19 August 2011
July was yet another fabulous month in Botswana – see below for more details
As far as lions go, we saw a lot of the boys this month. Sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes four together. However, the girls were responsible for the best sighting. Four females with three youngsters, managed to kill a giraffe. Unfortunate for them four males took over the kill from them the next day, but the sighting still provided some good observation of lion behaviour.
Several sightings of leopards: we seem to have now a male and a female in the area who are very relaxed. On one occasion we were able to follow the male leopard for two hours. He was hunting impalas but had no luck in the end.
This month the female cheetah and the three cubs were found many times. Once, we stayed with her for an hour, observing how she was hunting impalas. The cubs had to go hungry though, because their mother didn’t manage to make a kill this time.
Elephant sightings are great. We have breeding herds with babies and bachelor herds. The later still do come into camp very often and stay for a while, before moving on to the next spot.
For the birders and even the non-birders, there was a great highlight on one of the boat cruises: the highly elusive Pel’s fishing owl. This large, honey-coloured eagle with huge black eyes and is something that the Delta is renowned for, but is still difficult to find. A long crested eagle was also sighted this month, which is another rare species to see.
The so called general game is also doing very well. Water levels are slowly receding with nice green grass growing on the edges. Among the species seen were giraffes, waterbuck, impalas, common reedbuck, tsessebe, zebras and a lot of hippos.
After dark we saw servals, African wild cat, civet, spotted hyena and one swimming honey badger!
The big pride of lions – currently number 19 individuals! – was around at the beginning of the month. Then they went a bit into hiding, but appeared again towards the end of the month. The first few times they were seen at a zebra kill and later at a wildebeest kill. The sighting towards the end of the month was on a giraffe kill.
It was an exciting month for leopards. First we saw mother and cub feeding on a baby elephant carcass and then on an impala carcass in a tree. A male leopard was seen with a porcupine carcass in a tree. One of the quills was stuck in his check and this could lead to a major infection. We hope it won’t affect him.
We also had an extended visit from the three brother cheetah, which spend a lot of time on the Lebala side. Hunts were observed but no kills.
Loads of elephants everywhere! Breeding herds as well as bachelor herds, and they also come into camp often, crossing the water in front of the lodge.
Big buffalo herds are becoming a common sighting at Lebala, especially at their favourite drinking points along the river. Bulls continue to fight each other within the herds over mating rights.
Birdlife was rich in water bird species, but also lots of raptors. Among others we saw martial eagle, black chested snake eagle, tawny eagle, various bee eaters, goliath herons, pied kingfishers and ostriches.
Highlight of the general game was sightings of roan antelopes. The more general ones were giraffes, zebras, steenbok, impalas, hippos, kudus and red lechwes. We also saw various mongooses including the dwarf and the slender.
At the night drives we encountered hyena, honey badger, large spotted genet, civet, serval and porcupine.
Five of “our” lions killed a buffalo this month. Other than that we found them most of the time doing what lions do best: sleeping.
Good sightings of relaxed leopards. We followed a female on a hunt but she had no luck, despite her looking very hungry. But two days later we found her with an impala carcass in a tree.
The three brother cheetahs killed a kudu, and looked well fed at all the other times we saw them.
The den of the pack of 11 wild dogs has been found. For this month though we haven’t seen the puppies yet, but it can only be a question of a few more days! The den is in the mopane woodland about 1.5hrs from camp. A rough ride but worthwhile doing it!
As in Lebala, there is no shortage of elephant sightings in Lagoon. The same accounts for large buffalo herds.
Still very rich on water bird life, a boat cruise is highly recommended!
General game was plentiful too. There we saw giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, tsessebe, warthogs, waterbuck, steenbok and even eland.
Serval, African wild cat, side stripped and black backed jackal, hyenas and honey badgers were seen after dark, but the highlight for a lot of the guests was a magical sighting of a pangolin
The lions visited the waterhole in front of camp several times this month, but were being elusive when we were on game drives.
Again a sighting of the female leopard, and she was very relaxed. Observed her hunting, but no catch.
Two more visitors came to the waterhole; two male cheetahs. We were lucky to see the female with her two cubs several times.
A lot of bull elephants drinking from the waterhole, both in front of camp and on the waterhole further in the park.
Giraffes, springboks, oryx, steenboks, kudus, impalas are also around, mostly close to the waterhole.
The two heavyweight birds, ostrich and kori bustard delight everybody. We also have lots of doves and sand grouse at the waterholes, and they are busy trying to stay out of the way of the black backed jackals. The jackals stroll around the waterholes often looking for a bird that doesn’t pay attention.
A very unusual sighting this month: brown hyena seen in the morning drinking from the camp waterhole. These animals are much shyer than the spotted hyena, and are rarely seen.
It looks more and more like the lions consider our camp as their home. If they are not in camp, we find them normally not far from the pan.
There were a few leopard sightings, something we don’t see too often down here. Two males were spotted one week and a female another week. All very relaxed leopards and one of them actually walked through the camp.
The female cheetah killed a springbok not far from camp, and a male was spotted at the airstrip.
Two wild dogs were seen again this month once, but only a brief glimpse. Still, good to know that such a rare species is surviving in an area that they are not well known for inhabiting.
Springboks and oryx dominate the scene as usual, but there are also kudus, wildebeests, hartebeest etc. The black backed jackals are numerous and you can hear them calling every evening.
Our regular nocturnal visitors to camp – two honey badgers- continue to come into camp every night, looking for anything to eat.