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

Winter has brought with it an abundance of sightings in the bountiful Footsteps area! Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, it did. Opie, specialist guide based at Footsteps and all round guru of the area has updated us on recent predator activity and with the update came excellent news that there are new additions to our resident families, read Opie's account below:

Wild Dogs Denning with Nine Puppies

We have been following this pack of five Wild Dogs for some time now and have seen a few failed hunting attempts but mostly successful ones. During one sighting I noticed the alpha female was heavily pregnant in June and I kept my fingers crossed that they would decide to find a den within the Footsteps area. My prayers were answered recently when we were on a drive looking for lions but happened to stumble upon three members of the pack, they were mobile so we decided to follow them.

In the distance I noticed the rest of the pack and as we approached I saw the den and counted nine puppies! The puppies are about one and a half months old. We watched them for a long time interacting and playing with one another, everyone in the game drive vehicle was speechless, it was a truly fantastic sighting!








Click here for a link to a video of the puppies playing at the den site

Lion Cubs

Just when we thought it couldn't get better having Wild Dog puppies denning nearby, our resident lionesses have blessed the Footsteps area with these lion cubs! One day I noticed vultures circling around an island so I decided to go and investigate, on arrival I saw the pride including the three cubs, all with very full bellies! There are two male cubs and one female and they are getting stronger and bigger by the day and hopefully they make it to adulthood without being harassed by the wild dogs, hyenas or the leopards.







Blog story and pictures by Omphile Kaluluka (Specialist Guide)

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

Kanana, in the Western Okavango Delta, is the land of milk and honey, the land of paradise as it’s name means in Setswana. The water in front of camp transforms into a beautiful golden colour as the sun goes down, with mesmerising colourful horizon above the tall Okavango palm trees.



 

If it’s not lions having a rest on the floodplains pondering their next dinner location or possibly their next meal, It’s the beautiful malachite kingfisher resting on a papyrus stalk after a long day fishing in the clear Okavango Delta waters.



A trip to Kanana wouldn’t be complete without a boat cruise to the world famous Heronry. At this time of the year and until about November, one will see multitudes of diverse species of birds from marabou storks to pelicans fighting for a spot to build a nest amongst the Gomoti Fig Trees which grow in the water.



The bonhomie of the birds coupled with their different calls transforms the Heronry into a complete symphony choir. The view of the heronry wouldn’t be complete without the bull elephants who spend their days feeding on the grasses that grow alongside the channels, sometimes they will wow the audience by swimming across the channel in front of the boat.



Kanana is truly the land of paradise!

Blog story and images by Walter (Assistant Camp Manager at Kanana)

Posted by & filed under Kanana, Omphile Kaluluka (Specialist Guide), Safari Stories, Simon (Kanana guide).

A few weeks ago Moses Teko, Ker & Downey Botswana Guide Trainer, reported from Kanana that this resident female leopard was hiding in the trunk of a large sausage tree (Blog link here). Moses suspected that she had cubs as she had been seen in that location for every day consecutively for a week. Two weeks later Simon, Kanana guide, and his guests went to see if she was hiding in the tree – read below for the pleasant surprise they were greeted with upon arrival at the Sausage Tree:



It was a chilly winter morning when I headed out on a game drive with my guests; my plan of action was to first drive to the Sausage Tree where one of resident female leopards has been seen lately. We suspected that she may have cubs which has created great anticipation amongst our team of guides here at Kanana!



We drove towards the tree, and there the female was, lying in the grass next to the road. As we approached we saw them, one, two, three, FOUR cubs! I couldn’t believe it! Leopards usually have between two to four cubs in a litter, the former being the most common. The cubs are about three weeks old. The mother will keep them in the tree until she feels threatened, then she will move them to another hiding place!





It was the best surprise seeing these tiny creatures and the perfect start to our game drive!

Blog Story and pictures by Simon (Professional guide at Kanana)

 

Posted by & filed under Moses (Specialist Guide), Safari Stories, Shinde.

