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Termite mounds and Camel Thorn trees; Hangin' out with the "Boys of lagoon"; Cold Wintry air; All about Cheetah safari; and lots lots more


madaboutcheetah

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madaboutcheetah

Hello,

 

First of all, many Thanks to everyone at Lagoon and Lebala camp for another very memorable trip. My friends and guides Spencer and Moeti for whom I don't have enough words to express my gratitude and respect for their dedication and work ethic. They are the essence of our safaris and something that makes it feel Home away from Home .......

 

Huge Thank You to the team at Lagoon camp., headed by Keone and Lebo. They truly make Lagoon one of the most flexible camps I've ever been at (True, I've also said that of Little Kwara before). Camp is always organized to perfection. True, Lagoon is going to get a much needed overhaul later in the year, but, here's hoping the fantastic atmosphere remains.

 

Thank You to Charles and Hermenah and their team at Lebala. Always going to be like home -

 

Introduction of brunch menus and more fresh vegetables and fruits into the menus are indeed, very refreshing. Thankfully, the cooked breakfast is only optional. Never been a fan of it.

 

Oddly, I found for the first time in-room safes at the Kwando camps. Never had one before (probably a demand from those who have love for the Wilderness) :)

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madaboutcheetah

Before I get into my game viewing highlights, would like to mention a bit about the current weather patterns in Botswana causing all the changing patterns in water flow and water levels and it's impact on game viewing. Atleast, what I think of it, in my humble opinion .........

 

I picked the time of the year, as I wanted a change up from September/October. Two reasons, I have work committments this year and am busy. Also, I was unhappy with the early rains last year and wanted better light conditions for photography. That I can't complain of, in early August. The light was very good. Apparently, they had some over-cast days just prior to my trip - but, all was clear and bright blue skies. The Caprivi fires are just starting across in Namibia. But, that did not impact my trip in any way.

 

Met some great people and a lot of fun at both the camps.

 

Water levels..... Angola had heavy and late rains. The next push of the floods is happening at the moment and more surging water. The Eastern Section of the Kwando concession which has been out of access for the past two years is still flooded. Places like the old airstrip etc etc., for those who know the concession well - Half Way Pan, the Water Cut area etc etc., is unrecognizable. But, not too different from last year ........ just a bit more water. Twin Pools has a lot of water too. I flew over the Selinda concession on my way to Maun and gosh! ............. WATER WATER......

 

Plains game - I think i had decent viewing of Zebra, Wildebeest, Giraffe.

 

Buffalo herds were prevalent in the Lagoon area. One good size herd of about 1500. Maybe they are just coming out of the woodlands .... a bit shy they were.

 

Elephants - some decent herds. No where close to full potential due to all the water around from the flooded spillway and other channels of the Kwando and Linyanti systems. Best viewing was one day at lunch time when small groups of various families passed through the side of camp.

 

As my title suggests, this trip was truly madaboutcheetah, so when we were tired from following them tried our hand at some birding and was not to be disappointed. The Hottentot Teal was a new discovery to me. I'm sure they were around, just didn't look hard enough! Memorable sighting of 2 Batleur Eagles in good light. The ever present resident pair of Wattled Cranes at Kubu pan.

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I'm glad that you seem to be getting things together, Hari. I'm so looking forward to your report. Lagoon was

 

the first Kwando camp that I stayed at back in 2000. I'm so looking forward to getting back to Lebala at

 

the latter end of October. Spencer seems to be in good form, and I'm looking forward to continue with the

 

cheetah tracking that we enjoyed at Little Kwara in March.

 

 

 

Jan

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madaboutcheetah

Some updates before I get to the cheetahs. The small Lebala pack of 4 were denning with 9 puppies. But, just prior to my trip the dogs had already quit denning and got mobile and so were not seen during my visit. Trust they are doing well wherever they may be. Last seen with 9 healthy puppies.

 

Lagoon Pack is 17 strong with 6 puppies at the den. They have become expert warthog hunters. I only went to the den twice. Location was not photogenic to begin with and the atmosphere was tense with a certain USA based digital photo safaris group.

 

Name of the photographer and applicable details, withheld from a public forum like this ...... but, if that's what photography is all about ...... i.e, putting yourself and your needs above the well being of the wildlife and being rude and obnoxious to fellow travellers and camp staff ....... PATHETIC!!! That's not the essence of Kwando and is far away from the Kwando experience that i associate with!!!

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Jan.

 

Before I get to the cheetah, one last post about the dogs. On one of the hunts, they started the hunt by challenging the buffalo. They tried their hand at one of the calves. The interaction will all the dust was fascinating...... then they went off ..... trot, trot, trot, ........ they pulled up a young Hyena and kept nipping it's rear ..... they soon lost interest ....... trot, trot, trot ...... they picked up two Honey Badgers ....... again trot, trot, trot .......... they chased warthog and then eventually we lost them chasing kudus in the woodland and darkness was fast approaching and went back to camp!

