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Respect those old bulls

Whilst on a recent visit to Seba Camp in the Okavango, I spent some time with Kate Evans and Simon Buckingham. Together they run the charity Elephants for Africa, which supports the research project based there. Kate, who is a researcher by profession, has been studying elephants in this particular part of the delta for […]

Whatever happened to the lionesses with manes

A few months ago I posted a story with pictures about female lions with manes. The lionesses I wrote of were all seen at Mombo, in the Okavango Delta. Since then I have visited Mombo again, and was lucky enough to encounter the pride with the unusual lionesses. However, I only had one brief sighting […]

Mother leopards

Spare a thought for female leopards, and some of the challenges they face in their lives. Leopards are for much of their lives, solitary creatures. Adult male leopards only spend brief periods socializing with females living in their territories. It usually happens when there is a mating bout, and it also happens that they will […]

Of water, trees and nutrients

This year the Okavango River is carrying more water than it has for many years. On a recent flight over the Delta I was struck by the impact the high water levels are having on trees. Much of the water in the Delta moves in big, shallow sheets, rather than in narrow, erosive channels. The […]

A year in the life of an impala

Impala are one of the most common antelope found over much of Southern Africa. This is a good thing, as they are vital components of the ecosystems that they inhabit. One of the important roles they fill is that of prey animal. Leopards and wild dogs prey heavily on impala. Healthy impala are very fast […]

One lion, many habitats

Lions are one of my favourite animals (I have a few) but one of the reasons that I find lions interesting is their adaptability. The diverse habitats that are found in Botswana illustrate this well. In the south and central parts of the country, especially the western half, rainfall is low. Dry Kalahari sands are […]

Who is following the sardine run?

This week’s blog post comes once again from the Wild Coast in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The annual sardine migration that takes place here is happening as I write, so I thought I would describe some of the major predators that take part in this wildlife phenomenon. The sardines are only small fish, but they […]

Wildlife Watching – please be patient

I am not writing this week’s post from the bush in Botswana but from the Eastern Cape coast in South Africa, where I am on vacation with family and friends. Every year, between June and July, the annual sardine migration takes place in these parts. Millions of small fish gather together in shoals and make […]

My best leopard sighting ever

As it seems that many of the folk who read my blog enjoy reading about leopards, I thought I would share a particularly interesting sighting I had a few years ago. I was guiding out of Chitabe camp with my good friend James Weis. Our morning drive had been quiet and we were on our […]

Substitute Pack

The African wild dog is known to be a highly social animal. Pack sizes range from just a few animals to upwards of 30 dogs in the most successful packs. However, at Mombo camp, deep in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, one wild dog is living a very different lifestyle. This particular female dog was part of […]

Big water and little cats

2010 is proving to be the year of the big flood in the Okavango. Water levels have reached their highest levels in the past 30 years. When it comes to experiencing the annual flood in the Delta, the Jao concession is one of my favourite areas, with its stunning, open floodplains and picturesque palm-tree islands. […]

Botswana’s photographic areas expand

Map, showing NG18 and NG20, courtesy of Wilderness Safaris Some of the most important wildlife areas in Northern Botswana are associated with two major river systems. In the very north of the country is the Linyanti River and its distributaries, the Savuti and Selinda. To the south of these rivers lies the Okavango Delta. Much […]

The banded mongooses of Jao

Jao Camp is situated on an island in the Okavango Delta. The island is not overly large, perhaps a kilometre in length, and not quite that wide again. Aside from the human occupants of the camp, the island is also home to a troop of banded mongooses. Living on the island as they do, the […]

Some lionesses have manes!

There are many opportunities to make a fool of yourself when you’re a field guide. I was once leading a group on a game drive at Mombo, when we came across a pride of lions. Mombo is well known for its healthy lion population. We spent some time with the lions, and I carefully described […]

Are male lions lazy (or just heavy)?

There’s a perception amongst people that lions are lazy. Not only lazy, but that male lions in particular are even lazier, and don’t or can’t hunt for themselves. And there are many reasons for this perception. A scientific paper once claimed that lions sleep 22 out of every 24 hours. But consider that safari-goers most […]

The Return of the Rivers

If you know anything about the northern half of Botswana then you will know that the prime wildlife areas are heavily dependent upon three, life-sustaining rivers: the Okavango, the Kwando/Linyanti/Savuti (which is in fact one river with many names), and the Chobe. In the past few years there has been a marked rise in the […]

Scrambled legs

On a game drive out of Savuti camp one summer morning, we came across a large pool of rainwater that was showing a lot of amphibian activity. As we walked around the edge of the pool, we saw that the disturbance was being caused by groups of toads mating. The water in the pool was […]

