April in Botswana – Kwando sightings report…

LAGOON

The northern Kwando region has been home large numbers of zebra, giraffe, tsessebe and wildebeest which have been attracted by the excellent grazing resulting from the seemingly never ending rains. The relative absence of lions this month as they follow the buffalo herds means that Wild dog and leopards have been a regular sighting, including a large male found in a tree guarding his impala kill. The buffalo sightings remain sporadic due to the excessive water and grazing found in the mopane forests though guides have spotted small herds on several occasions.

An additional and unusual sighting made this month was the regular sighting of large herds of Livingstone’s eland. This is the largest member of the antelope family and is extremely shy, generally residing in dense forests. Sightings are therefore very unusual and often fleeting.

LEBALA

The above average number of zebra, giraffe and wildebeest in the region has led to an increase in the number of predators hunting a wide variety of game species. A mating pair of lion were found on giraffe kills on two separate occasions while several other male lions have been sighted this month stalking wildebeest. Several leopards were also followed on drives both during day and night drives as they stalked warthog and impala. The three cheetah brothers, not to be out done, were observed hunting wildebeest, while the three separate packs of wild dog were sighted hunting regularly and kills were made on lechwe and two kudu.

Further sightings of an eland herd, of approximately 20 animals, has also been spotted on more than one occasion. These sightings bode well for the eland population which is notoriously difficult to estimate due to their shy nature and the remoteness of their habitat

KWARA

The Kwara concession continues to disprove that the commonly held view that the rainy season is not a good time of year to see game. Consistent quality game viewing in February and March continued in April with regular sightings of lion, cheetah, wild dog, leopard, hyena, honey badger and elephant. Of course there was also the usual lechwe, reedbuck, giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, wildebeest, warthog kudu, impala, hippo, crocodile, jackals, cobras, pythons, ostrich, ground hornbills and wattled crane to name but a few!!

Significant sightings included a lion pride chasing a male leopard up a tree and an incredible confrontation between two pack of wild dog, in which the heavily pregnant alpha female was targeted and almost killed. She was last seen with serious wounds and the guides are unsure whether she survived or not.

If this is the green season we can only imagine what the dry season holds in store!

Wild dogs chase Impala in Chobe

A pack of wild dogs have been spotted on the Chobe River flood plains.  This caused great excitement for some clients staying at Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero as they were enjoying a sundowner cruise and watching a herd of elephants swimming across the river when the peace was broken and a pack of wild dogs kicked a dust cloud in the air as they keenly pursued an impala running towards the safety of river. The impala almost threw itself in the river and instinctively swam towards one of the islands.  Unfortunately after all of that effort a crocodile grabbed the impala and drowned it barely twenty meters away from the guests on their boat. The wild dogs didn’t even notice as they had now rounded up another Impala which they were now chasing around in every decreasing circles.

Botswana in November

November traditionally marks the much needed arrival of rain to the parched plains of the Okavango and Chobe regions. The animals look longingly to the skies in anticipation of an end to the dry and dusty floodplains.

Once the clouds finally break and the rains arrive, there is a great sense of relief within the local communities and the wildlife. Animals begin to move away from the permanent waters of the Okavango Delta and the Chobe River as they disperse into the surrounding bush. The antelope and gazelle fall into the calving season which becomes a time of plenty for the predators which take advantage of the unstable newborn.

After the first rains, the Okavango Delta springs back into life with a flush of green throughout the previously parched areas with plants and trees coming alive!

Safari Honeymoon Heaven!

Gillian and Tony Reeve have just got back from Botswana and wrote a few words on their safari for our Blog.

The highlight has to be the moment when we were flying over the Delta into our first camp when we both looked at each other and said one word that meant everything, ‘wow’. It was at this moment that we felt a bubbling of excitement in our bellies and began to unwrap our fabulous wedding present to each other, our safari.

When we landed we were greeted by Amos, his smile welcomed and settled us immediately. We drove into camp, at first not realising that we were on a ‘game drive’ that is until Amos pulled to a stop and pointed towards the bushes where poking out and giving the game away was an elephant’s back legs. We edged slowly forward and tracked around the bushes and thicket and there was a small herd of them gathered together in the shade snoozing and flicking tails. We wanted to stay rooted there for ages not realising that the days ahead of us would be a flurry of experiences such as this.

We pulled into our first camp and were welcomed by Kerry our host who handed us cool drinks, refreshing chilled flannels and had our bags taken to our tent. Wow again! The tent was fabulous, a four poster bed, soft linens, plump pillows, and soft rugs under foot, with an en-suite bathroom that puts many hotels to shame. This was certainly nothing like what you would normally describe as a tent! We had arrived and had enjoyed every minute just getting there.

How can one describe that everyday topped yesterday? On our first game drive the next morning we saw, zebra and numerous antelope before enjoying a picnic lunch and a naughty glass of wine. After that we headed further afield to where Amos thought he had heard lion earlier that morning and sure enough Amos was right. There shading against a tree trunk sat three lionesses. We could have sat there all day taking photographs and video, but eventually we tore ourselves away and went in search of the next find. More often than not we found something ‘more spectacular’ each time we drove onwards. We were in heaven. Thank goodness for digital cameras, our developing bill would have been astronomical. Thank you so much Opulent Africa, we had a superb honeymoon, and although we originally thought this would be a ‘once in a lifetime trip’ we are now not so sure.

Elephants in Botswana..

Were you to ask a thousand safari enthusiasts to name their favourite animal, some might be attracted by the sultry beauty of a giraffe’s eyes, or entertained by the snorts and comic aesthetic appeal of a hippopotamus, but many the world over would immediately say the elephant.  Just like humans, they are clearly family creatures which tend carefully for their young and build complex relationships within the herd.  Both strong in stature yet gentle with their footsteps these huge creatures can pick a small flower with the tip of their trunk, or approach so quietly that you don’t realise this immense six ton creature is behind you until you feel its warm breath dampening the back of your neck.

 

If you want to see big herds of elephant on your safari then the best place to head is to northern Botswana, and the best time to be there is from August to early December which is the long dry season which turns the land a marvellous ochre yellow and bakes the surface to dust causing the elephant herds to congregate around the age old perennial rivers and springs.

 

It’s fascinating to watch these creatures move slowly yet purposefully through the heat of the day iwith a cloud of dust swelling around their feet.  Refreshment is found as they lower their trunks into the rivers quenching their enormous thirsts before wallowing and enjoying cooling mud baths whilst the young bulls played.

 

A mature male elephant can drink 60 gallons of water a day and if you are fortunate enough to stay at Savuti Camp, you’ll enjoy and enthralling hour or so in a hide built of fallen tree trunks.  You’ll be within mud slinging distance so duck as the elephants flick water and mud across their backs in the heat of the day.