracefully leapt down from a tree.

One of the most underrated activities on safari is ‘staying in camp’ and sometimes those who choose to snooze can get very lucky. Such was the case at Kwara camp in February when two sets of guests had decided to take it easy one morning, only to be alerted by the management team that a leopard had killed a reedbuck in camp and hauled its prize up the sausage tree near to the guide tent. A smaller leopard was found circling the base of the tree. The in-camp guests were accompanied on foot so that they could photograph this spectacle and the game viewers on drive hastily beat a retreat to Kwara so that no-one missed out on the action. In the end, they needn’t have hurried. The leopard returned to the tree on and off for two whole days. In the end, the leopard lost interest in the now rather ‘ripe’ carcass, so it was relocated to the plains where no doubt finished off by the scavenger clean-up crew of vultures, jackal, hyena and many smaller birds and mammals.

The airstrip also delivered some exciting sightings of leopard and hyena, proving that you need to keep your eyes wide open from the minute that you land at Kwara, all the way until you board your return flight. The hyenas were feeding on a reedbuck that they had taken from the leopard. The next day a leopard was found in the area again with a fresh kill.

Lions were seen almost daily. The three females were seen with two of the Zulu boys. We followed them on a hunting expedition, but in the end their enthusiasm ran out and we left them sleeping. The Mma Mogata Pride were spotted hunting zebra but the cubs seemed a little nervous to get close to the action and in the end the zebra escaped unscathed. On another occasion a large male lion was found feasting on a zebra.

Across at Four Rivers, wild dogs were found hunting. They were successful in bringing down a young impala which was quickly devoured but apparently the dogs regarded this small lamb as being little more than an aperitif and they continued to look for larger prey that could satisfy the whole pack. It is always special to see two different species interacting so it was a thrilling to see a clan of hyenas baiting a wild dog pack as they tried in vain to rest in the long grass. Eventually the dogs gave up their attempted siesta and moved off.

A female cheetah and her three cubs has continued to delight the Kwara guests. She has been successful with her hunting missions and on one occasion, having satiated her own appetite with an impala, was very relaxed as her cubs playing around with the carcass. A few days later she was spotted having brought down a reedbuck. With three mouths to feed she needs to be a busy mum and it is great to see that her hunts are being successful. Male cheetah were also seen full-bellied so it appears that February was a successful month for these cats.

Elephants were often seen in the area feeding, and occasionally in camp too, whilst abundant general game included giraffe, zebra, kudu, tsessebe, waterbuck, reedbuck, red lechwe and impala.

Summer migrant bird species seen at Kwara during February included European Rollers, Broad-billed Rollers, European Bee-eaters and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters.

Keen birders were happy to see summer migrants in abundance. The trilling call of the Woodland Kingfisher was an integral part of the camp ambience during January.  Other migrants seen during January in Kwara included Ruffs, Abdim’s Storks, Carmine bee-eaters and Steppe Buzzards.

Lagoon – Currently there is a very majestic and impressive herd of over 100 eland moving around the woodland area with a similar sized group of zebra. Eland are the largest of the African antelope species, reaching 1.6 metres at the shoulder. It has been incredible to see these striking animals in such large numbers.

A persistent follow-up by a Kwando guide and tracker was rewarded when they followed lion tracks  and found the Southern pride of 7 adults and 10 cubs resting after a successful eland kill. A few days later we were able to follow this large pride for an hour whilst they were hunting, before they rested under some shady Kalahari Apple-leaf trees. Although looking hungry they were extremely relaxed and guests were able to get some wonderful pictures. Towards the end of the month two male lions were found on an eland kill and a single male eating a zebra.

Part of the excitement of safari is the unpredictability of sightings. Even after you have waved goodbye to the camp staff and are on your way to fly home it pays to keep your eyes peeled. Such was the case for some lucky guests in February who came across the Lagoon pack of 18 wild dogs on their way to the airstrip to meet their plane. The dogs had just killed a kudu and were feeding on the fresh carcass. The next morning the pack were found just a few metres from camp, close to Room 9. The guests were able to stay with them for a long while and witnessed them regurgitating food for their pups. The dogs then moved off to hunt again and our vehicle was able to follow them as they tried to catch an impala.

