Shinde Leopard Cub Okavango Delta Ker Downey Botswana

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Shinde Leopard CubsShinde Leopard Cubs  – The New Arrivals


The Shinde concession is well known for its healthy population of leopards, especially the territorial male and female and their two cubs born last year, which all featured prominently in the video The Ker & Downey Experience (6 days in 6 minutes) .

Having waited many weeks for the appearance of the two new leopard cubs, the Shinde team were finally able to spend time and photograph the latest additions to the Shinde leopard family. If they are as photogenic as their parents and siblings, then guests at Shinde are assured of many amazing sightings for years to come!

 

Shinde Okavango Delta Shinde Leopard cubs

 

Some facts on Leopards :

  • Leopards have a gestation period of approximately three months and typically give birth to a litter of two to three cubs.

  • Each cub at birth, is blind and almost hairless.

  • They depend on their mother for food and do not leave the den until they are 3 months old.

  • At 12 to18 months, the cubs are ready to live on their own

  • Leopards are solitary creatures that only spend time with others when they are mating or raising young.

  • Nocturnal and hunt at night.

  • Excellent powerfull hunters

  • Spend time in trees

  • Do not need much water to survive

  • The leopard's spots are called rosettes because they look like roses.


 
Kanana okavango Delta Botswana

Posted by & filed under Safari Stories.

The Kanana Lions were  successful in their hunt for hippo.

Several weeks ago, the guides at Kanana reported a clumsy and rather comical attempt by a male lion to hunt hippo, an event was scrutinized by both guests and the rest of the Kanana pride! The lion was dragged unceremoniously behind the hippo as it ambled slowly back into the lagoon, seemingly unconcerned about the lion latched on to its rear end!

While not unheard of, hunting such large prey is certainly unusual for lions. Predators like any animal, need to ensure that the energy intake from their food source should always be greater than the energy used to obtain it. Subsequently predators tend to target smaller and ‘easier’ prey such as young, sick or older animals. Lions, while being able to identify suitable prey species instinctively, also learn how to hunt by observing the rest of the pride in action. The hunting of larger prey species such as buffalo, hippo and even elephants is fascinating, as it involves the evolution of new specialized hunting techniques.

The Kanana pride are seemingly in the early stages of this evolution, testing out a new prey, in this case hippo. After the initial ‘sparring,’ the pride have now successfully hunted a juvenile hippo, displaying an evolution of their recognition of hippo as prey, and in fine tuning their new hunting strategies. It is likely there will be more drama to come in the following weeks, as prior to the rains water levels in the Okavango Delta are at their lowest and hippo are forced to walk further for good grazing at night. The Kanana pride will continue to develop their tactics, often making mistakes, which could have fatal consequences, but ultimately will evolve into an efficient hippo hunting unit!

Okavango DeltaOkavango Delta , Botswana
Moremi Reserve Botswana

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An absolutely fascinating predator interaction occurred close to Okuti in the Moremi Game Reserve and was reported by Ker & Downey Botswana's guide Alex.

As Alex’s guests were due to leave camp that afternoon at the end of their safari, he felt it would be a good idea to leave Okuti early to cover as much ground as possible and hopefully finish the safari on a really high note. Well, his plans worked out better than they could ever have expected! As Alex pointed out, in this case the early bird truly did catch the worm!

“After only 10 minutes drive from Okuti, I spotted a leopard in a nearby tree and shortly afterwards noticed fresh wild dog tracks on the road. I considered that there was an excellent chance that the leopard might have been chased by the dogs and taken refuge in the tree. Wild dogs will attack and kill a leopard given the opportunity, considering them competitors for prey. It was a great start to our game drive!