Rivers, Boundaries and the Border Boys

The March issue of Africa Geographic features a well-written article by Stephen Cunliffe describing the situation that exists between communities and conservation in that part of Namibia known as the Caprivi Strip. I found the article especially interesting as one of the parks featured in the article, Mamili National Park, lies directly north of the […]

A Little Leopard Luck

On the 5 November 2009 I was on a game drive out of Savuti camp when we got called to a sighting of leopards mating. We don’t see this happening that often, and what was even more unusual was that the pair of leopards were in an open area, which meant we could see the […]

Eyes wide open

It is a well known fact that the two species of oxpecker that occur in southern Africa, the red-billed and the yellow-billed, both feed on parasites that live on or in some of the larger plant-eating mammals that they share habitat with. If you watch them really closely though, you may notice something a little […]

The Rain on the Plain

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana is a very large protected area, covering some 52 000 square kilometres. Until very recently, the reserve had almost no development within its borders and anyone wishing to visit had to camp in the designated camping sites. These sites are well situated but very basic, even lacking […]

Fish out of Water

Some years ago, I encountered my first many-spined climbing perch at Jacana camp in the Okavango. The perch was out of the water and making its way along the edge of a road. I was completely taken aback to see a fish walking on land! Unfortunately for that particular perch it was also noticed by […]

When Hunting Stops

The wildlife management areas of northern Botswana are divided into parcels of land known as ‘concessions’. These are often located close to or bordering game reserves and national parks and, years ago, most of these concessions were utilised for the purpose of controlled hunting. In the early days, there were more people visiting Botswana to […]

Expectations and the Importance of Rising Early

The area known as the ‘waterfront’ in the north-eastern corner of Chobe National Park is one of my favourite places. On many of the safaris that I lead we routinely spend time on a midday boat ride viewing the numerous crocodiles, hippo, impala, waterbuck, kudu, warthog and elephants that are abundant here. There is an […]

Termites In a different Light

Summertime in northern Botswana is the period for dramatic thunderstorms and rain. It is also the season of heightened activity among many species, including insects such as the fungus-farming termites. These termites, also known as macrotermes, live in mounds. Colonies comprise thousands of sterile workers and soldiers, and a queen and king. Aside from these […]

Cats and Dogs of the Wild Variety

A little more than a month ago, during my stint of acting as a relief manager at Savuti camp, I drove to the east of camp early one overcast morning. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may realise at this stage why my permanent career as a camp manager never amounted […]

Wild, Wild Dogs

One of my favourite animals is the African wild dog. Few other creatures have the energy to spare that the wild dog has. On a recent trip to Chitabe camp in the Okavango, we had the good fortune to encounter a pack of approximately 16 wild dogs late one afternoon. We spent an hour and […]

Of Raptors and Captors

One of the things I find quite frustrating when leading safaris is trying to convey to clients the sheer power and presence of some of the larger birds of prey that occur in our region. The frustration comes from the fact that it is almost always difficult to get close enough to these birds to […]

Bolt Hole in Botswana

On a game drive out of Chitabe camp in the southern Okavango recently, I was intrigued by an unusual interaction that occurred between a family group of spotted hyaenas and a pair of warthogs. We were visiting a hyaena den, which in this instance took the form of some deep holes in the ground. Outside […]

Fruits of my Labour

I was recently sent out to Savuti camp to lend a hand to the camp managers.  I used to be a camp manager but I much preferred guiding, and nothing has changed with that. I never found it too much fun listening to stories of all the things the guides and guests had seen each […]

Food and Homes For All

Elephants eat trees.  This is a fact.  Sometimes they may eat only the leaves, but they also like eating the bark.  When they strip the bark off a tree, they usually do it by using one trunk to chisel the bark away from the trunk, and then they will grasp it with the trunk, and […]

Practice, Practice, Practice

Perhaps one of the most important things that a young lion will need to learn how to do well, is to learn how to hunt. Lions and other carnivores that prey on fast-moving prey have a much harder time of things when it comes to catching their food than do similarly sized herbivores whose plant […]

Suburban Civets

African civets are not common animals. Even though they do occur throughout the Okavango Delta, their solitary habits, as well as their stealthy, nocturnal nature mean they are seldom seen, and hardly ever photographed. In the last four years I have only had one sighting of a civet in daylight. So I was quite startled […]

Going on a scorpion hunt

Early one morning in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve, I came across this male honey badger. It was October and the very end of the dry season, which meant that the soil was baked hard and dry, but this didn’t seem to bother the badger. He walked with purpose, swinging his head this way and […]

Defense mechanisms

One day we were watching a female leopard near Chitabe Camp, in the Okavango Delta. The leopard had two very young cubs, perhaps just a couple of months old. She had killed an impala, and dragged it quite a distance to bring it to where her cubs were hidden.  In this place were quite a […]