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A tribute to Steve Kgwatalala or how a good guide can make a difference


mvecht

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mvecht

Dogs again

In the afternoon we went looking for the dogs and soon found them.

They were preparing for the evenings hunt.

First they had a go at a very large Warthog. The Warthog fled under cover of a dustcloud and then tried to back into an Aardvark hole. The hole was too small and the Warthog almost looked embarassed when it could not get in <_<

Luckily for the Warthog the dogs had already given up.

A few minutes later the dogs checked a herd of Buffaloes to see if there were any injured or weak animals but had no luck.

A little later the whole pack stopped to take a drink. The puppies seemed a little scared of the water.

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We then followed the dogs onto a small island where they soon started to chase a Tsessebe. We were in hot pursuit but they were too fast but then we found them again chasing an Impala. They crossed the water in hot pursuit of the Impala and we could not follow but as luck would have it the Impala turned round and was killed less than 10 meters from our vehicle.

As the dogs were feeding our tracker spotted a Leopard in the grass nearby but it quickly disappeared from the scene.

After having eaten some the adults allowed the puppies in for a snack.

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Kwando delivered yet another great dog sighting

 

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mvecht

The next morning we started at the main Carmine Bee eater colony

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Then some general game including a Giraffe sitting down which I had never seen before.

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The we came across two Male Lions.

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@@madaboutcheetah Could this be Milky Eye? The picture was taken not too far from Lagoon but as you maybe recall Steve did not use names for the animals. I saw Milky Eye in 2007 but that was close to Selinda near Aardvark Island,

 

I realise that I have not shown to many pictures of Elephant but they were ever present.

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madaboutcheetah

Indeed, Michael .... That's Milky eye!!! He is originally from the lagoon area up north. I do believe he was named by either Selinda or WS in subsequent years as I hopped onto the game reports originating from there.

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marg

Okay....here he is. We were at Selinda in September 2007. We were not told that he had a name but it must be the same guy!

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Tom Kellie

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~ @@mvecht

 

WOW!

You take superb images of the Sun.

Very impressive.

Tom K.

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panamaleo

Double WOW! The photography is some of the best action-packed kills I have seen on ST. An excellent overall trip report and a fine tribute to the guide you obviously admired.

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madaboutcheetah

Michael, do you recall if that was at Kwena Lagoon? the pic of the baboons by the water?

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mvecht

@@Tom Kellie @@panamaleo

Thank you for the kind words.

@@madaboutcheetah Hari, I believe that it was Kwena Lagoon. Steve was very hard working and we would cover a lot of land including areas that most of the other guides would not cover so sometimes I have a hard time telling all the places apart as I am not very good with names.

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mvecht

@@marg

Nice picture.

I never saw the "kitten" side of him. In 2005 he made a mock charge of the vehicle and in 2007, with Spencer as my guide, I saw him take down a Buffalo calf.

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mvecht

The only sighting of Leopard came in the afternoon just North of Lebala.

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Then some Zebra in nice light.

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We then found two Steenbok. They got skittish and it turned out that the dogs were approaching. They hid under two different bushes with good cover and it was getting dark as well.

The dogs sniffed around for several minutes without finding the Steenbok but then things changed when a Vulture landed in the same bush as one of the Steenboks and it spooked. The dogs quickly took chase but into an area where we could not follow. According to the sounds they made a kill but shortly after we heard other sounds indicating that they lost the kill, probably to a Crocodile.

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On the drive back to camp we found a nice and relaxed Genet.

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The last morning of the trip we spent with the remaining two "Blood Brothers"

They appeared hungry but there did not seem to be any suitable food in the vicinity.

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mvecht

2006 Lebala

This trip was organised with a fairly short notice. I started the trip at Kwara and then transferred to Lebala where I met Steve.

Steve was no longer working for Kwando but I had arranged for him to come and guide me.

Almost every day we did full day game drives as we wanted to find the dogs that probably were in the Lagoon area.

In the end we did not find the dogs but still had other interesting sightings.

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Juvenile Bateleur

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Again Steve proved how important it is that the guide understands animal behaviour. I spotted a lone Giraffe and Steve said "well spotted, but there must also be a cat. The Giraffe is staring at something in the long grass. Normally its curiosity would make it stare at us!". The "Blood Brothers"

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The next morning early we had Wattled Cranes flying in perfect formation. I would have loved to have higher ISO capabilities on my camera but this was 2006!

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We then found a small pride of Lions with a quite young male. Botswana Lions can also climb trees.

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They were in a playful mode.

