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My Kwando experience : report & stories


Bush dog

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Bush dog

In 2003, I decided to see what was happening north of Selinda, while saying that the region should be similar. Although the atmosphere of the Kwando camps was different, I was not disappointed. I spent a week in Lebala & Lagoon. This trip was followed by three others in 2006, 2009 & 2011, each time including Kwara.

 

In 2003, there were many lions, including the three males’ coalition that had dominated the Selinda pride for a few years, and wild dogs, but no leopards or cheetahs. During my four travels, I will, moreover, see, and very briefly, only very few cheetahs, at Kwara, as well as at Lebala and Lagoon. Like what, an individual reality never totally reflects THE reality of a place. There is not a single cheetah’s picture in this report. The lion population has decreased over the years. In 2011, I saw only 2 shy males feeding on the carcass of a young elephant, they had not killed, and that hastened to clear off when we arrived. In Kwara, on the other hand, the lions were still present, and continuously. Wild dogs, more discreet in Kwara, were mostly found in Lagoon, on a daily basis. As for leopards, from 2006, we could see them regularly everywhere. Elephants were everywhere, especially in Lebala. There were more great buffaloes’ herds in 2003 than in subsequent years. There were also sightings, that if not many, were regular, of smaller cats and honey badgers.

 

May 2003

 

The pictures and some of 2006 are slides’ scans.

 

Lagoon was managed by a lady who, if I remember correctly, was the wife of the chief-pilot of Moremi Air. Charles Sebaka was my guide. The camp was as I like, comfortable and without ostentatious luxury. The tents had a side entrance. It was then a small hall / dressing room with, en-suite, to the right the bathroom, and left the bedroom, facing the lagoon. I remember all this because one day, returning to my tent, I came up against something unpleasant, that, at the extreme, could have ended badly for me. More details on this a bit further. The dining room had no floor or tiles. The table and chairs were laid on the sand.

 

Pictures taken from and around the camp.

 

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Lebala was managed, on an interim basis, by a charming young woman, Dee. Ras Mundu was my excellent guide. Ras is a brother of Barberton (BB) who was guide at Selinda. I do not quite remember the details of the camp. I imagine that the tents were to be similar to those of Lagoon.

 

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To be continued

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May 2003   Continued   At Lagoon, there was at the time (maybe it still is?) a large African marula tree, also called, rightly, elephant tree. The camp was visited by two elephants, a very large

May 2003   Continued   One morning, we stopped, as usual, to have tea / coffee. Charles drew our attention to the song of a bird he spotted. He said it was a honeyguide. He began, by imitating

May 2003   Continued   A series of pictures of the three big males and members of their pride.     To be continued

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Big_Dog

Fascinating stuff. When you say 'no leopard or cheetah', as in they were never seen and literally absent from the area or just very, very shy?
Interesting to hear of the lion decline too...was it ever found out the reason, or wa it just the fallout of male warfare between coalitions?
Gorgeous photos too, interesting to see Kwando in film.
Intrigued by the 'unpleasant' thing...may I place a bet on a snake? ;)

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Bush dog

@@Big_Dog

 

Concerning the cheetahs, it was just bad luck. They were probably all at Selinda when I was at Lebala and Lagoon?

 

Concerning the leopards, I said in my previous report about the Selinda that "it was harder to see a leopard in those days than now".

 

Regarding the reasons of the lion decline, perhaps Hari has an answer to it?

 

The "unpleasant thing", as you called it, is a water monitor lizard.

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Marks

The "unpleasant thing", as you called it, is a water monitor lizard.

Can't wait to hear this story.

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michael-ibk

You are doing Kwando! Great, very much looking forward to this!:)

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Bush dog

Intrigued by the 'unpleasant' thing...may I place a bet on a snake? ;)

 

 

Sorry, @@Big_Dog, as you mentioned a snake, I thought you were talking about the lizard on the picture.

 

I had forgotten the "unpleasant thing" on the way to my tent, that is, of course, not a monitor lizard, nor a snake.

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madaboutcheetah

@@Bush dog ..... mike, thanks for starting this report.

 

More recently Lions have made a serious comeback at both the lagoon and lebala ends.

 

You did have bad luck with cheetah it appears. Wow .... leopard I didn't have any day time sightings until maybe 2007 or so I think,

 

I do remember the old tents that would eventually be taken down in 2008 I think.

 

You also have the dead lead wood tree from white plains in your post that's so nice to see!!! Can hardly wait for more. Thanks again.

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Geoff

Excellent Mike. Another thread that I will eagerly await new posts.

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Tom Kellie

Concerning the leopards, I said in my previous report about the Selinda that "it was harder to see a leopard in those days than now".