A few days ago I was guiding a Swiss family of five at Shinde. We all got into the vehicle and headed out on a game drive, the morning was a very cool one and as we approached the Four Pans area a swift, chilly breeze swept through the vehicle. This area is arguably one of the most picturesque on the concession during this time of the day!



Through the spectacular golden light on the water I caught sight of a lone female Wild dog eyeing out a herd of red lechwe who were standing near the waters edge.This Wild dog had her eye on the prize and nothing was going to stand in her way, not even the barking Chacma baboons alarm calling nearby.



She began the chase but was not successful as the lechwe ran deeper into the water, a common survival tactic these antelope will often use when running from predators.



As she began running towards the main land she noticed a lonely male Wildebeest standing on the flood plain a few metres away from her



The Wild dog seized the moment and went after the Wildebeest, within a split second of the chase the wildebeest noticed that this female was not hunting in a pack and this is when the tables turned. It was a nail-biting moment and the mood in the vehicle was tense.



She eventually gave up and ran away from the angry Wildebeest, without the support of a pack her survival is at greater risk if she was to be injured. This lone female Wild dog is known to a successful hunter however Four Pans was not providing breakfast on this particular day!

Blog story by Moses Teko (Ker & Downey Botswana Guide Liaison)

Photo credit: Juliette & Nieves Cottier (Moses' guests at Shinde)

 

Posted by & filed under Lucas (Shinde Guide), Safari Stories, Shinde.

It was an early Thursday morning at Shinde and there was lots of excitement filling the air as we left for a walking safari with Kenny (professional Guide at Shinde), myself (Lucas, assistant guide at Shinde) and our guests. The bush was so silent as we started to walk, the quietness along with a cool winter morning added a very peaceful atmosphere to the start of our walk. Ten minutes into walk, we received a radio call from Bonolo (Shinde guide), He was calling in a hyena sighting at Hippo Pools, about a seven minute drive from where we were.



Kenny informed everyone of the sighting and gave the guests the option of cutting short the walking safari to drive to the Hyena. Without hesitation, we were all back in the vehicle and on our way to Hippo Pools. Upon arrival, we found two hyenas, while we were observing them we noticed them sniffing up the wind, this is usually a signal that there is a kill in the area. The both of them started heading off in a south easterly direction. The two other vehicles drove away as they had been viewing the Hyenas since the start of the morning activity but our vehicle continued tracking them as we felt they would lead us to something interesting.



Our perseverance paid off when we saw the spectacular sight of two new young male lions which we believe to be brothers. They were on the other side of the flood plain, sitting on elevated ground, probably an abandoned termite mound.



We drove past them to have a closer look at this majestic beauty before us. From appearance, they were so skinny and looked like they were starving. These lions were nomads in this area and they will stay silent so as to alert the residents of their presence. This was really why we were taken aback by these two lions, they surprised us being here.



Towards the end of last month, these same two unmistakable lions came and tried to invade this area but failed to make it as their dreams were abolished by Boutu, Shinde’s famous ghost lion who is also the dominate male here. Even though Boutu was badly injured on his fore limbs, he managed to push these two young intruders out.



The brothers are back again… We are eagerly looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this pair in this area. “Wow.” These words were on our lips the whole morning. It was a fantastic Thursday morning indeed and had no regrets at all for having postponed our safari walk to the next day.



Furthermore, after sighting these lions we decided that we would track the same lions tomorrow to see what had passed during the night. We did. The following day the surprising thing was that they were full bellied which means that they did successfully manage to scavenge a steal and fed.


I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a little more action from this regal tag team.


Blog story and images by Lucas (Assistant guide at Shinde)


 

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

The increased Leopard activity at Kanana over the past few months has really made for some exciting game viewing and it just got a whole lot better! We have seen a few new individuals moving into, and inhabiting, the concession resulting in a change of dynamics within the leopard population



Moses Teko, Ker & Downey Botswana Guide Liason, has recently been guiding at Kanana. He was on a morning drive with his guests when they decided to track one of the resident female leopards whom he suspected had cubs.