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Posing.

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Geoff

excellent tribute to Steve.

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madaboutcheetah

Michael, my fondest memory from 2006 was a female cheetah at Lebala.

 

I think I missed the boys that year - they were probably in Selinda or Duma Tau

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mvecht

Tracking a truck

 

Shortly after we left the Lions we met a supply truck. They had seen 2 Cheetah some 20 km further North but could not quite explain where, so what do you do? With the very sandy roads in Botswana and basically no traffic you back track the tyre tracks of the delivery truck!

 

On the way we found a herd of Buffalo including this oddly coloured calf

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We then came across very fresh tracks of the Cheetahs and Steve and the tracker continues on foot with me following behind in the vehicle. They quickly found the Cheetahs and Steve suggested that I continued driving and then told me how to approach the Cheetahs without scaring them.

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The Cheetahs seemed interested in chasing an Ostrich but nothing came out of it.

 

On the way back to camp we had an incident that was quite scary on the night drive. We came across a Hyena hunting a female Ostrich. We had to turn off the spotlight in order not to blind the Ostrich. The Hyena chased the Ostrich straight towards our vehicle and at one point I thought it would crash into the vehicle, but it just managed to get round. We could not follow the hunt, so I have no idea about the outcome.

 

The next morning we went south and saw some general game

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Long Crested Eagle

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Steve then decided we should visit Aardvark Island. Aardvalk Island is famous for its many Aardvark borroughs and Steve had not been able to show me an Aardvark yet. The crossing is in fairly deep water and Lebala normally discouraages the guides to go there but we made it safely. No Aardvarks but the Lions had made a killearlier in the morning but now they were just sleeping.

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Back in camp I had a little family of Francolin next to my tent.

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madaboutcheetah

I'm afraid Aardvark island has been under water for some years already ....... not sure if it's dried up in the last year or so - doubt it, tho!

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mvecht

Hari,

Thank you for the clarification.

It was already a dodgy crossing at that time. I believe that Charles got stuck in the water and I have seen Crocs in that area on previous trips.

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mvecht

In the afternoon we found this little Pearlspotted Owlet.

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and then some Zebra.

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Look at the stripes of mother and baby. They look very similar!

After dark we had Wild Cat and Scops Owl.

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The next day we did a very long drive. First to the very south of Lebala and then all the way north close to Lagoon Camp where we tried finding the dogs on foot, going to some places that could be accessed by vehicle. Unfortunately no dogs but good excersise. Something I often miss on safari.

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During the night drive we did see the small pride of Lions with the young male but more about this in the next installment.

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madaboutcheetah

Michael,

From memory - there was no "official" den at lagoon in 2006? I think the alpha female died in 2005 and there was another late den towards the end of 2005 with only 3 dogs in the pack .... For some reason they were not successful in 2006.

 

Yet, in August 2006 we randomly found two very dark colored male dogs on their own - it was Harry Steyn who found them and called us to the sighting!

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mvecht

Michael,

From memory - there was no "official" den at lagoon in 2006? I think the alpha female died in 2005 and there was another late den towards the end of 2005 with only 3 dogs in the pack .... For some reason they were not successful in 2006.

 

Yet, in August 2006 we randomly found two very dark colored male dogs on their own - it was Harry Steyn who found them and called us to the sighting!

Hari

Sorry but I think you are a year off.

The alpha female was killed in August 2004 as mentioned earlier in this report. Lisa was doing some private guiding and witnessed a Lion killing the alpha female near Lagoon airstrip. This happened just a day or two after Steve and I had left Lagoon and he was devastated. The rest of the pack tried to raise the 7 puppies but without luck. In 2005 there was no official den at Kwando as far as I recall but a large pack in Selinda, that after denning spent a lot of time at Kwando.

In 2006 dogs were seen around Lagoon but the den had not been located. I was there in mid July 2006 and we did not locate the dogs. However I do seem to recall that the den was found in August.

Hari, I am sure about the 2004 incident but the rest is just how I remember it. Anyone out there that remembers?

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madaboutcheetah

Okay - will try to look it up from my fodors report if I can find one from 2006

 

I'm pretty sure I was at Lagoon/Lebala/LK right at the end of August that year and can't really remember a den being found .......

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mvecht

@@madaboutcheetah

Hari

I found your old posting on Google/Fodors:

 

Latest Kwando Sightings report

 

 

Posted by: santharamhari on Jul 22, 06 at 3:48pm

 

Posted in: Africa & the Middle East

 

The Lagoon pack of 3 adults and 3 year-old youngsters have been seen frequently hunting and killing impala – the Alpha female was heavily pregnant. The pack seemed to vanish sometime during the last week, and the guides suspect they have denned in the area somewhere – probably deep into the mopane woodland as they did last year.

