Welcome to this month's installment of the Kwando Safaris Sightings. Yesterday, we covered the February wildlife sightings for Kwando Lebala Camp and Kwando Lagoon Camp. Today, we provide the Kwando Safaris report for Nxai Pan Camp, Tau Pan Camp, and Kwando Kwara Camp.
Kwando Kwara Camp
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 Valentine’s 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.
Nxai Pan Camp
The Kalahari offers our guests much to see – across its wide open plains and vast landscape, there are many animals which roam this pristine earth. The predators in the area have graced us with many sightings of their daily interactions, at rest and at play as well as seen mating.
Cheetah seem to have found this area much to their liking in recent months as they have been spotted on many an occasion – most often seen sleeping or relaxing by nearby pans or in a prime spot along West Road and Baobab Loop. One cheetah was even sighted in the Camp! A rare treat for visitors and staff alike!
Other cats which have been spotted have been the lions. A much-loved favourite for all to see, this particular group – consisting of three adults and three younger ones – were interrupted whilst at play! These rambunctious activities soon ended as the heat got the better of them and they sought out something to quench their thirst and finally, a shady resting spot where they could hide from the desert sun. The lions all seem to be in a playful mood this month as one of the females from the Nxai Pan Pride was also seen ‘fake fighting’ with a male from another territory.
As always, the general game has been good – giraffes, kudu, impala and gemsbok have all been seen wondering the various feeding grounds enjoying the excellent grazing which is characteristic of this time of the year and zebras can still be seen gallivanting across open fields whilst springboks prance majestically across the plains. Our large, ponderous, grey friends – the elephant – still frequent the area and take much delight in the pans. Black-backed jackals and bat eared foxes have also been spotted along with spring hares – if one is lucky enough to see them as they disappear in to the nearby brush!
Tau Pan Camp
The Tau Pan Pride continues to flourish in their desert home and have frequently been sighted drinking from the various waterholes in the area. In the intense Kalahari heat, they are most often found languishing under the scarce shade of an unforgiving landscape, though guests are sometimes treated to their territorial patrols and daily hunting activities. Whilst the leopard has remained elusive this month, the cheetah has been proud to show off her cubs to our visitors whilst she has been hunting. Other smaller predators have been seen foraging in the pans, including the bat-eared fox, the cape fox and the black-backed jackal.
This region has such a special variety of creatures that blend in so well with their surroundings. From the smallest of creatures - the ground squirrel that is frequently seen hopping along the ground, fervently scratching out some delectable morsel from the sand and the leopard tortoise with its amazing kaleidoscope of camouflage that gives it its name – to the smaller of the antelopes – the springbok with their numerous new young who are quickly learning to navigate the rocky earth beneath their tiny hooves – and the largest being the gemsbok, who gracefully gazes at the vibrant activity around him.
Of special note is the abundant birdlife which has been seen on every game drive. Flocks of Sand Grouse rise at the nearby rumble of the vehicle as it passes them by. A brave Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk also delighted viewers by attempting to tackle a larger bird, a guinea fowl with young – the poor goshawk was worse for ware after the protective guinea fowl kicked it to the ground, leaving it with far more pains and fewer feathers than it started the day with! Others proved just as unsuccessful when battling the ground squirrel which adamantly stood their ground upon intrusion by the goshawk in to its feeding territory. The Peregrine Falcon has displayed its successful hunting tactics on many occasions, along with spectacular sightings of the Red Billed Queleas, the Ring Dove, the Bateleur Eagle and princely Kori Bustard, amongst others.
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