This past month, the most prevalent cat we have seen is the cheetah. We have been really pleased to discover that it was almost a daily occurrence to bump in to her – together with her three cubs. Our best sighting so far was at the beginning of the month – on the 5th of February – where we tracked her for about thirty minutes and found her resting at Leadwood Island. We had driven around in this area before coming across fresh tracks which we followed, leading right up to her. We stayed with the four cheetahs for as long as we wanted, watching her interacting and bonding whilst our guests took marvellous photos. After about half an hour, the mother cheetah became interested in a few warthogs snorting nearby. She then followed them and at first, stalked them, then suddenly, shooting right past us, she managed to secure a great feast for her and her three cubs!
In the Kwara Concession, a lion sighting is almost guaranteed. Our famous cats have been seen roaming all areas, often marking territories, attempting to hunt, but mostly, just lying around. Over the last two weeks, the three male lions – members of the group we call ‘the Splash Boys – have been on the move. We have spotted them in various places. On Valentines Day, we had a special visit, right behind Kwara main camp, as these three majestic beasts made their way past our camp. They had been roaring the previous night and our guests were delighted to spot them immediately after leaving camp.
We have seen leopard this month – quite a few sightings – one special one was at Old Xugana Road where one leopard lay on a tree giving us a great photographic opportunity. It had been a few weeks without seeing the wild dogs and we were more than delighted to come across twelve of them at Splash area. They were mobile and we followed them for about ten minutes when they became interested in some impala – but sadly, without success.
Our night drives are full of activity, spotting nocturnal animals including the side-striped jackal, caracals and the black backed jackal. A very interesting sighting – that tops our sighting list this month – has been the pangolin at Xugana Main Road.
Lots of birds – including Ground Hornbills (which we hear often calling in the mornings while we are having our tea in camp). We also see saddle-billed storks right in front of the rooms, mostly in the afternoons. Whilst on our game drives, most often when stopping for our sun-downer drinks, we have had the opportunity to enjoy birding – seeing other species such as Grey-headed Kingfishers, Black Herons and the Slatey Egret.
There have been numerous elephant sightings near and around Lebala Camp – as well as large breeding herds lumbering across the grassy plains. It is truly amazing how silently these mammoth animals move through the thickest brush to barely more than the swish-swish as they tromp in unison through the long grass! Lone bulls have been seen wondering in the more open landscapes as well as carefully manoeuvring their huge bodies through the tight confines of other woodland areas. This is unusual for this time of year as most bachelor and breeding herds have moved off in to the woodlands by now.
Guests had the good fortune to come across twenty wild dogs at a recent kill – an impala ram which was slowly being feasted upon by the family – nine pups and eleven adults. As is true of the African wild, the hyenas were soon alerted to this fresh kill by the scent in the air and quickly appeared ready to challenge the pack to their meal. Unfortunately, the hyenas proved the stronger group on this day and soon chased the dogs off and seized their prey. The coalition comprising of the three cheetahs brothers has also been sighted sporadically throughout the concession but have seemed to move on quickly from each location. General game has been excellent – the elegant giraffe have been seen feeding on acacia and russet bush willow trees, mindfully surveying their surroundings from their lofty height. Reedbuck and Lechwe have been spotted in the wetter areas with the tiny, graceful steenbok seen occasionally for just long enough to take in its delicate features before it flees in fright to the safety of the thick bush! Birding has also been enjoyable with ostriches, ducks and geese as well as some sightings of the wattled-crane along with other small water birds.