Within few minutes the leopard dropped down from the tree and we followed him for some time, enjoying this exciting sighting. The leopard was clearly hunting, and cautiously approached a nearby kudu but was spotted and with a brief alarm call, the kudu fled. At that moment several impala exploded from the nearby undergrowth, clearly being pursued by a predator and ran directly towards the leopard! Clearly the imminent threat of the pursuing predator meant that the impala hadn’t noticed the leopard lying directly in their path. As the last impala passed, the leopard pounced, grabbing its prey by the throat within several feet of our vehicle.

Clearly being aware of the nearby wild dogs the leopard released the impala’s throat, and quickly dragged the impala to a nearby leadwood tree. A leopard is capable of pulling twice its own body weight into a tree to prevent other predators or scavengers from stealing it, and will return to feed over the course of several days. In this case the leopard was likely still winded from his struggle with the impala and could only manage to drag the impala about 1.5 m up the tree before the wild dogs appeared on the scene. The leopard quickly retreated to the safety of higher branches and was forced to sit for the next several hours while the wild dogs made an excellent, if very gory, meal of the lower half of the impala! One can only hope that the wild dogs left that evening, allowing the leopard enough time to save the upper half of his prey before the hyenas appeared!”

 

Moremi Reserve BotswanaOkuti, in the Moremi Reserve affords great game viewing opportunities

 

Moremi Reserve BotswanaMoremi Reserve Botswana

Okuti, in the Moremi Reserve affords great game viewing opportunitiesMoremi Reserve Botswana
Ker & Downey Botswana

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Ker & Downey Botswana is delighted to announce that Shinde is due to receive an extensive refurbishment, due for completion on the 1st of March, 2015.

As one of the pioneering safari operators in Africa, Ker & Downey camps continue to provide classically styled luxury, maintaining the historical charm of those first great African safaris. Therefore, in keeping with the Ker & Downey Botswana brand, the upgrades will focus on enhancing the elegance and authenticity of this iconic Okavango safari camp.

The Shinde refurbishment will be carried out in a two-phase process:

Phase One: Interior designers will initially replace all furniture and soft furnishings within the main camp areas, tents and throughout the exclusive ‘Shinde Enclave.’

Phase Two: The second phase will involve structural alterations to the guest tents and some minor improvements to the main area.

The central bedroom area of the tents are to be increased in size and, when combined with new ‘soft furnishings’ in classic tones befitting the natural surroundings, will provide the perfect wilderness retreat. Panoramic sliding doors lead onto an extended front deck from where guests may admire the expansive views across the Okavango Delta’s mysterious waterways or open grasslands.

The larger and completely remodelled bathrooms will also be refitted with new, stylish brass fittings and a new ‘wet room’ style shower.

Shinde’s unique multi-tiered dining room and lounge will remain essentially unchanged, with some minor alterations to the bar area adjacent to the fire deck.

Refurbishment Schedule:

Due to the weather conditions and the remote location of Shinde, the first phase will begin at the end of October and all materials and furnishings will be transported into camp well in advance of the rainy season. Once on site, new furniture and soft furnishings will then be installed over the period of several days by the interior design team.

The second phase will begin during the camp’s regular ‘off-season’ closure (5th Jan 2015 – 28th Feb 2015) ensuring no guests will be disturbed by any construction work.

All of us at Ker & Downey are extremely excited to be able to begin this refurbishment, and look forward to presenting this latest edition of a remarkable safari destination. As always Ker & Downey Botswana remains committed to maintaining exceptional standards and to ensuring our guests experience a truly unique wildlife adventure

.Ker & Downey BotswanaKer & Downey Botswana Shinde ker downey botswana

 
Ker Downey Botswana

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Kanana guests have experienced some dramatic and exciting wild dog sightings over the last few days, from  dogs chasing a honey badger to elephants chasing the dogs!


This very morning, whilst enjoying freshly brewed coffee and a scrumptious breakfast, the camp guides noticed several wild dogs pursuing a female kudu through the camp, before diverting their attentions to an unfortunate impala who happened to be feeding in their path. Naturally everyone was delighted to see such a enthralling sighting before even leaving camp for their game drive! The remaining coffee and breakfast was finished off quickly, in order to get out and about as soon as possible!

