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Moe Cheetah tracking tales: Green Season Kwando Concession, Feb 2020 - Just in the nick of time!


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Reflections of what seems like a long time ago! Yet, only a month and a half ago things were as normal as could be in a pre Covid-19 life ....... 


I was in Addis Ababa for a conference in Mid February from Feb 14-16 and was there a few days prior to that for pre-conference meetings ...... First of all, at the moment cannot believe that things went through without a glitch!  There was no social distancing and people from round the world came together (Italians, Swiss, Germans, Indians, Turks, Africans from different East African countries) ....... all went through without a hitch.  At that point in time, I suppose things were mainly confined in Wuhan (or so we assumed) ........ Later on, the organising committee contacted every attendee to check if all was okay on their return and yes, every single person was!!! (still can't get over this) 


On the morning of Feb 17th when i landed in JNB a Health check officer from SA immigration services came onto the plane with one those thermal guns ......... No problem we were all allowed to disembark. 


Onwards to Kasane ...... There were health officials in Hazmat suits and a thermal gun and a form to fill (took a few minutes to fill) but it all looked like a Sitcom at that moment in time ...........  We were oblivious to the fact that S**T was about to hit the fan!!! 


Anyways, at the moment I can only think of all the fun times with Spencer and Mr.Moe not just from February - but, going back many many many  years !!!!  Lebala was rocking!  


Here's the first bunch of images ........ I have no words !!! I am into day 26 of my lockdown now ....... 

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Edited by madaboutcheetah
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@madaboutcheetah Glorious pictures again, what a joy to see them at my sunday breakfast and dream about days gone by when it was easy to book a trip and go. It is miraculous indeed that all participants of your conference came home uninfected.

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Thanks @Biko


next lot - iPhone photos ..... including a walk on my final morning ( leadwood woodland near Nare pan) 75BCFC1D-00D2-4641-B70D-0FDE581E5562.jpeg.60bb0ebfecab29845939f5efcd1127a4.jpeg



Wapoka pride at Motswiri pan


D21C1AF8-C3C0-4F17-BD1E-B460160C191C.jpeg Classic Lebala Sunset



61559036-193C-429F-9736-64A11D5A35CA.jpeg The Iconic Dead Leadwood at Skimmer Pan



0666CD8E-533D-43F9-9553-46CB0B41A3E3.jpeg Getting ready for our walk




BC5B2C55-D9E9-4DEA-992E-9C9B7D16558A.jpeg I tried the Ginger biscuit recipe  



409C9AF0-1403-4884-9754-3A439F51BE1A.jpeg Shashe the receptionist 

3F037CE1-9371-4D1D-9D36-01481729AB4F.jpeg  Jani from Moremi Air

4958CCB3-B07E-45AB-A1BC-E9FB8CA6D463.jpeg He's a poser!!!


Edited by madaboutcheetah
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More iPhone photos ..... good times !!! 




E8102E25-9541-4427-A408-7ACCA698B1FF.jpeg OP the new Waiter - He's ambitions to be a Stand Up Comic .....




2D840AA8-E514-47A9-B2D8-8C38B73DD8FB.jpeg - Gin and Campari !!! 

A3886FFD-6629-4E12-8967-F0A564649A4B.jpeg - What a setting?!?


BCFA05D5-28DC-4D1E-86D5-761BE0DBC3EB.jpeg - Ah Classic Kwando experience!OP and Wago here!!!


Edited by madaboutcheetah
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@Safaridude;)  ........ Ofcourse! Including, a surprise !!! 


In this episode - some Portraits of the Wapoka waking up amidst some dramatic skies ........... 

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Hari, is the dominant female of the Wapoka pride, the one with a spot on its left flank, still alive?

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Hi Mike - thanks @Bush dog - very much so!!! Will have pictures of her .... still a warthog killing machine !!!! 

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Yes, Hari!  When I was there three years ago, in a few days I saw it killing two warthogs and since it was breastfeeding, there was absolutely no question of leaving much for others.

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9 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

Later on, the organising committee contacted every attendee to check if all was okay on their return and yes, every single person was!!! (still can't get over this) 


How many days later?



Your photos are. again, exceptional! 

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@Bush dog - the pride is over 20 still .... so many cubs too..