 

 

~ @@Bush dog

 

Is there any reason why leopards may have been more difficult to spot in the past?

Is that due to changes in vegetation or possibly due to population dynamics?

Or is it a consequence of habituation to visitor vehicles?

Thank you for preparing and uploading this trip report.

As others, I'm interested in your unpleasant encounter.

Tom K.

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madaboutcheetah

OMG - The tracker looks like LT - Mike, does the name ring a bell?

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Bush dog

@@madaboutcheetah

 

Thanks, Hari for all those interesting precisions. I guess you will have some more opportunities in the course of this report to pertinently intervene.

 

Yes, you're right, it was LT.

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Bush dog

 

Concerning the leopards, I said in my previous report about the Selinda that "it was harder to see a leopard in those days than now".

 

 

~ @@Bush dog

 

Is there any reason why leopards may have been more difficult to spot in the past?

Is that due to changes in vegetation or possibly due to population dynamics?

Or is it a consequence of habituation to visitor vehicles?

Thank you for preparing and uploading this trip report.

As others, I'm interested in your unpleasant encounter.

Tom K.

 

For me, it's a consequence of habituation to vehicles.

 

Thanks a lot for your comments!

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madaboutcheetah

 

 

Concerning the leopards, I said in my previous report about the Selinda that "it was harder to see a leopard in those days than now".

 

 

~ @@Bush dog

 

Is there any reason why leopards may have been more difficult to spot in the past?

Is that due to changes in vegetation or possibly due to population dynamics?

Or is it a consequence of habituation to visitor vehicles?

Thank you for preparing and uploading this trip report.

As others, I'm interested in your unpleasant encounter.

Tom K.

 

For me, it's a consequence of habituation to vehicles.

 

Thanks a lot for your comments!

 

 

I agree - prior to the daytime Leopards ..... I remember an extra long search in the dark for Leopard, because that would be the only time you'd ever see one!!! In particular, I remember a female with a limp in the hind leg (Limpy) - she would often venture across the border to the Selinda side too...... Mike and Geoff might know her.

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Tom Kellie

For me, it's a consequence of habituation to vehicles.

 

Thanks a lot for your comments!

 

~ @@Bush dog

 

That's highly significant from my perspective.

I work with a pair of graduate students who are investigating the ramifications of habituation with relation to shyer mammals.

I'm of two minds when considering what you've written. I'm glad that you were able to see leopards with comparative ease, but simultaneously I wonder if anything is being lost through the process of habituation, especially when cubs are raised in a habituated environment.

Your writing, thought patterns and photography are such a pleasure to read!

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

I agree - prior to the daytime Leopards ..... I remember an extra long search in the dark for Leopard, because that would be the only time you'd ever see one!!!

 

~ @@madaboutcheetah

 

Fascinating! That corroborates @@Bush dog's comments.

The steady increase in habituation is a profound change in the natural environment.

It's especially appreciated by an African green newbie like me to hear the recollections of veterans.

You folks are able to identify trends based on your recollection of past safaris and your regular safaris in the interim.

Much appreciate your comment!

Tom K.

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madaboutcheetah

Tom, we are talking of 3-5 vehicles at the most on a given day.

 

The concession opened to Photo tourism in the late 90s - not sure of the exact year ....... Perhaps '97 -98? It took a long time in that case.

 

Also, bear in mind prior to say the mid-2000s not many people went to Botswana in the green season months - it was purely a dry season destination.

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Bush dog

 

For me, it's a consequence of habituation to vehicles.

 

Thanks a lot for your comments!

 

~ @@Bush dog

 

That's highly significant from my perspective.

I work with a pair of graduate students who are investigating the ramifications of habituation with relation to shyer mammals.

I'm of two minds when considering what you've written. I'm glad that you were able to see leopards with comparative ease, but simultaneously I wonder if anything is being lost through the process of habituation, especially when cubs are raised in a habituated environment.

Your writing, thought patterns and photography are such a pleasure to read!

Tom K.

 

 

As long as the people on the vehicles don't have any bad intentions towards them, it's OK. Let's just hope that in the future decisions are not taken to again dedicate those places to hunting!

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Tom Kellie

Tom, we are talking of 3-5 vehicles at the most on a given day.

 

The concession opened to Photo tourism in the late 90s - not sure of the exact year ....... Perhaps '97 -98? It took a long time in that case.

 

Also, bear in mind prior to say the mid-2000s not many people went to Botswana in the green season months - it was purely a dry season destination.

 

~ @@madaboutcheetah

 

That sounds like Meru National Park at present.

Given that Botswana was formerly a purely dry season destination for most, to what extent has that shifted?

In other words, is their currently a viable flow of guests during the green season such that Botswana operators are able to remain open and retain their full staff?

Tom K.

