Monday, 12 April 2010

Botswana in March,Here is a sighting report from the camps we use on our Five Rivers Safari

Here is a sighting report from the camps we use on our Five Rivers Safari.
Even in the green season Botswana is special. Contact Tony for more info on when and where to visit Botswana.

A great month of game viewing on the savannahs of Lebala has yielded excellent predator viewing for our guests. A large variety of plains games species Is providing ample food for our resident Leopards, Lions, Cheetahs and Wild dogs. There is some concern for the smaller of the three packs of Wild dogs in the Kwando concession. Previously when sighted they had numbered six but now they number merely four individuals. It is not uncommon for skirmishes to break out with larger predators such as lions or hyenas so there is concern that two may have been killed in the fighting. Moreover, one of the remaining four dogs is heavily pregnant and awaiting a new denning site so cannot be an enormous help hunting. Wild dogs rely heavily on numbers for success on their hunts and the less animals the higher the chances of starvation. On one occasion this was highlighted when the four dogs pulled down a sub adult kudu only for one of them to badly sprain its leg and put it out of action for up to a week.
Lion sightings have also been good this month with the two males of the area being followed for several hours following a large herd of buffalo. The morning light revealed a successful hunt on a young buffalo that had been isolated and killed away from the formidable male ‘Dagga Boys’ of the herd.
Elsewhere, there was the unusual sighting of a pangolin. The only one of its kind for several months. Astonished onlookers snapped with their cameras while the shielded ant eater slowly made its way into the bush.

Lagoon Camp
Lagoon has had the glad tidings of new lions moving into the area. Four males and five females appeared late last month from the wilderness and seem to have taken up residence in the area. Guides are unsure as to where exactly they have come from although the likely answer would be from the stunning upper Kwando area or the vast wilderness of the west – western Kwando concession. We will certainly be hoping their residence in the area is a long and successful one!
The three cheetah brothers are still reining supreme through the Kwando and are a regular site stalking impalas in the woodlands. On one such occasion they had brought down an impala close to Lagoon camp and were then chased off by some spotted hyenas who were scavenging in the area.
Guests, guides and trackers alike have been entertained by the strong pack of seventeen wild dogs who are terrorising the neighbourhood at the moment. Almost every evening there is a fair chance that these hungry dogs will be on the move and after some fresh meat.
Away from the predators, we have seen several large herds of buffalo and elephant in the area which is quite unusual for this time of the year with such widespread rains in the woodlands. Many migrant birds have extended their stays due to the excellent rainy season and prolonged availability of food. However, it is likely that such migrants as Paradise Flycatchers, Woodlands kingfishers and Wahlberg’s eagles will be departing within the next month.

Kwara & Little Kwara
There have been vast arrays of wildlife at Kwara recently. Water channels familiar to guests have begun to rise by the boat station and airstrip while Kwara lagoon in front of the camp has already risen. The water levels will continue to rise over the next couple of months as the annual flood pushes through towards Xaxanaka and Khwai. This means that there has been an abundance of wildlife in new areas of Kwara concession including the legendary Tsum Tsum plains that are now home to large numbers of zebras, blue wildebeest, elephant and tssesebe.
The splintered coalition of seven lions have been busy harassing these multitudes of game including an excellent giraffe kill seen by some guests. They have also been busy spreading their seed with the local lionesses and many such mating scenes have been recorded by delighted guests.
The family of six cheetahs are now spending more time apart as the four cubs are now over a year old and will be readying themselves for life without their mother in the next few months. They are a constant terror to the areas smaller antelope like impala, duiker and steenbok.
We have also seen a pack of wild dogs to the northeast. They numbered seven animals and passed away into the Mopane woods to the north after failing to kill a kudu.
Guides picked up the very rare sighting of an aardvark (ant bear) close to the airstrip last week and watched the shy creature for over an hour before it head off into the surrounding thickets.

Tau Pan
Tau Pan’s resident Brown hyena has returned to its routine of an early morning drink at the water hole in front of the main area. Camp guides believe that they time their drinks not to coincide with the two big male lions who are also fond of a similar morning routine. After quenching his thirst the hyena then slips away into the thick bush, usually to the east of the camp.
On Phokuje Pan we have been fortunate to see a family of meercats (surricates) on several occasions. These highly gregarious bands are legendary for their bold approach to humans and fascinating group social structure. So far eight individuals have been identified.
Also on Phokuje Pan there have been excellent views of Cape eland antelopes. A herd of about thirty has been spotted quite a few times moving in and out of the area.
In close proximity we still have a female cheetah living with her two cubs and hunting from the large springbok population in the area.
Closer to the camp the blond and the dark maned lion coalition still rule the roost on Tau Pan. A total of six females have at times been seen in their company and one week three of the females were accompanied by three cubs. The lions in the area seem to single out gemsbok as their favourite prey but have also been seen hunting animals as diverse as the springbok or prickly porcupine!

Nxai Pan
Nxai Pan has witnessed some astounding cat viewing in the Park this March. Firstly, a female leopard has been seen on occasion with a young leopard cub walking from pan to pan and stalking the numerous springbok in the area. The mother is naturally very protective of the newest member of her family but some excellent shots have been taken of the youngster oblivious to the dangers around him!
Additionally, we have also had great sightings of a cheetah mother and her cub close to camp. The mother managed to chase down a springbok antelope right by the large Baobab infront of the camp Nxai Pan.
There are also plenty of lions in the area. One group of seven lions have been seen recently on a zebra kill and they have ventured close to the camp to drink from our water hole. That water has to be shared with some huge resident bull elephants who still dominate the view from the front porch.
Additionally, we have seen some good herds of eland in the area towards Khama-Khama Pan to the North-East. They are fairly shy but provide an excellent spectacle as they leap in front of the safari cars in front of the road.
As well as the excellent migrant birdlife we are still enjoying we have seen two fantastic sightings of a Stanley’s Bustard and Martial’s eagle hunting a White-faced Duck.

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