We welcomed the new year with incredible sighting of predators, prey, birds, and of course dramatic sunrises and sunsets. Kwara concession
is certainly a wildlife paradise on the 1st day of the 1st month, we found 2 lionesses resting under the shade, escaping the heat, a few metres away were zebras, giraffes, and wildebeest, as well as a huge breeding herd of elephant.
We continued spotting more predators during the following days, mostly male lions, occasionally seeing lone young males, sometimes as many as seven lions one game drive. Another great experience was of tracking fresh leopard tracks – found crossing the Shindi main road, we followed the tracks and located a male leopard, which we were able to follow for about 20 minutes before he disappeared into the bush.
An unusual lion sighting was from the boat whilst on a cruise between Xobega and Gudikwe – three lionesses drinking on the side of the channel, with one of them about to cross the channel! And a great sighting of a pack of 10 wild dogs, who were seen hunting along Lethata Road.
Over the past few months our cheetah cubs have grown, and are now approximately 8 months old – still distinguishable from their mother with their darker coats and longer, thicker fur. We saw them attempting to bring down an impala one afternoon, but sadly they were unsuccessful.
Some more unusual predator sightings included a young African python hunting prey after a heavy rain storm, and an African wild cat hunting frogs!
Our night game drives are a different experience each night. Through the thickets and bushes our eyes scanning, following the spotlight, listening to the night sounds and occasionally spotting a rare animal. Regular sights have been black-backed jackals, lesser bush-babies, honey badgers. Although genets are seen from time to time on night drives, it is much rarer to see a genet with two young who she was suckling!
Birding has been great with all the regulars, and the summer migratory birds still here, but thinking about the long trip back…. Only a few Woodland kingfishers can be heard calling now – a change from the November chorus. Nicest bird sighting this month was a male and female ostrich with five chicks looking only a few days old!
The first and last week of the month were good for lion sightings, with separate sightings of both males and females. Four lionesses were found feeding on a freshly killed wildebeest, and two males were seen resting along the cutline. Strangely, for a few days in the middle of the month, even tracks of lions were hard to find!
On the 21st of January, there was an unusual sighting with a hyena chasing off a leopard from the carcass of a baby elephant. Its likely the elephant died of natural causes, for it would be difficult for any predator other than lions to successfully bring down a baby elephant. There are plenty of breeding herds throughout the Lebala concession
at the moment. The hyenas – on one occasion up to eight individuals – were seen regularly on the evening drives in the area of the carcass, and patrolling their routes.
A male leopard was also seen nearby. In the same week we also had a great sighting of a pack of twenty wild dogs, who managed to hunt and catch an impala along Mogothlo road.
Towards the end of the month, the three male cheetahs successfully hunted a tsessebe calf, and were able to feed on it without being disturbed by larger predators – always a worry for the light-weight cheetahs!
Night drives were productive with the hyenas, black-backed and side-striped jackals, and several sightings of African Wild cats hunting in the tall grass. We also managed to see a porcupine and a honey badger!
The rains have created many puddles along the roads, and filled up many of the pans. This is a happy time for the frogs – bubbling kasinas and bull frogs alike. Also a good time for the many birds, such as marabou storks, woolly necked storks, egrets and other long-legged birds which wade the ponds and pools, fishing for the frogs.
Otherwise, its a lovely time of year for the general game, with lots of green fresh grass and new leaves available to graze and browse on.