Posted by & filed under Kenny, Safari Stories.

The water level has dropped considerably in the Delta which has caused a mini migration of grazers to gather in areas where they can find water and at Shinde we are lucky enough to have permanent water all year round. The migration of grazers like Zebra and Wildebeest has created an increase in predator presence which has been exciting especially on game drive we often get to witness the hunt!



The Wild Dogs have been seen regularly, there is a large pack of sixteen who have nine sub-adult pups – a lot of hungry mouths to feed! With the high numbers of antelope gathering around the water sources, the dogs have remained on Shinde for some time now making the most of the abundant food source.





Shinde’s resident cheetah and sub-adult cub are still roaming the concession, the open savanna grasslands that the dry season brings to Shinde is the perfect habitat for these creatures. The cub has begun hunting actively with its mother making for a lot of nail-biting game drives watching the two pursue their prey at top speeds!





We have also seen the arrival of a pride of three lionesses and a young male lion on the concession, the pride seems to be nomadic as we have not seen them before! On arrival, almost the same day, I was on an afternoon game drive with my guests when we witnessed this pride take down a large Zebra stallion!



Blog story and images by Kenny (professional guide at Shinde)

Posted by & filed under Kanana, Owner (Kanana guide), Safari Stories.

Throughout the year at Kanana we always see these old male dugga boys hanging around the flood plains while the bigger breeding herds will pass through the concession from time to time. These males are no longer part of a herd as they cannot compete with the younger, more aggressive males. Males have a linear dominance hierarchy based on age and size.



The most noticeable characteristic feature of the buffalo is the impressive set of horns they carry, the length of many pairs can reach up to one metre long from tip to tip! Buffalo use these horns to defend themselves against predators as well as to challenge other males in attempts to score a mating opportunity with a female.



Why are these old male buffalo's called Dugga boys? Dugga meaning mud is a word used to describe these old bulls as they spend most of their days wallowing in the mud feeding on the soft green grasses which occur on the side of the channels.



We see these old bulls regularly when on a boat cruise or a game drive at Kanana, while they are not the most attractive of the big five they have their place in the wilderness for being so impressively strong with their bulky stature and bold horns.



Blog story and images by Owner (Professional guide at Kanana)

Posted by & filed under Guest Blog, Kanana.

“The lions walked through camp this morning,” says Junior, who picked us up from the airstrip, almost casually while steering the game viewer over dirt roads and through tall hippo grass on the short drive to Kanana camp.

“Whaaaat?,” I reply, unable to control the excitement in my voice. I have been in and out of Africa a lot over the last few years and had my fair share of lion sightings. However, lions in camp is clearly something that doesn’t happen every day on safari.

“Are they still there?”, I ask Junior and he confirms. Yes, a male and a female are hanging around in close vicinity of camp.

It happens only a few minutes when we spot a handsome lion with an impressive blonde mane blocking the road. Personally, I’m not only amazed by his beauty, but more so by his overall size. Training as a guide in South Africa, I know lions to be a lot smaller.



But this beast is at least 20% bigger in size than the average male I know from Botswanas neighbouring country. It is said that this is due to the fact that the lions of the Okavango Delta have to cross water quite frequently and have therefore developed a lot more muscles and are overall a lot stockier than other lions.

I am impressed. Ten minutes on Kanana grounds and we’ve already seen what so many safari guests are hoping to see when coming to Botswana.

Junior steers the vehicle offroad and past the lion (he wouldn’t have moved for anything in the world right now…) and around a corner where – can you believe it – we spot our next lion! This time a beautiful female on a mission to get to the male.



“They might start mating soon,” says Junior.

Driving into camp, we are welcomed with a dancing and singing crowd. All the staff members have gathered to greet us the Botswana way. Walking along the pathways made of dried elephant dung (incredibly comfortable to walk on!) , we are shown to our room located under tall trees and with a lovely view onto the waters of the Delta.

After a quick cat-nap and a bite to eat, we meet our guide for the next few days: Doctor.



“Why is your name Doctor?”, we ask upon meeting him. But he just smiles cheekily and replies that it’s a secret. What’s no secret is that Doctor really knows the Delta. After guiding for almost twenty years, he knows his way around the bush, sharing interesting facts with us and always working hard to position the vehicle for us so we can take the best photos.

Doctor doesn’t get far on our first afternoon drive together: Junior was to be proved right: The lions are busy mating right outside the camp! What a lucky sight!

I am blown away by the beauty of the place. Lush green grasses and bushes wind around termite mounds and tall trees, nourished by the large amount of water in the area. Over the next two days, Doc shows us everything the concession has on offer: By car, by boat and by Mokorro!



On every drive, we bump into the lions again – alongside a cheeky elephant bull, herds of buffalo and more elephants, lechwe-antelope AND we even spot a Sitatunga one afternoon from the boat! An absolute first for us! We have been trying to see one for a very long time and up until this moment we thought they were just a myth.





