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Long awaited re-union with the people and wildlife in Botswana; Magical Wild dogs; Discovery of brand new Cheetah brothers; Climate change is real in Winter wonderland's paradise - a Kwando safari!!!! - June/July 2022


madaboutcheetah
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madaboutcheetah

Dear All,

 

Here is my attempt to start a trip report having just returned from Botswana.  My sincere thanks to the people who make a successful Kwando safari.  I had to wait two years for this re-union with my friend and guide Spencer Mathambo -  Somehow the Pandemic and it's disruption ensured I couldn't make it to Botswana although I was able to visit other countries in 2021 - either I was not allowed freely into Botswana going from India or I was not allowed to come back from Southern Africa to India (after the early Omicron wave) .......  Great catching up with all our friends on the ground at the kwando camps.  Sincere thanks to my trackers (KB in the Kwando Concession and AT in Kwara).  The fall out of the pandemic meant that Mr.Moe my long standing tracker had to retire due to his age. (GULP) .....  I did meet him at the airport in Maun on arrival.

 

Thanks sincerely to the people on the ground in the camps(Managers, receptionists, waiters, guides and trackers)  - A million laughs, plenty of memories and long standing adventures as always ........ a great time as always!!! 

 

I begin this photographic report with a few photos from the super stars in the Kwara concession at the moment.  The wild dogs and their sensational den - 

 

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Welcome back, Hari. Congratulations on making it back to your beloved Kwando camps. Look forward to the  pictures of your safari ( and your comments!). 

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks @AKR1- This year had super tall grass, rainy winter weather (imagine winter rain in Southern Africa??) ; cloudy skies many days   - but, we had some thrillers along the way making it a kwando safari. 

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madaboutcheetah

In my opinion the puppies will leave the den super early - they are all over the place and keen to go far from the den with the adults.  Oddly - the alpha female goes out hunting every single day with the other members of the pack (this pack size 12 plus the 11 puppies) ... AT who's been at Kwara for a while now thinks this is one of the splinter groups from the Boko Haram pack.  Den site round the corner from the Kwara boat station. 

 

 

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Following with interest and so glad you made it out to Botswana! Sweet puppies! 

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Beautiful photos of the dogs. The interactions with the pups are wonderful. I also really like the dogs splashing through the water

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Dave Williams

Cracking photography already...and you have just broken the record for the longest title to a trip report ever!

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michael-ibk

Wonderful photos Hari. Really happy for you you could finally make it back to your happy place!

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@madaboutcheetahcan hardly wait for more!  especially since we are four weeks away.

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offshorebirder
6 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

 The fall out of the pandemic meant that Mr.Moe my long standing tracker had to retire due to his age.

 

I am so sorry to hear that.   I had been planning to specifically ask for Spencer and Mr. Moe when I make it to Botswana.   

 

But I am glad to see this new trip report from @madaboutcheetah and will follow along eagerly.

 

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Atravelynn
7 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Cracking photography already...and you have just broken the record for the longest title to a trip report ever! 

I am wondering what the limit is for titles.  If it is ever reached, I think we know who will do it.

 

Two years is a long time to wait for your "blood infusion."  Glad you made it back.  And in good company, both people and wild dogs.

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@madaboutcheetahGreat start to your trip report Hari, fantastic photo's as usual. I especially liked the dog crossings through the water and the several at a nice low angle, pretty much eye level. Very sorry to hear about Mr. Moe, another Kwando legend who will be missed dearly. We had KB as a spotter last year, we loved his enthusiasm and how genuine he was. While I miss the simplicity and intimacy of Little Kwara, we loved the location of the new Kwara camp right on the lagoon with its spectacular views and having the elephants feeding around our room every afternoon. 

 

Any chance you were able to make it to Tsum Tsum? The water was too high last mid-July for us to make it.

 

Looking forward to the rest of your report. 