The two subadult brother cheetahs who recently left their mother appear to be fending very well by themselves and were seen feeding on an impala in a relaxed fashion. Later in the month they were spotted sitting up on a termite mound, we stayed with them for a while, allowing plenty of time to get great photographs. All of a sudden, a group of zebra appeared and the cheetahs sprang into action managing to take down a foal. A brave kill for these opportunistic young brothers and a wonderful surprise for our thrilled guests.

Lions were seen frequently during February. The Northern pride of 2 males and 2 females and 3 cubs were seen interacting with elephants at Maheke Pans. The elephants successfully chased the lions from the waterhole.

About 10 minutes from camp leopard tracks were picked up and followed to find a female in hunting mode though she didn’t make a kill. Eventually she gave up and settled on a termite mound where guests were able to get some great photographs.

Hippos are congregating in large numbers on the Kwando River and guests are enjoying seeing them on the boat cruise. Many crocodiles have been seen from the boat, as well as large herds of impala and red lechwe. Guests have enjoyed the chance to get great close up shots of aquatic birds including darters, cormorants, Goliath Heron, African Jacana. African Fish Eagles are often seen perching on dead branches along the river.

Our guides have been surprised at the high population of elephants who have remained in the Kwando riverine area this rainy season. Often they move off deeper into the woodlands at this time of year, but there are a plenty of elephants who have decided to stay in the wetlands this year.

Lebala – The resident pack of 19 wild dogs were seen hunting on several occasions. At one point they were running all over the airstrip chasing impala when they came across a jackal and chased him into the waiting room. Fiercely, the little jackal stood his ground against the dogs, much bigger in size and number. To everyone’s surprise the dogs backed down and let him wander away.

The next day the dogs were once again hunting at the airstrip, but this time chanced upon a hyena. This time they were not so merciful and ganged up on the hyena attacking her until she came running and hid straight underneath one of the game viewers! Eventually the wild dogs moved on and she was able to come out from under the vehicle and the game drive could continue. An incredible sighting for our guests.

Botswana Safari Info Wildhunde

Kwando guide and tracker teams successfully found the resident pride of 7 adults lions and 10 cubs on numerous occasions in February. At the start of the month the lions did not appear to be very successful in their hunts and at one stage all looked very hungry. Towards the end of the month their luck picked up and we found them having gorged to bursting point on a baby giraffe.

The familiar males of the Northern Pride, known to the guides as Old Gun and Sebastian were seen checking out a lioness. By grimacing in a particular way (known as the ‘flehmen’ response) they were using an organ located behind their palate to test her urine for hormones that would let them know if she was coming into oestrus.

Guests enjoyed a relaxed sighting of a beautiful female leopard who is resident in the area. Frequently-sighted were two sub-adult cheetah males who are forming a territory and getting more habituated to the safari vehicles as they grow in confidence.

There are still large breeding herds of elephants in the Lebala region as well as solitary bulls. This is a change to previous years when elephant numbers have been less during the rainy season.

The watering holes have been extremely productive and are currently the best place to spot hippos, many of whom who have moved out of the riverine area to enjoy fresh grazing further afield. There are large congregations of zebra, eland and wildebeest with young at foot coming to drink in the afternoons.

Birding in the Lebala area is excellent at the current time. Summer migrants in the area include Thick-billed Rollers, Carmine Bee-eaters and Wahlberg’s Eagles.

Our guides have enjoyed taking bush walks, allowing guests the opportunity for great bird photography including close sightings of Saddle-billed Storks and Tawny Eagles and Egyptian Geese with babies. Black-backed and Side-striped jackals were also seen on these excursions.

We have had reports of dramatically beautiful sunsets at Lebala during February. The late summer sun has combined with thundery skies to produce the most astounding colours.

Nxai Pan – The whole of Botswana has experienced a bountiful rainy season and the Nxai Pan area was no exception. The pans have filled with water, attracting some species that would never usually be seen area. For instance, a breeding herd of buffalo with their calves who came to drink at the camp watering hole. Buffalo are highly water-dependent, so this is not a species that you would normally associate with the desert – proof that 2017 has been an extraordinary year for rains and foliage growth. In fact, there has been so much water in Nxai Pan that wading birds have even appeared including White Storks, Wooly-Necked Storks, Abdim’s Storks and Hamerkops.