On our last morning at Kanana, Doc tracks down another male lion for us and impresses us with his great foresight of predicting where the animal is gonna go next, so we got some stunning close-up shots of this handsome male as well. Chasing lions all morning definitely makes you hungry – and just as my stomach starts making awkward noises and I start to wonder why we’ re still not back in camp for a hearty brunch, we drive around a corner and find a lovely bush breakfast set up for us and all the guests of the camp



A truly great finish to a great stay! What really makes this little paradise on earth so special is not just the beautiful scenery, the wildlife and all the diverse activities you can indulge in during your stay – all that is great of course, but what really makes the place a destination is the people that work there, always greet you with a big smile and go out of their way to make your stay as unforgettable as possible. We could not have asked for more… except one thing, maybe: Why is Doctor called Doctor…? I’m glad to report we did find out just before we boarded our plane back to civilisation. If you would like to find out… well, I guess you just have to come to beautiful Kanana and ask him yourself!

Thanks, Kanana camp for having us! We had the best of times.

 

Blog Story and images by Gesa Neitzel

 

Posted by & filed under Safari Stories, Sam (Shinde guide), Shinde.

Shinde’s main area is built in between a beautiful canopy of hardwood trees which, during this time of the year, is a hive of activity with many different species of birds nesting and raising their young in this densely lush and protected area! It is always fascinating to see blue-grey fly catchers feeding their fledglings whilst on the move or the Meyers Parrots who turn part of the deck into a war zone, dropping bright orange mangosteen berries from a considerable height as they turn the canopy into a feeding frenzy!



The fire deck and surrounding areas truly transforms into an avian paradise during the hot summer months. One of our residents who we see fluttering about from branch to branch is the Chinspot Batis, a tiny fly catcher like bird who is often not noticed in the chatter that one will hear sitting and enjoying a cup of tea on the deck however if you look closely you will see this industrious little bird flying back and forth from his cup-shaped nest he is building and protecting  on the branches over-hanging the high tea area!



Indeed, the Batis is an example of the saying dynamite comes in small packages. My guests are always blown away by how this small bird spends restless days and nights fending and protecting its nest from the enemies like tree squirrels and various snakes who may be interested in stealing the eggs snakes by mobbing them away.



Observing the behaviour of this bird and of the many others who inhabit the Shinde forest makes one realise that sometimes focusing and learning about the smaller wildlife can be as fascinating and interesting as anything else on safari.



Observing the behaviour of this bird and of the many others who inhabit the Shinde forest makes one realise that sometimes focusing and learning about the smaller wildlife can be as fascinating and interesting as anything else on safari.

Blog story and images by Sam (Professional Guide at Shinde)

Posted by & filed under Kanana, Our People, Robby, Safari Stories.

2017 has been the year of big cats at Kanana, the lion sightings have been fantastic and they are only getting better! The Kanana pride are territorial in the area and there is another large pride that is often seen passing through the concession. Alongside the two prides we also have a coalition of brothers who are dominant in the area and they have been seen mating females from both prides – this hopefully means that we will be expecting cubs soon!



It was a typical October afternoon, the air was hot and still and I could see the start of storm clouds building up in the distance! My guests, a great group of people from Australia, and myself met for high tea where we made the most of the refreshments on offer. There was a feeling of anticipation and mystery in the air, what was Kanana going to deliver us this afternoon?

Much to our delight we came across the pair of male lions resting lazily in the shade of a large Jackalberry Tree. Completely undisturbed by the vehicle, the two of them continued sleeping as we we approached the sighting!



The one male raised his head slowly, revealing the beauty of his full tawny mane followed a long, drawn out picture perfect YAWN! There was a murmur of excitement coming from the back of the vehicle as the second male raised his head and gave us another yawn.



The two of them started grooming one another in an act of brotherly bonding! We often forget how social lions are, they are the most social of all species of big cats – this grooming is also important in strengthening their bond, especially during periods where there is competition between the two of them for females from other prides!



Watching these brothers interact in such a manner was truly special and made for a perfect start to an afternoon exploring the Kanana concession.

Blog story and images by Robby (Professional Guide at Kanana)

Posted by & filed under Bee (Shinde Guide), Our People, Safari Stories, Shinde.

It was one hot and very still afternoon in October when myself and my guests were enjoying the beauty of the Shinde concession. I was driving along an open grassland area scanning the tree’s and shady spots in hope to find my guests a leopard. I caught sight of a spotted slender body with a deep chest sitting under an anthill in the distance – I knew immediately that this was a cheetah. I looked at my guests with a wicked smirk and told them today is our lucky day, the cheetah were very well camouflaged in the shade so at first my guests did not know what my excitement was about until we approached the anthill and saw the female cheetah and her sub-adult cub.



These cheetah were seen first on the Footsteps side of the concession a few months ago. Opie, my colleague and specialist guide at Footsteps, reported that the female used to have two cubs but one was unfortunately killed by a pack of wild dogs. The second was very vulnerable at a stage and we didn’t know if she was going to survive. This cub is now approaching adulthood and has passed her vulnerable stage – she is looking strong and has started hunting with her mother! This made the sighting extra special for us.