He was driving in an area close to camp when he saw the female sitting at the bottom of a large sausage tree, the cubs must have been very close by as she was extremely alert. All of a sudden, she leaped up into the sausage tree and maneuvered her way through a narrow crevice in the tree trunk.



Moses caught a glimpse of the cubs as he looked through the narrow gap in the tree but they were so well hidden, if he hadn’t come across the female they would have never noticed where she was hiding them!



A few minutes later, the female made her way down the tree and sniffed around the vehicle before walking off into the thick bush where they left her!



This is exciting news for Kanana and we look forward to updating you as these little creatures begin their life on the concession.


Photos taken by Moses Teko

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

The Pel's Fishing Owl is the second largest owl in Africa and for twitchers and non-twitchers this species is certainly a lifer to tick off the list! This magnificent specimen hunts at night so in the day they will hide in the canopies of large riverine forests making the Okavango Delta the perfect habitat for them – On top of the Owl being very rare, this elusive behaviour also makes them difficult to spot!

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One of only three fishing owls in the world and aptly named for it, the Pels is extremely well adapted to an aquatic environment; unlike most other owls, the owl has scales underneath its feet to help grip slippery fish during flight and interestingly enough their wings are adapted to allow for minimal sound while flying making them precise and stealthy hunters.

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If you are lucky enough to hear them calling, the adults make a very distinctive boom-like echo which sounds like hu-hu-hu and the juvenile owls make a very spooky screeching call, one of the airier night sounds you will hear in the delta.

Pels Landing

Doctor, professional guide at Kanana, is an expert at spotting the rufous coloured plumage and black eyes of the Pels Fishing Owl through the canopy of Jackalberry trees at a place called “Mokuchum Alley" on the concession. He was on drive recently when he came across this beautiful find perched peacefully on a tree branch in this exact area!

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Blog Story by Doctor (Professional guide at Kanana)

Posted by & filed under Okuti, Safari Stories, Salani (Okuti Guide).

I was on an afternoon game drive with my guests when I saw a Side-Striped Jackal dragging an impala carcass across a dusty floodplain close to Okuti - He hadn’t made the kill but there was still a lot left of the impala for him to scavenge on. As the jackal was about to enjoy his meal, we saw a kettle of Lappet-faced vultures gathering and circling above, they had spotted the carcass and were ready to drop down for the feed.

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Vultures can fly as high as a Cessna 206 aeroplane, they have an acute sense of smell and extraordinary vision which is why they moved in on this carcass as quickly as they did. One by one the vultures started dropping besides the Jackal, it was only a matter of seconds before they were going to over-power him. Eventually the Jackal admitted defeat and walked off slowly, perhaps it wasn’t his lucky day after all.

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Vultures play a vital part in the eco-system as they clean the environment of decomposing carcasses and as a result eliminate lingering bacteria such as anthrax. They are perfectly adapted to this function with their eyesight and sense of smell as mentioned above, their strong beaks and extremely corrosive stomach acids which can break down rotten meat.

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Blog story and images by Salani (Professional guide at Okuti)

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

Since the beginning of last year, a young male lion has inhabited the Shinde concession, our team of guides always joke and call him him “Boutu” which means magic or ghost in Setswana.

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The reason we have named him this is because he plays hide and seek with us, you will hear him roaring throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning but when it’s time to track him on game drive he disappears like he was never there.

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I was on an early morning game drive with my guests when finally the hide and seek game came to an end as I spotted him walking out of the long green grass, in an almost ghost-like manner. It amazed me how healthy this lion is looking, his coat is shining and he looks very well fed.

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The question I ask myself is how long will this healthy lifestyle of Boutu last as we have a coalition of two brothers that own this territory where we saw him. Will Boutu continue to play hide & seek with the two brothers or will they catch up with him?

Story, Images & Video by Bee (Professional guide at Shinde)