Climate and Landscape
Temperatures seemed confused and humidity was high, so we knew the skies were about to break open and the rains come down. And indeed, we had some decent rainfall this month, which saw some pans collecting water and the elephants moving away from the rivers to the woodland, looking for the palatable new green leaves emerging.
The patchy brown grass, a true sign of winter, has disappeared giving way to beautiful stretches of green and laying the dust on game drives. A few areas were hit by lightning but the fires were not big enough to consume the area, and were never a threat to our beautiful Xigera on Paradise Island.
The water level is low, and where there would be a deep river crossing now only puddles remain as a reminder that one of the rivers from the mighty Okavango flowed there just a few months ago. This makes the movement of cats especially easy and the guides have taken advantage of this situation, especially as they are able to drive on roads that until recently were underwater for the majority of the year.
Xigera has become the ‘trade name’ for a place where leopards never sleep and Pel’s fishing-owls can be seen almost every day.
This was particularly true in the month of December and the number of leopards seen in the concession was simply amazing. One guide and his guests saw seven different leopards in two mornings. What amazing sightings.
Seen often on attempted kills, there was one sighting where a leopard tried and failed three times to take down a warthog piglet, with the baby eventually disappearing by running away into an open area. The leopard finally decided to go for the mother and succeeded in killing it, but before it could finish eating hyaenas came and took over the kill.
Meanwhile the lions did not want to be left out. We have been seeing two males travelling together, one of which is very skittish while the other is comfortable with vehicles. They appear to be trying to get to know each other as they move together but still give each other some space. They come from the south we suspect.
There is another coalition of two boys who were seen several times moving around with a female, mating and hunting together. One male was also seen with a hippo kill a few metres from the river.
Wild dogs come and go, but when they are here they create spectacular sightings. When you are driving around and you see impalas running like crazy, that is the sign to start looking for dogs nearby. The wild dogs were seen with impala and red lechwe kills.
Birds and Birding
Birdlife is always amazing here, but now we have the Pel’s fishing-owls taking the lead as a lot of people come especially to see this species. The bee-eaters and swallows add movement and energy to the skies as they swoop and flit around.
We continue to share our mokoro experience with our guests despite the low water levels. Game drives are still a prime activity, and we can traverse the length and breadth of our area without too many water obstacles.