From the start of February the numbers of zebras dramatically increased to a point where thousands of zebras were being seen all the way from the camp to the pans, travelling in large groups. At this point the migration is at its peak; guests sitting in the main area or enjoying siesta time in their rooms are treated to the spectacle of massed herds of zebra and wildebeest grazing and drinking from the camp watering hole. There are large numbers of babies within the herds. We have seen a number of zebra with big wounds that could well be from lion attacks.

Indeed, the resident pride of lions has been seen often in the area, the abundant food supply keeping them in close proximity to the zebra herds. During February, lions were heard calling nearly every day, sometimes close to camp. At the moment, the pride numbers seven lionesses with two dominant males. Two of the females are showing signs that they are nursing so we are hoping to get a glimpse of their cubs soon. They are always found in the same area, near to an island, so we think that they are hiding their cubs away from threats, including other male lions. Despite travelling in large herds for protection some zebra inevitably fall prey to the lions and it is not surprising that the lions were usually seen full-bellied or on kills given the availability of game. The collared male was seen mating with a young lioness of about 3 years.

The springbok herds have had their lambs and are concentrated towards the centre of the pans where the wide-open areas give them good visibility to spot predators. A female cheetah with two cubs is still frequently seen in the pan area, as well as two solitary males.

New journeys of giraffe are also arriving, with up to 15 being seen at a time, many with young babies.

A number of guests cited the trip to Baines Baobabs as being the highlight of their stay during February. The pan is full of water and spectacular herds numbering hundreds of oryx have been found near to the famous baobab trees. Other species seen in that area were red hartebeest, springbok and warthogs. Leopard tracks were also spotted by our keen-eyed tracker, although the cat itself proved elusive.

A few bull elephants have been visiting the pan area, but their densities are very much less than in the peak of the dry season and for now they seem content with the natural water available in the park. No doubt they will return en-masse to the camp watering hole (and occasionally the swimming pool) once the weather starts to dry up.

Honey badgers have been spotted and guests particularly enjoyed a spectacular sighting of different bat-eared fox families, including cubs, interacting near camp. Black-backed jackals are frequently seen.

The annual zebra migration brings thousands of animals into the area. While some zebras have migrated with their small foals, others are being born on the Nxai Pan plains. One of the most incredible things about a new born foal is the gangly length of their legs. A foals is born with such long legs that when it stands next to its mother its under belly is just about the same height as its mothers under belly. This, coupled with the disruptive colouration of the zebra stripes makes it incredibly difficult for a predator to target the young during an attack. It is easy to see why a group of zebras is sometimes called a ‘dazzle’.

The birdlife at Nxai Pan has also been very rewarding with plentiful sightings of Adbim’s Stork, Pale Chanting Goshawks, Yellow-billed Kites, Carmine Bee-eaters and Open-billed Storks. Nxai Pan is also home to the Kori Bustard, the largest flying bird in the world and the national bird of Botswana.

Tau Pan – Big herds of general game were congregated at the pan area. The palatable grasses in the pan provide nursing mothers with good nourishment for their milk production which is vital at this time of year when the lambs and calves are feeding hungrily. The wide, open vistas of the pan mean that many grazer species can be viewed at the same time including springbok, zebra, wildebeest and oryx. One evening a dramatic fight between two male oryx was witnessed as they went head to head with their long, pointed horns. On this occasion the intruder only suffered wounded pride before he was successfully chased off. On another occasion guests chuckled at an oryx walking around wearing a ‘hat’, having got a substantial bush hooked onto his horns. Maybe the fashion will catch on?