As the guests were being walked from the dining room to the vehicles for the morning drive, a single dog ran straight down the road and past the guests without giving them a second look. It swerved into some nearby bushes and within seconds, the unpleasant sound of an impala being pulled down was heard nearby. The guides and guests were the able to observe the end of the hunt on foot as the pack of dogs consumed their prey several yards away.

While the dramatic and brutal end to the hunt was both shocking and exciting, it reminds us of the often harsh reality of survival in the natural world. The impala lost its life, but the young wild dog pups waiting at the den would feed and grow strong as a result of this much needed meal.

 

Wild dog hunt at Kanana

 
Pels Fishing Owl Kanana Okavango Delta

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

Recently specialist  Ker & Downey Botswana guide 'OP,' was fortunate to spot one of the most beautiful residents of the Okavango Delta, the Pel's Fishing Owl. It occurred to him as he observed the owl, that while they are often listed as an important 'box to tick' while visiting the Okavango, most people know little about them. He endeavoured to present some facts about this unusual owl, and why Kanana is the destination for you, should you wish to see one!

 The Pel's fishing owl (Scotopelia peli) is one of the largest owl species in the world, with a distinctive ginger barred plumage and large, often completely black eyes. Their call is described as "a deep, sonorous, horn-like boom, first a single and then a higher pitched “huhuhu" and is a truly unique sound and once heard echoing through the night, it is not easily forgotten! They feed predominantly on frogs and fish snatched, much like the African fish eagle, from the surface of the water, though as this occurs at night, it seems more impressive!

 The owl roosts and hunts from large trees overhanging slow moving waters, which describes perfectly the many wooded islands and river edges throughout the Okavango. The delta provides a perfect habitat for these birds and while they are not listed as endangered, being a nocturnal species, combined with their residing in often inaccessible wetland areas means they are rarely seen.

 The central area of the Okavango in which the Kanana concession is found, has long been recognized as an ideal area to search for the Pel's fishing owl. The myriad of small rivers and streams filled with crystal clear waters, dotted with heavily wooded islands and rich riverine forest is perfect fishing owl habitat. The tree lines are easily explored using the traditional canoe or mokoro, and on foot walking along the edge of the many islands. The exploration and searching the waterways on foot and by mokoro adds an additional dimension to your safari. Guides use their local knowledge to identify common nesting areas of mating owls, which then allows them to narrow down their search areas. The chances of sightings during the day of roosting adults and if one is lucky, even a chick or juvenile offspring are excellent and this makes Kanana an ideal location from which to seek out this special bird and tick off one more 'box!'

Photograph taken by Corinna Horsthemke (ATI Holidays)

 

 

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The African bush never ceases to amaze even the most seasoned traveller or guide. At any moment a seemingly relaxed sighting can instantly become dramatic and an often unique scene. On an evening game drive within the Kanana concession part of the Okavango Delta, guides spotted a pride of lions lazing away the last vestiges of the day's heat. As it was still warm and the lions clearly not feeling energetic, the guides and their guests settled down also to observe the pride, wait on some movement and the possibility of stunning photographs in the evening light. However, the wait was not long, as after only several minutes a large male lion appeared from the distant tree line, making his way leisurely towards the rest of the pride.

The male's arrival seemingly galvanised the pride into some sort of action and, after the necessary greetings among the members of the pride, they all began to amble towards the nearby waterhole for a cooling drink. As the vehicle followed the Kanana  lions towards the water, the guide noticed a mature hippo directly in line with the advancing pride, grazing on the lush growth surrounding the water's edge.

While it is not unheard of for lion to hunt hippo, (some prides in Botswana have adapted to specialise in hunting them and this requires the cooperation of the entire pride) their huge size and power make them an unusual and potentially very dangerous animal to target. African predators are however nothing if not opportunists, and the male lion quickly began assessing the hippo as potential prey and lowered himself into the grass. As the male started stalking the hippo, the remaining members of the pride sat down and watched. Inching his way into position the lion burst into a sprint and leapt onto the back of the hippo digging his front claws deep into the rear of the hippo.

