MY EARLY CHRISTMASS
The afternoon flight to Nxabega had something to offer us, because it warm quite a significant number of game could be seen drinking and feeding along the river. There were some frequent sightings of elephants, zebras, hippos and giraffes because they are conspicuous from air as a result of their size. After landing, we drove towards the camp and we were lucky enough to spot three lionesses and one male lion lying down in the shade. We watched them for some time and later left them for the camp.
On the drive in the Okavango Delta, we saw a spotted hyena cub at the den site on its own. We viewed it for a short while before it went back in the hole. We also had a fantastic sighting of a breeding herd of elephants drinking and later crossed the channel. It was nice to view them with the vehicle parked on top of the wooden bush bridge and there were no obstructions.
A sighting of an adult steenbok drinking water at a seasonal floodplain is worth mentioning. Steenboks are well known to rely on moisture from the food they eat and turn to stick around slightly drier areas.However, in this case this steenbok was drinking from a floodplain although it was brief. At Khwai, in Moremi Wildlife Reserve, we spent a long time watching two leopard cubs(+7 months).The cubs were hunting swaisons francolins,and the interaction went on for over two hours. The francolins were alarmed and changed trees with the leopard cubs not willing to give up on their hunt. As soon as it warmed up, the cubs decided to give up and went to rest in the shade provided by the bluebushes along the river.
Sightings of different animal species and the birdlife along the river was superb. At this time of the year, the water level has started to recede and the herons have started nesting. On our way to Savute ,the Mababe depression area was very green and water had already collected in the water holes as as result of early storms. A lot of bull elephants could be seen drinking and wallowing , a clear indication that their Christmas came very early this year.
Normally, the rains start around month end or in the first week of December. At Savute,the morning drive had some surprises for us. We saw a breeding herd of buffalos feeding the open marsh before retreating in the acacia savanna to seek shade when it warmed up. South east of jackal pan, the Savute pride (two males, three females and three juveniles) were feeding on an elephant carcass that they had killed earlier in the morning.We watched them feeding and drinking nearby before leaving them to go and have tea.
Before we reached the tea spot, the wild dogs (12) were playing along the river. Their bellies were full which was a clear sign that they had something to eat. When we went to stop for tea it was an opportunity for us ponder all the sightings we saw. On the afternoon drive,we didn’t go very far because we picked up on a female leopard nearby.She was sleeping in the open and we hung around to see if she would wake up and start hunting.
The exploration trip came to an end in northern Botswana where we were lucky to see the wild dogs again on the boat. They had an unsuccessful chase and later decided to lie down.The seven puppies continued to play and socialise along the river. We watched them and left them to drive along the riparian woodland. The sighting of a female leopard and a cub and a female impala kill up a mahogany tree was incredible. It was clear that the leopards had eaten a bit from their kill. They later came down from the tree and started socialising before heading towards the river to drink.
Sightings of birds could not be avoided as it was a perfect season for them. We saw a yellow billed stork feeding on a tilapia fish,two giant kingfishers feeding on two different tilapias and a water monitor lizard feeding on a crab.The concentration of elephants, hippos, giraffes, impalas, sable and roan was unbelievable. On our way out of the park, eleven lions were interacting in the open grassland with a herd of about 400 buffalos. The confrontation was so fierce that the lions escaped narrowly for safety.The speed of the lions while dashing across the open was astonishing.
What a perfect way to experience a safari in northern Botswana.
Posted: Botswana Expedition by Keiditsemang Jeremiah Gabogolelwe, Date: 3 November 2011