The Tau Pan pride was seen on a regular basis, generally there were 4 male lions accompanying the 2 lionesses although sometimes the pride was as large as 9. Some brawling was spotted between the male pride members so it will be interesting to see how the hierarchy of this pride plays out over the coming months. A pair of lions was found mating over a two-day period; this appears to have been a very active mating season for the Tau Pan lions, so we look forward to the patter of tiny paws in due course. Oryx seemed to be a popular menu choice for the lions in the area this month; the Tau Pan pride were found hunting these large desert antelope, stalking them through the long grasses. The following morning a different pride were discovered feasting on an oryx that they had killed along the road to Passarge Valley. This substantial kill was enjoyed by the pride for 3 days.

A frequently-seen resident female cheetah was spotted attempting to hunt in the Tau Pan area, unfortunately her youngster hindered rather than helped so the prey escaped. Across at San Pan the young cheetah family consisting of mother and two cubs seemed to be faring a little better and they were found full-bellied and in great condition. Cheetah were seen regularly on the day trips to Passarge Valley, some sightings being extremely close to the road. On one occasion a male cheetah was seen showing great interest in a young springbok, unfortunately the long grasses meant that we were unable to see how that particular hunt played out in the end.

On a different trip to Passarge Valley a large male leopard was found walking along the road although he was a little skittish. Later the same day a sub-adult was found up on a branch and was relaxed enough for great photos. To top off a great ‘cat’ day, a caracal was found hunting although on this occasion he was unlucky.

All in all, February was a great month for cat sightings. Another beautifully relaxed leopard was found treed-up in a picture-perfect Umbrella-thorn Acacia in the Tau Pan area. Guests were also happy to see the usually shy African Wild Cats in broad daylight.

Giraffe bulls were also seen fighting near Phukwe Pan, using their long necks as leverage to land blows on each other with their horns (or more correctly ‘ossicones’). The contestants will try to dodge each other’s blows and then get ready to counter. This behaviour is known as ‘necking’ and is used to establish dominance The rest of the journey seemed relaxed as they browsed acacia trees before elegantly walking off into the bush.

Many bird species are also in full breeding season and it is great to hear that Secretary Birds have been found nesting. Both male and female Secretary Birds visit a nest site for almost half a year before egg-laying takes place, incubation is approximately 45 days and then it will be a further couple of months before the chicks fledge, so we look forward to enjoying this family’s progress for some time to come.

Januar 2017

Kwara Concession – Although the general game sightings were spectacular; the predators once again stole the limelight at Kwara. Carnivores were seen every day during January with lions in particular being sighted very regularly.

The greatest excitement of the month came when a male lion and three females appeared in front of Little Kwara camp during high tea.  Camp was abuzz as the guides quickly gathered their guests into the game viewers and followed the three females and a single male.  The beasts walked towards the main Kwara camp where they surprised a warthog with three piglets. The lions chased the piglets through the camp, finally one was taken down between the kitchen and room three and the other two were caught in front of the Kwara main area. An incredible sighting!

The wild dogs also made several appearances around camps. Firstly, they killed an impala fawn in front of Kwara camp, this scene was not quite as dramatic as the lions though.  On the second occasion the dogs passed by the front of both camps and were clearly hunting as they were moving very quickly.  Thirdly, the dogs managed to kill an impala behind the Kwara staff village.  On yet another occasion the dogs killed an impala fawn behind the staff village; proof that sometimes the action comes to you.

Leopards mark territory by scent-marking and calling, especially after a significant rainfall as has been the case.  Two male leopards were found in fierce a clash over territory. This altercation resulted in one of the leopards being badly injured.  Aggressive encounters have been observed on many occasions between male leopards, with death being the ultimate outcome for some; thankfully this time they parted ways, licking their wounds.

The cheetahs were all fat-bellied and clearly successful in their quests for food, except one male cheetah who had successfully killed a large reedbuck only to have his entire meal stolen by the lions. On another occasion a large male cheetah killed a female reedbuck right in front of the game drive vehicle; it was a spectacular chase and successful capture this time as there were no lazy lions around to steal his meal.

The hyenas have successfully bred cubs and it is a treat to be able to see them playing around their den area.

Keen birders were happy to see summer migrants in abundance. The trilling call of the Woodland Kingfisher was an integral part of the camp ambience during January.  Other migrants seen during January in Kwara included Ruffs, Abdim’s Storks, Carmine bee-eaters and Steppe Buzzards.

