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Surviving Paradise - Cold front moving through winter wonderland .......... Mobile Camping on the Gomoti ; Wild dog dens ; New experiences and lots lots more!!! - July 2023


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This particular individual deserves a post of her own ......  SUPER HUNTRESS (this image was to go into the previous post - but, opted to post separately) ;)


Edited by madaboutcheetah
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ohhh I see you saw the little leucistic wild dog pup!! I was wondering if you had!  I'm so annoyed now that I didn't book 4 Rivers!

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24 minutes ago, janzin said:

ohhh I see you saw the little leucistic wild dog pup!! I was wondering if you had!  I'm so annoyed now that I didn't book 4 Rivers!

 It’s not really a leucistic pup …. It was born totally white - but, as the days went by …. It grew some light patches ( kinda like the light coloured gene in some of the dogs ) ….. 


alas, I hate to be the bearer of bad news …. That pup didn’t make it.  Apparently a lion attack - the dogs moved den again. 

you can’t beat 4 rivers for location - especially given the proximity to tsum tsum and paradise. 

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Next instalment ...... 

Let's meet some of the characters,  who make up the pack of 21 (Can we call this the 4 rivers pack??) ........ 


Please note - this is not the pack that had the den last winter by the Kwara boat station (that's the Bokoharam pack) - according, to my tracker "see" 















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Oh no, I didn’t hear that the white pup had perished :(  

there do seem to be some very light colored dogs in that pack. So handsome!

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Let's meet more of the characters of the 4 Rivers pack .... aka "the wet hounds" ;) image.jpeg.6bfd95dd7476774fa21b840ab6c96dd2.jpeg...... You can see the alpha female in one of the pics and yes, both the alphas go out hunting twice a day leaving just a baby sitter or two with the puppies!




















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This is a top, top trip guys. Hoping to see lots more.


And some wonderful photographs. I’m not singling it out as a photo (too hard to pick one or two) but I love all the round radar ears on that big pack of dogs. 

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Thanks a lot @pault


Next instalment - Did you know the dogs feed on Mokhutshum (Jackalberry)????  ....That's what you see the dogs feeding on (or rather chewing on) ......

(Gulp) - that pale pup!!! to round out this instalment ...... image.jpeg.7f70c1967ecc7e29f55c3ab1acfc5cc3.jpeg


















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Alex The Lion



The dogs were such a great bookend to your Gomoti section.


The packs normally seen in the Blackpools area of the park, Samurai and Ninja were denning in Santawani! It was a little disappointed, as the Ninja dogs had denned so close to our camp last year.


I think the Chaos pack (who love killing other packs) could have affected the dynamics when they crossed from Chitabe for a short period last October/November.

Edited by Alex The Lion
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Let's take a break from the dogs (there is more, though) ;) ..........  with the super dog den, I was going to explore the areas around 4 rivers only outside of prime light when the dogs were inactive ...... So, here goes the superb game density in the area. 
















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More of the 4 rivers pack ...... 













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Continued ..... 













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Typical Delta dogs ....... 















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Interlude -


the Bokoharam pack ..... (or suspected that's who they are by my tracker "see" ) ........  Sorry, I only have video of my one sighting of them.  I will have to find a way to post later on ;) 

When we were done with our wild dog den - we proceeded to explore the 4 rivers area.  We bumped into two dogs who seemed to be on the look out for other members of their pack.  At first, we thought they were members of our pack of 21 still out hunting in the morning.  Lo and behold they bumped into two others of their pack and what appeared to be them going back possibly to their den inside the mopane.  See says, it's pretty obvious that they were the other large pack in the area from the markings on those dogs (that's the pack that was denning by the Kwara boat station last winter).  We did try to follow them into the mopane - but, soon lost them as it was very thick mopane and the dogs beat us (but, hey that's where they are!!) 


Note - for some reason late into July the mopane still hold their leaves.  So, it really was quite thick in there ......

On a side note - I do hear from the Wild dog researchers that in recent years, the dogs den earlier in the season due to the effects of climate change and they want to have their puppies pretty early so that as they are growing it's easier for them to hunt and keep them well fed while the temperatures are still cool. 


