For the past month the Mapogo have been seen on a regular basis in the camps’ traversing area maybe because two of the Ximungwe females are coming into season and are receptive to the males. Another draw-card was two large buffalo herds in the area and the lions have made a number of buffalo kills this month offering plenty of action for the guests. Most of these kills have been young animals, so have not lasted for any length of time hence the camp has seen fantastic interaction between the lions and the buffalo, where on several occasions the herds of buffalo have chased the lions off, but persistence prevails and normally ends with at least one buffalo being killed.
As already mentioned, mating with the Ximungwe pride continues and hopefully at least two, maybe three, of the Ximungwe pride are pregnant. The Ximungwe females caused a bit of a stir this month when they moved right to the north of Savanna which is unfamiliar territory for them. For one day, they also moved east out of the territory into an area they have never been to before. Everybody waited in anticipation to see whether they would return or whether this would be a permanent territorial change. Fortunately, they returned the following day, killed a waterbuck and returned to their original territorial area.
These Sightings can be Viewed at: Savanna Lodge
Autumn has arrived and one can see the seasons slowly changing. This has been offset by some very warm weather and some late rains which have kept the bush lush and green. Whilst the growth of the grass has diminished because of the reduction in daylight hours, the whole area is still remarkably green, compared to other years where we would have seen the grasses starting to go brown by this time.
Even though the bush is thick it has not affected the good game viewing. The four male lions, the Mapogo, have been on the property virtually for the whole month, so there has been no shortage of male lion viewing.
Having said in the previous newsletter how well the Ottowa pride was doing, they moved off the property to the east for a couple of days and unfortunately a hyena came in and killed one of the four cubs. What was interesting was the fact that, when the mother returned soon after the cub was killed and chased the hyena off, she picked up the dead cub, took it to the other cubs and they all ate the dead cub. Whilst there have been records of lion eating lion, this is not the norm. Since then, the other three cubs have been doing well and are growing vigorously, even though they have joined the rest of the pride and there is a lot of competition at the kills.
One of the females from the Ximungwe pride has brought out another litter of cubs. She has two tiny cubs that have already become so used to the vehicles that they ignore them whenever they are being viewed. The concern at present is that these cubs don’t seem to be as developed as they should be at eight weeks, which is an estimate of their age. Time will tell whether these two will survive. The one five-month old cub is still doing exceptionally well and is enjoying the fact that he now has two mates to play with and bully.
These Sightings have been Viewed at: Savanna Lodge
Some good news about the Ximungwe cub surviving as a lone cub; moving with its mother and the pride from an early age, this cub is doing extremely well. Against all odds it has survived. It has also been accepted by the adult males, who allow it to play with them and climb all over them, pulling ears and tails!
Two of the other Ximungwe females have also produced cubs. Only one has been seen briefly. It is believed that the one cub might have died, as the mother was not sure what to do with it, and left it out in the open while she went off to join the rest of the pride. However, she might well have come back and moved it.
The four big males that frequent the area have been camped in the south for the past few months, and have been seen regularly.
The Ottawa pride continues to visit the northern part of the concession, and the four young cubs are doing very well. What is interesting is that, on a number of occasions, a couple of the sub-adults from the previous litter have been left to babysit the younger cubs, while the rest of the pride goes off hunting; something that is not often seen.
All these Sightings have been viewed at: Savanna Lodge
Extraordinary sightings of the Timbavati White Lions at Kings Camp have been enjoyed by all. It looks like the Kubasa Pride have moved in and it looks like they are here to stay.
The two older Machaton lionesses, (Djuma & Sengela) had an ill-fated run-in with this pride close to the camp and came out second best. The two larger lionesses from the Kubasa Pride chased the other lionesses away from a young giraffe that they had killed earlier that morning. The two Machaton girls were left to lick their wounds further south of Kings Camp deeper into their territory.
After the giraffe kill they took strain for a few days, however managed after about 10 days to kill a large buffalo bull in Elephant Dam. They attacked the bull during the night and with severe injuries he decided to lie down in the water to try and stay out of trouble. They stared each other down during the whole day but finally at about 19:00 the two lionesses braved the water and went in for the kill. This was very action packed with very excited cubs that were not keen on getting wet.
After the fight the Machaton Pride re-grouped and joined the young Machaton Male. He soon got pushed out again by one of the Timbavati Boys and was joined by the 6 yr old female. The three older lionesses and the Timbavati Male moved vast distances in search of food without a lot of success, whilst the other two managed to kill a buffalo calf close to Hide Dam. The Rockfig Clan of Hyenas completed a nice scene and caused a brawl to break out over the buffalo carcass.