 

I read this as if they were succesful in 2005 which I did not know about.

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Michael ..........

 

Okay- WOW!!!

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madaboutcheetah

Not able to Copy and paste for some reason - My TR from 2006 is at F ........... Somehow it reads, "The lagoon pack unfortunately lost their entire litter of pups"

 

Will try to Copy and paste later on from home.

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mvecht

Hari

I found these old sightings reports from Kwando.

Not sure that it helps though.

 

August 2005

A pack of 3 wild dogs (2 males and a female) were followed they may be the foundation of a new pack next winter.

 

September 2005

The pack of 3 was seen again but moved west into thick mopane woodland after a day.

 

The pack of 3 would be the remainder of the original Lagoon pack.

In August 2004 there were 4 adults (2 males, 2 females) and 8 puppies when I arrived. 1 puppy was lost while I was there and the Alpha female killed a few days later. We had the news over the radio at Lebala and then the following day I was sitting next to Lisa (Jackson?)at dinner where she retold the story.

In October 2005 we did not specifically look for the pack of 3 but I do not remember why.

In July 2006 we did look for them. Especially doing walks near to old den sites but with no luck.

 

Looking forward to your old notes/trip reports for further clarification. as I vaguely remember something abouts dogs denning at a very unusual time.

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madaboutcheetah

Copy and paste from My Fodors trip report from 2006

 

Lagoon camp (trip report):

Amidst the quick packing at the end of my trip, i lost my journal from Lagoon camp....so i will not make a day by day entry for Lagoon. Just a synopsis for now: I have a detailed day by day trip report for Lebala and Little Kwara.

Landed in Maun on August 22nd from JNB. The flight was jam-packed with the usual safari crowd....everyone looks exactly like everybody else on the flight. My sister Beena and I had an immediate transfer by Moremi Air to Lagoon camp.

We met our guide to be Ruster, who was returning from leave who was heading bk with us from Maun. He is a fantastic person and a great guide!!! We were to spend the next three days with him.

The flight from Maun to Lagoon, had lots of great vistas and lots of ellies along the way.

On landing at the airstrip, we were little disappointed to see Jonah and Lebu (camp managers) go on leave. We are very fond of the both of them. However, Bk made us feel right at hom immediately. BK, many of you may know him from his great-guiding days from Mombo. He has lots of very interesting stories and is very very nice to talk to. Lebu, we were lucky to see her again later in the trip....

Game viewing was very good. Lots of huge ellie herds all over northern Kwando area. Some herds more relaxed than the others.

Every morning drive gave me good Sable and Roan sightings. I may hv a couple of good pics of Roan. The sable was little more shy.

Ruster and Baruti (brilliant tracker) followed up on lion prints to find a radio-collared lioness that was in a fight of some sort and seemed to be bleeding. The rest of the pride was skittish and bolted away prior to our arrival.

One evening, brilliant guiding and tracking brought us to the Lagoon pride across on a little island north of camp. The pride is currently 6 in number (4 lionesses and 2 sub-adult males). Spent the evening with them, as they stalked baby ele unsuccessfully. Was a fabulous afternoon drive. Strangely, the lions were not even looking at the warthogs that were in the immmediate vicinity. One of the sub-adult males has just recently joined the pride (probably nomadic)was what Ruster mentioned. Hopefully, the pride will soon gain strength to being a dominant force yet again.

Lots of good general game. Buffalo herds present, but, not in the same quantities as in the Lebala side.

The Lagoon pack of dogs, unfortunately lost their entire litter of pups. However, they are seen every 4 days or so. They cover a huge home range, and according to BK....they go to as far as Chobe NP. I missed them during my stay.

The famous cheetah boys (a favourite) on these boards, hang out most of their time these days in the immediate lagoon area. Unlucky for me, they were not seen during my 3 nights here, but, returned later in the week when i was at Lebala. Ruster, did call us to say they were bk. Lebala was rocking so hard, that, Spencer and i didnt want to leave our immediate sightings (at Lebala) to drive that far and lose out on good light to photograph. So, hopefully i will see the boys on my next trip.

Like i said, lots of good general game all round.

Overall, Lagoon was charming and nice. Game viewing very good, especially with a good guide like Ruster. Great guy, lots of interseting stories from his vast experiences from over the years.

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