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.

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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)

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

The African Darter (Anhinga rufa) is an aquatic species of bird found abundantly in the Okavango Delta and other parts of sub-Saharan African. You will usually see the darters perched on top of papyrus stalks lining the waterways or lurching out of the water as it makes a hasty flight away from the approaching motor boat.

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African Darters are also commonly known as Snakebirds - named so for the way their thin, elongated, serpent-like necks are often seen sticking out of the water as the rest of their bodies is submerged, or when mated pairs twist their necks during their bonding displays

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Unlike many other aquatic species, the darter does not have an oily substance between its plumage which enables it to dive deeper whilst fishing. This also means that they are not waterproof and their wings are easily waterlogged hence the reason why they are often seen drying themselves in this angel-like position.

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James, professional guide at Okuti, took this photo of a darter silhouetted against the late afternoon sun on the Xakanaxa lagoon – Arguably one of the best places to have a sun downer in the Moremi Game Reserve

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Blog and images by James (Professional guide at Okuti)

Posted by & filed under Junior, Kanana, Robby, Safari Stories, Simon (Kanana guide).

It’s been a busy week of game viewing at Kanana and it seems as though the frequent leopard sightings are really providing for a lot of interesting game drives.

Junior, professional guide at Kanana, was on early morning game drive when he identified leopard spoor on the road in front of him – he knew immediately by the size of the spoor that Kanana’s largest male leopard was in the vicinity. When they eventually found him walking on a game path he was making his way towards camp.

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(Photo taken by Junior, professional guide at Kanana)

Junior and his guests followed the male leopard until he was about three hundred metres from the entrance and as the leopard got closer he began scent marking and roaring frequently.

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(Photo taken by Junior, professional guide at Kanana)

On the same morning Simon and Robby were also following a female leopard who was scanning the area as she stood on a termite mound just outside the gate to Kanana. There was an impala bull nearby which she began stalking, using the termite mound as cover. The impala sensed the female leopard’s presence and alerted the rest of the herd by snorting, ruining any chance of a good breakfast for the leopard.

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(Photo taken by Simon, professional guide at Kanana)

Once everyone returned to camp after a successful game drive for all parties, the guides realised that the male leopard was roaring and scent marking as he approached the area where the female leopard was stalking the impala.

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(Photo taken by Robby, professional guide at Kanana)

What happened once everyone returned to camp is a mystery but the female leopard was successful in killing an impala the same afternoon!

Story and images by: Simon, Robby and Junior (Professional guides at Kanana)

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

It had been a while since we had seen our resident cheetah family on the Footsteps side of the Shinde concession. We had regular sightings in 2016 but these elusive cats seemed to have disappeared for the early half of this year.

It was a cool autumn morning when I was transferring guests from the airstrip to Footsteps camp, scanning the open grasslands of Footsteps I spotted two cheetah sitting in the grass. As we approached I noticed that this was the female who inhabited the area last year and to my surprise she had a cub sitting next to her – perhaps this could explain the reason for her leaving the area temporarily, there are a lot of lion, wild dog and hyena on this part of the concession – all would be a major threat to her cub.

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The cub was providing great entertainment for all of us as he was climbing up and down a dead mopane tree whilst the female seemed very alert, constantly scanning the area and keeping watch over her cub.

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She seemed relaxed with the vehicle so I took the opportunity to move closer to her so my guests could make the most of this magical photo opportunity. As we approached we sadly saw the remains of her other six-month-old cub just next to her and from the tracks in the vicinity, it looked as though wild dog had killed the cub.

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The joy and excitement of the sighting turned into a quiet sadness as everyone grasped the reality of the incident. The abundance of predators on the concession also means that there is a constant battle for survival and Cheetah, being the most shy and cautious of all the predators, seem to fall victim to this battle for territory.

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Although the sighting ended on a sad note, the positive is that this female cheetah successfully raised two cubs last year and we hope that she can do the same with this cub!

Story and images by Omphile Kaluluka (Specialist guide at Footsteps)

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

Wattled Cranes and Hippos at Four Pans

Four Pans is in pristine condition from all the rain we have had and it is definitely one of the most picturesque areas at Shinde. This week Bonolo and Relax visited the pans with their guests on separate occasions and they both had great sightings.

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Bonolo spotted a pair of Wattled Cranes walking and feeding in the shallows. This type of habitat is ideal for cranes and although these birds are on the list of endangered species, their numbers are flourishing in the Delta. Wattled Cranes feed on roots, tubers, bulbs of grasses and rhizomes which grow in shallow water. The birds nest on the flood plains where they only lay one or two eggs at a time but generally one chick hatches and is raised per breeding attempt. Wattled cranes are monogamous and pair for life.

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Relax was on a morning Drive with his guests when they came across this pod of hippo sunning themselves at the pan, a very rare an unusual site to see so many of these animals exposed during the day!

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Solly was on a night drive with his guests, it was drizzling and it seemed as though the game were all taking shelter as it was a quiet night. From a distance, Solly saw a pair of eyes glistening through the bush, "As we were busy maneuvering the Shinde grassland and bushes suddenly I saw bright eyes showing from a distance. I went close to check what it was and to my surprise it was the African Civet. This is one of the rare sightings I have seen in my entire fifteen years in the bush, it is only the second time I have seen it" I managed to get a blurry picture as the animals are very shy and it scampered off into the bush as we approached'

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Shinde's largest male leopard.

There is a common male leopard which we see around the concession, this male leopard is 15 years old and we see him often. It has been in the Shinde area for its entire life life.I have seen it make kills and drag the carcus up the tree however recently when this leopard kills we have seen it feeding on the ground, perhaps because of its age, the leopard has lost its claw mark grip and as a result isn't able to climb trees. - Bee (professional guide at Shinde)

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Stories and Images by Bee, Relax, Bonolo and Solly ( All professional guides at Shinde)