The now nomadic Schobele boys were also interested in some buffalo after being alerted to the upset bovine, which were bothered by the Rockfig Clan.
The hyenas were trying their luck at getting some smaller calves in the herd and got chased straight into the area where the lions were resting. They soon realized this and made a U-turn back to their den to rest out the shock.
The Schobele Boys are looking fine and it seems that they are getting used to being Nomads.
These Sightings have been viewed at Kings Camp
Peter Gava – Lodge Manager
Exciting lion news at Susuwe – A jungle without a King is like a deserted Palace and the throne is just devoid. This is a stead-fast belief in any community that deserves dignity, stability and continuity. The Bwabwata National Park was not an exception a few years back when human pressure had caused many wildlife species to disappear. Truly, the King of the Jungle ‘The African lion’ is among the species that were forced to the margin without doubt. For 10 years the Bwabwata National Park lions have not been very visual except for some calls and a few tracks to mark their presence. This has changed overwhelmingly resulting in frequent sightings of different individuals and prides that have now become a common sight at Susuwe Island Lodge and the famous Horseshoe Bend. The King of the Jungle has finally come to claim back his Throne in full force, all confirmed by the observations that follow.
Kathy Rabkin our recent guest had a feast of lion sightings. Soon after picking her up from Kongola Check Point, we drove into the Park without any inclination on what surprise waited for us ahead. Of course this was Kathy’s first time in Bwabwata and a very rustic Conservation area compared to others she has visited before, and this she loved and confessed repeatedly.
The storm had just passed by and the wet sand made our tracks on the road like a high-way. Soon as we arrive at Old Fort Doppies we picked up fresh tracks of what we all agreed was 4 male lions and the fact that the storm had only passed some 15 minutes back, experience plus instinct told us that the animals were just around. We drove further up the embankment and as we reached up the peak, suddenly two lions walked away into the bushes. The other two had obviously walked ahead of the two we could see. We gave the lions time to settle down so that we could verify the numbers and gender. Four individuals came back to the road in turns but went back into the bushes when we started the vehicle. Suddenly all the lions started calling as a result selling out the presence of the fifth individual who was still behind us. We had to drive back to look for him but he hid and then came onto the road behind us. On our way back there he was, running towards the rest in a gentle trot. Alas! This proved to be the biggest of all the males, with his glistening mane shinning as if oiled from the saloon. He stood and looked back, walked, stopped and looked again before disappearing into the bushes. We stayed with the lions for the next 45 minutes as they walked on the road towards Susuwe Island Lodge. The sun was going down and soon it would be dark, meaning we had to leave and leave our dear friends until the next day. I was happy for Kathy since this was her first lions seen so close in the wild.
Kathy was warmly welcomed at the Lodge whilst she still could not believe how quickly the whole drama unveiled. The lions roared over the whole night while baboons and monkeys responded with highly pitched calls of fear for their lives.
During the following day we had to go on an Afternoon Game Drive. We switched our game-drive to birding, termites and bones of animals although we did not take off the thought about our magnificent male lions. We picked up tracks of a female lion and a cub at Nambwa and I told Kathy that the two will be at Horse-shoe. Yes but not quite right! Just on arrival at Horse-shoe we sighted a sub-adult male and sub-adult female who were ambushing impala but abandoned the mission and ran to the nearest bushes. Kathy had all the luck for the Susuwe Predators and made sure it also crossed a female cheetah who lazily relaxed at a termite mound under a sweet thorn acacia tree.
We came back to horse-shoe for a lovely sunset with the hippos, baboons, kudu, impala and Hadida Ibis. What a wonderful sunset!
On our way back to the lodge we took the back road from Horse-shoe in an attempt to look for leopard but unfortunately we got back to the main drive road without any signs of the elusive cat. As we enter the main drive road, we again picked up fresh tracks of 4 male lions that were heading towards to Horse-shoe having walked on top of our previous tracks. Even though it was getting dark, we were enticed to turn around and follow them. Just 3 minutes after that they were on the road. They stared at the vehicle and then just slowly walked into the bushes. We drove closer and had a full view of all the four. We realized the lions were marking and probably trying to catch up with the pride of females. This is a good indication that our Bwabwata National Park lions at Susuwe Island lodge now have a strengthened gene pool and have discovered this space for ever, ensuring high probability of our guests having a great experience and viewing of them. This will give a complete consortium of Africa’s Big Cats being sighted at Susuwe since leopard and cheetah now feature very well in the area.