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madaboutcheetah

As mentioned, this trip was mostly all about cheetah. Infact, the welcoming party at the Lebala airstrip was the coalition of 2 male cheetahs that traverse a wide area from South of Lebala camp to selinda and Duma Tau (Their pic is featured in the Wilderness home page). These guys, did spend a lot of time sleeping ....... saw some scent marking etc etc., but they weren't co-opearative with day time hunts for us. Yet, always good to see cheetah. This is the duo that put an end to the mighty blood brothers.

 

Saw another very skittish female cheetah up north in the Lagoon area around Zebra Pan. Now we know why the 3 males split up temporarily from time to time.

 

The stars of the trip for me and those that really made my entire safari memorable were the "boys of Lagoon" cheetah coalition. They walk hell of lot of distance and all the time. Scent marking Termite mounds, Camel Thorn Trees, Dead Wooden Logs etc etc., Just can't have enough pictures. You certainly need time and patience to track and keep pace with this trio.

 

When we went to Lagoon, we had to put in a lot of hard work to find them ...... once we did, we kept track of them. We were rewarded over the course of a few days when they made 3 kills ..... Male Impala, Tsessebe, Female impala. The Tsessebe kill is one of the highlights of all my trips. From a distance we could see the lead hunter go for the Tsessebe's back (much like a Lion would pounce on a buffalo). We had to race closer. Just in time for the other 2 to catch up and try and bring the animal down. It took about 5 minutes to silence the Tsessebe and over-power it. Amazing ....... Oh! and the feeding was in evening golden light. All of this happened on our transfer from Lagoon to Lebala. We found tracks on the cutline road ...... saw a big termite mound and saw some fresh scent marking and scat. Found them in no time ........ By the time we got south of John's Pan, the Lebala vehicles caught up and we all kept up through the day and the kill was made near Kubu Pan, not far from Lebala. I left just when the light went flat - but, the other vehicles who stayed at the sighting saw the Hyena come in and send the boys off the kill. All this, only after they ate enough and more. They really gave all the cars a hard time, when we had 15 rough minutes keeping up through the Kalahari Apple Leaf.

 

If this was not enough - they walked all the way to John's Pan and beyond the following day and were to kill a female impala shortly thereafter.

 

I'm guessing this coalition was already operating even during the end of the Blood brothers reign .... they just have a lot of territory inside the woodlands and have popped out into more open areas in the past two years. Phew! their territory is just so MASSIVE and they can give you the goose chase. Mighty mighty cats!!!

 

I know I've been very fortunate this trip with the cheetahs...... last October, these boys were very non co-operative. This time though, lucky I was! goes to say ...... nature is so unpredictable. One memorable sighting, was of the 3 boys together on a very high termite mound looking into our cameras and posing. Shared this special sighting with Alwyn who was with his group.

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Hottentot teal. Pretty little birds. I've seen them in both Botswana and Zambia. Glad that you have eyes for

 

other species!! Just teasing!

 

 

Jan

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Fantastic time with the cheetahs, Hari. I look forward to the photos.

 

 

Jan

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madaboutcheetah

Leopard:

 

I saw a young female Leopard feeding one evening on a serval cat in the Twin Pools area.

 

Saw a very relaxed young male Leopard around the border post camp at Lagoon. Saw him twice - both times after the light went down on the way back to camp. So, no photos - called in the sighting and left ASAP.

 

Lions:

 

We saw some tracks for Male Lions. Didn't bother tracking them ....... Charles saw 2 Lionesses near the Baobab. But, we were already in camp by then and didn't bother returning to see them. So, no Lion photos this time being so cheetah obsessed.

 

No sable ....... Tried our hand at Eland with no luck. Hector and the others, saw a nice big herd, although apparently skiitish. Saw some Roan a few times, but, had to keep our distance as the cheetah boys were trying to have a go at them.

 

Some very good Wildebeest and Zebra herds in the Lagoon area. Saw a dazzle of 40 Zebra and a journey of 26 giraffe north of Zebra Pan (together).

 

Hyena found feeding on a Pangolin. Not kidding!!!

 

The cars with the dog hunt found a Pangolin alive when they sniffed it out. We were in camp at 4 30 that day after all day out with the hunting cheetahs. So, i tried my hand at photographing the Lagoon camp in golden light for memories. It is to be re-done later in the year.

 

All in all a fantastic trip for cheetahs. Fantastic and overall a lovely time.

 

Back to the reality of everyday. Yet, refreshed, recharged and my lungs full of fresh air .........

 

THE END

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madaboutcheetah

Before I forget - remember the 2 orphaned cheetah released into the Selinda Reserve? Apparently, they are heading towards Kwara and the Kwara guides are asked to keep a look out for them and monitor them if they pop up. No surprises, the Selinda has the 2 big males.