While at 4 rivers - We did not respond to the lion sightings by the other guests in camp.  I was dog obsessed.......  On drives to Tsum Tsum etc etc., saw plenty of lion tracks - but, wasn't going to track them down as I'd planned to be with the dogs later in the afternoon in any case.  They had leopard sightings too (remember Xugana used to sneak into the 4 Rivers area before and ultimately a few individuals used to vehicles) - I didn't respond again as the dogs were super active and I got the images of the dogs going through a deep water crossing.  Alas, no cheetah sightings .........  I'm sure in days to come TT will have plenty of sightings (I'm going by years gone by when we had the 3 male coalition there in their pomp).   Lazy "special" is still around Kwara I'm told - but, for the love of God!!! there's got to be more cheetah in a super productive concession like Kwara!!! 


More to come ....... Stay tuned! 

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Alex The Lion
16 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

Alas, no cheetah sightings .........  I'm sure in days to come TT will have plenty of sightings othere's to be more cheetah in a super productive concession like Kwara!!


I think we both know they are hiding in the south east of the Delta.


Most likely near the island with the palm🤣

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Rounding out the FOUR RIVERS section of the report ...........  In Summary, a great new addition in the Kwara concession with easy and quick access to Tsum Tsum. 







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Alex The Lion

Having subjected @madaboutcheetahto some this, I thought I would share some of the background not only to the Gomoti, though the intense planning process that I follow. I'm heavily involved in selecting camp locations and analyzing where the game movements will be. It has been a learning process over the years, though with some degree of accuracy, I can now look at flood maps/incoming water levels to get a good idea of where to be. I know there are often threads questioning water levels etc, though it can be hard to express without maps and other imagery, as the Okavango is a dynamic environment.


These areas not only change on a seasonal basis, hydro-logical changes can be easily mapped over the last 40 years with the use of Google Earth. It is also possible to monitor flood levels every 5 days through the EU Sentinel Satellites and daily flood data from the Okavango project. Between January-May, I watched these closely when deciding which location would work for us. In the end we chose to camp on the Gomoti, albeit not quite in the location we had planned. Due the building of a new lodge, it was possible to hear generators/banging noise well into the evening. As such, when I landed, camp had been relocated around 20 minutes north, surrounded by seasonal floodplains. Losing our more central location meant we had a slightly longer drive time to reach Blackpools than originally planned, though the area around camp was teeming with game.


To start with, a little history of the area were driving around. The area has only been open to game drives since 2013, and until recently, only had a single mobile campsite in the vicinity. The nearest self drive camp is an hour away at South Gate and there were no lodges. Most self drives cut through the area on their way to Third Bridge and beyond. Prior to 2013, the area was closed off an predominately used by researchers and film makers. It is also close to the productive area knows as Xini Lagoon.


The area is very much a dry season destination, with first rains, herds and elephants disappear in the Mopane woodlands to the East and South.  The woodlands are an area that the dogs can successfully den away from predators on the floodplains. As the pans in the woodland dry out, the herds return and follow the fresh headwaters.


In the 1980's, the the flood waters favoured the channels down the Mogogelo. This map is from the "low water" in December 1984. The flood waters would spill past Santawani camp and past the buffalo fence. The area we would recognise as Blackpools, was permanent Delta. In the same time period, the Gomoti was slowly dying as a waterway. It was also a period where the flood waters tended to favour the Western Delta.




By the late 1990's, the Mogogelo waters were only pushing to Santawani during very wet years, and the water was stopping at the "Blackpools". This is reference to the dark clay soils and pans that were created when the floods receded each year. In this time, Peter Katz completed his research in the area and worked with Martin Harvey on the book "Prides".


As you can see, the Gomoti has completely stopped flowing at this point. There are research papers documenting it's demise, including considering the impact of how Bayei had regulated its flow.


Alwyn recalled stories of how during Game drives from Starlings Camp (now Kwando Dinare) you could struggle to find an impala.




Roll on to the high water period of 2010-11. The waters have returned to the Gomoti and the Mogogelo has continued to dry.