Lagoon – The month brought dramatic storms dousing the region with much needed relief from the previous year’s dry spell. The resulting verdant green growth contrasted with dark thunder clouds on the horizon and was highlighted by sunbeams to provide some of the most extraordinary light for photography.
Pairs of lions were seen mating on several occasions. Monogamy is out of the window here – females will mate with more than one suitor and, since there’s no specific breeding period, lions mate several times a year. A mating marathon can involve twenty to forty romps a day. At most of these sightings there were 2 male lions present along with one female. One of the lions seemed fairly bored as he waited for his turn. The resident male lions known as Old Gun and Sebastian have been found feeding on large game species including giraffe and eland. The pride of 15 lions (7 adults and 8 cubs) were tracked successfully on a number of occasions. The adults have to kill often to support their big family and seem to be successful, with zebra apparently being the menu of choice at the moment.

Wild dogs were spotted hunting several times however very few kills were witnessed. Their prey seemed to outwit them on numerous occasions. However the dogs were not completely unsuccessful and after some persistent tracking we were able to locate the pack feeding on an impala.

Leopard sightings were less frequent during January, but one morning was particularly prolific with two separate females found hunting and then later one up in a tree.

The cheetah in the region experienced some change as two young males have now separated from their mother. Male cheetahs are social, usually living in small coalitions and often with their brothers. Now that these two are old enough to fend for themselves they have left their mother and gone out into the world as a team. So far they seem to have hunting successfully and were seen frequently looking in great condition.

Unusually large herds of eland were seen on a regular basis as well as relaxed sightings of the usually shy roan antelope.

Other general game sightings included zebra, tsessebe, giraffes, red lechwe and impala. Elephant numbers appear to be on the increase.

Guests were also thrilled to see some close-up sightings of bat-eared foxes, including a large group of 13.

Birding is fantastic at the moment with many summer migrants in the area. Guests have been particularly pleased with sightings of endangered species such as Slaty Egret, Ground Hornbill and Wattled Crane.

Lebala – Predators dominated the scene at Lebala in January and amazing sightings of hunts and kills were seen regularly.

An adult eland bull, the largest of all the antelopes, can weigh in at almost one ton. A smaller pride of two females and four cubs were observed gorging on this feast for the best part of a day. This large kill attracted different species of vultures; all of the Southern African vulture species are increasingly endangered so it is exciting to see them being so successful in the Kwando area.

The following day it was the hyenas’ turn to strip the carcass of all that was left. A clan had plenty to eat despite the crowds that had filled their bellies the previous day and night. The alpha female hyena clearly had her own mouths to feed and continually chased her subordinates off the carcass to ensure that she could provide for her young.

Two sub-adult cheetah were seen trying to stalk an impala, although on that occasion their prey got wind of their scent and bounded away.

A female leopard posed beautifully on a tree for some time before clambering down to start her evening hunting mission. The guides were able to follow her for a good while before she disappeared into the thicket.

The resident lion prides have cubs and need to feed their young regularly.  The larger the kill the more food it provides and the less the adults need to hunt.

Towards the end of the month the two large males from the Southern (Wapoka) Pride were seen following the 5 lionesses and 10 cubs from the Northern Pride. This was potentially a very dangerous situation for the cubs as male lions have been known to practice infanticide, killing cubs sired by other males. The lionesses reacted instinctively to protect their young. As the three larger females defended their positions, the other two females started to lead the cubs away from the scene. As this was happening the three large lionesses ran in a different direction leading the two males away from the cubs. This was a simple yet effective strategy.

Lebala und Lagoon sind in Botswana immer sehr gut für Wildhunde.

Wild dogs were located in the area and guests were able to enjoy seeing them finish off an impala carcass. The general game this month was great as the rains brought an abundance of leafy growth. There were lots of giraffes, kudus, impalas, wildebeest and zebras. Particularly special antelope sightings included eland, roan and sable.

The water birds were noticeably more abundant with many storks, herons, egrets and plovers seen wading through the wet lands in search of food. Guests were delighted when their guide spotted a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl hidden in plain sight as it was well camouflaged against the bark of a tree. This beautiful bird (and largest species of owl on the African continent) lazily batted its pink eyelids for the cameras.

