Our safari got off to a cracking start with mating lions near Third Bridge in Moremi Game Reserve. The mating pair were joined later by another male lion and the trio then moved south towards the wild dog den where the wild dogs have just had their pups. We were fairly certain that something was going to happen and soon the drama unfolded before our eyes. The trio of lions attacked the wild dogs outside their den. The dogs luckily managed to escape and whilst the male lions held them at bay the lioness tried to dig the wild dog pups from their den. Even more fortunately we had arrived just after sunrise and so had the sighting to ourselves for over an hour.
Just a day after the lion and wild dog excitement we were treated to another wildlife drama near Fourth Bridge where a cheetah successfully tackled and killed a young kudu. Seeing a kill on safari is rare and seeing it from beginning to end is even more rare, we were indeed fortunate that our patience paid off!
Our first leopard appeared before we left Moremi Game Reserve and sat obligingly on the road near the Xakanaxa airstrip before moving off into the bush but thankfully this was not the last. We had a very relaxed female along the road to Bodumatau and also got a good look at the male leopard at Kudu Hill in Savuti. Another sub-adult female also put in an appearance in Savuti near to Sable Hill. Leopards in Chobe National Park used to be quite difficult to find but in the last few years Savuti has become a leopard Mecca.
With all the migratory species of birds safely back in the northern climes there was nothing spectacular on the avian front but we did have a great look at some Grey Penduline-Tits in the Zambezi Teak (Baikea plurijuga) woodland between Savuti and the Chobe River (Kasane).
Other exciting sightings on our safari included the quintet of male lions that are currently dominating the predator landscape in Savuti. What was interesting with this group was that one of the males was mating with a lioness whilst the other four were present. Normally the male and female will leave the pride for a few days during the mating ‘honeymoon’.
We were also treated to the sight of a number of bull elephants in Khwai which were shaking the Camelthorn (Acacia erioloba) trees to get at the nutritious protein-packed pods which would fall to the ground.
Our nightdrives in Khwai produced lions, honey badgers, a rare serval and several spotted hyenas. On our way from Khwai to Savuti in the Mababe Depression area we saw aggregations of over 1000 zebras on their way to greener pastures.
One of the reasons I love the Northern Highlights itinerary is the diversity of habitats and locations we get to visit, as a guide there are few better ways of getting the best out of Botswana. All in all it was another fabulous Botswana safari, thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm and their evident love for Africa in general and Botswana in particular. Thanks to Nick Schooler for all the great images he took on this safari and kindly made available to me. You can see more of his images in the safari photo gallery.
– 😎 Gabatsholwe Disho (19 June 2012)