If you look closely at the areas around Santawani lodge, over the 25 year period of not receiving regular floods, bushes/trees have started to take over the flood plains that were so defined in previous images.




If you then move onto 2018, not a great flood year (just before the 2019 drought), the Gomoti has become the dominate waterway in this part of the Delta.


The Mogogelo has stopped pushing on, and trees/bushes have taken over the areas towards Santawani.




So, how does the area currently work now. This can vary from year to year, though the area between the Mogogelo and Gomoti contains a high concentration of game, which is supplemented as the dry seasons progresses. It is a very remote area that feels like your own private safari.

Edited by Alex The Lion
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Alex The Lion

In planning for this trip, apart from the last minute camp change, @madaboutcheetahhad told me how dry the Delta was during his January trip.


We identified a number of locations between Xini/Blackpools and the Gomoti to choose from. It looked like Xini and Blackpools were done dry, so we opted for the Gomoti. The floods were pushing during our stay, and most of the water passed down the Gomoti, not the Mogogelo/Xini. As with each visit, I learn something slightly different in how to approach the next trip. I am working under a filming permit and in the process of producing a photographic coffee style book on the Delta, so try to maximise my opportunities each visit.


So, here is a general map of the prides in the area, our camp, and water levels during our visit.




As the flood waters poured in, a lot of herds started gathering on the newly flooded plains where the grassed were starting to grow. This included one afternoon where we sat with over 1500 buffalo as 3 herds came together.


There was an interesting dynamic change since my visit in October. The huge number of elephant herds had yet to arrive on the flood plains. The peak flood was slightly late, which meant the green roots they feed on during the dry season had yet to grow/turn green. The Mopane was still also holding its leaves giving them other feeding opportunities. The very cold weather also reduced their need to drink, as for on a couple of the very warm days, hundreds of elephants were coming down to the Gomoti, near the Dinare boundary line.


As the flood waters pushed in, the lions were often found on islands in the middle of the Gomoti. On more than one occasion we found them hunting Lechwe. As the ground had yet to become saturated, we could easily cross, which would be more difficult in the next couple of weeks. In the green season, all the flood waters recede to a single channel, meaning you can access these islands. Though when driving along the only track, they can easily hide there out of view.


On reflection, I think I will discount July/August, with my next dry season focus on September. My reason is to allow for the flood to turn seasonal flood plains green, then have short grasses as the water recedes. An example of this would be from July 2021, where the landscape had the contrast of blues, yellows and greens. Compared to this year, most the area around our July camp would be underwater, and the best location would be Blackpools, giving you the chance to reach Xini too.




I love the dynamics of the Delta, though it does demonstrate the benefits of a mobile safari. These changes are occurring in all concessions and around lodges. Quite often we plan to "revisit" certain locations because of certain previous experiences, though that can quickly change.

Edited by Alex The Lion
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Alex The Lion

I have also included on the maps, some of the prides/sightings.


There were two coalitions of 4 males, and camp was effectively their territory boundary. There is a high concentration along the two rivers due the game densities and buffalo herds, and these boys are happy to hunt for themselves.


The main coalition we spent time with were labelled the "Inbetweeners" - there are 4 of them like the UK series, though more because they operate between the Gomoti and Mogogelo.

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@Alex The Lion- not to forget the other 4 males we first saw early on in the safari …. Not too far away at the mogogelo …. 

Great detail here !!!! 

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Alex The Lion

So, a couple of camp photos we have found on our phones. We didn't really think to take many pics in camp, I got a dodgy pano.






Edited by Alex The Lion
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Alex The Lion

If you are basing yourself out of the Blackpools BOGA site, you have a number of varied habitats that all for interesting drives and a range of species. We saw a lot of Caracal tracks around the Mogelolo and the rarer side stripped jackal.


The Gomoti provides stunning shallow flood plains, always full of hippo/lechwe etc.


Blackpools offers wide old flood plains where we watched the cheetah, full of termite mounds.


The area to the east of the Mogogelo has wooded islands, where Hari found a leopard.




(Will try to add a couple of videos here)


Edited by Alex The Lion
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Very interesting to see the changes to the environment over the years @Alex The Lion

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