Nxai Pan – At the beginning of the month huge numbers of elephants occupied the waterhole as they took aggressive turns quenching their thirst. As the heavy showers increased mid-month the herds around the waterhole decreased to the point where it was no longer necessary to fight for a drink. Then towards the end of the month after ample rainfall there wasn’t an elephant in sight. They had temporarily moved off to areas where they knew they could get food and water without competition.

December is an interesting month at Nxai Pan. As elephants move out of the area large herds of browsers and grazers move in. In the open plains journeys of giraffe could be seen as they arrived to strip the acacia trees of their vibrant green new growth.

Two large male lions are still dominating the area. Lions were seen nearly every day and a pair was found mating at the wildlife water hole. Five of the seven lionesses are expecting cubs and we hope they will give birth by about mid-January.

Cheetah have also been spotted on nearly every game drive. A mother and her two cubs were regularly spotted hunting and feeding near the wildlife waterhole. A new young male cheetah has also been appeared in the area. These agile cats have taken full advantage of the large herds of springbok that have arrived with the zebra migration.

The annual zebra migration brings thousands of animals into the area. While some zebras have migrated with their small foals, others are being born on the Nxai Pan plains. One of the most incredible things about a new born foal is the gangly length of their legs. A foals is born with such long legs that when it stands next to its mother its under belly is just about the same height as its mothers under belly. This, coupled with the disruptive colouration of the zebra stripes makes it incredibly difficult for a predator to target the young during an attack. It is easy to see why a group of zebras is sometimes called a ‘dazzle’.

The birdlife at Nxai Pan has also been very rewarding with plentiful sightings of Adbim’s Stork, Pale Chanting Goshawks, Yellow-billed Kites, Carmine Bee-eaters and Open-billed Storks. Nxai Pan is also home to the Kori Bustard, the largest flying bird in the world and the national bird of Botswana.

Tau Pan – It is a privilege to witness a thunderstorm in the desert. The dark, heavy thunderclouds roll over the pans dramatically. The streaks of lightening are followed by deep rumblings of thunder that somehow bring serenity to the open plains. The rains have brought an abundance of green grass and foliage. The general game has been spectacular; which means plenty to eat for the predators; and eat they did!

In one of the more unusual sightings of the month a female oryx stood distressed as black-backed jackals and vultures tussled over the remains of her new-born calf, even engaging in tug of war at one stage. In the end the mother seem to resign herself to the fate of her baby and gave way to the scavengers. She then proceeded to eat the placenta; this behaviour, known as placentophagy, might seem unusual in a herbivore but is common in the animal world. The placenta contains high levels of hormones which help the female’s uterus to contract and also stimulate milk production. It is also thought that removing the placenta in this way hides the smell of the birth from predators, though sadly on this occasion it was too late.

Another interesting sighting was of a mother cheetah providing an opportunity for her cubs to learn how to hunt.  The adult female caught a baby springbok but purposefully did not kill the fawn. She left her cubs to practice catching their prey and releasing it and catching it again.  This is a ritual that these young predators will be practicing over and over until they have mastered the hunting technique.

The cheetah in the area have been very active and several different groups were seen during January. A single male who is new to the area was seen as he attempted a hunt but was unsuccessful; it is unclear whether he will take up residence or will just be passing through.  A coalition of 3 cheetahs was seen resting at San Pan.  A springbok unknowingly walked not far from them, however the cheetahs were caught unawares and the springbok escaped.

The two males who had previously been dubbed as intruders have now been accepted by the Tau Pan Pride and are now being referred to as being part of the resident pride.  Having been absent from the area for some time, the pride has returned to the Pan area and has had numerous successful hunts.  The five males seemed to have formed a fairly large coalition and it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops.

Birds were also in hunting mode. Tawny eagles were seen ominously perched in tall trees near the springbok herds, looking out for the opportunity to steal a new born lamb. The heavy rains means that the pans are filling and attracting wetland species that would not usually be seen in this desert environment including cormorants, teal and even the prized sighting of a rare slaty egret!