A few interesting facts you may not know about cheetahs; cheetah are the fastest land mammals on earth and can reach speeds of up 112 km per an hour when in full chase. They can weigh up to 72 kg and can reach 70 to 90 cm at shoulder length and they are mainly active during the day. The cheetahs will stalk its prey within 100 to 300 metres, charge towards it and kill it by tripping during the chase and catching it in the throat and suffocating it. Cheetahs are induced ovulatory animal, they breed throughout the year and their gestation period is nearly three months long. They will litter up to three to five cubs.



 

Blog story and Images by Bee (Professional guide at Shinde)

Posted by & filed under Mark Muller, Safari Stories.

It was a lovely clear chilly morning as I sat out on the edge of the lounge deck at Ker & Downey Botswana’s new property  - Dinaka. I had been perched there for the hour and a half contentedly watching the comings and going of the birdlife that was drawn to the Lodge’s waterhole.



Huge numbers of Guineafowl had entertained me endlessly with their early morning antics and had cavorted around within meters of where I sat, even coming right onto the lounge deck to look for insects that had been attracted to the night lights. As the morning started to warm up, large numbers of Doves started to flight into the waterhole to drink and I was enjoying the spectacle of the constant comings and goings when my attention was drawn to the melodic “Choc lit” call of a small group of Burchell’s Sandgrouse.

I looked at my watch, and smiled as, as is always the case it was 08h45, the Sandgrouse had started to flight in for their morning drink at exactly the same time as they do every day.

Within fifteen minutes their numbers had built up and huge flocks were wheeling around the Lodge trying to pluck up courage to land and drink. What a wonderful spectacle these birds presented as, calling constantly, they wheeled and dove around the lodge grounds in a wonderful display of synchronized flying.



Eventually the first group, perhaps emboldened by the large numbers of birds now present dropped into land and ran up to the edge of the water to drink – immediately there was pandemonium as a magnificent Pale Chanting Goshawk swept into the area and tried, unsuccessfully, to take one of the drinking birds.



I realized immediately that there was a wonderful photographic opportunity about to present itself and ran to get my camera. I moved closer to the waterhole and sat, with my back to a tree some forty meters from the water. In a very short space of time the Goshawk returned to it’s favoured perch and settled patiently to wait.

Within ten or so minutes the Sandgrouse were once again back in numbers and a very large group came into land. The instant the birds were on the ground the Goshawk launched its attack and, this time, as the pictures show was successful in securing it’s breakfast.













It was a truly wonderful spectacle to watch and I was thrilled to have been able to get the sequence of pictures featured here.

For those of you who have yet to have been bitten by the allure of birding I advise that not only does the Lodge waterhole proved a wonderful birding spectacle – it also provides really great game viewing and one really need not go for game drives as there is a constant procession of game coming down to drink in numbers that should satisfy even the most demanding client.

Story and images by Mark Muller

Posted by & filed under Omphile Kaluluka (Specialist Guide).

It’s that time of the year again at Shinde when the days are getting longer, the grasses are getting shorter and the water is starting to recede. These conditions make for perfect game viewing as we start seeing game concentrating around the water holes and pans that we find on the concession. I was on an early morning game drive with my guests, traversing the eastern side of Shinde when to my surprise, we came across a lone male sable antelope.



We do see these beautiful antelope from time to time but it certainly not a common occurrence. The sable antelope are impressive creatures weighing up to 235 Kilograms. The sable have beautiful horns which curve backwards towards their spine, these horns are their most important asset in protecting themselves from predators, they are extremely sharp and many battles have been lost by cats in their attempt to take down a sable.



Sable are grazers and are mainly found living in woodland and Savanna regions, this is why they are not common to the Okavango Delta however the dry season we are experiencing at the moment does present more favourable conditions for the antelope.

It has been very special having this bull on the Shinde concession, sable antelope are truly majestic creatures and one of the more interesting of the antelope species!

Story and images by Kenny (Professional guide at Shinde)

Posted by & filed under Doctor (Kanana guide), Kanana, Safari Stories.

These tiny, beautiful creatures live in the vicinity of marshes and pools ringed with reeds and can often be seen whilst on a mokoro adventure at Kanana. The Angolan Painted Reed frogs are about 35 mm in length and they are the most brightly coloured of all the frogs we see in the Delta.This colouration plays a major part in their survival strategy and adaption to the environment in which they find themselves.



The interesting thing is that their colouration like in all animals is caused by the presence of pigment cells. Some of these cells contain minute reflecting platelets which by the reflection and distraction of light produce the structural colour which creates a pattern unique to every frog - this also helps them when it comes to camouflaging themselves. A second adaptation linked to the colour of the Angolan Painted Reed Frog is the demonstration of warning colours that signals to predators that the creature is unpalatable. To us the coloration represents beauty, to predators it is a clear warning sign to stay away!



These fascinating little frogs are always a wonder for many guests when they are on a boat cruise or mokoro ride as they are easy to miss yet there are so many of them dotted in and amongst the reeds, lily pads and papyrus stalks that line the waterways of the delta. All you have to do is listen and take a closer look into your surroundings!



Blog story and Images by Doctor (Professional Guide at Kanana)