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madaboutcheetah
Fantastic time with the cheetahs, Hari. I look forward to the photos.

 

 

Jan

 

 

Thanks, Jan. I returned to find my laptop go bust yesterday. Shall work on pics when my computer is sorted out. Luckily hard drive is fine.

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Pangolin
As mentioned, this trip was mostly all about cheetah. Infact, the welcoming party at the Lebala airstrip was the coalition of 2 male cheetahs that traverse a wide area from South of Lebala camp to selinda and Duma Tau (Their pic is featured in the Wilderness home page). These guys, did spend a lot of time sleeping ....... saw some scent marking etc etc., but they weren't co-opearative with day time hunts for us. Yet, always good to see cheetah. This is the duo that put an end to the mighty blood brothers.

Ah......the two I saw at Savuti in February I presume.

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Pangolin
Hyena found feeding on a Pangolin. Not kidding!!!

Now that is not something you see every day. Or decade!

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madaboutcheetah

Pangolin, yes the same two cheetah i would think.

 

Btw, on the topic of cheetah. Met some people who came to Lagoon from Kwara. The mother with the 4 grown cubs are still together at this stage. The 3 Tsum Tsum boys are also doing well.

 

And met other people who came from Duba Plains. Apparently, very good viewing. They saw 3 different prides of Lions.

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richardafrica

Hari, glad to see you had another excellent adventure with Kwando. I have to tell you it brings back some great memories, especially with the wild dogs.

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madaboutcheetah
Fantastic time with the cheetahs, Hari. I look forward to the photos.

 

 

Jan

 

 

Hi Jan,

 

Please take a look at the Kwando facebook page, there are some new images from the cheetah sighting (not my pictures)

 

Hari

 

Thanks, Richard.

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Atravelynn

The cheetah seem to enjoy your company as much as you enjoy them since they make themselves so available during your visits. Some great cheetah news all around in your report. Thanks!

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madaboutcheetah
The cheetah seem to enjoy your company as much as you enjoy them since they make themselves so available during your visits. Some great cheetah news all around in your report. Thanks!

 

 

Thanks, Lynn. A very lucky cheetah year for me. 22 different ones for 2010. 12 cheetahs in only 3 nights at Kwara in Feb. 4 in the CKGR and now 6 in L and L.

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madaboutcheetah
The cheetah seem to enjoy your company as much as you enjoy them since they make themselves so available during your visits. Some great cheetah news all around in your report. Thanks!

 

 

True - except no sign of the famous star - the female cheetah as in your avatar picture. No idea, where she is. Not been around in a while. Lebala guides have also enquired with the Selinda guides and still no real idea...

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twaffle

Sounds like an excellent safari. Look forward to the photos when you've sorted your laptop.

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Safaridude

Sounds excellent Hari. Interesting that you did not see sable (too early in the season?) and that you tried for eland. I've noticed some eland sightings up there which is quite unusual... Glad you got your fill of cheetah (or perhaps you didn't, knowing you).

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cheetah80

Oh wow really jealous of your cheetah sightings! And so many other interesting sightings too! Can't wait for the pics! :D

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Ah......the two I saw at Savuti in February I presume.

 

 

Pangolin, I also saw the two cheetahs in the Savuti Channel when I was staying at Duma Tau in March.

 

Hari, I will look at the Facebook page. As always, S.T. is my first port of call when I switch on my computer!

 

 

Jan

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madaboutcheetah
Sounds excellent Hari. Interesting that you did not see sable (too early in the season?) and that you tried for eland. I've noticed some eland sightings up there which is quite unusual... Glad you got your fill of cheetah (or perhaps you didn't, knowing you).

 

 

Hi Safaridude,

 

Did not go out specifically looking for sable. I think they have been having some sable sightings up at Lagoon. When I was up there was busy with keeping track of the 3 cheetah boys ..... so, didn't get a chance to look for Sable. We did specifically try to find the Eland and did see the tracks, which were headed off into the woodlands.

 

Very happy with my sightings for sure. There will be other safaris where cheetah sightings are going to be slow or non-existant so I try to gobble up the sightings when the opportunity exists!

 

By the way, I was fortunate to bump into Benson again who was with his clients. Plenty of interesting conversation.

 

Hari

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madaboutcheetah
Ah......the two I saw at Savuti in February I presume.

 

 

Pangolin, I also saw the two cheetahs in the Savuti Channel when I was staying at Duma Tau in March.

 

Hari, I will look at the Facebook page. As always, S.T. is my first port of call when I switch on my computer!

 

 

Jan

 

Jan,

 

They have been a lot in the Selinda apparently in recent times. Keep popping up around the Southern side of Lebala and love the immediate area of the Lebala airstrip (white plains area) when they come and then return back.

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