@xelas - they'd been contacting people through 3 weeks later ...... I gave them my reply on March 1 when I got home... but, they contacted me again on March 4th and March 7th.


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Some gorgeous photos--thanks so much for sharing. I love the lion interaction shots especially!

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Thanks @mtanenbaum


@Bush dog - Mike, a picture of "striker" towards the end of this instalment ........ That's what the guides at Lebala call her due to her Prolific Warthog hunting capabilities!!! 

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7 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

I gave them my reply on March 1 when I got home


Oh, you have returned same day as we did. 50 days of (self-imposed and mandatory) social distancing ... and counting.

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@xelas - I got more and more paranoid on return ..... while I was in the bush, Covid 19 had already made a dent in Italy, Iran and west coast USA ..... Flying through airports etc etc., one never can be safe enough !!! Reality hit the moment I flew out of Maun - even in the Maun airport at that time feb 29 - there wasn’t any social distancing.... that’s a small hold area in Maun airport .... I guess things got really bad not soon after I got home. 

I wasn’t required to quarantine on arrival by Indian authorities as I hadn’t been in a hot spot zone .... there were zero cases in Ethiopia, Botswana or SA at that point in time. 

However, only two weeks later and all citizens returning were required a mandatory quarantine of two weeks minimum .... that later translated to the present complete lockdown.....



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@madaboutcheetah those were also our experiences; luckily the new Istanbul airport is huge and we were able to keep away from others as much as possible. Zvezda declared isolation two weeks before government did, and she was right about what will happen. As our autumn trip to India is still 6 months away, I hope a vaccine will be available by that time. It looks like aside of Yellow Fever we will also had to show the COVID-19 vaccination in the future to be able to travel worldwide.

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Honestly, the general game was absolutely rocking - In particular, massive herds of Zebra all over the place ....... the dry season fires had brought about fresh growth and short grasses that the animals love!  Especially in the Lebala area.


We were lucky that summer rains were short and mostly at night .......... Except one massive rain, where it started around midnight and rained non-stop until 2Pm the next afternoon (not heavy, but, think London rain day ) ......... We didn't venture out until 3 Pm that day just to get out ...... 

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Here comes the surprise .......... My first photographable Cheetah cubs in the Kwando concession since 2008!!!!  These photos are only possible because of Spencer and his patience ....... These animals are still shy - possibly either came in from the Selinda Spillway or Muvumbi valley in Northern Kwando ...... We were able to inch closer after an hour and more holding well back and staying still and silent!  ....... The cubs were actually calm and not bothered after a while.  The mother cheetah wasn't having any of us and went behind a mopane bush while her 3 cubs finished off the impala.


Back track - we were in the valley from the 10KM road tracking the two big males all day (literally from sun up through to lunch and went back for a quick bite and returned, but lost tracks in the grass) .......... Lo and behold here was our find!!! They were first on a termite mound and we stayed back and watched the mother kill an impala in the thickets.... 


We were able to find them a couple times more over the course of the following days - each time, the Mum wasn't having anything to do with us ...... while the cubs really didn't bother.  What lies in store now??? How will they react in a few months when vehicles approach them again???  



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Congrats Hari - great sighting and photos!

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Oh Hari!  So great to see your report and photos.  Tell Spencer that we will see him next year!

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Thanks, Michael 


@marg - oh! You were due to go August as I recall??

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In this episode .........


Senior Wapoka members out searching for Warthogs ....... We left them with Mayezi (the lebala guide) and headed out for sundowners when we realised they were just prodding about ........ 


A shy Leopard in the woodland when we were scouting for cheetah ...... Spencer suggested we try to see if he calms down - but, the area was so thick with dense woodland that we didn't see the point ............ 


I'm not sure which Male Lion this one is - Might be the Pride male of the Holy Pride that had such a strong hold of the Halfway Pan / John's Pan area in dry season 2019 ........ They are probably there in the islands following buffalo - 

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The Kwando Concession had very impressive Zebra numbers everywhere ........ So, when good light presented itself - a break from the cheetah tracking which isn't an easy task this time of the year due to the grass  ...... 

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@madaboutcheetah...Hari,  yes August both Lagoon and Lebala camps then a return to Busanga Plains.  We will hopefully get rebooked for next year.


The zebra photos are lovely.

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