We bid Kathy Farewell and she obviously would have wanted to stay longer to share even more of the Susuwe magic. We had to drop her to Kongola Check-Point and drove back with the memories of her and the company she gave us over the past three days, and the lions.
Long live the King of the Jungle of the Bwabwata National Park at Susuwe wild Kingdom!
These Sightings have been viewed at Susuwe Island Lodge
Tubu Tree’s Threesome – Update
25 Nov 2009
Sighting: Update on Tubu’s lion threesome
Location: Tubu Tree Camp, Jao Concession, Botswana
Date: November 2009
Observers: Justin Stevens & Jackie Collett
Photos: Herve and Sylvie Deret
With summer in full force, the question is hanging in the air whether or not the Tubu Threesome – a coalition of three male lion – would remain at Hunda Island.
All seems good so far, as the threesome has been spotted together on numerous occasions over the past couple of months.
One night, 36 hours after the last sighting, Hunda was in a frenzy as the roar of lion echoed across the island. The morning came and the roaring continued – to the extent that the guests, eager to see what all the commotion was about, decided to skip breakfast. Soon after they left camp they came across two of the males with the third nowhere to be seen. The roaring was coming from them – obviously calling for the third, but getting no answer.
Eventually the lions gave up calling and lay down to sleep off the midday heat. Later that day the guides came across some vultures in trees and drove their guests in for a closer look at what turned out to be a half-eaten buffalo carcass. Suddenly, through the long grass, they noticed the third lion lying in the shade and watching his kill. He had separated from the others and brought down a buffalo all on his own – and now he was enjoying his solitary meal.
The other two kept calling for a couple of days. They were constantly on the move and caught on camera jumping over channels of water. Then there was silence. The roaring stopped and all three lion disappeared without a trace, leaving Tubu Tree Camp with unanswered questions: Would they team up together again? Would the one become more dominant and chase the others away? Had the separation forced them out of the area?
Everybody had to wait in anticipation. Finally a group of guests came upon the Tubu Threesome together walking on Ivory Road, looking very strong and healthy. The excitement didn’t stop there – as the guests were watching the three, they saw something charging through the tall grass. A very brave leopard had decided to challenge the lion! One of the lions stood his ground which resulted in a chase with the leopard finally disappearing and the Threesome coming close to Tubu for a relaxed evening sleep.
Special thanks to Herve and Sylvie Deret for providing us with these spectacular pictures!
These Sightings have been viewed in & around this area: Tubu Tree
Multi-predator Feeding Frenzy at Mombo
13 Jan 2010
Location: Mombo Concession, Okavango Delta
Date: 12 January 2010
Observer: Kago Tlhalerwa
Photographs: Kago Tlhalerwa and Gordon Karovsky
An action-filled stay was enjoyed by guests who recently stayed at Mombo; they experienced an incredible day when the Moporota sub-adult lions decided to attack a buffalo in front of Little Mombo Camp Room 1 and Mombo Camp Room 9.
As the lions took down one of the buffalo, the entire breeding herd turned back and charged at the lions. One of the lions was tossed into the air by the buffalo and in all the chaos the buffalo that had been attacked initially managed to escape. Other lion pride members used this pandemonium however to their benefit and brought down another buffalo – this time causing fatal wounds on its hind legs that it could not walk properly any more. The rest of the buffalo herd kept charging the lions. The lions now took time to revise their tactics though and just kept a safe distance, waiting for the herd to leave the scene. Once they had left, the lions came in for the final kill, claiming their victim.
These lions kept feeding until late in the evening. The noisy arrival of spotted hyaenas at the kill however eventually attracted a different pride of lion with big males (Moporota and the Jao Boys). The sub-adults, realising that they did not stand a chance, decided it was time to leave. The hyaenas also realized they were no match for the adult males and ran, and the guests thought it was all over for the night. They soon realized it was not the end. Suddenly a huge three-metre Nile crocodile arrived and started feeding on the carcass! The lions were not pleased with the arrival of this prehistoric predator and charged at it. The crocodile fought back and the lions eventually gave up keeping all the meat to themselves, an incredible sight of lions and crocodile feeding together.
The hyaenas finally got access to the last remains in the early hours of the following morning – breaking bones and feeding on the sinewy bits. By the time the sun was up, all that was left was a few scattered bones and squabbling vultures clearing up the last bits from this feeding frenzy.
These Sightings have been viewed in the Mombo Area near these Camps: Mombo Camp & Little Mombo