Edited by Paul B
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How lucky you were with this pack and all the gorgious puppies, great photography! @madaboutcheetah

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TravelMore

Great captures!  I'm looking forward to seeing more :D

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madaboutcheetah
Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the kind comments ....... Much appreciated!!! @TravelMore@Biko@Paul B @Atravelynn@marg@offshorebirder @michael-ibk@Dave Williams@Toxic @TonyQ

 

Answers to some questions ........ @Paul B .... I don't think the water is too high (although pushing in) - the problem with Tsum Tsum access is more to do with the road from Bat ear fox which is now completely destroyed by elephants.  We did have a water crossing,  but, nothing too deep. We did a morning survey of Tsum Tsum.  Lots of red lechwe.  Signs of a recently finished Zebra carcass by Lions.  It did seem quiet at last mabala I must admit.  I loved the new Kwara.  Very classy rooms (I admit I've been critical of the design of the rooms in splash as it's aesthetically unappealing - but, Kwara is really nice) 

 

More dog photos - what I was able to observe is, every dog has a favourite pup to socialise with!!! Perhaps this will determine the future dynamics of splinter packs too??? 

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Edited by madaboutcheetah
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madaboutcheetah

This isn't the year for prolific general game ........ Between the extra tall grass and the pans in the woodland still holding lots of water(not to disregard cold winter rain and extra cloud cover) , general game was average at best.  These images are from a clear day, however.

 

 

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madaboutcheetah

The last image is the alpha female to this pack .....

 

FYI - Kwara is the place for wild dogs in recent years - According to the guides and trackers - the main packs in the area are the Kwara Pack, the Boko Haram pack and the Golden pack.  Ofcourse a few splinter packs also from these larger packs ..........  

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madaboutcheetah

This, that and the other …. As I’ve mentioned before the visa is always a headache…. I thought both South Africa and Botswana were attempting to do on line visas ….. unfortunately, it doesn’t work!!! Both visas have to be done manually the old fashioned way …. Luckily, it was in time. What the future holds for next time - who knows !!!! 

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madaboutcheetah

Here's one of my favourite Spencer-ism's ..... "early bird, catches the fattest worm" ..........  This pack in particular sets out super early on their mission to keep their pups well fed.  So if you are at High tea - Bye bye dogs!!! 

 

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madaboutcheetah

And we followed them until we lost them ..........  

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madaboutcheetah

Classic Delta dogs???  .......

 

A lovely Stone Chat once we couldn't follow them anymore - 

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@madaboutcheetahHari really love the dog pictures. The picture of the black puppy at such a low angle is outstanding. You also hit the jackpot with the water crossings. However, so far someone is noticeably missing...a "special" kind of cat...is Mr. Special still making the area around Kwara home?

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Kitsafari

finally you're "home"! 

 

wonderful interactions between the adults and pups. interesting to see one adult - was it the alpha female? - with much of its body unmarked and typically Botswana blonde. 

Looking forward to more Hari!!

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks @Paul B…. Would you believe it !! Special took the week off from posing for tourists when I was in the concession!!! He was seen the day before I arrived and then disappeared ( my fault - I complained endlessly about how useless and lazy he is !! ) 

 

@Kitsafari- thanks …. That’s not the alpha. Will post a couple of photos of her in a few days.

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madaboutcheetah

Interlude - Current Super Stars at Lagoon .......  A Momma Leopard with two nearly fully grown Sons.  Here she is with one of them.  We saw the other guy by himself in a thicket earlier on that evening ..........

 

I usually have one stand out leopard sighting at either Lagoon or Lebala and here's this one for the trip!!!  Spencer-ism - "patience pays" - This was my first evening after having landed from Maun having travelled all the way from Mumbai-Dubai-JNB-Maun-Lagoon ....... Landed at 15:55 and Spencer had organised for the mechanic to take my bags to camp and off we went - soon he and KB were on the tracks of the Leopard.  I was getting tired and was ready to give up - moving Leopards I've not been fortunate too often to track down - but, there they were!!! 

 

Although, this was my only sighting of them ....... Other guests had regular sightings of them during my stay (while I was out tracking cheetah) 

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