The Okavango Delta’s supply of water comes mainly from the culmination of a river system that has its catchment areas in the Angolan highlands. This nutrient-rich water filters through papyrus and spills into Botswana. The nutrients from the water are dropped into the Kalahari sands and form a lush environment for millions of flora and fauna. The tip of Chief’s Island, where Mombo is situated, gets a rather large deposit of the waters’ natural fertiliser and creates an area of particularly palatable plants and grasses. This in turn attracts the grazers and browsers, and their numbers soon enough attract the predators. Indeed the ‘Place of Plenty’.
This creates an interesting dynamic amongst the predators who are all in competition with one another. Natural enemies, the lions and hyaenas dominate the landscape, while leopards use their tree-climbing abilities to stay out of the fray. It is less easy for the cheetah. In my first six months of living at Mombo, not a single cheetah had been spotted on the concession.
One afternoon on a drive we heard the monkeys making a loud racket in the trees nearby us. This is not uncommon at Mombo. Monkeys, squirrels, baboons and birds often alert us to lurking predators, and so we grabbed our binoculars to scan the bush. Sure enough, spots moved through the grass. A leopard! We looked closer. Sean then announced (rather uncertainly) that the animal in question looked more like a cheetah… This became clear once the cheetah had made her way up to the top of an old termite mound. A mother cheetah and her two sub-adult cubs had returned to the island! No doubt they’d been lured by the plentiful prey, and the cubs, now old enough to protect themselves, were ready to call Mombo home again.
Today the cheetah are doing very well with many sightings reported. The photographs below my sepia image were taken by Russel Friedman who recently spent time at Mombo. We are thrilled that the cheetah have returned !