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Bush dog

May 2003

 

Continued

 

At Lagoon, there was at the time (maybe it still is?) a large African marula tree, also called, rightly, elephant tree. The camp was visited by two elephants, a very large and a smaller one, that daily came to feast on its fruits. As they could possibly endanger the safety of customers and staff, Charles chased them out to the exit of the camp, shouting, gesticulating and throwing large stones on them. It was quite surrealistic to see this little guy (Charles is San), scare these two big creatures. This did not prevent them to come back the next day. He decided then to take extreme measures, namely chase them out with one of the camp’s vehicles. We did not see them the next day .... But it was too good to be true, two days later, they were back. Nothing resists to the juiciness of the fruit of the marula tree.

 

Still about those two elephants, I had the pleasure, at least I prefer to see it that way, to find myself, on two occasions, face to face with them, on the path back to my tent.

 

The first time, after dinner. There was, at the exit from the dining room, a large tree and bushes that hid from sight the path leading to the tents. We had just past the tree, me and my escort, when we found ourselves facing the greatest. He was as surprised as us, which allowed us to retreat back quickly and take shelter under the roof of the dining room.

 

The second time, after lunch, I was going back to my tent, which was almost at the end of the camp, in order to take a nap, when almost arrived, I saw the lesser coming to me. As it was difficult to turn back, I continued to advance, while increasing the pace and making noise and big gestures. It made him stop, hesitate and retreat. This allowed me to arrive at the level of my tent, take the small side trail and arrive at the entrance. I still had to open the zip. In the meanwhile, the elephant had started again going forward and was at the beginning of the side path. The distance between it and me was to be in the range of seven to eight meters. So I began again to make noise and gestures and to make as if to advance towards it. We had started a little ballet of backward and forward motion, which lasted to me like forever, but in reality only a few dozen seconds, which enabled me to gradually open the zip and literally dive inside when the opening was large enough. I saw the mass of the animal pass along the tent. The ground was sloping down, carried away by its « enthusiasm », it almost managed to complete the race in the lagoon. I imagine that if there were any witnesses, they would have given me a new name: "Dance with elephants."

 

To close this post about elephants, a series of pictures that are not linked to the above stories.

 

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To be continued

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Geoff

Lovely light in a few of those ellie shots. Especially like the atmospheric images with the dust flying about.

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Tom Kellie

post-49296-0-87892200-1432734404_thumb.jpg

~ @@Bush dog

 

The elephants almost look surreal.

I like such a heavily atmospheric image.

Nice!

Tom K.

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madaboutcheetah

@@Tom Kellie - Yes, I think Botswana has a lot to offer year round.

 

Botswana is often priced in the upper end of the market in all of Africa, I think ..... so, at times the Green season gets booked up with seasonal specials and the like ....... For fear of hogging this trip report, I'm going to look up some old threads here re Botswana camps etc etc., which may contain more information and top it up for your perusal. Will do so tomorrow .......

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie - Yes, I think Botswana has a lot to offer year round.

 

Botswana is often priced in the upper end of the market in all of Africa, I think ..... so, at times the Green season gets booked up with seasonal specials and the like ....... For fear of hogging this trip report, I'm going to look up some old threads here re Botswana camps etc etc., which may contain more information and top it up for your perusal. Will do so tomorrow .......

 

~ @@madaboutcheetah

 

That would be really nice.

Thanks so much for helping me.

I know next to nothing about Botswana as a safari destination but am beginning to stir, thanks to Safaritalk.

Tom K.

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Bush dog

May 2003

 

Continued

 

A group of young males and females had gathered on and around a termite mound. All was quiet, they were exchanging tokens of attachment and expressing toward one another their adherence to the group. Suddenly, on our right, one of the three big males (ex Selinda) appeared. We saw it before the group. When they saw it, they began to flee, scattering in all directions. Charles started immediately and decided to follow the big male, that was pursuing one of the young males. Unfortunately, due to the extremely rough terrain, we lost ground and had to abandon the pursuit.

 

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Returning to the mound, we found that other young male, obviously still recovering from its emotions, always very stressed and attentive.

 

post-48450-0-19548300-1432805063_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-76189600-1432805084_thumb.jpg

 

To be continued

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Bush dog

May 2003

 

Continued

 

A series of pictures of the three big males and members of their pride.

 

post-48450-0-16454500-1432811227_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-63696400-1432811245_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-48440800-1432811265_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-96237500-1432811287_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-25587700-1432811302_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-36062900-1432811329_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-25820400-1432811345_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-63054800-1432811358_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-22371600-1432811382_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-49395300-1432811397_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-79956000-1432811410_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-73661600-1432811438_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-85251200-1432811451_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-60996000-1432811467_thumb.jpg

 

To be continued

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