Climate and Landscape
It has been a very mild winter so far at Kwetsani, with only two really cold mornings. Otherwise the days have been lovely, and on the days when there is a bit of a wind, plenty of sunny spots kept us warm. Even though June was mild, we still have had to make use of the ponchos and hot water bottles for our game drive activities and of course the “bushbaby” (water bottle) in bed is imperative, for a cosy snuggled sleep.
The wildlife sightings were phenomenal at Kwetsani during June. Cape buffalo were seen in their hundreds at one point, which was a pretty spectacular sighting in itself, but then in addition, behind this impressive aggregation, a massive herd of elephant was seen that even the guide was wowed by.
All the plains game has also been on high alert as there seemed to be a lot of predator activity. The female hyaena that is always around camp was successful in hunting one of the impala that live on Kwetsani Island. The cries of the impala rang out in the evening air for about five minutes before it mercifully took its last breath – a reminder of the cycle of life that must take place. The same hyaena managed to kill a baboon that was severely injured during a fight with the new dominant male baboon that had taken control of this troop. We watched as she carried the baboon carcass proudly in front of camp to an island some way off; it made me wonder if perhaps she had pups waiting on one of the islands.
The baboons also have been very interesting to watch. The previous alpha male died, leaving a gap in the hierarchy – we went through several days of watching and listening to the new alpha male take charge. During this time he injured some of the younger males and killed some of his predecessor’s very young babies. However, life has now settled down in the baboon kingdom, and we are back to normal.
The female lions have entrusted their five cubs to a safe spot at the entrance to Kwetsani on a couple of occasions while they went hunting. Each time they went hunting while at Kwetsani, they were successful in pulling down a red lechwe. However, this was only enough to sustain the family for a day, so it is safe to say that the lions were hunting daily. On one occasion, when they went back to Jao Island, they were lucky enough to pull down a very old hornless buffalo – they gorged themselves until they could hardly move, with their bellies nearly on the ground. This lasted them for a few days, giving the two lionesses a chance to rest from their daily hunting. We have watched the cubs form their own little hunting party and try to catch the impala – but they are still too unskilled and the impala knew well in advance of their attempt. While they were in camp, the roars of the male echoed between the tents, and it was really delightful to listen to the cubs communicate with each other and their parents.
The leopard sightings at Hunda have been out of this world. Our guests were treated to a standoff between a male and female leopard over a kill. The female left for a while, during which time we suspected that she went and hid her cubs and then returned to challenge the male for her kill, ultimately winning the battle. She then lay on top of the impala carcass for a long time growling at the male until he eventually backed right away and left her to her food. On another occasion the leopard in a dead tree was picture perfect – even the light was just right for the picture, making our guests very happy. Towards the end of the month our guests experienced the tail end of a leopard fight, where sadly the one cub was killed. This of course is all part of the circle of life. Exciting for Kwetsani Camp was a leopard seen stalking wattled cranes on the floodplains in front of camp. She was not successful, but the next day she killed a lechwe in front of our pool area, and dragged the carcass under our pool deck. Because she is very skittish we let her be in the hope that she will feel happy to hang around camp more often.
The best unusual sighting was that of a large African civet that was around camp under the decking – he stayed long enough for us to see him nicely but not long enough for us to get our cameras – Murphy’s law.
So we come to the end of another successful month with many awesome game viewing sightings. We are waiting for July in anticipation.
Birds and Birding
A guest commented that before now she was never interested in birds, but just being out with our experienced guides as well as seeing the array of different coloured birds has changed her opinion. And it is true – the spectacular variety of species as well as colour and sounds does perk the interest of those who were not interested before. The amazing knowledge of the guides about these species is also phenomenal and you can’t help but be fascinated.
“Wonderful staff, wonderful lodge managers; the best food; warm décor; trustworthy and comforting guide – Moyo is a gem!”
“Birds, leopards, cubs and family, experience of dazzle of zebra, trumpeting of elephants. ‘Mokoro’ this am was calling us to stay forever. You have it all here, but most importantly your hospitality and the genuine warmth of the people of Botswana and this camp. Warm, open, joyful, helpful staff. Thank you again for last evening. Would love to return.”
“All the staff makes you feel like home, the food was really good. The room set up is extraordinary. All the game is much better than in other safaris. The honeymoon dinner was amazing. Overall this is a place we will come again and we will recommend to our friends. Thanks for all it was the best honeymoon.”
Thank you to Moyo Kapinga and Dennis Smith for a wonderful guiding month. Moyo has contributed some of his photos for this month’s web report – well done Moyo, some great shots!
Newsletter by Dan and Charmaine Myburg