At this stage the hunt began to go awry. Without any support from the rest of the Kanana  pride, the hippo then proceeded to trot towards the water, dragging the lion behind it. The lion was left desperately clinging on with his front claws while his legs dragged along in the dirt! As the hippo entered the water, the lion decided on a retreat and released his hold. However the other hippo in the waterhole, having seen the attack, rapidly advanced on the now bedraggled lion and forced him into a most undignified sprint back to the pride!

During the entire event the remaining members of the pride had not moved an inch, clearly not impresses with the hunt on view or even the potential prey. The Kanana pride has much to learn if they wish to consider hunting such a large animal again !

 Kanana LionKanana cubKanana OKavango Delta

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

Following the dramatic events surrounding the arrival of four male lions to the Shinde concession and the ousting of the incumbent pair, much interest has been shown in the wellbeing of the pride and the offspring of this coalition, which resulted in eight cubs. Senior guide OP updated us on a recent surprise discovery in camp.

During siesta we heard urgent alarm calls from a herd of impala near the edge of the camp, and so we went to check what was bothering them. To our surprise we came across seven cubs (alas one has been missing for a long time) which we had been looking for, with our guests, all of that morning! The vehicle quickly rushed back to camp and our napping guests were quickly roused. A leisurely afternoon was spent with these relaxed and playful little ones, who had clearly been left in the relative safety of camp, while their mother and aunt had gone out hunting!

 

Shinde Cubs Okavango DeltaShinde pride Ker & Downey Botswana


 

Posted by & filed under Omphile Kaluluka (Specialist Guide), Our People, Safari Stories, Shinde.

The Shinde concession continues to provide jaw dropping sightings of lions. Following another night filled with the roars, known and never forgotten by anyone which has been fortunate enough to hear the call of the African king, we embarked on a game drive to look for the lions responsible for the noisy night. The only thing on our minds was to find them, but found much more than we had expected!

Initially we found, not far from camp two fresh female tracks accompanied by the Shinde cubs.(see previous blogs). Everybody was on the edge of their seats, with the expectation of seeing them. We tracked the lions closely and the tracks seemingly led us all over the place and it appeared the lions were hunting. After some time, we spotted distant vultures, diverted and immediately knew something was very fishy, or should I say, meaty! However as we drew closer, we realised that the lions were three females who we didn't recognise and therefore are new to the concession. They had just finished feasting on a young wildebeest and the vultures were descending on the carcass. The females were lying under a small bush, breathing heavily and clearly uncomfortable with their full bellies. We were able to capture some great footage of these beautiful cats.

The next morning with the previous night's calls and more lion tracks, it was clear that the activity of choice would be a game drive which would hopefully reveal some more excitement. The drive didn't disappoint and while we were again unable to find the cubs, we were even more fortunate, and came across the three new females as they began a hunt. This hunt was again successful and we observed as the lions, as a team, stalked and killed a warthog right in front of the vehicle!!

To watch the exciting action click on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLzdSliEpqU

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Guests staying at Okuti recently were desperate to see breeding herds of elephants. In response to their request, Solly arranged a picnic lunch to be packed in order to spend a full day out of camp and explore farther afield. Their day trip started well with several excellent sightings of elephant herds including a breeding herd followed by buffalo with calves and several other game species. Solly  took them along the boundaries of the Moremi Game Reserve, near Khwai village, an area well known in Botswana for its incredible wildlife. Here they had the extremely unusual sighting of a female leopard with a very young cub. An adult leopard is normally shy and reclusive, but this pair were unusually relaxed and allowed the guests to admire the youngster for sometime, taking some photographs before retreated slowly into the undergrowth.

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